The two old ladies got to hang out together for a couple of days before the Aristocrat's new owners claimed her.
So, why the upgrade? Well, as darling as the Aristocrat was, with two teenagers, two dogs, and us, that 13' cutie pie became a bit too wee. We started looking for something slightly more spacious last summer (yet still vintage), got unexpectedly bit by a vintage 5th wheel bug, and found and bought "Winnie," as we're calling her, the first weekend of November. Since we're in Minnesota, that was at the very end of the camping season. We hooked her up...and took her straight to storage.
It is an exercise in frustration to buy a camper and then not be able to access it for the next five months.
We picked her up last weekend and have been putting in some serious elbow grease ever since. Structurally, she's sound. There are problems, of course. There's some water damage and rot; we need to stop the roof from leaking; we need to replace some wall panels and
Roof aside, though, none of that is why we've been putting in the elbow grease.
She was FILTHY.
The guy we bought it from had only had it a year and was selling it because his wife hadn't taken to camping. With the condition poor Winnie was in, I can see why. Layers of grime. We're talking YEARS of accumulated filth. She'd been hanging out at a farm for a while, and there were years' worth of dead black flies and the bugs that look like lady bugs but aren't lady bugs piled up in the corners of all the cupboards and underneath the beds. She stunk like a farm, too -- the manure pile part of the farm.
It was one of the nastiest things I've ever seen. And again, we knew this when we inspected her last fall. But that didn't scare us off; that's just surface dirt. The bones are good. I'm not afraid of cleaning.
I have to confess, though, that I didn't realize it was THAT bad until I actually started the cleaning.
But after some pretty hard core cleaning sessions, she's looking (and smelling!) much better. If the seller had cleaned her up, he could have asked for another $400-$500. Or maybe his wife would have liked camping... Here's what we've done since getting her out of storage last weekend. I didn't even take before pics because it was so foul, I jumped in and started scrubbing. These are all in-process pics:
- removed the mattress, currently on Craigslist as FREE but will probably end up at the dump, because it's stained and stinks and is just generally nasty.
The nasty mattress. There is no way I'm sleeping on that thing. No way in hell.
- scored a new short queen mattress on Craigslist, claimed never used
- removed the privacy curtain and threw it out
- removed the shower curtain and there it out
- removed the upholstery, washed it twice with bleach, and let it sir outside for a week
- spot cleaned the foam (which is in remarkable good shape), Fabreezed the hell out of it, and let it sit outside for a week
- removed the particle board bed platforms and threw them out
- got new pressed wood and cut to size to replace the particle board
- vacuumed out the cupboards to suck up all the dead bug corpses. Twice.
- scrubbed out the cupboards, twice, the second time with bleach
- scrubbed and bleached the sinks
- scrubbed and bleached the counters
- scrubbed and bleached the drawers
- triple scrubbed and bleached the frig/freezer
- removed all the curtains and washed them twice
- vacuumed, vacuumed, and vacuumed
- vacuumed beneath the goucho beds twice, scrubbed all non-carpeted spots with bleach
Remaining Cleaning to-do
- the bathroom. Eek.
- clean the carpet. Ultimately, we'll pull it all out and replace with a hard floor, because honestly? Carpet in a camper is STUPID. But since we're taking Winnie out on her maiden voyage next weekend, for now, the carpet stays. But cleaned.
- wash the windows
- Wrestle the upholstery back onto the foam and put back into the camper
- wrestle the new mattress into the camper and onto the bed platform
- rehang the curtains. Ultimately, those will be also be replaced, but for now, they'll do.
General to-do (this will be added to. Oh, will it be added to):
- have Pete rename this blog (because he's the owner! I only have posting privileges)
- test the water lines. Pete's out of town for work all week and I'm single mom'ing it, so this may not happen before that first maiden voyage. That's OK, we don't mind dry camping.
- figure out what's going with that battery hook-up
- get a new outside wall vent cover
- get a new outside wall power cord compartment cover
- get a screen door slider
- links levelers, because our friends Eric and Val tell us these are essential for bigger rigs.
- seal the roof. Pete already slapped one layer on--there are more to follow.
- get a new shower curtain
- get a new privacy curtain
- rip out the carpet, replace with hard flooring*
- replace the curtains*
- replace the upholstery*
- fix/adjust a couple of window cranks. They open, just not all the way. And one won't close all the way. You can tap it closed with your fingertips from the outside, but that's not a good long-term solution.
- repaint the "W" and the stripes.
And to wrap this up...in the middle of all the scrubbing, I did make time to go find a few fun vintage pieces for our girl. Consider these the first shots in returning her to her true 1975 style:
*Someone somewhere along the line of owners replaced the original (orange!) shag carpet and linoleum with blue. We know this because there are remnants of that shag and linoleum beneath the beds, the seats, the closets. And they replaced the upholstery, which was also a glorious orange and brown, with some 1980s/maybe early 90s mauve/dusty rose/blue crap. We know this because we found one of the original cushions shoved under the queen bed in the upstairs. And the curtains...OK, I have no idea what the curtains originally were, but they replaced those too, in blue.
We will ultimately strip all of this out and replace it, maybe not with a full throwback to the 70s, but something funky and fun and befitting the era.