Trailer overhaul – Exterior part 2

(Get some background on our trailer project here. Don’t forget to check out the first exterior post and interior.)

Once the new walls were in place, Aaron removed the old insulation and used aluminum foil tape to seal the paneling seems. This will also help keep water from damaging the interior.


Then the framing got a coat of Kilz primer. 002trailerexterior2

Then he cut foam insulation to fit between all of the panels and sealed it in with more aluminum foil tape.

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This whole project sounds really easy, but it is incredibly tedious.


Exterior metal
The tongue and the bumper were showing quite a bit of wear… particularly the bumper, which we lost half of somewhere between Ikea and home. These got a good sanding, a coat of primer and then a coat of paint.005trailerexterior2 006trailerexterior2 007trailerexterior2 008trailerexterior2

The new jack also went from black to white before being installed. 009trailerexterior2 010trailerexterior2


Metal skin
Tackling the new metal skin for the trailer was something we both dreaded from the get go. The metal skin came in sections (basically two for each of the four sides of the trailer.) It was shipped in a tube so we had to lay it out in the back of the tunnel and weigh it down in an effort to remove the bend. It was only slightly successful. When it came time to attach the metal, I held a piece in place while Aaron traced the shape on the backside. Then we cut it, held it up and stapled it into place. The bend fought us, but we got the lower piece attached. The second (upper piece) didn’t play nice. Because of the bend and the sheer size of the piece, it was nearly impossible for me to hold it (along with some clamps) while Aaron stapled it in place. After it and the bottom piece popped off TWICE, we called in reinforcements.

Thankfully my brother was in town and willing to lend a hand. Between the three of us, we were able to get the skin attached over the course of a weekend. Once the metal was up, Aaron used metal snips to cut out each window and the door. 012trailerexterior2 013trailerexterior2

And that is how the trailer sat while we negotiated and purchased the firehouse. When it came time to move it, we tossed in the door and a few windows to give it some extra stability. Then we woke up really early on a Sunday morning and pulled it the few miles to the firehouse, hoping that we wouldn’t pass a cop along the way considering it wasn’t exactly road worthy.

Since then it has waited patiently for us to find the time to finish it. We checked on it every few months, holding our breath as we unzipped the cover. It looks like it was mostly unscathed by the lack of attention. Aaron has a large list of mini projects to wrap this project up. So we’re getting back into real time blogging as he marches toward the finish line!

Before the firehouse, we bought a vintage camping trailer

We spent half of Sunday on Operation: Make the Front of the Firehouse Look Presentable. We had a few consultations with prospective photography clients last week and about 5 minutes before the first one, we realized how bad the front of our firehouse looks. You all have been very polite not pointing out the tarped, work-in-progress trailer that’s been hogging half of our driveway since February.


I appreciate that your chiding looks and “what are they thinking?” thoughts are hidden away behind a computer screen. The fact is the ‘hillbilly chique’ look probably isn’t going to help us convince people that we should take pictures at their wedding.

I really should back up, though, and tell you that in a time before the firehouse (last summer) we bought a vintage camping trailer to refurbish and use for cheap and relaxing US getaways. The search alone was a saga in which we bought 2 OTHER trailers in the span of one week and made TWO trips to Iowa (chronicled here and here on my paused/defunct/I-don’t-want-to-talk-about-the-status-of-it food blog) before we found “the one.”

True to all renovations, we thought we were buying a trailer that needed some work (mostly inside, mostly cosmetic) and once we started opening it up we found more and more work that needed to be done to make us feel like the trailer wouldn’t fall apart in the middle of the highway. The “this will take a few months” project quickly spiraled into (literally) a former train tunnel at a defunct brewery that became Aaron’s leaky workshop… and many months… and then winter hit… and then we bought a firehouse. You can see most of the progress on the Hawes Photography blog in the Trailer category or in order through these links: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here

One week into owning the firehouse, we woke up early on a Sunday (because no one is out in St Louis on Sunday morning and we needed light traffic), unfroze the lock to the tunnel (there was snow on the ground) and slowly drove the partially finished trailer to it’s new home. When I say “partially finished” I mean it is missing windows, has no marker lights or turn signals and, for good measure, no license plate. Once it arrived, we settled it in with a trailer cover that weeks later we discovered offered ZERO water protection when, in the midst of a rainstorm, we found water pouring in through every open window and the unfinished roof vent. That sad, soggy day included a trip to Home Depot for a tarp and rope and ended in a trailer that looks straight out of Hickville.

We have plans (oh boy do we have plans) that include a home for the trailer. Originally, we wanted to store it on Right Lot, but when things changed, we decided the back of the alley was the perfect location. Remember the alley? You can see it just to the left of the firehouse.


Maybe this will help?


At the back of the “alley,” there is a huge fence (one of the many reasons it’s bizarre that this is called an alley).




~2 hours after chopping and pulling and sweating more than a lady should, I was down to some really serious hunks of vine.


I called in reinforcements and, luckily, he brought a sawzall.


After one final pass with the weed wacker, we were able to roll the fence back.


Then came the easy part: un-tarping, unwrapping and moving the trailer to it’s new home. Ultimately, we’ll pour a concrete pad or lay down some gravel and possibly build an overhang to offer some protection from the weather.

So here she is: partially finished and finally home.



Nothing against the trailer, but she looks a lot better when she’s not in front of the firehouse.


Obviously we have some other work that we’d like to cross of the Make the Front of the Firehouse Look Presentable list:

  • Giving the garage door a new coat of red paint so the new panels blend in with the old
  • Replacing the fixtures either side of the garage door
  • Upgrading the bulbs in all the fixtures to LEDs (obsessed much? maybe) (yes)
  • Replacing the flags


That was our “easy” Sunday project that turned into 5 hours of pure sweat. Did anyone else spend this holiday weekend in DIY mode? Also, does anyone know a weather dance that will give us temperate Midwest weather so we can keep working on the exterior of this place with minimal sweat? I’m willing to trade baking secrets or bottles of wine.