Saturday, April 30, 2016

Here be dragons....

Well it's been winter in New England, so I thought it was time to work on some projects that could be accomplished inside!


And that's where the "here be dragons" reference comes in!   These drapes kicked my sorry self back to high school!   Let me preface this by saying I consider myself an accomplished seamstress.  I've made wedding dresses, prom dresses, I've made dresses where my daughter has handed me a picture of an actress wearing a dress and asked me to copy it.  I can smock, embroider.. you name it, sewing doesn't scare me, I've even done a houseful of drapes.   ..... BUT  I've never done a pleated drape, and trust me.... There be dragons.

My criteria for choosing a style of drape was as follows.

Pleats not gathers,
I wanted a clean, stream-lined look
Modern, not old fashioned (that ruled out your typical single and triple pleated drapes)
NO rings, as minimal a curtain rod as I could find.
And absolutely NO curtain tracks which I find truly hideous.

What I settled on was an inverse pleat like this:

I think I googled every curtain rod on the planet, I wanted to use a low profile wire system but very few of these exist, and they get lousy reviews about the ability to hold a heavy curtain without sagging.

After testing several alternatives I settled on these.
They are made to handle artwork (ie heavy duty) and while typically used vertically, I didn't see any reason why they wouldn't work horizontally. Plus they had a tensioner built in so my drapes would be sag free.Cause sag free is important ya know!

I'm not going into the minutiae of my thought process( you really don't want to get into my mind like that, trust me !) but in order to get these drapes to work I had to figure out how to hang them without using curtain rings.   In a typical pleat, the fabric is in front of the rod, in inverse pleats it's behind,  so to make the drapes stay close to the wall I installed metal grommets in each pleat.

I used grommets with 1/2 inch holes on top, 1/4 inch holes on the bottom.  The top ones needed to be larger in order to slip over the tensioner so the curtain can be pushed all the way to the sides.

I'd like to say at this point that I will forever associate these drapes with the 2016 presidential debates..... Also any mistakes I made are wholly attributed to me yelling at the TV when I should have been paying better attention to what I was doing!!

How the heck did I get this far without showing you the fabric!

Here it is.... It's Richloom Rave indoor/outdoor fabric in cherry.  It's a nice weight with a linen like weave.

 I ordered 15 yards and used every bit of it!    This fabric that was already pre-lined, but not light blocking, so I added blackout lining.

Here's one big drape that I was starting to mark the pleats on.
After pleating and installing grommets!
There's a lot of math that goes into doing pleated drapes!  I didn't have any trouble actually sewing them,  but figuring out how many pleats would fit on each window  and adjusting a few of the pleat depths to make them all the windows look the same was extremely tedious. There's ten pages of this!

Here's a picture of the curtain grommets on the wire curtain rod.
And here's some pictures of completed drapes.
One of the nice things about this style of drape is that it stacks back really compactly for maximum window area.
On the bottom I used clear elastic cord that attaches to command hooks on either end.  This snugs the curtain up to the walls and when the curtains are open you can barely see the cord.  Actually, you can barely see it in this picture too!
For the snaps at all four corners,  I found snaps that look like bullet casings!
I also sewed some of those tiny magnets into the inner edges of the curtains,  so when I close them they stay closed!
 I was able to sandwich the magnets between the inner lining and the blackout.
I even did a snap on cover for the skylight!

The last step was to "train" the drapes with strips of paper.  I stacked them all to one side to do this but the drapes actually open in the middle, and stack back on both sides.

I also made these duffel bags that get hung under the bed from safety cup hooks.  The idea is to be able to pack them in the house and just bring out to Moonraker and clip them in.  LOTS of storage space, and they'll double as laundry bags.  They actually were kinda fun to do after the drapes!  They are lined in vinyl and the bottom is vinyl too. Aqua of course!

Work will resume shortly on cabinets! We've decided to put our house on the market in a couple a weeks (time to downsize), so I've been busy to get the house ready to go.  We've got lots of camping trips planned for this summe,r so I need to get back to work on them!

Oh,  and we ordered two leather recliners for the front of Moonraker .  We may not have running water or a stove, but between the beds and the recliners we will be comfy!!

Friday, November 20, 2015


There's no hope of starting this post with some super clever opening line because I just can't wait to show you guys something....  My beds are in!  Back to the fifties, rounded corners goodness!  Seriously.  Just. Love. Them.

Look at the real estate below!

Yes, I left out the drawers....stop groaning ...there's a method to my madness and I absolutely adore the sleek look.  Not to mention all the money I save on knobs!  Allows me to splurge on these beauties.

By the way, that flush pull was a real bear to get in, because of the way it protrudes in the back it requires mortising the block of wood under it.  Here's my template.  I used a forstner bit to drill the hole and a chisel to square off the top.   Lots of extra work, but I like how they look and function.

Anyway, this is what I started with of the old bed, yep, that's all I reused!  The back rail and two sides....

I used a kreg jig to build my framework mostly out of 1x2's and a few 1x3's.  A couple of things I did note ......You really need a corded drill, the battery ones just don't work as well and the kreg holes end up ragged.  Second,  spend sometime thinking about where you want your holes to end up.  My completed frame looks like this.

See those center three horizontal sections?  Well it turns out that the holes lined up with the hinge screws, so I had to fill them all with plugs.   Of course I didn't discover this until after the bed was installed ....because I very easily could have flipped them over and screwed them from underneath.  But once it was attached to the wall I wasn't taking it off again.

One last thing, I sprayed the whole frame with Poly to give it some protection.  Which in turn makes the wood plugs very difficult to fit in the holes!  I didn't think that one through.    I did mask off all the surfaces I didn't want to get poly on (because glue won't adhere well to it) At least I remembered that!

I used birch bender board for the front.  The radius on the plywood corners was 4 inches.  Would have been tough to go any smaller.  I finished the wood first, and that made bending it a little more difficult.    Speaking of the finish, I used three coats of Zinsser amber shellac, cut with denatured alcohol (cut 5 parts shellac to two parts alcohol) and finished with three coats of the General Finishes  Arm R Seal in gloss).   The most time consuming of the whole project was waiting for that Arm R Seal to dry.

Come to find out that General Finishes don't really recommend using the Arm R Seal over waxed shellac, evidently it can cause adhesion problems.   I did contact another person on Airforums (InsideOut) who used this same finish on her 56 Safari.  She said they've had no problems and it's been five years so I think I'm okay.  I had blue tape all over it with no lifting issues.  I might throw on Zinsser Sanding Sealer over the shellac before putting on the Arm R Seal just to be safe on everything else.

I glued the front on with Titebond III and brad nailed it to the frame.  Note to self;  ask Santa for more clamps! . Poker sets are heavy but they don't make great clamps.

Yes, I'm working inside in my Living room, turns out a pool table is an excellent place to build furniture!  In my defense, I did put plastic down! 

Then the top was routed with a flush bit.

The tedious award goes to painting all the resulting edges with paint !

 Some other favorite tools for this project:

I spent a lot of time getting the bed frame square.  Love this little Doohickey.

Also,  you know when you are brad nailing and you miss the frame because you can't tell where it is?  Super Annoying.  Well this little item is great! Basically it's an elastic cord that tells you where you need to nail.

Can you tell I spent some time in a Rockler store recently?  They'd be nice Stocking stuffers!

So the beds are done right as camping season is over!  Anyone got a mattress recommendation ?  They are bunk sized, not true twins. At one point, I put a twin size on just to try it out and I'm really happy with how the corners match the mattress corners!
 No more sleeping on the floor, Yippee!!!!

Monday, September 28, 2015

So who wants to see my Zolatone?

Well..... You can't , not really.....I mean... it photographs like a Yeti in a blizzard   Okay you had to be in Boston for the Blizzard of 2015 to get that reference, but really it does not photograph well.   That being said here you are!
 Here's a closeup ... not that it shows up any better lol.
I like it!   Way more than I thought I would.   It's color number FLX-0032.  Its a creamy yellow with caramel colored specks (they call it cracker crust!)  The sample I got from Zolatone  had a lot of darker brown in it, but mine didn't come out exactly like the sample. There's far less brown which is what I was hoping for. It's also way lighter than these photos suggest.

My experience with Zolatone Flex was very positive.  They recommended that bare metal be primed with a good primer.  I used Benjamin Moore Fresh Start which I've talked about in my last post.  Based on the fact that I was able to prime Moonraker with two coats in just a little under a gallon of primer,  I ordered two gallons of the Zolatone basecoat ($27 each) and three gallons of the topcoat $110 each).   Which by the way, is way less than the estimated coverage.  By Zolatone's coverage estimate,  I would have needed more like 5 gallons of the topcoat, for example.

The basecoat gives the surface its texture and the topcoat gives it the speckled appearance.   I was able to do two coats of primer using up  1 2/3rds of the two gallons of base coat.  The top coat was supposed to have less coverage and it did, I ended up using 2 3/4 gallons out of the three.  I cut it kind of close and I didn't let anything go to waste, taking a spatula to the paint can (really kinda wish I hadn't used my Williams Sonoma spatula,  as I had to chuck it, sigh ).  And when I say I didn't waste much I mean it .... See?

I also did not paint the window frames or refrigerator flue (which I still need to build).  So to keep my reserved paint for the refrigerator flue,  I only did one coat of the topcoat on the wheel wells.  So if you are ordering based on my experience, take that into account!    

They send you one specialty foam roller and one sample card.   When I ordered my sample cards originally they sent me a large (8x10) sample.  I highly recommend you get samples because the colors on my monitor were very different from the real colors looked like.   Also spend the money and order a second specialty foam roller.  By the time I got through my second top coat, the roller was matting down and I wasn't getting a consistent speckle pattern. 

Other tips?

TAPE OFF EVERYTHING.  This stuff SPLATTERS!!!   If you roll slowly you can mitigate some of it.  I am an extremely neat painter and figured I didn't need to tape off the electrical wires, that was a mistake.   And don't expect to go to a fancy dinner that night.  I needed a couple of days for this to wear off, my camera and fitbit are still covered in splatters.

Also, take out your window screens,  paint doesn't clean very well off of them.  Yep, the queen of doing it again strikes! Thankfully I only had to re-screen one, before I wised up and removed them.

Overall though, I am really happy with the paint.  Total cost was  about $402 plus $68 shipping ( not including the $50 for the Benjamin Moore Primer).  I think that's about half what the oil based spray-on Zolatone is, especially if you need to buy/rent a paint sprayer.  

Speaking of which, I recently had a fellow Airstream visitor John (65CV)  drop by.  He has a true Zolatone finish (that is sprayed on).  My impression was that the texture was very similar but my flecks were MUCH more subtle.  Here is his Overlander having a reunion with Moonraker!

Remember my patched section where the refrigerator flue would be?   It came out great! The texture really helped hide the patching job...

I also installed the lights...
Two sconces on either side in the front (if you bid against me on Ebay for these I'm really sorry.....just saying.....)  Love the tiny stars!

 These have the LED bulbs from  They still honor the discount code from the VAP, (Vap5) will save you five percent.  They aren't cheap at $19 a bulb but they won't drain your batteries and they are BRIGHT!

Overhead light is my favorite!   Its casts little starbursts all over the ceiling...

 I did got all my window frames cleaned up and spray painted.  I used a hammered  copper paint from rustoleum.  Copper will be a recurring theme in Moonraker.  I'm in love with the warmness of copper, Stay tuned for more on that front!

Now for the bad news... About a month ago I fell and injured not only my rotator cuff, but my deltoid in my right shoulder.  I'd like to say it was doing something daring...  like polishing and falling off my Airstream, or getting thrown from my horse,  but nope, it was one of those garden variety getting up half asleep in the middle of the night and simply tripping and.... well  I went over like a felled tree. 

Xrays, numerous Dr. visits and mucho Physical therapy later..... I'm finally getting some use of my arm back.  Thankfully, I'm improving enough that they are saying surgery isn't necessary.  I still have very little strength though, can't even hang onto a screwdriver.   

Which means that work on Moonraker is at a standstill.   Just when I get to the fun part! 

Meanwhile,  I've got a  Propride waiting to be installed.... NOT going to happen soon as it weighs a ton.  The TPMS system I think I can handle (the little sensors are only a couple of ounces lol)  

Anyway, as I couldn't work on her, we decided it was time to hit the road.  We've spent the last couple of weekends at Greenfield State Park (NH), then Salisbury State Park (MA)... This past weekend we headed north to the Loon Mountain Area (NH).

Sleeping on the floor on mattresses has moved up the beds to the PRIORITY ONE
list !!!  Just got a load of bending birch and Baltic birch.... itching to get started!!!

Oh, and I went to the Brimfield Antique show and picked up three of these aluminum riveted beauties.  They have wooden slides on the bottom and we've been using them to store stuff in the truck bed !  Love them! They even have metal flanges on top (in the corners) so I can stack them or put a piece of wood on top to use as extra seating.

And one of my favorite pictures from our trips.  Finn with the Airstream behind him!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Paint prep

Paint prep took forever.....

 I was so eager to get to the Zolatone that I forgot my wheel wells should probably go in first.  The plan was just to pull out the wheel wells from storage, give them a good sanding and install.   Well you know how plans go.....  I started to sand and they smelled awful, that same old  "50 year old trailer that was used as a habitrail" kind of smell.  Then looking closer,  all the rivets had pulled through the fiberglass and there were holes and cracks in more than a couple of spots.   Do it once and do it right, Right?

I stripped the paint off, repaired all the weak areas with fiberglass/ filler (particularly all around the bottom flange) and West System epoxy.  Then I even gave the whole thing a coat of epoxy to stiffen it up and seal in any odors.   Then I re-attached the aluminum top and sanded it all to prep for paint.

I installed it using butyl tape to seal it to the wall of the trailer.  Of course after I had riveted it all in place, I realized I had never removed the paper backing on the butyl tape!   So one of the wheel wells I actually installed twice. GRRRRRR...  Then there was the gray water tank inlet (covered in blue tape below)  that was blocked by the flange.  My trusty rotozip took care of that!  

I also buck riveted the door.  I have a awesome hand puller that I was planning on using but of course the rivets were too close to the inner edge so I had break out the compressor and the gun.  I have a really nice tungsten bucking bar that I love .  Its very heavy and compact.   I have small hands and I really hate how so many tools are hard to use because they are too big (like the hand riveters, they KILL my hands!)  And yes, I know they make woman sized tools, but pink tools (or god forbid floral , shudder) are not a big fav of mine! Anyway, this bucking bar is sized right and does an excellent job.   

I also made a patch for the water filler.  Back in the day Airstream just pop riveted random strips along side of it to close the gaps, Mine looks a whole lot better!  No mice highway here!

I had this awful area where someone threw up a patch to cover the old refrigerator vent.  The holes were very large and if I filled them with rivets it was going to look awful.  I opted to patch them all with Marine-tex.  Its a two part epoxy used to patch holes in aluminum boat hulls.   It did a great job patching the rivet  holes and was surprisingly easy to sand.  Which was a good thing because their "sag free" formula was not exactly sag free.

I promise the next post will be about Zolatone!

We have managed to have some fun this summer, just back from a week on the Cape, Great fishing - mine was the smallest fish at 21 inches and had to be thrown back so I got to take the picture instead!