Entries to Win Afghan

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Winners are: 3rd place- e-book of your choice: Wendy Nystrom. 2nd place- book of your choice, paper or e-book: Sue Ann Crawford. Winner of the afghan: Elaine Hull.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My Trailer - Redo Days 21 & 22 - Stripping with a Friend

Hey, if you are gonna strip, it's nice to have a friend to do it with.

stripping paint on a fiberglass trailer

Marie and I worked on the trailer a little bit, but we also had final errands and tasks to do to get ready for the conference. In January, I reserved a campsite for this trip, expecting we'd be taking the trailer. Ha! We've slept in tents for years. I think we can do it for one more weekend. But it was a lot of fun having her participate in this refurbishing, even if only a little bit.

We had hopes of re-hanging the door today, but that didn't happen. The hinge screws are rusted and frozen. They are soaking in Liquid Wrench as we speak. We'll have one more day here after the conference. Maybe we'll have time then unless I end up having to drill the screws out.

I wanted to get the stripping a quarter done before this weekend. I think I made it, although it's not all on this one side. There is still a bit on the door and three letters to do. I did a whole lot yesterday by myself.

stripping paint on a fiberglass trailer

However, there is the big patch of roof done that I started with, and we got the stripes off half the back. Here's another mystery. These ones came off really easily, while the earlier ones were horrible. It must just be the differences in how the paint weathered.

stripping paint on a fiberglass trailer

I also got the backing piece of fiberglass done on the final hole in the side, and filled the screw holes around the earlier patches. There are a few dings to sand out and patch, but at least nothing can leak while I'm gone.

The car is mostly packed and we are off to Marquette in the morning!

See Redo Day 20
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Monday, July 24, 2017

Red Admiral (and us) at Rest

Marie is here. I am happy. She's really tired after all that driving, so we aren't up to pictures tonight.

Instead, I'll show you another picture of a Red Admiral butterfly, Vanessa atlanta, at rest.

red admiral butterfly

If you want to see one with its wings open, follow the link below.

Tomorrow there will be stuff to show you (probably)!

See Red Admiral
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Sunday, July 23, 2017

American Chestnut in Michigan

A few years ago, I was pretty excited to show you that I found a mature American Chestnut on the Finger Lakes Trail in New York. It even produced fruit.

The inner loop of the Dry Hill Trail that I hiked last weekend is called the Chestnut Loop because there are many sprouts of Chestnut Trees. These are all offspring of native American Chestnut trees that were planted by early settlers. The natural range of the tree does not extend this far north. Almost all the American Chestnut trees were killed by a fungal blight in the early part of the 20th Century. The trees still try to sprout from old stumps and roots, but rarely live more than a few years. Here's one that it giving it the old college try.

American Chestnut sprout

Sadly, this is what happens. Instead of growing into tall trees, they turn into weedy clumps that die before they are ten years old.

blighted American Chestnut clump

Supposedly, before the big die-off, the Chestnut accounted for about a quarter of all trees in the eastern forests, with the natural range being on the west and north edges of the Appalachian Mountains. The nuts were the main food source for many animals, the way acorns are today. Between 3 and 4 billion trees died. It's hard to imagine how different the forests must have been back then. Or how different they will become. In another 50 years, the Ash will all be gone from today's forests, and the Beech will be well on their way out too, thanks to the emerald ash borer and beech bark fungus.

But Chestnut trees are really showy when in flower. They would have made the woods look quite different.

There are 600-800 mature Chestnuts that have survived in Missaukee County, Michigan (just east of Cadillac), and some on Beaver Island. The blight does not like the colder climate of the north, and most living mature trees are in areas with cold winters. That said, a few remaining trees have been found in Kentucky, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Georgia, Wisconsin, Alabama, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and planted ones in Oregon, Nova Scotia and Ontario.

There are several foundations working to crossbreed resistant trees or make trees more genetically resistant to the fungus.

So, where I'm going with this is that while driving home I saw a whole row of chestnut trees in bloom. They aren't huge, but they are larger than the shrubby messes above. I assumed they were Chinese Chestnut, but I stopped to take some pictures. Now I think they could be American Chestnuts or possibly a hybrid. Chestnuts are promiscuous.

stand of Chestnut trees

Looking at the pictures, the leaves seem to be broad with large coarse teeth like the American trees. Castanea dentata: "teeth." Chinese Chestnut has narrow leaves and finer teeth.

chestnut leaves

That said, if they are a hybrid, I really wouldn't know how to tell. In fact, genetic testing might be required.

But, they were in bloom. You can see how showy they are! Both sexes are found on the same tree, but they do need more than one tree to pollinate. The long "feathers" are the male catkins, and the small female flowers are close to the stem.

chestnut flowers

Pretty cool! Wouldn't it be neat if the chestnut came back just in time to take over for the ash or beech?

See American Chestnut
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Saturday, July 22, 2017

My Trailer - Redo Day 20 - Fiberglass and the Big Hole

Today I decided to take on the Big Hole. In the end, I didn't do it the "correct" way, but I'll tell you why. And, it's not done, but the filling has begun. First of all, let me remind you that this is Saturday, and I always give myself a free pass after working all night Friday night. I don't do anything I don't want to do. I probably had time to do more than I did, but at least I did something.

So, this is the hole that was left behind the air conditioner unit after I finally got that whole thing out. It's covered with plastic in this picture which is why you can't see grass and trees, but it measures 11" x 20". Big.

The store finally restocked the fiberglass mat, so I now had all the things I needed again. Actually, it turned out that I could have gotten as far as I did today with the first package, but I didn't want to start until I had everything, in case I decided to keep going.

hole in fiberglass trailer wall

The proper way to do this is to get a cast of the outer surface with one layer and then remove that and build it up until you have a piece about the right thickness, and then fiberglass it into place. I was going to do that until I realized the hole went across the "bump" ridge of the stripes. I actually taped a backing piece into place to do this, but realized I'd never get that angle really right for the outside. So I decided to try it the same way I did the small holes.

I made a cardboard cutout to fit in the hole, bending it to match the ridge, put it on another backing cardboard, and covered it with wax paper. (See link below to Fiberglass 102 for more detail on doing this.) But I wasn't happy with the amount of give in this large piece. So I used the rod from a towel bar and wedged it tight into the angle.

patching large hole in fiberglass trailer wall

It was tricky working the resin into this large of a piece of fiberglass with angles, vertically. And the inside was very rough and irregular from cutting out that housing that had been fiberglassed to the wall. But none of that will show later. It wasn't looks I was worried about, it was air bubbles, and I did get some that I couldn't do anything about. Some I can fill when I start work from the outside, some not so much. Well, whatever I end up with has to be stronger than that big hole, right?

So here's the initial mat with the resin worked in to hold it to the inside wall. Looks opaque because the cardboard is still on the exterior.

repairing large hole in fiberglass trailer wall

You can see that the ridge definition is there toward the edges but gets lost a little near the middle. After it hardened, and I took the cardboard backing and wax paper off, well... same thing. Edges aren't bad, but the middle is sloppy. As I suspected, I couldn't really mold that shape vertically. Hope I can improve that as I build up the layers.

fiberglassing a large hole in a trailer wall

But this initial layer is nice and hard, and ready to add more layers. You aren't supposed to do more than three at a time, but they only have to dry a couple of hours between times.

I also sanded out divots around the screw holes that held all these vents and things on. They need just a small bit of fiberglass mat added.

sanded holes

And there is one more small hole. If I'd remembered to get it ready I could have done it today, but I keep forgetting because it's up high (out of my line of sight). The screws holding the covering are all rusted and I had no patience left when I started to take them out. Another day.

I also started to strip one more tiny area, but the paint is really tight, and it will need a second coat of stripper. I also think the stripper softens up the blades of the plastic scrapers. I broke one, and have softened two. I did buy a few extra because they are cheap, but it's just annoying. Again, patience gone. It's Saturday. I'm calling it a day.

See Fiberglass 102
See why there's a big hole in the side of the trailer
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Friday, July 21, 2017

My Trailer - Redo Days 16-19 - Stripping and Swatching

COM... ing with me? The letters aren't as hard to strip as I thought they would be. The stripes are much harder than I thought.

stripped paint

Stripping the paint on my COM... panion is going to take pretty much as long as I thought. I just hope I'll be able to get it painted this summer. I sure wanted to get a lot more done than that. Again, I've outlined the completed parts in yellow. The part just above the wheel isn't done well enough, but I got rained out tonight. If you are reading this in search of info about trailer refurbishing, at this point, I've not quite used a quart of Citristrip.

stripped paint

Did you catch that: COM... pleted? Being able to really say that is drifting off into the future.

I had hoped the paint would come off like it is on the door. Here's a mystery. Same trailer, same container of stripper (yes, shaken before each use), same thickness of application. But on the door, the stripper bubbles up, and when I scrape the old paint just wipes right off. Now that would have been nice for all of it!

stripped paint

The COM... plicated part is the stripes. They are some sort of tape. And I guess this answers the question about whether they were original. Not. The paint is under them. They are hard to get off. First I tried sanding. It worked, but was slow and was pitting the gel coat because I had to press so hard. Next I tried acetone. That gummed up the adhesive and it did work, but I had to use a lot. That's when I realized there was paint under the tape. So I slathered on an extra helping of stripper, let it sit, and the tape peeled off easily- mostly dissolved. Then I had to strip the paint under it.

stripped paint

I'll do the final stripping close to window edges and hinges, etc when I take those pieces off. Since I am working outside, I don't want to take all those out/off until I'm ready to deal with the openings. I may have to buy a big tarp.

COM... fortable? Not yet. The inside is still a mess of wood pieces, cardboard, tools and stuff. But the vinyl for the floor is ordered, and I've chosen the fabric for the shelving curtains. Had to spend a lot on swatches to get the right one, but I guess it was worth it. Certainly better than driving hours and visiting multiple fabric stores only to learn they don't have enough yardage left, right? I'll be ordering that this weekend. The one I chose has the yellow arrow.

fabric swatches

And, I'm contemplating a fix for the sprung door bottom. Don't have it all figured out yet, but I have an idea that might not be a COM... pletely horrible job. Also, one that I have tools for. I've seen one (and only one) fix for this problem, but it requires a metal shop and skills I don't have.

Oh! And I have the fix for the "strike plate" (It isn't really that, but I'm not sure what to call it on this type of latch) figured out, and it's COM... paratively easy! I might have to find a friend with a larger vise than I have to bend some metal, but this is within my metalworking skills.

When I do finally get this on the road, I hope some of you are looking for some passive/aggressive COM... raderie, because I just might come mooch an electric outlet off you for a visit. I say passive/agressive, because I'm more of a hermit, you know!

See Redo Days 14 &15
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