Paint preperation

I'm so fortunate to be able to work on the coach
  here at RDS.
There is a huge lot with big canopies. Makes for a lovely place to work.
So it's time to paint the coach. An ambitious project but the poor thing is looking ghastly.
The top will be the proper original almond white, which is a perfect match to Land Rover Limestone, the colour of my Rovers wheels and full length hardtop. and the bottom will be British Racing Green to match the Rover.
I'm going to roll on the paint as I can't afford fancy automotive paint and can't justify the complexity of arranging to spray it. I did bring my spray gun but I'm just not up for a project that involved.

The first step is to sand the old paint smooth, and remove any loose, or damaged paint.
To get to the roof I built a dedicated scaffold that works a treat.
I was having a difficult time with the window and door frames, they showed some of the worst paint failure with cracking, peeling and pitting.
The problem is I can't sand them because there is a beautiful row of aluminium rivets along every frame. sanding would flatten the rivet heads horribly. So I've had a splendid idea! I'll strip the paint off the frames down to bare aluminium. this way all the paint issues are gone and I think it will look pretty cool too. So I ran down to the hardware store for stripper, It came out of the can creamy and orange like some yummy creamsicle daiquiri!
Look at me being all responsible with gloves and safety glasses. Well one glove anyway on the hidden hand.
Well as is typical with me, as soon as I started stripping the paint off the door and window frames I decided all the lovely marker light castings and hinges, and handles, water filler on and on. Even the belt strip along the bottom of the coach will be bare aluminium. Now don't be thinking I have Airstream envy, No Sir! I like my painted trailer, but I think it's appropriate for these trim bits to be bare aluminium.
The coach really doesn't need much bodywork, the lower valence, known as the banana wrap is pretty dinged up but I'm not going to worry too much about that it can be tidied up later. Above that, there are two gouges on the port side and this old failed dent repair on the starboard aft corner. I dug out all the crappy old filler and sanded it clean then refilled with body filler.

Now I really hate body filler, I hate buying it, I hate mixing it, I hate sanding it, I hate knowing it's there. But it's a life saver for those of us who can't make mangled aluminium look pretty again. But what I really hate is that I can never remember how much hardener to use. I know it's probably written on the can but I use the old formula that more is always better. As a result I generally have to work pretty fast.

Now, the horrible plastic Argosy embarrassment.
Whoa, OK, maybe that's a bit harsh but there is one feature of this coach I simply can't stand, I never could.

The tail light assembly.
I can Imagine the wise folks at Airstream wanted to make the Argosy distinctive, as if painting it wasn't going to do that. So they made this ugly plastic monster and riveted it to the back of the coach to assure it's everlasting uniqueness.
And if that wasn't enough of an insult, to make the damn thing fit, they hacked two huge clearance holes in the back of the coach.
Well the abomination is gone and I'll find a way to neatly patch the holes.

What about tail lights now? You ask.
Stay tuned,...

Under the coach

Ok, no time for any more fooling around.
aBack to work on the coach. Today I tackled a few small jobs.
First replacing the aged, gnarly propane lines. They weren't leaking but I don't know why.
So now I have all new copper lines. 1/2" main trunk and 3/8" feeder lines to each appliance.
Holy smoke has copper ever gotten expensive!

Then I crawled under and hacked of the remains of the belly pan. These trailers have a full belly pan of light aluminium sheet. Nice but problematic. Firstly because they fall off!
Yes, the silly buggers riveted the paper thin aluminium to the raw steel frame. It doesn't take long for dielectric corrosion to eat huge holes around the rivets. Then entropy takes over and eventually, driving down the road you her nasty scratching, pull over to long entrails of shredded aluminium and fiberglass insulation hanging out the back. I removed the middle section some time ago but the sides are one piece from the lower belting, the trim around the bottom of the coach, to the main frame rails. Now mine were just hanging loose because of the rotten rivet holes, so I cut the aluminium neatly straight along, 6 inches under the trailer. This does a few things for me. It allows me to remove the nasty loose fibreglass insulation and replace it with rigid foam and also allows me access to the back to do some much needed body work.
So with that done I rust proofed the frame, absolutely doused it with Fluid film. Then insulated the floor with an inch and a half of rigid foam. That made for a lot of trips from the table saw to under the trailer and back. But cutting the foam with the table saw is so nice.

And then there were three.

I've been planning this visit since the day I left Riverport. My two girls are the light of my life, Both charming and clever, they are wonderful company and the three of us always have a marvelous time together. It could be said however, that they really came to visit Geordie,...
They flew in late and we went straight to Café du Monde for beignets.
The next day was a full on conquest of the French Market. Girls do like to shop.
All week the weather was fabulous and we spent most days touring around with the top off the Rover. I can certainly say, not many knew what we were driving but all simply adored it.
It's amazing how quickly the time went and we had all kinds of plans we never got to but we enjoyed the city at it's best. One evening we met a group of fellows from England on Bourbon. Chatted for ages about dogs. Turned out they were a huge heavy metal band on tour. We swung by the venue later, hundreds in line and a fleet of tour busses.
Both my girls drive the Rover so they had a hand at that.
We became quite familiar with the various neighborhoods and simply fell in love with Esplanade.
Their mother and I stayed in a marvelous inn there years ago.

Sadly, in no time they were headed home.

Thanks for the wonderful time girls.

I love you.

Mardi Gras

Ahh it's good to be back in New Orleans, love this town!
Again I'm benefiting from the fine generosity of George at RDS as I'm set up in his gated compound only about 15 minutes from the French Quarter.
I arrived on Friday before the last weekend of Mardi Gras. The carnival season actually goes on for weeks before Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday which is Tuesday coming.
Pup and I went straight down to the French Quarter.
Bourbon Street was a madhouse! And it's only Friday.
Lots of street acts, lots of booze, and lots and lots of beads, along with the various antics to encourage those throwing the beads from the balconies above. I don't have the slightest interest in collecting beads but Geordie caused a bit of a sensation. There must have been a hundred people who had their picture taken with him, most giving him beads. Eventually I had to keep removing them as they built up.
The next few evening were wilder and wilder. I spent much of my time on Frenchman Street, arguably the new Bourbon. Much better music and more locals to chat with. Geordie was equally admired there. The weekend was wonderfully warm so I took the roof off the Rover and touring around at night was wonderful.
As it turned out, Mardi Gras itself was rainy. but by nine o'clock or so it cleared up and had that wonderful after the rain feeling.

Now to be fair, Mardi Gras has little to do with the French Quarter. It's really a carnival of parades,
dozens. Different Krews in different parts of the city.
I had waited until Tuesday to see the really big parades, but the rain was horrid and I opted out.
I can also add that even though pup is a wonderful companion, Mardi Gras is best enjoyed with company.
And company I shall have. My daughters arrive tomorrow for a week!!

Goodbye to the Gulf Coast

Time to move on.
I'm heading back to New Orleans for Mardi Gras!

My time here on the beach was fantastic and I've met some wonderful people.
But expensive drinks in tacky plastic glasses beckon.
I'm off to the Big Easy.
And the day after Mardi Gras, my daughters arrive for a weeks visit. I'm so excited, we'll have a blast.
The drive was splendid, sunny and mild, I took my time so as to cross Houston well after rush hour.
No luck, crazy traffic even at 9:00 PM. I tried to star at a Wal-Mart in Houston but was turned away for the first time at a Wal-Mart. I carried on to Louisiana and stayed at a rest stop. There was a lovely boardwalk over the bayou. I didn't see this sign until I was leaving.

Parting company

We knew we'd be heading different ways sooner or later but Pat and Jess left for home today.
They've been good company and I'll miss them.

Although I'm old enough to be their fathers, they're mature beyond their years with a wonderful spirit of adventure and resourcefulness.

Safe travels,...

Turtle Launch

There came a buzz thorough the campground.
"Turtle Launch! Turtle Launch!"
Not being from the area, I had to ask, "What all this about?"
Well, now and then they set sea turtles free on the beach at Padre Island.
I figured I'd go check it out.
What a mob!, By the time I got to the visitor centre there must have been 1000 people on the beach. I went with some friends I'd made at the campground including the delightful children of a wonderful travelling family I am fortunate to know. We made out way through the crowd and managed to find a spot about 8 people deep along the west side of the designated release zone. A swath of beach about 100 feet wide from the
dunes to the waters edge. People lined both sides 10 to 12 deep well into the surf.
Then we waited,....
And waited,...
I had the impression that at some point they'd release dozens of baby turtles and they'd scurry down the beach to the sea, just as nature intended.
But no scurrying today, about forty five minutes later a convoy of private volunteer trucks came down the beach, each carrying a kiddy pool with a couple of adult sea turtles.
Each turtle, hundreds of them, was carried to the surf by a volunteer and set off on its new life.
As each turtle came by flapping and writhing, eager to feel the ocean for the first time, I pondered the necessity of the hundred foot wide aisle.
But no matter, we watched a dozen or so get carried by and went back to camp for drinks.

There,...I've been to a turtle launch!