Friday, February 13, 2009

Catching Up

Cripes hey, I've gotta start posting more.

I intended for this blog to be full of witty banter, but I can't be witty and bantery banterous banterful chatty all the time.

The past few months have been a whirlwind of activity. The work on the barn has consumed most of our time, and the work still continues. I've been lax these past few weeks, but I will get back at it this weekend. Kinda got burnt out. I really should take some new pics to show the progress, but I hate our camera so much that I avoid it. A new one of those is on the list too, but that list is long.

Our trusty Buick decided to die last week. Well, maybe not die, but it sure requires some intensive care. The head gasket failed, which allowed all of the coolant to enter through the intake valve on the first cylinder at an alarming rate and be expelled out through the exhaust pipe in a massive cloud of stinky steam and white smoke. It's been at the garage for three days. I shudder to think.....

The weather has been unseasonable wonderful for February in Wisconsin. We've had temps above freezing everyday for the last week. I believe Tuesday was in the 50's. The record snowfalls that we received in December are almost just memories. Dirty grey melting piles of memories. I'm sure the mild temps are only temporary, but we'll enjoy them while they last.

The mild temps have allowed Sara to spend much more time working the horses and readying them for the upcoming show season. Jin has been learning all about counter-cantering and flying lead changes. He has picked up on it really well. If he continues to learn and get stronger with his new teachings he's sure to hold his own in the show ring this season.

Kirby is growing up to be a big boy. He's going to have a stockier build than Jin, but with movement just as nice. The other day Sara was working with Kirby on the line at a trot and all I could do was smile. He's got such nice natural movement already. I hope he turns some heads this summer, too.

Hank is a funny one. He knows that the younger boys have getting worked so he has been hanging out by the small gate a lot. The small gate is the one nearest the barn, and it's also the gate farthest from the food. Anyone that knows Hank will understand that having him voluntarily leave the hay pile is not a normal thing. His pathetic pouting earned him some riding time with Sara, and he sure seemed to enjoy the attention. He's going to be eleven this year (hard to believe), and he still tries to get away with the same old tricks he has been trying to get away with for the last six and a half years, but he does this with less vigor. But he still tries.

That's about all for now. Off to buy more batteries for that rotten camera.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Building a Better Trailer

A little over a year ago we bought a new used horse trailer with a 4' dressing room. I decided to try my hand at finishing it into a nice little weekender living quaters.

It started as just a shell, but it had electric service wired to it and a rooftop A/C unit. The first thing to do was to get some insulation up. It was a simple process using 1" aluminum faced insulation, aluminum tape, and some simple hand tools:

Next I applied furring strips horizontally to the aluminum trailer framing. My intent of the furring strips was to give the panelling a solid and uniform surface to mount to, as well as an anchor point for my cabinets. I discovered that the panelling I was going to use wasn't rigid enough to lay flatly against the furring strips without bowing, so I screwed sheets of 1/2" pine plywood to the furring strips. This turned out to be a much better idea than the furring strips alone. It worked both as a solid backer for the panelling as well as a great surface to fasten the cabinets to. The driver's side of the dressing room was finished without the use of the furring strips - I just fastened the plywood directly to the aluminum trailer framing.

The next step was to apply the decorative panelling. I found a nice product at the local big box hardware store that was panelling with a laminate applied to the face that looked like a worn leather. It's nice because it has a washable surface and it is much better looking than a standard panelling. I applied a panelling adhesive to the plywood, then used a pin nailer to fasten the panelling to the plywood.

After that came the cabinetry work. I've never built cabinets, so I recruited the help of my good friend Randy who is a cabinet maker. He was a ton of help and he let me use his shop and tools. I think he enjoyed helping me with this project as a way to break his normal routine of basic kitchen jobs. Randy measured everything up and offered his opinion if I needed one. He sketched it up, drew up a materials list, pointed me toward the saw and told me to "get cutting". Kinda daunting, but eveything turned out fine with his help.
The decision to go with hickory was simply an economic one. Randy had just enough left material from a previous project that was extra, so we used it up. Hickory is a beautiful and very hard wood. It will definitely handle the rigors of horse shows and rough camping.
It was Randy's idea to use the extra panelling as the panels for the doors, and it turned out great. We also used it for the counter top and the tops of the cabinets.

The next day I got there bright and early to help with the spraying and installation, and Randy had them all installed:

I still have some finishing to do like putting window trim on and laying the laminate floor, but it's perfectly useable now and much more convenient than the folding table and lawn chairs that we used before.