Tricky cuts

As predicted, the bug I’ve caught has really slowed down progress on the Airstream projects. Mike and I are still working every day on the Safari flooring, but only for a couple of hours each day.

It also doesn’t help that we’re now doing the really difficult part. Toward the rear of the Airstream the cuts in the vinyl planks get much more complicated. We’ve got many obstacles to work around, such as the power converter, bathroom door frame, Emma’s bed, and kitchen cabinets. We are removing what we can, in order to slip the new flooring beneath furniture as much as possible, but most of the interior elements in the rear are impractical to remove without gutting the entire trailer.

Many of these spots require long and tricky cuts. It would be much easier if the furniture all fit into the Airstream exactly square with the body, but when you are down on your hands and knees studying it with a framing square, it becomes painfully obvious that nothing goes in a true straight line. Some of the lines are more like waves on the sea than straight edges.

This means that each plank that abuts a piece of furniture has to be approximately cut to fit, then carefully trimmed here and there, freehand, with a knife. This takes several tries, with test-fitting between every new trim. Just about all of the planks we have to lay need some sort of customization like this, so in an hour of work we are lucky to get four planks laid.

On Saturday we did two hours of work, and laid only five planks, plus we re-hung the bedroom door and re-installed half the dinette. It’s not nearly as impressive looking as the progress we made last week, but this is the phase we are in. There’s no way to speed it up. We’ll just have to keep whittling away at it for the next several days.

In the meantime, the Caravels waits for its final few plumbing connections. I’d like to get out there today and finish it up (it might take only a few hours) but I know this isn’t the time for me to getting into that. The Safari is the priority because we will be leaving on a trip soon and it has to be 100% ready by then. I may even take it on a test-tow just to make sure nothing that everything we’ve re-installed is staying put.

This is psychologically a tough part of any project. The end is in sight, but now we know that rather than coasting into the finish line, it will be a long and tedious slog to finish up the last few square feet. Worse, even when the floor is done there will remain a list of other tasks that the Safari needs as a result of the new floor (I listed some of those projects yesterday). So it’s clear that we will be at this task right up the deadline for our trip.

On the other hand, I can find great motivation to keep working on the project, and that’s what keeps me going even on a day when I have a virus. There’s the joy of making the trailer look better, the opportunity to resolve a number of things that have been annoying, the pleasure of knowing you “did it yourself”, the good feeling that comes from working with your hands to make something tangible (a big change from my desk job), the knowledge that your efforts will help your Airstream investment last longer and retain value—and if you are really lucky, adulation and love from friends and family who appreciate the results. Not a bad return on investment.