comet

Where Do I Fit In?

Where have I been?It's a good question! I've been really busy the past two months, but haven't made a ton of progress on the COMET. Other vintage camper people out there, have you ever tried polishing the pitted, foggy aluminum back up to a mirror finish? It takes forever! It also requires a large angle grinder, which I'm embarrassed to say I can't really lift up in the first place (so it becomes Matt's job). We've been working on it little by little, but it takes many hours and is a crappy job. It's the one thing standing in between me and a beautiful exterior paint job (also Matt's forte because he used to do fancy pin striping and decals on cars).

SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION ALERT: www.planetqueenvintage.etsy.com The reason I have been so busy is because I really need money to complete the COMET and I had to put a lot of time and energy into my Etsy shop, where I sell awesome vintage clothing. My shop is called Planet Queen Vintage (based on the T Rex song but also referencing awesome ladies that do cool stuff to positively impact the planet) and I would be so grateful if you guys took a minute to check out all the new stuff and hard work I've been putting into the shop the past few months. I added 100+ new items, took better photographs, and increased the overall awesomeness content. Bet you guys didn't know I run a business on the side in addition to the COMET?!

Tiny House Road Trip Recap

I'm back! What a wild trip! Just to remind you all, for the past month I was traveling around the US (car-camping in my Element, which worked out great) interviewing Tiny House people and doing tiny house stuff. In the coming months (it takes so long to edit this stuff!) you'll see my interviews with Laura Lavoie of Life In 120 Square Feet, Dan Louche of Tiny Home Builders, Alex Pino of Tiny House Talk, Sicily of Le Petit Maison, Steve Harrell of Tiny House Swoon and Tiny House Listings, Andrew Odom of Tiny (r)Evolution, and Hari and Karl of Tiny House Family. What an awesome community of people we have! Turns out everyone lives in a tiny house for very different, unique reasons, and it was amazing to see so many people who had really found a sense of fulfillment through small living. More on all this later!

Also, Kent Griswold told me that I had a video up on YouTube, maybe some of you have already seen it? I just found out about it while I was away, and I'd love it if you guys checked it out and "liked" it if you feel like it! Here's the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uKCnIBOhpw

A New School and A Road Trip

Hello lovelies, Sorry I've been away from the blog for a few days - I have been very busy prepping for Tiny House Road Trip Spring 2013. What is this Tiny House Road trip? In my neverending quest for the essence of the tiny house movement, I have planned a tour of the eastern and southern US, during which I will interview, film, and photograph tiny house people and their homes. I leave in less than 2 weeks! The road trip is about one month total. I'm interviewing tiny house builders, designers, and dwellers, documenting everything with cameras, audio recorders, and the pen. I'm very excited to finally meet some of the tiny house bloggers and internet acquaintances that I have been following via the internet for a long time. I'll return with lots of footage and insights to share with you all. So for the last week, Matt (cameraman, audio tech, and tiny house partner in crime) and I have been modding out my Honda Element with a platform bed with storage underneath, insulated window covers, black-out curtains, and custom vents for the windows. We're just car camping the whole trip (not towing the COMET, alas) to save money. If you have a tiny house project or business or thing you think we should see, let us know in the comments! This is the first of multiple tiny house road trips I have planned. I hope it goes smoothly - we've been planning everything out to the last detail but you never know!

Also, I was delighted to be interviewed by Andrew Odom of TinyRevolution for his podcast, RevoConvo. He's a super nice guy, and we share a common sponsor (GreenBuildingSupply.com). We talked about trailers and Worcester and off-grid systems. It was really fun, and you can all give it a listen next Thursday when it comes out! (I'll post the link when it comes out).

Texas Trip - Finding the TINY in the "everything is bigger" state

Woah, what an amazing trip. We've been back for a few days, but are just getting some time to reflect/catch up now that we are snowed in for the next few days thanks to this "nemo" storm we're experiencing in MA right now (there's a driving ban, so we couldn't go anywhere even if we wanted to!).

TEXAS has more TINY going on than one might think, considering it's the state known for the slogan, "Everything is Bigger...". We had an incredible, inspiring time hanging out with the Engineering class at the Ann Richards School in Austin. Those girls are the coolest: they love math and science, the love engineering, and they were wise beyond their years. They were so engaged with their Project Ventura, they came in on Saturday and every day after school. I was super inspired by the work these girls were doing. We learned a lot from each other! You can all go check out their blog: http://projectventura.wordpress.com/. AND, you can help them out because their KICKSTARTER has just LAUNCHED! Please, please, please support these awesome girls by donating if you possibly can - they are the next generation of great innovators. I'll keep reminding you throughout their campaign, but why wait? Go to their project page now, and donate some $!

Installing the Fresh Water Tank Fill Spout in a Vintage Trailer Camper

Installing the Fresh Water Tank Fill Spout in a Vintage Trailer Camper

The fresh water tank (the only tank in the COMET - no grey or black water tanks) lives underneath the rear couch/bed. Originally it was under the dinette bench on the port side, but that meant that there was about 15 feet of tubing wrapping around the entire trailer to get from the tank to the faucet on the other side. We moved it to underneath the rear bench to be closer to the faucet. The fresh water tank is 15 gallons and I refill it about every 3-4 days. You don't really use a lot of water when you have to pump it by hand. And the hot water is just one of those black bag camp showers that I hang up outside. Here's how we installed the new fresh water tank.

Now, we actually installed the kitchen before attaching the water tank and hooking everything up, so that's where I'll stop for now. Basically, the tank got put into it's spot under the bench, it fit very snugly. We hooked up the fill line to the appropriate fitting that we had installed in the side of the tank, and the air vent line to the appropriate fitting. We put the fitting (barbed) into the bottom for the faucet line as well, but didn't hook it up until the kitchen was finished. So we'll look at the kitchen then get back to finishing up the water tank. Photos to come!

Vintage Trailer Restoration: Sheet Metal Patches and Exterior Bodywork

Vintage Trailer Restoration: Sheet Metal Patches and Exterior Bodywork

It's about 10 degrees here in MA today, and while I look back at these pictures from the summer I am wistful to say the least. So here's some pictures of some sheet metal work we did on the trailer to patch some gaping holes and button the skins back up after replacing some of the wood inside the walls. Sometimes, when you replace the old rotten wood under the skins, they don't fit back on just perfectly (they would if I wasn't going to repaint the thing, but I am so I wasn't too vigilant about it this time around). There was a gap on the corners of the trailer where the aluminum met and started to separate from the weight of the rear. These gaps had been there since I got the trailer, so I knew I'd have to patch it anyway. First, we put a strip of sheet metal (aluminum flashing for this application - because it's flexible/malleable) around the corner and underneath the member for extra protection. We just nailed it in to the new wood. This would be the flashing that would keep any water out. When you put the skins back down, caulk around the edges and screw it in with sheet metal screws (the ones with the little rubber gaskets work well for this, but we just caulked each spot where the screw would go before screwing it in).

Adding Extra Strength Framing and New Paneling to Your Vintage Trailer

When Matt and I went to re-frame the rear wall of the COMET, we knew we had to do some re-design as well. First of all, at some point there is going to be a "bumper garden" (hehe, get it? on top of the bumper...) mounted onto the back of the trailer under the window. Ok, so it's like a way-glorified window box, but on a moving trailer, and made with polycarbonate so it's also like a tiny greenhouse too. Since there will at some point soon be soil and metal and plants hanging off of the back wall, we knew we had to beef up the framing. I wanted enough studs that we could lag into to support the bumper garden. The second part of the design had to address the really weird original framing, which had the rear bench (couch and also my bed) come down halfway in front of the rear hatch, which is the only place to really store anything large. Basically, the rear bench bisected the hatch, and I thought that was dumb, because I want full hatch access! So we raised the bench up 6 inches, so it now clears the rear hatch door and give us a little more storage. Here's how we did it! A little reference, so you can see how the original framing interfered with the rear access door.

Framing and Insulating The Floor in a Vintage Trailer

Framing and Insulating The Floor in a Vintage Trailer

Here I am again, trying to get us up to speed with where the COMET's at now. This is from the Summer, so bear with me while the next few posts catch us up to the COMET's current loveliness.

We left off where we had replaced some of the rotten framing in the walls and on the floor, and here you can see how we re-framed and insulated the floor. As I mentioned before, the entire rear half of the trailer had been demolished by carpenter ants, so we just started from scratch back there.

A New Year, and a Winter Small Space Experiment

Now that it's January, winter has officially arrived in Massachusetts. There's a  few feet of snow on the ground, and it's not going anywhere for a while. Confession time: I really wanted to live in the COMET over the winter this year, but I couldn't get her weatherproofed in time. The hole in the wall where the fridge will end up going has a large vent, and without the fridge installed it was like sleeping outside! It ended up getting too chilly, and until I seal up the cracks and insulate the vents and install the fridge (and find an acceptable heat source) sadly I will not be sleeping in the COMET this winter. However, I took this opportunity to try on another tiny space living situation for fun and to see what I can learn from it.

While I'm not living in the COMET, I'll be living in a tiny closet under the stairs in a collective house. The "room" is about the size of a twin bed, but the previous dweller made such good use of the space that it feels cozy, not cramped. There's a bed on a platform so I can store things underneath. There are two drawers installed directly into the wall as built-ins at the foot of the bed. There is a desk that nests in the wall and unfolds when you need it, and the bed becomes your desk seat. She even installed a nifty bookcase tower. There's also a tiny window on an exterior wall, so you can see outside and get some fresh air. I will have to post some pictures!

Replacing a Window in a Vintage Trailer: Thank You Fletcher's Trailer Sales!

As the weather get's colder and fall is in full swing, it is safe to say that work on the construction of COMET is winding down for now. It's a little too cold to paint the exterior outside, so until I find an indoor workspace I'll have much more time to post about the progress of the last few months. I'm glad for the change of pace!Lots of exciting things happened for us in the last few weeks. We brought the COMET to Deek Diedricksen's tiny house workshop in Stoughton, MA. It was an awesome weekend of talking tiny, building a super teeny house on a trailer, and lots of time around the campfire. We got to hang out in the Whittled Down Caravan with Tristan and Libby, which was great. At the workshop we were interviewed for an NPR show coming up (I'll definitely let you know when I find out the air date), which was unexpected and totally awesome. We also did a video with Deek for Tiny Yellow House (his youtube video channel), which will be out soon I hope! Even though the COMET remains a work in progress, it is really shaping up into something lovely, and people seemed excited about the future of the project. After the tiny house workshop, we did a video shoot for a Spaces.TV "Offbeat Spaces" webseries episode, which was really neat and a new experience for me. The COMET is such a technical project for me, and talking about the aesthetics and interior design choices for the Offbeat Spaces video was a welcome change!Anyway, lots of re-capping and catching up to do as always (I think the only solution to this would be a clone...anyone?)...but I promise now that the weather has made working outside less feasible, I will be spending more time with the blog!

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Now, to the rest of this post!