After a few weeks of intense and thorough mechanical wizardry performed by Calvin Rowley; we are back on the case of getting the wall frames and the roof skin installed. The first challenge was getting the factory original fiberglass molding attached to our frame work. The shape is very specific and the decently sturdy fiberglass does not like to flex very much. We ended up installing a piece of rectangular trim along the bottom edge of our frame in order to facilitate installing the fiberglass without much distortion. Our second challenge was getting the .060 marine grade aluminum sheet to conform to the rounded nose cone. We had to encourage the aluminum by using ratchet straps and a heavy piece of angle to hook to the edge. After taking our time and pulling on the sheet gradually, we were finally able to get it fastened. We are very pleased with the smooth lines of the front, as well as the inherent strength of the shape. We decided to proceed with the attachment of the walls, prior to advancing on the roof. Both of these tasks kind of go hand in hand as well, as the roof skin is limited to the amount of frame work that has been installed. The second floor section is now installed, and we may even go back at it and get some more of the roof skin put in place!
It was with some nostalgia that we waved farewell to Steve’s 2004 WRX wagon this afternoon. Even before the hurricane, we knew she was a goner. Her name was Trinity, and her frame was nearly rotted through. Since being partially submerged in the storm surge, she was now even worse for wear. It took a good deal of hammering and a small bit of cursing to get her onto the tow dolly, then break the e-brake free so the back wheel would spin, but she finally agreed to disembark on her final voyage up to the scrap yard on the mainland. It’s always hard to say goodbye to an old friend. After all, the first time I saw Steve was when he pulled up to our date driving Trin. And, well, since we both drove Subarus in a land where they are scarce, we had a feeling we might just get along pretty well. She went to a good cause, though, a hardworking local who can use some spare cash. Her parting also made room for a new set of friends, who showed up just an hour later.
Enter Calvin, Erica and Booty the cat, a trinity from Utah who happened to be visiting the Keys in their ’86 Dolphin. Calvin is an intrepid Toyota mechanic, among many other talents, and Erica an inspiring writer, filmmaker and photographer. They arrived with impeccable timing, and will be camping out for a bit to help us get everything under our Toyota’s the hood working well. Steve and Calvin didn’t waste any time opening the new parts, like kids at Christmas. I’ll let Steve detail the plethora of fixes and upgrades that are being made under the hood. And check out our new friends’ blog www.chasingbootyadventures.com. They’ve been living on the road for almost a year; happy and lucky souls.
We were pushing a shopping cart full of Thanksgiving ingredients through the Winn-Dixie shopping center on Big Pine Key last night when we noticed something had changed. The ’84 Toyota Dolphin motor home that had been parked there for a month was suddenly sporting a brand new “for sale” sign. Its owner agreed to meet us at the uncomfortable hour of 8:30 this morning. This is a time of day most people do not enjoy in the Keys.
He and his wife had been living in the Dolphin since they lost their house to hurricane Irma. They had bought it up in the bizarre failed-development community of Lehigh Acres on the mainland. A few days ago FEMA finally came through with a brand new trailer for them. They decided to ditch the Dolphin to pay for a new roof. Despite a number of people eyeing it from afar while we examined it, he gave us a few days to decide. We only needed an hour.
It has just 81,000 miles and measures about 18 feet. It mostly fits in a standard parking space, and set us back $3,600. The frame is solid. It needs a little TLC under the hood, but it runs well. We had considered a bigger model, but the simplicity of the Toyota and the much smaller price tag won. Steve will surely want to add more on the technical side of the blog. Signing off to go begin the renovation. Woohoo!