Late May, 2014
After the bone-chilling and quick trip to the Texas Hill Country in January, we fell in love with Fredricksburg and wanted to return, with better conditions, as soon as we could. When the neverending winter of 2013-2014 finally retreated it was mid May, and Memorial day approaching, so we decided to get Tallulah Belle trip ready again, and this time we would be taking our camping buddies along…out three Snowshoe cats!
I know that many of you, like us, have pets and enjoy taking them on your travels. We had never had opportunity to take our cats along while tent camping, so this would be our first time. To get the kitties used to the camper, we would have a movie night once or twice a week in the trailer, where we would put the cats into carriers, bring them to the trailer, let them out to explore and claim their own territory while we relaxed on the gaucho and watched movies. ( A favorite is “Puss In Boots”) After several weeks of this routine the cats had learned all about the camper and had acclimated to it as an extension of their home space, so we had no problems in that regard. We did, however, find some problems that were a result of the frigid January trip.
We discovered that during the 13F temps, the water in the lines had frozen solid –mentioned in a previous entry–which had caused damage. We replaced the Marey on demand water heater and had to repair the OEM shower diverter as a 3″ on center replacement could not be found. Sometimes working on these old trailers will force you into creative solutions that you never otherwise would have considered. Speaking of ‘creative solutions’, during this period of repair and getting ready for camping season, we also finally addressed the refrigerator issue.
The PO had thoughtfully installed a new Frigidaire 4.4 foot dorm sized fridge before we took possession, and it is a nice size and quiet little fridge, perfect for the application. Except it was black. Not at all in keeping with the turquoise and yellow color palette of the interior’s final design. So we went over our options at that point. We found that available were
A. Nostalgia Electrics retro style fridge, which on the surface looks fairly retro, but if you read reviews it turns out to be cheaply built with plastic door hinge/handle and fittings, and lots of problems listed by those who bought them. This was available for a MSRP of $239.00
B. Big Chill brand retro style appliances. These are meticulously designed and crafted appliances which have rave reviews, look perfect, and perform flawlessly. Unfortunately the MSRP of a dorm sized fridge is $1700, and another $300 shipping to get it to Louisiana. We were NOT going to spend $2K on a trailer fridge, no matter HOW great it looked! Big Chill Fridge.
We decided to get creative, and make our 2013 model Frigidaire look the part to fit into a 1960 trailer.
Now then, how to make the new, blocky, unappealing fridge look like something that woud be in a Jetson’s era camper of the future??
Well, Gentle Reader, if you have been with me all this time, you will remember my referencing the use of the chevron detail in Shasta’s design scheme. (And in an early post, you’ll recall the chrome chevron on the trunk of my 1960 Chevy Impala.) The answer was to paint the fridge a 1950’s appropriate pastel hue–in this case soft butter yellow to match the other appliances–and use various trim to get the correct look.
I started by taking the door off, since the fridge would not fit through the trailer doorway otherwise, and setting up a painting area outside under shade. I cleaned the exterior and wiped down with wash thinner to remove any traces of grease, then sprayed three light coats of sandable primer, available at any auto parts store. Let this dry for at least 24 hours, then lightly wetsand with 400 grit wet/dry paper and running water to give a totally smooth finish. I use an air compressor to blow water off and out f any crevices when finished but if you do not have a compressor available, just let it dry. Completely. When ready to paint use a clean cotton rag to sweep surface of any dust or particles. and then I used three light coats of Krylon bright Idea yellow rattlecan paint, same as was used on the stove and heater cover. Paint in good light and pull a solid wet glossy coat over the whole surface. Let cure for several days at least, Krylon takes a bit longer to completely cure. I chose to not clear coat since the other appliances had a soft satin finish rather than a deep high gloss finish, but make yourself happy on this point! When the fridge was cured, I used 1/4 inch chrome self stick auto trim to create the twin strips on the door, and a chrome trunk emblem from a 1960 Impala, ordered from a car restoration supplier. I had to grind off the lugs on the back of the chevron so it would sit flat on the door, and I used clear silicone RTV sealant to glue it into place. I think the results speak for themselves.Newly finished 2013 Frigidaire dorm fridge in place. Looks like it was installed from the factory!
Having gotten these details completed, we went camping back at Fredricksburg over the Memorial Day holiday. We stayed at the KOA campground which is a few miles out of town and close to several of the wineries, which we were keen to visit!Loaded up and ready to roll to Fredricksburg!
Arriving at the KOA we found that the sites we really wanted were taken, and we had to take a somewhat rainsoaked low site until a better site became available. No problem, except that there was no room to deploy the new yellow and white awning we had commissioned from “Awnings By Marti”, so we parked and spent the first night quietly.
The next day we moved to a site on the high side of the park, under a Texas live oak tree, where we set up the awning, the flamingos, the astroturf…the whole smash!
It was Memorial Day weekend, we were in a Shasta and we were HERE! Well, a little rain must fall on the even the best of occasions, and this weekend a LOT of rain fell on the Hill Country. It rained heavily three days in a row, but as always we were prepared…we brought a tarp to cover Tee Girl from the worst of the rain, and between showers we visited several local wineries. Highly recommended is “Six Shooter Tasting Room” which represents six different wineries, located all over Texas, and a very entertaining host. Of course, we just had to visit some of the BBQ joints in town also, doncha know.
During the times of heavy downpour, when the trailer was covered with the tarp, we watched movies or news on the flatscreen, and of course, the Snowshoes lounged ferociously (as they are famous for doing).
Believe it or not, there was plenty of room inside the Deluxe for us and three cats, (be SURE to bring two litterboxes and change them completely daily!) but it was disappointing having so much rain fall and not be able to play tourist as much as we like to.
Despite the weather, we had a GREAT time. met another couple camping in a vintage Cardinal trailer, and of course they came to tour ours and we looked at theirs but after the long weekend it was time to head back to Louisiana. Thankfully we had no issues or problems and the long drive passed smoothly. We now had successfully camped several days in another state with our kitties and bad weather, and had a great time. Vintage camping has a way of making even the not-so-great days become memorable experiences!
We had come a LONG way in just one calendar year, as we were just beginning teardown at this point in 2013.