Archive for September, 2013

I have been trying to add a new post to my blog for several weeks but for some unknown reason my computer and blog no longer play well together so we’ll try it a different way and see what we end up with.

Summer has been busy with lots of work, haying, hunters, garden stuff, farmers market and canning but I have taken a little time to work on my old camper Rattlin’ Ruby so I thought you might like to see what we’ve done.

Ruby and I (along with my sister and a bunch of the girlfriends) will be headed off on a grand adventure in just under a week.  We are going Junking!  Last year at the Sisters on the Fly campout I heard about the Nebraska Junk Jaunt – a 500 mile loop in the center of Nebraska of rummage sales, antique dealers, church bazaars and who knows what else.   If you know me, you know this is something I must see for myself.  So I mentioned it to the girls one day and plans were quickly made.  But there was much to get ready if I wanted to take Ruby.

First off I took the old girl down to Edgemont, SD to Jim – a guy who works on campers for a living.   Usually he works on much newer campers but he was willing to see what he could do with Ruby. First he by-passed the old propane lines (since they were kind of scary) and ran a new line to the stove and fridge. He also added a new regulator and pig-tails on her spiffy new propane tanks.


A couple cans of spray paint also helped to spruce up her hitch a bit.

Right from the start, the stove and oven worked great but we had a few problems when it came to the cute little fridge. I am proud to report the Dometic company is still in business and continues to make great camper refridgerators but it appears that things have changed in the last 50 years. Jim (the guy in Edgemont) had no idea what was the correct way to light the old girl so he called the company and asked for the guy who had been there the longest. Of course they were curious about a 50+ year old fridge that appeared to still be in working condition. I guess the thought of it caused quite a stir. The company rep, to whom Jim was directed, had a couple of ideas but wasn’t sure any of them would work and I’m afraid he didn’t instill a great deal of confidence in Jim because he didn’t jump right in and try to light her after he hung up the phone. So I paid the bill and brought my baby home still not knowing if the fridge worked or not.  I should also mention that written on the bill was the following statement “Appliances are 40 + years old and are to be operated at your own risk”.

OK – that scared me for a couple of weeks but one day when Morgan (who is fearless) was home we decided to give it a try. The pilot light took right off and burned happily all night. I admit I worried about it all night long and sat up in bed to look out the window a couple of times through out the night to see if my little Ruby was a blazing pile of embers.  Fortunately, she survived the night in good shape. Unfortuantely, even thought the pilot light still burned the next morning, the fridge wasn’t any cooler than it had been the night before. I shut off the propane and started work on some other projects while I decided what to do about the fridge.

It’s a good thing I don’t work quickly as a few weeks later as I was cleaning out one of the cubbies I stumbled across a stack of paperwork that had come with the trailer. When I frist bought her I had found lots of papers – dusty, grimy, mouse eaten papers that I hadn’t really bothered looking at but had stuffed into one of the cubbies where all the odd ball stuff went as I cleaned. Thankfully I don’t throw anything away so amongst all these old registrations, receipts and papers were several booklets on the fridge. JACKPOT!!! In nearly mint condition were the instructions on how to lite the fridge along with lots of information on something called a Klixon valve. It also showed a picture of this long metal rod with a funky little pocket on one end. Wait a minute… I’ve seen one of those… You guessed it – in the middle of the pile of odd ball things there was the the ‘lighting rod’ I needed to light the fridge. Thank goodness I’m a packrat. Turns out that the funky little pocket on the lighting rod holds a short piece of lamp wick which you light then slide back to light the pilot light and warm the Klixon valve which opens with a click and starts the fridge.

Sounded easy but I still waited till Hubby could take a break from haying and watch (and call 911 if I blew myself up) as I attempted to light the fridge.

Wah Lah – it worked like a charm. The Klixon valve opened and the old girl moaned and groaned for a couple of seconds then took off like she’d been running non-stop for years. She ran all night (yes, I spent another sleepless night looking out the window) and the next morning I ran out to find the temperature in the fridge was a chilly 29* and the freezer compartment was coated with a glittery layer of ice crystals. Of course I ran in to tell Hubby the good news. I won’t tell you the first words he said but he did mention that at least I could keep my beer cold now. Ha!

I scanned all the important ‘historical’ documents and passed them on to Jim in Edgemont who was going to pass them on to the guys at Dometic so they will be ready the next time a crazy woman calls about an older-than-dirt camper fridge.

After all that excitement I was pumped to contiune work on Ruby. Next I tackled the water system.

Ruby’s water system is simple enough even I can’t screw it up. At least that’s what I thought when I started. I purchased a new fresh water tank and propmtly started plumbing.


Things look pretty good don’t they? The one itsy bitsy issue with the whole system, which you proably can’t see in this picture is that they no longer make tanks the same size as the original galvanized steel tank that came in the camper so I had ordered the next best thing. It turns out the ‘next best thing’ is a tank that is slightly taller than the original so to fill the tank the water must now run up hill from the inlet on the outside of the camper to the inlet of the tank. Now I’m no expert on plumbing but I’m thinking there might be a little problem with that.

OK – there’s got to be a way to revamp this. The first thought was to cut a hole in the floor of the camper and lower the tank down a couple of inches but because of the metal I-beam that runs the full length of the camper there was no easy way to do that. In a moment of complete insanity I even thought that maybe it would work if I ran that side of the camper up on a ramp while I filled the tank but I’m betting as soon as we headed down the road water would splash out of the inlet until it reached a level inside the tank that was lower than the inlet.  I would have to add a shut off valve somewhere by the tank to make that idea work but what a pain in the butt. I finally decided the best answer is to raise the inlet on the outside of the camper till it is higher than the top of the tank. Of course that means I will have to raise the bench seats up an inch or two for clearence. I guess that will just have to wait till I get back from Nebraska.

I’ve decided when it comes to old campers you cause at least one problem for every problem you solve. Oh well, it keeps me out of the bars.

The third project I tackled actually turned out really well. I hung some artwork on her walls. They are greeting cards made by Leaning Tree.  They are a variety of cowgirl paintings by a very talented artist named Terri Kelly Moyers. Framed in black frames and then screwed right to the walls they look great but you know how it goes – when you fix up one thing it makes something els look bad.


In this case I thought it just made the plexiglass windows on either side of the dinette area look nasty. I thought about it for awhile and decided Ruby needed some stained glass but since she is a mo-bile unit and tends to shimmy and shake down the road I’m afraid regular stained glass would be too ridgid to survive very many miles – but a simple mosaic would work great instead.

I cut out some red and green glass pieces to form a rose then headed out to Ruby with a jar of busted clear glass and a couple of tubes of clear silicone. Two hours later and this is what those boring windows look like now.


I really need to get a picture of them at night with Ruby’s lights shining through them.  Now I don’t even need curtains for privacy.  And another plus is if I ever get tired of them I can peel off the glass and silicone and the plexiglass windows are still there. Sweet! I took a few photos as I worked to show you how I did it.

First I drew up a pattern. Usually if I’m working on glass instead of plexiglass I just draw the design on the back side of the glass but I wasn’t sure the permanet marker would wash off of plexiglass so I just drew it up on a piece of paper and taped it to the outside of the window.


Then working on the inside you smear on some clear silicone. Be sure to open the window when you do this as the fumes from the silicone will run you right out of a little camper in a matter of minutes. Work in small areas of the window as the silicone will set up quickly especially on a hot day. I usually squeeze out enough to cover an area about 6″ square then take a small piece of cardboard to smear it around – covering all of the area. Once it’s spread around you just stick the glass into the silicone and press it firmly into place. You will be able to slide the pieces around for awhile so that you can get them set ‘just right’.  Sometimes when you press the glass in place silicone will ooze out around the edges.  If this happens just wipe it off with your fingertip but be sure to have some paper towels handy to wipe your hands on other wise you will end up with silicone on everything and believe me that’s a mess!

I always have lots of scrap glass around but if you buy pieces of stained glass to use be sure to ‘cut’ the glass into squares or triangles – don’t just hit it with a hammer as you will end up with lots and lots of skinny, sharp shards of glass that won’t work well in a mosaic.  Just buy a cheap glass cutter for around $3.00 at the hardware store and score lines going both ways before you start breaking the class.  Practise on some  old window glass to build your confidence if your nervous about the stained glass.

I’ve also done mosaics like this on the glass in old window frames. These look great hung in windows or even on the front porch. Easy-peasy!!!

Well, it’s back to work for me but at least we’re one day closer to the Junk Jaunt. I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures of the treasures we find. If you don’t want to wait for my pictures just jump in the car and head to Nebraska too – I’m sure there’s enough junk for all of us! Happy Junking!!!!!!!!!

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