The Not So Long Trailer II: The Renovation
Updated: Aug 8, 2019
Last year, after a very rainy trip up the east coast in our little Not So Long Trailer, we realized that long trips were going to require a trailer with just a bit more space. If for nothing else, MORE CLOSET ROOM. :)
That, and the fact that we spent more than one morning waking up soaking wet from our canvas drop-down bed not being able to withstand the heavy rains of the Atlantic seaboard.
So, we set out to find another travel trailer with more room and that was totally self-contained, but that also stayed within the parameters of what our Jeep Sahara Wrangler could safely pull. In October of last year, we found a used 19' 1984 Prowler model that fit the bill! It had the space requirements we needed and was at a weight that the Jeep could handle. It was also a dual axle, which made it actually easier to pull than our previous single-axle trailer. It would become The Not So Long Trailer II.
Once home with it, I (Jeff) started on the process of renovating it to what Carrie really wanted. This time around, she wanted the trailer to look a little more like the original Long, Long Trailer from the movie of the same name that starred Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in 1953.
We talked with our friend, Dave Miller, who had helped us with the paint job on our first trailer about the color scheme we were needing on the outside of the trailer. To be honest, he wasn't too keen on the color combination we had picked out. But, we convinced him that this is what we needed in order to get the affect we wanted. As Dave started on the paint job, we began designing aspects of the inside and the overall aesthetics. A few weeks passed and we got a call from Dave that the trailer was finished. He ended his call with "I think you're gonna like it." :) We wasted no time getting to his shop. When Dave greeted us outside, he had a big smile on his face. He then reminded us that when we dropped the camper off and gave him the paint colors we had picked out along with the drawings of what we wanted, he had reservations about what the end result would look like. He then said, "Boy, was I wrong." He took us in his garage and our mouths literally dropped open. It was PERFECT. We honestly couldn't be any more happy upon seeing it. I think we even got a little emotional. It was that good.
Once we got the camper back home, I immediately started working on the interior. I began gutting the trailer; the exception being the kitchen cabinets and the bathroom. We could make those areas work. But, everything else in the camper was based on 4-6 people utilizing the space. We didn't need the large, boxy kitchen benches and table that converted to a bed. And we didn't need the overhead, fold-down bunk bed. The couch that pulled out into a bed was also unnecessarily big for what we needed. So, all of those areas had to be ripped out or revamped.
Working on the inside of the camper through the winter months of January and February was slowed by the cold. Once everything was out that was not going to be used, I started on the process of repairing some side walls that had been damaged by past water leaks. The overall structure of the camper was in good shape; solid floors, sealed windows & vents, roof in decent shape. Once the weather warmed enough, I resealed the roof with Henry roof sealant. It not only did a great job of sealing the roof, but it has a great bright white look. The warmer weather also allowed for painting to begin. The transformation that takes place with just a nice coat of paint, always surprises me. I scrubbed everything down before painting to make sure I had good adhesion on the paint. The first coat was a white Kilz layer sprayed on everything that I intended to put pastel colors on. The second layer was just a nice country white semi-gloss. Once everything was painted white (I used an air gun sprayer for this), it was ready for some pastel colors. Carrie wanted that flat pastel look that was popular in the 1950s, so latex flat paint was about the only choice. Flat paint is much tougher to keep clean, but we decided it was worth the sacrifice to get the look we wanted.
When creating the look we wanted for the interior, we truly wanted everything to convey that mid-century vibe. We came across a cream-white futon on line that we thought would be perfect for serving as couch and bed. So, I designed and built the storage area to go under it and had enough room to put shelves on each end of it. It turned out great! The futon has a memory foam top, but we still roll out another 3" memory foam top on the bed each night. It sleeps great! We found the futon online at Walmart.com of all places. They delivered it right to our door at no cost. You can't beat that!
After the painting was completed in the main cabin area I finished work on the appliances and the kitchen table and benches. The benches and table that originally were in the camper were unnecessarily big. They were made that way, of course, so that it could be made into another bed, which we didn't need. So, I built our own benches and table to allow for more floor space in the camper. It made a huge difference! So glad I downsized on the table and benches. The countertop and table laminate were a pleasant find; very retro and with the perfect color accents. The counter top laminate came from HomeDepot.com . Delivered right the the door! Of course, I had to cut the laminate and edge it with a router. The chrome-look edging? It is actually truck body molding, but was the perfect width for the table. Later, I decide to add it to the countertop edge, as you will notice in later photos. It was another online find at Walmart. The refrigerator was also a pleasant find. It came from Target! Right? It looks perfectly retro and it fit the space requirement like a glove, with just a small amount of room on top which I converted over to a map and brochure pocket. The microwave came from Walmart. They have a great line of retro looking small appliances. The oven door, cooktop and range hood were painted. I found an epoxy spray enamel that was close enough to tie in with all of the other appliances.
Tackling the bathroom was the next project. Carrie wanted pink tub, sink and toilet. Well, that could only be accomplished with paint. I lighted sanded all of them down with very fine sandpaper and steel wool. I painted them using an epoxy enamel that I found on line. I then sealed the tub and sink with a protective sealant. Time will tell how well the tub and sink hold up, but so far they look great. Carrie also wanted flamingo wallpaper. We came upon this pattern from Overstock.com and although it is pretty loud, the small space didn't require a great deal of it. We found a faux marble vinyl countertop contact paper at Home Depot that we also used on the face of the tub area. New upgrades on all the bathroom hardware from trailer.com, and we have one fun little bathroom.
The final project was the floor. We decided on a wood parquet tile that would accentuate the retro feel and give it a nice "Palm Spring" effect. Now, all of the work that went on following the painting was done without Carrie seeing it. I wanted to the final reveal to be part of my anniversary present to her (May 18). Once the floor was down, I focused on the details. It was these finishing touches, that really made the renovation unique. Carrie has one creative mind. She would tell me what she wanted and I would try to come up with the way to make it happen. :) Her wish list included: flamingo lamps, a flamingo with a hanging light in its beak, a wall-mounted TV that LOOKS like a retro TV, an old telephone that we could use as a key rack, a cool place to store her record player when traveling, and a vintage TV set that could be converted into a bar. One by one, I began checking things off the list. Some were more challenging than others, but what we ended up with are definitely things that make this little camper very unique. Most of the projects were done without Carrie seeing the progress or completion. Again, I wanted the reveal to be the first time she saw all of her “wishes” come true for this little retro camper.
The reveal was SO worth it. I will post that reveal video later. Her reaction was priceless.
The camper would not be complete, however, without paying homage to Lucy and Desi. It was their movie, "The Long, Long Trailer", that first led us down this path. Carrie wanted her own LLT. After making her realize our Jeep would never be able to pull such a behemoth, she relented to just wanting a trailer that "looked" like it. We are both huge fans of Lucy and more specifically, I Love Lucy. If you are even a modest fan of I Love Lucy and yet have never seen The Long, Long Trailer, you need set aside an hour and a half and watch it. It is basically a long episode of the classic TV show. BUT, it is filmed in Technicolor! Because, who doesn't want to live in a Technicolor world? :)
Our final addition to the renovation was the awning. We wanted something unique and classic. The camper came with a roll-down awning, which was very faded. We tossed that and decided to just do the classic pole awning. That only made sense with regards to the retro look we were shooting for. We found a great little shop on Etsy, SewCountryAwnings. Beverly was a delight to work with and between her and us we came up with the best fit for our camper - a classic black and white wide stripe with a double scallop. The shadowing scallop would be close to the same yellow as the camper, which was a great suggestion from Beverly. We couldn't be happier with how this all turned out.
NOW, we need to start criss-crossing this great country of ours and enjoying our little Not So Long Trailer II!
Happy travels everyone and we hope to meet you down the road! (Lucy & Desi) :)
(To follow our adventures more completely, join us on Facebook at The Not So Long Trailer.)