We knew we had a serious rot and mold issue and we knew the slide had to come out, but we had no idea how to make all that happen! Jordan researched well into the night for the next few evenings. He came up with the idea of a cart type contraption to set the slide on. He’d seen other remodels that used something similar and went to sketching plans for our design. He bought huge casters from our local Harbor Freight so we could wheel the slide into the garage after it was removed. We were well aware that the project was going to take a few weeks and spring time in Colorado is full of unpredictable weather so we needed to keep the slide itself dry. The cart to the garage was the answer. Jordan went and bought 4×4 posts from our home depot and brackets to hold everything together and support the weight. We weren’t looking forward to this task.
I don’t remember if the weather was questionable or if he was just helping entertain the boys while I cooked dinner, but Jordan came across another idea for removing the slide. It was a great idea. Exciting and slightly terrifying. I think all good ideas have at least some uncertainty to them. He showed me a few videos of guys using forklifts to remove the slides. We didn’t have a forklift, but Jordan’s dad did have a skid steer with forks and only lived about three quarters of a mile away. Jordan’s pretty convincing when he has a crazy idea and I was not looking forward to removing the slide and pushing a rickety cart into the garage and hoping for the best. It was settled. He called his dad and asked to borrow the skid steer.
That weekend Jordan’s dad brought over the heavy equipment. Not only were we grateful to use it, but the boys are always excited to see Bop Bop and just as excited to see a tractor they get to ride in it.
Removal went pretty smoothly. Jordan slid the slide all the way out and we positioned the forks underneath them. We had to play with positioning a little to get the forks as wide as we could and not hit the slide supports. The floor in the slide was rotted out in the middle so we wanted to make sure it was well supported and didn’t fold in half, literally. We unbolted the arms from the slide and picked it up with the forks. We tipped the forks up to rock the slide towards the cab of the skid steer just slightly. Jordan and I each took a side to help guide our driver and make sure the slide didn’t slip off. It didn’t, but it did move and we all stopped breathing momentarily. Jordan’s dad tipped the forks up a little more and Jordan and I put a little more body weight against the slide to keep it stable. It continued to slide, BUT we made it the the garage and we set the slide down on boards at the edge of it. The slide was safely on the ground and we’d soon find out this was the quickest part of the entire project.
Jordan framed up a temporary wall to keep the roof from colapsing while we reframed and built the wall and repaired the slide. It was very basic. Just 2×4’s cut and wedged to fit tightly.
Demolition is Jordan’s forte and this is his account of the project.
The demolition of the old rotten wood was simple and quick. Luckily there wasn’t any rot in the framing for the roof. The majority of the rot appeared to be in the header and down the side walls on both sides of the slide opening. We used a skill saw and scored the filon and interior paneling about a foot towards the front of the camper and then removed all the framing from there all the way to back to the rear cap. Before we started removing everything, I made sure to sketch the original framing and take plenty of measurements and photos. I was able to remove the staples that held the rubber roof on over the side of the camper and just peel that back enough to remove the wall. The roof material was still in pretty good shape but it did need a good cleaning and resealed. We knew this when we bought the 5’er. It was the only project we were truly prepared for!
Now that all of the rotten material was removed, it was time to start rebuilding everything. The back corner of the floor where the pantry was needed replaced first. This consisted of a 2X6 cut and notched for the electrical hookup. It wasn’t just that simple though, to match the original, I had to cut a strip of 5mm plywood 1.5″ wide and the length of the 2X6 and then sandwich that to the 2X6 with a 2X2 on top. No idea why this is how they did it originally but I wanted everything to match up correctly. Once that was installed, I was able to replace the bad section of floor in the pantry. The framing started at the rear of the camper and moved forward. The pantry was framed with 2X2s and I added a little more vertical support in there since it rotted out, the roof had started to sag there. Plenty of measurements were taken to frame around the slide opening. The frame also got a little extra support around it to make sure we wouldn’t have any issues. Originally, the header was a 2X6 with about a 2 inch gap between that and the 2X2s that ran along the roof framing. I decided to beef up the header and went with a 2X8. I’m predictable when it comes to over building. I like to know that things are strong enough to last and this was no exception We weren’t planning to do any of this again! Everything was screwed together with exterior wood screws. We went with the exterior wood screws just to prevent them from rusting out if we were to have another leak. Most of the screws removed from the old stuff were either completed rusted out or about the size of a toothpick.
We still had a tremendous amount of work yet to accomplish, but having confidence that the wall wasn’t going to come caving in was a relief! The sturdy new header and wall was ready to be covered with plywood, filled, and sanded. For the exterior plywood, we used a 5mm plywood from Home Depot. Jordan purchased a $16.00 air stapler from Harbor Freight to attached the plywood to the framing. It only took three 4X8 sheets of plywood to cover the exterior (probably could of done it with two but Jordan wanted the fewest seams possible so he used as big of pieces as possible) and plenty of staples to make sure they wouldn’t come off.
The exterior plywood was complete. On cue, the spring rain came in the afternoon and we had to cover the camper with a tarp. We had multiple tarps, ratchet straps, and rope to keep it sealed tight. Unfortunately there was only so much we could do without a shop space large enough and it wasn’t quite enough.
It was minimal, but we did have a small leak on the very back wall. We let it dry for a couple days and Jordan sanded the wall very lightly. You couldn’t tell there was an issue at all after we let it dry. We were ready for the Filon siding to seal up the exterior completely.
We used DAP Weldwood Contact Cement to attach the new filon we purchased at a local True Value Hardware Store. THIS. STUFF. IS. STICKY! Just ask Jordan. After the filon was installed, Jordan used 3M All Weather Flashing Tape along the seam where the roof met the wall and around the opening of the slide. We will have more on the filon installation coming soon!!!
The boys loved having the open space. E loved having the open space for all his activities. I think he just enjoyed towering over daddy for the short time 😉