Monday, February 28, 2011

Deconstructing a Mobile Home (Part Two)

I was going to try to cut the roof up with a circular saw and one of those fibrous metal cutting blades. (Or maybe a few of those blades, as they wear out quickly.) My wife had the idea that we could take the roof apart at the seams, and it was a good idea, too. Once two of the metal sheets that make up the roof are separated at the edge, a flat crow bar can be hammered down the seam. We figured this out toward the end of our day, after having removed the frames for one long side and the front, breaking them up and stacking them on the truck, and finally detaching the roof from the section behind the front porch, which was difficult to reach. We're thinking to use the porch as a garden shed, so we want it intact. Anyway, we were tired, and decided to call it a day. We'll hopefully have the roof apart and off the floor next time.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"Deconstructing" a Mobile Home (Part One)

We intended to refurbish our 1972 model single wide mobile home. The county had passed laws that would not allow us to sell it, or rather to move it to anywhere other than the landfill, but it seemed too nice and big a space to simply destroy.
No one had lived in this trailer for years, and it was not in great shape. It was leaking here and there. The presswood floor was mushy in places. It was wired with aluminum instead of copper, which was popular in the day but is said to be prone to vibration and overheating and thus unsafe, and we were thinking we’d have to buy or build a small solar system like the one in our current shed.
I coated the roof and started replacing windows, but had quite a way to go, and the whole thing begin to seem such a daunting task and, more importantly, so expensive and time consuming. So we decided we'd rather spend the time and money on other projects.
It cost too much to have someone pull the mobile home to the landfill. Various websites we visited indicated that "deconstruction" might be our answer. That's "deconstruction" as opposed to "demolition." Naturally, we didn’t document the beginning of the deconstruction process, but here it is in what i guess is mid-stage.
The most fascinating aspect of this trailer is not the multitude of squirrel nests we found in the few inches between the roof and the ceiling nor the dozens of wasp nests and residue from other critters cited throughout the three-inch space between the aluminum siding and the cheesy paneling within, but that, other than the couple that the previous owner had installed while making repairs, there was not a 2x4 in entire structure. Even the rafters were 1x2s held together will scraps of wallboard. There was a 1x4 that ran the 62ft. length of the trailer, tying the flimsy rafters together.
That was the heftiest bit of lumber originally in the thing. (The "studs" in the photos below are not 2x4s but rather...1.5 x 3s(?).
Which makes it a typical product of American ingenuity. Truly. Like the booming economy during the first decade of this century -- all flash (in it's day) and no substance. Of course, we did pull it down the highway, which means it withstood at least 45 or 50 mile an hour winds. And, at 39 years old, it would have been habitable in a pinch, though not particularly safe or comfortable. And it was probably quite affordable in it's day.
So it served it's purpose...cheap housing "for the time being."
It's almost a bit of history now.
The most difficult part of deconstruction so far? Detatching the roof.