Renovating a 1975 Boler travel trailer Part 2 – Who needs a furnace anyway?

By Erin Wainwright on January 21, 2020 in Boler, Camping

Welcome back to the epic saga that is the renovation of my Boler. Have you been waiting at the edge of your seat to hear more? Of course you have. I’ll stop teasing you and get to it. If you have missed the earlier part of this story feel free to catch up by reading Part 1.

Where were we? Oh yes! My parents had just brought home the Boler from my Aunt’s house and I was feeling some doubt. In fact I’m pretty sure when I swallowed you could hear a loud “gulp” like a cartoon character. But like I said earlier I had some friends to help me out (virtual and in real life) and they gave me the confidence I needed to get started.

A fun fact about Bolers is they will fit through a standard sized garage doorway if you let air out of the tires, so moving it into the garage was the first thing we needed to do. Having it in the garage would make it much easier for me to work on the Boler over winter. Unfortunately, our driveway is very steep and neither my husband nor I can navigate a trailer up a steep driveway, into a garage door while backing up. A not-so-fun fact about Bolers is they are notoriously hard to back up. They end up at 90 degrees with the tow vehicle very easily due to the short yoke. Luckily our friend James is extremely skilled at backing up trailers because otherwise I have no idea how we would have gotten it in there. In fact, James still comes by once (or twice) a year at the end of the camping season to help us put the trailer back in the garage because we are still pretty bad at backing it up. I swear the man is some kind of wizard. We pay him for his help with beer and sometimes fresh bread. James is a good guy.

Once the Boler was in the garage stuff started coming out. I had decided that I did not want any propane. I would of had to check all the lines to make sure there were no leaks, and if there were I would have had to replace them, but I would have always worried about it. The fridge and furnace were broken and expensive to replace. It just didn’t seem worth the effort or the expense. We have a camp stove to use outside and the Boler is so small that the four of us create more than enough body heat to warm up the space, so to save money and for my own peace of mind, out came the stove, fridge and furnace. Then out came the cushions which were very very rotten. The leak I mentioned in Part 1 had gotten to the cushions and they were beyond saving. I tried to vacuum them and they disintegrated. I got rid of the covers but I kept the foam to use as templates for new foam and new covers. I pulled out the old linoleum and I took out any rotten wood I could find and replaced it. One of the biggest problems I had was with rusted screws. Once the heads broke off they were very difficult to remove. I spent hours on the floor of the Boler that winter swearing at many a broken screw.

The most time consuming and difficult task was removing the paint from the ensolite. Like I mentioned in Part 1, the ensolite was painted with an oil based paint which didn’t allow moisture to pass through it. This caused mould to grow between the paint and the ensolite. I worked on scraping that paint off from October to February. I made sure to wear a mask for safety and once I had cleared an area off I would spray it with a mould killing cleaner. You can see my progress in the next few pictures. The paint is white and the ensolite is green.

Almost gone!

Gone!

Since Bolers are made almost entirely from fibreglass, there is a risk of the roof sagging if it doesn’t have the right support. The support is provided by the closet, a bar attached to the wall beside the door, and a metal rail that holds up the cabinets and is attached to the countertop. My Boler was missing that rail so that was the first purchase I made for it. You can see it through the doorway in this picture. Oh right. I also took the door off because there was a crack which was leaking in the door frame.

I also temporarily removed some rusty vent covers as well as the bar beside the door to clean them up, remove the rust and paint them.

The 9 x 9 inch roof vent was the cause of most of the water leaking into the Boler. I removed it and ordered a new 14 x 14 inch fan which runs on a 12 volt system (which I didn’t have set up yet). With James’s help we cut a larger hole in the roof and installed the new fan. I used many layers of butyl tape to make sure there would be no leaking!

The worst and best removal of all was the removal of dirt and grime. I cleaned every nook and cranny of that Boler and it was both satisfying and horrifying. Everywhere there were spider egg sacks, old wasp nests and other skin-crawling surprises. Some of them crawling more than others:

B.C. has much bigger spiders than I’m used to here in Alberta!

With that I’m going to leave you. Please head back over next Monday evening for Part 3 – Time to call in the professionals.