Glitter Glamper Progress: Furnace Removal & Shelf Cubby

As soon as I first set foot in the Glamper I knew that the furnace would end up having to come out. The doors on these vintage trailers are very small to begin with, and the original placement of this huge, old furnace impedes the entryway even more. Not to mention the safety issues…these furnaces are not as safe as what you might see in modern campers, as was evident by the burnt paneling I discovered upon it’s removal!

There were 3 big parts of this project:

  1. Removing the furnace, fan and thermostat pieces from inside the camper
  2. Removing the chimney through the roof and patching up the hole it left, and
  3. Turning the ugly hole in the wall into something functional and finished.

Removing the Furnace Inside

Here are some photos of the furnace before, during and after removal. This furnace is HEAVY, and it’s important to remember these things as keeping the weight evenly distributed is important in a trailer. However, I believe that some of the cabinetry I’ll be adding later as a work station will help replace the weight I removed here. As I’ve noted in earlier posts, I did hang on to this original furnace, should someone later want to return the trailer to all original. But for my purposes it needed to go. I plan to put in a new furnace at a later date…one that takes up less space and doesn’t have to vent out the roof. If we can ever avoid openings on the roof, that is a good thing! Openings are recipes for water damage!

Original furnace. As you can see, it takes up a few inches of an already small doorway.
After removing the outer shell of the furnace.
The hole left from removing the furnace unit.
Evidence of a little potential fire danger underneath the tape.
Inside the cabinet the furnace was mounted in.
Removing the fan that sat in the cabinet and blew through a vent that was installed in the cabinet door.

Removing the Chimney and Patching the Roof

Getting the furnace out of the camper was probably the easiest part. Next up was removing the metal shaft that goes up through the ceiling, removing the chimney from the roof, and then patching up the hole to prevent any leaks. It made me a little sad to remove the cute chimney from the roof, but it was probably a good call as leaving an open hole in the roof that doesn’t need to be there just leaves it vulnerable to future water damage. Again, I saved all of the original parts if we ever want them back!

In order to remove the whole metal lining of the shaft that goes up through the roof (sorry I have no clue the technical terms for this stuff, haha!), I had to pull it up and out through the roof. But before I could do that, I had to scrape and chisel off all the rubbery sealant the previous owners had covered the seams with.

The previous owners did a great job keeping the roof very well sealed up, and this is one of those spots you want to seal well! It was a lot of work to get the old stuff off and expose the screws. I figured I’d have to drill the screws out, but luckily I was able to scrape them clean enough to back all of them out with a screwdriver. Once that was done, I was able to slide the whole works up and out!

This inner pipe slid up and out, but I had to also remove this plate that surrounds it.
After uncovering all the screws, I was able to back them all out and remove the top plate.
Everything is out!

Okay, now that everything was out, it was time to seal up the gaping hole in the roof and the holes in the floor. Needless to say, this is a job to be done on a nice, dry day! Here are a few photos looking down, through the roof and the holes in the floor where gas and I believe condensation may have dripped out…

View from the roof, down into the cabinet where the furnace was
Holes in the floor from the furnace
I filled the floor holes with expandable foam spray and cut a piece of subfloor to cover them up.

The holes in the floor were pretty quick to patch up so I did that on the same day. Next I worked on the roof. We already had a roll of tin on hand, which would work to cover the hole. However, it was pretty big and I wanted to give it a little more structure under the tin. After all, if a branch is going to fall on this roof, Murphy’s law dictates that it would likely land right on this weak spot! I cut a piece of subfloor just for something rigid, applied some caulking around the hole, and smooshed the wood over it. Then I screwed the wood panel into the roof, and added more caulking around the edges of the wood, and where the edges of the tin patch would go. (photo below, left) Next, I laid on a piece of tin, smooshed it into the caulking, and screwed it in as well (below, center). Then I added yet another layer of caulking around the edges of the tin. Caulking is your friend!! Fill ALL THE HOLES!!

I let all this caulking dry for as long as it needed…I can’t recall if this next step was later that evening or the next day. but, you want to make sure something like this is allowed to dry well, before adding anything else that will block the air flow to it. Funny how I’m talking as if I’ve EVER done anything like this before or as if I have any clue what I’m doing…I’ll just add here that I’m really winging it with most of this stuff, haha! Anyway, back to filling alllll the holes….

Once all the caulking was super dry, I coated the whole works with some Flex Paste. I’m guessing this is the same or similar to whatever was already spread around the chimney that I removed to get to the screws (only white instead of black)…I went all out and just slathered the entire tin panel with the stuff. No water will be gettin’ in here! I’ll probably paint over this again at some point, but for now, you can’t see it at all from the ground, and the roof is water tight again!

Cleaning Up the Ugly Hole

Now that the roof was all good and sealed, it was time to go back inside and figure out what to do with the giant hole I just created in the cabinet where the furnace sat. My husband really wanted a solid grab bar to help get OUT of the Glamper, so I figured this was the perfect opportunity to add that. With there being a hole now, I could set the grab bar back into the cabinet at an angle, so that it wouldn’t catch on people’s clothes or shrink the doorway like the furnace did. So, I decided to build a little shallow shelf cubby and incorporate the grab bar there.

The hole…
Cutting out the hole with my jigsaw
Hole more neatly trimmed

I started by cutting out some of the edges of the paneling with my jigsaw, so I’d have a clean, rectangular opening. I’m really just wingin’ it as I go here…

Figuring out where to put the handle and at what angle.
Removing the back panel, exposing the cabinet inside
Installing a new piece of birch for the back panel

Then I played around with the handle and figured out how I’d really make it solid, and at an angle so it wouldn’t protrude out into the doorway. Next, I cut out and removed the back panel that sat behind the furnace, opening it up to the cabinet behind. I still wanted to keep the storage cabinet, yet I wanted my grab bar to be inset, so I basically re-built the same size cavity in here…just made it look nicer and have more function. I cut a piece of 1/4″ birch plywood, and after installing a few smaller strips in the back to support it, I attached a new back to the shelf cubby.

I cut some more strips of birch and glued them on the right sides, which held the shelves in place.
The left side panel I sanded bevels on and cut out slots, so it would fit around the shelves and cover the grab bar supports.
I marked my grab bar support pieces with tape and a sharpie so I knew where to screw it in.

Next I added the shelves (above). I cut strips to cover the inner right side of the cubby, leaving spaces to catch the shelves between them so I wouldn’t need any hardware showing. I’ve really never built any kind of shelf before, and like I said, I made this up as I went along…but it turned out pretty good. Better than a burnt, jagged hole I guess, haha! Next I made the left side panel which was a bit more tricky. I had to bevel the back edges so it would sit tight with the back panel at an angle, and then had to cut out slots for the shelves. Overall I think it worked okay. You can see in the right photo above, I put tape on the door trim and marked with a sharpie where my supports were, so I’d know right where to screw in the grab bar.

The grab bar is something I picked up years ago in a little antique shop, just because I thought it was cool. I had no idea where it came from originally, or where I’d use it, but it turned out to be PERFECT for this! I then removed it so I could stain everything.

Staining stuff!

Next I stained everything. I learned that the sample swatches in the hardware store look NOTHING like the actual stain. Grr. I should have tested it on a piece of scrap first like the can says to do, but I’m not great at following instructions, haha! So, you can kinda tell the base boards here are a tad too dark. That’s where I started and said “nope!” At that point I ran back to the hardware store and bought a color called “traditional pecan.” That was a better match, so I finished off the inside of the cubby.

A few days later I made it back out to get some trim to finish it off. Yeah, it probably would have made more sense to do all this staining at once but I was figuring it out as I went, and didn’t know what I wanted to do…so after the cubby was all stained and clear coated, I cut the outer trim pieces, stained and clear coated them, and then added those.

Trim installed!
Yes, I know things will fall off the shelf. I’ll add some sort of rail.
Darn clamp left a black mark on my top trim piece. Maybe I’ll fix that.

I think it looks pretty good! Better than a hole for sure! I’m no furniture maker but I’m happy with how it turned out. Of course, with all things in a vintage trailer, the project is never really done… I realize that I can’t drive down the road with stuff on these shelves. I’m still thinking about what I want to do for some type of rail. Maybe clear plexi, maybe a wood rod stained to match, maybe something fancier…I’ll think about that. In the meantime it looks nice. When I do new floor tiles, that’ll fill in the gap on the bottom shelf as well. I also just have a hole up through the top for now…partly because I know we’re going to re-do all the electrical and it’ll make it easier to reach those switches. But I am also thinking about adding a light up in there. We shall see. If nothing else I’ll close that up with another piece of wood after we’re done with electrical stuff.

So there’s one of my big projects from the past month or so! More things are in the works, but with the temps dropping I probably won’t be able to do the flooring until spring. I want to make sure I have ideal temps for my adhesive to work. But I also know that I’m going to really miss the Glitter Glamper when I go park it for the winter in our friends’ barn, so you may see me pop in this winter with some other small projects! 😉

Published by Gretchen

Gretchen Fleener is an author, magazine editor, body painter, and entertainment agent based in Minnesota. She sells face & body art supplies via her online store Paintertainment.com, acts as an entertainer and agent at local events, publishes a body art magazine and teaches at workshops and conventions around the globe.

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