Archive for May, 2012

Camp Swampy

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

There are days when I really should call in sick.
Today was one of them. Buck called me into the office to have me check out a trailer. “It’s got a water leak” was all he would tell me.

Okay, so I gathered some tools and walked out to the 2006 Safari sitting in front of the shop. Opening the door, I stepped inside. I noticed right away that distinct aroma of rotting wood. There’s nothing like that smell, though some things come close. Untreated black tank contents, for one.  Getting back to the rot, I mean Airstream, at hand, I looked around, and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. It was a front bedroom model, which means the entry door is at the rear. I moved on into the trailer, heading for the bathroom to begin checking the plumbing. I got bout three steps in, when suddenly the floor dropped out from under me. I had a couple of horrifying seconds with that sinking feeling, then suddenly I was through the floor and through the belly pan under the trailer, and was standing none too steadily on the parking lot under the trailer in the middle of a slowly spreading lake of brown water that was pouring out of the belly pan. This was very bad. Nobody was nearby, the trailer was filling my shoes with really bad-smelling water, and I didn’t dare try pulling my feet back out of the hole for fear of cutting myself on either the rotten wood or sharp aluminum edges of the belly pan. Terrific. At least it wasn’t raining, and I was dry from the knees up.

Suddenly, inspiration struck, and I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket, and dialed a number. “Hello, thanks for calling the shop. How can I help you”? “Buck, this is Lug. Come get me out of this trailer”!  It took some convincing, but I finally got Buck to come out to the Airstream. He took a quick look, and burst into laughter. I’m not a small guy, and I’m sure the sight of me standing on the ground with a trailer around my knees was pretty funny, but I wasn’t in the mood for any hilarity. “Stop laughing, and get me out of here!” I snapped. That seemed to make it worse for some reason, and Buck started howling with laughter. When I called Buck, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Picking up my cell phone again, I ignored Buck rolling around on the ground laughing like a hyena, and made another call. “Hello, thanks for calling the shop. How can I help you?” “Rusty, this is Lug. Can you come outside? I have a problem, and need help.” “Sure, Lug, I’ll be out in a minute. What’s that noise? It sounds like somebody laughing.” “Never mind, just get out here”! A minute later, Rusty made it out to the shop, and promptly started laughing. “It’s not funny! Get me out of here!” I bellowed. That seemed to make things worse, at least from the perspective of getting me out of the mess I was in. Eventually, Heckle and Jeckle ran out of laughter, and got some tin snips to cut me out of my situation.

When we finally got me out of the trailer, an inspection revealed that somehow that trailer had missed getting the rear of the body at the floor sealed against rain. A wet Fall and Winter had allowed a lot of water to intrude onto the floor, under the vinyl flooring. The alu-coated subfloor insulation had not allowed the water to drain out, holding all that water under the plywood, with predictable results. So, a new floor and a thorough sealing job later, the Safari was back on the road, with a couple of patches on the belly pan where the feet of an unnamed technician had found rotten plywood has all the structural integrity of a piece of wet toast.

I’m still plotting my revenge on the other two participants in this fiasco.

About the Author

Lug Wrench is a long-time mechanic, multiple Airstream owner, and dyed-in-the-wool pragmatist. All tales guaranteed 100% true, although names and certain details may be altered to protect the guilty.