The $1.67 travel trailer door repair… and a lesson

 The $1.67 travel trailer door fix and a lesson. via Funky Junk Interiors

A travel trailer door repair was not exactly on my agenda. Not really sure when the deterioration transpired, but one evening I went to go put something in the trailer and the door wouldn’t shut.

I bent down to take a closer look and it appeared the frame had broken away from the hinges. Oh no… only when we want to plan a camping trip of course! 

So I got on the phone to price new doors. At $750 and a few weeks wait, I wasn’t a happy camper! (sorry, had to) But one sales guy didn’t try to sell me a door. He quite simply asked what exactly was WRONG with the door.

I had to think for a moment. “It’s coming apart from where it’s latched on. A chunk of wood is rotten.”

He told me to just fix it.

Me. Me? Ha! Seriously… whatever!

And that’s when I hit tantrum mode. “I’m gonna sell this thing! I don’t wanna do this anyway. It’s too stressful to tow, too much work, blah blah…”

I always get this way when something goes wrong with the unit. It’s aging and every year brings a new bill to the table it seems. That’s just the way old stuff works.

While in pouting mode, I decided to take a look at the door one more time. 

The $1.67 travel trailer door fix and a lesson. via Funky Junk Interiors

A small chunk of wood fell right out of the frame. Not good. And then the words of my friend Dan haunted me

“Anything is fixable. Anything.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t know how to fix a trailer door…” I mumbled to myself. 

So I coaxed myself… “Break it down…break it down. Step one… unscrew the thing. Work backwards to a build. Take it apart.”

The $1.67 travel trailer door fix and a lesson. via Funky Junk Interiors

 Deep breath… 3 screws per latch. “Do it. You have nothing to lose and you might save $750. Do it!”

So I did. 

The $1.67 travel trailer door fix and a lesson. via Funky Junk Interiors

I proceeded to kill my trailer. :)

The $1.67 travel trailer door fix and a lesson. via Funky Junk Interiors

The peanut gallery was in an uproar. “Bravo! Bravo!!!!!”

Yes. My cats come with me wherever I go. We are joined at the hip us 3. And they love the trailer. Cats loving a trailer. Well I’ll be…

The $1.67 travel trailer door fix and a lesson. via Funky Junk Interiors

And this is what I found. A simple chunk of wood rotted in the door frame. And it just needed replacing. Everything else was perfectly fine!

“Go get a piece of wood the size of the one you just removed. EASY. The hardware store is still open. GO.”

Crossing my fingers such a size existed (because I’m not in love with my table saw YET), I found a piece that was the perfect size. Seriously?! $1.67. That was ONE DOLLAR SIXY SEVEN CENTS.

The $1.67 travel trailer door fix and a lesson. via Funky Junk Interiors

My goodness. I think this is when I started to laugh and feel all amazing and genius like. Invincible  even! This was going to happen!

The $1.67 travel trailer door fix and a lesson. via Funky Junk Interiors
But… the wood needed some shaping. It was a tiny bit wrong and I figured I could do it with a palm sander. Not strong enough. And then I borrowed neighbour Otto’s belt sander. Nope again.

workmate

 

Before I move on, this is worth a BIG mention. I should have taken a picture of the entire thing, but that wood is clamped into a Workmate I landed at a thrift store for $10. A Workmate is a collapsible mini table that is meant for clamping stuff down with. It is AMAZING. The new ones are made from metal but this one is an old school one with a real wood top. I LOVE it.  If you don’t have one of these, I recommend getting one.

p.s. I didn’t like my newer one so I gave it away. The old one worked better. So just try them first!

Anyway, I was workin’ up a sweat with that belt sander when Otto came back with tool #2.

The $1.67 travel trailer door fix and a lesson. via Funky Junk Interiors

 A wood planer was the ticket. This thing is on my shopping list!

wood planer

A wood planer shaves down the wood with each swipe, which is much quicker than sanding.

The $1.67 travel trailer door fix and a lesson. via Funky Junk Interiors

This is where the work went fast so I didn’t take pictures (I needed my hands). The wood was slightly shaved down so the outer moulding could fit on top if it easier.

I didn’t use any caulking but I think it could use some so the wood doesn’t rot again. That’s on the list too.

The $1.67 travel trailer door fix and a lesson. via Funky Junk Interiors

 “Well, since you ARE here Otto… wouldja mind holding the 20000 ton door up so I can connect it?”

The $1.67 travel trailer door fix and a lesson. via Funky Junk Interiors

Nevermind. Kathy did a better job! Ok, truth be told, these two are a great team. Kathy also found every single screw I dropped and guided us on doing things better. Everyone needs an Otto and Kathy for a little added support. ADORE these two!

The $1.67 travel trailer door fix and a lesson. via Funky Junk Interiors

This beast (needing a makeover I might add)  is fixed and road worthy! And know what? The door works better than it did before it needed fixing. No more slamming, just a nice quiet *click.* Wow.

I DID IT!

I realize this post wasn’t pretty. And probably not even pin worthy. (unless you also need to fix a travel trailer door I guess!)

The $1.67 travel trailer door fix and a lesson. via Funky Junk Interiors

THIS is what this post is all about. The feeling that’s left when you went after something you thought you couldn’t do. And it worked! Ok, and because you saved a ton of money does not hurt!

I remember a similar conversation with that same friend. I found being a homeowner on my own absolutely daunting at the time. I didn’t know how to fix anything and here I was buying my own place. But even then he said…

“Everything is fixable.”

So here’s my advice when you come across something you aren’t sure you can fix. It truly is all about mechanics. Things come apart. Take pictures of something you are taking apart first so you remember how they fit back together again. The task as a whole may seem daunting, but if you just take your time and think about what you’re doing, it’s true.

Everything IS fixable!

Next up… let’s go camping! 

Watch my Instagram and Facebook for all the fun stuff to come!

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  1. more proof that we dont know what we can do, till we try~!

    I just had this experience last week when I built my own door sidelights.. so I understand your elation..

    applause applause- well done, indeed.~!

  2. Hit the road, Jack! Don’t forget the sunscreen….have a great time you-3! Enjoy your vacation….and if you make it to FL, you can plug-in for free (we are 30 min. from Mickey). We have a pool and we’d love to have you. The pitcher of sweet tea is ready.

  3. Im so proud of you, and I don’t even know you! As a fellow single woman vintage trailer owner and days-from-being a first time homeowner, your post is pure inspiration and encouragement. Thanks for the lift and brava!

  4. Way to go! I am so proud of you! I can believe you did this – you use big girl tools all the time! My hubby won’t let me use the ‘real’ tools so I have never learned to do all you do. As a result I have to wait for him to do the stuff I want done.
    And you are so blessed to have that sweet couple to help you out! God bless you all!

    • I had a husband like that Jill. He now sees the error of his ways. LOL I suggest you ask your husband to guide you with something simple to start with because you’d like to learn, not to take his job away. It’s incredibly rewarding in every way!

  5. I love reading your stuff because you’re so real! This was such a great message – we tend to shut down at repairs like this, when a guy typically just goes at it. No reason we can’t do the same – just need the right mind set! I love that encouragement, that anything can be fixed and to start step-by-step unbuilding it ’til you get to what needs to be repaired. Perfect! Good for you – and thanks for the reminder that girls CAN do it! :)

  6. Great post! You always inject just the right amount of humor while reminding us girls that we can tackle anything. I work in accounting & a good friend told me once that there is “no mistake that cant be fixed” I’ve always remembered that throughout my 35 year career & its come in handy more than once. So i loved your friend telling you “anything can be fixed!!” and i especially liked your “work backwards to a build” statement. SO TRUE!! When you break it down in increments, the task doesnt get so overwhelming! Love your post -you are one of my favorites & are encouraging to all of us girls that we can do these things! Keep up the good work & enjoy your camping!!!

  7. Wow! I am so impressed with that! You always inspire me to try something that is just out of my comfort zone. Btw my potting bench has been very useful this gardening season, but I need to put longer screws in as some of the pieces are not secure. Thanks for the great story!

    • Good going Paulette! Yes, longer screws are the answer. I learned that one through trial and error too! I love to hear that you’re building AND learning what did or didn’t work!

  8. Everyone could use those words of encouragement. Sometimes as you said, we find things needing repair and are completely overwhelmed. I’m going to swipe the WorkMate Mom has at her place!

  9. Girl Power! I need to try to be more capable myself, but usually rely on my husband when it comes to fixing things. Only when a must-do-now situation comes up and he’s not around do I really find out what I can do, and it’s really satisfying!

  10. I just did the exact same thing with my camper!! I love that ‘we can fix it’ attitude. I guess my dad instilled that in me. Isn’t it rewarding to be able to do it yourself?!

  11. OMG am so proud of you Donna! and your cool neighbors & tools but the best yet, THE CATS LOVE TO GO WITH YOU!!!!!!! that is the cooolesst news yet!!! you those too! am traveling up to your place and “catnapping them” (ok jokeing!) but post more pics of them pleassssse!:)

  12. Brava!! You did great! My husband has exactly that same saying “anything is fixable”. Then we work together to figure it out and fix it. (OK, mainly him.) He’s wonderful!! I come up with the ideas, and he figures out how to do it (fix it)!!

    T

    • Ok, so I love that you have the help and support of your husband. Bravo! I miss that.

      BUT… there is a but. My mom went through her entire married life not handling one tool. When Dad passed on, she was in serious limbo. Kinda the same with me.

      Please ask that amazingly supportive husband to teach you some beginner fixes. You’ll be so glad you did!

      • Oh yes! I have my own drill, staple gun, and a drawerful of pliers, screwdrivers, wire cutters, hammers and scissors. I love having my own tools, so I don’t have to go hunt up his. Mine are always available, and much used. Thanks for the advice! You go girl!!!

  13. Got to love it! Anything can be fixed, I believe that! I think I drive people or family members crazy with that.

  14. I LOVE this post. I’ve been pushing myself out of my comfort zone lately too. I’m nearly 50 and I decided it’s time I try to fix things on my own too. I totally understand that feeling of satisfaction when you complete a job, and it works!!

    Way to go. I love that you saved the $750!!!!!

  15. Good job!! I did a similar project. I wanted to replace the overhead light in my bedroom with a small chandelier but know very little about electricity. I was going to wait for my son to help (read as do it) but he was tied up. Finally I realized he was just going to read the instructions – so I could also. I paid special attention as I took down the old light in case I had to put it back up and also to see how it all works. I hung the new light myself and am really proud of myself.

    • Brilliant! The most important part to any electrical work is flicking off that breaker first. Electricity is a super important thing NOT to get wrong. I’m glad you had something to guide you.

      But for anyone totally unfamiliar with electricity, I do recommend getting some guidance. A wrong move could burn your house down.

  16. Great job. I think the post is a good reminder that even if you don’t think you know how to do something you shouldn’t be afraid to try. Love your kitty helpers, mine like to sew.

  17. This was absolutely worth posting. God for you girl! You took the bull by the horns and got the job done. Way to go!!!

  18. WOW, am I ever impressed, I would never even think of attempting a job like this! You are just about the coolest chick ever Donna !!! Congrats on a job well done and thanks for sharing with us. I LOVE your posts and look forward to them every day. Happy Camping :)

  19. I’m very proud of you. We women think we’re not able to do things but we can usually figure things out if we will just try. I once sold a lady a small metal table. She wanted it another color, so I told her to spray paint it. She told me she had never done anything like that and didn’t know how. OUCH

    • One thing I actually have done is remove ‘try’ out of my vocabulary. I know it’s meant as an encouragement to go for something you are unfamiliar with, but it can also lead to you giving up if you come to a cross road. My new word is DO. There’s no stopping until it’s a done deal.

      Sounds like that gal could have used a spray paint lesson. Maybe you need to set up a workshop… haha

  20. NEVER under-estimate the power of a woman! Not only did you prove to yourself that you are capable of more than you give yourself credit for, but you probably saved yourself more than the $748.33 (minus the wood) because I guarantee you that not only would you have been charged for the door, but you would have been charged the labor to replace that wood and they probably still would have stuck you with a new door. I have learned on my own to tile, do plumbing, electrical, framing, you name it, I will figure out how to do it. I can build a house by now. After getting rediculous quotes on projects, I decided to just teach myself how to do my own work and save myself literally thousands and thousands of dollars. The end result will probably be better anyway because I have to live with the final result. Don’t be intimidated. Just do it! Congratulations on your accomplishment and pride of being a DIYer.

  21. Hi Donna :) I love your posts! I always look forward to seeing what you are up to next, and what your kitty kids are up to too! I’m not on Facebook or Instagram so I guess I’ll be missing out on lots of your adventures :( I love that you tackled your camper door by yourself and for a whopping $1.67, and that you had the helpful assistance of your loving neighbors. Wish we had neighbors like them. You are a lucky girl. You give encouragement to me to try because “anything is fixable” and you’ve proven that without spending a fortune. :) Are you going adventurously on your trip or do you have a plan? Have a wonderful time :) I’ll be looking forward to an update.

    • Hey Nancy! The links shown for Facebook and Instagram can both be viewed online without your own account! At least I’m pretty sure. Try clicking and see if you can see them!

      We are possibly off to Harrison Hot Springs and if they are full, we’ll wing it! :) Our fab house sitter is on plant duty. Yay!

      • Thanks Donna! I am so goofy, I always thought I had to have an account .. another opportunity to check it out instead of figuring I can’t. So I will check in and see what’s up, yea! Looks like, from your picture, the kitties are ready to get going. I hope they get in lots of pictures :) Have a great time.

  22. You are a super woman and nothing is too big if you set your mind to it and you sure prove that. I love reading and look forward to your blog. Stay strong and keep on keeping on.

  23. Yeah Donna!!!! I feel really inspired, because we just tore apart the inside of our trailer, and now I’ve been wondering what the heck I was thinking when I suggested it. It needed (I wanted) a makeover badly, but we had to gut it down to the “bones” before we could start. I’m just hoping we can get it done before all our kids move out!!

  24. Donna, I just knew that there was a happy ending to the story…I am so surprised that you doubted yourself as you are so talented in the DIY world!…Your Otto and Kathy are the cutest!!!…and have to tell you that my hubby has that old Black and Decker Workmate..I think he bought it when they first came out and it is still in great shape…Happy and safe travels Donna!!!

  25. I once framed in a window and put the new window in. My dad and I did the first one and then I took out the old huge window and replaced it with a smaller and more energy efficient window. I am so proud of myself for doing it. Sadly that house is long gone. Being on your own means learning how to do lots of stuff. If I had questions, I could call Dad but I could usually figure it out on my own.

  26. Great post! Like when there is lots of good photos. My door is in pretty good shape but have had to fix the screen several times thanks to a certain beagle with sharp claws. Looks like you had fun doing it. Cheers Ray

  27. Was a bit leery, at this project, but my seester does it again. Cheers to you brave soul. So proud of you too an the great find and the cute helpers inside your trailer and out. Do you hire them out? Love you, have fun camping!

  28. Awesome job. As I’ve found out through expensive mistakes throughout the years and the courage to explore, there are many “repairs” that we can do ourselves…and gender holds no relevancy here. I didn’t know I could completely dismantle my dryer (after unplugging it) order a new motor from the internet and have a nearly new dryer. Taking pics on the tear down is important too. One more hint, if you want to make a piece of wood water repellent, Thompson’s Water Repellent (sold at any hardware, big box hardware store) has it. Or, if it needs to be waterproof, go to http://www.rotdoctor.com and review “CPES” resin. It’s not that hard to mix and it repairs rotten wood as well. Good luck on your future repair projects. (Loved the photos too.) Mark

  29. LOL…I do a bit of cussing right out of the gate when things do just work johnny-on-the spot. I’m glad you got your camper in working order. With the crazy cool ideas you come up with I’m surprised you haven’t started in on the camper too. My ex-husband had an older camper trailer; it was in good working order but man was it ugly. I thought alot about giving it a makeover but when he left he took his camper, too….dang I like that camper.

  30. I LOVE this post!! I am SOOOOO happy for you. Excellent advice—it can always be fixed. I hope you have an awesome time.

  31. LOVED this!

    Now, here’s my question……….. my husband and I love to tent camp but, when I retire in two years, we’d like to buy a trailer and go cross-country. Here’s the “but”- I’m the only driver and am terrified of pulling a trailer. So, the questions:

    1. How big is your trailer?
    2. What kind of a car/truck do you have to pull it (I couldn’t tell from the pic).
    3. What’s it like driving?

    Thanks,
    Penny

    • Hey Penny!

      I drive a Dodge Dakota 4×4 and pull a 16 foot travel trailer. I think in a perfect world my truck should be bigger for longer tows but nearby within a couple hours it can handle ok. I might suggest to look into the new tent trailers that pop up with hard tops, they would be much lighter weight for towing long distances, have air and are insulated. The only downfall of course is no bathroom facilities nor showers.

      Towing isn’t difficult, but the longer unit you pull, the trickier it can get where tighter spaces are concerned. I’m not afraid at all to tow, I just wish my truck had more oomph.

      Here’s the very best towing trick in the WORLD where towing comes into play. If you want your trailer to go left, put your hand on the bottom of the steering wheel and turn left. Same applies to right. Once you have that trick down, it’s effortless to tow. :)

  32. THIS is why I love your blog & you! You go girl! And how have I not heard about a wood planer before!?!? That is now on my shopping list as well!!!

  33. Hi, the follow up comments I was receiving through my email were for “The $1.67 travel trailer door repair…”
    I went to the bottom as you suggested and clicked on the link, it said I wasn’t subscribed to anything, so maybe I’ve fixed it?!
    Thanks so much, you are truly an inspiration! :)

  34. BRAVO!! Well done!!! I love this post. This is the kind of post I love/crave. You fixed it without a lot of $$ or fancypants stuff. The real deal. Excellent!

    btw, those two kittens are terminally cute—but you know that :-)

    Now get tow that camper somewhere and all 5 of you go have a great adventure.

    Thank you for sharing :-)

  35. Great post! Congratulations! That’s so awesome that you were not only able to fix it but you did it so inexpensively and saved SOOOO much money! Wooo hoo! How great you must feel too. :-D

  36. I loved seeing Kitty peeking out the door ! And those two remind me of my mom and dad….sure miss them. Good for you, Donna ! great job !

    see you on the road…. meet ya at the RV park !!

  37. Atta girl!! I used to come unglued every time my Sears tractor would breakdown. I was a single Mom living on an acre with no budget for repairs. I “learned by doing” and pretty soon I could rattle off things like “I just changed the jackshaft assembly” or when the steering wheel came right off in my hands while I was mowing along the canal bank, first I cried, then I stopped, thought about what to do, then ran back to the garage and grabbed a pair of vice-grips to clamp on the steering post and finished mowing before calling the Sears parts dept. I’m a lot older now, but feeling empowered by those memories and proud to be a DIYer still. Can relate completely! Thanks for reminding me!!

  38. Was happy to stumble on this post today~ I have a 15ft Terry Resort and it has the same colored stripes! i haven’t had any problems with the door but appreciated the tips if I ever do encounter rotting wood there. I remodeling the interior this past year by painting all the ugly wood veneer and wallpaper inside and even the ceiling. It feels much brighter and lighter inside now. I sewed up some great new paisley curtains, made a duvet and pillows for the bed, and put new stick on parquet tiles on the floor. It feels like a brand new trailer! (its actually 24 yrs. old)

  39. Thanks for the tips…and the humor. Fixed my Terry door yesterday took a couple of hours but now it is solid and actually closes like it should!

    Enjoy the road.

  40. This has just been a lifesaver!! As i sit at work, lol, I’m so excited to get off work today and tackle this!!! Words can not describe!!! I also have a peanut gallery, 2 weenie dogs, lol, and only wish to read their minds as they watch me!!!! Thanks so much for your encouraging words !!!

    Michelle Long

    P.s. I just bought my camper last weekend, 1968 tagalong and she is already making huge improvements. lol

  41. I removed the screws from the hinges where the door is screwed on and … nothing! The hinges appear to be welded on!

    Its like they won’t come off. Didn’t try a cold chisel yet but I’m blown away. I do not even begin to understand the logic of having a door that is welded to the hinges. Its insane.

  42. Loved this story! Especially since I am a single lady with a house AND a camper and old motorhome. I related particularly to the pouting, tantrum throwing part!!!! Love the way you think and how you tell a story. Thanks for sharing. I have found out I CAN do stuff I didn’t think I could, mainly because I am too cheap to hire someone else to do it.

  43. Hi, I have a Fleetwood Terry just like yours, colors and all. It also needs new door so your tutorial is coming in handy for me. Thanks so Much!

  44. Loving your attitude. I bought a 1997 Class C RV…….. and I’m still in RV 101……… am amazed at how many suggestions I am receiving… telling me to sell and get NEW or at least a newer……

    Guess, I fell in love with this Baby Blue………..
    Dealer did “hide” things I should have known……….

    Biggest challenge is the de lamination on one side……….. An “angel” owner of a RV repair shop is assisting me………….

    Wonderful brother n law who just does……….

    I don’t need monthly payments…. Doing a little at a time makes me feel comfortable…..

    Thanks for the positive swing to problems………

  45. Thanks!! I was also stressing out over my door, and what can I do to fix it… I thought of “welding a piece of steel on” etc.. Yep, any idea went through my head. Then I came across your thread! If YOU can do it, so can I!! SOO, I’m gonna tackle it too! Thanks soo very much!! Ps. I should take pictures too, just to show you my attempt…lol