Logo 1 #topThe Poor Man's Fix-it shop.[not for the proficient craftsman] . . . .Logo 2


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    We poor folk know that the proper way to build a book case or a table is to stretch a piece of plywood between two wooden boxes or a stack of building blocks. But if you are unable to find the proper material, you might do as I did, not having the proper material, and that is to place a piece of plywood (or in the case here, three pieces of 1/4 inch veneer) over two TV trays. Tacky I know, but what can a poor man do?

    This is nowhere as attractive or as serviceable as the proper way, but it serves for light duty. To cover up the ugliness of the out of place TV tray legs I used the remnant of what I used to make bathroom door curtains, replacing the folding doors that were far too thick and only served to make the entry way smaller.

    It might interest you to know that I carried these 2x4 sheets of veneer (as well as sheets of plywood and a bundle of lathe, not all at the same time), on my bike without the aid of a trailer. More on that in the bike section.






    I write in my bedroom while laying in bed. Here is how I placed my printer so it's out o the way yet serviceable. On the sewing table I use for a table and that I store the sewing machine and other needful things under, I made a stand out of the same material the folding counter is made of. I reinforced the corners at the back (I don't put anything heavy on this stand so it requires only a small triangle of a support) and installed the printer in this cubbyhole. I then stretched a long USB extension across the top of the door, behind a picture, and connected it to my computer. It's always there ready to use, and out of the way at the same time.

    If you have sharp eyes and you pay close attention to the little things, you may have noticed that I have plastic covering the space under the table. I do this in front of the book case as well in order to keep those pesky dust bunnies from making a home where it's difficult to clean up after them.





    In my trailer I have central heating in every room, including the bathroom. I have central heating in every room I carry my small heater into and put it in the middle of the room.

    There's only one room I'm particularly concerned about maintaining a comfortable temperature, and that's the bed room. This is where I do my writing and most of my sleeping. Heat is difficult to direct where you want it unless you have one of those new fangled contraptions that cost more to run a month than I make in a week of Saturdays (I don't work on Sundays if I can help it). 

    I originally had one of those small floor heaters that radiate little heat and sounds like a jet flying overhead. It did a great job of keeping the bugs under my bed warm, but I froze every night. I then purchased an oil heater which was much quieter, less likely to turn the place into toast, and did a fair to middling job of keeping the room warm, at least that space over the heater stayed nice and comfortable. My problem was that I didn't sleep over the top of the heater, so my tootsies got cold at night.

    Behind the heater is a metal hollow core door that does a great job of capturing the heat and piping it to the outside, and of transmitting the frigid air into the room. The window of the door contributed to the work that the door was accomplishing well on its own. To prevent the air under the counter from escaping I placed a half inch piece of plywood cut to size between the heater and the door. Then to even better cause the warm air to come my way I surrounded the space with sheets of plastic designed to cover the crawl space under trailers. Air still escaped through the small space between the shelf and the door where the door was set back from the wall. In this area I placed a folded towel, which trapped the air where it was supposed to be.

    Above the shelf, air from the outside was still being transmitted inside, and vice versa. I folded a quilt of appropriate design over a long bamboo pole and hung it from cup hooks located on distance sides from one another. This not only causes that entire side of the room to be well insulated, but it helps block out the sound of my senior citizen neighbor's radio when they feel a rush of teenage enthusiasm coming on.

    For the past two days it has come close to freezing during the night. My bedroom stayed a comfortable 72 degrees with the setting on its lowest setting, and the thermostat midway on the dial. Even the front of the trailer was reasonably comfortable. I think my efforts have been a success.

    More on insulation. One wall being insulated is nice, but what about the other walls? In another section I describe building storage areas on the one side of my trailer which provides more than adequate insulation. To the front of the house is the rest of the house, which in itself serves as some degree of insulation. On the windows I have plastic covers that traps air that serves as insulation. And to the back of the trailer I laid a large piece of foam insulation that serves it's purpose very well, especially since I also have a piece of plastic over the window as just described.

    This trailer has a double floor where air would normally circulate to warm the house, that double floor, though not serving its intended purpose, still does a reasonable job of insulating the floor. Then of course I have skirting, which again helps to a large degree.

    Most of what I've offered here is common knowledge and it's doubtful you learned anything. But I'm trying to cover all the bases just in case someone has come upon hard times that had the misfortune of not growing up poor.

    One further note: once a day I ventilate the room by holding the quilt back with a stick and opening the window (who's crank is broken). 

    As an added means by which to keep out dust and such that might filter through the fly screen, I covered the inside of the window with that tangled filter they use in air conditioners, that comes in sheets or roles. It's easy to vacuum, and it does a fair job of doing what it's supposed to do.

    An update on the heater. Last night and the night before the temp got down to 20 degrees. Buckets of water outdoors are now buckets of ice. But in my bedroom the temperature is 72 degrees, very comfortable, and that's with the switch turned to 2/3rds power. I would call that a success. An additional surprise is, with no other heater going, the room at the front of the trailer is over 60 degrees. And, the heater that's keeping my bedroom so cozy doesn't feel; uncomfortable (in fact hardly noticeable) when standing right next to it.

    Not all heaters are created equal however. I have an oil heater in the front room that looks the same, cost the same, and came from the same store (but carries a different name). I can turn it up on full and it barely gives off any heat. Something to consider. If your heater isn't working as well as it should, it might be the arrangement of the room, or it just might be the heater itself.





    The board, or counter, described above is blocking the rear exit of the trailer. I of course do not like the idea of my emergency door being blocked. But it is more important to me that I have a work space, and a functioning heater. The solution to this problem comes from a couple small hinges located near the sewing table that allows me to fold the counter up if I need to exit the door. The other end of the counter rests on the book case to the right. Fortunately both the sewing table and the book case are exactly the same height. The shelf just described is far too thin a wood to cover that expanse without sagging. To rectify this problem I cut a piece of 2x4 the same length as the distance between the sewing table and the book case, then screwed it to the underside, and to the center of the shelf, countersinking the screw into the shelf. The 2x4 doesn't show, but it gives plenty of strength to the shelf.


     It seems to me that there are never enough hooks upon which to hang my working clothes. This is especially true of wet clothes that I don't want dripping all over the floor. Of course a person can always go out and purchase one of those modern marvels they advertise that will fold a Mac truck so it can fit into a suitcase. But I don't have a Mac truck, so I'll have to come up with another alternative. I bought some of those hooks made for hanging clothes from. I don't uses rusty nails in the house, even though I know that's the proper way for a poor man to find hanger space. I have a few hooks by my front door for my windbreaker, jackets, and other outdoor clothing. I also installed some hooks on the wall in the shower over the tub. I put them high up so they don't interfere with human activity such as showering. On these I hang my wet clothing and my towels and such after I've washed. 

    To dry my clothes after my ride, or from working in the rain, I put hooks over the foldaway counter over the heater described in the previous section. By morning the clothes are dry. I originally laid my clothes on the heater itself, but I ended up with brown burn marks on them. I don't mind brown burn marks, but they're hard to explain to the curious passerby.

    These are my indoor hooks. Outside I have at least as many, but they're the traditional politically correct rusty nails.





    I work on my back. I guess that's not the best way to put it. Let me change that to I work in bed. Nope, try again. I have a bad back, so I do my writing sitting up in bed leaning against a triangular pillow support. I use old technology, meaning an old library throw-away computer that continues to run because it uses old technology. This one came with Windows 95, which gives you some idea as to its age. I bought three of them (actually two since they threw in, not literally, but almost) the third one because they found a sucker, I mean someone who would take them off their hands.

    These computers are the old style that lays flat on the table and you can put a monitor on them, thereby taking up less space than the bigger type. They each came with the huge monitor it takes two weight lifters to carry. I still have one, though I now use flat screens which were given to me by people who updated their old ones. I also have lots of extra computers of old date that people were trying to find a suck... I mean someone to take them off their hands. 

    There's a few disadvantages when trying to write on a computer that's across the room from you. For one you have to have mighty long arms, learn to write with your toes, or try to get the keyboard to come to you. I chose the latter of the three. Getting the keyboard to rest on my knees was no problem, I just used extension cords made for that purpose. But trying to keep the keyboard in a good position to write posed a bit of a problem. I therefore made a rest for the keyboard made of foam core the right size, a picture of which you see to your left.

    I have poor to failing eyesight, so trying to read the screen from across the room is a bit of a challenge to say the least. Windows has a magnification setting on it that is a lifesaver for me. It also has a means by which to regulate the size of the icons and such. Thank you Bill Gates for that (though I have words to say to you about other "improvements" you're making to your supposed "improved" products).





    Ok, I'm going to get a little personal here, but it might serve as a lead-in to what I'm going to say about refrigerators.

    People used to ask me "Did you grow up in a barn?" At the time I was offended by their question, but the fact is, I did grow up in a barn. Here's the barn I grew up in. At one time it had been a house built over a barn where animals were kept. It had a staircase way in the back that lead to the "house." My father, not liking to have to go to the back of the house and climb that very steep set of steps, brought the stairs into the house.

    But that's not what I wanted to tell you.


Corbel trailer


    My father grew up during the depression. There was no money to be had anywhere, especially in Oklahoma where he lived. His father built the trailer house they lived in and his mother bought bluing, re-bottled it and relabeled it, and the kids sold it door-to-door. At the same time they traveled the area with a group called Corbel's band, and they preached under arbors here and there. But that's not what I wanted to tell you either.

    In those days when I grew up in the barn we had milk men who delivered milk early in the morning. In fact my father says I favor the milk man quite a bit. He must have been a handsome man.

    Ice too was delivered daily by truck (or horse-drawn wagon) where the back of the truck had a leather or canvas tarp over the back that served as a door to hold the cold in. Ice is what we used in the ice box to keep our food cold, but I suspect you figured that out on your own. Ice delivery was special to us kids because we got to suck on the chips of ice that was left after the man chipped the blocks of ice apart. My father says my brother looks a lot like the ice man.

    (I'm just kidding about the resemblances. My brother looks just like my father, and I 'm almost a dead ringer for my mother's father, with tinges here and there of my father.) That's me running, as usual, usually from a switch. And that's my little brother watching. As you can see he doesn't resemble the ice man at all. I never saw the ice man in diapers. The mail man yes, but never the ice man.

    In those days there were no refrigerators, only ice boxes. Then came an ice box with a big ugly motor on top. That rang the death knell for the ice man.

    Ok, to my point. I have an old refrigerator. Not as old as the one I described, but it was pre-frost-free at any rate. It says to not let the ice build up more than a quarter inch before defrosting. I'm obedient, kinda'. I never let it build up more than 4 inches, when the freezer is no longer accessible.

    These refrigerators I discover run a whole lot quieter and more efficient when they don't have 4 inches of ice covering the freezer wall. That's it. Not worth saying was it.



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