Thursday, October 7, 2010

Building a Table and Replacing the Jack

Well, finally I got some work done on the Shasta. I got ready to work on the old girl last spring, but agian I was sidetracked by my kids, other projects, a garden that became a feeding ground for birds and squirrels over the summer, a $500 Mercedes;you know, the usual stuff.

Anyway, after a weekend of labor and a handful of parts, the Mercedes was deemed roadworthy and Cheryl began driving it. Now, as the weather began to break and we could smell fall around the corner, I decided that I needed to get off my keister and get cracking on the Shasta.

I had a few projects on the list that were a priority. The first was replacing the original jack.

I had degreased it, oiled it, kicked it and cursed it. I think there was a mild bend in the tube. I could turn the handle for a while but the higher I needed the trailer tongue, the more Herculean force was needed to turn it. I was afraid that it wouldn’t go back down one of these days and I would have to resort to chopping it off, just to get out of the campground. So, I took a trip to my local farm and ranch store, Atwood’s, and picked up a 5,000 pound jack made by Bulldog for $30.

I had to enlarge the hole just a smidge with a hole saw, but then it went right into place. I also had to drill two new bolt holes, but once painted it will look pretty much stock. For now, I will stick with the gray paint. It jacks the camper up and down like butter, way easier than the old jack. Now I was in the mood for construction. I had forgotten how much fun it was to work on the old Shasta.

I started on the table. Here is what the existing table looked like.

It had identical rounded corners, cracked 80's formica, and was smaller than the original table by 3" in both directions.

For the last year, we have been hiding the table under this table cloth. It worked, but did not do our new upholstery any justice.

I had plans bookmarked from the Good Stuff site. They have some great resources for wings and tables for Compacts and Airflytes. I had ordered new aluminum trim from my favorite camper store, Vintage Trailer Supply, for $18. I also had to pay for a shipping tube as well, so by the time it shipped to my door it cost me $33. I ordered this months ago with a bunch of other odds and ends and it has been sitting in the tube ever since. I was nervous about 96 inches being long enough, so I went against my usual measure once, order twice, pay twice, cut twice procedure and measured the table plans. It came out to about 96.5 inches so I shaved off an inch from the table length to insure that my molding fit. In hindsight, I could have trimmed 1/2", but it would be very close. For the Formica, I used the 50’s Boomerang pattern in Skylark.

I special ordered an 8’ piece 30” wide from Lowe’s for $40.

I saved the leg and duplicated the ledge at the back that hooks into the wall. For the main table I used ¾ BC plywood. A 4x8 sheet was $30 at Lowe’s. It is exterior grade, but has smooth surfaces and is 5 ply. I cut it down-to-size and finished the corners with a jigsaw.

I cut the Formica down-to-size with a straight edge and a box knife. I cut it oversized about an inch in all directions. I wiped down both the plywood and the Formica backing with a damp cloth and applied contact adhesive to both surfaces with a wooden paint paddle.

I let both surfaces set up until tacky. I then, starting on one edge, laid the Formica down and rolled it flat with a J-Roller.

I clamped the edges with spring clamps for about 30 minutes.

I used a router and a flush bit to trim the Formica down-to-size.

I deburred the edges by lightly sanding the edges with 220 grit sand paper.

I attached the aluminum trim using the screws provided, #4 x ¾”.

I drilled a pilot hole for each screw to insure that I didn’t force the screws between layers in the plywood.

I thought I would have to anneal the aluminum, but it is pretty soft and I just curved it around the corners by hand.

There was a very mild 1/32” bulge at the corners, but I tapped it down gently with a hammer. I count myself lucky that the screw holes did not interfere with the corners.

I had a little trim that overhung the end, which I trimmed off with a cutoff wheel on a Dremel tool.

I saved the leg and hinge off the existing table which I think are from the original table.

Since the original had been glued to the old table, and took some of the plywood with it during removal, I duplicated the back ledge with a new piece of fir.

I then attached the leg and the new back ledge. I glued, clamped and screwed the back ledge to insure that the table stays secure even if the kiddos climb on it. (My suspicions have been confirmed, and it held them.) I used gorilla glue.

Clamped it with a quick grip.

And then screwed it in place.

The leg is a little beat up, but I like to reuse what I can.

I cleaned it up and hit it with a little Howard Wax. All in all, I am very happy with the finished product.

I apologize again, dear reader, for taking so long to give you an update. I hope you still enjoy my progress and keep checking back for more as I work on the wings, the door and put some finishing touches on the Shasta.

So, if you are following along, so far we have:

Trailer $900

Bearing Repack $100

Steel $10

Sealant $10

Fan-Tastic Fan $140

Three Sheets 1/8 Birch $50

3M Polish $18

Buffer Pad $12

Mothers Aluminum Polish$8

TSP Cleaner/Paint Prep $8

Rollers, brushes and trays $30

Frog Tape $10

Etching Primer $5

Goo Gone $3

Paint, 3 Gallons $98

Foam $250

Upholstery Fabric $510

Curtain & Pillow Fabric $80

Glass $50

Glass Seal $72

Backframe Gasket $80

Pile Weatherstrip $6

Vinyl Weatherstrip $5

Silicone Discs $5

Butyl Tape $15

Screws $70

Chains $10

Harness $6

Teardrop Lights $20

Sway Bar $45

Metal Plates $2

Wire and Outlets $54

Power Supply $20

Water Fill Lid SOLD -$20

Watco Stain $20

Bullseye Shellac $8

Howard’s Wax $10

Trim $18

Upholstery Labor $460

Curtain Hardware $40

Globe $12

CO Detector $8

LED Strips $28

Switches $10

Sandblasting $100

Paint $5

Propane Tank $12

Fittings $20

Door Catch $6

Plank $9

Fittings $5

Jack $30

Table $103

Bringing our tally to: $3,586

Until next time dear readers, shasta la vista...


  1. Awesome job ... love the way the dinette looks with your upholstery, curtains and new table! :)

  2. Greetings from a parallel universe! I built a new table earlier this year and now my jack has gone south.

    Any chance you cracked your original jack open and took any photo's of the guts? I think the some threads are stripped in mine but am wondering about how to get into it?

  3. Beautiful work man! Love the pattern on the table, very period. I might copy that for my '59 Airflyte.

  4. red dirt has done it again! he puts me to shame in the blog documentation category. glad he does though because it is a fantastic resource! thanks again for the great deal on the backframe gasket and window seal. can't wait to get that back window in...


  5. You did such a terrific job on your table!!