“What do you think we’ll find under the floor?” Andy asked as we drove to the farm to continue work on our 1965 Clark Cortez motorhome.
“Gosh,” I mused. “Honestly, I think dead mice — maybe even a dead snake. I definitely think there will be at least one dead animal of some sort.” I paused imaging the dirt, the dusty insulation, the spider webs. “Spiders. I bet there are lots of dead spiders.” For some reason the dead spiders made me shake most.
Andy nodded in agreement.
Let’s pick up where we left off: Andy and I removed the insulation from our 1965 Clark Cortez motorhome’s ceiling and walls.
Therefore, we had the brilliant idea to continue removing all insulation inside our antique RV. This meant taking out the insulation under our floorboards. Our last job had us removing the cork glued to the top of the floor so that now, all we needed to lift our floorboards.
I should add here that our Cortez has what’s called a twin floor, which means there is an exterior floor and our interior floor. Being that we were on soft grass working on our antique, putting her on axel stands to remove the exterior floor isn’t an option, which meant we needed to lift the interior one.
Simple, we thought.
Turns out, that job is easier said than done … as is 99.9% of our Cortez jobs.
We started by clearing our floor — which meant spending almost an hour pulling everything inside outside (components we would reuse for our build, components we would donate, tools, and other random bits). After a bit of an elevated heart rate from the workout, we moved to inspecting our floor for clues on how it could be lifted.
Here’s where we found screws — 52 screws, to be exact. But let’s be honest — 52 is a strange amount so we knew there were more hidden somewhere… because this is also how the Cortez treats us.
Andy recommended cleaning the tops of the screws due to them being caked with dirt and gunk, which prevented a screwdriver from getting in. Once that was cleaned, he handed me a screwdriver before grabbing one for himself. “Let’s get to work,” he announced, hunching over his first screw … in the middle of the floor.
Men are odd, aren’t they?, I thought as I moved towards the cab and chose the topmost screw at the far left corner. However, with all the strength that screw refused to turn — even a millimeter — so I moved to the right to take on the next screw. Twisting, exhaling, twisting again, exhaling louder, twisting one last time with all my might, then huffing, I gave up. “I’m not strong enough,” I pouted to Andy.
“I don’t think I am either,” he responded but stubbornly remained bent over his first screw before working to conquer a second then third then fourth.
None of the screws twisted — even the slightest bit, making him not strong enough either … but he is smart enough.
Without a word, he stood and walked out of the RV only to return — man, puffing with pride — to showcase a drill.
Why we messed about before is beyond me; but he claims that sometimes the fastest way is not the best way, mainly when it comes to working on an antique.
This theory proved to be true too because even our power tool couldn’t get a grip strong enough to turn the screw.
“We need to find a way to loosen the screws — slightly — by hand and then the power tool should work,” he said. Back to Square One, but I also learned if you twist the screw tighter then unscrew it, the action magically allows the screws to turn.
We (er, um, he) set to work ever so slightly tightening then unscrewing our 52 screws manually before a power tool took care of the rest of the work … or most of the rest of the work.
Six screws still refused to budge, and some had even rounded off due to our efforts to try to remove them.
Man on a mission with another idea, Andy stood and walked out before reappearing — this time with a different power tool, an angel grinder.
His plan now was to put a slot in the screw head so that we would use a flathead screwdriver to attack the problem since our Phillips had failed us. This means in a moment, sparks were flying and the same fiery fury had overtaken my Englishman.
With a cut through the screw, a flathead screwdriver appeared — and then the mission became more scary.
Andy was sweating. He was turning red then purple, and at this point there were puddles (I kid not) of his sweat on the floor so much so that I thought he was, in fact, liquifying rather quickly.
But it worked and our remaining six screws twisted from the floor.
From here we figured — surely — our theatrical attempts to simply raise a floor were over.
However, our Cortez likes to surprise us.
Finding a floorboard free from screws, we pried. We pulled. We pushed. We cussed. We coaxed before we cussed some more … and still the floorboards would not lift.
We even reached out for help online to ask other Cortez owners …
“L.” Andrew finally stopped working. “I’m not having fun. I want to go home.”
Writing this post almost three years later, I can confirm that he has only stated he wanted to go home early maybe two other times — One was when he nearly blinded himself with the angel grinder (unfortunately, I’m very serious) and another was when he cussed out our Cortez after an easy job turned the completely opposite direction — but those are stories for different days. What I’m trying to say is when Andy says he wants to go home, you know the work is hell.
Therefore, we closed the doors on our RV, shook off the dirt, dust, underseal, and who knows what else before heading home …
This gave us time to plan, and we decided to start top to bottom and remove the underseal from the inside of our Cortez. After all, we couldn’t install any insulation on the ceiling and walls until the underseal was removed, the walls were treated for rust then primed and painted, and sound deadening was stuck down. This will take time — time we can provide while we figure out a new attempt to handle our floor. That will be our Part Two in our Flooring Debacle.
Therefore, Step One: Remove the underseal. Easy, we thought … but oh how immensely we were wrong and that’s our next story.
Before I forget though, I should add here this final tidbit: When we tackled the underseal, you can bet we found at least 10 more screws. Go figure, Cortez. You always get the last laugh.