Back in the Saddle

Mom is sounding better all the time!

The snow is melting! The breeze is cool, and gentle, and welcome beyond belief. It is only 5C and cloudy, spitting a bit of rain, but it could be 20C and sunny, if the way I feel about it were any indication of the weather. How sweet it is.

I am ramping up on my project, cleaning Iris.

Yesterday I washed Iris’ exterior. She was covered with salt from the trip home, and I wanted to remove that to avoid any undo rusting. It took all day, and I even found myself at the top of a stepladder, attempting to reach the centre of the roof, but couldn’t quite get to it. I will have to devise a cleaning wand of some kind. The centre of the roof is not supported, so it will bear no weight. I finished the outside, then I moved to the inside to see what was what.

To my dismay, we discovered water in the “bilge”. I found it quite by accident, as it was hiding in the back passenger corner, under a bench seat, under a carpet. Being a thorough cleaner I was starting with the corners and working my way out towards the door. That first corner was a doozy.

It took three cotton t-shirts that were rags, to soak up most of the water, then a few rags more to finish the job. The water was clear, not soapy, and it was difficult to tell where it was coming from.

Attila checked the back signal light, and there was some mildew behind the fixture, but the hole in the fibreglass where the wiring came through was a dry as a bone. No leak there.

My next suspicion was the back window. A telltale sign that there were problems with the window was the thick application of clear silicon caulking all around the window. We won’t know if the window is the culprit until we reseal it. If then the leak is gone, that would be the problem. If the leak persists we will move on the reseal another window, and then the roof vent which looks poorly installed.

I did quite a bit of research on resealing the window. Caulking an RV window is a no-no, it won’t fix the problem for very long. What is needed, according to many excellent sources online, is to remove the window and reseal it, replacing any rotted wood during the process. The materials we need are butyl tape, a plastic scraper, mineral spirits, TSP, and a screwdriver. It will be a big job, mostly because we have never done anything like this. Today my big adventure was to call around to find a source for butyl tape, then to venture out and purchase it. We have all the other materials needed. Now we must wait for some mild, cloudless days to do the job.

The trailer is lined with Ensolite, which has a white dimpled vinyl coating on the interior side. The vinyl is quite dirty, and the ceiling and walls at the back are sticky, yucky sticky, to the touch. The sticky isn’t old age, because there are sections in the cupboard where it is not sticky in the least. There is a propane range in Iris, I believe the stickiness is a result of 39 years of cooking in an small enclosed space.

Product Description :
Ensolite PVC-NBR-CR is an energy absorbing foam originally developed by NASA to protect equipment from damage. It has virtually 100% memory and is waterproof. Ensolite has been tested to various standards and meet many automotive, military or industrial standards.

How does one clean this stuff? Opinions and techniques vary. Some recommendations are Tilex, which didn’t work for me; painting over the surface, which I do not want to do; using a rotating scrub brush, a very expensive option, and possibly dangerous to the integrity of the vinyl; bleach which no one described as effective; and soap and water which no one described as effective. I think I have listed them all.

I wasn’t really happy with any of these solutions. So my next thought was to research how to clean old vinyl that was sticky. A few suggestions were found scattered all over the internet. Then I read something that tickled my memory. One of the sites mentioned coating a sticky vinyl chair with WD40, to loosen the sticky oil on the surface. I had an AHA! moment.

I discovered last winter that a mixture of oil (I use canola) and baking soda will take off the label glue on the outside of a glass jar. So I thought, perhaps this same concoction will work on vinyl to remove the sticky greasy film.

I mixed up a small batch of 2 parts oil to 1 part baking soda. A wet rag dipped in this freshly stirred concoction was used to scrub a small area, about a 6 inch by 6 inch surface. I let that sit for 10 minutes, then used a vegetable brush to work it into the dimples, scrubbing with moderate force, for one or two minutes. Then I took a wrung-out cloth that had been dipped in soapy water (Dawn detergent, degreasing formula), and washed the area thoroughly. The stickiness was gone.

This will be a very big job, as the entire ceiling and most of the walls need this treatment. I won’t do it all at once though, most of the job is overhead work. It will be tackled in small spurts, when I feel the urge, recording the sections that I have completed. In this way, at some point in the summer, the entire interior Ensolite will have been cleaned.

Cleaning Ensolite: Materials Used. The bucket contains hot soapy water (Dawn detergent). The white cup contains 2 teaspoons of canola oil, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, stirred with the spoon before each application.
DSCF7980 ensolite
Cleaning Ensolite: The Applicator. An old dishcloth, dipped in the hot soapy water and wrung dry, then dipped in the freshly stirred oil and baking soda, shown here ready to apply to the ensolite.
DSCF7975 ensolite
Cleaning Ensolite: The Test. A sticky section of the ceiling beside the vent. there is a “stain” to the left of the vent that would not wash off with soapy water and a brush, and there is mildew around the vent, not a good sign!
DSCF7981 ensolite
Cleaning Ensolite: The Result. The procedure was followed, and the result is that the “stain” is gone, the mildew cleaned up and the stickiness is also gone.
DSCF7982 ensolite

This Oil and Baking Soda solution is effective, and it will be time consuming. I like the ensolite interior, so it is worth the trouble as far as I am concerned.


Two girls walking down our street, coming home from school, waving their arms above their heads, laughing hysterically, skipping along, throwing me a look and a smile as I came up behind them in the car, joyous and enjoying the wonderful weather. They reminded me of spring lambs.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 3:00 PM EST Wednesday 9 March 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 5.3°C
Dewpoint: 2.1°C
Humidity: 80%
Wind: S 12 km/h


“For purposes of action nothing is more useful than narrowness of thought combined with energy of will.”
Henri-Frédéric Amiel

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Maggie, well found on your cleaning solution. Odd that grease is the answer to removing grease, but it works.

Wish I could lend you our weather this week, clear and close to 80F, while still cool in the evening. I’m wishing you a run of that for your window project.

Still the Lucky Few

What did you do with your time before Iris? She is providing you with quite an adventure!


Will that oil and soda mixture work on brass, I wonder, to take off some sticky glue?

Bex Crowell

Before I got to the part where you discovered the solution, I was going to suggest baking soda and water and/or white vinegar. A mixture of this in a large spray bottle and just spray a large section, let it sit and then wipe it off. White vinegar cuts thru the grime and crud. Baking soda is good for cleaning just about everything!

It’s nice to have a large project like Iris, though… keeps you off the streets and out of trouble Maggie! oxo