Move It Mama Monday! Of Sweat and Steam

I exercise. I do karate. I walk. I run sometimes. I go to the Y for water aerobics. I keep moving and I keep fit. And the reason I do this is not so I can look good in my clothes. Well, yeah, okay that is one of the big reasons why I exercise, but really, the reason I exercise is so I can do what I did today.

I exercise so that I have the endurance to take on big, dirty household chores and working frikkin’ miracles, baby!

What am I talking about? Well, a couple weeks ago, my neighbor across the street was packing up to move. She was moving to a smaller place and had more than she needed to take with her, so she offered me a few items which I happily accepted. Among those items was an old steamer trunk.

Yeah, you steampunkers out there, I know your ears have perked up right about now. This steamer trunk appears to be the real deal. There’s a tag on it that says “Petersburg Trunk & Bag Company, Petersburg, Virginia.” I looked it up and apparently the Petersburg Trunk & Bag Company was a division of Seward Trunks. This particular trunk is made of wood, with wood slates over a canvas covered frame. There are lots of metal parts – corner pieces, hinges, locks, etc. And the interior is covered in striped blue and white fabric. At least I think it used to be striped blue and white fabric.

It was an amazing gift and I was delighted to accept it from my neighbor. However, it is a really old trunk, and it was apparently stored in her garage for many years. So when I got it, it looked like this…

And this…

And here’s what the inside looked like…

Love the pop out drawer, but the smell is something awful! Oh, and here are a few details of the bottom side of the trunk…

Yep, it has tiny little wheels on the bottom. And it also had…

Lots of insect and spider egg cocoons! And cobwebs! YAY!!!

I can hear you know. “Well, Helen, that is a lovely trunk you have there, but what does any of this have to do with exercise?” Well, I’ll tell you. I spent 6 hours today scrubbing and scouring and oiling this trunk up, and I had to haul it onto one side and then the other to get at all the spots that needed cleaning, and I had to do all this outside in the hot sun, and by the time I was done I must have sweated off 20 bazillion pounds and every muscle in my body hurts like crazy! That’s what this has to do with exercise. But the efforts were worth it…


I still have a lot of work to do, of course. I did a quick search on the web and found a site with information on how to restore old trunks like this, so I no know what I need to do to get those metal parts all nice and shiny. I plan to use a Dremel tool with a wire brush attachment rather than use the hand scrubbing method because I love exercise but I am not interested in seeing my arms drop off. Oh, and I still have the interior to work on. I’ve started scraping out all that rotted fabric but it’s going to take a while for me to finish that. I expect that in another couple weeks, I may have this all finished, and when I do, I’ll show pictures again. But for right now, I’m going to collapse because I am damn tired after all that hard work. Good night folks!

About Cynical Woman

Cartoonist, Artist, Geek, Evil Crafter, Girl Scout Troop Leader and Writer. Also, a zombie. I haven't slept in I don't know how long.
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  1. That is amazing! And inspiring! Can’t wait to see how the interior works out!

  2. So, now I suppose you’ll be wanting to know when my birthday is and where you can send that trunk to…no? Oh. Well, nice job anyway.

  3. Ravyn,

    Thank you! In addition to cleaning out the interior, I need to take a Dremel tool with a wire brush attachment to all the metal findings on the trunk to clean it off. It looks like many of the pieces may be brass, but I won’t know for sure until I scour them all clean. Will post pics when this is done!

  4. Dear Uncle Monster,

    While I will not send you this box for your birthday, I will see to it that you are buried in one someday…


  5. Wow Helen, that trunk looks fantastic! I don’t envy your six hours in the hot sun, but it looks like all that work paid off. What a cool find.

  6. DDog,

    Thank you! I plan to spend more time on the trunk tomorrow, cleaning up the metal fixings on it. The corner pieces are caked with grunge and there’s rust everywhere. Then once that’s done, I’ll finish tearing out the interior fabric and stain and finish the inside. I can’t wait until it’s done. It’s going to look verra nice in my art room!

  7. Well, that’s what I would have used for too, so that’s ok. 🙂

  8. Uncle Monster,

    LOL! I’ve finally got the smell out of trunk, now if I can just finish sanding and staining the inside, and get the brass bits cleaned up…

    It’s been one heck of a job.

  9. Looks great so far. Please post a pic when you get the polishing done. I’ve got an old leather trunk very similar but I’m too chicken to start cleaning it..You go girl!

  10. StormWarning,

    I will most definitely keep posting pics and updates as I go. I’ll probably put in another day of work on it on Friday, and tackle the metal parts then. If you want to try working on your own, I found a fantastic website on refurbishing old trunks here – This is basically all the info I’ve needed to work on my trunk, and it’s been very helpful!

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