11/18/2019

What a Difference a Week Makes


In October 1974 The Rolling Stones released their 14th American studio album, "It's Only Rock and Roll". The album blended rock-blues with elements of reggae and funk.  Five years later I installed one of the first auto-reversing cassette players in my car. I listened to It's Only Rock and Roll without ejecting and turning over the cassette. One of the songs I was listening to on an endless loop was a slow, dreamy song that was somewhat out of character for the rough and tumble, early-1970's Stones: Time Waits for No One.

Yes, star crossed in pleasure the stream flows on by
Yes, as we're sated in leisure, we watch it fly ...
Drink in your summer, gather your corn
The dreams of the night time will vanish by dawn 

My neighbors stopped by to check on my progress.
Looking back at all the camper work I DIDN'T accomplish during my week off work, I'm painfully reminded that time waits for no one.

In my last post, Trailer or Camper,  I was doing a celebration dance because I achieved a significant milestone by installing all the windows.  After installing all the windows I put all the plywood back up on the interior walls and moved on to the next phase.

Prior to installing the windows I had built a couple of walls but had not installed them.  One wall to separate the front "V-nose" section from the main cabin and the other to wall off a 2 foot area in the back.  The front area houses the toilet and a closet. The back is both for storage and to protect the occupants from the highly-loaded spring that makes the back door easy to open and close.
All in all it's just a back wall.
That coiled spring holds a lot of energy and if it breaks someone could be seriously hurt by flying metal debris. I built the walls at the shop and brought them in the trailer through the back door.  On my first attempt the walls were too wide and had to be disassembled and narrowed about a half inch. 

You might remember from my earlier post, One Thing Leads To Another, I was having trouble finding a place to put the toilet that would be clear of the boxed-steel frame.  The toilet requires 11 inches of clearance on all sides. I didn't have any of the interior walls in so it was difficult to get an exact measurement. Once I got the plywood back up and the front wall in, I was fairly certain of the
NONONO. Don't. It's not hooked up yet.
placement. I did a lot of looking underneath, then looking inside. Like 50 times.

The toilet mounting hardware is about 6 inches around and is made of black ABS plastic. You cut a 4 inch hole in the floor and screw it down. The item that connects to the sewer hose is also ABS. So you need a piece of PVC to join those two together.  A special type of  ABS to PVC transition cement is required to join ABS to PVC. And Holy Toledo. My toilet fits perfectly.

My old pop-up had a 17 gallon fresh water tank I thought I could use in the new trailer.  I removed it and found it was strangely shaped. It was custom-made for the shape of the pop-up. Flat and wide with a small area that went over the axle. It wouldn't be a good fit for the new camper. I bought a new 21
Bed frame, water tank, back wall
gallon tank and had planned on mounting it underneath the floor in front of the axle.

When I tried to place it, it was too big to fit without notching out one of the floor braces. I did not want to compromise the structure of the floor so I found a place inside, under the bed to put it.

I found an hour to also install a couple of smaller features. A folding handrail next to the entrance and an exterior AC outlet.

Now, I'm rushing to get all the infrastructure in and working. Fresh water tank. Plumbing, sink and toilet. Power inverter, batteries, 110V and 12V outlets and lights.

The folding handrail is a nice touch.
NEXT POST: Infrastructure Week



11/04/2019

Trailer or Camper

Almost 54 years ago, on January 22, 1966 the British rock group The Hollies had their first American top 40 hit. "Look Through Any Window" peaked at number 32 on Billboard magazine's top 100 list. The song featured Tony Hick's finger-picking 12 string guitar, Bobby Elliot's driving drumbeat, and the Hollies signature three-part vocal harmonies.

Don't listen too closely to the lyrics or you'll realize the song is encouraging a light-hearted but creepy voyeurism. I've installed all the windows in my trailer-to-camper conversion project. Don't expect to look through them and see "the little ladies in their gowns" as the curtains will be drawn.

In my last post, One Thing Leads to Another, I described the dilemma of requiring one part to be done before another could be started.  Now it seems like everything is moving at a much faster pace and the project is tumbling forward.  Which is good because I only have roughly 12 more weekends before this camper has to be ready for our trip to the Sebring 12-hour race.

As you can imagine, paying $4000 for a water tight trailer and then using a saber saw to cut big holes in the walls can cause a person to stop and think.  But I forged ahead with courage.

When I was a wee-lad of 19 I had a job at an automotive accessories store. I installed car stereos, speakers, alarms, amplifiers and much more.  One of the items I learned to install was sunroofs. These were cheap windows that popped-up to allow air in or you could remove the glass altogether. So the concept of cutting a big hole in metal was not completely foreign to me.

At this point there's no turning back.
As usual, click on the pictures for a larger version.

These windows required the removal of a couple of the steel ribs in the walls. My first instinct was to weld in some steel to restore the structural integrity. I decided it would be easier and just as strong to use a half-inch thick piece of plywood in the window opening. It would take up the gap between the inner and outer walls. The plywood would provide enough support, especially when the inner walls were reinstalled.

Inside looking out
It's hard to see but I cut the steel beams to create tabs. I peened the tabs back over the plywood and screwed them down to help restore some of the structural integrity to the wall.

I cut a small channel in the wood to allow that wire to go past the window without pinching it. The 36" X 24" windows didn't require butyl rubber sealant. They came with a rubber seal already in place around the window perimeter. I did follow up with a bead of silicone around the outside to be sure no water leaks will occur.

I installed a 12" X 12" window in the door.   99% of camping situations are very safe. But it just seems like a good idea to be able to see who is outside the door before opening it. The door window went in so easy.  It only took about 40 minutes from start to finish.
Looking very camper-like.
  
On the left side I wanted a smaller window over the sink. It's nice to be able to look outside while working in the kitchen.

The windows with the trim rings and interior walls installed.
I was pretty uptight about making a mistake. I went very slow and, surprisingly, I didn't make any mistakes on any of the windows. All the windows slide open and have screens.

So now is it a camper or a trailer? I've been having an internal debate about when to declare this project has crossed over from cargo trailer to camper.  At first I thought when the windows are installed the trailer will become a camper. Now I'm not so sure. Right now it's not really fit to camp in. Oh sure, you could throw a sleeping bag and a container of water in it and take it to the woods.   But that's not in the spirit of creating a comfortable home on wheels.

So, I'm moving the goal posts. For the time being, it's still just a trailer with windows. I'm not formally calling it a camper until the infrastructure (the plumbing and electrical systems) and the bed is installed. Until it can be taken out and camped in, it's not a camper.  Informally, I'll start referring to it less as a trailer and more as a camper.

So I've scheduled a week off work and plan on devoting the entire week to trailer work. I've got to get my plumbing and electrical in and to do that I've got to install the walls, bed, galley and loveseat.

NEXT POST: What a Difference a Week Makes