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.

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