Thursday, December 17, 2009

We've got it covered...

Finally, the upholstery is in, and the "pink" (insulation) is all covered up. I took some pics today after installing the rest of the interior upholstery. I am pretty happy how it came out. My sister, Tess, did a great job, and was very patient with me as I added a lot of accents after the initial layout was done.

Here is a closeup of the upholstery fabric Tess and I picked out. The basic color is a light tan, but it has other colors woven in that move the color towards a reddish color that really matched up to the flooring and the Luan.

Tess got all the cushion covers made and the foam installed. She cut and sewed all of the material to cover the area between the top of the walls and the ceiling. All that was left to finish the upholstery was to mount the fabric on the Luan boards and fasten them to the walls and ceiling.
I started out by stretching the fabric and two layers of batting around the luan boards. I stapled the fabric with about a thousand staples for all the upper trim that covers the area between the walls and the ceiling. Then, I did a few experiments trying to find the best way to attach the boards after they were upholstered.

I had hoped to use wood screws with little hinged caps. I found the screws would twist up the fabric and batting into a wad, and eventually tear the fabric and make it unusable. Then, I tried adding a drop of hot glue on the fabric and that was barely better than without the glue. I tried glueing the hinged screw cover to the fabric, and it worked no better than with the hot glue. Finally, I tried using 1 1/4 inch brads in my little air nailer, and it worked well. It also made it quick and easy to install the boards without an assistant.

Now that I had a workable method of attaching the upholstery to the walls and ceiling, I tackled the "headache board" I planned to install above the back door. With the low ceiling of the trailer, and even lower door openings, about every 3rd time I get out I bang my head on the top of the door. I need a padded board above the door to make it less painful when I forget to duck on the way out.
To build the headache board, I started by cutting a piece of Luan to fit the space between the back door frame and the ceiling. I glued a 1 1/2 inch piece of memory foam to the Luan with 3M 77 adhesive spray. Then, after stretching the fabric over the foam and stapling it to the board, I faced another mounting problem. Again, I couldn't use the screws I had planned on, because they would twist and ruin the fabric. I couldn't use the brad nailer, because I was going into a piece of stainless steel. I decided to use self adhesive industrial strength velcro. After putting about 2 feet of 2" wide velcro cut into 5 strips on the back of the board, I peeled the other side's backing off, and stuck the piece on. It is solid enough that I don't think I'll be removing it unless I plan to replace it, because the Luan may crack before the velcro or the adhesive lets go.

So, here is a picture of the upholstery on the bed/sofa, trim boards with accents, and the foam padded "Headache" board.

We stayed with the same theme for the trim boards in the front.

The walls along the side are a little higher than the ones in the V Front, so I had to deal with the transition of the rear trim boards to the ones in the nose cone. I cut a wedge shaped piece and covered it with the cushion fabric, and I nailed it to the back piece, front piece, wall, and ceiling.

And this picture shows the LED Dome Light and the two LED reading lights turned on.

Here is a picture of the v front counter with the original incandescent dome light above it turned on.

In the sofa position, the seat is the front cushion, with the back being the second cushion, and the third cushion stows neatly behind the seat back. Here is a picture taken from behind the trailer with the doors open to show where the third cushion stows when in the sofa position, and also the storage under the sofa.

Here is a pic of the bed in the bed position from the front area.

The cushions are a composite of 3 inches of poly foam with 3 inches of memory foam on top. We elected to not use piping, because it just makes more bumpy things under you. After sitting and laying on it for a bit, it feels pretty comfy. I'll be anxious to see how good it is for a night of sleeping. Here is a pic of the bed taken from behind the trailer with the doors open.

While I was at my sister's home in Salt Lake, her son, my nephew Tim, looked at the trailer and asked me if I wanted to put bigger tires on the trailer. I told him it was in the plan, but I hadn't got there yet. He made me a great deal on a couple of slightly used BFG All Terrains that were 31x10.50x15. That works out great for me, because they are about 5 inches taller than the original 205/75/15 tires and they fit under the stock fenders with the 4 inches of lift I already had installed. Also, they work on the stock wheels, so I didn't have to get a new set of wheels. He even mounted them up for me. Here is a pic of them on the trailer.

This just about completes phase one of the build.
Here is the list of changes since I bought the trailer:
1) Remove vinyl wrap
2) Install vinyl flooring
3) Add rear stabilizer jacks
4) Add 4" lift blocks
5) Insulate sides and top
6) Add 30 amp service
7) Add 100 amp/hr AGM battery
8) Install combination converter/charger/distribution panel
9) Install vent with Fantastic fan
10) Install 2 slider windows
11) Install LED Dome and reading lamps
12) Install porch lamp
13) Move original dome lamp to front V section for desk/counter lighting
14) Build and install convertible bed/sofa
15) Install front counter top
17) Paint all exposed wood with satin Urethane
16) Upholster bed cushions with composite of 3" urethane foam and 3" memory foam
17) Build, upholster, and install trim panels between walls and ceiling
18) Build, upholster, and install "headache board" above back door
19) Convert vehicle/trailer hookup from 4 wire to 7 wire and add battery charge circuit
20) Install 31" All Terrain tires
21) Install porthole window in side door
22) Install Max Air vent cover
23) Install roof rack
With only the last 3 items on the list left to do, the trailer is now camp ready. I have a vent cover, roof rack, and a porthole to install, and then we go into the testing to see how it holds up on the "corrugated" dirt roads around here. Phase 2 is next year's project, and it is pretty open now, depending on how the trailer works for my intended goals:
- Camping on back country roads
- Minimum setup
- Minimum weight
- Durable
- Able to use for cargo when needed
I'll let you know when I get it loaded up and take it out for the test camp.
Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ready to head out... kinda!

I got the interior finished to the point of needing upholstery, so tomorrow I am headed out for Salt Lake City (night time lows in the low teens, daytime in the low 20's, and snow! It will be a nice Jeep adventure, I'm sure.
I finished all the wiring, and hooked up the outlets and distribution panels.

Here are a few pictures of the project as it is now:

First, this picture shows why I have the angle on the front of the bed. It is to allow entry through the front door.

Once you step inside, the front of the bed is a little over 2 feet from the counter top in the front V.

The bed is now painted, and this is how it looks from the front door

And this is looking forward to the front cabinet and counter from the bed.

When the bed is folded back to make a sofa, it looks like this.

And when you are on the sofa, there is about 5 feet open to the front counter.

And here is looking at the back of the sofa position with the back doors open.

Now, I pack up the tools and materials, and head on up to Salt Lake to get the cushions and trim panels upholstered. Wish me luck in the snow!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Filling up the front

Slowly, but surely, it's getting done.

Today, I built the cabinet for the battery and power distribution. The cabinet design goal was to keep the weight minimal, and keep the center of gravity as low as possible. Also, since the front counter will be used for a desk, the cabinet needed to be as shallow as possible to leave knee space. To meet these goals, I built the frame with two compartments, separated by a shelf dividing the battery from the power distribution/converter.

The frame is in the front 10 inches of the V front. It is 26 1/2 inches high. When the counter is mounted above it, the counter height will be 27 1/4 inches above the floor, which is a good height to use a laptop at.
Once the frame was built, I panelled the front with Luan matching the interior walls and ceiling. The panel is in two pieces, as the bottom piece would need to be removed if the battery needed replacement. The top piece has the power distribution/converter installed in it. Here is the initial fitting, with the front cover off the power distribution/converter.

Here is with the front cover on the power distribution/converter.

After checking the fit, I removed the power distribution/converter in order to paint the panelling and countertop. Then, I installed the countertop above the frame. It is supported by 1x2 strips mounted on the sides and back of the V front, and also the frame is screwed up into the counter to support it in the middle. The result is the counter top is quite sturdy, without a lotof weight. I will eventually put laminate on the counter top. For now, I'm just going to coat it with polyurethane.

Once the front cabinet and counter were built, I could re-install the bed. I also put a piece of Luan panel on the supports in the rear. In this photo from the back of the trailer, it is not possible to see how much room there is between the bed, counter top, and knee space. The measurments are: From the bed to counter is 28 inches. From the bed to the knee space panel is 41 inches. And, from the front of the counter to the knee space panel is 13 inches.

From here, the next step will be to paint the front counter and cabinet, then wire up the power distribution, install fuses, and replace the vehicle connect cable. The trailer came with a 4 wire plug, and I will be using a 7 wire connector. This gives me connections for my battery charge circuit from the tow vehicle and also for electric trailer brakes in the future.

Once the trailer wiring is finished, I'm off to Salt Lake to get upholstery for the bed/sofa.
Stay tuned!


Friday, November 27, 2009

As exciting as watching paint dry...

You may have been wondering why no updates for the last two weeks. I've been busy on home projects, but also have been painting the interior of the trailer. I started by removing the bed and painting it, then put a couple of coats of on the interior panelling. I used oil based satin polyurethane. It gave the Luan a rich deep red color and the pine has a soft amber color to it. I think it looks good, and I'm looking forward to getting the upholstery done soon.

The next step is to build the cabinetry in the nose section. First I had to install the AGM (Acid Glass Mat) battery.

The AGM battery is a good choice for this application because it has a lot of storage in a relatively small (Group 27) sized casing. It weighs 61 pounds. Best of all, it is a sealed battery with no vents necessary. This makes it safe to have installed in a cabinet inside the trailer, rather than venting it to the outside. I wanted to not vent it, because with the battery in the cabinet with a vent it would have collected a lot of dust.

I searched around quite a bit for a decent mounting system for the battery that would be very sturdy without being too large, since I want the cabinet to be as small as possible. I was lucky to find a marine universal group 27 mount at Ace Hardware today. It is very sturdy, using 4 screws to hold the mount to the floor, and two stainless bolts that run from the mount up to a full perimeter frame that holds the battery down very securely. I used four stainless 1/4-20 machine screws to through-bolt the mount to the floor. The two front screws also pass through a steel plate in the frame, so they are way overbuilt for the load. I used large stainless washers on the back two that pass through the plywood floor with no steel plate. Secured with nyloc stainless nuts, the battery is very secure.

Tomorrow, I'll start to enclose the battery. Hopefully, I'll make enough progress to share more pics!


Sunday, November 15, 2009

What's the hold up?

In this case, the "hold up" is the bracing under the bed. It is installed and working great. I would have liked to have made it "purdy" with some edge banding and sanding, but I took some pictures of it now, instead of waiting.

Here is a picture of the brace from the rear of the trailer. The brace is built of 3 pieces of plywood that are all 17 1/4 inches high. The two outer pieces are 39 inches long, and are attached to the floor and the back piece of the bed/sofa platform. The front piece is 32 inches long and is attached to the front piece of the bed/sofa platform. This allows the center piece to slide back and forth between the outer pieces as the bed is converted to a sofa configuration.

From a lower angle, you can see the brace still leaves much of the storage area open.

This is what it looks like from the front when it is in the sofa position.

And here is a view of it in the bed position.

Here is a view of the bed from a higher angle in the front.

Here is a picture of the handle I added to help slide the bed up into the sofa position, and back. It is just a loop of 1" web strap strap screwed into the bottom of the center section of the bed platform.

Next, I'll be adding finishing touches to the raw edges of the plywood, then I can get started on building the front cabinet and counter top.
Stay tuned!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bedtime, finally!

I haven't posted for a bit, but I have been doing some work on the trailer between other commitments. (That is making sitting home watching TV sound a lot more important, eh?)

A few days ago, I started finished up most of the wiring, insulation, and the ceiling.

I started by lining the walls and floor with plastic masking drops to avoid cleanup after spraying non-expanding foam. I hate cleaning up and I'm sloppy, so it was worth the hour to do all the masking.
Next, I took a can of DAP window and door sealant and shook the bejeezus out of it for a couple of minutes, then stuck the included soda straw in it and started shooting every little crevice, nook, and cranny in the insulation.

The foam is supposed to only expand 10% so it won't push, bulge or move existing structures. That's why it is recommended for doors and windows. Generally, it didn't move much except when I stuck the straw behind the foam board and shot a lot of foam behind it. I noticed some of the foam board did come out a little. Most of the time I was able to just squirt enough foam until the foam started to ooze out of the crack around the straw. Overall, I was real happy with the way the spray foam filled all the cracks, stabilized the small pieces of foam board, and didn't make much of a mess.

After giving the spray foam some time to cure, I put some aluminum duct tape (3M Shurtape) over all the smaller cracks. It helped stabilize the foam board even more.

Satisfied that the insulation was finally done, I started the ceiling. I used a piece of cardboard and made a template for the nose piece. It had a lot of angle cuts, so it took a while to get a reasonable fit. Once it fit acceptably, I transferred the template to a piece of Luan, cut it out, and installed it.
I was happy with the results, but noticed that a couple of pieces of the insulation had moved enough to make the fit a little tighter than with the cardboard template. I think this was more because the cardboard was more flexible than the Luan, but it worked ok.

My plan to cut the remaining ceiling cover was to use two 27" wide pieces running lengthwise, since the ceiling is 54 inches wide. I ripped two 4x8 panels of Luan down to 27", then measured a cutout for the ceiling fan. When I tested the fit, the 96" length of each panel was about 2 1/4" too long. After cutting off the excess length they fit very well. It was a bit of a battle to get the panel edging on and get the panels in place, but it ended up fine. After getting the ceiling panels on, I mounted the ceiling fan fascia plate after cutting it to the right length. Then I mounted the dome lights to complete all the ceiling installation.

The only interior pieces left to do are the cornice covers between the ceiling and walls. I'm waiting to do that until we pick out the upholstery fabric because I think I'll wrap the covers with light foam and then upholster them to match the bed/sofa cover. I also want to upholster the piece above the back door, because it is a low door, and I don't want to bump my head on the sheet metal plate that the factory installed there. Just before coming in for a late dinner after a satisfying day, I temporarily hooked up all the wiring to the battery. I was able to test the LED dome light, the old dome light (moved to above the desk), the porch light, and the ceiling fan. They all worked great. The only remaining circuits to test will be the LED reading lights and the 12v and 120v outlets that will be mounted in the front cabinet, beneath the counter.
A few weeks ago, just after buying the trailer, I sat down and sketched a design for a bed that would meet my requirements:

1) Able to be removed when I need to use the trailer for cargo hauling.
2) As light as possible
3) As much flexible storage under the bed as possible.
4) If possible, able to be folded up into a sofa for watching movies, eating, or lounging around on rainy days
5) About as big as a full size mattress, with the corner cut back to clear the side door.

Shortly after sketching the design, I bought the lumber to build the bed. Since I don't have my wood shop any more, I had Home Despot use their panel cutter to do most of the cuts. Then, I decided to insulate the trailer and put the windows in first, since I would have to pull the bed out to do that eventually. It was the right choice, but I've been antsy to get the bed design built while doing all the tedius work of insulation and windows, wiring, etc.

Finally, today I started on the bed. The first step was to mount bed rails along each side of the trailer. Here is the finished install of the driver side.

And, here is the curb side rail

The Douglas Fir rails are screwed into the frame of the trailer, in order to be as strong and light as possible. I assembled the bed platform on the garage floor. Because it has to fold up to be a sofa, it has 3 piano hinges in it. Two are on top of the platform, and one is on the bottom.

Sorry, I couldn't resist showing how it folds up for storage. Here it is laid out on the garage floor.

The dimensions of the bed platform are 73 inches long by 57 inches wide. It has 4 pieces that are hinged together. The rear piece is 6 inches by 57 inches with cutouts for the back frame of the trailer. The second piece connects to the back, and is 19 inches by 57 inches. The third piece connects to the second, and is also 19 inches by 57 inches. The fourth piece connects to the third and is 29 inches by 57 inches. It is cut at the front with a 13" by 13" triangle to clear the side door.

When I was getting ready to install it on the bed rails, I stood it up, half folded up, behind the trailer. For a moment, I thought "Maybe if it doesn't work out as a bed, I can use it as a privacy curtain for a shower or porta potty." But then I thought better, and loaded it up into the trailer according to plan

With the bed laid out, there is lots of storage underneath it. I mounted the rails at 17 1/4" above the floor. Just enough clearance for large Rubbermaid totes and coolers to fit under the bed.

The storage under the bed is pretty open.

The platform slides to the back and accordians up to create a sofa seat.

At this point, the seat of the sofa looks quite long, but with 5" cushions on top of it and on the back part, plus throw pillows along the sides and back, I think it will be fine. I took the measurements from my sofa in the living room of my home, so I am hoping it will be as comfy to sit on. The dimensions of the trailers bed/sofa frame are 29 inches deep, 57 inches wide, and the back is 19 inches high. So, with the 5 inch cushion on the back, the seat will be 24 inches deep minus any pillows. And with it folded up, you still have quite a bit of storage, including a place to store the third cushion behind the seat. The third cushion is 25 inches by 57 inches.

In sofa or bed position, the storage will still be easily accessible from the rear door and from the front. I plan to always travel with the bed down. It will keep the center of gravity lower, and not stress out the hinges as much.
In order to keep the plywood platform from sagging down with weight on it, I plan to put a third support system down the middle of the trailer. It will have two pieces. The rear support piece will be stationary, bolted to the floor and the rear piece of the platform. The front support piece will be bolted to and slide with the front plateform piece. I should have the supports built soon.
Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

And I thought I was in the pink then...

Well, today was a full day in the pink. I think I've breathed it, tasted it, used it in my hair, clinging to my clothes, in my ears, you name it!

Here is the end of the day shot.

It was nice getting things tidied up and ready to put on panelling. In this shot, the wiring for the marker lights (factory) and the switch for the driver's side reading lamp.

And on the curb side, the wires and switches are for the other reading light, the porch light, and the dome light.

And this is the nose, with the wires ready to connect to the electrical distribution box and the battery.

And while I was sitting there looking into the trailer to figure out where to mount the battery and power distribution boxes, the UPS and Fed Ex guys came up the street, dropping off LED lights, battery, and distribution box! I love it when a plan comes together! Hopefully I'll get the panelling on and wire up the electrical this weekend.
Stay tuned!