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!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Foam, lighting, and POWER

I've had a lot of things going on lately, what with getting a new car for Willa, her birthday (today) and my mom's birthday (yesterday.) I've been back and forth to Las Vegas twice and to Mesquite once, so work on the trailer has been a little slow this week.

I've been squeezing in a little work on the trailer between my other diversions. I sprayed in some foam around the front nose cap frame and the pink extruded foam board I installed last week. Here are a few shots of the foam around the nose cap area.

The spray foam is for the purpose of locking the wooden frame into place so it won't shake around when driving down washboard roads. Also, I put it around the foam boards to seal them up to the frame. Another bonus is that by shooting some in around the wiring, it will keep it from chaffing against the front cap on rough roads.

While I was standing there with a can of spray foam insulation in my hand, it seemed like a good time to shoot some foam into the space above the door header so I did that, also.

After I used up all the spray foam, I moved on to running the marker light wires through the angle brackets we welded into the frame for window supports.

I bought a standard RV porch light fixture and mounted it by the side door.

I chose a porch light without a switch on it, so that it could be turned on and off from a switch inside the trailer, making it less likely for someone to leave the light on and run the battery down. I wired up an inside switch just inside the door.

Next on my list was to hook up "shore power" to the trailer with a 30 amp power chord. I just happened to have a 30 amp extension chord from my RV laying around. It would work for the power chord, but the female connector doesn't meet the requirements of some parks that require power chords to be sealed "twist lock" connections, or to be hard wired into the RV. I found a 30 amp conversion kit at the local RV store that would give me the parts I needed to convert my power chord to a twist lock, and also the needed twist lock input jack for the trailer.

I also picked up a converter so I could plug my supply chord into a standard 15 amp plug whenever I needed to. After cutting off the extension chord's female plug and installing the twist lock sealed plug, my chord was built.

The standard place for a park to put in the power box for electrical hookups is the the driver's side at the rear of the trailer. I drilled a 2 3/4" hole in the lower rear of the driver's side, and mounted the power input jack

The kit came with a good strain relief and cover for the back of the jack. After the panelling is installed around this, I'll build a small kick out box to protect the back of the plug and the 10 gauge wiring going into it.
Now, I'm ready to finish the insulation, then put the panelling back in. Hopefully there will be less interruptions, and I can move along more quickly.