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Old 03-07-2007, 05:53 AM   #61
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very cool idea, man!

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Old 03-10-2007, 02:55 AM   #62
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Dropped by the trailer this evening for a bit of patching and found I'd been hemmed in by a new wall in the warehouse:

Not unexpected actually, they'd built the frame for this wall last weekend, which was part of the impetus to get the window seals done on that side of the trailer. The only real annoyance is that I'll have to wait to do a large patch on that side until I've moved it, but otherwise it doesn't much matter.

On the inside I finished patching the holes I cut to fish the light-switch wires:

The rivets still need shaving though.

I took a few more odd photos - here's the patch on the edge of the doorframe:

which I think I have to do again because of the holes I drilled too close to the edge on the patch, something I'm not at all looking forward to, but oh well.

Here's how I've been trimming where the wheel-well boxes meet the wall:


And mostly just for the record, here's a few photos of the cluttered interior:


In the first & last of those you can see through the perforated sheet on the front window, especially in the first which was taken without a flash. There's also my kettle there, as it's impossible to do any work without a continuous supply of tea if you're British. We actually have a law. Well, we ought to. (I'm now remembering a mention - in a Stephen Ambrose book about WWII - of British tank crews who, after getting to a position on the front lines, would immediately make a pot of tea; and in fact the modern British Challenger 2 tank has a water-heater for just this purpose too.)

As ever, after a hard week of manipulating abstract symbols in a computer at work, it's nice to get down, cut some metal, drill some holes, and set some rivets. You know where you are with rivets. I also finally got around to downloading some of the VAP episodes & was listening to one or two of them after I got tired of listening to our local NPR station, kind of nice to hear some cheerful voices while I'm working, although I'm still working through some history podcasts on my ipod as well.

Hopefully this weekend I'll either get the spaces in the frame prepared for the tanks (cutting out cross-members with the angle grinder), or get some serious work done on sanding the interior for painting, neither of which are tasks I relish doing, but they both have to get done next, pretty much.

I stopped by my local West Marine store and they didn't seem to have any PEX fittings or pipe in stock, so it looks like I'll be mail-ordering it after all...
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Old 03-10-2007, 04:20 PM   #63
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looking great

Hi Jacob,
Your patch jobs don't look like patch jobs! Round patches are actually nice to look at. You could put a small light fixture in the middle of the patches, even the outside one over the door, sort of a little porch light, and it would look like it was meant to be that way.

I like following your thread, you're ahead of me and your descriptions help me figure out what I'm doing. Keep it up.
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Old 03-14-2007, 06:20 PM   #64
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Didn't spend all that much time working last weekend - mostly, I put in the wiring for another light fitting in the ceiling right in the center of the trailer, as that spot was kind of dark (originally where the door between the bedroom & kitchen was, but I won't have a door there):


This was in the scope of getting all the interior patches I might ever need to do done, and of course now I'm thinking maybe I need another electrical outlet there, which means more fishing & cutting.

The original lights were: one transverse at the front above the bed; then the Astradome; then one lengthwise light over the end of the kitchen & the living space by the door; then one 14" fan vent; then a gap with no light (where I just put the new wiring); then the inside of the A/C; then a lengthwise light in the bedroom; then the back 14" fan vent; then a transverse light fitting in the bathroom. I plan on putting probably a 13W compact-fluourescent bulb in new fixtures in each of those five locations, so a total of 75W. Under the cabinets I plan on putting halogen downlighters but then probably replacing all those bulbs with LED bulbs which are dim but probably good enough for task lighting, so overall I should have a pretty good low-power lighting setup. Originally it was all small incandescent bulbs, and in fact I managed to blow a 20A fuse just turning too many of them on at once. Right now what I have is full-size 12V incandescent bulbs in bare fittings, as the compact fluourescents buzz - I suspect because of my converter putting out AC on the DC lines.

A friend of mine who likes to do it did shave almost all the Olympic rivet heads on the inside, which was a precursor step to sanding, so that's good. I did some sanding on one section of the wall:

I'm using a random-orbit palm sander which works well on the flat surfaces, not so well on the curves. I'm wondering if a belt sander would work better for those curves - I don't need to make a fine finish, I just want to take off the heavy Zolatone texture so I can paint over it. Of course, I am wearing a respirator for all of this.

It's unclear to me how close into the rivet heads I need to get - I suspect in places where I can see it, I need to remove all the paint to get a good smooth finish around them. The Dremel with a wire cup or wheel is best for that, and I found a guy on ebay selling them for $16 for 25, instead of the retail individually-packaged price of $4 each. They wear out pretty fast even just doing the edges of rivets, but they do a great job of getting right into the cracks.

Around the window is even trickier - lots of fiddly little surfaces, all covered in Zolatone texture. I'm doing my best with sandpaper, wirebrushes, emery cloth, but in some corners, well, I'll just have to live with a little texture.

Underneath I had another go at cutting one of the crossmembers. I'm thinking I may delegate this to a professional at the same time that I have the frames for the tanks fabricated - there's so much metal cutting to do, and I just don't have the full protective gear for it or a large angle-grinder that would get it done faster. I'm thinking I may just cut off the bottom half of the crossmember, leaving the top 1" or so in place, so it'd still provide a little floor support. So what I should probably do is order the tanks now.

Finished trimming the wheel-well boxes... what I want to do next is get a new electrical panel (I think a Blue Sea model) and throw out the big old breaker box, get the rest of the cabling into conduit, and temporarily mount the electrical panel where it will eventually be built into a cabinet, so I don't have loose wiring lying around any more. I'd really like to get rid of the terrible converter I have and get a new battery, but that's a little tricky - I want, eventually, to get a Xantrex Prosine 2.0 inverter/charger and an 8D AGM battery, combined cost nearly $2,000. Obviously I have no need for that until I'm ready to go on the road, but I don't want to spend a lot of money on a smaller deep-cycle battery & converter before that. I may compromise and get the big battery now, but get a smaller converter (maybe a used one I can resell on ebay) for the duration.

I really need to get on with ordering the plumbing stuff - pump, pipes, tanks - and also getting new regulators & piping for the propane supply. The propane stuff makes me nervous, but I think it's within my capabilities. Right now I only have two propane appliances - the fridge (which I haven't tested) and the water heater, but I guess I'll run lines for the cooker, stove, and gas lamp and just cap them for now.
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Old 03-14-2007, 08:26 PM   #65
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Jacob -

Nice job so far on the restoration. Keep up the good work, I've been following your progress as I wait to retrieve mine from winter storage.

As far as removing the zolatone as a precursor to painting - try the "purple stuff" (can't remember the name, but if you search, can probably find it here) It's available in the automotive department at Wal-Mart. We used it to clean the inside of our AS, and found it took off the dirt very well, and the zolatone too if we scrubbed to hard (we like the zolatone and opted to keep it). If your choice is to remove enough to paint over, I think this will be an easier option for you.
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Old 03-14-2007, 09:06 PM   #66
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Interesting. Is it a chemical stripper, or just a heavy-duty cleaning product?

And yeah, I just want the surface flat - bare metal doesn't matter at all, it's just a side-effect.
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Old 03-14-2007, 09:23 PM   #67
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Just a heavy duty cleaning product...

I just ran and checked my bottle, it's called "Purple Power". It's fairly strong, make sure you've got good ventilation.
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Old 03-15-2007, 08:15 PM   #68
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Thanks, I'll check it out. I went down there yesterday and did some more - the sanding is messy but pretty quick, I just need more sanding discs. Amazon has them for $16 for 50, which seems pretty cheap.
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Old 03-17-2007, 04:45 AM   #69
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I sketched up a diagram of the frame back of the wheels here - apologies for the lack of labels.



Dimensions are not in fact exact,although the inside dimensions of the tank areas should be pretty good. The front is to the left in this drawing, and it starts roughly at the back wheel of the trailer. The right hand side is roughly at the back bumper.

The block at the left just reflects that the trailer is on blocks right now, so I had to adjust measurements made from the ground. The oval on the right is the chain link welded to the bottom of the frame near the back.

The diagonal dotted line goes from (quite approximately) where the back wheel hits the ground to where the chain link welded to the lower frame rail at the back would hit if you tilted the trailer back.

The vertical dotted line goes from that imaginary line to the bottom of the frame rail, so it's (approximately) the maximum depth of anything you want to add to the frame at that point (minus suspension movement, etc etc - you probably wouldn't want to have anything actually 9" below the frame there, but it does mean that I think 4-5-6" would be okay).

If you look at this rough drawing (first reverse it in your head), the grey water tank goes in the space under the "47.5" dimension, and the black water tank goes under the "37" dimension.

This photo shows the black water tank area. This one shows the grey water tank area (and the wheels and so on).

The dimensions for the grey water tank assume removing one crossmember and other braces, and the 3.5" depth from top to bottom of the frame does not include anything stuck to the bottom of the floor (like cleats where I repaired it). The usable space inside the frame is probably more like 2.75".

The width inside the frame is about 54". So, the area of the grey (and fresh) tank is about 2,500 sq in. Conveniently, 2,500 cu in is about 10 gallons, which means that for each vertical inch in depth you make the tanks, you get about 10 gallons capacity. 2.75" inside the frame + 3.25" outside should be fairly safe and give 60 gallons, which is pretty good.

If I did it without removing a crossmember the space is 23" long, which obviously means half the space per vertical inch. I'm not sure that'd be big enough - on the other hand I'm not sure a 47.5" length of 5/8" floor is going to be solid enough, although I could just glue another sheet of 5/8" flooring to the bottom of it. I was thinking of leaving the top part of the existing crossmembers in place, but maybe the thing to do would be to replace them with 1" or 1.5" square steel tubing or something, welded to the frames, to provide the floor support there. I have to think about this a bit more...
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Old 03-26-2007, 05:55 PM   #70
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Spent the weekend sanding the interior - these are photos from Saturday night, so only show about half the work, as I forgot to bring my camera on Sunday - I'd say I'm now about 1/3 done with the entire interior though:


Some notes:
  • The correct time to remove everything from the interior is before you start sanding. Even if you're extremely lazy. You'll just have to pick everything up anyway and now it'll be covered in dust. (I never learn.)
  • A belt sander does indeed work faster than a random-orbit palm sander, although it chews up the underlying metal a little - nobody will ever be polishing the interior of this trailer without replacing all the panels. However, if you follow it with a few passes with the palm sander, it's overall quite a lot faster than sanding the whole thing with the random-orbit sander and more importantly, requires a lot less pressure to strip the paint which is useful when working on the ceiling panels.
  • I used both 50- and 80-grit belts - both worked about the same in terms of removing paint, I'll probably just use the 80-grit from now on. Neither one tore up the aluminium underneath enough to make it difficult to smooth out with the palm sander.
  • Don't use a belt sander on the fiberglass endcaps as it'll tear right through them. Use the random-orbit sander.
  • I used 60-grit discs on the random-orbit sander, which seemed to produce a pretty good smooth finish.
  • Sandpaper is cheap. I threw out the belts & discs as soon as I found them slowing down the work significantly.
  • 3M Safest Stripper works reasonably well to take off at least the texture of the paint, and quite well around rivets if you wirebrush them after letting it work for an hour or two. But overall, sanding is still much faster if your goal is "flat" and not "shiny metal". I plan on using the stripper to clean around the rivets & seams.
  • A Dremel with a cheap wire wheel works pretty well on rivets & seams, but is quite slow. Wirebrush & stripper is definitely faster.
I'm really looking forward to getting to repaint the inside. I know that some people like the Zolatone, and that's great, but I really didn't like either the texture or the particular colour, not to mention the stains, wear marks & discolouration. I also like the polished interiors, but I don't have the patience to strip it or replace all the panels with new ones. So what I'm looking forward to is a nice, even, new colour in a smooth finish.

Actually a few new colours - I'm planning to paint the endcap above the bathtub probably the same colour as I repaint the bathtub (maybe just white, with something like the Whitecote waterproof gloss finish). The ceiling & walls in the rest will be the same colour - probably a very light shade since the interior is so claustrophobic as it is. And at the front I plan on painting the lower wall panels around the couch/gaucho in a darker shade since that's the one place where you can actually see most of the wall down the floor.

Still have to pick out the colours though. I know I need to coordinate with red oak cabinetry, although I'm probably going to strip some of the dark shellac(?) coating from it and have a more natural red colour. I still haven't decided about the floor either - not even what material. It's basically: real bamboo hardwood, engineered-wood (probably bamboo veneer), or Marmoleum Click, although on that last I wasn't too taken with any of the colours when I looked at them in person. Decisions, decisions.

I ordered a Sawzall to see if that'll make the cutting of frame crossmembers easier - I have a friend who knows more about working with steel who I'm consulting on this part, and it looks like he may be able to do some welding for me too. Then, finally, I hope I can get started on the plumbing, and the LPG plumbing too.
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Old 03-26-2007, 06:01 PM   #71
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Oh yes, and if you have the interior panels out... and you know you're going to need to sand them... it's probably a good idea to sand them while you can lay them flat.

And if you can avoid putting in new Olympic rivets until after you've sanded, they won't be in the way.

Of course, I'm not smart enough to have actually done either of those things myself.
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Old 04-02-2007, 12:34 AM   #72
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So sick of removing Zolatone at this point. I spent the weekend on more sanding & stripping. Right now I have the area of the door and forward - the front living room area basically - to the point where all the paint is removed from the large flat areas of the walls, ceiling, and front endcap:



(Sorry for the blur, the lens was smudged & I didn't notice til I got home.)

The rear endcap is also sanded, at least those areas that won't be inside the cabinet:


I patched the inside of the doorframe where it was cracked from the floor rotting:


Yesterday I used up the rest of my 3M Safest Stripper doing window frames and rivets - it actually is a pretty good stripper if you give it time to work, and no noxious fumes at all, it's really mild stuff physically. Sadly, Home Depot didn't have any more so I bought some Citristrip hoping for something similarly mild but after working with it all day - even with all the windows open and the fans on - well, bleh, I feel kind of gross and maybe I should've used the respirator.

So, having sanded some of the window surrounds and therefore ruined any chance of getting a polished finish, I decided that I was actually not going to paint them but instead just strip the paint (not the first decision made after taking actions exactly opposite to it), but I'm going to go for a kind of lightly-brushed, tarnished finish which is conveniently just about what you're left with when you wirebrush a bunch of paint off of them. So I spent a lot of today applying stripper & brushing, scraping, & wiping off stripper & Zolatone and did I mention how sick of it I am? Oh yeah. But, most of the NINE WINDOWS (perhaps I should have bought a Bambi) are now stripped or nearly stripped or at least I am DONE with them for now. They're certainly good enough that any further cleanup can be safely done even when the rest of the trailer is painted. I don't have any photos of that because I was so sick of the whole thing this evening that I couldn't be bothered. Maybe tomorrow.

That did solve one of my design problems which is that at the front (possibly all the way through) I intend to paint the lower wall panels a different shade to the upper wall panels, endcaps, and ceilings, and since the front window intersects both lower wall panel & endcap it would have to be one colour or the other or a third colour or have an ugly dividing stripe across it, none of which were appealing options. However, being a matte aluminium shade will work just fine, I have officially decided.

SO: to get to painting, I need to sand the remaining 2/3 of the ceiling that's not sanded and the couple of bits of wall that are visible that still need it; re-sand the parts I did with the belt sander with the random-orbit sander with a medium grit (pretty quick) and generally make sure the surface is smooth enough everywhere; finish stripping the bits of paint from around all the remaining rivets (quite quick with stripper & a brass wirebrush); clean up all the paint dust; then use a detergent/etcher on the walls to prepare them, then I can prime them, then I can actually paint with the colours I want.

I'd say "Maybe the Zolatone wasn't so bad", but it really was, and I'm really looking forward to fresh, smooth paint in colours I actually like. It's just that this part is deeply unpleasant and unfun.
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Old 04-05-2007, 02:06 AM   #73
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Some pictures of the window frames stripped of paint:

I'm also stripping the handles on the openers, and the latches before I replace them. And I'm going to strip the curtain rails as well before putting them back in.

The surrounds won't ever be perfectly smooth mirror-surfaces because of where I hit them with the sander, but that's okay. I quite like the half-shiny grey they are right now, and if I decide I don't like it I can always paint them again.

I really just have to sand the remaining 2/3 of the ceiling, strip the textured paint from around all the visible rivets, and re-sand the rougher parts before I can etch & paint. Definitely getting there.

Here's a couple of overviews looking back and forward:

Pretty much all of the unsanded walls there (and some of the sanded ones) will be inside cabinets, so I'm just going to leave them as-is, texture and all. Obviously I'll clean them before painting over them, of course.
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Old 04-05-2007, 09:44 AM   #74
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WoW!!!! It is good to leave the project when feelings of hate come up, no? Somehow the next day things seem a bit fresher... or you could just say, "I like this rustic look"!

Keep at it! Everything you do now, you won't have to do later, and maybe never again!
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Old 04-09-2007, 07:30 PM   #75
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It's pretty rustic right now, that's for sure.

I finished up the sanding this weekend:

Most of that was the ceiling panels. I also stripped & scrubbed the textured paint from around the rivets & fan openings, and masked the windows. So, I'm now pretty much ready to clean up prior to painting.

This thread is one I started to ask some questions about painting. From that, I'm going to wash and then etch the bare metal, and paint with Devoe Devflex DTM as a primer. I have a lot of cleaning up to do before I can paint - removing all the dust & grit from inside and washing down the walls to get them clean and smooth.
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Old 04-09-2007, 07:32 PM   #76
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Here are a couple of sketches of the floorplan/cabinets, pretty rough though:
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Old 04-12-2007, 11:23 PM   #77
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An Atta-Boy to you, love the RM-500... Just one question for now, how big of an AGM battery will you be placing on-at wheelwell and are you going with inverter-charger or converter-inverter?
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Old 04-13-2007, 05:02 PM   #78
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What I'd like to get is an 8D & a Prosine 2.0, but although I'm planning to buy the battery soon (about $500-600), I think I'm going to get a cheap $200 converter for now since the inverter isn't any use while I'm still able to plug in.

The 8D has about 80-100 usable Ah capacity, and it can be recharged in an hour at 100A, so it ought to provide a good buffer for running the generator. The weight oughtn't to be a problem (160lbs) given that it'll be mounted right over the wheels, and (as you'd expect) the bigger the battery, the more space-efficient it is. And using a single battery simplifies the wiring and removes the possibility of having one battery wear out before another.
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Old 04-14-2007, 10:21 AM   #79
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacob D.
What I'd like to get is an 8D & a Prosine 2.0, but although I'm planning to buy the battery soon (about $500-600), I think I'm going to get a cheap $200 converter ...The 8D has about 80-100 usable Ah capacity, and it can be recharged in an hour at 100A, so it ought to provide a good buffer for running the generator. The weight oughtn't to be a problem (160lbs) ....
I am struck by overkill, here. I don't fulll time and I have to admit to always buying too much tool, but I can't imagine the payback of that much weight for a battery. At one time, long ago, I was thinking that I wanted max battery, so I installed two. I also bought a Coleman generator--reliable, small, relatively light, but a little too loud, so I didn't like running it. I depended on the batteries a lot. But then I caved and got a Honda generator, 2000. It's not silent, but it is quiet enough that I don't mind running it. A couple hours each day is all it takes to keep the battery topped off and the mircorwave running at lunch and dinner. I can easily do with one battery now, which reduces the weight and, in my case, frame bending.

I guess my bottom line is, unless a person has some overriding issue with using a generator every day or every other day, go light on the battery and quiet on the generator.

I don't think you can go wrong with a $200 Intellipower.

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Old 04-15-2007, 11:48 PM   #80
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Yeah, you may well be right about the battery. I also tend toward overkill, but I'm also thinking about keeping a desktop computer running (200-300W, not a trivial load) a lot of the time, and I'd really like to keep the generator down to a few hours a day in the evenings. But I'm not committed one way or another yet and I'll think it over some more.

This weekend I finished cleaning, washing, etching & priming the walls & ceiling:


These are some of the colours I'm considering for the walls & ceiling, probably 3 different shades of green; the darkest for the lower wall panel, a mid green for the middle & upper walls, and a very pale green for the ceiling:


I'm glad I sanded the areas that will be visible, I think once the topcoat is on the Zolatone texture will be quite visible, judging from a test patch I did.
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