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Old 03-01-2009, 09:42 PM   #57
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Nice work Zep, how did you cut the holes in the middle for the recepticals so accurately?
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Old 03-01-2009, 11:02 PM   #58
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Mostly drill and file, but I've got an air nibbler from Harbor Freight (about $20) that speeds things up a little. I wouldn't want to do more than a couple of these plates. The real experiment here was to see if I could round the edges adequately, without a crease at the corners. This was 5052H32, so I expected more trouble at the corners, but really didn't have any.

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Old 03-02-2009, 04:47 AM   #59
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You do such great work. I myself would have probably gotten some aluminum spray paint and painted an outlet cover. But that's because I don't have the tools or talent to go another way. Congratulations on your work, AND when will you be ready to tackle my 76 Sovereign? You're on a roll aren't you?
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Old 03-02-2009, 09:02 PM   #60
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Jus a quick look at the beginnings of the fridge and pantry installation. More shelves will be appearing on the aft side of the fridge.

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Old 03-02-2009, 09:16 PM   #61
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Metal window

As most of you know already, I'm not too keen on lots of glass and cutains. The Sovereign is particularly bad in this regard (IMHO)--acres of trailer, yet hardly any wall space. As an experiment, I decided to take out one of the large windows. Just to be on the safe side, I decided to retain the frame and hardware, in case I decided to reinstall the glass window. This also meant no modification of the frame, which added a lot of complexity to the task of attaching the new panel.

OK, so if you wanted to just replace the glass part, you'd have to build something with a fairly thick edge to mimic the glass frame, and build it to fit the curve. Holy cow, this was a lot of parts, in three layers (counting the skin).

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As it turns out, the shell has a tighter radius at the top part of the window, compared to the bottom. I built the new piece to follow the changing curve, but at a slightly larger radius. This would allow me to attach the new piece at the top and bottom only, and the difference in radius would cause the front and aft edges to pull tight to the frame. This also allowed me to get a tight fit using only three screws in the bottom edge and three in the top. By chance, the head of a #8 sheet metal screw is about the same size as the head of a universal 5/32 rivet.

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I'll fill the cavity with fiberglass and then patch over the inside opening with a panel the same size as a window screen frame. The final appearance is, well, ugh. Don't know. I'll live with it and see how I like it in a year. I can always go back.

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Old 03-03-2009, 06:45 AM   #62
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You've got to much time on your hands, can I get a couple of days

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Old 03-06-2009, 06:17 PM   #63
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Front bed

Progress report, as the snow comes over the mountains--it's been a great warm 10 days!

I decided to experiment with a front bed, since there's lots of room up front. This is also what I intend to do with the Safari, if I like it. As some of you may know already, I don't like pull-out beds. I figure I can make a back for a couch that can be quickly taken apart into two pieces and stored under the bed, which will allow me to have a high quality mattress with no joints in it.

As with all the other work in the front end, I tried to do as much with aluminum as I could. The frame is very light, and once it's screwed to the floor and the plywood platform, it's very stable (wiggles a lot until then). The platform is cut to fit the curve of the front wall.

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The 11-3/4" frame height (leaving 11" clear for storage items) provides a hieght to top of seat cushion of 20-1/4" (8" foam). The 11" storage height isn't great--most standard plastic bins are about 6" high, so you can't stack two and you get a lot of wasted space, but I wanted to optimize the sitting height for comfort. Using 6" firm foam would have resolved this problem.

When the bed is in couch mode, there will be 20" of space from the back to the front wall. This area will store the bedding and pillows and will be covered with two panels that will store in the armrests, when in bed mode. I used the old cushions to get a feel for how the final couch will work.

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I still have a lot of work to do on the armrests. Right now the plan is for the armrests to be 7" above the uncompressed seat cushion (which makes the total armrest panel 27" wide). Once I get the real foam installed, I'll check that out for comfort--it may be a little high. But I want to maintain the panel height at least 24" in order to provide storage space for dinning table tops, as well as the back storage covers.

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Old 03-23-2009, 09:33 AM   #64
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Fridge mods

The dark firdge with the light orange frame just wasn't going to look good, so a quick trip to HD for some gray-silver spray paint and primer, plus some new door inserts, made a big difference.

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The deflector was added to make sure that any hot gas did not impinge directly on the insulation inside the vent (see following post).

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The face frame on the fridge can be removed, but it was just as easy to spray it in place, using some painter's tape and a 2'x2' piece of cardboard as a shield. The Rustoleum primer dries in just a few minutes, so the total time to paint, with two coats of prime and three of color was under an hour.

Before the final installation of the vent, I threaded 110V and 12V into the fridge enclosure. The 110V move was necessary to eliminate the cord going through a partition and to allow for the fridge to be unplugged by access through the outside fridge access door. The 12V is a provision for the future, in case this fridge fails and needs to be replaced with a modern fridge that requires 12V for the controller.

You can see I reduced the wood bracing substantially. The previous bracing provided both a flatness to the partition and a path to transfer fridge loads to the shell. The new brace only provides the load path (via screws through the aluminum partition). The aluminum partition maintains its own flatness. This also allowed for a better method of sealing the fridge chimney and insulating the entire fridge enclosure.

I added three small strips of aluminum to the shell face to hide the multiple holes from the previous vent hood. These strips are sealed with Vulkem to the shell, and the new vent hood is then sealed to them with Vulkem. This makes the vent airtight to the shell. This is not just for CO management, but also to allow camping in 5 degree weather, since the fridge chimney is exposed to the outside.

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Old 03-23-2009, 09:46 AM   #65
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fridge vent

Two significant new things, here. First, the vent is insulated. This turned out to be non-trivial, since any failure of the glue (spray-on contact cement) would result in a huge repair project. So I added some mechanical insurance. The insulation is 3/4" foil-faced foam.

Second, I plan on installing a three-fan panel at the bottom of the chimney, powered by a small solar cell. These fans are very low power. The small switch is a SPDT/center off model that will allow me to switch between off, one fan, and three fans. I don't think this many fans are required, but in order to provide plenty of open cross section for air flow when the fans aren't operating, two fan diameters didn't seem like enough.

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Old 03-23-2009, 10:18 AM   #66
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fridge partitions

Fitting the partitions to the shell was only a small part of the effort. The partitions themselves turned out to be quite time consuming.

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Fitting the shelf supports and getting them to fit exactly to the vent edges (in order to get that air-tight seal), fitting the insulation and then securing it, not only with glue but mechanically, and getting just the right thickness of compressible foam for the air seal to the fridge,..., sheesh. The insulation is important in the area from the compressible foam out to the shell, since this area is exposed to outside air--really important for cold weather camping. The other insulation is primarily to give the aluminum panel some deadening, but also provides some additional insulation for the fridge when camping in hot weather.

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Not to mention gussets for the drawer slides for the roll-out pantry, which might not be necessary, but when the pantry is loaded it will probably weigh as much as 100 pounds. I'm hoping to mount the drawer rail in such a way as to provide some slight motion, up and down, as the pantry rolls, to relieve any stress created by an uneven floor.

I'm also doing a small experiment with the attachment of the partition to the shell. In my Overlander, I had significant damage to a plywood partition that slipped out of the top end of the channel which attached it to the wall. As the trailer flexed, the shell deformed, then came back to the original dimension. But the channel didn't slide right back onto the panel, so it chopped the crap out of the top. In these panels, I'm letting to the top float, about 3/8" in compression and 1-2 inches for expansion. This is really overkill in the expansion direction, but it was easy to make the flange wide.

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The installed edge rail floats from the cleco up to the end.

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Old 03-23-2009, 09:58 PM   #67
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Wow this is great work!!
I live in Colorado too.
Let me know when you plan to have your AS open house!
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Old 03-27-2009, 12:52 AM   #68
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You are doing amazing work! Keep posting your progress
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Old 03-29-2009, 10:00 AM   #69
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Hinges and catches

As the experiment wears on, I am forced to contemplate the actual details that make the cabinets work, like how to keep the doors to the shelf areas latched.

I've used exposed piano hinges, hidden piano hinges, some self-made pin hinges, and just plain "hang the door on the shelf." Here's a pretty normal exposed piano hinge:

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And a hidden piano hinge, which allows for a nice clean door that swings down. The hinge is attached under the shelf and between the door flange and the shelf. You need room to swing down, so having a toe kick area under the cabinets is essential to this type of hinge placement. Note: this method is a true pain to install and get aligned correctly.

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The space above the fridge didn't seem to "fill" quite right with just the mircowave, so I added a small storage shelf with an opening for dispensing kleenex. This door has a reversed flange that allows the door to hook onto the shelf, which provides the necessary alignment (the magnets are great for pulling the door in, but not so good at precise up-down positioning). The two reversed flanges on the cabinet side provide a solid fore-aft alignment of the door face.

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The sponge drawer in front of the sink was a challenge, since I don't typically use cross ribs in my cabinets--I think they use up too much volume. So in order to get the sponge drawer to flip out the way I wanted, I had to fabricate a pin hinge. The pin is a long 1/8" rivet through a 14" diameter plastic standoff (available at Lowe's). The plate that holds it is 0.060 and can be shaped in any way that allows one to get a drill and pop rivet tool at it, while the drawer is in place to ensure proper alignment.

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I wanted the catches for the doors to be as unobtrusive as possible, including not taking up much of the cross section of the opening. By riveting brackets into the corners of the doors I was able to conceal the magnets on the doors on the inner side of the brackets. The doors are framed in 1/2" "L" extrusions, so riveted side of the brackets had to be cut down a little in order to fit flush with the rear side of the door frame. A corresponding bracket was flush riveted to the cabinet. Note that the bracket on the cabinet was cut to allow the pop rivet tool to get a flush purchase on the rivet stem. After some consternation on how to accurately drill these brackets on the cabinets, I used double stick tape to help hold them in place while drilling--worked like a charm, almost as good as clamps and clecos. The magnet is behind the bracket in the right photo.

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Note that most of the magnets do no directly touch. First, the epoxy doesn't seem to work real well on alumium, so the magnets can pop off their brackets if they collide sharply. By putting the magnets on opposite sides of the brackets, the forces of a snappy door shutting tend to keep them in place. Second, thes magnets are very strong, so directly contact would create very large forces when the magnets are very close. the 1/8" or so of separation provided by the reverse mounting keeps the forces somewhat under control and reduces a very hard snap right at the last moment as the door closes. I haven't taken this on the road yet, but the pull forces seem adequate when tested by hand.

A very serendipidous outcome of mounting the magnets on the reverse side is that if you want more pull force, you just throw another magnet at the bracket. The magnets are so powerful they will jump onto the back of the existing magnet and stay in place with no epoxy--self aligning and self attaching!

Zep
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Old 03-29-2009, 10:13 AM   #70
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Forming the sponge drawer

The sponge drawer is just a flip-out based on the same kind of structure as the regular drawer faces. But it needed to support a tray on its reversed side to hold small odds and ends from the sink. I had to form this tray by hand, using the edge of my table saw, some wood blocks and clamps, and a plastic hammer. One big concern is that the top edges of the tray had to be rounded or they would have been a real dangerous edge. I rounded them over by using a small piece of 0.090 scrap. I actually rounded them over way too far, like 3/8", when 1/8" would have done fine.

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AEROWOOD will tell you that there are cheap rubber edge guards that are easy, but I wanted to do it NOW!

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The sponge drawer came together better than expected, since hand forming the tray didn't result in perfect dimensions and shape, but it was close enough. In the photo of the rear, you can see the trapezoidal gusset that provides additional strength to the handle. Hopefully this will prevent bending the panel if a large amount of force is applied to the handle accidentally.

Zep
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