Thursday, February 26, 2009

Get your weld on.

This weekend was dedicated to the frame. Looking at the before and after of two and a half long days, doesn't look that impressive. We did a on of work, but it doesn't look much different than when we started. Ted, my father-in-law came to help. HUGE HELP! He cuts, grinds, marks, helps set up, tickles the grandkids, drinks coffee and has a big smile the whole time! Carol came too to help with the grand kids. Always great having them up.

Friday night started out with some planning. Also some cutting and grinding on the front end. I had assembled some parts over the week. Sometimes I think ordering and collecting supplies during the week is harder than the work on the weekend. Planning and calling around during work breaks and lunch hours can be a chore. For this weekend, I needed new steel pieces from the sheet metal shop, angle iron for the stabilizer jacks, new tongue jack with backing plate, safety chains with the weld on bits for frame attachment, flat bar to reinforce for the new axle and parts to make a spare tire carrier. Along with getting all the welding supplies from home and setting up the 'metal shop' I was tired before we started!

Saturday morning, Ted started cutting four rusty outriggers off with the angle grinder. I started out working on the tongue. Drilled holes for the new jack and got it mounted up. Next, welded on its new base plate on the bottom side of the frame. Safety chains went on next. I'll grind the old bolt studs off and detail it out later. Tongue is almost ready for paint!

neat... sparks.... Emmett never gets tired of watching them.

Next, I turned to getting mounts welded on for stabilizer jacks. I had a pair left over from the old trailer. I mounted the rear pair to the 18 footer, but never finished mounting the front ones. I used them to make mounts on the frame. Both front and back are ready to be covered up. It's hard to see from this picture, but we plan on running the propane line between the jack ends. There is about an inch between the jacks to run a jacketed 1/2" copper line.

Ted cut out a few of the center steel supports so we could weld in frame stiffeners. 1/4" x 4" steel was added to the frame to make a box section centered on the old spring mounts. My technical adviser Hugh convinced me to make sort of a fish mouth on both ends of the stiffener to encourage frame flex at the ends of the added steel. "It works on racecars," he said. Good enough for me! Even my Jr. welder Emmett approved the design.

'Bout time to get things wrapped up, it's Sunday morning and we're all getting a little tired.

Leon is in his car seat taking lessons on how to drive a floor jack from Big Brother Emmett.

Georgia turned thirteen this month! She didn't want a cake, she wanted something else to nibble on. "Mmm. Smells like big boy!"

"MMMmmm! Tastes like a big boy!! This is the best Birthday present ever!"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Last of the big messes...

The weekend of Feb. 14, we stripped the rest of the old stuff off of the frame. Bare, clean steel was the goal.

Friday evening, I removed the tires and rested the frame on a pair of small moving dollies. Then I hitched up the frame and towed it out to the center of the work area for the weekend.

My Mom came into town on Saturday morning to watch the boys. What a help! So Katie and I went to work on getting the old axle and springs out. Old sticky grease deserve a big screwdriver and a set of rubber gloves. After cutting the original hydraulic break line, we rolled the running gear out.

Plenty of wheels are really useful here.

I've ordered a brand new torsion axle from Six Robblees in Seattle, so I'll weigh the new setup before installing. Hope to lose a few pounds from the trailer this way. Later in the morning, we drove the old axle and springs to the recycler along with the original axle from our old trailer.Both axles and a bit of this and that, we netted 700 lbs of steel. The $17 we got from that bought lunch! If you were wondering how much your running gear weighs, here you go:

More mouse poop! Yuck! Getting this dirt and gravel out of the belly will shed a few pounds too.

With Norms help, we placed the two pieces of belly skin out on sheets of paper and traced their outlines. This way we can keep a template for the new belly, but sell the old stuff to the scrap yard. We made $25 from scrap aluminum.

Most of the plywood was in remarkably good shape. We spent some careful time removing the elevator bolts with a grinding wheel and screws with an air chisel. All that came off pretty well. I swept the old subfloor, then placed the sheets of new plywood on top of the old. We cut the plywood around the wheel wells and made index marks on each sheet. We should be able to line everything up easily when it's time to screw it down for good.

We're using marine grade ply this time. I relied heavily on advise I got from Edendaw in Port Townsend.

After getting the plywood all layed out, we traced the shape from the old floor to the new. All that was left to do was spend some quality hours with a circular saw breathing through a dust mask. Proved to be a productive Saturday.

Sunday, we finished cleaning up the frame. We use the air chisel with a pointy head to beat out all the old bolts that we'd ground the tops off of. Look everyone, my valentine packs and air chisel!

Messy frame, I'll clean you soon!

I got three hundred pounds of Green Diamonds from Glacier Northwest, the concrete plant down the street. They have a new name! Used to be Glacier, but I guess CalPortland has more zing.

Sandblasting starts out seeming like a fun project. You get to wipe away decades of rust in a few minutes and inspect for decay. Feels great until blast media finds a little crevice in your goggles and jambs pellets in your eyes. Fun! Then you get to sweep and sift hundreds of pounds of sand over and over again. The buzz wears off fast. And no, I'm not in the Klan.




Can I go home now? It's time to play with my boys!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Destruction: day 2

We've got some catching up to do! On the 8th, Ryan, Ted and Wilson started off the day by completing the removal of the inner skin.

Next, they removed all of the insulation and wiring.

In the process, they discovered what is lurking behind a patch on the curb-side front corner:

Ouch. We'll be looking into replacing that panel.

With the shell empty, Ted and Wilson removed the "banana wrap" covering the lower edge of the shell and then drilled out the perimeter rivets. (I'm always amazed that a bunch of rivets is all that holds the shell to the trailer frame.) Meanwhile, Ryan began bracing the shell in preparation for lift-off.

Then, with the whole family in attendance, they slowly began to separate the frame from the shell.

Just a little space...

Now a bit more...

And finally, the shell resting on i-beams and sawhorses.

(FYI: the shell's weight is not resting on the edge of the aluminum, but on the bracing that Ryan placed inside.)

Once the shell was safely supported, a tired and hungry crew called it a night and went home!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

We tear it down before we can build it up

Saturday got started with myself, father in-law Ted, and brother in-law Wilson, removing the interior. Katie and her mom were at home with the boys, including Wilson's son, Wil, up from Oregon.

Everything took longer than we hoped, of course. The couch and water tank were first to go.

Next was the refrigerator cabinet. It was especially dusty back there due to a set of combustion air holes in the floor. The little slider door is 'drafty' at best when it is closed. On our last trailer, we screwed a (new, non-smelly) 3" sewer valve tight to the floor. With the valve closed, it kept the dust out of the cabinet while traveling down the road. We'll be sure to do this again since it worked well and gives both the furnace and refer fresh air.

The clothes cabinet and bed went very smoothly, working front to back on the curb side. As we approached the bathroom, things turned a little freaky. If you've ever gutted an old bathroom, you know there are surprises lurking. In a 50 year old trailer's bathroom, surprises are sure to be had. MICE!! OK, I said it.

I would have taken photos of the nests, but it all happened shortly after lunch, and I was doing my very best to not throw up in my mouth. It was gross. Mouse poop is gross. Everyone needs a place to sleep, but the nice mouse family who lived in our new trailer are not welcome here any more.

The mouse condo was built atop a layer of dirty mags in the cabinet (missing in this photo) behind the commode. The dingy cabinet was stripped of parts and thrown away. We're planning on replacing it with shelves similar to the ones above the front and back windows.

Toilet will get refurbished. I was especially happy with this same model of toilet in our last trailer. This one will get a chlorine bath to disinfect, base sandblasted and new parts to make it work better than new.

Saving the "best" for last, I worked on dismantling the shower and Ted & Wilson took apart the kitchen. A bomb may have been easier to dismantle than the Princess stove we have in this trailer. It must have been the first year for this design. It is a nice oven with a sort of drop in range sitting in the counter. We must have spent as much time on these two areas as we did on the rest of the cabinets.

Always fun to have visitors!

It was all worth it though to see it all cleaned out. We were all eager to remove some skin before calling it quits for the day.

It's starting to get exciting now!