Hello! Welcome back.

If you’re new to my blog, thanks for stopping by.  Please walk through the metal detector, place your drink order before being seated and, please, don’t forget to tip the wait staff.  Some of them haven’t had their shots.

New, “Official,” target date: In the woods by the third weekend in October!  I hope it’s true that God really does look out for sinners and fools.  I fit both categories, but especially the latter.

Well, they say into each life a little rain must fall and, lo and behold, this was my weekend.  I had a feeling this was going to be a bad weekend when I saw my name come up as the on-call guy at work this weekend.  Talk about adding insult to injury.

Friday was dedicated to yard chores. You have to do that once in a while to appease the neighbors when you have a penchant toward working with power tools late into the evening. Neighbors tend to be a little more forgiving when your lawn is mowed.  It’s a suburban thing.  There were rumors of rain Friday, so I chose to do something that could be stopped immediately, with minimal clean-up, should the rain come.  Of course, it didn’t.  I wonder what comic book the AMS, (American Meteorological Society), membership offer comes in?  I’d love to have a job where you can be wrong 80% of the time and still remain employed. *laughing*

Saturday was, pretty much, a wash-out. A sprinkle here, a deluge there, (50% chance). I did, however, manage to get the new trailer tongue installed. In lieu of extending the old one, we decided to just replace the entire length of tubing and weld the hitch on the new piece instead of splicing in an additional two feet; for aesthetics as well as safety.    That was something I could do “under the big top,” so on it went.  The additional two feet I now have, thanks to the new tongue, will accommodate a fairly large front storage box for “stuff,” and will better balance the overall weight of the camper, adding some much needed tongue weight.  Unless you’ve ever pulled a swaying trailer with insufficient tongue weight down a windy highway during a torrential downpour, you can’t appreciate how desperate I was to balance out the trailer and get everything where it needs to be.  Once the box is built and installed, that problem should be solved.

New tongue installed

(Saturday)  On to more domestic duties. It’s amazing how quickly a home turns into a pigsty when you’re focused, totally, on a project and doing just the bare minimum within the house to keep the roaches, (and the Board of Health), at bay, (and you’re rained-in and bored to tears).  I believe my vacuum is going to pack its’ bag and leave after the healthy work-out it got today.  It’s amazing how all the things you’d given up for lost, you find when you start the bulldozer and commence moving all the accumulated debris to the trash.  It’s almost always something you’d given up on completely and replaced.  Oh well, the glass-half-full side of me reminds me that I’ll now have two; so when I lose one, again, I’ll have the other to fall back on.  Gotta have an optimistic outlook.

I’ve had to step back and rethink the finish I’ll be using on Nosty’s Nook.  Before it actually became an “entity,” the decision seemed easy.  Now that I have it sitting in front of me, a weekend or two away from the exterior finishing steps, (baring any more rain days), and can actually visualize everything, the decision isn’t so black and white.  When you put this amount of time and money into a project, you want to do everything you can to insure a good outcome, and that you’ve done all you can to add to the camper’s longevity.  A real deep search through the T&TTT database has only managed to make things even more confusing.  There are, literally, hundreds of different methods for finishing a camper.  Many of those can be discounted right off the bat because, frankly, they’re “old school.”  What may have worked back in the sixties, (usually involving tar, creosote or a turpentine blend), has probably been reinvented a million times and, without a doubt, improved upon greatly; although some still swear by them.  A great many more can be passed-over because they’re cost prohibitive.  I’m all for the best finished product I can build, but I see no reason to spend thousands of dollars to create a “pretty,” gel-coated, yacht-type, finish that’s no better, protection wise, than a method that’ll cost me a couple of hundred dollars and do the same thing.  I have a habit of researching everything to death.  That’s good and bad.  Sometimes, the more you read, the less decisive you become.  Knowledge can, often, be too much of a good thing.  Unfortunately, most of what I’ve read is either one man’s opinion, or the opinion of the manufacturer who’s hawking the product you’re looking at.  Most people who have used one method, and achieved good results, (by their standards), tend to set their mind on the idea that their method is the “best” method, and will defend that method to the hilt.  That’s not, necessarily, so.  What’s good for the goose may not always be good for the gander.

My web-wanderings last night took me to the wooden boat-builder sites.  If anyone should have an idea on how to save wood from water damage and rotting, a wooden boat-builder sure should.  I am, without a doubt, planning on fiberglassing all the seams on Nosty’s Nook.  As nice a job as my router did edging the sides and making everything fit snugly, water can seep into the most minute pinhole: end grain being especially susceptible.  I’m shooting for a finished product that’ll resist water seepage and remain intact and trouble free for years to come.  Right now, it looks like marine primer and a gloss marine enamel over the fiberglass.  Wish me luck.

Today, (Sunday), was killer.  I hit the backyard running at about 8AM and started doing “quiet”  things that needed to be done, but that I’d put off on busier days, opting for more pressing projects.  I left the tunes off and went about filling screw holes and setting up for the starting gun.  Most people like to sleep-in on the weekend and, being, as Mr. Rogers said, a good neighbor, I usually wait til 10:30 or 11 before I fire up the power tools and the tunes.  Nosty’s Nook looks like it has a pox due to all the little smudges of Plastic Wood now covering the nail and screw holes, but that’ll sand off, (God, I hate sanding!), next weekend.  However, the skin installation is now completed.  Nosty’s Nook ain’t nekked no more!  Forgive me my excitement, but I’m pumped.  Things are really coming together and I’m more motivated than ever to get her done and off in the woods.

As I mentioned last week, I was really dreading cutting the dado in the roof panel to bend the plywood over the front angle without a seam.  I almost backed out and opted for the angled butt-joints when it came time to set it up.  While I was adjusting and clamping the 2X4 guide rails, I accidentally dropped the router, (which I had already set the depth on), on the ground.  I was concentrating so deeply on the dado, that I didn’t think to recheck the depth after the fall and, sure enough, the plunge release had let go and the first 3 or 4″ of the cut were all the way through the plywood.  After a few choice words that would have had my sainted mother running for the Zest soap, I remeasured the plywood and found that I could make what was left of that sheet fit if I cut from the other end.  Excluding the, now ruined, other end, I had exactly enough plywood, (give or take 5″), to complete the skin.  I was worried that if I screwed up on the dado a second time, or if  the seam cracked while I was bending it, I’d have to haul everything back into the house, shower and change, and make a trip to the lumberyard to get another sheet; then start all over again.  My “throw caution to the wind” side won out and, as you can see, the dado was a complete success.

Roof finished
Dado for bend

See!  No seam over the “aerodynamic” angle, (there’s that funny word again).  The picture on the right shows the actual dado.  I noticed in the camera’s viewfinder that I still needed to add one more screw to pull it down flush, which I did after I shot the picture.

I used a slotting bit, set up rails with 2X4’s and clamps to guide the router straight down the cut-line and cut out the dado.  Then, I wet the wood over the slot with warm water and a sponge, anchored the back side of the sheet in a butt joint with the roof section behind it and slowly bent the flap down to meet the front lip.  Once I was sure I could bend it that far without it cracking, I lifted the flap enough to coat the frame underneath with Gorilla Glue, screwed it down and, Voi la!  Now I only have two seams to glass on the roof.

I’ll take luck over skill any day.

The slots showing on both ends from the dado are now filled with Plastic Wood, and, after sanding, they will be covered in fiberglass when I get to that stage, (hopefully, next weekend).

Then it’s on to the doors.  I’m hopeful that those will be fairly straight forward.  I’m saving the galley for last.  That part, I have a feeling, will be the most fun.  I love to cook and have been daydreaming of the perfect galley to suit my needs.  I’m planning on converting a large cooler into an ice box, (which will, I hope, resemble an old fashion ice box when I’m done), which I’ll build into a wooden box, surround it with additional insulation, run a drain for the melting ice going under the trailer and add shelves.  A Coleman stove and oven will round out the appliances.  Of course, the sink and shower will be close at hand.  The fun’s going to be accessorizing.  My family tease me relentlessly because I love Bed, Bath and Beyond, (just the cooking section, Guys.  The grass skirt is for comic purposes only!).  I’ll be calling their bluff when I ask for trinkets and doo-dads from that Mecca for cooks this Christmas.

Full view_skin completed

Well, that’s about it for this week.  I’m waiting for the villagers to storm my door with torches and pitchforks.  I trimmed a bunch of trees Friday and dragged the limbs, as well as all the scrap from the build, to the street for pick-up.  Unfortunately, our pick-up won’t be until next Friday.  Maybe they’ll go easy on me because I mowed the lawn!   Lynchings are such ugly things:  Especially when you’re the guest of honor. *laughing*

Next week, baring any further atmospheric interference or other, equally party-pooping, delays, I’ll be sanding and, hopefully, fiberglassing.  Should time permit, it’ll be on to the doors.  I have a couple of friends who have expressed an interest in the “art” of fiberglassing and who have asked if they might come over next weekend so they could help-out and learn how to go about applying fiberglass.  I was about to tell them that, as welcome as they always are, I’m no “artist” when it comes to fiberglassing, and that I’m shooting from the hip here, when they offered to bring the beer, I decided that I’d just act like I knew what I was doing and blame any screw ups on them. *laughing*  They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but, even with an extensive woodworking background, I’ve learned a great deal during this project.  I’m hoping the fiberglassing lesson we’re all going to get next weekend turns out as well as some of the others I’ve gotten up to this point.  If not, I’ll be sanding until the cows come home as penance for deceiving my friends into believing that I could show them the ropes.  Hey, free beer doesn’t come along too often.

As always, thanks for all the kind words, emails and interest in the build.  I’ve really enjoyed hearing from you.  Lenny from Lincoln, NE, if you’re reading this, this week, “You-Can-Do-It!  Go for it!  Keep in touch.

Until next week, live well, love deeply and laugh often.  Life is a blessing that should be enjoyed to the fullest.



© Brian Greenleaf 2010.  All rights reserved.

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