Hello.  Welcome back.

If you’re new to the blog; welcome.  I’m in the eleventh week of building a TTT, (Tiny Travel Trailer), from the ground up.  For the past eleven weekends I’ve been getting splinters, hammering my fingers and coming up with new and amazing ways to stick myself to various and sundry objects with epoxy, all in the hope of having Nosty’s Nook, (the name I’ve given my camper), ready for her maiden voyage on Thanksgiving weekend, (yes, this Thanksgiving).

I’d like to start this week’s diatribe off by asking for a moment of silence for the multitude of bugs who have given their life to insure I had to do scads of additional sanding after they successfully completed their kamikaze missions in the epoxy curing on the camper.  Salute!  In case I haven’t mentioned this before, I hate sanding!

It’s Friday and today has been one of those days you hate to have when you’re nearing the completion of a much anticipated project.  Because it’s been a week since I applied the second coat on the camper, I had to sand the entire outer shell down with 220 grit paper to give the cured epoxy a tooth for the next, (and, hopefully, last), coat to adhere to.  When that was finished, I added some micro-balloons to a batch of epoxy to make a faring compound, (similar to auto body filler), which I used to fill some dents and a few remaining screw holes.  After the requisite four-hour waiting time for that putty to dry, (seemed like forty hours), I’ll have to sand down the repaired spots, then apply the last epoxy coat.  I’m fairly well sure it’ll be tomorrow before I get the last coat on.  It’s almost 5PM now and, at last check, the faring putty was still rubbery.  I did, however, manage to get some things done around the house so, while there were no major visible advances on Nosty’s Nook today, my bathrooms are squeaky clean.

I’m extremely optimistic that, unless something major comes up, I’ll have all the epoxy work completed by the end of this weekend.  I’ll be stopping at the local Benjamin Moore paint store Monday to pick up the M22, urethane enamel that will be the final coating on the exterior shell.  I’m keeping the finish color a secret because so many of you have asked what the finish color will be, I’m holding out to insure you come back next week. *laughing*  A fella’s got to do what a fella’s got to do.

Once the primer coat and two coats of the finish enamel are on, I’ll be installing the windows and the roof vent.  That will, in effect, mean that the outside is complete and watertight, (I hope), and it’ll be time to move on to the inside and the galley.  The galley will be the final, (and probably most fun), part of the project.  I’ve actually had a dream where I was fixing a batch of my secret recipe camp stew, “Kiss the Cook” apron properly donned, cold, malty beverage in hand and completely enjoying a weekend away from the world.   It’s dreams like those that make waiting between epoxy coats so unbearable.  They also keep the incentive flowing.

(Saturday) Patience, thy name is Brian! (My new mantra).  Unfortunately, impatience is my middle name.  It continues to be one of those hurry up and wait weekends.  Thankfully, I got the last, final, coat of epoxy on the entire outer shell and the tongue box today.  Yeah!!!  All that should be left in the epoxy portion of our program this weekend will be a little touch-up and a lot of prayer.  Today should put next weekend’s paint schedule on the calendar in ink instead of pencil, (so, in keeping with my usual luck, it’ll probably rain!).  Drying time between paint coats is considerably less than that of epoxy, so next weekend should show a whole lot more visual progress.

Final epoxy coat on the roof.Looks a little like a freshly waxed bowling alley, doesn’t it?  You can’t see the exoskeletons from the multitude of unidentifiable insects that I’ve sanded, scraped and picked out of the finish but, alas, some still remain.  I know I’ve seen species of bugs, fossilized in my epoxy, that even an entomologist couldn’t identify.  I’m hoping they’ll be sufficiently covered by the primer coat next weekend because it’s going to take an act of congress to get me to take up the sander again on this part of the project, (OK, maybe just a nagging urge, but you get the point).  Maybe their corpses will be a harbinger to any bugs who have similar ideas for the rest of the weekend.

While applying the final epoxy coat I found a few concerning spots so, when it dries, I’ll whip up another batch of Father Brian’s Magic Faring Putty and make those a thing of the past.  In as much as I’d love to end up with a completely smooth, imperfection free, finish, I’m a realist.  This was my first attempt at epoxy and, while it looks great and I’m very proud of the outcome, I’m sure that I’ll be faced with a few “oops” when the primer goes on.  For the most part, small boo-boo’s will usually be covered by the primer and the finish coat is a self-leveling urethane enamel so I’m somewhat optimistic that the finished product won’t have me wearing a fake mustache, dark glasses and only taking the camper out of the “big top” after dark.  The main purpose is to have a watertight, waterproof finish that won’t have me waking up in an aquarium when a torrential downpour comes along.

(Sunday)  Drum roll, please!  Whoo Hoo!!!!  Epoxy finished!  Houston, we have a hard, plastic-like coating over the entire outer shell!  I think I’m going to cry, (must be the ton of sanding dust in my eyes).

I received an email from Dean in Amity, Oregon today.  Dean is suffering from the same affliction I had before the epoxy started.  Cold feet and fear of the unknown.  Dean, I’m not going to sit here and tell you it was easy because, in all honesty, it wasn’t.  On that same token, it isn’t rocket science, either.  I’m certainly no expert and, as I’ve said here on the blog a whole bunch of times, when you need information on anything to do with teardrops and tiny travel trailers, ask the pros on forum, (follow the link).  If they don’t have the answers, you aren’t asking the right questions. *laughing*  The great folks on that site have been of immeasurable help to me throughout this project.

To get back to Dean’s question; the seam taping is the worst part.  I found, through trial and error, that the way that worked best for me was to apply a thin coat of epoxy to the seam first.  Allow it to get tacky, then roll out your tape, stretching it slightly, and wet it out.  Be meticulous in your wet-out and make sure that the tape is thoroughly wet and in full contact with the seam or it will lift.  Then, use a fiberglass roller to flatten the seam out.  I used a 3″ aluminum fiberglass roller.  Also, when you’re finished with a seam, don’t walk away.  Stay with it, checking every  inch of it for at least an hour, (depending on the speed of your hardener).  The same goes for epoxy coats.  Keep walking around the teardrop, constantly checking for runs and sags.  I had to do a lot of sanding after the first coat because I walked away too soon and didn’t see those nasty dribbles and sags.  If you’re anything like me, you want to do as little sanding as possible.

Once the seams are done, the rest of the application is about the same as painting, (only with a lot longer curing time between coats).  I’ve sent you a more detailed explanation in my email reply.

Keep in touch, Dean, and let me know how your project’s going.  It sounds like you’re only about one step behind me.  Best of luck.

 

The Backyard's Halloween Costume
The Backyard's Halloween costume

 

My back yard is all gussied up for Halloween.  It’s going trick-or-treating as Sanford and Son’s junkyard.  Well, if you haven’t made a mess, you aren’t having fun, I always say.  And, as I’ve said time and again, I’m having a ball.  I believe that, in the last eleven weeks, I’ve solved all the world’s problems and at least half of my own.  There’s nothing like getting covered in sawdust, working on something that you know is going to be a definite benefit to your mental health and seeing the fruits of your labor coming together the way you wanted them to.  I’m not going to say that Nosty’s Nook is going to rival the models coming off the assembly line at a camper manufacturer’s factory, but I wouldn’t trade if for two of those.  This is something derived from my own warped and demented mind and has come together due to my own two hands over these last couple of years when the planning started.  It has been a labor of love.  The time I’ve had to think and enjoy the outside, listening to music and planning what goes where and how has been, for me, Nirvana.  I’d even have to say that the untold hours I’ve spent researching this and that, as well as chatting with the folks on the forums, usually during inclement weather, has been almost as enjoyable as the actual build.  I’d highly recommend it to anyone.

Well, that’s about it for this week.  Time to start the clean-up.  At present, the camper is sitting out in the sun, hardening, (like my arteries).  One piece of advice I feel compelled to pass on is that if you’re planning a build, and you don’t have a garage, get one!  Working outside is great, but having to wait for things to dry before you can roll it into a circus tent, not to mention the armies of bugs I got in the finish coat from having to leave it sitting outside, is a real pain in the neck.  My next project may just be a three car garage.  Why not?

 

Overall view of finished epoxy

 

Tune in next week when you’ll probably hear me say, “Doggone it!”  I say that a lot.  Baring rain or some other detestable act of Murphy’s Law, I’ll be painting next weekend.  May God have mercy on my soul.  Painting is something that I’m usually pretty good at.  Those are the kind of things that are sure to be the hard part when you’ve started on the downhill side of a project.  We shall see.

Keep those cards and letters, (known in the 21st century as emails), coming my friends.  I love hearing from, and chatting with you.  It has really been great to find out how many others out there are in one stage or another of a TTT build.  Fear not!  If I can do it, anyone can.  Email me anytime at doc@bgreenleaf.com.

Until next week, may your life be filled with joy and happiness.  Live long, love hard and laugh always.

See you in the funny papers,

Brian

 

A load of laughs on every page.
Born Bent Over: Flashing the Vertical Smile at Middle Age.

 

And don’t forget,  If you’re nearing 40, past 40, or concerned about the changes you’ll incur when you get there, and would like to laugh til you cry when you find out the answers, stop by the book store and order a copy of my latest book, Born Bent Over:  Flashing the Vertical Smile at Middle Age. It’s available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com or through my website, bgreenleaf.com .  I can guarantee that, if you have a sense of humor, and love a good belly laugh, (snorting optional), Born Bent Over is just what the doctor ordered.

©Brian Greenleaf 2010.  All rights reserved.

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