Week Six: Gettin Closer to the Sticks!

Hi!  Welcome back.  If this is your first visit, welcome.  It’s great to have you here.

I hope you all had a safe and wonderful Labor Day Weekend.

I sure did!  It must be the fall-like weather here in South Carolina: that, or the fact that my four day weekend was cut down to two, but something lit a fire under me for those two days and Nosty’s Nook is actually starting to look more like a camper and less like some old guy’s pipe dream.

I’ve got to say, old age has not been kind to me.  Tonight, even my hair hurts! (What little I have left). *laughing*  Those muscles I said I didn’t even know I had are making their presence known in spades.

OK, Tylenol on board, Flexall applied liberally on my back, knees, elbows and neck, heating pad on high and pistol nearby in case all the aforementioned products fail to stop the aching, let me fill you in on the progress made this weekend.

As I mentioned last week, my first task this weekend was to test the electrical system to insure I hadn’t driven a screw through one of the cables.  Luck was on my side and everything powered up and functioned without a flaw.  And I didn’t zap myself even once.

Ready to put the cover on.
Ready to put the cover on.

Not that I’m out of the woods yet.  I still have to attach the skin with, you guessed it, more screws.  I’m hoping my luck holds and I don’t let the magic smoke out of the system when I fire it up after the skin’s all on.  That’s when a minor inconvenience turns into a disaster of biblical proportions.

After the electrical test, I started installing the insulation.  I didn’t anticipate that being any real trouble and, luckily, I was right.  I spent about five hours total putting it all in.  The only pain was channeling some of the Styrofoam for wires to pass through it.  Thankfully, almost everything is square so there weren’t many angled cuts or tongue-in-cheek modifications needed.  I used the foamboard adhesive on the sides just because.  I had to press-fit all the insulation, so it’s in there tight, but I had a couple of tubes on hand so, why not?

Left side insulated
Top insulated

After the electrical test and the insulation were done, I was beat. *laughing*  Fortunately, (or unfortunately, depending on whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist), whatever possessed me to put myself on the fall deadline started nagging at me to put another coat of primer on the interior before I called it a night.  I always listen to the voices in my head.

Interior primed

I knew that I wanted the sides to go on so that the eight foot length went from the rear to the front, with the short piece at the front.  As you may remember from my earlier posts, the last two feet of the camper are added-on to make the 10′ length from an 8′ trailer.  By installing it that way, that should add strength from the main framework to help support the rear.  Not that it was really necessary.  I made sure I built the sub-frame to last, but every little bit helps when you’re working with light weight in mind.

Today, (Monday), I think my guardian angel, Murray, must have, for once, been sober because we rocked the house.  Whenever I’m involved in a project, it stays at the forefront of what little gray matter I have left, regardless of how hard I try to squelch it.  I spent eighteen hours on the road this weekend and thought of nothing else but the best way to install the side skins.   I decided, (somewhere around Brunswick, GA, I believe), that I would put the 8′ lengths of skin on first, (actually second, after the rear section which was, basically, a quick task).   Those two pieces, I deduced, would be the hardest part.  I figured that getting the worst done first would make the rest of the job that much more pleasant.  Fitting the 8′ length sides brought about the added problem of having to measure and cut the holes for the outside light boxes and scroll around the fenders.  An 8 X 4 sheet of  1/4th inch plywood isn’t heavy until you try to balance it with one hand, line up a 2″ X 4″ electrical box that’s sticking out so as to fit perfectly in the hole cut out for it, and line up the fender with the other hand, all while using your knees as anchors.  Thankfully, I had a few Quick Grip clamps on hand which helped immensely.

After getting everything marked and cut out, I got the sides fitted, then removed them again to slather the framework with Gorilla Glue.  Between the glue and the fasteners, the entire camper will be one solid unit, each part drawing strength from the other.

Left side skinned
Right side skinned

If you’ve noticed in any of the earlier pictures, the roof curves downward slightly from about the middle of the camper to the back.  I did this to help with water run-off, so I rough-cut all the skin a little longer and wider. Once the skins were secured to the frame, I routed all the edges with a laminate trimming bit to make everything flush, then cut out the doors.  I installed the rear skin first so that the sides would overlap it, and will be installing the front last so it overlaps the sides.  This will, I hope, help keep driving rain while going down the road, etc, from penetrating any gap, or the end grain,  that overlapping the sides over the front would have made.  I’m praying that the finish coat of paint on the exterior will sufficiently seal all the wood and make it impervious to rain, (nice dream, Pops), but I’m hedging all my bets.

Plywood skin around galley exterior

Thank God for routers!  If I’d had to sand everything flush, I’d have ended up at Happy Acres long before I expected to have to go.  I hate sanding!  The true Artisans that do such beautiful work with nothing but a mallet and chisel have my deepest respect, but were I to meet one of them, I’d have to ask him/her if they were out of their mind.  With so many innovations in woodworking, even an idiot can produce passable work.  I’m living proof of that!  Speaking of which, if any villages out there have lost their idiot, I’m available, and I work cheap.

Shift to the present.

I took the pictures after I cleaned up the yard, which was a disaster area.  Between little pieces of styrofoam, bits and pieces of scrap plywood and other, various and sundry, bits of scrap; not to mention a bizillion tools, the clean-up took up almost as much time as the actual trailer work did.  I guess you can’t have it all.  When I’m the king, I’m going to have “people” to take care of those mundane tasks so I can concentrate on more important matters.*laughing*

The last task of the day, after I had Nosty’s Nook secured in the “garage,” (OK, it’s a tent, but it keeps everything dry), was to remove the trailer tongue.  I’m taking it in to work where a friend of mine will, for a nominal fee, extend it two additional feet.  I’m doing this because the added two feet on the back of the camper has lessened the tongue weight to a point where I’m not comfortable pulling it.  When the two feet are added to the tongue, (which is made of heavy gauge steel tubing which the additional 2′ will also be made of),  and I have it back on the trailer, I’m going to build a large storage box that will mount to the front of the camper and rest on the tongue.  This, I’m fairly certain, will better balance the trailer and give me that much needed, additional tongue weight; as well as giving me yet another place to put “stuff.”

That’s about it for this week.  Tune in next week when you’ll hear Brian say, “What was I thinking!?”  Actually, the only scary part left will be installing the front section of the roof.  To avoid another seam, I’m planning on cutting a dado where the front “aerodynamically,” ( I don’t know why I like that word, but I do),  tapers down to the front face so I can contour the plywood along the frame without having to taper-cut and fit two separate pieces.  Seams are our enemies.  I’m trying to avoid them at all costs.

Once again, my many thanks to all of you who have emailed me about the build.  I always try to answer any and all emails within a day, and I do answer them all.  Unfortunately, this last couple of weeks have been rather hectic so, if you don’t hear from me right away, you will.   And to Sharon from Laurens, I believe that’s illegal in, at least, forty-six states, even in a camper. *laughing*

Have a wonderful week and stop back next week to see whether I’m working on Nosty’s Nook, or sporting a paisley straight-jacket, on my way to my beloved Happy Acres.  I have a rubber lined penthouse there with my name on the door.  If you’re ever out that way, mention my name.  You’ll get the “spa” discount.  That’s two-for-one shock therapy treatments and a complimentary Thorazine injection.

Until then, may you laugh until your sides hurt at least twice a day, (unless you’re a mortician……wouldn’t be prudent).

See you in the funny papers!

Brian

doc@bgreenleaf.com

©Brian Greenleaf 2010

Nosty’s Nook: Week Two!

08-08-2010

Hi!  Glad you stopped by.

Well, it’s week two of the build and I still have all my extremities, although, I think, I may have donated a pint of blood, collectively, from the various and sundry cuts and scrapes common whenever I work around sharp objects.  That’s probably why I now have a desk job!

This weekend, the weather cooperated to the nth degree.  Saturday was phenomenal for this time of year in SC, and today, while hot, was not nearly as humid as it has been.  Time expenditure this weekend was approximately 20 hours, counting Friday, and I’ve exceeded my expectations for the amount of work I managed to get done.  Sometimes I amaze myself. *laughing* (hey, if you don’t ring your own bell, who will?)

Lunch Saturday was complements of the the insect world.  Somehow, a spider managed to work its’ way into my Beck’s Dark bottle.  When I noticed him, mid-sip, I realized that it was either him or me.  I’m afraid I had to drown him.  I didn’t feel much like eating after that.  Kids, don’t try this at home.

OK, last weekend I started with the bare trailer.  I’m using a ready-made trailer that I bought from Tractor Supply about three years ago when I first got the TTT bug.  I’m perfectly capable of welding my own, which I’ll do on the next one, but I got a little hurried this time and wanted to get-er-done.  It sat in the back yard, covered, for a year or so before I built a full, pressure treated deck on it to use in my pressure washing business.  I stripped that deck off of it somewhere around Christmas time.  So much for hurried.

Last weekend, I added the new, pressure treated, wooden under-frame to the trailer.  This was done to allow me to have a sturdy base to add the 10′ x 5′ TTT frame to the trailer’s 8′ x 4′ metal frame.  Believe it or not, the entire TTT can be removed from the trailer in one piece by simply unbolting this underframe., (although it’ll take a few beefy friends to help lift it).

That was pretty much the extent of last weekend’s toils.  It was extremely hot and humid so I decided to work on my latest book instead.

Back in January of this year, I started preparing the 3/4ths inch AC plywood decking for the floor of the TTT.  It was something I could do in the house and it was time consuming, waiting for one coat to dry before applying the next, so I figured I’d start early and have it done by the time the better weather came around.  Unfortunately, I was involved in a shoot-out with someone who felt he had every right to sneak into my house at 4AM and help himself to my few possessions.  I took two in the gluteus maximus, both of which are still embedded in there, (where else, right?), and, rumor has it, he took three of mine in the leg and one across his forehead.  Missed it by that much!  Whether that’s factual or not remains to be seen when it finally gets to court.  That’s the latest “oh crap!” in the never-ending string of them in my life that has put “Nosty’s Nook” on the back burner.  Lesson learned: get a bigger gun! *laughing*

Now you know why “Nosty’s Nook” has gone from project to Quest, (I should have just named it Born Bent Over! after my last book).

But I digress.

I used three coats of Kilz Gold exterior primer and three coats of Valspar Latex Porch and Desk Paint on top of the Kilz, (both sides of all pieces), to make sure I had a good degree of weatherproofing, (I went even heavier on the end grain and edges).

On top of adding the wooden deck under-frame last weekend, I also coated the bottom of the deck boards with Henry’s 501 roofing patch., (below).  That was done to help repel the road water and such when the trailer’s on the road on those rainy nights and protect the plywood from rot and delamination.

Now on to this weekend.

To be honest, I had a ball!  I have always worked with my hands and love every aspect of woodworking.  Add to that the prospect of, one day soon, getting “Nosty’s Nook” on the road and into the mountains and this weekend was one of the best I’ve had in a very long time:  great tunes oozing from the Bose, cold beer and a few friends stopping by to offer their opinions and drink my beer.  They were, as always, extremely welcome and it was a pleasure to have them watching me work while they sat in their chairs and drank my beer, “supervising.”*laughing*  You know I love you, guys!

I made a few plan changes once things got rolling.  That’s not unusual for me.  I have a problem with conformity and order.  “We don’t need no stinking plans!”

I originally intended on building “Nosty’s Nook” five feet high inside but, after seeing it coming together, decided that the added weight and expense just wasn’t worth it.  Plywood comes in 4′ widths.  The added height would have required additional plywood, added more seams to the finished project, (seams are always a potential for a leak), and added extra weight which would have added additional strain on “Lil truck’s” transmission.  I compensated by lowering the height of the bed, (the one I’ll be sleeping on, not the trailer bed).  That cuts out a little storage space underneath, but the loss of under-bed storage pales by comparison to the added seams and plywood.

As of Saturday evening, I had about 75% of the framing completed. It doesn’t look like much yet, but stay tuned.  I’m a little in awe.  For the first time in my woodworking career, everything leveled, aligned and “fit.”  If you know me, you’d know that that’s quite an accomplishment:  And I’ve done room additions to a couple of my previous homes! *laughing*  I mean, uh, unless you bought one of my previous houses.  If so, I plead the fifth!

Things moved along even better today.  I had to tie a bandanna under my hat bill to keep the puddles off my glasses, but, despite the heat, the power tools and sawdust production were in hyperdrive.

After the exterior framing was completed, I started on the interior framing for the galley wall and, of course, fit the remote controlled A/C unit into that wall to insure a proper, slide-in, fit when the time comes.  Hey, who said camping had to be uncivilized?

The last thing I got done today was to cover the inside of the stock fenders on the Tractor Supply trailer.  These were open on the inside and, obviously, road water, bugs and what-now could have simply splashed, crawled or flew in.  I got a couple of pieces of sheet metal and cut them to fit the inside of the fender wells, then drilled and pop riveted the sheet metal to them.  When I pack the wheel bearings, before the first road trip, I’ll spray the inside of the fender wells, as well as the new sheet metal, with automotive undercoating to seal them and keep the aforementioned nasties out.

It was at about that time, 7:30 or so, that the sky started to darken and a bunch of ugly black clouds began to form.  I had everything but the kitchen sink out in the yard and didn’t want to have to start the clean-up during a torrential downpour, so I decided it was time to call it a weekend and get everything under cover.

A productive weekend, at least by my standards and, once everything was put away and under cover, the sun came back out.  The story of my life. *laughing*

Not a total loss.  The guys took an interest in “Nosty’s Nook” after watching me work last night and are headed this way with cooler in hand as I write this.  Last night they came empty handed! *laughing*  Things are looking up.

I’m off to show off this weekend’s progress and spin a yarn or two with good friends.

Next weekend I’ll start the wiring.  If all goes well, I may just meet my goal of finishing “Nosty’s Nook” in time for fall camping.  After this weekend, things are definitely looking like I might just make it; although, after all that work this weekend, I might just end up in a Hoveround tomorrow, eating aspirin by the handful to deal with the muscle aches.  I’m not complaining.  Life is wonderful.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings this week.  More to the point, I hope that this blog will point a few more folks toward the Teardrop and Tiny Travel Trailer world.  The Monday to Friday grind is gruesome.  Everyone needs a relief valve.  What better way to relieve stress than to stretch out in a lounge chair, far from civilization, and just read a book or take a nap?  When you’re at the house, there’s always something that needs to be done.  That “something” will gnaw at you from the minute you hit the couch if you’re at home, within arms reach of the task.  When you’re in the woods, you can’t very well paint that bathroom or wash those windows, can you?  Relax and enjoy life.  It may be over before you know it.

As always, feel free to email me or post a comment on this blog with any questions, comments or Heidy-Ho’s you might have.

And don’t forget: if you get a minute, stop by the T&TTT forum and have a look around.  You’ll be glad you did.

I hope to see you next week.  Until then,

Fino a che non veniamo a contatto di ancora!”   (Until we meet again!)

Brian

©Brian Greenleaf 2010.  All rights reserved.

Welcome!

8-6-2010

Hi! Thanks for stopping by.

I started this blog to share my current camper build project, as well as pass on news and information on my upcoming book releases, etc., regarding two of my passions: writing and camping. For those of you who bought my first book, “The Tenderfoot’s Guide to Family Camping,” you’re already aware of my love of camping and the outdoors.  That passion has become somewhat modified over the last eleven years since The Tenderfoot’s Guide was published.

Now that the kids are grown and on their own, (as I am), I’ve decided to build a TTT, (Tiny Travel Trailer), to peruse the backwoods and beautiful mountains so abundant here in the South and North Carolina area.  While some of the comforts of the twenty-foot travel trailer I had when the kids were young won’t be available in my TTT, it’ll beat the daylights out of sleeping on the ground in a tent, (these old bones just can’t take that anymore), and be the perfect size to pull behind my four-cylinder Toyota Tacoma.  I love that truck and plan on driving it until it just won’t go anymore.  If you’re familiar with the longevity of Toyota trucks, you know that I’ll be driving “Lil Truck” for many years to come.  My TTT has to be small enough to insure the future of Lil Truck’s transmission, as well as give these old bones a warm/cool, comfortable place to rest, snug and dry, at the end of the day.

If you share my interest in Tiny Travel Trailers, or the now-famous Teardrop trailers, I have been corresponding, at length, with some of the great folks on the Teardrop and Tiny Travel Trailer Forum. The friendly, knowledgeable people on that site offer a never-ending wealth of information on anything T&TTT; all free for the asking, (although, should you decide to join and stay a while, Mike, the sites’ founder and administrator, is always grateful for any donations to help keep the site going). The friendly folks on the forum have offered immeasurable help to me in the planning stages, for which I will be eternally grateful. I’m really looking forward to meeting some of them at one of the many upcoming camp outings. There’s a T&TTT chapter in almost every area of the country; and even some overseas.  Just open any of these links to the T&TTT.  Drop by and check out some of the amazing work these great people have done in creating some of the sharpest, most elaborate, little campers you’ve ever seen.  It’s awe-inspiring to see what a bunch of creativity and a lot of imagination can do in finding ways to squeeze so much into such a little space.

My project, henceforth known as “Nosty’s Nook,” has been on the drawing board for the last three years.  Due to some unfortunate events, (shamelessly broadcast in my latest book, Born Bent Over: Flashing the Vertical Smile at Middle Age), the build was put on hold for a few years. During that time, I have changed and re-designed the plans more times than I can remember.  Now, getting my TTT built and into the woods has actually become a quest.

And the time has finally come.  I’ve been collecting all the requisite goodies over the last three years and have just about everything I need to “get-er-done.”  I say, “just about,” because, if you have the camping bug, you know that there’s always some new, must-have, gadget coming out, guaranteed to make this or that campsite task so much easier.  Kinda makes you wonder how the pioneers ever managed to build this beautiful country we live in BC:  “before Coleman.

I’ll be posting pictures and anecdotes here as the build goes on. Feel free to send me an email or comment if you should see something you like or don’t like; or just to say hello.  There’s also a link to my homepage here should you be interested in one of my books, or in reading some of my short stories.

In the meantime, I’m off to the backyard to make some sawdust.  I hope you’ll stop back often to watch the progress, including any and all goof-ups, on Nosty’s Nook.

Until next time, Happy Trails!

Brian

©Brian Greenleaf 2010.  All rights reserved.