Week Four: It’s finally starting to come together.

I’d like to start off this week’s blog by thanking the makers of Gillett Sport 3D deodorant, Gorilla Glue and, of course, Beck’s Brewing Company.  Unfortunately, my comments about a certain SPF40 sunblock aren’t fitting for this blog.  I put that stuff on at least five times over the course of today and I still burned to a crisp.  What didn’t burn, aches. *laughing*  Life is wonderful!

I’m finally starting to see Nosty’s Nook taking shape:  and it’s exciting!

Saturday was, unfortunately, a bust.  We had torrential downpours all day long.  Truth be told, I hadn’t expected to get much done Saturday, anyway.  I was invited to a pig roast which; you guessed it, got canceled due to the rain.  The day wasn’t a total loss, though.  I managed to sit down with my plans, (those in my head, anyway), and make a few adjustments and a few procedural changes: not to mention checking the TTT website for new idea fodder.

Friday and Sunday were, thankfully,  banner days.  It was hotter than the Sahara here in SC today but, as my dear old dad used to say, “When you have a goal, you have to overcome all obstacles”, (Brian says, panting, guzzling ice water and applying Flexall liberally).  We “Big Boned” guys don’t overcome those obstacles very well.  One way or another, Nosty’s Nook will see the mountains before winter rears its’ ugly head.   Hence the endorsement for Gillett.  The interior walls went up today and working inside was not only wicked hot, but rather close.  Thankfully, my Sport Stick withstood the tribulations of an oven’s interior and allowed me to remain non-odoriferous and able to stand myself.  TMI? *laughing*  The plug for Becks is just obvious.

Interior walls going in
Front with interior wall up.

I got the interior walls in the main cabin glued and screwed-in today.  As you can see, (OK, use your imagination), the under-bed storage drawer went in Friday.  The breaker panel will be   mounted right beside it, (allowing for quick and easy access through a door panel in case of a tripped breaker), and I wanted to get my measurements  in “real time,” so in it went.  Not something you’d expect to see during rough construction, but I never said I was conventional.

This is the first time I’ve ever used Gorilla Glue on a major project and, let me tell you, the stuff is amazing.  Ordinarily, I would have used Liquid Nails or a similar adhesive, but I read good comments about it from a few people who used Gorilla Glue on the TTT forums and decided to give it a try.  It’s a little pricey, but well worth it.  I believe it will stick water to oil and it’ll stick your fingers together in a New York minute.  That’s what I hear, anyway……it’s not like it happened to me or anything…….

I had planned on installing the wiring first, but decided against it when I realized I’d get a better feel for where I wanted the lights and recepticals when I was looking at an actual, walled, semi-finished product instead of a bunch of studs.  Now, with the interior walls and ceiling up, I can visualize actual situations, (sleeping, reading, turning on the exterior lights, life support devices, cooking etc.), and install the necessary outlets and lights accordingly.  Once I mount the boxes, my Rotozip will make easy work of neatly cutting out the holes for them.  I know I mentioned in one of the earlier blogs that “we don’t need no stinking plans!”  I stand by that fool’s statement.  Shooting from the hip, so to speak, allows your creative juices to flow. *laughing*  (like I actually have any creative juices…..puleeeeese!)   That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  So far, I haven’t wasted any lumber going by the basic drawings I started with and, I believe, I have come upon a few space saving ideas that, were I sticking strictly to prints, I would have probably missed. (Disclaimer:  Kids, don’t try this at home!)

Side view-interior walls in.

I didn’t have time to get the galley walls up, (the rear section of the camper), today, but that should be fairly straightforward.  Everything’s square with no shelving or cabinets to cut around like I had to do in the main cabin.  Installing the counter top, sink and cabinetry in the galley will be challenging enough.  When you’re building on a smaller scale, such as I’m doing here, everything has to be cut down to size.  I’ll be building the cabinets from scratch, but I plan on cutting down some pre-fab counter top for the actual counter.  It’s readily available in scads of styles, fairly inexpensive, and it beats the daylights out of cutting and fitting formica laminate using contact cement.  Not one of my favorite tasks.  As a matter of fact, installing Formica veneer ranks right up there with replacing the wax ring in someone else’s toilet in my book.

Once the interior walls are all in, and the electrical install is completed,  I’ll be installing pink foamboard insulation between the studs in the walls and ceiling before I install the outer skin.  This should help the heater and A/C unit maintain a comfortable temperature year round.  The roof vent, front and door windows are all functional, operating, windows so, on those cool nights, cranking open the vent or the windows should be sufficient to allow for sweet dreams.  I am not at all adverse to camping in the winter, so I like the idea of having that option and not having to worry about whether I’ll freeze to death should a moderate winter night turn into a massive winter nightmare.

Crooked view from the back.

I don’t know whether I was holding the camera askance, (or whether the odd angle was due to the way I had to hold the camera with my fingers glued together), or whether I’ve been working on a trailer sitting in a ditch all weekend, but you can almost see the cabinet frame in the front-upper section over the window, (OK, I never claimed to be Olan Mills).  It takes up the space in the “aerodynamic angle” on the upper front.  This will be faced like the galley cabinets with a cabinet front and cabinet pull doors.  It’s nice to be able to keep things that you use specifically for camping, designated for camping and in the camper, ready for the next trip, (bug spray, sunblock, lanterns, etc).  As you can see, there isn’t a great deal of room in a TTT, so you have to take storage space wherever you can find it.

I have designed the bed at a height that will allow for fresh water and gray water tanks to be installed underneath.  I’m not planning on installing them right away.  I have no intention of camping primitive, (without running water, electricity, etc.), but, should the “opportunity” present itself, the plumbing will be there. Installing the tanks will be a matter of lifting the hinged bed-deck and slipping them in.  The sink and shower will be piped directly to a hose bib-type connector which is the standard connection at almost all campgrounds.  I’m planning on a portable, solar water-heater now, but even that will probably be used only on rare occasions.  Most of the campgrounds in our area have showers and rest rooms, (at least the ones I plan on frequenting).  A lot has changed over the twelve-years since I published The Tenderfoot’s Guide to Family Camping.  Most of it culminating in gray hair, muscle aches, oldies music, (which was Top 40 when I listened to it back in “the day”),  and a strong desire to wake up without hearing the Snap, Crackle, Pop Concerto played on my aching joints.  You’ve heard it from me before, but I’ll say it again: “Nobody ever said camping has to be uncivilized.”  For the record, while I am a goer-and-doer when it comes to camping, (I love to wander around and see new things and meet new people whenever I’m in the woods for a weekend), I will be installing a wall-mounted, flat screen TV/DVD player for those rainy days.  I usually prefer to read, but the occasional movie on a rainy day can pass the time while you’re waiting for the rain to stop.

Well, that’s about it for this weekend.  I’m even more optimistic about making the fall camping season after seeing the progress I made this weekend.  If all goes as planned, the remainder of the build should be fairly straightforward.  I’m trying to be realistic.  The galley may not be totally completed by the first trip, but the exterior will be finished and the cabin will be sleep-able and dry, (barring any unforseen disasters).  If you ask any T&TTT’ builder, they’ll tell you that you never, actually,  finish a build.  Just when you think you’re finished, some new gadget or gizmo comes along and, wham;  it’s back to the drawing board and the hardware store for the remodel.  I guess that’s what keeps it fun.  I look at Nosty’s Nook as an experiment.  I’ll take into consideration everything I did on this one, subtract that from everything I wish I’d done, (or didn’t do, or did wrong), on this one after a couple of years of seeing what others have done, (or whatever I dream up while I’m supposed to be working), and do it all over again.  Nosty’s Nook II!  Hey, it keeps me out of Happy Acres.

Until next week, I wish you peace, happiness and good health.

Ciao for now,

Brian

Read some of my short stories or order any of my books on my website:  http:/www.bgreenleaf.com

©Brian Greenleaf 2010.  All rights reserved.

Nosty’s Nook Week Three: The Saga Continues…..

Hi.  Welcome back.  If you’re new to my blog; welcome.  It’s great to have you here.

I’m in the process of building a tiny travel trailer, or TTT, and have been sharing the trials and tribulations involved with anyone interested, (and a few who aren’t) *laughing*

Well, I had hoped to extol you with the massive amount of work I got done this weekend but, alas, this was not a banner weekend for camper building.

I was on call this weekend at work and was awakened by my ringing phone early Saturday morning.  After I got there and got things under control, the rest of the day was pretty much shot.  I did manage to make it to Lowes and the Home Depot to do some price comparisons and look for a few new ideas.  The highlight of the day was when I got my lawn mowed Saturday evening, so the day wasn’t a total loss.

Sunday, in keeping with the weekend theme, wasn’t a whole lot better.  The weatherman predicted rain all weekend.  Every time I started lugging everything outside, the sky began to darken which drove me back inside.  It never did rain, (which I have come to expect from the local weather forecasters).  If you’ve ever had to lug untold tools, materials, etc., in, at a full jog, during a torrential downpour, you’ll understand my reluctance.  I swear that I will never buy another home without a garage.  Of course, I said that when I bought this one.  You can see how strong my resolve is.

I did, however, manage to get the roof vent framed-in and the wall and ceiling nailer’s installed.  I finished working after dark so the pictures will have to wait until next week.

Today started with a trip to Home Depot to pick up the sheet goods I’ll need for the walls and siding of the camper.  The external skin will be 1/4th” exterior grade BC plywood and the internal walls will be 1/8th” lauan, (believe it or not, that’s the correct spelling), underlayment.  That’s the reason for framing the TTT with 2 X 2’s.  It will give the camper plenty of skeletal strength to allow me to use thinner skin material and keep the overall weight low.  I’ll be insulating the spaces between the inner and outer skin with foam insulation to keep the AC/heater from working overtime.

Once again, my dining room has been converted to a paint booth.  I’ll be priming the inner and outer skin, all surfaces, (all 15 sheets….sheesh!), as well as the frame, with Kilz Gold exterior grade primer to seal the wood.  Then, the interior walls and exterior skin will be painted with the finish colors once they’re installed.  If you’ve ever owned a camper, you know how much damage a leak can cause.  Usually, by the time you see the stain on the ceiling or wall, the damage underneath is already catastrophic.  I’ve bought a couple of campers in that condition, really cheap, over the years after the owner took the camper to a professional for repairs.  After they heard the price to repair the damage, and after getting over the massive fainting spell, they opted to sell the damaged unit and buy a new one.  I plan on doing my level best to make sure that doesn’t happen with Nosty’s Nook.  With the way the economy is, Nosty’s Nook may just be my retirement home.

Quite a few people have emailed me, asking how much the build is going to cost.  My answer is this:  If you include labor, (which I don’t), the cost would be astronomical.  I love the work.  Crank up the stereo, charge up the cordless screwdriver and I’m in my happy place.  If you’re one to take labor hours into account, you’d be better off buying a ready-made unit.  There’s no sin in that.  People do it every day.  If, however, you’re only reason for not building a camper is because you’re apprehensive about your skills, don’t be.  As I have mentioned in my earlier blogs, there’s a wealth of information and 24/7 help just a click away.  The Teardrop and Tiny Travel Trailer forum is the place to get any and all imaginable questions answered by people with every level of experience, and who have made every imaginable mistake along the way.  They’re always more than happy to help anyone out, and their mammoth database has years of question and answer posts just a search away.  If you have some basic hand and power tools, your build is just a stop at a lumber yard and the span of your imagination away.  Plus, if you get your better-half involved, your power tool budget may increase exponentially as he/she sees the potential for untold weekend adventures in the comfort of your well-adorned TTT.

For those of you interested in building your own, here’s the breakdown of what I’ve spent so far.  This will give you a general idea of the costs involved.  As you can see, I’ve collected the materials over a period of three years.  It’s cheaper that way, (at least mentally), and easier on the budget.  Of course, every build is different and everyone’s situation is different.  The more you add, the more expensive it gets.

Materials price each total supplier Date
15 X 36 black sliding window (front) 39.99 39.99 Tri-State (ebay) 9/25/2007
2-14 X 21 black sliding windows (doors) 60 120 Lil Bear Tag-Alongs 9/25/2007
8 X 4 1750 lb gross wt. trailer 259 259 Tractor Supply 11/1/2007
Trailer tongue crank up jack/wheel 19.99 19.99 Harbor Freight 1/15/2008
Smoke 18 X 18 roof vent 19.99 Tri-State (ebay) 1/18/2010
5 gal. Rubbercoat #57 roofing tar 37.98 37.98 Lowes 1/26/2010
2 gal Valspar latex porch floor paint 22.98 45.96 Lowes 1/26/2010
2 gal Kilz prem. Exterior latex primer 19.98 39.96 Lowes 1/26/2010
3-2 X 4 X 10′ treated for deck frame 3.97 11.91 Home Depot 1/26/2010
18-2 X 2 X 8′ for wall framing 1.76 30.06 Home Depot 1/26/2010
2-8 X 4 sheets 3/4 AC exterior plywood 23.97 47.94 Home Depot 1/26/2010
Asst. paint accessories 30.00 Lowes 1/26/2010
Lightweight galley sink 19.99 19.99 RV Trader (eBay) 1/30/2010
RV AC power panel (50A) 29.99 29.99 RV Trader (eBay) 1/30/2010
5″ firm full-sized mattress foam w/plastic cover. 89.99 JC Penney online 1/21/2010
5000 BTU remote controlled A/C 99.97 Walmart 1/30/2010
19′ 10-2 SO cable with gr. for short power cable 1.15 p/f 21.85 CES Elec. Supply 2/1/2010
30A shore pwr. cable-end and adapters 34.23 M&L Trailer supply 2/1/2010
Asst. galv. Carriage bolts, nuts and washers 30.00 Home Depot 2/1/2010
Asst. galv. deck screws, glue, etc. 49.00 Home Depot 8/7/2010
9- 2 X 2’s for framing 1.37 ea. 12.33 Home Depot 8/15/2010
6-2 X 4’s for framing 2.62 ea 15.72 Home Depot 8/15/2010
12 Thin, single gang switch/recept. boxes 1.12 ea 13.44 Home Depot 8/15/2010
5 gal. Kilz exterior primer 66.00 Home Depot 8/15/2010
8 sheets 1/4th” BC plywood 19.44 155.52 Home Depot 8/15/2010
7 sheets 1/8th” lauan 9.97 69.79 Home Depot 8/15/2010
Total as of 8/15/2010 1410.60

I’ve been crunching the numbers a little tonight, (after pricing materials at the Big Box stores Saturday), and I figure that I’ve got about another $300 to spend before I’m finished.   That’ll cover the cost of paint for the inner walls and outer skin, fiberglass for the roof and a few various and sundry odds and ends.  That doesn’t include the cost of wire, receptacles, switches and light fixtures which I had on hand.  A conservative estimate, if you don’t have anything when you start, would be about $2000.  A whole lot less than a new model, but nothing to sneeze at.  Of course, as I said, the more elaborate you get, the higher the cost.  I will be finishing the galley from my scrap collection which has been taking up space in my shed from the numerous remodeling projects I’ve done on my house over the years.  “Yesterday’s scrap is tomorrow’s gold.”  I plan on building some nice cabinetry for the galley and over the bunk, as well as adding a stereo and TV/DVD for those rainy days.

Keep in mind that most of what I’ve bought so far is brand new.  That was my choice.  Almost every area of the country has a camper scrap yard of some sort.  You can get almost anything you need, (windows, fixtures, etc.), at a fraction of the cost at a scrap yard.  Some great buys can be had through auctions and “buy now” on Ebay Motors.  If you look around, you can almost always find a used utility trailer that’ll work admirably for your base.  I’ve seen them on the side of the road for as little as $50.  The possibilities are endless.  Just don’t skimp on the skin.  As I mentioned, one leak can mean death to a camper.  Many people I’ve talked to on the forum got their camper in the dry and camp with it, unfinished, waiting for the right idea, or the expendable funds, to complete the build.  Most will tell you that the build is never complete.  All it takes is one outing with like-minded folks, (and a tour of their mansions-on-wheels), and a wealth of ideas start formulating in your mind about ways to improve on your TTT.  Very few of the veteran builders are still towing their original build.  Most sell them to finance their new and improved build after learning from their first the things they wish they’d added.  It’s an addiction!

You can’t tell from the pictures I’ve posted so far, but stay tuned.  Once Nosty’s Nook is completed, there’ll be a very functional/elaborate galley, shower and a few more of the comforts of home.  Nobody ever said camping has to be uncivilized.  In my younger days, I was happy with a backpack and a blanket, sleeping under the stars.  Just the thought of that now gets my old bones threatening to go on strike.  While I don’t plan on spending too much time in the camper when I’m off on a weekend camping trip,  the time I do spend inside, sleeping or cooking meals, will be comfortable and with as many amenities as my 5 X 10 home away from home on wheels will allow.

Well, friends, that’s about it for this week.  I’m trying to be optimistic and keep that fall camping goal, but too many more weekends like this one and I may have to break out the parka and mittens and make Nosty’s Nook’s inaugural run in the dead of winter.  I ain’t skeered!  I’ve done it before.  There is no end to the madness common to the camping set.

May your week is filled with happiness and good luck.  Until next week,

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.