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 Greenleaf 2010

Week Five: The Dream Remains Alive! (too corny?)

Hello, Dominos!

I just hope the Flexall and Tylenol kick in before she gets here, or I may have to butt-walk my office chair over to the window, holding the money in my mouth,  and take the pizza in my teeth.  I thought I was fairly well versed in anatomy and physiology, but this weekend I have found muscles in places I never knew existed: and they’re all in agony.  Even the shower spray hurt!  I’m too old for these marathon projects………Nah!!

Welcome back or, if this is your first visit, welcome.  I’m glad you stopped by.

I’m extolling the masses on the progress I’m making on my TTT, (Tiny Travel Trailer), build.  If this is your first visit, take a few minutes and scroll back and check out the four earlier blogs.  That’ll give you a better idea of what we’re discussing this week.  There’ll be a pop quiz and a test when you return. *laughing*

OK, total time spent on Nosty’s Nook this weekend was approximately 27 hours.  Keep in mind that the weekend is three days for me, so that’s spread over three days instead of two.  Fortunately, most of that was productive time, so you’ll notice quite a few changes this week.  I’m psyched! (Not to be confused with psycho which, while it has been alleged, has no basis in reality……….OK, maybe a little, but I’m harmless).  As a matter of fact, I was so pleased, exhausted and excited at the end of the weekend, I had to smoke a cigar.  Then I remembered that I have to go back to work tomorrow and the afterglow fizzled out instantly.  Talk about a buzz-killer.

We had a taste of fall this weekend in the Upstate of South Carolina.  OK, maybe it was a taste of Indian Summer, but it was a whole lot nicer than it has been.  I don’t think we even hit 90 this weekend and, if you stood facing east, with your left foot in the air, eyes closed, and were anywhere near a wide open space, you might have even detected the slightest hint of a breeze.  Camping weather is right around the corner and this portly fella, as well as Nosty’s Nook, will be ready for it.

Like an idiot, I took a break from my labors and took my telescope outside Friday night to look for the “double moon.”  Mars was in an orbit that was supposed to bring it closer to earth than it’s been in a gazillion years.  Unfortunately, the clouds were such that all I could see was Mrs. Dalyrimple’s “double moon” as she stepped out of the shower three streets over.  Astronomy is not one of my strong suits.  Maybe next time I’ll remember to take the lens cap off!  I guess I’ll have to start eating right and exercising so I can be here in a gazillion years when it happens again.

All the walls are up! Whoo Hoo!
Main cabin from front to back
Main cabin from front to back

Friday and Saturday were spent insuring I’d marked all the places where I wanted lights and receptacles, cutting the holes, installing the boxes and running the cable.  I ran into a few snags when I realized that most electrical boxes are made for 2×4 framework.  Nosty’s Nook is framed in 2×2’s, (which are actually 1 1/2 x 1 1/2:  most of the time, anyway).  The narrow boxes that are commonly available, (the only ones I’d been able to find), are fine for one switch or one receptacle, but when you need to put two switches in one box, and make wire-nutted connections for an additional wire to branch a circuit, it gets downright ugly.  Fortunately, I got up early today and went to Lowes instead of Home DepotLowes had 4×4 boxes that were 1 1/2″ deep.  Considering that 1/8th inch is recessed into the hole in the interior wall, they just fit.  Believe it or not, I spent last night, tossing and turning, trying to figure out a workaround.  I’ve been doing electrical work since before I got my first whisker.  Ask me how smart I are?  In my defense, I did remember the bolt on plate that turns the 4″ box into a two receptacle, or two switch, box.  One point for Guiseppi.

The only real time-eater this weekend was when I had to run a conduit under the trailer from the power panel in the main cabin, to the space between the galley/cabin wall, for the air conditioner and the galley power.  It was one of those situations where if I were an inch off, drilling the holes, either way, I was either going to hit the metal frame or drill through one of the wooden cross-members.  Either way, I’d be up the creek without a paddle.  Thankfully, my aim was true and the installation, after the coronary, was fairly effortless, although securing the conduit underneath, safe from road debris and scraping, was quite a challenge.

As you can see, the walls are all in and the rough electrical is completed.  I even managed to get a first coat of primer on the interior cabin walls.  Needless to say, it’s going to take a couple more coats and some wood filler, (and scads of sanding), to hide the countersunk screw heads before the final coat of semi-gloss enamel goes on.  Lauaun is,  by nature, porous.  It’s used as an underlayment for tile or linoleum, where adhesives are used that need to really hold.  It can really suck it up.  I keep trying to tell myself that it’s a camper and not my home, but the anal retentive, dominating force, in me keeps pressing me to fill every hole and sand every irregularity.  Maybe I should consider meds?

Galley rough wired.

Here’s where I started this morning.  I’ve tried my best to improve on my photography skills, (thank you all for your “kind” comments about the lopsided rear view shot last week *laughing*), but, unfortunately, the problem is two-fold.  WordPress is a   free site, which I thank them for, but the free…..loader plan has limitations on the size of the pictures and uploads you’re allowed before you have to become a paying customer.  The detail was much more vivid in the 12mpx shots I took, but those were about 3g each.  A few of those and I’d have a new monthly bill.  The condensed versions you’re seeing here are the best I can do for now.

The boxes mounted on the two ends, pointing out, are for the outside lights.  Those, I’m sure, will come in handy for those late-night treks to the restroom, or for setting up after arriving at the campground after dark.  I picked those up for a song on EBay some time back.  They’re waterproof, low profile, and will take a yellow bulb to, (in my dreams), deter those nasty flying beasties bent on absconding with even more of my blood than this build has taken.

For such a simple electrical system, there was a lot of thought required to make sure I had any and all possible scenarios covered.  I didn’t install any 12volt wiring, (which most who build do), because:  1) I hate having to deal with batteries and 2) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “If there’s no electricity or running water, I’m not camping there.”  I’ve paid my dues, roughing it, believe me.  Now I “choose” to camp in those establishments civilized enough to offer electricity and running water. *laughing*, (I think I called people who made those statements “Old Farts” in my book!).  Actually, I plan on, eventually, picking up an RV generator should there be any inclination on my part, (otherwise known as mental illness), toward primitive camping.  My other passion is writing.  I plan on spending a great deal of time in the solitude of a lakeside campsite in the mountains, (that has water and electricity), petting my muse and working on that New York Times Best Seller I’m certain I have in me.  I just haven’t been able to find it in there among all the cobwebs and Twinkies.  I did, however, lay down, crouch, sit in different positions,etc., to try and insure that any normal activity I planned inside, (reading, writing, plugging in the laptop, whatever, had a resource within reach).  I’m sure I missed something, but I’m fairly well sure it’ll only cause a minor inconvenience and not become a movie of the week.

Galley with a touch of pink.
Galley with a touch of pin

Looks like an explosion in the Pepto-Bismol factory, doesn’t it?  Thankfully, that problem is rectified in the next shot.  The only other place I’ll be using the pink insulation will be underneath the 1″ foil-sided sheet insulation in the roof.  The pink stuff I used here is 1/2″.  The rear doors will be insulated, too, as well as the side-walls, so I didn’t need a whole lot in this wall.  The remaining 1/2′ pink sheets I have, I’ll be fitting under the 1″ foil-backed polystyrene which will make a tight fit between the ceiling and the roof and, hopefully, add greatly to the “R” value of the overall insulation system.  I have given it a lot of thought and decided that I fully intend to, occasionally, slip out for a few of the milder winter weekends.  I’ll bet I won’t have a hard time getting a reservation at too many campgrounds!

Before any further insulation is added, and certainly before the skin goes on, I’ll be making up all the electrical boxes and adding the breakers in the box for a “dry run.”  I’ll do continuity tests before I power it up, then check everything, power on, with a meter to insure that I didn’t drive a screw through a wire somewhere along the way.  That would be much easier to correct before the skin goes on.  Most of the wiring is such that, should I ever have to replace it, I can just attach a new wire to the old and pull it through.  I used wire-staples in a few key places, but I didn’t really hammer them down for just that reason.  I can’t say I’ve thought of everything, but I’ve given it one hell of a shot.  Hopefully, Nosty’s Nook will remain problem-free for a long time to come.

Ready for the cabinets and countertop
Ready for the cabinets and counter top.

Pink problem solved.  The galley is ready for the cabinets and counter top.  That will, unfortunately, have to wait for a while.  Next weekend, after the electrical check, I’ll be installing the insulation throughout the rest of the TTT, then, hopefully, getting the outer skin started.  Once the skin is installed, I’ll be fiberglassing the roof, then painting the exterior.  I’m anxious to get everything in the dry.  I still have to fab the doors, both sides and the rear of the galley, and get them watertight and functional/lockable.  Once that’s finished, I can get started on the finishing touches that’ll make Nosty’s Nook more like a home away from home.

I can honestly say that I have loved every minute of working on this project.  I’ve lost quarts of blood, found muscles I never knew I had, and have had a hell of a time getting out of bed the next morning after a full day in the back yard; but none of these are complaints.  I could do without the blood loss, but the rest has been worth every ache and pain.  Therapy without the shrink, (or his/her fees!).  You have a lot of time to think and solve life’s problems when you’re engrossed in a thoroughly enjoyable project.  Try it the next time karma sees fit to put that ham bone choker around your neck and make you the guest of honor at a pit bull party.

My motivation has been the daydreams of the fun to be had once I put in that last screw and hitch her up to the truck, bound for the mountains.  With the exception of the last few years, camping has always been a passion for me.  Hell, I even wrote a book about it.  When my two children were young, we were pulling the camper somewhere at least every other weekend.  Those memories will be branded on my brain until this senility I’ve been suffering for the last couple of years finally takes control and I wind up sitting at bus stops, dressed in a grass skirt and a coconut bra, preaching jibberish to the waiting passengers and waiting for the mother ship to finally remember they left me here and come back to pick me up.  Those who tell me I must be from another planet don’t know how right they are. *laughing*

Before I sign off for the week, I’d like to thank those of you who’ve emailed me, commenting on the build and the blog.  I do appreciate it and have enjoyed talking with you.  I know quite a few of you said that you’d followed the link to my homepage and read some of my short stories.  I’m glad you enjoyed them.  I love hearing from people with an interest in the little trailers, (and who appreciate my writing!), and have especially enjoyed some of your stories.

Anyway, next weekend, for most, is a long weekend which would, normally, make it a mini vacation for me but, unfortunately, I’ve got to make a trip to Florida on Thursday to do battle with a dragon.  If all goes well, I’ll be back in the backyard, making sawdust and celebrating voraciously by Saturday morning.  If not, I’ll be in the backyard, making sawdust and drowning my sorrows by Saturday morning.  Either way, there’s going to be a lot of sawdust and a whole bunch of empty Beck’s bottles; as well as a new batch of pictures along with next week’s, spine tingling, blog. *laughing*

Remember to stop by the Teardrop and Tiny Travel Trailer forum whenever you have time and check out some of the amazing little trailers some of those talented folks have built.  You won’t be disappointed.

As always, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your interest in the Nosty’s Nook build, and for all the great emails.

Stop by my site, if you get a chance, and have a look around.  The homely fella depicted on the page is my cousin, Mortimer.  My true essence hasn’t yet been captured on film in any form even remotely resembling me.  The pictures keep coming out looking like some big boned, balding, middle-aged guy.  I’ve been told I have a great face for radio.

Email me anytime at doc@bgreenleaf.com

Until next week, I wish you peace, happiness and lots of laughter.  Life is wonderful.


©Brian Greenleaf 2010.  All rights reserved.

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,


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 Greenleaf 2010.  All rights reserved.

Nosty’s Nook: Week Two!


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 Greenleaf 2010.  All rights reserved.



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 Greenleaf 2010.  All rights reserved.