A Solid Foundation

Yesterday I finally applied two coats of POR-15 rust prevention paint, which, when done right, is just about the strongest anti-rust coating you can put on metal. I should have zero issues with rust whatsoever from here on out.

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This has been a week of mostly awful work, crawling around on my gravel driveway under the trailer, smearing toxic chemicals on rusted metal 2" from my face. And while it doesn't look like much has been done, I'm going to sleep a lot better knowing that I just don't have to worry about the frame falling apart on me years down the road. 

I wire brushed the plywood floor panels and coated them with boiled linseed oil to protect them from moisture and also from dry rot. 

And the composting toilet is coming along nicely:

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Updated renders, the least fun part, and a road trip

Here are a couple more renders showing the layout a bit better:

Floor plan

Floor plan

Shot from the rear

Shot from the rear

It's been about a solid week of stripping the paint from the frame, which consists of crawling over and under the frame slathering on Citristrip (a chemical paint stripper), peeling it off with a scraper, and then wire brushing the residue. Today I finished with all that, and will start the process of coating the frame with POR-15 (a heavy duty 'paint' / rust converter) tomorrow.

Beer.   NOW.



Also today I went on a road trip up 285 to Salida to pick up my solar system from a guy who sells systems to vandwellers and RV'ers when he's not hanging out in India. He gives you all the parts you need, down to the wiring and lugs, and provides a diagram for you to install it yourself. Being a bit of a dunce when it comes to electricity, just having to figure out which parts go where and try not fry myself is going to be a huge time saver.

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I'll get (way) more into the details later, but it's 2 250w panels, and 4 90AH AGM batteries, with a 1000w inverter.

How to work on a trailer from two states away

I've been on a road trip the past two weeks, so no actual work has been done. 

I have been ordering parts and materials like mad and generally trying to have everything in order so I can hit the ground running when I get home. Time is of the essence. 

I made these test renders to figure out what materials we want to go with, if we have enough windows, and get a sense for if it is going to feel too much like a coffin.

I also made a Youtube 360 video. You can pan around with your mouse, or use your device to look around the trailer.

Last week I installed a transmission cooler in Jeremiah (the truck), which will help the transmission handle the increased load. I also installed a backup camera and monitor so I can connect to the trailer hitch without assistance if necessary (that's really a feature for our relationship, which you'll know if you've ever tried to connect a truck to a hitch with 'guidance' from your significant other before).

I'll put a camera on the back of the trailer, too, so I don't back it up into a cow or something.

Backup cam

Backup cam

Dragging roads with tractor tires in a lightning storm; what passes for entertainment out in the Mojave.

Dragging roads with tractor tires in a lightning storm; what passes for entertainment out in the Mojave.

1.02 Opening up the walls

Taking the plywood off requires the use of a nail puller to rip the screw/nail things out. I got about half of it pulled off tonight. 

The process rips the 1/2" plywood up pretty good, but no so bad as I won't reuse it. 

The rib rust actually isn't as bad as I thought, mostly just in a couple places. It will be pretty easy to mitigate and Rustoleum over it. 

I've been doing a lot of research on insulation strategies: spray foam, mineral wool, batts, polyiso, XPS, EPS, radiant barrier, etc. For a variety of reasons, I've decided that polyiso is the least bad option. (I really wanted to use Roxul's rock wool rigid board product, but that stuff is so heavy it would completely blow my weight budget). 

I also got a quote for my solar system ($1,200) from a guy up near Denver who sources a bunch of his stuff second-hand or canceled orders, etc. He designs the whole system and provides all the various parts, so that's going to be a huge relief in terms of the time I'd have to spend figuring everything out, sourcing every component, etc.


1.01: Demolition

First day home for longer than 8 hours in a few weeks, so I took the opportunity to get into the trailer and start ripping stuff out. I pulled all the thin wood stripping out and tried (and failed) to start taking the plywood off.

I failed to get the plywood off because they're fastened with whatever these are:

They don't screw out, so I guess I'll have use a nail puller on them. 

Also I discovered that the studs have significant rust issues as well. I'll have to take all the plywood off and address it as well as the underbelly rust. 


Well, shit.

Well, shit.

0.2: Rough Design Model

First pass at the rough design model is "done", meaning I've got enough of what I want to do figured out that it's time to start actually doing stuff and see what's reasonable.

Basic layout

Basic layout

From the rear to the front: benches and table that collapses into the bed. Storage, water tanks, and solar system will go in the benches. 

Kitchen has a gravity-fed sink (a footpump will get water from the main tanks to the gravity tank above the sink), and moveable 2-burner propane stove. Greywater tank under the sink. 

Storage shelves opposite the kitchen counter. 

DIY composting toilet at the front. 



One of my main obsessions/challenges is figuring out how to insulate this thing without sacrificing inner dimensions:

Blue stuff is insulation.

Blue stuff is insulation.

This is showing 1" cavity insulation, with another inch continuous insulation on the inside of the plywood. Finish wall paneling over that, with metal strips to hold it all in place. 

Underbelly insulation ideas

Underbelly insulation ideas

I'm trying to figure out how to eliminate thermal bridging through the floor framing members. I came up with this idea to 'cap' them, and then fashion some sort of metal undercap to hold everything in place. Might be overkill. 

This is roughly what the frame looks like.

This is roughly what the frame looks like.

Further refinements to the model will continue through the project as I need to figure things out.

Time to move to phase 1.

Phase 0.1: Trailer purchased

I bought a 14' Cargo Mate Blazer trailer off of craigslist and rented a uHaul trailer to get it to my driveway in Santa Fe.

Inner dimensions: 12' 7" long, 5' 8" wide, 6' 2" tall.

I'm going to be out of town for something like the next 2 months, so very little actual work is going to get done on it till mid July. I'll be mostly developing the design, sourcing materials, etc until then.