Trailer Project – Round 4

A quick update on the trailer project.

With good weather in the forecast, I was able to make some plans for the trailer and stick to them finally. As I previously mentioned, everything that sits in the trailer has to be placed outside so that I can work on the interior. Then when I am done for the time being, I load it all back in again. So it was everything out and after going through and plugging all of the various holes in the flooring with caulk, a good sweeping and in some cases a little bit of scrubbing, the floor was ready for it’s new coat of paint. Admittedly I did not use the more expensive rollers to paint the walls or floors but let’s call them medium-grade. I think the two of them cost me about $5 total. On the walls, I used one with a lower nap that is intended for smooth surfaces but for the floor, I got the heavier nap so that all of the rough surface area would be well coated with paint. This is after all just your basic 3/4″ sheathing plywood. The paint went on really well and I was happy with the coverage it provided. Front to back and with a heavy coating, the floor took about 2/3 of a gallon. I have enough leftover to coat the ramp door area and for multiple touch-ups.


“As I moved things back into the trailer, I positioned a lot of it along one wall so that I could keep the front work area clear,”


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The air temperature was in the mid 70’s and the drying time for the paint was just about an hour. I let it sit for about 4 hours before walking on it and there was no problems. As I moved things back into the trailer, I positioned a lot of it along one wall so that I could keep the front work area clear, this will allow me to get that area finished up without having to move a lot of stuff around. In that area, I am working on two items. One is getting the pegboard in place and the other is getting all of the new wiring done. I found some short pieces of 1/4 x 2 inch wood that I  mounted for the pegboard to attach to and allow the peg hooks to fit properly. I also pulled new 110v cable in for all of the connections. Taking measurements I needed to cut the pegboard down to 42″x95″ for it to fit correctly. With that done and about 20 sheetrock screws it was in place. Now I have a place for some often used tools and small parts packages. Back to the wiring, with moving the cabinet to the front of the trailer it necessitated re-thinking how the electrical system in the trailer was going to be powered. I ran cable from the breaker box down to make the connection with the box where we plug in the generator power. Then I had to run two circuits from the breaker box to the new switch/outlet box which will control the light over the workbench and feed the rest of the lights and outlets in the trailer. I am using the peel and stick wire molding along with a couple of new outlet boxes. I don’t really trust the sticky side to stay in place, so a few more sheetrock screws on the inside of the molding will keep it where I want it. A double outlet box was mounted on the pegboard and the wiring from the breaker box was cut down to the outlet and switch. From the top of the outlet box the wiring runs up to the workbench light fixture, then over to the side wall and back to the original trailer wiring. With everything connected that finishes the 110v wiring part of the project.

Next on the list is getting the carpeting on the sidewalls and then the forward part of the trailer. I will be using a spray glue on the sidewalls along with some small carpeting staples. The carpeting on the floor will be stapled along the edges to keep it in place and of course I will re-use the aluminum trim strip where the carpeting ends. There are also 1″ angle strips that run along the edges between the walls and floor that keep the sides tidy. I also have some 2″ inch strips of vinyl that will be put at the rear of the trailer where the main door is, these should hold up to the weather better along with covering up some of the areas in the wall where the vinyl covering has come loose. One area that had me stumped for a bit was the lower part of the cabinet and the support box I built for the toolboxes. I think I am going to take a left over scrap of carpet and cover that area to give it a uniform look.

IMG_1193Putting the carpet on the walls required finding a special trim piece to cap the carpet for a finished look. I found this in 8 foot strips at E-trailer.com, and the stuff arrived in a round shipping tube complete with fasteners. I am going to go about 47-48″ up from the floor, make a couple of marks and then run a line of 1″ masking tape to used as a guide for mounting the trim strips straight. The carpet is 12′ wide so I will cut 4′ pieces and glue/staple them in place. I will probably need to come up with another piece of trim to cover where the carpet joins together, unless I get a really nice fit.


That’s about it for this time. I have a bit more to do with getting a couple of the cabinet doors working correctly, putting in the radio/speaker system and figuring out where a few items are going to be located. It’s coming along nicely and I think I will be happy with the finished trailer when it’s done.

 

 

Trailer Project – Round 3

Ah, the fun of torrential downpours or actually just non-stop rain. Unless you are under the proverbial rock, you know that the southeast coast has been hammered by rain, floods, high winds and the hurricane out in the Atlantic never really got that close to us.

In the middle of this very little happened with my trailer project. Since it still houses the dragster along with a large assortment of items that no longer have a home, I have to put stuff outside on the ground to actually do any work on the interior. What I did find out is that I messed up on measuring my countertop area and my old top is about 6-8 inches short of working. Last time I mentioned going with a 3/4″ sheet of plywood to replace the old top. But then I thought that as I still have the top toolbox to mount, I might as well put it back on the old bottom chest and cut the old top shorter to fit across the old cabinet and the new bottom chest. This does reduce the work area however that should be just fine as it’s really more of a convenience to have somewhere to pull a carb apart or lay parts on while working.

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The down time also allowed me to pickup a couple of things that should help out in the pits too. A lot of the newer trailers have light boxes mounted on the sides that contain those 500 watt work lights. I am sure those are great but I have one already mounted on a home made mount to the side door which provides plenty of side light. What I needed was someway to get light to where I needed it. In my garage I have a couple of trouble-light reels – the ones that you tug on the wire and it winds itself back up. I picked up one of those from Harbor Freight – with a 20% coupon, it cost a whopping $10. I haven’t decided where to mount it yet – I have a high mounted 110v plug at the back door of the trailer so I am thinking that’s where it will end up. And with the work area moved to the front of the trailer, I needed some light there too. I picked up a 4 foot, 2 bulb florescent fixture that uses the newer T-8 bulbs. Along with that I found some of the leftover electrical plastic duct work for running the wiring along with a couple of 110v outlets and cover plates. I need a couple of plastic boxes for the outlets but I am going to look through my stuff again and make sure I don’t have some of those too.

Speaking of wiring, I drew up a new wiring plan for the trailer as some of the original wiring has to be removed where it entered the cabinet that was mounted on the side. I have two breaker circuits, one for lights and the other for the outlets. The remaining old cabinet will house the breaker box, so the connection wiring will enter at that point. Another wiring issue is one for speakers – I am thinking about finding a radio, maybe a 12v one from a car and mounting it somewhere in the work area with a couple of speakers. Along with some tunes, a lot of tracks broadcast over a FM signal and it beats trying to hear what they are saying over the public announcement system.

Lastly, I am still figuring out where to put stuff. The front work area is laid out for the most part. Facing that and to your right is my helmet and driving suit storage rack. It holds two helmets, gloves, balaclava, extra helmet shields and my driving suit. I am thinking of adding a couple of small aluminum hangers to the bottom of it to hang my driving boots on. That way everything will be in one place. Also on the right side and right next to the side door is the rack that holds my throw away shop towels box. Very convenient place for it as you can grab a quick rag standing outside the trailer if you need it.

To the left side and immediately above the area that will house the jack and safety stands is where the oil/fluid/filter rack will be placed. Underneath that will be another homemade aluminum hanger that will hold the extension cords and air line. I have some space directly behind the combination tool box and if it fits, I have an aluminum tray that can hold spray cans of carb and brake cleaner, lube, etc. Next is finding a location for the trailer spare tire and plastic trailer jack, fuel cans and my bike. On the bike I am thinking about two possibilities. One is to simply strap the bike  in front of the work area and that will be the first thing I remove from the trailer when I setup the pit. The other is to put it along one of the walls.

And the last piece that needs to be figured out is the winch. Right now that is going to get mounted next to  the door. An eye-bolt will be put in the floor dead center of the trailer and just in front of one of the bottom tool chests. A snap with a pulley will be attached to the eye-bolt whenever I need to winch a car into the trailer. Wiring for the wench is rather heavy duty and will be connected directly to the battery mounted in the front trailer compartment.

I think that’s about it for the trailer – now all I need to do is make it happen. Also in my spare time, the G35 is slowly getting sanded down and prepped for primer. It’s been one panel at a time but it’s probably the best way to do it. An assortment of other projects have been going on too, mostly minor stuff but the Little Monza is coming back for some major updates including a new engine, the Camaro will get new lite weight front brakes in the off-season along with a new engine too. In fact all four of the race cars will have fresh engines for the upcoming season. I have a couple of Powerglide transmissions to update and rebuild plus I am thinking about lowering the gear ratio in the dragster. Wow – I think I had better get busy!

Trailer Project – Round 2

Continuing the work on the enclosed trailer, I found that the peel and stick tiles that I used 16 years ago really did stick. Talk about a pain getting them off the plywood flooring! I had to take a wide putty knife, a little bit of heat and a whole lot of muscle work to finally clear all of them off. Very few of them came up in one piece and then there was the glue residue left behind. The only thing that I found that would remove it was lacquer thinner. I tried acetone, mineral spirits and alcohol but none of those did as good a job as the lacquer thinner. Bad news is that I went through about 3 gallons of the stuff and in one instance I messed up a bit and absorbed way too much of it through my hands. It actually made me sick to my stomach. After that I made sure I wore plastic gloves but those would only last a short time and had to be replaced a few times to continue the work. After wiping the floor down multiple times, I finally got it to the point where it is only slightly sticky – I never could get it completely cleaned off. But I did find out after testing a small area that the new coat of porch paint will cover it up and be just fine. And a plus was that I found out that the porch paint that was already tinted darker wasn’t nearly dark enough for me – so back to the store to have it re-tinted.

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New panel in place

I worked on the side door next. It basically amounted to removing the work/storage table and pulling the old piece of paneling out. I then took measurements from that panel and transferred them to a piece of vinyl pebble surface paneling that can never rot. I will remount the work table and put some new door seals in place – as soon as I find something suitable. I tried some stuff made for windows in the past and it was a bear to get off plus it had broken down and allowed the previous panel to get wet and rot out at the bottom.

 

 

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Painted test area

My next challenge was doing something with the interior walls – I finally decided that I wanted to carpet the bottom half to limit the damage that just seems to happen and paint the upper part of the walls.  The bottom 4 feet of the trailer walls will be covered with carpeting that matches the floor carpet. I found aluminum trim strips from eTrailer.com that add a nice touch to the top of the carpeting on the walls. I decided to also leave the ceiling in it’s original white although I did some cleaning of it with a water/bleach solution to remove the dirt and mold that had accumulated. I finished coating the upper part of the interior walls with two coats of interior paint with an eggshell finish. I went with a very light beige color instead of white and it looks pretty good. One mistake that I made in my haste was getting some of the paint on the ceiling edging. That is not going to come off easily so I may end going back and painting the edging too just to get a nice even line with trailer ceiling. There’s my OCD coming out that I try to keep hidden. Some of the silicone caulking needs to be replaced along the trim too.

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New paint really helps the look

At the front of the trailer I have positioned the one old cabinet that I retained along with building a foundation platform for the two tool box chests to bring them level with the cabinet. I originally said that I was going to keep two of the floor cabinets but I came across a Craftsman bottom tool box that was damaged for a good price and it matches the one that I bought for the trailer years ago. The weight of the tool box is probably a third of the cabinet so off to the dump went the cabinet. Anyway this gives me about 7 feet of top bench space with the old cabinet and the tool boxes lined up and I am looking at 3/4 finished plywood for the making the top. I think I will have the store cut about 3-4 inches off of one side of the plywood and use that as a backsplash. Above this will be a piece of pegboard that can be used to store some tools and parts.

I have to pull out the old carpeting but that should only take a few minutes. I may trim that up some and save it as a work mat for outside. The trailer floor will be covered with gray porch paint and then the new carpet will be installed. The carpet will cover the front 20 feet of the trailer leaving about 8 feet at the rear with just a paint coating and the 4×2 aluminum plates that I have for the tires to rest on. As of yet I have not decided whether I will cover the wheel boxes with carpet or just repaint them.

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Loose stuff everywhere

Back to the front, the one cabinet that I kept will contain the breaker box for the trailer along with providing a place for the air compressor. I need to come up with a new way to keep the two drawers closed but I think some clips that are used on RV cabinets might work. I also have some 110v wiring to change adding some lighting and outlets above the work bench. Another addition as I have about 20 inches of room along the side of the cabinets is building a two-story box that will house the jack and the jackstands on top of it.

It’s not perfect by any measure but so far I think it is going to be a lot better than it was. In addition, I have probably already shed about 300-400 pounds of weight just getting the old cabinets out. That will help fuel mileage and takes some wear and tear off of the trailer tires.

 

 

RV Roofs – The # 1 Failure of Owners

I wrote this article a little over a year ago and as I had just checked out my own RV roof recently, I thought it would be a good idea to bring this post back again.

 

Well, I think my headline says it all. The number one failure of most RV owners is a failure to inspect the roof of their rig on a regular basis. That is all it takes to prevent major water leak damage. And believe me, water can quietly do some unbelievable damage to our rigs.

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Lets start by understanding a couple of things up front, no matter whether you bought a base-line level travel trailer or a top of the line Class A Motorhome, they are all built with the same basic materials. Unfortunately the good stuff from Mars has yet to arrive so we are stuck with materials derived from Mother Earth. Most RVs have some type of metal structure that serves as the base frame of the unit, upon this will normally be flooring consisting of plywood or waferboard material. Either is strong stuff until it comes in contact with water, then all bets are off. Enough water and you end up with something on the level of wet bread. The sides of the RV will be constructed of a lighter weight metal framing with some type of luan covering, sometimes a plywood derived paneling might be in place too. The roof is also constructed of this lighter weight metal framing and covered with luan again. Now, over all of these wood surfaces and depending on where it is used, you will have carpeting, wood/tile flooring, the walls will have some type of wallpaper type covering and the roof will be covered with either a plastic, fiberglass or rubber type of material. The interior or ceiling can have something like the wallcovering or a plastic headliner. So what this really ends up being is a unique situation where water can actually enter the RV unnoticed. It can work it’s way through outside cracks to wick its way into ceiling, walls or flooring. Normally, you don’t really notice until either the outer wall covering deteriorates and starts peeling or you notice a soft spot in the ceiling, wall or floor. By that time, you have some serious damage and don’t kid yourself. While it is repairable it will also be expensive and if it is bad enough it might just be the death of your RV.

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So back to the roof. About every 6 months you need to walk the roof of your RV (and please take all proper precautions) and take a good look at the seams, the condition of the roof, check the vents, caps and A/C covers – any of this plastic stuff can “look” okay but touch it and it can fall apart. Most of the plastics will last about 5-6 years in the sun before becoming junk. If you find damage, first thing is to get it covered up to stop any additional water damage. Cover it with a cheap tarp, plastic or something to stop water. And get it repaired as quickly as possible. Different sealing materials have to be used on different roofs, so identify what you have and get the correct sealant from your RV outlet. If you are doing the repairs yourself, make sure that you seal any work that you do at least as well as the original  – do not skimp on this! If you have any cracks that appear to be structural in nature – such as a major separation or splitting, you not only need to cover it but get the help of a RV specialist. You may have something else going on that needs attention.

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So, just by some simple checking and attention to preventing water damage, you will add years and years to your rig, plus the value of your RV will be enhanced. Anyone looking to buy a second hand unit normally knows to check it out for previous water problems. And if yours doesn’t have any, that can be a big plus at selling time.

 

 

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You Don’t Race a Trailer – Or do you?

That question is one that is on-going among sportsman racers of all types. Trailers of course come in all sizes and styles with your imagination and pocketbook sometimes being the only controlling factors regarding them. And you can just about customize one anyway you like it from any trailer manufacturer for a reasonable amount of money. Of course what one thinks is reasonable is probably highway robbery to another. But back to that headline – there has always been a conversation about trailers or rather “how much” trailer is needed to race.  Again, it really comes down to what you want or at least think you need to get the job done.

My enclosed trailer was built in Indiana in the summer of 1999. I purchased it through a trailer broker and customized it a bit spending what I could at the time. It is a 28 foot box with a foot of extra height, 48 inch side door, finished interior, 12v lighting and 5200 lb torsion axles. After getting it home, I was able to obtain some used but really heavy cabinets to use as storage for spare parts and other racetrack items plus I picked up a Sears toolbox. At this time I was waiting for the delivery of my dragster, so I set the trailer up to accommodate a dragster and not much else. The trailer is now 16 years old and in need of some TLC for the next racing season or even this one if I can get my act together.

Over time, I had added 120v outlets and light fixtures to the trailer along with vent covers to keep out the rain and junk yet allow the trailer to be ventilated. Various changes were made to carry fuel cans, a small moped, racing helmets and jackets, plus the usual assortment of spray cleaners, oil, filters and etc. But now I want to be able to carry a regular car and not just the dragster. I also want to get rid of some stuff that I put in there, thinking I would need it yet never really did. I also want to cut out some of the cabinets, again these were extremely heavy and removing whatever weight I can will certainly help – plus again I simply don’t need all of the storage space that I originally thought I would. I honestly know a few guys that could rebuild their entire car in the pits with what they carry in their trailer. That’s just not my deal anymore, I would rather pack it up and deal with it back in the garage.

So over the last couple of days, I have started on a trailer re-do of sorts. I am tearing everything out of the trailer except for 2 wall cabinets that I have on one side – and if the car doesn’t clear those, they’ll be gone too. I have some new indoor/outdoor carpet to replace the worn out stuff I put in 16 years ago, although I will not carpet the entire floor. Right now the trailer is about 70/30 on carpet and some vinyl tile squares. The tile is going and will be replaced with grey porch paint – something that I can touch up when it needs it. There were three wall cabinets on the other side, and four floor cabinets plus the tool box. The toolbox is staying and just 2 of the floor cabinets. All of this is being placed at the front of the trailer now. I haven’t quite figured out where I am putting some of the other stuff just yet but I would like to keep most of it near the front.

The interior walls are in sad shape in some places, this is a vinyl or plastic coated luan 4×8 sheeting and so far I have not found the same thing in a home improvement store. The 48″ side door also has a piece of this that is ruined from rain water getting to it which was due to some door seal leakage. The door seal will be replaced of course and I am looking at a 4×8 vinyl, pebble surface sheet to replace the interior piece. One thing that I like in some of the newer trailers is the carpeted side walls. They will carpet them with indoor/outdoor carpet about 4 foot up from the floor and cap it with a piece of aluminum trim. This would be one way to eliminate some of the damage that has occurred to the side walls. Other bits and pieces of trim have come loose or fallen off completely. And while I have vent covers, the actual plastic vents are dry-rotted and crumbling so those need to be replaced as well.

I also started on the outside of the trailer. First off was to replace the 16 year old tires. Out of the 4, two of them were actually in decent shape. I kept one as a spare and gave the other to the guy doing the tire changes for me – he needed a spare for his race trailer too. While getting the tires changed, I repaired some damage to the electrical connectors on 3 of the 4 brakes and I also adjusted the brakes. I had never adjusted them and while I know they would slow the trailer down, it’s questionable as to how effective they were doing so. I pulled the fiberglass fenders off, cleaned them up and shot them with several coats of white Rustoleum thinned down about 25% with paint thinner. I also painted and coated the wheel boxes with a spray-on rubber undercoating. Next will be washing the entire trailer to get rid of the dirt and skin of faded paint. Most of the screws are rusted and I plan on replacing them all with a 3/16″ aluminum rivet. That is a long-term project as it is panel by panel. I am looking for a really good stainless steel screw to replace those that hold the trim in place – but so far I haven’t found what I am looking for yet. And I forgot, but late last fall I cleaned up the roof and resealed all of the edges with a Dicor Lap Sealant. My trailer has a one piece aluminum roof on it – which is great – so I only have to worry about the edges and where the vents go through the roof. I also picked up a cheap trailer tongue box from Harbor Freight. And yes it was cheap to buy and it is cheap in looks. I think before I mount it I am going to go ahead and paint it. What paint it has looks more like a primer coat. P0001235

I don’t have much in the way of pictures but I will take a few as I get things done. This picture is the open trailer after the last paint job sitting in front of the enclosed trailer that I am working on.

 

RV Repairs – Almost There

As noted in my last post on the RV repair, there was still quite a bit of work to be done and while I was able to get it to a usable point – enough that we made the trip to Bristol, TN for the World Footbrake Challenge race – I still have a few more things to fix.

After getting the floor covering back in I started working on the cabinets. To be honest, a lot of the supporting wood was destroyed so all of that had to be made new and installed before the cabinets could be placed back in the RV. One of the things that helped me a little bit on this was having put custom cabinets in two different kitchens so I am very familiar with how cabinets should be installed. And believe me what the factory did wasn’t even close. I now have the cabinets in so that they are a integral part of the RV, not just something sitting on the floor with a few screws keeping them from sliding around. I was also able to take advantage of the extra space under the oven that I mentioned before along with adding some addition hanger space under the sink area. My side cabinet has four drawers in it and not one of them was sitting straight in the frame. I fixed all of those and the drawers slide in and out along with latching properly now. I know these things are thrown together at the factory, but you would think that they could at least get something reasonably straight and level.

With the cabinets all done, I reinstalled the counter top. Again, it is now mounted correctly rather than just sitting on the cabinets with a couple of screws in it. To facilitate putting the plumbing drain back together where I cut it for removal, I went to the hardware store and picked up a rubber connection fitting. If it ever needs to be taken apart again, a screwdriver is all that will be needed. Wiring underneath was reconnected to switches, aisle lighting done, loose bits and pieces were fastened down and we ran wiring for installing and connecting the outside speakers to a volume control switch mounted near the entrance door. My last piece was going to be a transformer for converting 110vac to 12vdc to power the heater but that is going to have to wait for now.

In an attempt to quiet things down a bit in the RV, I have been putting in some cheap thin carpeting on the cabinet bottoms. I have done the upper side cabinets and the ones above the driver and passenger so far. It does help a bit keeping things from rattling around on the wood surfaces. I also added this to each drawer and the lower storage areas. Next will be the upper cabinets and maybe the cabinets in the bedroom area. This carpet comes in a few different colors and a 10×6 roll of it runs about $20. I also added some of the no-slip stuff between the pots and pans to keep those items from banging around. Everything you can do to keep something quite adds to the driving experience in my opinion.

A couple of other minor things that have been done or at least started on was a repair to the rear fiberglass cap on the RV. We had some minor damage on each corner and those have been fixed with a fiberglass impregnated putty. Primer and paint will finish them up. A new HDTV antenna was added to replace the stock broken one, a good improvement that has increased the number of channels we are able to pull in. An incident with our steps has left some damage on the lower right side of the RV, but a few replacement pieces along with a bit of paint will have that looking new again. We installed a new vent cap on the bathroom vent – easy process and one that you need to do if your RV has been exposed to the elements any length of time. While on the roof doing the work for the antenna and vent cap, I took time to check all of the seams making sure that they were weatherproof. I found one area around the vent pipe for the plumbing system that had started to show some cracks in the original sealant. I keep a tube of lap sealant and old caulking gun in the RV as part of my “supplies” – it was easy enough to reseal those cracks.

Our next plans call for a complete cleaning and detailing of the outside. It is long overdue and we have a couple of products we want to try. Besides a good washing, we need to polish down the exterior and get a good coat of wax on it. There are a couple of items on the outside that need a little work but nothing super major. Hopefully we will get some good results and make our RV look a lot better.

 

RV Repairs – Moving Forward

I am finally getting a chance to do the repairs on the RV that are needed. Work, weather and other issues have kept me from touching it since the last post. I did manage to find someone that can build a new counter-top for the sink area as the current one is broken in three places. I have also picked out a few samples of new floor tiling to replace the flooring that was ruined.

Game plan calls for removing the counter-top and sink as a unit, then taking out the stove and short counter-top along it’s side. while those are off for repair, the two cabinets well be pulled – I am hoping that with the living room slide out that I can keep them in the confines of the RV. With those out of the way, I can then remove the current tile floor and start working on getting the flooring leveled out again. Judging by the height of the screws that are sticking up through the flooring it appears that the worst part of the floor is about 1 1/2 inches up. Using a long piece of heavy angle iron that have, I expect that I will be able to put that across the raised area of the floor and work it down with hammers. Once it is level, then the tiling goes back in and remounting of the lower cabinets.
One thing that I noticed when last working on the unit is that underneath the stove area there is a large empty area that only serves as the air plenum for the furnace. I am going to see what the actual size of the furnace intake really is and possibly fabricate some ducting that will serve that purpose and free up the rest of that area for some storage space. The front of the area is covered with a wooden cover that is ventilated for the furnace and it would be a simple change to hinge it and put an RV catch on it to hold it closed. The air intake could be moved to the side of the cabinet via the new duct-work and a regular house-type vent cover.

I also want to look at what I can do about moving the hot water heater bypass valve to a location under the sink. It’s current location requires that you reach in above a sideboard in the cabinet and with a flashlight locate the valve to turn it off or on. Along with that I have a 110v to 12v converter to wire in place for the furnace but it needs a switch so I am looking at mounting that under the sink area as well. You may or not know this but your furnace operates directly off of the house batteries in your rig even when you are plugged into shore power. Normally when running the heater and with a set of batteries that are at least at the 90% level, we have usually had them die within about 7 hours or less. That means if we turn on the heater at 10:00p and go to sleep, the batteries are done at 5:00a and it can get chilly real quick.
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This is what you have when the cabinets are removed. The wiring that you see to the right is for the status panel (batteries, tanks, etc) and the yellow wiring is 120v plus you have some gas piping hanging in there. To the left of the shot is the hot water tank with it’s Styrofoam container and below that is the gas furnace.

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Once the floor covering was pulled up, it revealed an underlayment of 1/2 inch chipboard. Sections of that had to come up so that I would have access to the bent metal frame below. I also discovered something a little strange in the passages of the furnace ducting. In two locations there were holes in the bottom of the duct work, these were about 1 1/2 inch in diameter. After looking things over, my guess is that it is some method of supplying warm air to the water tank which sits right underneath this area. I assume that in freezing situations you would want some warmer air on the water tank. I decided that since I don’t use the RV in such conditions that I would cover these holes up and did so with a couple of layers of duct taping.

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Moving on, along with getting the metal frame hammered back down to a level position, there were a lot of cracks and breaks in the welded areas. Most of the welding was just spot welds here and there but I re-welded everything back together as solidly as I could make it. There was some dense foam being used for floor insulation but then there would be a 2 inch gap running the entire length of it – some insulating job! I took expandable spray foam and filled in all of these gaps. With all of this done, I cut and placed a new sheet of 1/2 inch plywood sheathing in place. This was fastened to the metal rails using self-drilling flat head torx-type screws.

I lucked out a bit and found a vinyl floor remnant at a store that was very similar to the original flooring in color but a much high quality level of flooring. I was able to buy a 12′ x 7′ sheet of this flooring for $35. Getting lined up correctly was a minor challenge, then I rough cut it in place to make sure I had extra in case of a mistake or an adjustment was needed.

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Once I was satisfied that I had it in the proper place, I went ahead and did the final trimming. Just like the old flooring, on two sides it goes underneath the carpet and is fastened in place with small staples. I let the rest of the floor “float” as much as possible.

In the next post, I will install the cabinets, stove, sink, make a change to the furnace cover and a couple of minor upgrades.

 

 

RV Thermostat Conversion

Are you tired of getting up repeatedly and adjusting the thermostat on your RV? It seems like you either freeze or burn up and finding that point to set it plus getting it to come on immediately means raking the temperature slide up or down, sometimes constantly. Now, with our Digital Conversion, you set your thermostat to heating or cooling, set the temperature that you would like and you are finished with it. The digital thermostats normally have about a 1 – 1.4 degree swing in temperature variation. If you set it for 70 degrees, your temperature is going to stay within a degree of that setting. On the conventional thermostat; the one your RV came with, the temperature swing can be up to 10 degrees or more. It’s very annoying and sometimes can make it difficult to get a good night’s rest and enjoy your coach to it’s fullest.

001 This is a photo of the unit in my RV and has been in service now for 4 years with just a battery change each season. It has been rock solid, you set the temperature and walk away from it. Depending on sourcing, your thermostat may have a different look to it but the functionality is the same on all of them.

Your thermostat will be brand new, completely converted and ready to install. Everything you need comes with the kit. Instructions are provided and it is a very simple step by step process.

Once you have your Digital Thermostat installed, you’ll wonder why you waited so long to get rid of that old antique manual thermostat!

Please Note the Following Information:

Part of installing this thermostat involves following some simple instructions along with you determining the wiring that you currently have – this is not difficult but it is required to have a successful installation. We have already sold several hundred of these conversions with only one thermostat failure. Several have been returned due to the installer not understanding that these thermostats are meant to handle the typical motorhome and travel trailer AC/Heat installations. These installations normally consist of a roof mounted AC system and a heat system that uses propane for fuel. Both systems are normally controlled by a single wall mounted analog thermostat. If you have a thermostat that also controls a second AC unit (normally in the rear) then this thermostat will not work. You will need two units for that situation. If you have a heat pump type system (normally high-end coaches) this thermostat will not work. If you already have a digital thermostat controlling you systems, in our experience, it is a toss-up as to whether this thermostat will work. Most of the time you are stuck with buying the expensive replacement unit.

We are more than willing to help and answer questions regarding your installation plus we have sent out many links to factory installed control systems to assist our customers.

We previously sold these on eBay and at shows for $54.00 each, but since we do not incur any fees selling them here we have reduced the price to $47.00 each. USPS Priority shipping and batteries are included in that amount. If you would like to make a purchase, just contact me at charles.rutherford@rutherfordms.com and please put “Thermostat” in the subject line. We can invoice you via PayPal. Most major credit and debit cards are accepted with this service.

Features:

  •     New Hunter/Honeywell Digital Thermostat
  •     New Micro Toggle Switch for High/Low Fan Speed
  •     All Internal Modifications performed
  •     Detailed Installation Instructions
  •     Reduces over/under heating and cooling situation

RV Repairs

We finally had a touch of cooperation from the weather but it didn’t last long. There was enough time to clean out the mess that I had made, add RV antifreeze to all of the drains and remove most of the connections to the sink and stove. Next step is to actually pull this stuff out, then take measurements for the counter top and get a replacement made for it.

After reviewing some information on the Forest River website, there is a better idea of how the floor is constructed. What needs to happen is taking the “hump” out of the floor without doing additional damage. It appears that at least one metal crossbeam is bent upward and this is enclosed in a honeycomb structure of plywood, plastic and other materials that make up the floor.

With everything out of the way, it appears that we should be able to place an piece of angle iron across the floor space as a leveling guide and then work the floor down with hammers and planks of wood to spread the blows. It doesn’t have to be perfect but just flat enough for the kitchen cabinet to sit flat on the floor again. We are hoping to save the carpeted area, but the vinyl entrance and kitchen area will have to be replaced as holes are already punched into it by the screws that broke loose from the underlayment. This is another reason why the cabinet itself must be removed from the RV.

We are also looking for something to replace the mirrored back-splash deciding that replacing the mirrors was not a great option. Whatever we choose it has to be easy to clean (stove grease splatter), light weight and durable.

 

 

 

RV Damages – Update – 1/2/2014

There ended up being limited time and cooperative weather to get much done on the RV so far.

At this point, I have disconnected everything that I can find that would be hooked up to the stove or sink in the kitchen area. What I have found so far is that some of the mounting points for the cabinet have been destroyed and will need to fixed before I can put the cabinet back in place. A few water lines got pulled away from their moorings so I will also have to check to make sure that seals, etc are okay in each of the various connections. It looks like the furnace and hot water heater survived okay although I will also check the water connections on the water heater. I am also looking for a transformer that can power the furnace off of 120v when connected to shore power. I think a combination switch will work for switching the power from batteries to 120v and plan to mount the switch on the bulkhead piece that separates the storage area under the sink cabinet to the water heater/furnace area.

I have yet to pull the oven out but have it disconnected and have been looking around under the cabinet at the amount of dead space sitting there. I realize that some of this is intended to be air draw space for the furnace but really there is probably a good 8 square feet of space sitting there. The external panel below the oven is cut out with a louvered panel screwed in place. I plan to do a hidden cabinet hinge for that panel either on one side or at the bottom, then do something in the way of storage bins or shelving. The other thing that I want to check on is a filter for the furnace – there probably isn’t anything there but it would seem to me that we have them on our other heating systems so why not in the RV too?

One last thing in my short exploration of this area is how badly the RV is sealed off from the eternal elements. I guess the point was, if you can’t see it in the finished product then you never know it’s there. Well I know it now and can see sunlight filtering through in some spots which means water moisture, bugs etc can be entering there too. I am going to make sure that all of the wall/floor areas and holes in the wall for piping are properly closed up before we put the cabinet back in place. A tube of caulking will probably be a big benefit but this makes me wonder about some of the other areas in the RV now. I have often wondered about the area under the main bed and the slide plus at the front of the RV in the footwell areas for the driver and front passenger, it always seemed like it was a bit lose or drafty.

 

RV Damages – Or here we go again

As the old saying goes, the best laid plans of mice and men…..

I had just recently finished installing a replacement stereo and DVD player in the RV to replace the piece of junk that it came with…the one that couldn’t play a brand new DVD out of the wrapper to save it’s life. We also had a buddy that does countertops and he repaired the dinette table for us doing a fantastic job on it. So, I was making progress on upgrades and repairs that it needed.

At this point, my main concerns were the following:

  • A/C engine unit making a weird noise when the clutch engages
  • Replacement needed for the vent cover in bathroom
  • Cleaning up the excess glue that was left on the ceiling
  • Looking for something that would give the oak cabinets a richer look
  • Minor repair to the shower stall – drain has always been a bit off-center
  • Resealing some of the basement compartments
  • Replacing most of the weatherseals on the basement keylocks
  • Adding separate relays to the headlights to increase candlepower
  • Like to add additional house battery capacity
  • Add a switch and transformer to power heater from shore power when available
  • Fix paint damage on rear corners

Quite a list but very doable.

But we have new problems to deal with now. A major problem while I was out of town is that the water storage tank expanded badly and pushed the floor in the kitchen area up about 3+ inches. This cracked the countertop, broke the backsplash mirrors, left the floor pushed up, tore holes in the vinyl entrance flooring and hopefully that’s it. It looks like pulling the stove, sink, countertop, maybe heater will be required to get the cabinet out of the way so that I can get to the floor damage. I have a few ideas on how to level the floor back out as I think the major problem is one or two of the metal support rails is bent. I should be able to bring those back in place with some careful work.

Home away from home

Our RV has served not only as your basic recreational vehicle but also as our race headquarters over the last 7 years. Like any vehicle, along with normal maintenance it has had it’s share of broken and replaced items plus modifications that have improved it or made it better suited to what we were looking to accomplish.

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