Floor

Built the floor on Sunday, Started by laying out the welded frame on the floor as a work surface and guide for laying out all the pieces.

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From there it was a  case of cutting all the price framing to the right length and then putting the pocket holes in the ends of the cross members.

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Once that was complete the side rails were clamped into position on the welded frame and one side of each of the cross members was glued and screwed into the side rail before applying glue to the other ends of the cross members and then applying the other side rail.

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I’d decided that at the rear of the caravan at least I wanted another line of framing down the centreline of the trailer. This is to provide something to screw some parts of the kitchen into. I decided given there was wood left over that this may as well run the length of the floor and so pieces were cut, drilled, glued and screwed into place.

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Next step was to attach one side of the plywood paneling to the floor. Luckily one sheet was able to cover the floor from side to side after reducing the width of the caravan by 50 odd mm a few weekends ago and so it was only a case of cutting the length to size, applying glue to the frame and then dropping the plywood on. Clamps held these two pieces in together  whilst it was tacked with brad nails prior to being flipped and having weight applied to the centre.

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Polystyrene was then cut to fit in the gaps before the same process with the plywood panelling was undertaken again to put the top panel on the floor. Much weight was applied to give a strong bond.

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To finish the floor I just need to run a router with a flush trim bit around to smooth out the edges and then job done.

 

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Welded frame and Oak bowl

Over the weekend the frame for the teardrop was welded up, big thanks to Dave for teaching / showing me how to weld this and to Matt for putting up with us welding up the frame when we should have been working on fixing his car…

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The frame had to be rotated around a few times to get all the welds complete, initially it was tacked upside down after which all accessible welds were complete.

After that it was flipped and the top was welded (note these welds will need to be ground flush for the wooden floor to sit flat)

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When complete this was loaded back onto the trailer (pretty good two man lift) and transported home where the welds were ground flush with an angle grinder and flappy sanding disc.

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Weld pre grinding

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and then post grinding

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The other project for the weekend was the turning of an Oak bowl. A number of months ago a large tree was removed at my parents place, I managed to save a few sections for turning and also cut one of the larger sections into slabs (still to see how this weathers).

The sections destined for turning had their ends coated with wax to help prevent them from splitting from drying out too quickly. Walking past one of them over the weekend I noticed that some of the wax had started to crack and not wanting the wood to start splitting I decided that it needed to be turned.

I still don’t have the ideal setup for turning bowls, OK for spindle work but the swing over the bed is less than ideal and moving parts from the outside end of the tailstock to the inside is a bit of a pain.

Rough turning was completed on the outside at a fairly low-speed, this is where having the three-phase motor really comes in handy.

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At this point the bowl as just screwed really well onto a faceplate.

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After the outer shape was complete an attachment point for the chuck was cut into the bottom before the blank was shifted to the inboard side for hollowing out.

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Some sanding is still required and I’d like to make the walls a little bit thinner if possible but once again the current lathe setup isn’t conducive to turning bowls, there is only a limited amount of room on the far side of the lathe before hitting the wall which makes it hard to get a bowl gouge in.

Given this was the first turning completed in a while all the chisels were in a bit of a state and so required touching up. Previously I had the Teknatool Nova jig mounted on the bench grinder but to be honest found it less than ideal.

According to the instruction manual for 8 inch grinders you are supposed to mount the jig on a raised block. The issue then was that the jigs slide didn’t fit under the grinding wheel and so there was only a limited range that the slide could move in and out. Another minor annoyance was the method of locking off the slide, basically a small rod inserted through another shorter threaded rod with two small rubber caps (designed to but not really) stopping the rod from sliding out of the threaded piece (picture below missing the rubber caps).

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In practice I found that the rubber caps would fall off and then the smaller rod would constantly slide out of the bottom part when tightening and then roll around the floor. I also found that once you had used the grinder for a while a deposit of ground material would build up on the slide which would then drastically increase the friction between the slide and clamp when moving it in and out.

I also found had a few issues with the top part of the jig. The cast section never seemed to slide that well on the stamped / folded plate (tried oil, grease, silicon spray, graphite powder), also it was slightly annoying to have to disassemble the top section to swap between sharpening with the cast section and sharpening with the guide arm.

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My version didn’t have the black thumbscrews but rather a threaded rod with a 90 degree bend on one end and then on the other a wing nut. Also the angle indicator pieces further down were always a bit of a pain to fit back in. The red folded piece was about 5mm narrower than the silver piece and so had to be pulled out whilst you tried to fit it, all in all a bit too fiddly considering how often it needed to come on and off.

All these things made me look around at other options and in doing so came across the Woodcut Tru-Grind system, very similar to the Teknatool but with a few differences.

  1. Slide does not need to be mounted on a block for 8 inch grinders.
  2. Slide system seems to lock off better (lever at the side as opposed to clamp on top.
  3. Guide arm part has notches which positively locate it at 10 odd fixed angles.
  4. Has two cups allowing you to locate the support arm at two different locations on the arm.

This was fitted to the grinder last night and is looking promising so far, the geometry of the system seems to fit the 8 inch grinder better making it easier to get the correct angle when grinding.

I haven’t sworn off the Teknatool jig yet but for the moment will use the Woodcut one and see how it performs for a bit.

Both of these jigs have one minor issue however and it’s definitely scraping the bottom of the barrel but it would be nice if the markings on the slides were engraved or stamped as the printed labels options that both systems use don’t last long at all.

Frame and Initial parts sourcing

So a Teardrop Caravan has been something that I’ve been keen to build for a couple of years. The motivation for the project always seems to be strongest after Eastercamp but then again there is nothing like spending a week in a tent working long hours to motivate one to find a better accommodation solution. I was talking to my brother-in-law recently whilst on holiday and he was interested in building one as well so we decided to finally give it a go.

Many long hours on the internet were spent researching the subject; what laws do you need to comply with in NZ when building a caravan, what is the best size and shape, do you go fibreglass or wood finish etc. The TNTTT.com website provided a wealth of information but I have to say the jackpot was discovering this site http://teardropbuilder.com. Contained within is an entire wealth of information as well as generously provided full construction plans and a Sketchup Model. Well worth checking out regardless of whether you are wanting to build your own or not.

As mentioned in the previous post the main hurdle to be overcome in NZ is the sourcing of a couple of the critical parts, namely the galley hinge and the side doors. The rest although perhaps in different sizes (metric vs imperial) are achievable.

Galley Hinge

There are a few main approaches that people seem to take here which fall into the following categories.

  1. Aluminium extruded hinge. (Hurricane Hinge)
  2. Piano Hinge with some form of weatherproof covering
  3. Rubber “Centaflex” hinge

I looked at all three options and rules out option two pretty quickly. Whilst I have no question that it is possible to waterproof these hinges I didn’t want to run the risk of stuffing around trying to waterproof it and then have to constantly keep an eye on it to make sure it’s not leaking

Option 3 turned out to be one option easily available in NZ from these guys http://www.mainlandfasteners.co.nz/2390/Plastic. The price I got back was reasonable at around $90 so definitely an option however it was hard to put aside the suspicions I had regarding the longevity of the rubber hinge material.

Option 1 turned out to be the option I went with however. One particular post on the TNTTT forum indicated that Grant Whipp based in the US shipped these hinges internationally. An email reply from Grant however advised that unfortunately (for me but not so much for him) he had retired. He was kind enough to pass me onto TCTeardrops.com in Wisconsin who make some pretty gnarly d including some off road models. Carol here was amazing and in short order a 5 foot section of hurricane hinge was on its way to New Zealand for pretty much the same price as the option 3. Highly reccomended dropping them a line if you too are after hinges.

Door

The door was the other option that was proving hard to source. Many hours were spent searching the internet for a workable option. From what I read online it seemed that about 50% of builders built their own door, the other 50% ordered one that was premade.

Once again waterproofing concerns were pushing me towards a premade option, the build your own approach used a number of extruded aluminium profiles and foam / rubber strips that all needed to be fitted around a plywood door section before being fitted to the body. Given the weather that you get here often in NZ I didn’t want to arrive at the campsite to find that rain had snuck in around the door edges on whilst in transit and that the mattress was soaked. The pre made option consisted of an insulated door and frame with little opening window, fly screen and inner trim strip. Basically cut the hole in the wall, screw the door in and then fit the trim. The only issue was sourcing in NZ.

One final option I looked into was marine hatches but the issue here was a) finding something large enough and b) something that had the locks on the outside.

Vintage Technologies seemed to be the go for pre made doors, any search on Google, Amazon or eBay returned his products so I contact them asking for a price to ship a couple to NZ. The price that came back for the doors was good but the shipping was an eye watering $550 USD.

Unfortunately NZ Post’s YouShop service has a maximum size that they ship, playing around with the shipping calculator revealed that the doors were only a couple of inches too large for them to carry however the price was significantly lower than $550 USD. The search then swapped to one of freight forwarders of which there were many. I settled on MyUS in the end, they had a simple calculator on their website to estimate shipping as well as a number of different service options and so after an account was set up with them a trial door was ordered from Amazon.

This arrived at MyUS this morning and should be shipped out in the next couple of days, just getting them to confirm that the correct door has been sent by Amazon, white on the inside, black on the outside and Insulated. Will provide an update on both the quality of the door and the MyUS service when the door arrives.

Frame

The steel for the frame arrived last week. This was purchased off Trademe from a seller MagellenImports based in Hederson. Big plus was that for $45 they would deliver it straight to your door, a big win when dealing with 6m lengths that weighed all up about 100kg.

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In short order this was cut to length and after a mornings work the ends of the C section had been notched to slot together prior to welding.

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One final fitup and the parts were stacked until the chance came to weld them up (or so I thought)

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The next day I was looking over the plans with a few friends and we came to the realisation that the frame was going to be too big to fit the locally available materials.

The widest sheet of plywood that I am locally able to obtain is 1530mm or approx 60 1/4 inches. Looking at the roof details from the plans we see that the roof overlaps the walls and so the widest that the trailer could ever be is 1530mm. (Images from http://teardropbuilder.com)

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Looking now at the bottom we can see that from the outside of the wall to the outside of the trailer frame (point A) there is 1/8th of an inch of exterior skin and then 1/2 of an inch of wall which given that we have this on both sides, means that the trailer frame has to be 1 and 1/4 inches narrower than the roof.Bottom.jpg

The plans called for the trailer frame to be 60 inches from one outside side to the other and so this was the sizing that we worked to when cutting the frame steel but when you then add to that the thickness of the walls you end up with a complete teardrop width of 61 and 1/4 inches, about an inch wider than the available plywood…

Long story short, the next day steel was being cut again, to make sure that there were no issues about an inch and a half was removed from the width, this should now give a total teardrop width smaller than the plywood sheeting available locally.

To be honest I expected that something like this would happen at some point given that I’m using imperial plans in a metric world and that there are going to be regional differences when it comes to material sizing, I just didn’t expected it this early in the piece.

Next step will be doing the first weld up of the frame, the final weld will include the drawbar and the mounting points for the leaf springs which will probably happen close to the end of the build when to allow the trailer to be balanced. Ill have to come up with a way of making the top of the trailer detachable from the welded frame but don’t anticipate this being too much of an issue.

I have emerged…

So its been just over two years since the last post and to be honest its not been a case of nothing to write about, rather a case of little time to spend writing up blog posts.

Whats been happening? 

  1. Moved house
  2. Had to build and move into shed at new house
  3. Landscaped back garden
  4. Finished ML7 repaint and assembly
  5. Assembled new 3 Phase drive systems for both ML7 and ML8
  6. Started on drill press restoration (still in parts)
  7. Started on Home Automation project using openHAB (excellent software)
  8. Put finishing touches on Arcade Machine
  9. Decommissioned Shopping Trolley 😦
  10. Started recondition of planer and table saw attachments for ML8

Why have I emerged now?

Well its time to catch up on some of these things. Expect a few posts hopefully in quickish succession. These will probably be image heavy in place of large swaths of text.

What projects are on the horizon?

A Teardrop Trailer build. This is currently in the investigative and sourcing phase. Being located in NZ makes a few of the parts hard to find (read doors and rear galley hinge). There doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of information on the internet re where to get these parts when based in NZ so successful or otherwise ill make sure to post the results in the hope it may help other NZ builders.

Consider this the first update

Built a bookshelf over the weekend with Vicks. A couple of years ago we purchased some old Rimu skirting board off TradeMe, this had been pulled out of a school somewhere.

Initially this was covered on one side with white paint and had a curved radius on the top edge and so the first steps were dispatching the radius with a table saw and removing the face / cleaning up the front face with an electric plane.

After that it was a case of cutting out the wood too damaged to use and then after confirming that we had enough, cutting the wood to size.

Four shelves were then clamped together and had braces glued and screwed to the bottom of them (these braces are at each end and then behind the legs in the middle in the below picture)

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The end sections had their ends glued to form a plank section and clamped (no braces on these) before assembling the outer frame and then mounting the two internal shelves.

The 8 legs were the final pieces put on, for some reason these were the only parts of the build where the wood wanted to split when sinking the screw heads in so these all had to be countersunk first.

Final step will be applying a couple of coats of light stain before moving into position which should happen this weekend.

On the whole it was a relatively painless process, there was additional work in preparing the boards which wouldn’t be required if the wood was purchased new but then again I don’t think there’s any way we would have got the wood new for the price we paid.

There’s still some sections left over so it looks like a matching coffee table may also be in the future.

Until next time.