In which, H.W. learns to weld, the camper gets its eyes back, and many sticks are thrown for the dog.
H.W. learned to weld real quick to install a system for the motorcycle to travel on the trailer.
His talented friend generously encouraged H.W. to visit and learn, and H.W. made some very nice welds welding on the arch that protects the egg, and that the bike ties off to, and some tiedown points.
This whole motorcycle mount project was a bit long and involved, as we were pretty much making up the design in the store based on what sizes of steel angle iron and flat stock they had.
I cut up the aluminum with a ‘cip saw and the pro did the more exacting aluminum welding to make the laddered channel. We bolted that onto the frame with U-bolts. In theory, that way it can be swapped out for a toolbox, etc, if the bike doesn’t need to be transported.
Reusing the original windows, they install by screwing through the fiberglass and into the wood trim inside, making a kind of sandwich with the shell in the middle. It’s very effective. The windows have a perimeter of screws and are very solid once they’re in.
We made all the frames out of clear fir with mitred corners, glued and screwed. Then we had to cut away the insulation so that the wood would seat close and flat to the fiberglass to be screwed into from the outside. This was our first shot at carving the spray foam insulation.
In my mind, I was hoping to make a perfect cutout for the frame, that would snugly hold the wood as it slipped perfectly into place. So we measured and cut ever so slowly and carefully, but it was pointless.
The foam is of variable thickness, so it was IMpossible to make laser straight cuts. It turned out better to slash away wide, and then have enough of a gap around the wood to fit the nozzle of an expanding foam can. We figured that out after wasting a lot of time with the first window.
The foam is very dense and stiff. It resists being cut or chipped out, and it won’t tear at all. It has a great deal of shear strength. It will break the blade of a boxcutter. The real tool we found for it was a stiff putty knife. Then I can cut and chip out chunks.
At this point we were just introducing ourselves to its properties.
The nice peach tone it had when it first went in is oxidized now and discoloured to a quite unfortunate orange. It’s pretty clear that we will need, or want to, shave down the surface of the foam and paint it. The orange is not worthy of a longterm commitment.
Putting the windows in, we were dealing with warp in the shell. When the foam went in, I had the windows out, and the floppy shell was relaxed, especially where the big window cutouts were, but the foam solidified it in the form it stood in. It wasn’t too hard to get the windows installed though. A bit of pushing, and the screws did the work sucking it together, as we worked from the corners to the middle. No problem.
H.W. also took off the wheels and overhauled the hubs. He said this was urgent, because they were squealy. I have no idea what “overhaul the hubs” means, so I’m very impressed. It took him a long time, and the bolts had been powdercoated so he worked hard and he got very greasy, which makes arcane activities more impressive.
We also have a fabulous bike rack now. My design, I had to fight for it. The only thing unique about it is that it comes out and sockets into receivers on either the truck or the camper, and it had to work with both in different conditions. It works, it’s awesome.
Since we’ve had the camper-in-progress in full view of a pretty busy road, it seems we’ve been monitored through the project’s various stages. The body work was a long stage. Now that it’s dazzling with its new paint job, we’ve had numerous people stop in on their way home to ask or comment about it. Fiberglass RV clubbers, people offering us old junker trailers, people asking if we restore campers professionally.
We had one wild day where people just stopped by and told things we needed to know. For instance, I’d never even heard of someone spray-foaming an egg before, and then this guy who came for a look casually leans in and says “Oh, this spray foam is the way to go. We did this about 15 years ago and what I immediately noticed was the sound difference. It’s so great, you’ll love it.” He went on to tell us exactly how best to shave down the inside (bread knives), and vetoed the idea of a belt sander that we’d mentioned. “That just chews it up.” The day after we were discussing how we would tackle the shaping of the foam inside.