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Welding

Sorry for the silence. A lot has happened in the last weeks. We found a welder, and drove Winnie over to his shop. He and his guys went over the chassis with a fine tipped comb and discovered a lot more welds that had popped. In one instance an entire steel cross support bar was only attached at one weld point. So – … wow. If we hadn’t taken the floor off we never would have discovered the actual condition of the very core of the RV. Scary! They got started a bit later than we were expecting and we have a personal emergency. The friends we are staying with here in WA – she had a heart attack and was immediately scheduled for a quadruple bypass. A lot of last week was spent at the hospital. She came through like a champ and was happy knowing we were here so her husband didn’t have to worry about things like pets, garden, mail, etc. She has been my friend since 1995 – a long time and seems young to have had this occur so we are all feeling our mortality a bit. She came home yesterday and I was sitting up with her. She said, “You and I always believe that everything happens for a reason. This [welding] set you back but in the long run, it has probably saved your home.” My response was, “Ya. And your heart attack could have been so much worse! As it was, you were able to get to the hospital and get help before it became catastrophic. It could have been so much worse!” We agreed that our respective guardian angels have been working overboard these past few weeks and expressed our gratitude. I generally am one to appreciate the little moments but you have no idea how grateful I was to be sitting at the table talking to my friend; savoring that moment. She is still here. She is strong and recovering well. She has a second chance and in much better shape to live healthy. Ironically heart disease runs in her family so her doctor monitors her cholesterol closely. All her numbers were good.

OK – on to RV news now that I have gotten all maudlin and sentimental. This welding bill means we are WAY over budget. We will not be able to afford the filon skin for the entire rig. The average cost of the skin for arctic white at 35′ is about $700.00. Our friends are happy to have us here but don’t want us here forever!  LOL! We have to finish paying off the welders next paycheck and need construction money. The next paycheck after that will be mid Sept. Add in the 5 to 7 day lead time we would need and that has us here until October.  For now, we will construct the roof and outer walls. The roof we will cover and the rest of the RV we will paint with exterior home paint. We can add the filon later. This will at least get us going. We want to have the cabinetry in place so that we are not bolting things to the walls again and will hit the road with basically an empty shell again. The Tucson weather is gentle in the Fall and Winter and we will be able to finish her off down there. LOL – remember I wanted this all done in a month? BWA-HA-HA! I am so silly.

So, that’s where we are. We are going to go over to the shop today and visit Winnie and see if they have started the work. I will take pictures if I can and post later.

Waiting, waiting, waiting…

This is always the hardest part of any remodel I think. It doesn’t seem to matter if it is traditional home based or a home on wheels. At some point in the process, there is a period of time where you are just waiting. You fill your hands with busy work that needs to be done but honestly you are pretty much just waiting.

We cannot move forward until the chassis repairs are made. We have had trouble finding a welder. Turns out, this area is a bit old fashioned about welding and no-one would respond to my calls all last week. Over the weekend, I told Daniel that he would need to call since I wasn’t getting anywhere. It was probably a combination of luck and timing that he made one call and was able to immediately speak to a mobile welder (I sent him the number) who will be coming out later this week. Arg. I am very glad we finally have someone coming out to take a look at the job but so very frustrated that it took Daniel to get someone out here. Regardless, the important fact is we will be able to move forward.

During this slow period Daniel has been treating the steel with rust reformer. We didn’t have any terrible rust but a significant enough amount that we wanted to treat it. With the entire undercarriage protected against water, salt, and grime, our home will last that much longer. Xander and I have been spending time scraping off the old butylated rubber from around the windows. Talk about a thankless task! We don’t want to use a chemical solvent since Xander is helping with this task, so we are doing it the old fashioned way. A flathead screw driver and patience. First you scrape with the screwdriver and get the sticky black stuff to release. Then you just grab it. Turns out, once you get a nice sized ball in your fingers, you use that to ‘grab’ the rest. Lifts right out and leaves the metal as clean as can be. Your fingers are stickier than all get out, but it does the trick and no chemicals needed. Thank heavens for goop hand cleaner!

Next week I should have more news for you but for now, we are just keeping busy. Thanks for stopping by!

Teardown Complete!

YAY! We finally got the last of the old flooring out. Now there is just the frame and the chassis of the trailer. We have some wood cobbled together in-case we need to make the RV street safe but that is off to the side.

WOW! Just had to get that off my chest. OK. Here is what we found.

  • We found both steel beams bent by the passenger side rear dullies. Not sure what would have caused this kind of damage in this spot. Massive over burden? Improperly placed jacks? Accident? These will need to be removed and replaced.
  • Rust – a bunch of rust but fortunately less than we were expecting. You can tell this rig was not an East Coast vehicle. I was terrified we would get everything off only to discover that road salt had eaten away the very base of our home. At that point, we would be game over and homeless. There is a reason I haven’t been sleeping very well at night. The rust that we did find is treatable. PHEW!
  • The back steel beam going across the rear of the RV is slightly bowed up. You can see from the pictures. Again, not sure what would have caused this damage. We know from the people we bought the RV from there was extensive back end damage from them backing into something. I can’t remember what. This damage could have been caused by that. It looks like something we can hammer back into place but I will defer that to the hubby and a body shop.
  • We still have that one steel beam that is broken off the ‘C’ bracket extension. I showed that image previously but will edit the photo to make it a bit more obvious.

Otherwise, things look good! Everything from this point forward is a step towards putting Winnie back together. Stronger, and Better than before. When we are done, we will have a custom brand new 2017 RV.  🙂

Ripping Off the Roof…

We have progressed!

We ended up taking a day or two off just as a sanity break and also to try and find a welder who would come out and weld some additional aluminum supports that will support the changes we want to make. We have called people, talked to shops, shown pictures of our chassis and now feel confident that we are good to go! Our RV chassis was already extended – presumably by Ford when they make it. Apparently our model was designed to be a sporty model with the ability to tow. There are already big ‘C’ brackets in the back of the frame with diagonal steel beams that go up to the bed. These diagonal braces will support the house extension. We are going to add one more steel brace just because we are paranoid and this is our only home but we are told we don’t need to.

We are having some trouble finding a welder. If we can’t get the extensions to the aluminum frame welded, we will have to extend the aluminum frame using bolts and brackets. It will still provide the additional support/strength we want, it just won’t be as clean.

This has been an interesting process. We have experience in general construction, and RV construction. We are paying extra attention to weight, the frame, the design, and the chassis. Every aspect of this rebuild is being closely examined. The conversation never stops about what we are learning/discovering/confirming. We are not taking this rebuild lightly. This is our home. And it will be our home for some time. We are doing what we are doing to ensure our home provides the stability we need for it to last for the next however many years. However, the comments we are getting from some people are incredibly offensive. One welder we called to weld the additional aluminum beams, actually said these words.

You have gone to far! You never should have exposed the frame like that!

He had no idea who we were, why we are doing what we are doing, what our experience level is – the only thing he had to go on way my initial 5 minute call and the two in-progress pictures I sent. “I am not taking on this project. No.” He says.

Another person on a forum we participate in, just posted:

“Holy crap, 3 foot extension!!! Make sure to come back and post pics of your RV when it breaks in half.”

WTF? Really people?

Obviously we are sharing this with the world wide web. Obviously we are going to get comments from people who are going to disagree with what we are doing. I get that. What I don’t understand is the rudeness. The absolute lack of any effort to either find out who we are and what we are capable of.  To what purpose are such comments made?

Moving on – our next steps are to remove the floor. We want to get up close and in person on that chassis. We want to see everything top and bottom before we start rebuilding. We will be putting Winnie up on ramps so we can really get under there. Since our rig came from the midwest, we know there is a lot of salt road damage that we are expecting to find. We know that the aluminum sheet at the bottom of the floor on the chassis is full of pits. That will have to be replaced. So, lots more work to do. I will keep you posted.

 

Sanity Break and Research

We have had to take a few days off as a sanity break. We are keeping our senses of humor during this remodel but sometimes the sheer scope of what we are doing can be intimidating. I tend to cope with this by focusing on the small details. I look at one section and the specifics of what need to be done. Daniel just tends to think of all the work he has to do and stresses out. Understandably. I can help, but he needs to tell me what to do. By mapping out this project in far greater detail than we ever have before, I am hoping this will take some of the pressure of him. I can prep, gather materials, and take care of the tasks I know need to be done so Daniel is free to tackle the big stuff. I am learning a lot about construction right now – obviously RV construction, but I know it will prove incredibly useful in the future as both of us will have bolt-by-bolt knowledge of exactly how our home is put together.

I am busy visiting RV repair shops and talking, asking tons of questions and listening. Lots and lots of listening. I have learned to ask questions I never thought to ask and found answers to things I didn’t think to look for. For anyone contemplating a similar remodel, that would be my best advice. Talk to people! Shop people, sales people, mechanics, fellow RVers – the guy standing next to you in the shopping line. You never know who is going to have a tidbit of knowledge that you need.

I will end for now. I wanted to touch bases and let you know what was going on. We really need to get that roof off so we can start cleaning up the frame and need to take off at least the back half of the sub-sub floor to replace the rot we are seeing. Keep in touch and let us know your thoughts!

Deconstruction almost complete

We have the walls completely off. We disassembled the cab-over yesterday and got all the rotted wood out and exposed the frame. Now we are working on the roof. Yesterday Daniel spent time on the ladder trying to get the roof off from the center out. Sounds weird until you remember that we had a piece of filon tacked up there to patch a leak. So, instead of trying to pull the roof off from one of the sides, we just went to the place in the center where we had already ripped and cut the worst parts of the damage out. Daniel just pulled off that filon strip and got to work on the rest of the roof. Xander and I spent some time picking up the small pieces of insulation off the ground. Our friends are being so incredibly awesome to let us work here, I am certainly not going to pollute their property! We have enough debris for another dump run so we will get that done today or tomorrow. Then we will remove the floor, and check the aluminum sheet on the bottom of the bed and replace the wood that we see that is rotted down there. Bit worried we will have to replace that sheet since aluminum is pricey!

You have to keep a sense of humor in all this, so Daniel has been having some fun with Gimp and editing our progress photos. Check ’em out!

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Here are in-progress photos of the rig, the frame and where are at with this project.

Here are our ‘To-Do’ tasks for the day:

  1. Go talk to more service shops about the frame and our ideas. We don’t think we will need to do any additional extending to the frame with out 3′ addition based on our discovery of the ‘C’ bracket extension already there but we want to ask as many shops as we can before building.
  2. Start calling welding shops and metal supply shops
  3. Do the drafting to get the placement of the changes to the frame we need, and finalize the floor plan with the measurements.
  4. Get to dump (maybe – if we have time)
  5. Remove more of roof this evening and get that back section that is hanging removed.

There ya go! We will keep you posted. Would love to hear your comments – other than ‘You’re Crazy!’ – we already know that. LOL!

Rot! One word you NEVER want to hear

We knew that there was a leak in the cab-over when we bought the rig. We taped it up, put it on our ‘To-Do’ list to fix and would re-check that the super sealing RV tape was covering the spot.

When we finally got to the cab-over yesterday to rip apart, we were shocked to see that the rot was much worse than we ever knew. If Daniel had not reinforced the cab-over we would have fallen through a long time ago. The wood disintegrated to dust when touched. Apparently there was also a leak in the seam of the curve of the cab-over that we never knew about and rot all around the front window.

Our remodel will NOT include windows in the cab-over. Ugh…