Off of the Grid

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It’s all about the roof

Daniel has been outside in sun and rain and blistering cold. Ok, maybe not blistering but really, really cold! We installed the roof skin and are putting on the trim today. She is starting to really look like an RV. Probably even more so when we install the door. LOL!

The latest pics:

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Walls are up! Working on the roof.

Hi All –

We have been busy and I have just been lax about updating the site. Seem like we have been running-running-running to get this thing boxed up so we can drive out of here. We had our first snow this past week which put about 3″ on the ground. The temperature plummeted to a mere 15 at one point. Daniel was outside working and the screws were literally breaking. Obviously he had to stop for a while till it warmed up again.

We discovered that there are challenges to building a straight wall when the RV is actually not quite straight. That was exciting. All is good but we ended up having to give the rig a chiropractic adjustment to get the walls on the chassis. Friends from a local homeschool community came and helped us lift the 31′ long walls and put them on the rig. While we were waiting for everyone to get there, I had the kids build a wall section with some of our scrap materials. Every kid had to cut their luan wood, glue the wood to the insulation, and then install the skin. I also handed out a bunch of sharpies and had them decorate the sub-floor with drawings, games, song lyrics – whatever they wanted as long as it was positive and kind. One kid actually wrote out the entire phrase that we all know so well from Mary Poppins. I am not even going to try and spell it – LOL! Love it!

We ordered our new door from Dyers RV – turns out they have the same door as Camping World at the same price but don’t have us pay for shipping. SWEET! Camping World wanted $144 in shipping! Dyers and Camping World had the door with window and screen for about $200 less than all other competitors though. The shipping from Dyers was super fast – 3 to 5 business days. The first door arrived damaged so we had to refuse delivery but they were super prompt about the replacement door. It arrived just fine earlier this week.

We want to have a bit more flexibility with the roof and what it supports so keeping weight in mind, we added an aluminum brace every two feet connecting wall-to-wall. Then we used 1/2″ wood instead of the luan so the roof would be a bit more substantial. We aren’t going to store anything up there, but it sure is nice to know we can stand up there and not fall through if we want. Plus – the braces going across the top make the rig more stable.

I know you all really just want to see the pictures so here ya go!

Yup, I cried like a girl. TWICE!

What a week! When last we left our intrepid builders, we were busy assemblingΒ  a wall. Well, SUCCESS! We did it. We finished it off on Saturday. Our intention was to flip the wall over and start construction of the next wall on-top, thus providing the pressure needed to create a nice bond between filon and luan. Ya – no. The wall is 31′ long made of insulation, luan, and filon. Shouldn’t be too heavy right? It’s heavy. We needed to move the wall – I can’t even remember why and it was just the three of us. Our friend Greg, Daniel and I.

Usually I am the crazy strong one of the group, but after a day of inhaling glue fumes, I got sick on Thursday and could not stop throwing-up. I was out for a full 24-hours. I guess that took more out of me than I thought. On Friday, Daniel tried getting more luan glued down and went out and bought me a respirator to wear like the one he wears. Xan stays outside while we’ve been gluing. Saturday Greg, Daniel and I all went out and finished the wall and moved it. I can’t even remember why. Only that we moved it, and then I sat down and cried like a girl. It was heavy. I have zero upper body strength. I generally lift with my legs and core. This wall requires good grip strength and arms which I don’t have. With more people it wouldn’t have been a big deal but with just the three of us – ouch.

Today, we got the second wall completely done. We got in pretty early and worked until 8:00pm. And yes, we had to lift the wall again. This time to get it on-top of the other wall to weight it down. After a day of working, I just had nothing. I could hold it for maybe a few seconds in my hands and then just felt it slipping. I would have to yell, “Down!” Poor Daniel and Greg! Finally we got some cardboard under one side and Greg lifted on the other and he pushed the darn thing into place. I think he is actually superman in hiding. Daniel and I rushed to help but, it was mostly Greg who got it in place. We went through cases of glue, layers of insulation and wood. We’ve all spent the day on our knees applying glue and then pressing down the layers but we did it. And ya, the second time we moved the wall – I cried like a girl. I think perhaps this building thing and all the challenges we have overcome are perhaps getting to me. That and I probably am not 100% from being sick.

I am so excited that we got these done. Snow is on the forecast and we have to close this rig up! Daniel is going to put the exterior back wall and ceiling up but we are not going to build them out like we did the walls. It will be a shell basically to what it should be, just to get the rig closed. We can finish both from inside the rig once it’s sealed.

The next step is to actually lift the walls onto the rig. I have made some amazing friends here in Eastern Wa and I put out the call for help as soon as we finished the second wall. These awesome families will be meeting us as the build site to help us get these walls installed. YAY! WOW! That is so cool! Since we all are homeschoolers, I am putting together a little construction activity for them with some of our scrap. They can construct a mini RV wall. πŸ™‚ Should be fun and the glue that we will use is the low ROV stuff, not the glue that made me sick. It’ll be a fun lesson AND we will have the help we so desperately need.

Here are some of the latest pictures. We haven’t trimmed the new wall yet, so you won’t see the correct shape but you get the idea. It’s a wall. It’ll look like its neighbor. πŸ™‚

And the final moment! Caught on video:

Unrolling the Filon

Steady Progress

We have been busy. After the wonderful wind experience, we moved our construction site into a pole building. A wonderful family is letting us rent space in their building so that we can build the walls inside. Literally saving us! I can’t remember what I have written but suffice it to say I could not find a single garage, storage unit, warehouse, RV shop, or building that would let us rent space. I recently met this nice lady and noticed she had a large pole building on her property. It was incredibly presumptuous of me to ask, but I did and she and her family said yes. Everyday after Daniel is done with work, we head over and get work done. We finish around 8pm for the day and come home whipped.

Here are the construction updates. We cut off that side aluminum. There was no way to incorporate that into the walls with the walls being constructed off the rig. We cut it off. Now the aluminum is flush. We have the rig tarped to protect the new floor from the rains we have been experiencing. So far – so good.

The aluminum frame had to be disassembled a bit to get it to the pole building. The cab-over wouldn’t fit on the bed. So we had to undo what a lot of time was spent during the previous week doing. We got it on the bed though and drove it over in sunny weather. Daniel and Greg worked on the frame – putting it back together, and shoring it up over this past weekend. The cab-over seems a bit flimsy. We keep trying to shore it up but with a half wall, there isn’t much you can do. When it gets attached to the cab, that will stabilize it but for now, it’s a problem spot.

Monday night we got the wood measured, seamed and layed out. Tonight we glued the aluminum frame to the interior luan and laid out the initial 1/2″ Styrofoam insulation. Once that has all been measured and placed, we will glue that down. Additional Styrofoam will go on-top of that, and then the luan and filon. We hope to get all the insulation glued tomorrow.

We looked at cabinets today at Lowes. Getting some ideas and a rough idea of cost. We will check out some other places as well. I will be ordering our new RV door this Friday and our stove.

We spoke to a tile expert yesterday for the bathroom and possibly the back-splash for the kitchen. In 2011, I had been collecting really neat glass tile to do some mosaic work on a piece of furniture I found on the side of the road in Ballard, WA. I left it with my friends when we completed construction the first time we were here. I thought it had been gifted to someone so never thought I would ever see it again. I have it all! So exciting! Now, we are looking for ways we can use it. I may even use it around the sides of our walk-in shower. Not sure but looking forward to figuring it out! We are looking at some ceramic tiles to be the shower floor.

We looked at solid wood possibilities for our floor. We don’t want to do the laminate again. For us, with the dogs and the kid and the love of sand and dirt, the laminate just gets scratched. We have decided to go with a wood floor and we are just going to poly the heck out of it. We are looking at cabinet planks. They are long, and have a nice grade but aren’t too thick. We can glue those down, and then seal them. The price is a heck of a lot better than the hardwood floor planks!

Here are some current pics of our work from tonight…

 

And the steps before …

The Wind is our Nemesis

We have been blessed over the Summer here in Eastern Washington with beautiful sunny weather. There was a record number of days of no rain. Bad for the crops – perfect for rebuilding the rig. Except we had record fires this year as well which meant even though the weather was perfect, we couldn’t breathe. At one point Spokane’s air-quality was worse than Shang Hai. The winds blew smoke from Oregon, Idaho, Montana, British Columbia and even here in WA into the area. My heart goes out to those who lost their lives, and their homes to these fires. I can’t imagine. Another effect was that we couldn’t work outside and lost a month. A month of hot sunny weather.

Today there is a high wind advisory. Gusts up to 55mph. Daniel and I were outside tying down a tarp over Winnie when the winds started. To our horror, the carport tarp structure we have been storing Winnie under literally lifted into the air. I grabbed a corner post and held on for dear life while Daniel rushed around cutting the ties to the tarp. Poles were becoming disconnected and the tarp was acting like a big sail. If we didn’t want 10′ poles flying through the air, we needed the tarp off quickly. Daniel risked life and limb climbing on ladders to cut away the tarp from the roof of the pole carport. As I watched, visions of the structure flying away, poles going everywhere played in my head, followed closely by visions of Daniel flying off the ladder which was on the rig – plummeting 15′ to his doom (bouncing off sharp metal and wood on his way down.). We got the tarp off and wrapped up. When we had a moment to look around, we found Winnie’s aluminum frame we had on hanging precariously on/off on one side. If we had the walls up with that wind, they would have been ripped off.

We got a wake-up call today.Β  Now I don’t know what we are going to do. The weather might be coming in faster than we can build the box.

It’s all about the floor…

Hi All –

We have been busy. Friday was spent getting materials. As much as we could with the time and money we had. It meant a morning confirming our reservation at the storage unit place and paying for it. It meant picking up the roofing kit that we purchased from a local RV shop. NOTE TO SELF – NEVER go back there. They blithely overcharged Daniel by $163.00. I rushed to the parts counter and demanded the refund. I am sure steam was coming out of my ears I was so mad. After a small amount of, “Oh, that’s right.” the refund was issued. How many other customers do they do that to who just write it off as tax or something?

Back to the rebuild. What did we get?

  • Aluminum rec tube for the RV frame. Remember, the extension was never added by the welders so we need to extend the aluminum frame.
  • Angle tubing for the exterior
  • 1″ dense Styrofoam for the floor x 6
  • 23/32″ plywood tongue-n-groove x 6
  • foam glue x 12
  • contact cement x 2
  • 3/4″ Styrofoam that goes inside the frame – no idea how much we got
  • 1/2″ Styrofoam that goes outside the frame x 14
  • 31 sheets of luan
  • Rubber roofing kit with all the glue and tools needed. I can’t remember what it is called.

Our goal this weekend is to get the floor down and both side walls. We have to build out the aluminum frame before we can do the walls so we hope to take care of that early tomorrow am. We laid the floor today. We now have a lovely solid floor and I learned how to use a caulk gun. Daniel was a hoot. He was rolling around on the floor – presumably to make sure everything was firmly pressed and level but I think mostly to just have a bit of fun. During the construction, it was like a crazy trust experiment at times as I was holding plywood steady while Greg cut with the electric saw coming towards me. Daniel was smart, he took the side Greg was cutting away from.

We have been panicking a bit this past two weeks. Okay, this past month. We have anxiously been watching the temperatures go down. There has been frost every morning for the past week and Mt. Spokane officially got snow a day ago. This is a very, very bad thing. If it gets too cold, the contact cement won’t bond the luan to the filon and we’re screwed. Working outside is no longer an option. I have called RV shops, warehouses, commercial rental agencies, storage facilities and garages in the area. No-one had any space for us to work on the rig indoors. We had to adjust our building plan. A wonderful woman I recently met has a large pole building. I called her and pretty much begged. LOL! She and her family are letting us use part of their building to construct the walls where we can keep the temps above freezing while they cure. They are literally saving us. This whole project almost came to a screeching halt. While our friends have teased us about being welcome here for Christmas, they (understandably) really don’t want us here. We have already been here about two months longer than originally planned.Β We are obviously keeping the glue inside where it is warm. We will have space heaters running when we are building to keep the walls warm so they can properly cure. Then we will mount the walls in there entirety onto the rig. Filon, Luan, Styrofoam, Frame, Styrofoam, and final Luan will all get bonded together. Once properly cured, we will lift it up onto the chassis and screw it in. So exciting!

We dropped off the filon and Styrofoam at the build site and came back to work on the floor.

Enough talk! Here are some pictures of our recent work.

Because we are no longer going to be able to build out the way we were expecting, those folded aluminum sides are going away. We picked up extra blades for the saw so we can cut those off.

That’s all our news for now. I should have more pictures tomorrow after we get the walls going.

Aluminum is Down! (This means we have a floor)

The generator has been serviced, all the spot welding has been done. It was time to finally lay down the first level of the floor structure. We found some great aluminum at a trailer truck shop. It’s thicker than what was there before and more affordable. We got enough to do the entire floor and the cab-over. It is wider than the chassis so we are folding up the excess to give the base layers more stability and offer some additional protection from water. 1/4″ plywood is the first layer of wood. Next comes the insulation, 3/4″ plywood and our floor. At this point, I am fairly sure that we are just going to put in a wood floor and poly it. We will see as time progresses though.

I am going to stop talking and just post the pics.Β  Here ya go.