Off of the Grid

Posts tagged “remodel

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. 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.

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Waiting, waiting, waiting…

Daniel and I find ourselves nesting with no nest. We are so anxious for our home to be done already! We were out and about yesterday looking at various painting styles we want to incorporate onto some of our furniture. We were talking about curtains, and checking out different sofas. We were picking up various nick-nacks we wanted to use to decorate. LOL – now all we need is our home.

MLW is doing a great job. They had some setbacks this past week that were pretty serious! One of the techs was in a car accident – he’s OK from what I understand though! And there was an emergency delivery – again, reports we got was that everyone is OK as that was our first question as well! So, stuff happens. You just have to roll with it.

Looks like other things in our personal situation are potentially changing as well. No worries – our little family is secure, but other things are in flux. We shall see is all I can say for now.

I am so stressed out about not having a home to call our own right now, I have stated to break out in hives on my hands and wrists. LOL – how to tell if you are stressed 101! To compensate, I am drinking tons of water, trying to meditate and adding more exercise in my day. The air quality up here in Eastern WA isn’t that great right now. The smoke from the Utah, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, BC, and Washington fires are apparently hanging out here in Spokane. Yay. The other day it was so bad, you could really smell the smoke.

We hope to start putting the floor on this weekend pending the pick-up of our rig newly welded and with a new rear axle.  Like I said above, we will see.

Thank you for checking in. Hopefully soon, I will have actual construction pictures to show you.


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.


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.

 


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!


And so it begins (dun-dun-dun!)

Just a quick interruption of  the story of our travel’s to say we have started the remodel process on the rig. We are in Spokane right now. It took us two days to empty the rig. Turns out the tent I bought to use at Standing Rock actually has more square footage than the RV so we were easily able to move tons of stuff into the tent. The rest we had to bring inside the house we are staying at. WE HAVE INVADED! Ever tried to fit your stuff – like bookcases, your clothes – all of them that you have with you, books, toys, home-office and various misc into someone elses already furnished home? It’s a bit cluttered right now but my goal is to really try and get that organized today so it doesn’t look like an explosion went through down here!

Once the RV was empty, Daniel and Xander started initial break-down. This means removing all the exterior & interior lights, the flashing, screw pick-up (you will be hearing that a lot) and the most fun – RIPPING THE WALLS OFF! So – here we are folks. The beginning! We are going to rip all the walls and ceiling off the metal frame of the rig. We will have the floor of the rig and the metal cab of the truck when we are down with tear-down. When we are finished, we will have raised the roof by a foot giving us more head-space. We will have a fully enclosed full bathroom, possibly with a small tub if we can work out the logistics. We will have a nice ‘L’ shaped kitchen space with good counter space,a double sink, a convection over and an induction stove top. There will be seating space on the other side of the island with the option of a flip-up table to provide additional seating as needed. We are removing some big windows so we are no longer a gallery on display to the world (YAY). We are squaring off the angle in the front of the RV in the cab-over so that we are no longer squishing our feet or banging our heads. Plus it will mean we can sit-up in bed which is something we cannot do now.

WANT LIST (but haven’t quite figured out how we are going to do it):

  • Xander would like a gypsy bed that folds out from the wall. Not a murphy bed to the floor kind but one that is like the top half of a bunk bed.
  • The tub. Hummmmm….
  • A place for a grow tower so we can have our garden with us.
  • More space

For additional space, we have come up with some ideas. A loft, a pull-back vrs pull-out, or the over used pull-out idea. So, if some clever person has an idea, make a comment and let us know! Otherwise keep tuned during the demolition process to see possible floor plans. Enjoy!