Rob Gray :: ontheroad :: wothahellizat :: wot1 :: diaries :: issue-030


8 Nov 2000

The roof of the pop-top, another bloody engineering marvel :-)

The entire motorhome roof is covered by a tropical roof and the pop-top is no exception. Here we see the inner roof, and the white battens which will support the outer roof. A lot of battens are required because the roof must be able to support someone walking on it so their spacing must be fairly close.

Fig 1. Pop-top roof battens ready for the outer roof sheets.

In the following photo we see the construction of the battens. Because the underlying steel bowed at some time during welding (and I didn't notice until it was too much trouble to fix it) I needed to provide a flat surface for the outer roof.

Therefore each batten is hand planed and levelled with its neighbours with a straight edge. Another example of a small error turning into a big job.

Of course the air gap between the two roofs needs to breath or there's not much point. There are over 300 holes drilled around the roof edge and the hatch edge. Air can enter from the side of the roof, pass through the outer holes, cross between the two roofs, and exit via the holes in the hatch surround.

Fig 2. Pop-top roof battens under construction.

Fig 3. Close-up of the pop-top roof battens and breathing holes.

The entire roof is now finished, well almost. Here's a shot from the front of the pop-top looking to the rear...

Fig 4. Looking from the pop-top to the rear.

Note the hole in the foreground, this is a hatch for access to the roof.

Fig 5. Looking from the rear the pop-top at the front.

Note the four solar panels in the foreground, four more will be placed in the centre part of the roof (the white parts). There is a walkway between the panels in the centre of the roof.

The walkway is elevated about 75mm over the roof, as are the panels, to create the tropical roof.

11 Nov 2000

I've been working on the plumbing. Not the taps and sinks etc but the business end, the pumps.

First I prepared the areas in the left-hand bins, here we see the bins after undercoating.

Fig 6. The LHS storage bins after undercoating.

Not all this space is for plumbing but there's no point only spraying part of the bins then having to re-mask and setup again to do the rest at a later date.

Fig 7. The main plumbing components.

Several days later the bins have had their final coat (silver hammertone) and the plumbing has been installed. In the photo above we see the following (left to right)

  • Whale outside shower.
  • power point.
  • two pressure gauges, one for drinking water and one for the main system.
  • three filling points, one each for the fresh water and two drinking water tanks.
  • the pumps, accumulators and filters.
  • five control valves
  • large hole for the hot water system

The grey and first fresh water tanks can also be seen below the body at the left.

The following schematic shows the final plumbing setup. I won't describe everything here (see this technical section article for a description of most of this) .

Fig 9. Plumbing schematic.

19 Nov 2000

Waterproofing has been the name of the game for the last week or so. We need to have some work done on the truck in Goulburn and to get it there it must be waterproof in case it rains during the trip.

Also it's been months since the truck has been on the road and I get nervous doing so much work with no on-road testing, so, using some trade plates from my friendly engineer I hit the road.

I filled up and headed down the highway before turning off onto a dirt road.

Fig 10. The truck poses under a dramatic sky.

After a few miles on the dirt pulled over for a photo op then continued to Angle Crossing, a low-level river crossing.

When I got there I found that it was closed because of the recent rains, it was then that I realised one of the benefits of having an off-road motorhome. No I didn't cross the river, there was a locked gate, but I did have more choices than the average motorhome driver.

Because there were deep drains on each side of the track, followed by steep banks, a three-point turn would be out of the question for most motorhomes. The only other option would be to reverse a kilometre or so up a narrow winding track.

Now we're not talking the Canning Stock Route here but still no normal motorhome would have been able to turn around because of their low clearances and long overhangs.

I simply drove over one drain/bank, reversed over the other one and carried on my merry way. The following photo shows this, I know it doesn't look much but the other side was worse and, believe me, either were enough to stump any normal bus/Winnebago.

Fig 11. Crossing a drain and bank on the side of the track.

Of course you don't need a hardcore off-road vehicle to do this, it's really just a matter of having reasonable clearances. Most motorhomes have enormous overhangs and very low clearances to the point that just getting into a service station can be a drama.

Naturally if you aren't interested exploring narrow dirt tracks then it doesn't matter.

On returning to the highway I stopped at a service station for a drink. While I was sitting in the shade admiring my creation an elderly local emerged from the shop, looked at the truck and said, "What the hell is that?". "A motorhome" I replied. The light was such that the joins in the cladding were nearly invisible, the body looked seamless. "How do they breath?", she asked. We chatted about the motorhome for a while then she left saying that in the forty years she'd lived in the district she'd never seen anything like it.

I guess I'll have to get used to this.

20 Nov 2000

Today we take the truck up to Goulburn. Shortly after my return from yesterday's jaunt it rained heavily so I drove the truck outside to test it's waterproofness. It passed fairly well but there were a few leaks so this morning I brought it outside again and raised the pop-top to air things out.

Fig 12. The truck with raised pop-top outside the workshop.

Here we see the truck with raised pop-top and our Suzuki Sierra in the foreground. We actually bought the Suzi specifically to A-frame behind the motorhome but decided against it and purchased two motor bikes. The Suzi is now for sale if you're interested.