Rob Gray :: ontheroad :: wothahellizat :: wot2 :: diaries :: issue-009


Tue 21 Aug 2007

I spend most of the day on my knees welding under the body. I use tiler's knee pads but after several hours my knees are killing me so I switch to an easier project.

The compressor has a handle that makes it too high to fit in the storage compartment. My first thought it to just cut the handle off as I won't really need it. Then I figure that I can make it fold so that I still have the functionality if I ever find that I do need one.

By cutting a 70mm section out of the handle and welding a piece of tube into the top part it can be inserted in two positions, one for carrying and the other for storage.

 The handle in the folded position.

Wed 22 Aug

Still welding under the body but we also spend a lot of time working on some of the design aspects of the motorhome.

For example we've decided to reduce the size of the water storage so the batteries can go in the body rather than under the chassis. This still keeps the weight at the back where I want it, but removes the need to build a big solid structure to house the batteries.

This reduces our water capacity from about 700 litres (155 gals) to 500 which I'm not happy about, so we direct our thinking to that issue.

We planned to have two custom-made tanks made, each about 350 litres in size. However at nearly $900 each we decide to use six off-the-shelf tanks instead. With the money we save we can get a seventh tank to mount elsewhere and still have change.

This will give us a capacity of 588 litres (130 gals), but more about the tanks and plumbing when the time comes.

Thu 23 Aug

After finishing the under-floor welding I spray underneath with red primer then lower the body to about waist height so I can start on the floors.

Fri 24 Aug

We order the water tanks and the closed-cell foam insulation today, we're still some time from needing them but if we leave it you can bet you're life they'll be out of stock when the time comes.

Sat 25 Aug

I spend most of the day cutting and laying the steel floor sections for the storage bins and water tank compartments.

Some time ago I welded in the bin door latches, they are mounted under the body and have bolts that protrude through the bin floor. Naturally this means that a hole must be drilled in the new floor sheet to match the bolt, and I want it to be exact so the bin is sealed as well as possible.

Hot to achieve this?

From underneath I can draw around about half of the bolt then remove the floor and use that half-circle to drill accordingly. But I'm not convinced that I can get it perfect, and also I don't like using large drill bits (14.5mm would be needed) in thin sheet metal.

I decide to not even try and drill a 20mm hole with a hole saw.

 A latch bolt protruding through the storage bin floor.

Later I can add a small plate with the correct-sized hole, or maybe a rubber grommet to seal the annular around the bolt.

These latches have a paddle that you rotate causing a cam to lower the bolt and unlock the door. However they have no locking mechanism themselves, ie. there's no way to stop anyone turning the paddle and therefore unlocking the door.

So I've implemented sliding bars with pieces of steel welded on that block the latch paddles and stop them from turning. These bars can be locked with padlocks which in turn locks the latches and the bin doors.

 The handle of the sliding bar, pull this to unlock the bins.

The bar goes through the frame (the red bit) and along the body to reach the various latches, thus all latches on one side can be locked with one padlock.

The handle is slotted and the slot slides along a tab with a hole in it. This stops the handle from rotating, and allows the padlock to be placed through the hole to lock the bar.

Mon 27 Aug

We are doing some sheeting now and it's exciting to see things taking shape. Not as exciting as it will be when we start the real sheeting, ie the tread plate sides, but pretty neat none the less.

I cut all the floor sections the other day but they remain unfixed for the time being as there are a few things to do with the body that will be easier without the floor in place.

So we make a start on the spare wheel well, the section of body that sits over the spare wheels.

 The spare wheel well with some of the sheets in place.

The triangular section of body just behind the spares is being put to good use. At the bottom of the section will be the diesel heater, and above that we will store two folding camp chairs and a folding table. These items are useful when camping with others.

The heater comes with a steel mounting plate that is pre drilled, however it's too large for the space we have so I make my own.

 My Dometic heater mount from the inside.

 And from the outside. The hole in the frame at the right is for the heater's fuel line and fuel pump wiring harness.

Tue 28 Aug

I don't get much done today, mostly because some friends arrive. Hugo and Wendy have almost finished their motorhome (slide-on camper really) based on a Unimog.

 Hugo and Wendy arrive in their Unimog.

 They set up camp outside the shed.

They've just been to the Gympie muster (a Country & Western concert) and are about to embark on a four-month trip through central Australia. Hugo was working on the truck until 4AM on the day they left home, it still doesn't have any bin doors and there are teething problems like a blown battery charger, but that's the nature of motorhome building.

Wed 28 Aug

I've finished the shower base.
 Looking from outside the entrance to the shower tray and sump.

The shower is also the entrance, laundry and toilet. What you see in the majority of the above photo is the shower tray. The tray will be covered by a floor of expanded mesh or something that will allow water to pass, thus water will pass through the floor, into the tray, into the sump and down the drain.

The sump's main purpose is to hold water if we empty an entire bucket load of water in one go when using the area as a laundry.

We will have to find an appropriate coating for the tray's galvanized sheet, but for now this job is finished.

Hugo has added a winch to his Mog but as yet doesn't have a cable for it and as it happens we removed 80 metres of 5/8ths cable from Wothahellizat a couple of months ago. We plan to buy a plasma rope so don't need the steel cable any more and offer it to him.

 Hugo attaching the wire to his winch drum.

Now it's time to wind the cable onto the winch drum. It's important to keep tension on the cable when doing this or it will be all over the place, this is bad for the cable and will also mean that it won't fit on the drum.

In the past I've dragged a heavy object like a spare wheel, but that will leave a scrape mark on the ground so we use another heavy object, the Landcruiser.

With Chris in the Cruiser using the brakes to keep tension on the wire, me on the bullbar trying to ensure the wire spools neatly, and Hugo operating the winch we get quite a good result.

 Hugo tries to stop the Unimog from eating our Landcruiser.

 The neatly wound wire, a thing of beauty and joy forever.

Sat 1 Sep

I'm installing the toilet at present, mostly because it involves the floor and my priority at the moment is to get the floor finished.

The Thetford C2 toilet is almost totally self contained, requiring just a wire connected to 12v, so it shouldn't take long to install right?

For most people this would be a short job, with me it's a career. I've been working on the loo for three days now.

Of course most people don't have the toilet sliding out from its storage, and we have had visitors, so I have an excuse.

The simplest way to do this would be to use a heavy-duty drawer runner and I do have a few, but they're too long.

No matter where I would place the runners they would intrude into either the lounge room, the water tanks, or the shower/entrance.

Three of the obvious positions for runners.

Of course I could buy shorter runners, but good ones are expensive and I'm trying to avoid spending money.

So I'll make my own.

I have a design on the computer that requires several bearings, and I've got a stack of 1-inch bearings from Wothahellizat 1, including four "trucks" that used to be part of the beds. These each have two bearings mounted at right angles, one to take the load and the other to stop the bed from slewing and getting stuck.

I intend to salvage the bearings from these, however when I retrieve them from the junk pile I get the idea to use them as is. My computer design is now of little use, I'll have to wing it.

 One of the bearing trucks welded to the toilet frame.

The toilet is 380mm wide and therefore needs to be slid out by about 380mm to be used, this calls for a runner capable of extending 100%, easy enough for a store-bought device but well nigh impossible to make yourself.

So I come up with a design that extends under the water tanks at one end, and over the shower floor at the other.

Here's the general idea.

Of course there's a gazillion details that aren't in the drawing, hence the three days, and I'm still not finished.

The toilet frame protrudes below the normal floor level and the rails that it runs on are actually part of the floor, which is why this job must be done now so I can finish the floor and get the body back on the truck.

Sun 2 Sep

The toilet mechanism is finished and ready for painting.

 The completed mechanism seen from the lounge room, the toilet (wrapped in plastic at the top of the shot) is extended into the shower. More pics when it's painted.

While it's drying I return to the floor, sealing the floor sheets that have already been laid and laying the two remaining sheets in the lounge room.

Then I do a small job that needs seeing to before the shower base is glued down. Under the shower is one of the body mounts and I've cut a hole in the base to allow access to the mount, naturally the hole will have to be covered, but I'm worried that if the cover leaks water will accumulate in the mount well which would be bad, especially if it caused the mounting bolt to rust into the body.

I plan to fill the well with grease, this would probably stop any rust, but it's still not a good idea to risk this area holding water for years, so I've added a small drain pipe.

 The mount well drain pipe.

Should the cover in the shower base leak the water will drip from this pipe and I'll see the wet patch and know I have a problem.

Tue 4 Sep

We're at a stage of the project when we seem to spend all our time driving around the place looking for stuff and organising things, which is what we've been doing for days so there's not much being achieved.

Wed 5 Sep

I've sheeted the area around the toilet mechanism.

Animation showing the slide-a-loo in action.

Cross section through the toilet mechanism.

The rest of the day is spent doing some more sheeting at the front of the body and cleaning/rearranging the workshop for the next major job, the shutters.