Friday, February 26, 2010

The new welder works like a CHAMP!

We have been with out a welder for two weeks, but yesterday Bill and I went over to Northern Tool and Equipment and picked up the new welder, which doubles as a MIG and stick, AND has a high frequency transformer/switching power supply in it, so it only weights about 40 lbs! I got started using it today to make the bar joists that will go between the arms of the under-carriage, on the inside. They will provide wracking stability, and probably help support the water tanks and batteries as well. The batteries weight 520 lbs, and we will have capacity to carry/collect 100 gallons of water. Since water weights 8 lbs/gallon it's gonna be heavy! These are a very efficient way of bearing loads with out adding a lot of weight to the structure.

Using my friend, the hoist, to move the aft end member into position.
Sweet bead!
Splice plates clamped and ready to be tack welded.
Stack of coins.

Port side
Starboard side

By the end of the day...
...there is a 32' long object in the drive way.
Tomorrow, welding the bar joists and bumper into place!
The chassis is finished! Ready to paint!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Getting everything out of the pig but the squeal."

We decided not to spend $100 on pre-made spring seats and brake flange plates for the axle modifications. Instead we used some of the remaining 10" of tubing from the chassis , so in the end there are only some small scraps of un-used metal, that perhaps will find a place in the mix. Scott cut the pieces and we bent them in the forge, and I cut the saddles with the torch, and will weld them to the axles in the proper place. Scott also cut the brake flanges with the torch, and I filed them down flush with the axle tubing diameter. We also started wall framing this past weekend. The new welder is here! The brakes are here! The weather is getting warmer!

Alittle soot smeared, but ready to hit it.
Heating the work piece in the coal fire.
Coco really is shagrinned at not being quite human.
She is right beside us for every task.

Cutting the new brake flange plates
Getting started with the layout out of the port side wall for fabrication.

Torching off the old brake flange plates.
The plate post torching
The axles pre-grinding.
The axles with brake flanges removed and ground down flush, ready for the new flange plates!
This is the one we ruined.

And here is all that is left from 4 20' lengths of steel tubing!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Validation checks

Well, as with any unconven-tional project, there are those who say "It's can't and shouldn't be done." People with this kind of defeatist attitude are useful in some ways, they help to re-in force the conviction on the part of the protagonist to persevere, and they also can serve as a nice VALIDATION CHECK.. to make sure that you have your ducks in a row, poop in a group, eyes crossed and tees dotted. Most often folks say it wil be too heavy, cost too much, that we could have bought an old trailer and fixed it up rather than building from scratch, or bought a utility trailer and outfitted it. I did look into this in the beginning, as it was my first thought too.
I quickly found that buying a trailer used would put me no less than between $10,000 and $20,000 in the hole for a 32' unit, and then it would have to be taken apart and have all new equipment installed for the solar system, and also new interiors made to accommodate my work. You can't sew with out at least floor space to lay out large pieces of fabric, and most RVs have considerable furniture built in. Also I found that very few RVs in this area are made with insulation adequate for the cold Canadian winters. Utility trailer are not made to bear the loads of the equipment and payloads that would be needed on board for full time living, and I came to find that neither are commercial travel trailer truly designed to balance the weight for anything more than short weekend trips. I site these articles from and

Financially building from the ground up makes more sense for us as well, seeing as we don't have a huge layout of cash and can work and pay for building supplies as needed and as income is earned, as well as being able to work on something of personal lasting value. This is not a unit for re-sale, but in my research and contact with the national Highway Traffic Safety Administration

and Transport Canada ( )

I now have all the information I would need if I did want to be come a manufacturer. If you are interested in a copy of the document I will gladly email it, just drop me an note via this blog. It is up to producers of recreational vehicles in North America to "self-certify", all the state, provincial and federal governments require for VIN (Vehicle Identifucation Number) is proper lighting

( ), proper brakes:
( )

properly rated jacks, hitches, tires and rims, and this is determined by the weight of the unit, the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight rating ) which is the value of the maxium weight the vehicle is designed to carry, and the GVW ( Gross Vehcile Weight) which is the total weight of the unit, equipment, provisions and all. To determine this rating all one has to do is visit a truck stop, or local dump. The GVWR is determined by the load capacity of the hitch, the load capacity of the axles, AND, lastly, the engineering of the frame and under carriage to evenly balance the weight. There in lies the "self-certification". I discovered than many RVs are made with lots of storage room, but that's just empty space to keep the GVWR down, they skimped on framing and structural support in favor of leaving lots of empty space for people to pick and choose what they were going to put where, and that leaves the safety of the vehicle in the hands of the consumer, and not with them.

So, we are in effect taking the full responsibility we would be required to if we bought a pre-made RV, with out having the design and function of our home dictated by engineers who are working with out our true needs and desires in mind. To that end I have been weighing everything inside and out of the unit, down to the peanut butter that will go in the pantry, and pricing everything down the the wire, compiling detailed approximate lists to enable the best possible design and efficient production. Here is how it shakes down so far:

Total weight of the vehicle unloaded: 5,000 lbs
Total weight of the payload : 3,000 lbs
rating on hitch: 12,000 lbs
rating on axles (per): 7,000 lbs
rating on jack ( will bear 1/3 GVWR): 3,500 lbs

Cost of structure, not including equipment : $5,300.00
Cost of equipment (including solar system) : $9,000.00
Total estimated cost: $14,300.00

Total spent to date: $4341.22

Not Bad!

Once the unit is complete ( there will be an inspection of the electrical and gas piping work, as well as ultra sonic tests of all weld joints, and probably a visit by a fellow trailer maker in the near future), and then it will be taken to be weighted. Next it will be taken to the State Patrol for a VIN number, and then the tag office for registration. The VIN, GVWR and GVW will all be posted on the outside of the unit.

Yes, there is A LOT that I don't know how to do, but for those who said " You can't build anything! You don't even know how to weld!", please, watch me learn! I know this project is my baby, and I'm gonna rock it!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Doin' it to it! More photos I found today on Bill's camera!

Bill watches and talks: Scott works!

Sweet puppy Coco-Rosie! Scott and I cutting steel framing material.

I had just fallen off the turnip truck! ;-)

I think red is the right color to wear while torch cutting steel: and red is also the best color for a 2 ton engine hoist! That can pick up 2 tons of ANYTHING! We love the engine hoist!

The Family of Waffle

So, Coco-Rose and I love waffles, and when I smell like waffles she wants to EAT ME!

I got a phone call this morning from my former district manager in Athens, asking me if I was in town, and if I could come to work. I told her I had decided to re-locate temporarily to Cartersville to work on the trailer full time, and had gotten a job at The Waffle House here to pay for construction supplies ( I am also continuing to sew, working right now on a performance costume and getting ready for a photo shoot for Young, Foxy and Free magazine, as well as restocking stores for spring :-). My ETD back to Athens with my rolling home framed and sided, ready for electrical and interior work is the end of April. Misty told me to call her before I come back, and she will be sure to have a job waiting for me, which is great because I plan to go take out a nice big loan at the bank to buy all the solar equipment and appliances, etc, in one fell swoop, and to get a loan, you need a job. A Job isn't everything, but it makes all things possible. It seems fitting to me that I be working for this company during this endeavor. I worked nights at The Waffle House in the two years prior to my family's move to Canada back in 2001-2003, and here I am again, using the money I make there to further the manifestation of my long-term goals. Ah, the family of Waffle that I am enfolded in.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wish Lists


I recently sent out an email with a link to this blog I created to chronicle the construction of my 32' rolling solar powered home, and I received many responses to the effect of:

"What can I do to help? Is there anything you need?"

I created a general wish list on the blog site itself, and then had responses to the effect of:

"Where do I get ____? How much is it? Where do I send it?"

So, I went to two online sites that have a wide variety of the supplies I will be needing, and created a wish list there, kind of like a wedding registry I guess.

If you intrested in helping provide some of the supplies I will be needing in the construction of my home
if you (or anyone you might know) are interested in bartering with me for a piece of clothing or a pop-up book, please give a boo to the two sites and find my wish list via my email address associated with each account. Here are the links,
-- email address to search for : email address to search for:

Wouldn't it be cool if I end up creating a wedding dress for someone in exchange for a fridge or incinerating toilet?!
In the mean time I am working away at The Waffle House in Cartersville, GA. Everytime someone tips me, even if it is only change I think:
"One little bit closer to home! Every little bit, added to what you've got, will make you have alittle bit more!"

Cheers, and thank you for all your confidence and encouragement!