Monday, February 22, 2010
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 www.rv.org and www.rversonline.com
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 (http://www.tc.gc.ca )
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
(http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/roadsafety/tp-tp13136-trailer_e-414.htm ), proper brakes:
( http://www.championtrailers.com/brkart.html )
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
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!