Monday, April 29, 2013

The eagle has landed!

If you're bored of hearing about remodels of small fiberglass campers, then move along. Nothing to see here. My life is consumed with getting this project finished before it gets freakishly hot here in Nevada so I can get all Jerry Garcia and be one with nature. I'm staying focused and will keep on target. I'm getting this thing geared up so I can get the hell out of Reno for weekends spent biking or surfing. And maybe more midlife crisis in the fall...I've got the jonz to hunt some wild Rainiers and waves in the Pacific NW.

The latest news is a huge turning point...I've rebuilt the frame with extra supports and added a new axle. Then I glopped on some heavy layers of Por15 paint to seal the rust and protect the frame for another 40 years. I ran some strips of camper seal between the frame beams and camper for some possible vibration protection. Metal rubbing on fiberglass is bad. I'm not sure if it will hold up, but at leas it's worth a shot. Then with the help of 2 others, we carefully heaved the camper onto the frame and shimmied it into place. I had a huge grin and was slapping high fives all over the place. It was glorious. GLORIOUS. The whole rig rides about 3-4 inches higher with the new axle. Better clearance for gravelly backroads. That was achieved because the new Dexter axle is a trailing arm torsion beam that has a 10 degree rise and we needed to weld a 3" C-Beam spacer to raise it above the belly pan since the old axle was a leading arm and sat low because it was bottomed out and beat. Totally beat. The rusty old bolts that lock it into place on the frame have all been replaced with stainless steel. Fuck you rust. And finally, tonight I finished scraping the walls of the old junky insulation and then added a hotcoat layer of resin the the entire inside of the camper for a nice, even surface to apply the wall covering. That sucked, but I got it done. Resin's tough to apply to the ceiling even with a crapload of catalyst to make it go off quick, and I will probably have some in my hair for quite a while. I'm going to try to find a few things to finish up tomorrow before my flight to London. It will be nice to be 8000 mils away from his thing for a couple weeks.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The new axle is here, the new axle is here!

Dang man, start the clock! T minus 4.5 days until I fly away to Euroland and the fucking axle just got here 2 weeks late. Time to squeeze in a couple weeks worth of work on the trailer into the next few days. I need to get the camper dropped and bolted down to the frame before I leave. Otherwise I risk the camper blowing into the neighbor's yard in Reno's persistent wind. It's windy as fuck here. I've been super lucky so far, there hasn't been much wind while I've had the frame off. But I'm living on the edge of disaster. The shell only weighs about 300 lbs, which ain't much for one of our very common 50mph gusts. I don't really feel safe being out of the country and my rig being tied down by surfboard straps and hope. By this time tomorrow night I'll be covered in metal shavings, a couple superficial burns, some medium-deep cuts, Por15 paint, resin & a little fiberglass, acetone, and a few minor flesh wounds. My next update should be truly bitchin.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Today we weld, for tomorrow I fiberglass

I don't have bad days, but yesterday really sucked a big fat one. My work shit was way too ridiculous and I was like a mindless robot serving vampires of consumerism. Sometimes Americans, who have everything to be thankful for, really get me down. And that was definitely yesterday. Nothing a little gym time and powertools can't solve. I came home last night and got to installing taillights, side markers, water vents, and drains. And then today, Dave and I got to beefing up the frame by adding a cross beam then replacing the weak ass bumper with a burly C-Beam. All it took was a little grinding, measuring, regrinding, remeasuring, hammering, clamping, and welding. Since I have zero welding skills, Dave did the arc welding honors and crushed it. No runs, no drips, no errors. I nearly took my right thumb off with the grinder. Tomorrow or thursday I'll reinforce the right rear underside of the camper with a layer or 2 of fiberglass cloth and resin. That is the final step before it's ready to be reunited with the frame. Still waitin on the axle. If it ever gets here, we'll swap that out and weld in 1 more crossmember so we can really get the Boler rockin down some gravel roads deep into nature.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dirtbaggin Euro Style

Livin in a van on a beach in France sounds pretty rad.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cheka Looka

The progress on the camper is tremendous, even though it might not be apparent to anyone but myself. I took a couple days off earlier this week to go surf some mellow Santa Cruz, but I felt like I was letting the camper down. so I rushed home and got right to painting the outside using Marine Topcoat Paint from West Marine. I had already sanded, glassed, bondo'd, and basecoated the fucker a couple weeks past so it was about time. It took longer to set up the compressor and spray gun than it took to actually paint the rig. All in all it came out nice. I'm not winning any Best of Show award, but it's pretty damm good. There was no wind when I started, but the second I fired up the spray gun, the wind started building. There's a few bugs and grit here and there, but kind of expected when painting outdoors. I also scrubbed down the frame wire brush then coated it with Por 15. That shit allegedly bonds with the rust to completely seal the frame...which is nice. Today I painted on a skirt of Gorilla Grip bedliner to the front bottom to act as a rock guard. I also caulked the belly band with some Marine Adhesivo. As soon as that cures, we'll add the aluminum belly band for a touch of elegance. My new Dexter trailing arm axle should be arriving any day now, so today we torqued the frame a bit. My landlord Dave is a Master at everything mechanical or tool related. He had just the right tool and chains to apply the leverage needed. Now the ass end won't sag. I don't have the welding skills, so I'll hire Dave to add some beams for support and add the new axle when it arrives. Until, then, I'm in a holding pattern. Unless I decide to re-install the windows and a new roof vent.

As I sit here in Reno continually re-formulating a Life Strategy, I find myself daydreaming about spending some time this fall cruzing up and down Washington's Hwy 112. I've got that for a little motivation.