Karin's Campster Renovation - Page 18 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-03-2019, 06:11 PM   #341
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1971 Trailswest Campster
Washington
Posts: 2,781
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Now that I have my rear door window screen installed on the interior side of the door I was able to add a louvered vent on the exterior at the top of the sliding window in that door. It does not interfere with opening and closing the window. The amount of air that comes through the vented opening can be controlled by the positioning of the upper rear window section.

This custom designed feature I have fabricated allows me to have some fresh air coming into the trailer even if it is raining heavily outside (or snowing). With sloped sides on the trailer the side windows can't be left open in the rain and I would not want the popup top raised in a rainy high wind storm. But fresh air is needed! I also need fresh air when my cooktop/heater is in operation. Plus it gives me some air exchange if I have the trailer stored.

The plastic vent section is an off the shelf product from the marine supply company SeaDog. It comes in black or in white. (they make it in 3 sizes) I choose black to go with my color scheme and used the largest size they offer since I can adjust how much air I get by raising and lowering the window. I purchased it through Fisheries Supply, they are not very expensive but they are very well made with strong material as would be expected of marine quality products. Sea-Dog : Quality Marine, Industrial and Rigging Hardware


I purchased a piece of .032 x 6" x 12" aluminum from K&S Engineering, it is made for hobby work and you can find it for sale in a number of hardware stores as well as hobby supply shops. You could choose a heavier gauge of metal but the vent itself does add additional stiffness to this project. Then I cut out an opening in the center of it to clear the vented area using a scroll saw.

I have some EVA sheet foam between the vent and the aluminum and it is all held in place with high temp, high strength, very aggressive, acrylic double sided tape. (SpeedCap brand) Then around the edge of the vent I put some high temp black, silicone RTV, belt and suspenders approach. No room for mechanical fasteners but with the type of tape I used it won't be coming off without destroying the aluminum plate. That kind of acrylic tape adhesive is part of the stack of materials they make VHB tape with.

The aluminum plate is attached to the non moving part of the window frame with high temp VHB tape. You notice that I am specifying that all the tape and the silicone is rated for higher temperatures. That is because the hot sun shining on metal can make ordinary adhesives loose their grip. So I try to build in longevity and durability by choosing heat resistant, weather resistant and UV resistant adhesives.

Project all done, I had been thinking about this one for quite some time puzzling over what approach to take for fresh air while it rains that was the least amount of work and did not require putting any holes in the trailer body while also keeping people out. I think it looks attractive and well enough integrated in design to not look out of place or even the least bit odd as there are often plastic louvered vents found on travel trailers for fridges, battery compartments and water heaters too.

The one downside is slightly less open glass to look out of but the trade off of fresh air ventilation even in stormy conditions was something essential for my health and also the health of the trailer's interior condition for mold reduction.


Well I do have one small thing left to do, adding in a strip of fuzzy window seal on the bottom inside of the aluminum plate. I have just enough of it for that width stashed...someplace ...in one of the project boxes. It will turn up sooner or later
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Old 08-24-2019, 09:10 PM   #342
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1971 Trailswest Campster
Washington
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View from the door at the rear looking forward.

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Time for an update, the majority of the cabinet framing is done, just one small upper cabinet that houses the solar controller and a spice rack still to make. But it is not metal framed so I will do that when I make the cabinet doors.

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I have been busy running the major wiring through surface mount channels. The channeling is to keep the wires from getting snagged when I store things in cabinets. Lots of wires, way more than your average weekend camper as I will both live and work in this little Campster and I don't just work on the computer, I also use various equipment that needs powering up. Plus of course wires for antennas, TV. Radio, Cell phone booster, etc. The surface mount channels will all get labeled to help with sorting out where things are if there is some type of issue with the wiring in the future. Of course I can also quickly add more wiring if needed as none of the wiring is behind the walls. So while there are a lot of wires under that bed cabinet it does not look like a spaghetti factory, instead it looks very much uncluttered.
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Sometimes I get fed up with the bending and running cables so I have been doing some sewing chores to give my back and brain a rest by making the cushions for the bed. I got the great, high density foam for free!!! The fabrics I have accumulated over time from the local thrift stores. I have not started the back restcushions yet but here is a preview of the bed cushions, I made them with 3 fabrics so that they are reversible. A woman does get tired of looking at the same stuff everyday. I have a soft plaid side and also a bright, colorful side that my friend thinks looks very southwest with a Mexican flair.
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Old 08-25-2019, 11:45 PM   #343
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1971 Trailswest Campster
Washington
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Summer got to me today after a few days of getting overheated my blood pressure dropped and I could not stand up without getting dizzy. Of course no energy either. But I did take some measurements so I can start designing the panels that hold switches and outlets for 12v and 120v. I will design them in 3D CAD and then laser cut the 1/8" thick material to put in all the holes for the various items.


I did a quick cleaning chore today as well. My windows were getting hard to slide, it has been 3 years since I put the new glass run, felt channeling in. Some microfiber cloth wrapped over the end of a plastic chop stick with some alcohol for a cleansing agent was my cleaning tool. But first I used theair compressor to blow the loose dirt out. After the track was dry I applied some Bostik dry lube "Glide Coat" into the track. I have used the Glide Coat a lot over the years on the surfaces of table saws and other tools where I want things to glide easily over the surface and I also want to keep rust from forming on the surfaces. It does not contain oil or silicone but it does help prevent water from seeping into the fibers and of course it also lubricates the surface of the fibers. Now the window glass slides very easily instead of being difficult to push and pull. The Glide Coat is not being sold for this purpose but it works very nicely for it and it does not hurt the finish on the trailer or contaminate it with silicone or grease.

Where I am gets lots of rain and lots of salty, sand blown in from the beach. So over the winter the algae/mold starts growing into the dirt that is in the fibers in the channel and it gets sticky and the windows don't glide easily anymore. I should be doing this cleaning chore every 6 months or so but it is just one of those things I don't get around to doing as often as I should. Don't forget if you have sliding windows you do need to clean the dirt out of the track now and again or they will quit sliding easily the way you would like them to. When that happens they get stuck and you can break the pull handles or even the glass.
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Old 09-06-2019, 01:04 AM   #344
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1971 Trailswest Campster
Washington
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nice friend of a friend who is a welder

Earlier in the year my partner/friend mentioned he had spoke to one of the early morning guys at the local coffee shop about my project and that it might need some welding. Not sure how their conversation had gotten around to welding but I am glad it did.

There will be quite a lot of reinforcing done, some to fix the area of the frame below the receiver, it got the most rust damage right at the "prow" where the square tubing comes together into a point. Some angle iron a previous owner welded thinking it would reinforce the frame needs to be cut off. I will be doing that removal as well as all of the prep work that needs to happen so he can get right to the actual welding work.

He is going to sister up some 6' long rectangular steel tube I have on hand all along the original tubes in the tongue area and on back a little further than the tongue. I have asked for gusset plates at the intersections of the framing members. A closure plate where there was some rust out on the bottom side of the tube that runs lengthwise down the trailer. Not actually a structural issue, it is just to tidy things up.

Of course I will also clean and then coat with a treatment to prevent rust and then paint the bare areas of the frame after the welding is one.

As he noted the frame of the trailer is a keeper, it just needs small areas of repair and the reinforcing of other areas makes good sense to keep it in excellent shape.

He gave me a quote for the work that made me gasp. He wants $100.00. No charge for his labor, he just wants to cover the cost of the welding supplies. He will be bringing over his welder and a 220 generator to power it to where I am working on the trailer. He likes good company and likes helping out fixing up vintage vehicles to keep them going. He has enjoyed fixing up and racing vintage cars at the rallies at local tracks for many years as well as having built a number of car frames for that kind of work. So a well experienced and well equipped welder for the cost of supplies. What a great community I am working on my project in. So many things have been donated to me in the way of people's helping hands as well as materials. It is a fun project and the trailer already has a fan club of its own.
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Old 09-08-2019, 12:36 AM   #345
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1971 Trailswest Campster
Washington
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Decisions on a window AC mount

It was time to do some decision making on how I might have an AC window unit...just in case next summer is a hot one. I had a couple of heat sick days this summer but only a few so I procrastinated the design decision making. My brain was already on overload with too many other decisions.

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I used a strong one armed helper, a steady fella that did not complain about holding the AC unit up in the air for hours on end while I took measurements and tried to get some brain activity going. I did have my partner on hand, he is a professional product design as well as an automated machine designer. An automated machine designer who has a treasure trove of many years of bits and pieces of "very precious stuff".

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Of course he knows that I can't easily lift a 40lb unit on my own. Therefore the conversation turned to how some other people have put the AC on slides so they can be moved back and forth and don't have to be lifted in and out to use them. Tonight he walked out of his back area of the workshop with a couple of Linear bearing guide slide units. One of them is just the right length and is also more than sufficiently strong for carrying the load of an extended AC. You can see in the photo above how stout the slide is. The plate on top can be changed out to another custom sized one. It will mount on top of the drop down countertop area that extends just far enough under the window for mounting the AC onto the slide. Just a light push and out it will go, a gentle tug and it comes back in. My cabinet framing is also super strong so no problem carrying the weight of the little window AC.

You can't get anywhere without a good, strong, and doable design concept. But that of course by itself won't get the job done....to be continued at a later date. I have not yet installed the countertops, many weeks of work left before that happens. So no AC until I have counters and by then the warm weather will be all gone until next summer.
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Old 09-16-2019, 09:24 PM   #346
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1971 Trailswest Campster
Washington
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Just one of THOSE things

woops, coming out of the trailer my foot slipped off the front edge of the step and down I went, right onto the palm of my left hand. Was not sure if it was just a sprain or perhaps a fracture. So I stabilized it with an ace bandage and a tounge depressor stick for a temporary splint. Then I went to the drug store and got a good quality wrist brace and after that headed to the urgent care clinic associated with my regular medical clinic where they did X-rays.

Sure enough one small bone was broken through but is stable and that little bone is not a significant structural bone. A major bone has an "insignificant" fracture meaning a very slight crack. So the very good quality wrist brace I bought at drug store is all I needed for treatment. I can still work but of course no heavy lifting or major stress. Basic instructions, it it hurts...don't do that task.

I am going to hire a friend to run that angle grinder. Now I have the perfect excuse to avoid doing that work on the prepping the frame for the welder. Work that I was not looking forward to doing.

I won't be shut down from project work all together. I have plenty of stuff I can work on where my left hand only needs to provide a little supporting roll but not anything heavy duty. But I will baby it so it can heal quickly. Of course it does take 6 weeks...
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Old 10-13-2019, 07:35 PM   #347
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1971 Trailswest Campster
Washington
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new frame needed

My buddies took a closer look at the frame and concluded it has to be replaced. The welder was not sure if the axle needed replacing but I decided it is nearly 50 years old so that means it will need it sooner than later and I might as well put a new one on at this time. Plus it seemed a good idea to add brakes. The downside...the frame weighs more.

The tongue area on the old frame had over time bent upwards forwards right by the forward edge of the shell. So the new frame is 2"x3" tubing instead of 2" x 2". Downside....the frame weighs more.

We picked up the new axle but I am not sure it will work out for clearance. Time for more measurements tomorrow now that we have it on hand. Fortunately it was available in the metro area so no waiting for it to be shipped in.

A wagon load of axle, trailer brakes and plates for mounting the wheels.
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The new steel tubing should be ready to pickup tomorrow. Our neighborhood industrial hardware store had it for a considerably lower prices than the steel supply companies elsewhere in town.

I will be assisting in the fabrication but mostly on the painting as my fractured wrist has not finished healing. It is of course rather wet and cold in Seattle but the welder has a big indoor shop space for the assembly and for the painting work too.

There is a boat yard a few blocks away. I am going to have them use their sling lift to transfer the shell from the old frame onto the new one. Just a few bolts needed to hold the shell on for the trip to the boat yard and back home since the road is smooth and level. The parking lot here where I am doing the renovation is not at all smooth and flat which would make doing the cribbing stack transfer process a major pain and struggle to slide it onto the new frame with a DIY approach.
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Old 10-13-2019, 08:15 PM   #348
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When the previous owner of mine replaced the frame, they put it on what I am pretty sure was a frame from a 15' sticky. Yes it's heavier. It's still 2x2 tubing, but seems plenty strong.

The upside of the longer tongue is storage for the spare, battery, and a toolbox. The downside is it puts me just over 30' requiring a higher ferry fare (when they notice).
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Old 10-14-2019, 06:35 PM   #349
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1971 Trailswest Campster
Washington
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Having that longer tongue could be handy. I can't do very much tongue weight because of the limits of my tow vehicle. I don't have my battery on my tongue or any propane either. Just a little Honda EU1000i generator in a box. I still have to build the box for it. Can't find the right size box so I will fabricate it myself out of aluminum to keep it light in weight.

I have never seen any other mention of issues with the frame on Campsters. They seem more than adequate for the purpose other than the very early prototype frame that was shown in a newspaper article, it looked like it could have some real issues with the frame at the tongue area. I am posting that early newpaper photo so you can check out how it looked on those earliest prototype Campsters.

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I will never know what caused the frame to bend on mine but of course the most likely cause is the trailer being overloaded by a previous owner. It was used as a storage shed for a lot of years. There were some extra pieces of angle that had been welded on to try to reinforce the tongue area.

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The new steel tubing is now unloaded at our workshop space, cutting will be done tomorrow. The 20' long pieces fit nicely on the rack of my friends van. A neighbor just happened by in the parking lot and assisted with unloading it onto my hydraulic lift cart which was just long enough for a good balance point at the center. I have had that cart for quite a few years as I have a bad back, a great investment I have never regretted. It sure is handy for lifting heavy materials up and down such as in this instance getting long, heavy pieces to match the height of the stand the saw is on. I am fortunate in sharing space with a good friend who also loves tools so between us we can manage things such as cutting the pieces for the trailer frame without killing ourselves trying to lift heavy stuff. He is a whiz when it comes to fulcrum points, levers, block and tackle, engineering stacks, etc. He modified the roof rack on his van so that those cross rails are padded and they roll. He made that modification for his long, sliding seat rowing skiff so that he could get it off and on the van on his own.
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Old 10-31-2019, 10:21 AM   #350
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1971 Trailswest Campster
Washington
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new trailer frame, freshly welded

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Just got my first look at my newly assembled trailer frame this morning. I will be heading back to the shop around 11:00 to put a coat of primer onto the frame.

The design is a little different than the original Campster frame in that it is made with 2 x 3 steel instead of 2 x 2 for the main frame pieces. My original frame had some corrosion issues and the tongue had at some point in time gotten bent upwards in the area of the tongue. The new design is a little heavier but not all that much heavier and it has much better reinforcing at the forward area. Of course new wheels, tires and axle and it has trailer brakes too.
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Old 10-31-2019, 05:40 PM   #351
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1971 Trailswest Campster
Washington
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frame ready for primer

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Nice day to get the frame outside and suspended partially upright so that both sides can get red oxide primer applied to it. Made it much faster to be able to reach both the top and the bottom side in one painting session.



If you look at the new frame you will see some diagonal 1x2 steel tube braces against the back bumper, my stabilizer jacks are welded onto that and the back bumper. It is easier for me to reach them in that position without having to reach way under to get to them. When you have a bad back you do need to make a few compromises. So while much of the frame is in the same configuration as the original there are some changes made that strengthen the frame.


The frame is now back indoors tucked into bed until late tomorrow morning when it goes back outside and the black enamel goes on. Got lucky on the Seattle weather this week with several days in a row of sunshine allowing me to paint outside while the welder went off to do other chores.

Saturday it should be ready to pull over our workshop space and get parked next to the Campster for just a few days before heading up the street to the boatyard so their lift can pick up the shell off the old frame and put it onto this new one. The red Honda Element in the photo is my tow vehicle
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Old 11-06-2019, 01:56 AM   #352
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1971 Trailswest Campster
Washington
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Good progress today, the old frame was pulled out from under the shell and the new frame rolled under it. The photo shows about where we got to when we ran out of light. I love my new shiny aluminum wheels
Tomorrow there will be some extra time spent fussing with getting everything aligned just right and some minor fiberglass repair inside the wheel wells where the original axle rubbed into the fiberglass, something that could not be seen until the old frame was removed. Then the bolt down begins.

I was going to have the boatyard do the transfer but circumstances made that solution impractical. So we went to the rental store where I got 4 good sized screw jacks and then to the lumber yard for a couple of good sized timbers. We also used lots of various engineering stacks made of cut offs I got from construction sites and two hydraulic bottle jacks we already owned.

Fortunately the weather in Seattle has been very cooperative, the longest stretch of sunny weather at this time of year in more than 100 years!
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Old 11-07-2019, 06:24 PM   #353
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Name: K C
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All lowered down onto the new frame, centered up side to side and front to back. So nice to have welded on leveling jacks!

I have purchased the new bolts. Tomorrow my friend will help me put them in. As a thank you I will freshen up the paint on the tongue of his cargo/mobile workshop trailer. You can see in the photo that his black paint is looking rather faded out. Good day for painting since it won't be raining and I have plenty of paint leftover from the quart I got for my paint job.
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Holey Moley good thing I did not try to take the trailer on a road trip with stuff loaded inside while that original frame was still in place. Now that the old frame is out you can see on the upper side of the tube that corrosion went all the way through, right at a very critical point where the forward cross piece tube intersects the lengthwise tube. Plus lots of corrosion on the upper surface of the forward cross wise tube all along its length. It is that way on both sides of the trailer frame at that intersection. That black painted section is the exposed area of the trailer tongue.
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Old 11-22-2019, 12:10 PM   #354
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Name: Ellpea
Trailer: Bigfoot
CA
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I love the Honda Element! My husband was looking for one when he finally retired... at 79 y/o. He had used his Aerostar for 30 years as a work/tow vehicle (sailboats), and was finally ready for the next thing. We discovered that everyone who HAD an Element never wanted to let them go, and it seemed the ones that WERE for sale had “all of the good ‘sqwuzed’ out” of them. He finally gave up and bought a Fit. Not suitable for towing, but nice and nimble. I think your TV and RV set up will be awesome.
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Old 11-22-2019, 06:21 PM   #355
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1971 Trailswest Campster
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Thanks, I bought my 2006, all wheel drive, Honda Element lightly used in January of 2008. Very low miles but I got a very good price because the original owner's dog put a lot of scratches on the interior door panels and the dash board and even tore a rear seat cover and chewed the strap that holds the rear seat up against the wall. I called it the ABC car as in Already Been Chewed. As I need a cargo hauler and I often have a friend's dog along it worked fine for me. So only interior cosmetic stuff. I have not put a ton of miles on it, just flipped past 63,000.

It does have limited towing, 1,500lbs and a tongue weight of 150lbs. So it is not suitable for towing the majority of fiberglass trailers.

My new trailer frame does have brakes on it. A decision I made to save the brakes on my vehicle since it is not a heavy hauler. Tthe Honda Elements are not plug and play ready for a brake controller so the installation is going to be pricey due to the labor required. Too much bending and twisting for a DIY job with my bad back.

Another limitation is the alternator in Honda Elements is very much an undersized one. I won't be using it to charge a house battery as that would stress it too much. OK for charging laptops and phones but iffy for a house battery. There is one company I know of that will build a more substantial alternator for it. But I will first see how I do with solar for battery charging for the house battery for my trailer. Plus I am also taking along a small generator. Maybe someday I will get a better alternator for it but not this year as I have too many other expenses including the brake controller installation and new front and rear brakes for the Element.

For any one who needs a custom built higher output, bolt into place perfect fit alternator for a Honda Element here is the link to the company that make them. https://www.qualitypowerauto.com/catalog.php?item=26


As I had my tow vehicle first I looked and found a trailer it could pull. It has been a lot of work fixing the trailer up but I am getting there....at a snails pace.
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Old 11-28-2019, 08:32 PM   #356
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1971 Trailswest Campster
Washington
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I was hoping to have the shell nicely bolted down to the frame now. But of course the new frame is nicely flat and level which is no longer true of the nearly 50 year old shell. When we tightened the bolts along the read end that pulled the door out of alignment so that it was not able to close properly at the top corner on the latch side.



Oh well, that is how it goes with renovations, there are also issues that need to be dealt with. So the solution is to make some custom sized shims out of Acetal plastic to put between the frame and the shell. That will let the door get aligned as well as properly transferring the weight of the shell onto the frame. I don't want to have bolts and holes getting damaged from the shell moving around when going over rough roads. Fortunately my friend Don has lots of scraps of different thickness of Acetal plastic. It is a good strong, tough material that is UV resistant, waterproof and can do weight bearing without stress cracking as well. Trade name for it is Delrin. He will cut the shims on his laser but it is quite a friendly plastic for cutting with saws and for drilling and machining.
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Old 01-04-2020, 05:01 AM   #357
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1971 Trailswest Campster
Washington
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The best news for this first week of the new year is an upcoming annual inspection by the fire dept here at the workshop space has resulted in a major effort of downsizing, rearranging and cleaning on the part of my friend whose workshop space I am using for the renovation. Now I can get to the tablesaw, planer and also have some flat surfaces for cutting and assembling the cabinet door frames.



My wrist is still in the healing phase, the bones are mending nicely but not yet fully strong. The muscles that got pulled and torn up a bit are also on the mend but not quite ready for prime time work. So not much work progress on the trailer this last month. But I can do more things every week that I could not manage the week before
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Old 01-04-2020, 10:43 AM   #358
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Name: Sandra
Trailer: 2006 EggCamper #35
Florida
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Hi Karin,

Glad to hear your wrist is healing and you are getting able to do more. Being held back from life for injury recovery is hard .
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Old 03-04-2020, 06:29 PM   #359
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1971 Trailswest Campster
Washington
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Vin number stamp alignment jig DIY

The new frame is of course lacking the VIN number stamped into it. In order to make it look professionly applied the numbers need to be in a straight line and spaced apart evenly. That meant I needed a jig to control the exact spacing of the metal stamps. The also needed the stamps to be held perfectly vertical so the depth of the lettering would be even across the number. No wobbling or shifting of the stamps as I struck them as it might take me more than one blow of the hammer to get the impressions deep enough.

I did not want to spend money to buy what for me is a one time use jig. But as the 3/8" wide steel, numerical stamp set belong to my friend I also wanted to be able to give him a gift of the jig for his own later use of applying evenly spaced numbers for the items he might want to apply to things. So I made one, it did not take long and was not all that difficult or technical. Plus the cost of the jig materials was $0.00

I went to the scrap wood cut-off bin and found a length of 2x4 and a length of 1 x 2. The 2x4 has enough width to securely clamp it down on the trailer frame. The 1x2 piece was cut into two sections that will move along the face of the 2x4. One of those pieces is just a straight length but making sure the cut end is square, being square is critical. The other piece is much the same but has a 3/8" x 3/8" notch cut into it. That notch is what makes this jig functional for securely holding the stamp vertical in the perfect position. I did it with a hand saw and chisel but I could have done it faster on the table saw howver the table saw was set up for another cutting operation so I did not change the blade or fence position. Of course it could also have been accurately notched using a router and/or a router table but I did not want to get them out and set it up. So a hand saw was what I chose to use.

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Looking at this first photo you can see the three pieces of wood that make the jig. I took a stamp held it against the plain faced 1x2 fence, drew a pencil line, left that stamp there, butted another stamp against it, drew a pencil line, repeated this until I had more than enough marks for the length of the numbers in the VIN. No measuring needed to get those marks perfectly spaced.

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To use it, while leaving the 2x4 firmly clamped to the frame in an appropriate location, just move the plain faced 1x2 over one mark, clamp the notched 1x2 so that the metal stamp is held in place. Increment the fences to the next position until done with the VIN.

Now I just need to find my registration so I can put a piece of masking tape on the top of the 2x4 and write the number on it in sequence for which stamp is in which position. Plus a piece of tape with the warning saying be sure to check the orientation of the stamps before inserting them. Tomorrow, if it is not raining, I will stamp my frame You don't really need to see that being done so I won't photograph or document that step. How to make a jig to get those numbers line up that is the significant information people need to now for a DIY VIN number that looks like it was put on by a trailer fabrication shop.
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Old 03-04-2020, 09:44 PM   #360
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Name: Bob
Trailer: Boler
British Columbia
Posts: 92
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Nice jig! I was going to stamp my frame this spring and will borrow your design if I may.
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