A roof over our heads….

We have hit a pretty exciting milestone! We have officially completed the installation of the roof on our awesome Toy motor home. The roof installation also included our escape hatch/vent, our fantastic fan vent, and our double wall poly carb skylight above our shower location. We are using 3M VHB tape to attach our roof panels and to attach our vents and skylight. In the photo’s you will notice that there are also screws on the fixtures as well as the roof panels. This is due to the fact that we just don’t feel comfortable with tape doing the job entirely on it’s own. RV manufacturer’s use this method, but we just don’t have the experience with it. A huge benefit of the VHB tape is that it also seals and is waterproof. We are going to subject the roof and walls to rigorous leak testing once completed. If the VHB tape holds true to it’s waterproof claim, we will avoid putting additional sealants on the roof.

We are currently deciding on our wall skin material. Originally we were planning on using aluminum for the entire skin, but we have recently been considering Filon. (Filon is reinforced fiberglass sheeting that is commonly used on mass produced motor homes.) We are considering this option as it would allow us to minimize the seams needed, and it would aid in our concerns about interior condensation. Condensation is a definite concern with a metal skin, and if constructed improperly, it could make short work of ruining the interior of a motor home. As we continue to research our outer skin material, we will be working on fabricating the wheel wells, adding floor fasteners under the frame, sealing and undercoating the belly aluminum, and preparing for our wiring pathways. The insulation and method that we install it will be decided in part by our outer skin choice. If we stay with the aluminum skin, we will use a combination of 2″ rigid poly iso insulation, a vapor barrier, and spray foam to seal cracks and gaps. We also have two thermal barriers by using the VHB tape on the skin, as well as our plan on using it on the interior wood paneling.

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Completing the gutting of the motor home….

After stuffing ourselves with a delicious meal enjoyed with Fritz and Jayson, (our roommate and his son), we were pretty docile until yesterday and today. Our goal prior to the end of the holiday weekend was to get the remaining obstacles gutted out of the RV to facilitate our removal of the walls and roof. These items mostly consisted of some remaining carpet near the cab over area, and a few windows and vents. The largest obstacle was the rotted out floor over the cab area, and discovering how the fiberglass molded piece that attaches the motor home to the cab was fastened. It was not terribly complicated; it was just screwed into the 1″ x 1″ wood pieces bordering the wall connection. We did not know it was fiberglass until today when we removed the rotted wood concealing it. This is great news, as fiberglass is very strong and flexible, especially compared to plastic. Karuna and I made quick work of the remaining parts of the gut project and now we anxiously await our aluminum for the framework.

We will begin welding our aluminum frames together as soon as we have the materials. We would like to get the sides and roof frame complete and installed prior to our upcoming holiday road trip. Our goal may be a little aggressive, but we will see. We only have a couple of weeks until we take off, but we will be eager to get back into the project upon our return. The pictures below are of the cab over section, and will show you how it is put together, where the rot typically occurs, and how everything is attached. Enjoy!

Smaller, Sweeter, Cheaper

We were pushing a shopping cart full of Thanksgiving ingredients through the Winn-Dixie shopping center on Big Pine Key last night when we noticed something had changed. The ’84 Toyota Dolphin motor home that had been parked there for a month was suddenly sporting a brand new “for sale” sign. Its owner agreed to meet us at the uncomfortable hour of 8:30 this morning. This is a time of day most people do not enjoy in the Keys.

He and his wife had been living in the Dolphin since they lost their house to hurricane Irma. They had bought it up in the bizarre failed-development community of Lehigh Acres on the mainland. A few days ago FEMA finally came through with a brand new trailer for them. They decided to ditch the Dolphin to pay for a new roof. Despite a number of people eyeing it from afar while we examined it, he gave us a few days to decide. We only needed an hour.

It has just 81,000 miles and measures about 18 feet. It mostly fits in a standard parking space, and set us back $3,600. The frame is solid. It needs a little TLC under the hood, but it runs well. We had considered a bigger model, but the simplicity of the Toyota and the much smaller price tag won. Steve will surely want to add more on the technical side of the blog. Signing off to go begin the renovation. Woohoo!

Destination Homer, Alaska…. (the other end of the road!)

We have decided that this summer is the time for an amazing road trip adventure! An adventure that we plan on documenting, from the beginning of the journey; motor home search and purchase, until the end; our arrival and time in Homer. We are not certain of the exact parameters of this project yet; maybe a travel book, maybe some sort of destination guide, or perhaps just a project that we enjoy while in Homer or on the way. I guess we will see, and we invite you to join us if you like.

Motor home search and purchase:

When we started to discuss our adventure, we were back and forth between our mode of primary travel and lodging. After having several lengthy discussions, debates, and agreements; we think that for us and our destination it will be best to drive a motor home. A motor home will afford us the comfort and stability of our own space, (won’t have to pack and unpack again and again as we would if we were car camping/ hotel staying), and we can centralize all of our asset’s and be mobile or static in a moment if necessary. (Unlike a travel trailer that we would have to “dock” and mobilize). Our mobility while staying at destinations will be an off road/ on road enduro motorcycle that will probably be in the 250-400cc range. Easy to carry on a hitch platform, very fast and easy deployment, and decent accessibility. This of course is in addition to our bicycles and long boards. Now that we have established that we want to acquire a motor home; we have been back and forth between a mini motor home, and a larger class c. We were looking at the Toyota models from the late 80’s into the early 90’s, but then we found out that my parent’s friend is selling a pretty sweet class c with two slide outs. As we mulled over the pro’s and con’s, it seems that the fuel economy is not a large difference so it really comes down to comfort and usefulness.  The toyota models, although very attractive with their nostalgic and mini allure; are older vehicles with marginally powered engines that are most certainly going to need love to get them in top shape for a 6000 mile each way journey. Unfortunately; our day job work is extremely busy after the hurricane and I am a bit short on extra time to take on a project like this. (We have a “WRX wagon bugeye project happening as well as a “camper Boat” project so we need to slim down the roster. 😉  All of this taken into account, we are looking for a sweet class c that we can set up in for the long haul, comfortably, and carry our local transportation easily. We are looking for a class c with slides and we really need to find one for 15k or less. We will keep you posted on the friend of my parents, as it is a beautiful 30′ class c with two slides that is worth an easy 25k. The owner is selling it for 19k; still a little out of our range but we will see what happens….. (we emailed him asking for his best deal – we’ll let you know as soon as we know)