Roofed and Sealed Up

At long last it is watertight. Took a lot to get there, starting in this post with the corners. I knew I wanted to have some REAL seals on my corners, since that is a primary spot that many campers leak, so I went with 6″ wide Peel and Seal. It is easy to work with, sticks like nobody’s business and is a lot cheaper than Eternabond. There is a reason it is cheaper, however, so be aware that you may have to paint the edges with something like ProFlex Brushable Clear in order to prevent bleeding of the asphalt base onto your nice pretty siding. I did this on a few areas of my slide, and it worked well.

Corner sealed with White Peel and Seal

Corner sealed with White Peel and Seal

Below is a pic of the method I used to deal with the Z-bends in the aluminum (where the pieces join together. See Len’s Guide in the “Handy Links” section). At corners, water can blow under the bend, or be pulled by capillary action, so it is a good idea to seal UNDER the bend, either with a sealant, or in this case just cutting your seal tape to fit under the bend, as below. That way the bend itself is not holding your tape up and letting water come under it. This method is not 100% foolproof, and it takes longer, but it is better than ignoring the issue, and hey, paranoia strikes deep. An alternative is to just seal the whole joint with Proflex or something, but that gets kinda expensive.

Lapped under Z-bend in siding to prevent blow-by under bend

Lapped under Z-bend in siding to prevent blow-by under bend

Next is just a pic of the finished trim around the slide-out, with pull handles installed.

Wide view, corners and slide trim complete

Wide view, corners and slide trim complete

On the inside, here’s a pic of the unfinished broom closet. You can see a couple of loose black tubes hanging down for wiring to the inverter, which is mounted in the inside wall of the closet down fairly low. All this tubing will be sealed up in the wall when it is done.


The kitchen countertops rough-in. I used a cheap sheet of linoleum for the countertop covering over 1/2″ plywood. Might go back later with something a little more permanent, but for now, this is fine. Notice the old crank-style kitchen window – it is reclaimed from an old camper a dude was selling parts from on Craigslist. I vaguely remembered playing with one just like it when I was a kid in an old camper my Dad found, and I just kinda had to use it. Still works great.

Roughing countertop. Used cheap linoleum for surface.

Roughing countertop. Used cheap linoleum for surface.

Here’s a more finished-looking countertop, before cabinets underneath.

Finished, kinda.

Finished, kinda.

Now to the roof, and back to my old friend Peel and Seal, this time in 3ft width. It comes in rolls that are 33ft long or so, so it only took a couple of rolls, at about $85 a roll, to completely cover and waterproof the roof decking. Super easy to apply; just peel the backing as you go and then use a roller to stick it down. I wound up with the aluminized version, since that was all Lowes had at the time and I didn’t feel like waiting for an order of any other color to come in. It looks a little redneck, but in direct sun and 95 degree temps in the South, it cuts the temp in the camper down surprisingly well. You can also get it in white, gray, and almond. The wider widths are also a little heavier material, so it is pretty good protection. And if it gets a tear, just slap some more Peel and Seal on top of it – try that with EPDM.


This stuff is awesome. Got it at Lowes.

Rolling it on,

Rolling it on.

Just roll it right over any roof penetrations. You can cut them out later. This is the hole for the A/C. Make sure that your substrate is clean and dry to promote full adhesion. They make a primer for things like sticking it to aluminum, but I knew from past experience it sticks to wood fine without it.


And here she is, coming out of the shed for the first time. I had to take it to my other shop so I could use the fork lift there to put the A/C on top. When you are doing it by yourself, you cheat. Heavily.

Not done yet, but we have actually camped in it once now, and everything worked. I’ve got some more pics I’m going to post real soon. Till then…


First time out of the shed in a loooong time

Siding and Roof

Not a lot of spare time until just recently, so the camper project had to sit for a while. But we’re back with a vengeance for the spring, and lots has been done.

We got rolling on the aluminum siding install. All siding was made from 24″ .019 pre-finished trim coil bought from Home Depot (following Len’s excellent guide. See “Handy Links” section.) This is the back cargo access door opening being cut out after the first couple runs of siding were installed. I mainly used a Van Mark metal brake rented from the local equipment rental shop to make the siding.


Here is the finished door cut-out. I started out using a router to cut it out, but quickly realized that I could do it easier with aircraft sheers.


Next row of siding going on. I used screws to attach it mainly, instead of staples. My staple gun was acting up, and I liked the way the screws held better anyway.


I went ahead and roughed the water inlet in while I was at it, as well as the access door in the hole.


This is when things got really movin’ and groovin’, on the passenger side of the camper.


And the rear of the camper, installing running lights as we went. All 12v wiring was run through tubing to hopefully prevent wear on the wiring insulation, and to make it easy to fish new wire in if for some reason I might need to in the future. I used black irrigation tube, because it is seriously tough, cheap, and designed to stand up to exposure.


Here’s a pic of two different types of tubing I used under the camper to run wiring: black tube for 12v wiring and smurf tube for some 110v I was running under the floor. You can also just barely see the green pigtail for the trailer brake wiring sticking out that I still need to wire up.


Also finished siding the outside wall of the slideout. I’ve started my surround trim as well, as you can see with the vinyl board running along the bottom. The surround trim will follow the edges all the way around. Another seal will be installed along the back of these boards. I also installed the handles for pulling the slide-out, well, out. It is a completely manual job, so no expensive motors or gearing to replace.


Finally, up top, we got the insulation put in between the rafters late one night. I used unfaced R-30 fiberglass here, because it was cheaper, and a lot easier to get worked in around the wiring for lights, etc. in the ceiling. The board in the pic is just a temporary kneeboard. It was just simple standard runs between my rafters, which were on 16″ centers.


The next post will show the roof and the roofing material going down, and whatever else we can get done by then. 🙂

Insulation and Slide Seals

My lovely and awesome assistant has been hard at work the last week or so insulating away on the outside walls, and has just about got it done:


The walls, insulated with foam board.

That’s just a temporary brace under the slide-out. I’m going to use a bipod-style setup for the permanent brace. More on that later. If you look close you can also see the new wheel just leaned against the old one under the slide, waiting to be installed.

Other side:


Passenger side wall insulation.

I’ve also gotten a lot done on the slide-out finish work. Here’s a shot of the seal around the slide – I backed it with aluminum trim and then attached a garage door seal to the inside of that:


Shot of the trim coil bent to seal the gaps around slide collar. (“Slide collar” is my fancy word for a 2×3 post/bonded plywood header setup I came up with as a hard point for the seals to pull to.)


Closer shot of the aluminum trim around the slide collar meeting the slide wall itself. There is actually a very tiny gap between them, which is what I was shooting for.


Even closer shot illustrating the slight gap caused by the seam tape. The edges of the tape will need to be lap sealed with some Dicor or some such.


This one is a bit difficult to see at this resolution, but if you click to get the big picture, you can see the actual seal installed along the sidewall of the slide-out.


Also, I got to try out my aluminum trim coil siding solution on the slide-out walls. It is just 24″ .019 trim coil from Home Depot, with just a plain lap overhang install in this case. I used PeelandSeal-type tape to seal the laps. Because it’s a slide-out wall, I didn’t put any crimps in the siding, but I will for the main siding install on the camper, most likely a simple 4″ or 5″ run pattern to minimize bend shrinkage and maximize my material.


The laps, taped up. Is it noticeable? Is it gonna get dirty? Prolly. Do I care? Not really.

Taking Shape Now

Sorry for the looong delay in posting, but as you will see, we ain’t been loafin’. It seems like this project is taking forever, but given the amount of time I’ve actually been able to devote to it, I suppose it is not that bad. Gotta hurry up, though. It’s campin’ season!

A lot has happened since we last spoke. I put all the walls together back on July 12. It was a gorgeous, if hot, day…right up until I got everything together for the first time out under the shiny sun. Then a cloud burst promptly blew up and rained on it. Thankfully, I had possessed just enough forethought to lay some tarps by “just in case”. They covered most of it, and there was no significant damage, but it was a non-fun moment to say the least.


Together again for the first time.


I used vices to hold some 2x stock to the frame for the sidewall to sit on until I could get it attached.

The plan all along was to move it to a taller shed. The rain quit as soon as I got it under the shed, naturally.

A couple days later I started adding roof trusses…


We got it moved to the taller shed just in time for the rain to stop.


Skip ahead a month or so, and she’s coming along nicely. Walls up on slide-out.

Got the bunk areas well on their way, as well as the ceiling (mostly) in.


Trim and bed support rails in bunk area.


More bunk bed frame and trim.

Beginning of dining area seat frames.

20140823_143331 20140823_143225

The support rails under the slide-out floor, bolted on. Should be more than enough to hold us.


The kitchen counter is sized and mounted. We still need to decide on what we are going to cover it with. No picture yet, but I cut the hole for the sink in it last night.


Bunks, slideout floor and kitchen counter coming along.


Starting to get a feel for the space. It will be cozy, but comfy.


We got the door opening routed out and filled with a real gen-u-wine RV door. The kids were fired-up. The parents were, too!




We’re getting close to the point where we can start sealing this thing up, but wiring and finishing the kitchen loom large. Stay tuned!…

Something to stand on

We’re getting into the meat and potatoes of construction now. This was frame for the passenger side wall, before paneling. You can see the window and door areas framed out.


And here it is getting paneling…just glue it up with construction adhesive, slap on a sheet of paneling, staple it, and route that sucker out to trim it up. (A note on paneling: If you are looking for some good paneling, that DesigntheSpace link is where to look first. Great product, shipped fast and packed well. It comes on a 4×8 pallet straight from the factory, with all the edges protected. 15 sheet minimum for best pricing, I think. If you can get it shipped to a business address with a fork lift, you are golden. Good stuff.)


I mounted the driver’s side frame temporarily to the trailer in order to be able to eyeball my slide-out measurements and help me determine its proper height.


The slide-out deck shown above is 6 and a half feet wide. It will contain the dining area. It doesn’t have all it’s reinforcing and trim in place yet, just the rails it will ride on, but that will change soon.

I had a good bit of trouble figuring out how I wanted to design the underpinnings for it. Buying a ready-made slide-out mechanism was beyond my price range, and besides, I didn’t want the headache of maintenance and weight of the motor, etc. So I was on my own.


What I finally settled on doesn’t shake the engineering world to it’s foundations, but it works for us. I found some heavy old angle bracket literally half buried in the dirt under a crawlspace under one of our buildings. (I think it used to be a frame for security bars for the building windows, like 75 years ago). I pulled it out, buffed it off, cut it to size, sprayed some Rustoleum on it and pressed it back into service as a rail for the slideout. The rail is mounted to a rough-cut 2x, which is mounted through the floor with a seriously huge lag bolt. It ought to hold.


I used two heavy-duty pulleys per rail as my rollers on the wall side. They go 420lbs each, so should easily handle the weight. To hold the frame down to the rail, I used bolts cross-drilled through the rail that were sized to fit inside the slide-out deck runner just right, and put a little roller spacer on the side that didn’t have the bolt head. The bolt heads I filed down to be round to make the slide action somewhat smoother. It’s not incredibly pretty, but it works, and keeps the slide-deck aligned surprisingly well. The real trick is getting the deck leveled out so that it moves across the rail without hanging up on one end or another.


It was time for flooring, but I had to bust out the old rasp to smooth down some of the plywood joints first. If I had it to do over, I would have routed out a tongue-and-groove setup in my reclaimed plywood before laying it, but hindsight is 20-20, as they say.


We used vinyl plank from Lowes. The Style Selections brand is the cheaper stuff, which in this case also means it is the lighter stuff, which was attractive to me. I think it looked pretty good, and hey, it’s a camper.


Turned out pretty. I love maple.


Lotsa Progresses

Feels like forever since I’ve posted, but rest assured, dear reader, we have not been idle. Well, not completely idle.

When last we left you, we had finally found our axle and suspension parts and had them on order. Here is the (admittedly grainy) evidence:


The electric brakes, bearings, drum hubs, and leaf springs.

The brakes are 10″ electric, with matching 3500lb drum hubs. The springs are a 3-leaf, 2000lb rated (each) double-eye, 25 1/4″. I need to get a better picture of the how they are hung. I used shackles to the rear as you can see in the pic below:

The 3500lb. galvanized square axle from Sturdybuilt. (see links)

The 3500lb. galvanized square axle from Sturdybuilt. (see links)

That axle is a square boat axle actually, which is why it is galvanized. The important thing for my purposes, though, was the adjustable spring seats, because I had weird measurements on the hanger points on my frame. It cost me a little more initially to go with this axle, but it saved me a bunch of headache and welding work, so it was worth it.

Brakes and hubs installed and ready to be greased...

Brakes and hubs installed and ready to be greased…

I took the heafer to the Cat Scale to get weighed the other day, with just the frame, suspension and floor, and she weighed in at 740lbs (see the “Trailer axle” number below), which was about 100lbs more than I wanted. I chalked it up to bigger stabilizers (talk about that in a minute), trailer brakes, and a pretty darn heavy floor.

The axle is currently overhung, but if my weight goes up too much, I may have to underhang it to get clearance for bigger tires in the wheel wells. I think I could barely fit a 13″ tire now, but no way I’d get a 14″ in there.

But the biggest shock was the top number, the one by “Steering axle”. Cat Scales have three sections, Steer, Drive, and Trailer, as you can see below, but they are sized for 18-wheelers. I was just pulling with my truck, which fit fine on the “Drive” section. So I didn’t have any part of the vehicle on the “Steer” section. So when I came in to get my printout, I was puzzled at that 180lbs – and then it hit me. *I* was standing on the Steer section when I gave the attendant the thumbs up to weigh it. Man, I gotta go on a diet…


I also got the propane plumbing re-routed to the other side where the new kitchen is going to be, after cutting, re-flaring, etc. Thank you Harbor Freight for cheap tools!


Relocating, resizing, flaring and retapinged the propane lines for stove and outdoor grill hookup.

The stabilizers have been significantly upgraded as well. They weigh more, but they are worth it in my opinion. I hated getting down under the thing to flip those cheap ones down, and then having uneven ground sometimes where they didn’t have enough clearance to flip down. And then having to jack them up like the old bumper jacks. No more! These are way overkill, since each is rated at 5000lbs (couldn’t find any smaller). But I ain’t sorry.


Got rid of those horrible flip down stabilizers … much better now!

Here’s the finished underside of the floor. The 2×3’s are painted with 10yr waterproofing deck stain. The gaps are insulated with foam board, then covered with coroplast scavenged from old political signs, with Great Stuff around the edges.


The underside of the floor, finished.

This is where things start getting a little theoretical. I really don’t know what the slide-out mechanism is gonna look like yet. I’m just using some of the things I have around and seeing what works. Right now, I’m trying some old freight rollers on a frame, with C-Frame from the electrical section at Lowes/Home Depot as my runner. (see below)

If-fy beginnings of a slide-out system.

If-fy beginnings of a slide-out system.

Support rails under slide-out.

Support rails under slide-out.

I have found some bolts that fit the channel nicely to act as guides and stays, but it certainly isn’t smooth. Still a lot of work to go here…

Support rails under slide-out.

Support rails under slide-out.

Finally, the wall framing has started. This is an older pic of the initial wall skeleton:

Skeleton of wall frames.

Skeleton of wall frames.

And here is the profile piece for each end. I briefly thought about radiused curves, and then I decided that that would be borrowing trouble and that linear geometry is your friend when your best idea of “finesse” is using a hacksaw instead of a chainsaw.


End profiles.


The wall pieces are all actually almost framed now, so it is time to buy paneling. Most of the doors and windows are accounted for. We should have some walls paneled, routed, and attached pretty soon! Stay tuned for the next installment, wherein we try aluminum soldering and custom window manufacturing.

Status Report

Not much to report right now, so I thought I would report  on that. The axle continues to be a sticking point, but I’m getting much closer to finding what I need. Turns out the size I need is not standard, so I’m having to look a little further afield than I otherwise would. The delay has been good, too, because I also learned that the great state of Mississippi requires brakes on axles in this weight range, which I did not know. So I look for me to be ordering an axle this week, complete with brakes. That’s all to report for now.

EDIT: The axle is ordered! From, I ordered an axle that is really designed to go on a boat trailer, so it is galvanized. Looks well made, in Amurica! We will see when she gets here!

Here’s Your Sign

What do you do with an old billboard that the county made you take down for right-of-way? You make a floor for your camper, of course! We got a good start on that this past week.

Here’s the beginning of the framing for that floor:


I used 2×3’s, mainly because they were easier to reach at the lumber yard, and secondly because they were a lot straighter than the 2×2’s I looked at first. The weight difference didn’t really bother me, since it is pretty insignificant.

For now, I just tack-stapled the corners, but I will come back with long screws there for strength. The decking is what really binds everything together anyway. I spaced the 2x stuff to match the cross-members on the trailer underneath so nothing sags.


BTW, this old 1/2″ sign plywood was likely treated, so I used coated decking screws along with the construction adhesive to secure it to the 2×3 frame. The back side of the sign still had good paint on it, so I turned it up. It will be more uniform for the flooring glue later.


The (almost) finished floor frame. The floor is actually just a tad longer than 12′, so I need to cut a filler piece for that front end. The wheel well covers will be sealed and tacked on to the underside of the floor; they are just there for placeholders in this pic:


Here’s the beginning of the insulation. Just some 3/4″ foam board, reflective on both  sides, that I had left from building the house. It’s sandwiched in and glued with construction adhesive. I haven’t decided whether to make it two layers deep or just one, but my wife was talking about Colorado and winter in the same sentence last night, so I’m leaning toward letting that answer be yes.


That’s it for now.

NEXT UP: Still haven’t gotten an axle yet, but I’m closing in on it. Don’t have much choice about making that the next part of the project, because this floor is almost ready to permanently attach. Time to spend some money…:-P

Step Off

I took the fold-out step clean off. Some are gonna disagree with me here – you need a step, obviously. But here’s my logic: I was going to have to re-locate it anyway, because the door is going to be about 2 ft. to the right of where it is now. Re-installing it was gonna be a pain. Then I thought…”That step weighs about 20lbs. A small, sturdy step-stool weighs about 3lbs. That is 17 more pounds of food that I can eat before I have to go to the Tote-Sum again. And I like step-stools.”


I took it off, because I was going to have to relocate it anyway to accommodate the new door location. When I thought about the work it was going to take to reinstall vs. the benefit received, I punted.

We also finished buffing, priming, and painting the whole frame. I appropriated the family forklift for nefarious purposes to get this accomplished. Don’t try this at home, kids!


Did I say don’t try this at home already?


Next up, hopefully finally get the axle upgraded and get to some real bloody progress when we start the floor. The plywood is stacked and ready…