Build Journal: All Aluminum Bare Bones Tiny Travel Trailer

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Re: Build Journal: All Aluminum Bare Bones Tiny Travel Trail

Postby ssuuki19 » Wed Oct 04, 2017 9:14 pm

Yep just one tube, trailer is 54" wide so just looking at the picture it looks about 75" which would make it a 24" tube. The first one I bought was a 20" which was just barely long enough and flimsy as heck. I must admit I actually didn't look at which one the guy gave me, but its written on the tube, I'll take a picture of it tomorrow.

How does sealant get on my triceps and then my car seat?? more than once??
Aluminum is almost as fascinating as wood.
Link to my build thread: 4 1/2 x 9
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Re: Build Journal: All Aluminum Bare Bones Tiny Travel Trail

Postby dancam » Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:01 am

That would be appreciated. I was going to get a garage door seal but they are a lot more money than i expected. How thick is the tube? Are you able to measure the rubber?
I have to do this on one of my doors.

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Re: Build Journal: All Aluminum Bare Bones Tiny Travel Trail

Postby ssuuki19 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:19 am

Will measure it with a good ruler after this but it looks like 2/16ths and a bit.
Last edited by ssuuki19 on Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

How does sealant get on my triceps and then my car seat?? more than once??
Aluminum is almost as fascinating as wood.
Link to my build thread: 4 1/2 x 9
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ssuuki19
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Re: Build Journal: All Aluminum Bare Bones Tiny Travel Trail

Postby ssuuki19 » Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:17 pm

Session 2 on the hinge sealing completed today. Its all riveted in, and sealed at the corners. Tomorrow the excess tubing and squishout will be removed, and a masked line of sealant will be added to the top line and bottom lines as both will get gravity water exposure. Top one when door is shut, bottom one when door is opened past 65 degrees or so.
After completing that task, I moved back to the trailer, tested all the lighting with my car battery - had to remove it because car has to be idling for the trailer pin to work, after realizing I needed to delve into the test setup, I removed my car battery and attached the male 4 pin connector to it on the white and the brown. Tested the led's and all works as it should. Added 8 more clips to tie in the wiring all nice 'n neat using 1/8" rivets. Then I moved on to making the wiring harness that ties those 8 18ga wires into 2 to mate up (somehow) with the two from the cabin for the 16 led marker and clearance lights. I bought these special 3 way crimp connectors that look like a butt connector but different size holes on either side. Its got goo and heat shrink wrap built into the connector its awesome, makes really great streamlined 3 way connections, as I didn't want to use t-taps.
So I took three pics from todays work. The astute observer will notice the red marker led missing in the second picture - I ran out of these red ones and legally must have one on the rear of the fender, so it was moved to the fender. A 4 1/2 foot wide trailer doesn't need middle marker lights at the rear legally, but when I get a round tuit that red led will be added back in. Here are the pics:
tnttt_127.jpg
this is the writing on the tube
tnttt_127.jpg (108.68 KiB) Viewed 464 times
tnttt_128.jpg
view of the mountain bike tube sealed hinge with all the rivets done, stretching the tube as best i could
tnttt_128.jpg (97.33 KiB) Viewed 464 times
tnttt_129.jpg
if anyone has a suggestion what to do with the edges it would be appreciated
tnttt_129.jpg (95.01 KiB) Viewed 464 times
Last edited by ssuuki19 on Fri Oct 13, 2017 9:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

How does sealant get on my triceps and then my car seat?? more than once??
Aluminum is almost as fascinating as wood.
Link to my build thread: 4 1/2 x 9
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ssuuki19
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Re: Build Journal: All Aluminum Bare Bones Tiny Travel Trail

Postby ssuuki19 » Fri Oct 06, 2017 9:30 pm

Today it rained just about all day - I noticed upon inspection that there are still leaks. Without the finishing beads on the top and bottom edges, water is finding its way in around the shaved rivets, getting into the heads and then dripping into the cabin. When I installed the tube I decided not to use sealant because I thought it could get messy fast, and that perhaps it wasn't needed. Well although the finish beads could fix this leakage, the best approach is to re-work the re-work. Meaning drill out the top layer of rivets, remove the aluminum flatbar, drill out the shaved rivets, back butter the tire with sikkaseal, slather up all the rivet heads and then tack it back in and shave the rivet heads. Then butter the top side of the tube covering the shaved rivets and sandwich the thing back together and re-rivet. Basically an entire re-install, but adding sealant every step of the way. Then the finish bead will be applied to the top and bottom of the seal/bar, and the protruding rivets from the inside. After that another leak test will be done.. hoping it dries up tomorrow. So another lesson learned, even the rubber seal needs to be sealed, now at least I know what can happen. [Edit: for clarity the days rain left about 1/3 cup of water in the pool, dripping all the rain time] This re-work is teaching me about humbleness - once its done properly no further re-work will be needed, and thats life. Probably a day of re-work, no worries my road trip has a flexible start date to some extent.
So after the leak inspection and observations, I decided to load the cabin onto the trailer frame same way as before. It took a lot more setup because the cabin wasn't offloaded strategically to align it with the trailer, all it took was some stumps, and some wood here and there and my neighbors hydraulic jack. Jacked up the rear to about 16" and blocked, then jacked up the front and blocked, backed the trailer up tucking it underneath the cabin but not into the frame rails. Then I setup the rope and caribiner on the winch and winched away. It worked but I really had to crank on the winch because the cabin wasn't exactly blocked at the right height, and more importantly I was pulling it uphill! Also forgot to mention the passenger side fender needed 4 bolts removed and 4 of the remaining 6 loosened off to give the fender about another inch of clearance allowing the RV door to pass through. Once loading was completed, I got under the trailer and reinstalled the 4 bolts and tightened all 10 back up again to secure the fender.
So it worked as planned! There was enough clearance for the RV door to get by - had the neighbor watching that fender while I just kept cranking the cabin forward to get a good tongue weight which felt like about 75-80lbs. On the car I noticed for the first time the rear suspension compress a small amount. Car has really, really stiff rear suspension for handling reasons, and keep in mind I haven't touched the airbags yet, they were still only at 5psi. Cranking them up to 10 or 15psi should do the trick to raise the car back up. Still the setup was very close to level, and man I just love the look this combo is turning out to have!
I couldn't help but take it for a rip around the block twice (only 1st and 2nd gear). The beefy rear suspension setup I have is going to work just fine. Clutch was ok too even starting uphill off the driveway but it did take some pre-loading. Still all in all I am very impressed with the small test run. Bigger test run up as soon as I get those 4 u-bolts in on the frame and wire up the brake/signal lights. Hopefully tomorrow afternoon. Here are todays pics:
tnttt_130.jpg
car/cabin setup on the sloped driveway after the successful winching session
tnttt_130.jpg (120.68 KiB) Viewed 415 times
tnttt_131.jpg
boy she's lookin' pretty nice.. the fenders really complete the look
tnttt_131.jpg (119.96 KiB) Viewed 415 times
tnttt_132.jpg
looks like a flat backed from this angle, overall a nice looking piece of functional art
tnttt_132.jpg (97.64 KiB) Viewed 415 times
Last edited by ssuuki19 on Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:48 pm, edited 3 times in total.

How does sealant get on my triceps and then my car seat?? more than once??
Aluminum is almost as fascinating as wood.
Link to my build thread: 4 1/2 x 9
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ssuuki19
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Re: Build Journal: All Aluminum Bare Bones Tiny Travel Trail

Postby ssuuki19 » Sun Oct 08, 2017 12:47 am

Today the cabin was secured to the frame via a gasket of rubber matting, and 8 class 8 bolts and lock nuts. That hydraulic jack had to come into play again, its just the best tool to borrow when all you have is a car jack. Get this, I jacked the 3/8" flange of the frame rail just in front of the tire and the whole cabin tipped up as one piece. This allowed me to lay the rubber gasketting in place and then set the side down, repeat other side. Then bolts were installed horizontally through the frame rail and the 2" tube adjacent to it at the ends. [Edit: this is how the cabin slides to get the tongue weight right if its wrong, simply move the cabin, drill 8 more holes and re-install the bolts]
The day lights were wired up, had to rush to meet a deadline, so in the final connections I used 2 yellow mar connectors until I figure out the layout, there was barely enough room to connect all the ground and running light wires without pulling some other wires apart, I had to redo a bunch of crimp connectors, getting better with that tool but still learning it.
So did the tail lights and the fender leds for test run #2. Those mini led lights are bright, you can see them in the daylight. [Edit: have to take some pictures of the leds in the day] The trailer was taken on an extended run with a hill climb, head and tail winds. The trailer handles really well, so much so I had to take it up to 70mph for a stint to see what things are like in that range. It was like a semi truck in many ways, more challenging to steer, but nothing out of the ordinary or un-expected. No sway or speed wobble issues were detected. Forgot to pump up the airbags on the rear suspension, that will help out the ride, but the required psi will need to be dialed in, as well as the best tongue weight. All and all it was a great run, I can't believe the lights worked on the first try, only mistake was had the left and right signals backwards so had to switch the connectors which is easy. The cars motor has to work for this job, its not a fun experience for the motor, it is working with the trailer on it, but it is used to being pushed, for over ten years. I floored it a couple times and could easily keep up with traffic, but it sounds funny because I have to rev the motor up a fair bit and all the mods to up the power and torque are showing for sure with towing. The rear suspension is actually getting a workout now - thats why I know to up the psi in the air bags a bit, it will settle the bump reverb up.
Was not able to change the coolant temperature from its typical range of 86 to 91 degrees celsius, still I have a scan gauge that will give me a digital readout on that and mpg estimates.
After the test run the trailer went to the scale, I didn't get a readout but it was free maybe I'll go back again for a re-weigh. Also occurred to me that I can take off the l-track and the insulation one day and go weigh just the shell on frame setup.
Sooooo the trailer missing 25lbs of insulation and 10lbs of l-track weighed in at..... 720lbs. I wasn't disappointed, because I knew the acoustic insulation and l-track was going to add around at least 75lbs. The trailer has impressed me, although it still needs flooring and the clamshell insulation and cover, thats going to add about 100lbs. I can work with that weight with a few modifications here and there, in order to up the allowed cargo weight. Still in its current form its got the potential to do the road trip required of it, (that being a light cargo hauler), pending a structural investigation to happen in a couple days.
Until then, here are todays pics:
tnttt_133.jpg
side view, test run 2
tnttt_133.jpg (110.06 KiB) Viewed 377 times
tnttt_134.jpg
angular view, test run 2
tnttt_134.jpg (105.22 KiB) Viewed 377 times
Last edited by ssuuki19 on Fri Oct 13, 2017 9:18 pm, edited 6 times in total.

How does sealant get on my triceps and then my car seat?? more than once??
Aluminum is almost as fascinating as wood.
Link to my build thread: 4 1/2 x 9
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Re: Build Journal: All Aluminum Bare Bones Tiny Travel Trail

Postby ssuuki19 » Sun Oct 08, 2017 9:36 pm

Some observations, results and recommendations about test run 2:
-from the pictures its obvious that 'if that cabin could snug up to the hatch another two feet' the drag would greatly be reduced
-cabin cannot go two feet, but the tongue can be shortened at least 6" without major frame re-work
-if cabin gets heavier perhaps the axles can take it, perhaps they can't
-~660 lbs of sprung weight on that test run 2 version is only on the frame rails, all at the edges, closest to the hubs, say around 330 lbs a side
-frame rails are only bolted to frame at the ends so the whole middle part of the trailer can flex including the fenders but only if the cabin will flex too, which it won't hehe [Edit: i know where the weakest spot is its right at the tongue, easy to beef up]
-the tail lights looks terrible, they are standard and bright, but geez how about some aerodynamic tail lights
-the fender clearance looks smaller (today with even more load on the trailer, there looks to be 2" of clearance, i think this is typical)
-tongue weight of guesstimated 75lbs would have been just over 10% on the 720lb test 2 version
-airbags were at 5psi, should try 7.5, and 10
-what about the air pressure in the trailer tires, is it at 35, unknown it wasn't checked (oops) [Edit: all 6 tires were under inflated by about 2-3psi]
-are the tires winter tires (yes all 6 are the same tire on the same rim)
-looking at the empty setup to get a good tongue weight the cabin had to be moved forward it looks like 6 inches
-with a good 'dry' tongue weight its easy to load the cargo just over the axle area which reduces the moment of inertia on the tongue
-the tongue can be beefed up, the axles can be tied into the tongue leads
-this is not a typical 720lb trailer setup
-need to continue to learn how to make it waterproof
-sway control kit should be installed for safety

Heres a pic from the other day to show the air from the front:
tnttt_135.jpg
sized off the trailing edge height, width of car frame, and angle of the hatch, thats how an un-corked 1.6L can do 70mph
tnttt_135.jpg (106.29 KiB) Viewed 333 times
Last edited by ssuuki19 on Sun Oct 15, 2017 12:34 am, edited 2 times in total.

How does sealant get on my triceps and then my car seat?? more than once??
Aluminum is almost as fascinating as wood.
Link to my build thread: 4 1/2 x 9
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Re: Build Journal: All Aluminum Bare Bones Tiny Travel Trail

Postby ssuuki19 » Wed Oct 11, 2017 7:07 pm

Today the re-work on the re-work on the piano hinge was done. When I drilled out all the top side rivets I was in for a pleasant surprise - the rubber was pretty much staying where it needed to be without the shaved down tack rivets, and I had put sikkaseal down at the ends, so the sealant there was acting enough like a glue to hold the stretched tube in place! So all I had to do was lay down a bunch of fat beads by carefully pulling back the tube and getting in there especially in the sides where the sealant meets up with the old sealant. Then buttered up the piece of aluminum, squished it all back together this time omitting the tack rivets so the aluminum flat bar gets to evenly compress all the way along the seal! I may have to chalk this up to lady luck again. In other words I no longer consider this step re-work, as the first part with the shaved down rivets was sortof necessary to stretch and set the tube layout.
Had to work with some light rain today and had to mask the finished work after the bottom side was done with the green tape, which goes on pretty well in the wet.. when the rain lightened up I dried up the moisture with cloths and hit the whole area with the heat gun for several minutes. A few hours later the sky has cleared so I removed the tape and again hit the whole area with the heat gun on low setting to dry out the majority of moisture and heat the whole area back up. I'm hoping it will dry well enough such that tomorrow I can put the finish beads on the top and bottom. Gonna use the trailer tomorrow for a dump run as I am getting really close to moving soon aka the road trip. I'll take some pics using the trailer as a 'dump runner'.
I dare water to get under that tube now! I know at the ends some might still sneak in but that should be really minimal. Here are todays pics:
tnttt_136.jpg
view to the port - its messy looking but should be able to clean all that up
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tnttt_137.jpg
used a bit too much on the bottom seal, it just all squished out making for more finishing work
tnttt_137.jpg (91.72 KiB) Viewed 250 times
tnttt_138.jpg
starboard side of tube covered hinge all gooped up good, still needs top and bottom shaving/prep and finish beads
tnttt_138.jpg (97.58 KiB) Viewed 250 times

How does sealant get on my triceps and then my car seat?? more than once??
Aluminum is almost as fascinating as wood.
Link to my build thread: 4 1/2 x 9
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ssuuki19
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Re: Build Journal: All Aluminum Bare Bones Tiny Travel Trail

Postby ssuuki19 » Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:02 am

Just a quick update - I forgot to take pics of the dump run, yesterday was a rainy cold day, and I just wanted to get it done. As anyone following this thread could imagine this trailer is just fantastic for dump runs with the cargo door! And what better use for her first utilitarian maiden voyage! The cargo door is a bit dangerous being that its got no gas struts on it yet, but I feel safe working underneath it with two supports. If I were to have it open for an extended period of time it would be tied up to a tree branch or a step ladder.
About the car/trailer setup which is probably the part about my build that has you experienced builders/haulers curious and/or laughing and/or not laughing and/or scratching your heads - I am now really confident about the upcoming road trip. The part about 70mph, that was just to show the tv can go that fast before the drag force equalized the horsepower and she will go no faster without reducing drag or buying a better tow vehicle :thinking: (in the works but not until this one expires). And that top speed test was in 4th gear, car can't sustain 70mph in 5th, but it can sustain 50-63 mph in fifth gear, and I will be targeting 55mph for the 2700 mile road trip because I want to track and post the mileage for this forum. Airbags are running 11psi now, a bit stiff for the empty trailer, but great for when its loaded, as it tows much better and smoother loaded up.
Very close to start date, but still have wiring to finalize and heat shrink, the sway control kit install, and finish beads on the piano hinge cover.
I thought a lot about using a ground block and a running lights block for all the leads, but I think instead I'm going to do a bunch of nested 'Y' connectors so by the time I get to the front of the trailer I'll only have one ground and one running lead.
Forgot to mention the piano hinge had no leaks! Fingers crossed I want some heavy duty rain to re-evaluate, but it looks like finally the building envelope is very water resistant, I won't say waterproof because I don't think any trailer is waterproof, at least for that long.

How does sealant get on my triceps and then my car seat?? more than once??
Aluminum is almost as fascinating as wood.
Link to my build thread: 4 1/2 x 9
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ssuuki19
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Re: Build Journal: All Aluminum Bare Bones Tiny Travel Trail

Postby ssuuki19 » Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:33 pm

Today it warmed up and dried up a bit - did the top and bottom beads on the piano hinge and tube - top one went really well, the bottom one, for some reason it doesn't look as good. I think its the 'angle' the tape was pulled (being new to masking but doing a pretty decent go at it), and that maybe was done too soon. What happened is the tape kindof lifted up the seal just a tad right at the edge, but enough that I squished it back down after. In hindsight I should have layed down another masking line and then fixed. No biggie at some point I'll probably do another bead on the top and the bottom anyway to further clean up the lines and edges, but 'nice lines aside', the more important point is that both beads are concave and smooth. Again this doesn't look pretty but at this point in the build its more about function, especially the toughest seal in the whole thing.
I moved on to wiring up the cabin after this... sooo many mistakes, alls I'm doing is prepping all the wire ends with crimp connectors and heat shrink tubing. I think beginners luck came into play on my test run wiring setup, because this time, I think I made just about every mistake one could make. But alas once all those mistakes are mapped out, if I remain patient, the rest of the wiring session will go along faster, and more importantly, more accurate and precise. On each crimped heat shrunk connector I am still learning more about the tools and the method and whatnot, as I've done about fifteen of them. Slow start on this one as usual.
So here are todays pics:
tnttt_139.jpg
top and bottom beads completed
tnttt_139.jpg (90.99 KiB) Viewed 169 times
tnttt_140.jpg
started prepping wiring from the clamshell forward
tnttt_140.jpg (110.33 KiB) Viewed 169 times

How does sealant get on my triceps and then my car seat?? more than once??
Aluminum is almost as fascinating as wood.
Link to my build thread: 4 1/2 x 9
User avatar
ssuuki19
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Re: Build Journal: All Aluminum Bare Bones Tiny Travel Trail

Postby ssuuki19 » Sun Oct 15, 2017 8:11 pm

Today was a wiring harness day. I decided to do the whole harness in pieces so essentially its a daisy chain of 3 way dongles that split the 12V signal and then some 'patch' cords that connect some of the dongles together or for the end of the lines. I'm putting in some redundant leads too just because one probably should I figure. So just some pics of the raw wiring without dressing it up. I tested all the leds after adding connectors to make sure they worked and were labelled properly. Forgot to test the license plate light, oops.
So I got most of the wire sections completed today, tomorrow I hope to have it all connected up to the car. I am now in full understanding how to do good standardized heat shrink crimp connections. It does take quite a bit of practice to learn that wire stripping tool, and now I can do the process 'gently' whereas at the start I felt like I was fighting the tool and the wire all the time, tiring out my hands and my fingers.
The green wire is 16-4 jacketed threaded speaker wire, and the blue wire is 16-2 jacketed threaded speaker wire (used at the end of the lines).
Here are todays pics:
tnttt_141.jpg
starboard side tail light, led and license plate light wiring
tnttt_141.jpg (98.29 KiB) Viewed 126 times
tnttt_142.jpg
port side tail light and led wiring
tnttt_142.jpg (93.83 KiB) Viewed 126 times
tnttt_143.jpg
heres what the 6 inch and 6 foot splitter dongles look like (6' one has 4 connectors just doesn't look like it)
tnttt_143.jpg (98.18 KiB) Viewed 126 times

How does sealant get on my triceps and then my car seat?? more than once??
Aluminum is almost as fascinating as wood.
Link to my build thread: 4 1/2 x 9
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ssuuki19
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Re: Build Journal: All Aluminum Bare Bones Tiny Travel Trail

Postby ssuuki19 » Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:30 pm

Today the final dongles were installed, and connected to the same lead 16-4 harness used in previous test runs that goes right into the hatchback. After turning everything on, two troubleshooting issues were solved, both to do with the last dongle (go figure). Here's why - I thought to make this dongle really short like 4" but at that length the jacketing doesn't hold the wires within it, and yada yada the point is accidental pulling on the harness loosened off two crimp connections. Two observations about this 1) don't make dongles shorter than 8" and 2) only use 3/16" heat shrink to secure the connectors. I had to use 1/4" heat shrink on the last few dongles because I ran out of 3/16" heat shrink, and this is why the wires separated - 1/4" heat shrink tubing just can't shrink enough to 'clamp' on to single 16 wires, but the 3/16" can just fine.
So, I connected this whole wiring harness together correctly on the first try, which is in itself an accomplishment! I am now patting my back. :D
After the successful testing of the entire harness I began dressing it up with every tie wrap I had on hand. My strategy was to imagine where the bouncing trailer would cause stress in the wires, and then 'loop them' to another wire and tie wrap to prevent the shock going to the crimp connections. So if you grab the harness and jiggle it around, the whole harness takes the movement, not any of the crimp connections. This is the first time I've done a wiring setup like this, but it made intuitive sense to me, although, I don't think any corner has the same loop setup! I just sortof made it up as I went, it was fun. There is some look of symmetry of course.
Experienced wirers/electricians might wonder why is there so much 16-4 wire there? Well, I decided to run 2 dedicated leads to the tail lights and the rear marker leds for safety/redundancy, and then 2 dedicated leads for the rest of the leds. So off the cars connection one can imagine 4 branches that map out the wiring, and for now those wire branches are hanging from 20 l-track rings. Should make trouble shooting easier if something goes awry on the road trip, but also, I think its a safer approach in that the power going to the tail lights is right off the main split ahead of the split for the clearance and marker leds (and the fender leds). So if any wiring issue happens with the clearance and marker lights it won't affect the tail lights, and to me this is a safer approach.
As I was dressing up the harness, I made sure to go back to car and check that all the lights work to make sure I didn't mess up any connectors whilst installing the tie wraps. Wouldn't want to have to start cutting them off to do rework.
So all in all it worked out great! Fantastic! I really think the tie-wrapped harness connected to rings that are connected to the l-track that is connected to the rivnuts connected to the frame was a great way to learn and create the harness. Now that its completed and functioning, in the future, probably year 3 (next year) all this wiring will be soldered, and installed into the ceiling and walls behind the insulation. Point is it works. Went out for another spin today. Did a dump run. Got lots of looks. Random people approaching me at the dump and chatting - thats going to be the funnest part of the trailer. It allows people to just walk up to me and talk fabrication! Its very humbling.
Today had monsoon like rain in the morning. I left the clamshell open last night and it doesn't matter - its not leaking. It was really gusty today so I wanted to feel how the tv gets pushed around. It does get pushed around but again as I say 'from this drivers perspective' its nothing out of the ordinary, I would describe to the layman as driving on a new gravel road - the truck wanders a bit but its actually still pretty stable its just being pushed left and right, but if you don't 'react' to it, you realize its going straight the whole time.
I haven't been able to introduce any compounding instability in the trailer yet, and today the dry tongue weight was low for sure. Good news for me :thumbsup:
Here are todays pics:
tnttt_144.jpg
this is the front part of the 'dressed for now' harness
tnttt_144.jpg (117.46 KiB) Viewed 76 times
tnttt_145.jpg
second dump run, just some stuff thats too heavy to take with me unfortunately, don't think any man likes throwing out wood
tnttt_145.jpg (121.83 KiB) Viewed 76 times
tnttt_146.jpg
night lights baby! lights!
tnttt_146.jpg (114.6 KiB) Viewed 76 times

How does sealant get on my triceps and then my car seat?? more than once??
Aluminum is almost as fascinating as wood.
Link to my build thread: 4 1/2 x 9
User avatar
ssuuki19
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Posts: 136
Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2016 5:18 am
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