Rough Road Raindrop

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Re: Rough Road Raindrop (lotsa pics)

Postby greygoos » Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:27 am

Bravo. A great build. I wish I had your talent
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop (lotsa pics)

Postby Louisd75 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:32 am

The end is nigh! If all goes well at tomorrow's inspection then I should be on the road for real.

It's been a bit of a flurry of activity the last week or so. Toss in a cold that the entire family has had the joy of sharing... yeah. It was fun.

Knowing that I needed to get this show on the road, I kept tackling the minor details. Such as bolting the trailer to the frame. Kind of important, it's something that I'd been putting off for a while. Why? Well, with a BAL stabilizing jack on all four corners, it was actually pretty handy a few times to be able to separate the body from the frame. I'd fully extend the jacks, build up some cribbing underneath out of 4x4 and then retract the stabilizers til the frame was sitting on the ground and the body was in the air. Of course, that could have all been avoided with better planning, but where's the fun in that?

Anyhow, once I decided that it was time to finally connect things I gave the bolting fairy a call. Or princess. Not really sure what this costume was on this particular day.

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Afterwards I dug around the old paint pile to come up with some galley paint.

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The bolting princess/fairy said that the colors were boring. I told her that we'd paint her trailer whatever color she wanted. She got excited and started drawing up plans. Not the result I was hoping for. But, the paint was paid for and the wife said she could live with it. I have some more of the yellow that I'm going to use inside to brighten up the forward part of the galley bulkhead, where our duffel bags will be stored.

Speaking of duffel bag storage, I probably could have made my interior shelves a little bigger. As it is, I've got so much foot room that I could probably add a memory foam topper on top of 3" foam mattress we're using. I bought four blocks of foam, 30" x 72" x 3" thick from Fred Meyers. At $24 a piece I didn't feel bad about cutting them up to fit (and I still have a little more trimming to do). I was in the process of looming my wiring and securing it to the bulkhead when nap time struck.

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Today was a big milestone day. Not only was the sun shining (for at least part of the day), but the the trailer is finally sealed up and ready for rain. I hope. Here's a final shot of the new windows. Don't mind all the black smudgy crud on top of the tongue box, that was an ill-advised attempt at "cleaning" up Sikaflex 221 while it was still wet. Don't try this unless you are using paper towels soaked in rubbing alcohol. On the flip side, I did learn that polycarbonate scraps make decent scrapers without doing much damage to the aluminum underneath.

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Even bigger than a sunny day was the maiden voyage. The first drive was a tender loop around the neighborhood to make sure that it wouldn't explode or anything. The school bus was making it's loop and I figured that if anything were to go wrong, for sure this is when it would happen. Fortunately, the drive was a bit anticlimactic. With that great victory it was off to the scales. The big maiden voyage. All the way across town to the certified scales. And I managed to time it just right for rush hour. My helper was excited for the chance to play in some real life gravel while I was disconnecting/connecting the trailer between weighing runs. I was way off on my estimated weight. I was hoping to keep it under 2000lbs. I'm just shy of 1400lbs. There's a little bit more to go, but I think all told my empty weight will be in the neighborhood of 1600lbs depending on how fancy my galley gets down the road.

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I did notice that there is definitely a grain to the aluminum sheets. I goofed on the door and edges of the hatch so had to cut them out of my emergency extra sheet of aluminum. It's not very noticeable in the garage, but it's very obvious outside. No biggie though, since it's only the doors and hatch it almost looks intentional.

Now I just have the inspection to get knocked out Thursday afternoon. There's still a lot of little things to do. We have a camping trip planned and booked for the week after Easter, which is probably a lot closer than I'm realizing. We'll get done what we get done and not sweat the rest.
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop (lotsa pics)

Postby tony.latham » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:49 am

A remarkable build.

Make sure you share an "in the field" photo for us.

Tony
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop (lotsa pics)

Postby Louisd75 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:31 pm

Welp, last night was the first night out of the garage. Naturally, it rained. Naturally, I've got leaks. :NC

Biggest ones look like the galley around the edges of the hurricane hinge. It looked like it was coming under the hinge, which is surprising since I've got sealant under the hinge and in all the screw holes. Ugh. I managed to get it to stop leaking using butyl tape and more sealant.

Then, while moving material into the trailer, I found another leak coming in on the bottom edge of the tongue box. I'm 95% certain that I sealed under the trim piece that it looks like the leak is coming from, but of course now I'm starting to doubt. Oh well. Two leaks isn't all that bad all things considered. I'll be parking back in the garage after inspection to give things a chance to dry out. I'll be pulling the trim piece off tonight to double check that I did indeed seal it. I'm a bit glad that I haven't completely varnished the inside now, at least the wet spots aren't stuck underneath it and will have a chance to dry out.
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop (lotsa pics)

Postby clamlamp » Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:58 pm

Beautiful build! How long did it take you? Also can you estimate your weight?
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop (lotsa pics)

Postby Louisd75 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 3:21 pm

clamlamp wrote:Beautiful build! How long did it take you? Also can you estimate your weight?


It's taken waaaaay too long. I'd have to double check, but probably just around 3.5 years. My work schedule makes things difficult since I'm basically out of the country for half the year and when I'm home I've got lots of other projects to get done. Current weight is 1360lbs. I'm hoping to still be under 1500 when all said and done. We'll see how that goes (:
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop (lotsa pics)

Postby me&z » Thu Mar 29, 2018 4:29 pm

Your very own bolting fairy?!?! Those are special. And extra helpful.

:thumbsup:
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop (lotsa pics)

Postby Louisd75 » Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:47 pm

Aaand just like that I've finished the inspection, got a VIN and picked up my plate. Looks like I'll be able to take it camping! Now I just have to finish all the little things.
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop (lotsa pics)

Postby Louisd75 » Sun Apr 08, 2018 10:39 pm

Sooo... after getting my plates, inspection and VIN assigned, it was time to go camping. We had made reservations at Fort Stevens State Park as a meeting-halfway sort of get together. We were hoping to have the trailer done when we made reservations but figured we could still do it without the trailer. Fortunately, the trailer was done-ish and legal.

The morning of was frantic. I'd spent a lot of time trying to get the trailer wrapped up and we hadn't really given a whole lot of thought as to what we should take, so there was a lot of last minute scrambling. Fortunately we didn't have to get on the road til after noon due to a ferry reservation, so we had a few hours in the morning to get things loaded up. And then, we were off!

Loaded up the trailer felt a bit better than running empty. The axle kit I bought was a 3500lb kit and I had been meaning to get lighter duty springs prior to the first voyage, but it slipped my mind and by the time I realized my mistake it was too close to the trip date. I was able to remove one leaf from each of the spring packs (there were four leafs per pack originally). It made much more of a difference than I was expecting and the trailer rode much better. I'm still going to go lighter on the springs, but for now this works. New springs will go in before the next trip.

Luckily for us, it was raining on day one. We skipped the whole Puget Sound traffic deal by taking the ferry across to Port Townsend from Whidbey Island. It was a bit pricey (over $50) but it did break up the drive for the kiddos. And I didn't have to drive through Seattle.

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We moseyed on down to Twanoh State Park on the Hood Canal for the night. It's still very early in the season, but the campground is open year round. There were quite a few empty spots to choose from. Doing it again we would have grabbed one of spots as you first come into the campground. They don't have as many trees over them and are a bit brighter. Since the campground was basically empty, we took a spot close to the restrooms. There are day use parking areas nearby, and judging from the size I would imagine that Twanoh is a zoo in the summertime.

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The only issue on day one was finding that the bedding on the top bunk was a bit damp, but there wasn't enough to really pinpoint where the water was coming from. I also found a drop of water in the galley, but again couldn't tell for sure where it came from.

After Twanoh we headed south to Astoria in a torrential downpour. It's been a long time since I've been in rain that hard. The trailer was a champ on the wet and twisty roads and I had to remind myself that it was there a few times when I came into a curve a bit hot. The good thing about all the rain is that it helped narrow down the water leaks. I've got the bunk bed narrowed down to one side of the big window and the galley is leaking through the hurricane hinge. I'll have to do some reading up on the hurricane hinge leaking. I'm pretty sure the water is making it's way around the labyrinth.

Part of this trip has also been experimenting with the transition area from outside of the trailer to inside, and how to do that in inclement weather. The weather, for it's part, cooperated. It dumped solid for four of the five days of our trip. I tried out a larger tarp when we got to our spot in Fort Stevens OR.

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For both of the awning setups I ran lines over the roof of the trailer and tied off either to the wheel or one of the stabilizing jacks on the opposite side of the trailer. It worked, but it was cumbersome. Then our friends showed up with an awning mounted to the side of their truck and it was pretty amazing. Much easier than the tarps. Luckily I built some of the roof and wall sections with a roof rack in mind, so I've got a good foundation to attach to. I also learned a lot about the flow of the galley and where I would like things to be for how I use them. It's enough info that can start laying out my first chuck-box.

And, for Tony.Latham, here's a picture in the wilds of Oregon, complete with a shipwreck in the background. Of course, it was also dumping rain and blowing a fresh gale at the time. My wife and kids wisely refused to get out of the truck for the picture.

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We had planned on stopping at a friend's property near Shelton for one more night of camping on the way home but we were all pretty much soaked and everything had sand in it. The prospect of another rainy night lost out to slogging out the drive home. Overall, the trailer was awesome. The living space was right for us and, even though the weather was miserable, the trailer gave us enough space to lounge and play some games with the kids. I've got solid feedback from the family as to what we can improve for storage inside and a list of ideas for making the trailer better. Unfortunately, this will be the last trip for several months as I'm just about due to go back to work, but we're already looking at a multi-week trip down the coast and back later this year.
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop (lotsa pics)

Postby tony.latham » Mon Apr 09, 2018 11:04 am

Great tow vehicle, camper and canoe!

:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

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Re: Rough Road Raindrop (lotsa pics)

Postby willrothfuss » Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:52 pm

Great build!! I'm contemplating your polycarbonate window build for a skylight. Thanks for all the photos and taking the time to update them. I'm new and so many build threads are now useless, thanks to Photobucket.
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop

Postby Louisd75 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:04 pm

willrothfuss wrote:Great build!! I'm contemplating your polycarbonate window build for a skylight. Thanks for all the photos and taking the time to update them. I'm new and so many build threads are now useless, thanks to Photobucket.


I hear you on the Photobucket thing. I had quite a few build threads spread out on various sites. It was pretty frustrating, but I figured I'd pick one and bring the pictures back to life, this was the lucky one.

tony.latham wrote:Great tow vehicle, camper and canoe!

:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Tony


Thanks! I've got a little bit of work and updating to do. I'm currently brainstorming awning ideas. We met up with friends for a few of the nights camping and they had a Smittybilt awning attached to their truck. It got me thinking about something similar for the raindrop since it was so fast to get set up. The only downside is that the smallest commercially available awning I can find is 4' wide, which would be great for the door, but it's nearly 8' deep, and I just don't see campgrounds always having that kind of space to work with. If we're boondocking it's not a big deal, but I don't forsee the primitive camping for another year or two. The next size up on the awnings is 6.5' long, but that's longer than any of the straight sections of the trailer's roof. It would either overhang the curve dropping down to the galley, or it would be sticking out like a joust where the front of the trailer curves around. The other idea that I'm looking at is an awning made by Darche that rolls out like the commercial straight awnings, but also unfolds out similar to a Batwing. It's a neat design, but I'm not sure it's $700 neat.

Image

Then I ran across Evil Dave's awning. He home-made his own commercial style awning on the cheap:


It's pretty straightforward, which got me thinking that maybe I could do something similar and make my own fold outs on the sides similar to Darche's model.

The other option would be to go with one of the 6.5' Smittybilt or ARB style awnings and mount it at an angle on my roof so that the front edge lands between the front and side windows. I could then do an awning for each side of the trailer. The aft edge of the awning would end just where the roof starts to curve down towards the galley hatch. The plus side is that I'd then be able to use walls that are currently available and I'd be able to have a nice and quick shelter that could then be enclosed if the weather gets snotty.

The downside again is space. If I don't have 8' of room off to the side of the trailer then I can't really use the space. I'm also not sure how the awning would change the look of the trailer, though honestly I don't think it would be a deal breaker. I might wind up ordering one and doing a mock-up. If I don't like it then I could always mount it on the truck. If I do like it then I could get crazy and order another. Of course, there's always the option of just making a custom awning that I could somehow affix to the roof using boat cover snaps or something similar. Pricewise the different options would probably work out the same (well, except purchasing the Darche model)

I've got the galley pretty much sorted out in regards to what I need and how I'd like it all stored. At this point I need to start working on the chuck boxes. One will be primarily the kitchen stuff, the other will be a portable pantry. I've gotta head back to work for a few months, so it'll be early summer before I can really do any more work on the trailer. It should give everything plenty of time to dry out from our last adventure.
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop

Postby Louisd75 » Mon Jul 30, 2018 9:32 pm

So, after our maiden camping trip I had all these grandiose ideas about what I'd change and modify before our next trip. Whelp, none of that happened. I got off the ship after just shy of three months on a Wednesday. Thursday afternoon I got an invite to go camping with a friend and his family on Friday. It was the same family that we camped with on the maiden trip, but the other conditions were completely opposite. We traded cold rainy beach weather for hot dry mountain weather, though we still had water to play in. We live near sea level north of Seattle and went up and over Steven's Pass out to Lake Wenatchee. There's a state park campground on the east end of the lake, our goal was a campground on the west end called Glacier View. It's first come first serve and it was full. Our ace in the hole was our buddy who was working nearby and had moved into a campsite midweek prior to being joined by us and the rest of his family. We were fortunate, I'm pretty sure the site we were in was one of the few that would take the truck and trailer without disconnecting and parking alongside. For anyone interested, the website for the campground says trailers less than 15', we found that there should be an asterisk next to that. We were in site 3. Site 4 and 6 looked like they'd take a trailer, but you'd probably have to disconnect and park alongside. I didn't see sites 1 and 2, but I'm not certain they'd take a trailer. The sites numbered higher than 6 were all walk in, where you parked on the road and carried your camping stuff in, so not really trailer friendly. On the plus side, if you love mosquitoes then you will be in heaven here. They're everywhere. We borrowed some OFF from our friends and I'm pretty sure I could hear the mosquitoes laughing as they bored through it. This would be a great place to camp right after the first good freeze. Also, you won't have to worry as much about tree sap on the ground. I'm pretty sure the kiddos managed to bring half of it into the trailer, the other half made it into their clothes and hair. It was pretty neat.

Despite all the drawbacks, site 3 was a piece of cake to get into, just mind the drop off on the driver side as you back in. It's okay though, there's a tree stump just the right height to stop you solidly before you go over. :thumbsup:

The final park job:
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Site 3 is also one of the larger ones in the site. That's the tent and Tahoe that our friends were in on the right of the picture. Plenty of room to spread out and play for the kiddos.

The big dirt area in front of the trucks is part of the turnaround for the boat launch, which provided some good cleanish family entertainment the few times it was used. The boat launch itself was just a shallow gravel beach, perfect for teaching the finer points of rock throwing:

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One thing that I couldn't help but notice was the amount of ground clearance that I'd built into the trailer. Yeah, I know I've got a solid axle on it, but everything else is tucked up higher than the truck, and even the axle sits higher than the truck's rear differential and front skidplates. I am a little worried about the storage basement hanging down, you can see it a bit in the following picture as the shiny spot under the truck. I'm debating whether I should add a skidplate for it mounted to the frame rails. I'm not planning on hitting it, but y'know how plans go.

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We learned a bit more about the trailer and living out of it on this trip. We need to finish making curtains so that we can make the trailer darker during our long summer days. We need to dial in our shoe storage better. I've got a couple ideas that I want to try out for this. I need to figure out a better way to hold the galley open. I'm using a long stick at the moment and I imagine that it will work great right up til I bump it hard enough to knock the hatch shut. That'll be a bummer. Shade is still an issue. I've got a couple of awnings in the mail at the moment, I've just gotta figure out how I'll put them on. The awnings I've seen installed on teardrops have for the most part looked out of place. I've got some ideas though, we'll see how it goes.

And, I'm also starting to look at a weathertight plug that I can use for the battery tender. I think I'm going to go with one of the Blue Sea 12v plugs. They come with a watertight cap, I'm just not certain how watertight they are. I'd like to be able to modify the connector on the battery tender so that when I get home I can just plug it directly into the side of the trailer.

Last but not least, I've still got work to do on the galley chuck box. I've got a good plan, now I just need to get going on it.

Oh, and I need to finish painting/varnishing the inside. And install more trim pieces. And finish the wiring ducts. And install the third brake light. And fix the window leak... I'm sure the trailer will be done soon. In the meantime, trailer nights 5 and 6 went pretty good overall :)
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop

Postby KCStudly » Tue Jul 31, 2018 6:10 am

Looks like a gorgeous place to be (despite the mosquitoes). :thumbsup:
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Re: Rough Road Raindrop

Postby Louisd75 » Sun Aug 05, 2018 10:30 pm

More progress! Today I made some headway on some interior work. We found that we wanted a handy spot for storing small things that we might want in the night, chapstick, water bottle, keys, etc. I've been trying to clean out the garage (ha!) and ran across a bunch of 1/4" plywood remnants that I'd squirreled away because I'm a packrat. Anyhow, because a picture would save a lot of explaining, here's the shelf/cubby idea:

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This is the one for the driver's side, I'm making them for both sides. The forward part face will have a cutout to access a small compartment, the top has a 1/2" lip and is deep/wide enough to hold a Nalgene bottle. The cubby uses the top of the wheel well cover as its base. Here's what the inside looks like:

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The forward face is to the left, so you can see the small compartment that is made. There's another void just aft of the cubby. I'm really tempted to cut another opening that faces inboard. The problem is that it's really not that much space. There *might* be enough room that I could fit a paperback or something in there, but it'd have to be a thin one, probably nothing by Clancy and definitely nothing by Michener. It might not be a bad spot for storing a cellphone charger or something though... Hmm... Gonna have to think about that one. I'm still gluing the cubbies up and it'll be a couple of days before they'll be ready to install so I've got time to make changes. I also still need to install the 3rd brake light, finish covering up the wiring, varnish the interior, make one more curtain and make the chuckbox. Fortunately the trailer is still usable as is, we've got a two week window of freedom coming up that we're going to try and take advantage of. I'm hoping to have a total of 20 nights in the trailer by the end of the year and this is the prime time for it.

In other news, the awnings have shown up. I've got two Smittybilt 2500mm x 2500mm awnings that will be mounted to the roof. I'm storing them where they'll be installed and it doesn't look there will be any issues. Yet. I ordered different mounting brackets but those haven't shown up yet. Hopefully I'll have all that done by mid week.
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