A canned ham in foam: Built

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A canned ham in foam: Built

Postby NMMarauder » Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:34 am

I thought I would introduce myself and my build. My name is Ron and I'm a mechanical engineer from Albuquerque, NM. I've spent the majority of my career writing software and doing statistical work. Go figure! Anyway, I like building things in my spare time and I decided my next project would be a trailer. The quality of work and ingenuity of designs on this site have set the bar very high. Here were my design criteria going into the project.

1. A pleasure to tow, simple and functional, and stylish. That pretty much describes the appeal of a teardrop trailer.
2. Standing room, a permanent bed, a permanent dinette, a potty. Ready to step into with no setup. A canned ham fits this pretty well and I really like the shape.
3. As inexpensive as practical. Foam fits the bill for keeping it light and inexpensive.

That's how I got to a foam canned ham.

Dimension specifics:
Width of trailer: 79 inches overall. Interior width of 75 inches.
Height interior: approx. 6 feet
Length of trailer cab: 12 feet. 3.5 foot long tongue
Total trailer length: 15.5 feet
Overall trailer height of less than 90 inches (7.5 feet)

Here is a look at the exterior design. Curbside:
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Streetside:
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Here is the ¼ scale model I made to get a better look at the shape and to be able to try out different paint schemes. I'm all ears if you have ideas for the paint scheme. This is just a first shot.
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Interior:
Dinette up front. It is drawn with a round table but I’ll make it with a table that can be turned into another bed or bench seating.
Potty compartment by the door. The compartment might turn into a cubby but it is shown here as a full compartment.
Pantry shelving designed to hold wicker baskets.
Cooler (the green thing) slides under the bed. That's a big 5 day @ 90 degrees cooler.
Counter with “closet”. The red thing is carry-on luggage. The kind that fits in the overhead bins of an airplane. The wife and I are pretty adept at living out of one so we each get a spot for our carry on and that is our closet. Additional storage around 'closet'
Full size bed in the rear with accessible storage from the outside.

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The black thing in the very back is the spare tire. I can't decide if I want to put it up front or in the rear.
Last edited by NMMarauder on Mon Aug 17, 2015 11:28 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: New Build: A canned ham in foam

Postby NMMarauder » Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:12 pm

Step 1. Build or acquire a trailer.

I looked at the harbor freight trailers and I know lots of people have used them successfully but I just couldn’t convince myself to use one. I like to have more control of my design and they have already made too many design choices that don’t fit into my plans. I looked a buying a derelict trailer and tearing it down for the frame but it was much more work that just starting with fresh steel.

So I decided building from scratch (while 3 times the price of other options) was the best route. Having a good solid trailer (built to your exact specifications) is always an advantage.

I ordered the axle from Southwest Wheel. It’s a 2000lb flexride axle with 5 on 4.5 center lugs. I really like how easy it is to change the ride height. I chose steel wheels (14”) and baby moon hubcaps because I have always liked the way they look.

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I bought steel (all 1/8 inch thick). 2 inch square for the frame, 2x3 for the tongue and 2 inch angle for the cross members.
Here is the frame (upside down) during construction.

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I’m a big fan of the bulldog hitch. They are such a pleasure to hitch to the vehicle that I’m not sure why anyone would want to use anything else. Here is the frame (right side up) while being primed.

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I used my father's barn to build the trailer since he has more room than my garage and he is a better welder. Plus it gave me another set of hands (and brain) to help make sure I get everything square and true. Here is the trailer with temp wiring for the trip back home.

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Last edited by NMMarauder on Mon May 04, 2015 7:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Build: A canned ham in foam

Postby desertmoose » Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:37 pm

This looks great. I'll be watching this one.

Sam
See our build journal at: viewtopic.php?f=50&t=45718

See the shakedown trip at: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=50112

More photos at: http://photobucket.com/horny_towd_teardrop
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Re: New Build: A canned ham in foam

Postby KCStudly » Thu Feb 19, 2015 12:42 pm

Welcome to the forum. Looks like you are off to a great start and are more than qualified to "build on".

Nice start and a good looking plan. I like the fact that your cooler (variable ballast) is located close to the axle, and that the loo is away from the food prep area, close to the door for easy disposal. The orientation you have modeled opens up the option of a simple curtain rod or hoop to close the entryway and add a little privacy while still keeping the closet small.

One thing you might consider is adding a slight archway/gusset brace spanning side to side over the leading edge of the bed (reference GPW's arch sketches in the big thrifty thread, IIRC). This would stiffen the roof and walls considerably and would not be an objectionable architectural detail (IMO), defining the spaces.

:thumbsup:
Last edited by KCStudly on Thu Feb 19, 2015 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Build: A canned ham in foam

Postby NMMarauder » Thu Feb 19, 2015 1:16 pm

KCStudly,

You read my mind about the curtain hoop. That was the plan but I hadn't really worked out the specific details yet. The idea about the archway is brilliant. I like it because it is not only functional but it could also be a very attractive architectural element that's missing from modern trailers. A nice archway is always pleasing to the eye.
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Re: New Build: A canned ham in foam

Postby NMMarauder » Thu Feb 19, 2015 2:54 pm

Because I didn't like the look of a rectangular door among the curves of the canned ham shape and the round windows, I was pretty much forced to build my own door. This turned out to be very time consuming. Partly because I'm much better working with steel than wood, and partly because I have fairly crude wood working tools. Also, to get a good fit, no leaks and smooth operation, the tolerances have to be pretty tight.

Here is the door internal structure with the interior face of the door being face down on the concrete. In retrospect, I overbuilt the door, but the door is strong and it doesn't flex at all.
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I chose to put a Wiley window in the door and not have a screen door. Here is the outside face of the door (lying face down on the saw horses) and you can see the back face of the door on the ground behind it. You can see the glue as they are about to be mated.
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Here is the door (all put together) with the outside face up getting ready for canvas.
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Here is a couple of shots of the door (outside face down) as I trimmed the seams before the canvas on the interior side was applied.
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Re: New Build: A canned ham in foam

Postby bonnie » Thu Feb 19, 2015 3:18 pm

Very nice. Your build will be fun to watch. :thumbsup:
Remember, the turtle won. :)
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Re: New Build: A canned ham in foam

Postby NMMarauder » Thu Feb 19, 2015 3:40 pm

Here is the door finished. It still needs a door knob. It is 2" thick so I plan on using a standard knob and it uses standard door (security) hinges. I don't know if it will show in the photo but there are 3 weep holes on the window to allow the water to drain back outside. One in the center and two more on each side. I used the best quality exterior paint I could find to paint the door. The door weighs 24 lbs. It's like the cast iron skillet of doors. It will last forever.
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Here is the inside of the door. The foam wedge is holding the screen in place. I still need to cut the glass.
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Here is my first door frame. I used studs and OSB for the faces. This turned out to be a mistake. The wood frame eventually twisted. If you pushed in on the top right corner, the bottom left corner would poke out.
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So I had to redo the frame. Maybe I could have straightened it out on installation but I didn't want to take the chance. So I rebuilt the frame it using 3/4 7 ply plywood glued together to create studs. I used 5/8 inch plywood for the faces. Here is a shot of the front of the new door frame. I've left a 1/2" lip to allow for a seal on the backside of the door. It's all painted (except for the face which gets canvas with the rest of the trailer side).
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Here is the door sitting in the frame but not on the hinges. It's already been fitted for the hinges and it works great. But for painting, I took it all back apart and I won't put the door back in until the frame is installed in the wall.
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I understand why purchasing a door is so much more popular than building one. It's a huge time sink to build a good one.
Last edited by NMMarauder on Thu Feb 19, 2015 9:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Build: A canned ham in foam

Postby KCStudly » Thu Feb 19, 2015 3:51 pm

NMMarauder wrote:I understand why purchasing a door is so much more popular than building one. It's a huge time sink to build a good one.


Yes, but like you said about the trailer, there is only one way to get it exactly how you want it; build it yourself! And it is a mighty fine door, at that! :thumbsup:

Okay, spill the beans. Just how far along are you in your build? This surely didn't all happen in a day! ;)
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Re: New Build: A canned ham in foam

Postby NMMarauder » Thu Feb 19, 2015 4:13 pm

Somehow I lost the pictures of the windows as they were being built. They are yellow pine and plywood. I had to make one of the lips that hold the wedge removable so that I could remove the window pane or screen. There won't be enough clearance between the window and ceiling to lift them out. I used wing nuts and threaded rod because it was simple and effective.
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The back windows over the bed are just larger. Hopefully they provide plenty of ventilation.
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I like the Wiley windows for a couple of reasons. They are so simple that there is nothing to break. You can make your window any shape and still have it open. The window pane could be swapped out for a 1/2 piece of rigid foam in cases of winter camping or storage. I haven't personally tested them myself but several people on the board have and they appear to be happy with them. I'm excited to see how well they work.

It's hard to see from the pictures but there is a 20 degree slope on the bottom to drive any water that gets in back out the weep holes.
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Re: New Build: A canned ham in foam

Postby NMMarauder » Thu Feb 19, 2015 4:18 pm

KC,

I'm exactly 320 hours into this project. I've been tracking my time and costs but I have been too busy to post before now. I'm sure you know how much work it is to get the pictures together, resize them and get them posted. I don't have the walls or roof up yet but I am getting close. It won't take but a few more posts to get everyone caught up on my progress.

-Ron
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Re: New Build: A canned ham in foam

Postby bonnie » Thu Feb 19, 2015 4:20 pm

I like your window solution.
Remember, the turtle won. :)
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Re: New Build: A canned ham in foam

Postby NMMarauder » Thu Feb 19, 2015 4:39 pm

I didn't learn my lesson building 1 door, so I decided to build 2 more; the access hatch doors. They were almost as much work as the door even though they are a fraction of the size. They are two pieces of plywood sandwiching a piece of rigid insulation. The whole door was then completely covered in canvas. The frames are all plywood.

Here it is shown with a sash lock. Not sure if that is what it will ultimately end up with but I was short on time searching for hardware so I'm going with it until I find something better.
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Here is is with the frame. Again there is a lip on the inside to provide a place for the seal.
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Re: New Build: A canned ham in foam

Postby GPW » Thu Feb 19, 2015 4:43 pm

Nice work Ron !!! :thumbsup: 8)
There’s no place like Foam !
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Re: New Build: A canned ham in foam

Postby NMMarauder » Thu Feb 19, 2015 5:46 pm

Let's make some foam dust. I glued 3 pieces of 2 inch foam together (end to end) and traced the outline of the trailer. I cut it out using a jig saw and then glued canvas to the inside.
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Then I flipped it over and starting routing the lip around the openings (this will make sense in a minute) and then cut the openings.
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here is a closeup of the hatch opening.
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The lip allows the windows and doors to sit flush with the rest of the wall. This is the view of the exterior of the wall. My plan is to canvas over the whole thing and only cut out the opening. In this image the front window is already glued in but the one next to it is just sitting in there. Once I get them glued in I will do some finish work with the seams much like you do with drywall seams. I'm waiting until I am done moving the walls around to glue the windows in and do the finish work.
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