A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby Bruue1 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:26 pm

We went to the Camper and RV show at the US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis yesterday. Over all this time was a fun family outing. We did see many campers from roof top tents to huge luxurious motorhomes. I was looking for ideas. All I really saw was a bunch of ideas I would not do or I would have done differently. The build quality, fit and finish on just about every small "lightweight" trailer we saw was extremely sub par IMHO, they are also very expensive. They lightes ones still weigh 2600lbs dry. You could alwyas just get the Sylvan Sport, if you have $10000. Jiminy crickets, do they actually sell any of those. It is a pup tent on a small utility trailer, 10000 dollars.

My son and I got a lot done on the camper today. The floor is glued together, we installed the wheel wells and we have the beginnings of the internal (face) frame for the walls. Things are really getting fun now.

I am using 1.5 inch pink foam and 1/4" plywood for my walls. I will build a big face frame and then attach these structural panels to it. I used the wall materials to set the depth on a slide square. I used the slide square and a framing square to draw lines on my camper floor. I used the lines as guides when screwing the plywood strips to the camper floor. Everything came out very straight and square, the exterior walls when attached will sit flush with the edge of the camper floor.

If I am building a cabinet or piece of furniture I draw up everything and pre cut all of my materials at the same time. When building something like this I prefer to cut each piece as I go. I just hold the piece up to the project. Mark the piece. Cut the piece. Pre drill the piece. Glue and screw the piece on. This way everything is sure to come out flush and tight. This way you can make changes as you go too, if you feel inclined. Like when I am setting heights for the bunks I'll be able to play with them a bit before I am locked in.

My boy was working with me today, we had a lot of fun. You can see him putting a pocket screw in a pocket hole in one pic. For a 9 year old he works very hard. He did the screwing and I did the cutting and we split the drilling.

:D
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby swoody126 » Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:54 pm

learning what not to do is just as/more important than learning what you like/want to do

saves lotsa time & money

sw
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby GPW » Mon Mar 19, 2018 6:08 am

WARNING: ( mini -rant )
We went to several RV shows … Nothing but smooth talking salesmen, well trained at making cold sales ,trying to appeal to the wife, and dodging my meaningful questions like a politician ( or just outright lying , BS’ing ) .... Having actually owned a RV now , we can confirm it's nothing but a “racket” … Slick “looking “ , Expensive units , Hastily assembled from ill considered ( the cheapest) materials ( pray it doesn’t rain on it) , basically useless warranties ( so many things not covered in the "Fine print" in the manual ) …EXTREMELY expensive repair and service rates, Ridiculous markups on common materials ... They talk a good game . but it’s all just all about the Money , and when it comes time to deliver , it’s you that will be delivering to them … lots of Money … :frightened:
The reason I LOVE this site and it’s members … and avoid Anything “RV” .. :thumbsup:

But don’t believe me , just check out any ( non factory ) RV Forum and see for yourself.

Apologies for the angst , people start talking RV and frustrating ( and expensive ) old memories return …


Bru, Looking Good Dude !!! :thumbsup:
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby Bruue1 » Tue Mar 20, 2018 5:32 pm

Yeah, I don't finance anything and the only thing I will buy new is a Toyota. Even those I get used, because they devalue so quickly. You gotta find the sweet spot. I enjoyed taking school field trips to the RV and Boat show when I was young in economics class. We just went to this one on a whim to let the kids run through the campers, and because we're building a camper of our own. The show is fun, marginally. They are all a bunch of swindlers, for sure. Oneof the salesmen was even kind of creepy trying to teach my boy a majic trick. Don't ever allow yourself to be disillusioned by someone whose job it is to separate you from your money. Money is a measurement of energy, but the system is open not closed. If you are not careful, you can end up throwing your energy away at nothing. Even just $200/month is a drain of your energy, a drain of your potential. Don't worry, I'm no sucker. I just wanted to see them. They failed to impress. Really I didn't even like the airstreams.
;)

So I got the camper box frame built today.

I included a pic of my little kreg jig and face clamp. In case anyone is wondering about how easy it is to make pocket holes. I think my little set up on a is faster and more versatile than the "master jig" kreg sells for much more money. Just my opinion after using my little one for years. By the way I've had the same jig for years, I use it all the time, it still works great. I had to replace the drill bit once.

I included a pic of clamping my angle board up. Instead of using trigonometry I used two clamps and a pencil. My angles were great. Mark, then cut to fit.

Looks like tomorrow I'll begin laminating my foam structural panels for the walls. I want to get those up and the ceiling on. I have decided to wrap it in glue and canvas after all. Stick with the tried and true. Any thoughts on how to blend the canvas seams on the exterior walls? Did I read right? Are you guys spackling the foam to fill gaps? Like plaster of paris? or joint compound? What are you using? Thanks for any help.
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby Bruue1 » Tue Mar 20, 2018 6:41 pm

GPW No worries at all. I love your rant and agree 100%. It extends beyond RVs. Houses, cars, furniture, food just about anything a person could buy. The whole system is a racket. Driving quarterly profits. It is hugely frustrating. There is not even one evil person or one group of evil people behind the drive. It is just a run away train built on decades of driving consumer purchases to grow share holder profits. We've all been fooled multiple times, the most talented psychologists go to work making commercials not curing mental illness. We're are inundated with commercials and ads specifically designed to cause us to attach our sense of self worth to our ability to purchase new and shiny things. We get a little emotional lift when we have something new but the feeling is replaced with dissatisfaction as soon as that thing is not new anymore.

Many things like RVS, Appliances, Furniture fail prematurely. I don't think they have fail dates built into the design, but I do think they have a minimal functional lifespans built into the design plan, then they meet that time line as cheaply as possible.

Of course these things are just on the surface, greed and power are so inherent in the global economy that it scares me, thoroughly, when I think about the manipulations and machinations going on of which I have little or no idea. We can only hope that there is enough good energy and positive productive people still in the world to counteract the bullshit. These things are beyond our control. The only way we can make a difference, for ourselves individually, and for ourselves as a group is by choosing not to participate. It works, mircro and macro, it works.

So lets build our own campers, our own cabinetry for our homes, our own greenhouses, our own chicken coops, lets do our own plumbing, carpentry, house maintenance, lets mow our own yard, lets live within our means, lets buy used beat up cars like toyota camrys and honda civics and cruiser buicks, they are almost free to own after a year or two. Lets have a savings account instead of a credit card.

Screw the man! I am a man! My own man. Don't be mad at the salesman, feel sorry for him and be glad you are no longer able to be exploited per his intention. Be free of him. Provide a better example and maybe one day he will follow and free himself.

I'm serious, peacefully, quietly, proudly, defiantly, productively, positively, all we can do is look to our own shores and do what we can within our scope. (At the RV show I was kind of a jerk, I kept talking down about the campers within earshot of the salespeople and their potential purchasers, not directly, I was talking to my wife, but I was doing it and I happen to talk loud, because I am a little "off")

:? :lol:

Sorry for the rant. I feel resentful towards much of what I see for sale myself, and other things too.

Anyways, I'm glad I found the right site. I knew you guys were a good group.
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby GPW » Wed Mar 21, 2018 5:06 am

Bru , I know we both feel better after all that … I sure do !!!

The build is looking good !!! :thumbsup: LOVE those wheel wells !!! Sorry If i missed that , but did you make them ?
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby Bruue1 » Wed Mar 21, 2018 7:55 am

I'm happy with the wheel wells too. They came from the old camper. I'm glad I was able to salvage them. Making new ones would have been a bear.

I need more interior space. This camper is going to get something kind of like a short boat tail today. No time like the present. I'll post a pic or two tonight.

Have a good day. :D
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby Bruue1 » Wed Mar 21, 2018 6:31 pm

I needed more interior room to get adequate length on the side bunks. So I changed the back end adding something I'm calling a tubby boat tail. It got me nine more inches of interior space. That will make the side bunks full length and make the kitchen nine inches longer.

I'm hanging a lot of high face framed boards on my own on the top of a ladder. I made a little jig to hold the other end of the boards. You can call it a third man or a deam man or whatever you want. I posted a close up pick of it and a pic of it in use. Just in case there is someone who hasn't seen this trick before. Its beginning framing stuff but if someone hasn't seen one the pictures will be useful when you are trying to hang the high boards.

The other pic is end of day today with the new extended rear end. I'm glad I took the time to redo it. Now the camper is more functional and I like the shape of it better. Who knows maybe the rear will shed air a little better too.
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby Don L. » Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:10 pm

It will be interesting to see how your interior layout turns out. That extra 9 inches can make a big difference, more so in a small camper than a large one. Your build looks really nice!

Regarding your question about smoothing out exterior canvas seams, I have thought about that and not found a great solution. On Bluebird I ironed down the seams some and painted on extra TB2 or gripper but I stayed away from spackling type things. My reasoning is because the foam substrate is soft and if a hard sparkling is put on top of it and the spackled part takes even a light blow it will crack or dent or separate due to a lack of a hard support. Make sense?
I guess a spackling could be used, but a soft kind might heal a bit better should it suffer a knock.
For the Bluebird I just tried to make the seams as neat and as minimal as possible.

I think about this issue of how hard should the 'skin' should be (skin= meaning canvas,TB2, spackling , epoxy, fiberglass, etc..) partly because I was given a small sailboat, a Sunflower, which is 30-40 yrs old. It is a foam hull with a fabric (like canvas) glued on. The canvas has come loose in several spots sort of like a bubble so it needs to be fixed. After looking at the manufacturers' website and suggestions for repairs I question their advice. They say re-glue the loose canvas with epoxy by injecting or slitting the fabric. My experience with epoxy tells me it is hard once it cures. Or at least much harder than the foam substrate... so if the epoxy repair were to suffer a blow like hitting a rock or such then the epoxy patch might crack since it only has foam as a substrate.
It seems to me that a softer glue like TB2 might be a better adhesive for the repair since it gives a little.
Foam (as a substrate) seems to heal itself given a little time and heat which would be a good thing as long as a hard surface like epoxy or fiberglass isn't used. Make sense?
Link to my foamie camper build viewtopic.php?f=55&t=67321
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby ghcoe » Thu Mar 22, 2018 8:21 pm

Bruue1 wrote: Any thoughts on how to blend the canvas seams on the exterior walls? Did I read right? Are you guys spackling the foam to fill gaps? Like plaster of paris? or joint compound? What are you using? Thanks for any help.


Not sure if you can actually blend the seams. I would be afraid the seam might begin to pull apart with expansion and contraction of the foam I would overlap the canvas to link the canvas together. You can read through how I did my canvas seams on the roof and front bottom edge on my build here http://tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=55&t=54099&start=465 . The method produced a nice clean looking seam.

I used DAP Light Weight Spackle in my build. Seems to work fine so far.
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My build viewtopic.php?t=54099
Working with flashing for foamie construction viewtopic.php?f=55&t=60303
Making a hot wire http://tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=55&t=55323
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby GPW » Fri Mar 23, 2018 5:40 am

Seams are just the Nature of Foamies … They really don’t look bad in reality and if you keep them straight they can become part of the design … Look how nice George’s came out !!!… :thumbsup: Just accept them as part of the process , use them and besides, you won’t even see them at 50‘ away … ;) I think if there was any one thing that would cause people mental trouble in foamies is chasing seams and trying to get a shiny smooth surface ( no seams , no weave ) … It really doesn’t make any difference , and having real ( actually proven ) Foamie properties is much better than having a glass smooth finish … besides those smooth trailers you have to WAX … :o Foamie , you just wash off .. :) And foam and canvas heals itself !!! It’s True !!!

Bru , at this stage I‘d highly recommend including some type of drip edge/flashing along the bottom … It really works to keep the water ( any water, morning dew or gullywasher ) away from the bottom of the trailer, and AWAY from your floor … ;) Generally over time, floors seem to always have trouble in trailers … the simplest of drip edges prevents many problems … You’ve done a great job so far , and a foamie has the potential to last a LONG time , so might as well prevent any trouble along the way …

Guys , just a thought , you can disguise your seams with a snappy Paint Job ( two tone ), separated by “the seam” ... :thinking:
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby GPW » Fri Mar 23, 2018 5:55 am

On my Foamie #1, I only had narrow width canvas ( used what I had ) , and had a big wide seam running from front to back … Didn’t matter really over time …
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby Bruue1 » Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:34 pm

Don, that makes sense. I was hesitant to put any real hardening mud on it myself. Maybe some lightweight DAP like ghcoe used would work well. I'll just see how it goes. That sounds like a fun boat, good luck with it. I'd be interested to know how it turns out. I would imagine just about anything with a good hold would get you years of service out of your repairs. My guess would be that wood glue or epoxy would work for long time. DO you know what the manufacturer used initially?

ghcoe I read through pages 30-33 of your build thread. The seams on your trailer turned out really nice and straight. If I can get mine looking half as straight I think can ive with it. Thanks for the step by step on the second wall complete with the hanger board, pvc weight, clamps and rope. My trailer is probably a little over 12 feet long now. I'll probably have to have seems down the middle of each side. I could still adapt the hanging method you developed and will likely do so.

GPW I had not thought of drip edge, you are right that would be a good idea. If I put it on it will likely be some flexible think vinyl or plastic flat flashing, I'll gllue it on to the painted canvas surface near the bottom and extending down past the floor/frame seam. The just a tiny bead of clear silicone around the top. Black would be the color, it wouldn't stick out, it would blend with the frame.

I think just a bead of caulk like someone else had mentioned would work too, the bead doesn't even need to have a proud profile, it just needs to seal the crack between the frame and the floor. But this would need to be redone/checked annually Another thought I had, which I am not going to do because I am getting to the end of my camper budget and timeline, would be to run the canvas all the way down around the bottom of the frame. It would only work if your walls were flush with the frame like mine are. You could face the frame with wood ahead of time to glue the canvas to it or you could just run a second metal bar along the bottom of the frame c channel acting as a clamp. Drill some holes along the length and clamp the canvas between the two after you pulled it tight. I like facing the frame with wood better the clamping bar idea might end up requiring a drip edge of its own negating the benefit. I think I would wrap the frame in canvas on the next one. This would allow a person to bolt the edges of the floor down to the edges of the frame too, in my case I plan on bolting to crossmembers inset a few inches as my walls are thicker than the side rails of my frame and I need to wrap the canvas underneath the floor before I bolt the camper box down. HUH Oh well. Next time.
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby Bruue1 » Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:47 pm

Today I finished framing in the wall attachment points for my bunks, kitchen and sitting. Below is one more framing picture, last one, I promise. The picture was the end of day today. I am done screwing wood onto it for now. Tomorrow I will start cutting foam and plywood for making wall panels.

I got some cool wavy jig saw blades made specifically for clean cutting soft materials like cardboard and foam. Bosch makes them. I'm going to give those a shot. I have a cheap $25 adjustable depth hot knife I am going to try. I have some really small thin hot knives for detail cutting foam. I also have razor blades. My plan is to cut the interior plywood panel, use that as a template to cut the foam, then laminate them together forming a structural panel. I should be installing at least a few wall pieces by Sunday 3/25.

Walls, wiring, lights, stereo, vent fan, window holes, door hole, roof, vent hole, filling, sanding smoothing, wrapping, painting, sanding, painting, sanding etc... window and door installation, then its all interior stuff. Bunks, cushions, cushion covers, curtains, kitchen cabinetry, inverter, refrigerator, heater, sink, stove top, water pump and tank, seating. Plumbing, sewing, more wiring, building.

There is still a ways to go but we are getting there. We will be going to Yellowstone National park in the last week of May through the first week of June. I want to get this out for a weekend or two before that trip just to work the kinks out and to make sure its not going to blow apart on the highway. We'll make it.
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby GPW » Sat Mar 24, 2018 5:13 am

Quote: “ to make sure its not going to blow apart on the highway. “ … You’d be the First !!! :lol:

Just a very simple and small drip edge diverts all water away from your WOOD floor … doesn’t have to be any thing complex…
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