A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Canvas covered foamies (Thrifty Alternatives...)

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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby Bruue1 » Sun Apr 22, 2018 6:17 pm

I wanted to put some more pics of my wheel wells up. I covered the wheel wells in fiberglass to prevent the sharp metal edges from cutting the canvas covering when it was applied. My fiberglass had rough resin edges of its own but I was able to grind those down and get relatively rounded edges. I then painted what exposed metal was left along with the fiberglass, I used Bonds Primer from Menards. It is comparable to Glidden Gripper. Then I filled in the top with light weight spackle and blocked that down until it was reasonably passable.

In the first pic you can see how I wrapped the wheel wells in fiberglass. Its ugly in this pic.

Second pic one of the wheel wells covered with light weight spackle and blocked down.

The third pic is of the wheel well covered in canvas. The canvas wraps right around to the other side. Turned out pretty good.

FYI:
I am soaking these huge sheets of canvas in a 5 gallon bucket full of tightbond and water before applying the canvas to the wall of the trailer. As you can imagine the canvas comes out of the bucket very wrinkly. In the third pic it looks like the applied canvas is wrinkled all over. While the wheel well spackling job was lacking and not entirely monolithic I just want to say all the wrinkles you can see are not really there. The canvas is flat. Its like you can see the memory of the wrinkle in the canvas even though it has been flattened out. I might have a wrinkle here or there on each side, but over all they all came out very flat. Up close you can see all the patterns of the wrinkles that were there before the canvas was applied.
Hopefully they will disappear under the paint.

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

Postby Bruue1 » Sun Apr 22, 2018 6:28 pm

Here are the other two sides of canvas. The two long side walls were a bear. Most of the seams are still looking good to me. Next step will be to paint the bottom and then bolt this camper box to the trailer frame. After that I'll drop the frame real low and get busy canvassing the roof. Which I now understand should be easier and will be less messy and should go much faster.

8)

Every day is a step closer. :awesome:
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby Don L. » Sun Apr 22, 2018 7:50 pm

That looks really nice!
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby Don L. » Sun Apr 22, 2018 8:11 pm

I just read a previous post and saw that you had some shrinking of the canvas. My guess is that it comes from soaking it in TB2? Full strength?
I have read from others that have had similar experiences. I expected that on mine but the canvas didn't shrink and I think it is because I didn't soak it in glue. Instead I slathered the TB2 on the foam full strength with a roller and pressed the canvas onto that.

I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how well a foamy stays cool in the heat and sun. It just never builds up heat like a metal/denser material does. Of course some ventilation is necessary and you seem to have taken that into consideration.
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby Bruue1 » Sun Apr 22, 2018 9:36 pm

Thanks for the comment Don.

Yeah I'm pretty pumped about the whole thing. I'm pretty sure its going to work now and will also be done on time barring any unforseen complication. I'm happy with the build. My wife is happy too. We think this camper will last a long time and will suit our needs very well. We're excited to take it out and use it.

We're starting to talk about names for it.
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby GPW » Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:09 am

Bru , almost Done :thumbsup: Looks Great !!! .. and Yes it looks like it’s going to work …. They’ve all worked so far ! :D
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby Bruue1 » Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:46 pm

Thanks GPW! Yeah its rockin along. I'm sure it will work great. This thing is a tank. If something runs into it I think a corner will crush or a hole will form before the walls shift or collapse. Nothing like any other camper I have owned. Its also very light.

I put the camper box back down on the frame today. The canvas wraps around the bottom of the camper box at least 4 inches on every side. The bottom of the camper box was all painted with Rustoleum Oil Primer then Black Rustoleum Oil Paint. Nothing is getting through. I also drilled a few small holes to run my battery wires and my tail light wires up into the box. I sealed those holes with some water proof latex caulk. I was sure to punsh the caulking all the way through completely filling the hole and locking the wires in place. I dropped the camper down on the frame. With the camper on the frame I had to adjust it a little, even using the awkward hand holds I could find I was able to pick up a corner/side of the camper box and shift it around on the frame as needed. This camper box is lighter than a ave sized piano. I did find either my camper box or the factory made frame is just a tiny bit out of square. My guess is the box, I just split the difference. I doubt anyone will ever notice its maye 1/8 inch off diagonally. I got under the camper and used a drill and some finish nails to mark out four good attachment points for the box. This way when I got into the box there was no guess work I could just drill right between the two finish nails in each corner of the box and I hit dead center of every steel frame crossmember I was aiming for. (I did go back and fill the finish nail holes with caulking too, just in case) I used 4 1/2" thick stainless steel bolts and lock nuts (one in each corner) to bolt the camper box to the frame.

Below is a picture of the camper bolted to the frame, with the wheels on and lowered to the floor off the jack stands. Tomorrow the roof will go on. Friday we will start painting. Its going to be all Rustoleum oil paint. I'm going to try to get it tinted to match my tow vehicle (Blue Highlander), we're just going to paint the camper all one color and I'll stencil our family brand onto one corner.
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby GPW » Wed Apr 25, 2018 5:00 am

Oil Paint eh ??? Like an Enamel … ? :thinking:
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby Don L. » Wed Apr 25, 2018 5:19 am

Nice progress!
I'm curious about your choice of oil paint too. I don't think oil is as good as it used to be and latex is better than ever. You may be the first one to try an oil paint over TB2 saturated canvas.
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby Bruue1 » Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:41 am

Well, I used oil paint on the bottom wood. Maybe I should use latex on the canvas? Latex is easier to work with, it might bring back the idea of a two tone paint job. I really have no idea. I had read a canoe building blog out of Canada where they were saying "use oil". They said since you can't buy marine oil based paint anymore to just use rust preventative oil paint. I would rather use latex.

Do you guys recommend using latex? Has anybody had to repaint their camper yet? Maybe I should use latex. I haven't purchased the paint yet. Nothing is set in stone. I will be painting this weekend. Maybe buying it later today.
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby Bruue1 » Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:45 am

I don't want to be the first to try anything with this camper. I just want this camper to function as well as all of the success stories on here. I will use latex. Thanks for the check. I do appreciate it. Its funny how one idea or blog can get derail my train of thought and point me in a different direction. A month ago I was thinking latex without even thinking, just by default.

:? :lol:

So latex. it will be less messy too.
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby dancam » Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:46 pm

Did you make any test pieces? I would give oil based paint a 99% chance of melting your glue and foam. I think what i tried first was an acrylic enamel and it melted everything. Latex is what everyone uses as far as i know

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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby Bruue1 » Wed Apr 25, 2018 2:24 pm

Dancam you are right. I was just ignorant of this having never really worked with foam at all. Oil paint dissolves styrofoam per Mr Google. I don't know if the canvas and/or wood glue would be a good enough barrier or not, I do not plan on finding out. Mr Google says to paint styrofoam with acrylic first the you can paint it with oil paint if you want to.

I'm very glad I did not slather oil paint all over the body of my camper. Of course the boat building forum I was reading in, where I got the oil paint idea, was concerned with canvas glued to wood, no styrofoam involved. For what its worth the little white line around the bottom of my camper is is Rustoleum Oil Primer, lightly applied as I painted the wooden underside and canvas. I have not noticed any difference in the integrity of the substrate and the paint is now fully dry. I doubt it even got close to soaking through the canvas.

I will definitely paint my camper with latex paint. I am very thankful to have a forum like this so that these huge mistakes can be corrected before they occur. Thank you everybody for possibly saving this entire project. I m glad for the education. If I had destroyed it I would not have taken a second run at it. At least not this year.
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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby dancam » Wed Apr 25, 2018 2:32 pm

Check out post #2 in my build thread. Photos are still working for me, let me know if they dont for you. http://tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?t=66816 that has photos of what the acrylic enamel did to my sample piece. It melted the glue as well as the foam and made it a squishy, nasty mess. Glad i could help. Always try a practise piece before doing anything to your whole trailer! Lol

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Re: A Tiny Travel Trailer for a Family of Four

Postby Bruue1 » Wed Apr 25, 2018 2:35 pm

The last pieces of canvas went on today. It feels good to be done slopping wood glue all over everything. Yes I posted another pic, lol.

Painting (with latex paint, oil paint melts foam :oops: ) will begin on Friday. I'm going to take the rest of today off. The weather is nice here today. Think I'll grill some chicken and we can all eat it out on the deck.
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