Carbon Fiber/Aluminum build for a family of 5

...ask your questions in the appropriate forums BUT document your build here...preferably in a single thread...dates for updates, are appreciated....

Re: Aluminum/Composite build for a family of 5

Postby aggie79 » Mon Jan 21, 2019 8:21 am

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Tom (& Linda)
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Re: Aluminum/Composite build for a family of 5

Postby StrongFeather » Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:49 pm

For those of you that may be following this build, but not the post on my construction technique, I wanted to let you know that the very first test panel was pulled from the mold today! Follow the link in my signature if you want to see it.

There won't be many updates on this post until I make some progress on the panels and start turning them into something that resembles a very small camper for 5.

:beer:
Steve
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Re: Aluminum/Composite build for a family of 5

Postby StrongFeather » Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:19 pm

I just posted the following on my Construction Technique post, but a lot of it is appropriate to this build journal so I decided to drop a copy of it here as well.
:beer:
Steve

Windows
For my first build, I plan on simply creating wood frames that I'll epoxy in place on the inside of the panel, then cut out the opening in the skin with a router and flush cutting bit.

Doors
Doors could be done just like windows if using commercially built units. My doors will be custom panels (because I'm crazy) with 180° hinges and square windows. One door on each side.

Wall-to-frame attachment
My plan is VHB tape between the bottom of the wall and top of the frame. I'll also use 1/4-20 bolts up through the frame into the bottom of the wall panels using special T-nuts made for fiberglass/composites. Each wall panel will have one bolt.

Interior Skinning
I'm still on the fence with this. One option would be to skin the interior after the entire shell is assembled. Plenty of people do this on their traditionally made TD's and it works great, however it means working inside, on a vertical (or overhead) surface and could require mechanical fasteners to hold the skin on the wall (even if using epoxy). As of today, I'm leaning towards vacuum bagging the skins onto the walls (and roof) before assembling them on the trailer frame, i.e. skinning a hole wall laying on the floor. This means all of the wiring has to be installed, and windows, etc... have to be thought of and planned for before the skins are done. Doing it this way will create the ultimate sandwich panel and have a clean, smooth finish without mechanical fasteners.

For those that don't understand what I mean by vacuum bagging, I'll try to explain. An entire outside part of the wall would be assembled; the individual panels would be glued together, XPS would be glued into the cavities, wiring would be ran and window frames would be installed. Once that is done, it would be laid on a long sheet of plastic (at least twice the length of the wall). Then epoxy would be spread on the entire surface of the wall and the inside skin (luan, baltic birch, or whatever) would be laid on top. Then the plastic sheet would be pulled over the entire wall and a vacuum would pull all of the air out. The result is that atmospheric pressure becomes a very large clamp that acts equally across all surfaces of the part inside the "bag".

Wiring
My trailer will have a V-nose section that will house all of the electronics, batteries, wiring terminals and so on. I will home-run wires to all lights, switches, outlets, etc... No daisy chaining because chances are it will be a lot of work to open the walls up to fix something like a loose connection later on. I will drill small holes in the wall panel frames, similar to studs in a house, and run the wires along the top and bottom of the walls. I will also notch the foam for the wires to sit in with a router. The notching in the foam will be on the interior side, not the outside, mostly to avoid the higher surface temperatures from the sun beating down on a black surface. It will be a little tricky getting the wires from the side walls into the V-nose, but I have that mapped out in my head. The rear storage area and ceiling should be pretty straight forward.

Ceiling
I didn't mention this earlier, so here are a couple of comments. This trailer will be black (because I'm crazy), so I'll probably double-up on the insulation to stave off mother sun a little bit. The roof will be sloped to each side (higher in the middle), but the ceiling will be flat. This may create enough space for a pseudo attic that I'm thinking about using as an air conditioner plenum to distribute cold air evenly throughout the cabin vs one air outlet blasting cold air onto the lucky or unlucky person sleeping in the bunk next to the air conditioner.

Sorry for the long post. Thanks for hanging on.

:beer:
Steve
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Re: Aluminum/Composite build for a family of 5

Postby Az Pete » Thu Mar 07, 2019 8:13 am

following..... Impressive frame construction!


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Re: Aluminum/Composite build for a family of 5

Postby Az Pete » Thu Mar 07, 2019 4:44 pm

have you considered any of the high tech adhesives to reinforce the bolted joints in your frame?


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Re: Aluminum/Composite build for a family of 5

Postby rjgimp » Thu Mar 07, 2019 7:49 pm

StrongFeather wrote:
Atomic77 wrote:Just curious, will you be walking on the floor? (As opposed to some tears where the bed takes up the entire floor)


A wise man once said "The Strength is in the Sum of the Parts..." so I’m hoping that it’ll not only be a strong floor but add strength to the entire structure when it’s assembled.



Yep, I seem to recall some wiseguy saying something like that a time or three. :lol:
-Rob


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Re: Aluminum/Composite build for a family of 5

Postby StrongFeather » Fri Mar 08, 2019 9:58 am

Az Pete wrote:have you considered any of the high tech adhesives to reinforce the bolted joints in your frame?


Thanks for the compliment, Pete. Honestly, I didn’t consider using adhesives. Not because I didn’t think it would work, but because it never came up in what I read/saw when I was designing it. If it had come up, knowing myself, I probably would have spent a little extra cash for some piece-of-mind.

With that said, I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and I don’t think it will need the adhesive, especially when the entire camper is done. Time will tell.

Cheers!
Steve


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Re: Aluminum/Composite build for a family of 5

Postby StrongFeather » Thu Mar 14, 2019 8:51 pm

This will be redundant if you're following my construction technique journal, but for those that aren't, here's a quick note.

I made the first full-size carbon fiber panel last weekend. The panel, which is 60" x 30.5" x 1" weighs 7lbs 3oz., or 0.57lbs/sq.ft..

My trailer will have ~231 sq.ft. of skin surface, so the weight of the panels will be around 130 pounds - keeping in mind that smaller panels will be heavier per sq.ft. and larger ones will be lighter psf. This also does not account for the foam or the inner skin. My rolling trailer frame (frame, axle, brakes, floor, hardware, coupler, jacks, wheels, tires, chains, etc...) is around 230lbs (if I remember correctly), which should get me under my dry weight goal of 1,000 lbs. with room to spare.

:beer:
Steve
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Re: Carbon Fiber/Aluminum build for a family of 5

Postby StrongFeather » Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:06 pm

Exactly one month since my last post. Sorry, folks. Fortunately, a lack of posting does not correlate to a lack of progress. In that time, I've made 16 carbon fiber panels, which doesn't seem like much, but it is a lot of work. On average, I've been able to knock as many as 1 1/2 per day on the weekends, and 1/2 per weekday. It takes about 4 hours for the epoxy to cure and about 3 hours for the clear coat to cure, so a lot of that time is spent waiting - or sleeping because I try to time it so that I finish spraying or infusing before bedtime, which has lead to some late nights.

Here's a picture of the 16 panels. This is most of the 60" high panels, including all of the 60" wall pieces for the cabin and the v-nose, as well as 2 pieces for the roof "ridge", which also happen to be 60". What's still left? The other half, which includes all 5 doors, the small pieces that go above and below 4 of those doors, the cabin roof, and the v-nose roof.
DSC00056.JPG
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With the 60" wall panels done, I moved on to those smaller above/below the door pieces today. The first part of that process was laying the larger panels on the trailer floor to get a very accurate measurement of how long they need to be. Here's a look at the wall panels laying on the floor. The door openings are ~25" wide.
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I'm going to try infusing both the above and below the door panels at the same time tomorrow. The one below the door is 3" tall, the one above is 5" tall.

:beer:
Steve
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Re: Carbon Fiber/Aluminum build for a family of 5

Postby StrongFeather » Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:23 pm

I took some time to cut holes in one of the test panels to mock-up the lights.
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I didn't really like the tail lights sitting proud on the surface of the skin, so I cut a pill-shaped hole in the panel to see what it would look like mounted from behind. It doesn't show well in the picture, but the small detail really looks nice. Luckily, the diameter of the ends of the tail lights is 2-1/8", which just happens to be the same as a hole for installing a deadbolt or knob on an exterior house door, so hole saws that size are everywhere.

I'm using 1" dia 12VDC LED landscape lights for porch lights. I've used these guys on a yard project and they're really low profile and give off a nice amount of accent lighting. Oh, and Amazon sells black ones. They sit nice and flush and I'll probably epoxy them in place. Yeah, I know it'll be a pain to replace if they ever burn out.

Marker lights will be smoked lens 3/4" diameter. I tried with the grommet and without just to see how they look. I decided that I will use the grommet for looks and to be able to change the lights in the future if necessary. A burnt out marker light is different than a burnt out porch light.

:beer:
Steve
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Re: Carbon Fiber/Aluminum build for a family of 5

Postby StrongFeather » Thu Apr 25, 2019 10:14 pm

Wall panel assembly has officially begun, so I figure it's time to start posting again.

Here's a picture of the driver's side wall panels laying loosely on the trailer floor. The tape represents the lights, switches, rear storage, bunks, etc... At this point, I'm just trying to plan everything out and make sure I don't forget anything.
DSC00065.JPG
DSC00065.JPG (163.08 KiB) Viewed 531 times


This weekend, I hope to join the panels, drill holes for lights, run wires and maybe even start on the passenger side. The individual panels will be "glued" together with thickened epoxy and wood biscuits. The biscuits will add strength and more importantly ensure proper alignment. I also drilled holes (see picture below) in the top/bottom of all panels for wiring. Basically, there will be a group of wires running the length of each wall along the floor and another group along the ceiling. Here's the picture, but keep in mind that the panel is laying on its side, which is why the wire are vertical.
DSC00069.JPG
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Things should move along much quicker now, so stay tuned for more updates.
:beer:
Steve
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Re: Carbon Fiber/Aluminum build for a family of 5

Postby StrongFeather » Fri Apr 26, 2019 10:09 pm

Some real exciting stuff here, folks.
This morning, I added some "bolster patches" to the areas that will be receiving marker or porch lights. Simply put, they just add thickness.
DSC00070.JPG
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Drilling holes in a perfectly good panel is a little nerve racking, but they all turned out fine - and I'm pretty sure most of them are in the correct place.
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Here's one of them with a marker light grommet installed. The light fits nice and tight, so hopefully now leaky-leaky.
DSC00076.JPG
DSC00076.JPG (151.38 KiB) Viewed 495 times


Riveting, hu? :roll:

Steve
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Re: Carbon Fiber/Aluminum build for a family of 5

Postby StrongFeather » Fri Apr 26, 2019 10:25 pm

So wall assembly goes something like this... Align the panels and mark them for the biscuit cutter. Glue(epoxy), clamp and let cure.

Here's a shot of the driver's side door "footer" with the biscuit cut in for a test fit. Ready for epoxy!
DSC00072.JPG
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I didn't get any pictures of prepping the big panels, but its the same as above. Here's a shot of two big panels epoxied and clamped up. A little vinegar took care of the oooze.
DSC00081.JPG
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And here's a shot from the back with the panels clamped.
DSC00084.JPG
DSC00084.JPG (152.53 KiB) Viewed 492 times


It was my first time working with thickened epoxy and I have to say it's strangely satisfying.

Steve
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Re: Carbon Fiber/Aluminum build for a family of 5

Postby John61CT » Fri Apr 26, 2019 10:25 pm

nice work
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Re: Carbon Fiber/Aluminum build for a family of 5

Postby StrongFeather » Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:33 pm

Thank you, John.

Driver’s side wall, passenger side wall and rear wall (not including doors) are now glued/epoxied together. Probably start pulling some wires and continue on with the assembly tomorrow or the day after.

Cheers!

Steve


If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.
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