Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Building the bedroom

I haven't entirely finished the front end of Jim's interior, but I fancied a change of scenery, and so I started work on building the bedroom area. The bedroom will comprise of the last 1.5m at the back of the box, spanning the full 2.35m width.

When Jim came into my ownership, the back doors comprised of two ridiculously heavy steel side hung doors, with multiple sliding bolts and electro magnets operated remotely from a computer system which had been cut out when the truck had been decommissioned. I rigged up a locking system so that I could temporarily use the back doors, but they were ridiculously impractical and had dropped enough on their hinges to make using the doors a viable alternative to gym membership.

When I sent Jim off to have some work done by a local coachbuilder, I got the rear doors replaced with the three section GRP doors shown in the photo below taken in early 2012.

The bed will be at a height of about 70cm off of the floor, and the area underneath it will be accessed only from the back of the truck, through the side opening doors. The window at the back of the truck will let light into the bedroom area and the whole flap across the top half of the truck opens upwards on gas struts.

The area to become the bedroom was largely bare when I started work; the whole area back from the side door comprised of a separate cargo area when I bought Jim from Brinks/Loomis and so there was never much clutter here, with the exception of a smoke cloak security system and some load restraint bars which have long since gone. However, in the nearside back corner, there remained a panel at 45 degrees to the wall, hiding the cabling for the tail-lift controls and the rear marker lights. This panel would have eaten unnecessarily into the bedroom space, and so I carefully removed it with a crowbar, lump hammer and angle grinder, leaving a bare space in which to start work.

Right now, the combined weight of Naomi and me is probably less than many of the people we'll meet in America. I could build the bed out of matchsticks and cardboard and it'd probably last a while, but I have to be realistic and accept that it wont always be this way. We're getting married in September, and it's a recognised and accepted fact that married men let themselves go. As a married man in the worlds most obese country, I would be doing well if I don't return to England having doubled in weight. I therefore decided the build the bed with this in mind, and instead of using 25mm box section steel as I have done for the other furniture, I used 50mm box.

Friday, 9 August 2013

One Step Forward, 110v Back

For some time I have been populating the electrical locker in Jim, with all the equipment I need to provide low voltage and main voltage power while on the move. I had largely finished the mains components and just had to connect each of the circuits to the consumer unit (fuse board) to finish the install. Below is how the install looked.

The red unit at the top is a Sterling Power automatic changeover unit. It automatically selects from the three available power sources (mains, generator and inverter) so that when you plug the truck in to the mains, the power is automatically shifts off of the inverter (saving battery power) or the generator (saving diesel).

Power is then passed down to the consumer unit below, where it is split into two separate load banks each covered by its own RCD earth leakage device. The first load bank was a direct connection from the sterling changeover unit, whilst the second passed through a contactor which disconnected the loads when operated from the inverter. The second load bank was primarily to prevent the battery charger from being operated off the inverter, which would just create a an infinite loop of decreasing battery power. Below is how the consumer unit looks without a cover on it.

 The big green unit below the consumer unit is a Mastervolt Chargemaster, 60a, 3-way, 24v battery charger. The charger takes mains or generator power and uses it to charge the leisure battery and starter battery banks. After careful consideration, I decided that I couldn't live with the colour of the Mastervolt casing, and didn't like the aesthetic of the layout. I therefore ripped out the entire installation, stepping backwards many hours of work and significant expenditure. And leaving me with a blank canvas on which to waste more money and time.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Gas Locker

Whilst waiting for more plywood to turn up, I started making the gas locker, a job which didn't need any wood.

Making the locker out of plywood, would be perfectly effective at preventing gas leaks from entering the living space, but would fail to protect the gas bottle from heat in the case of a fire. A steel box isn't going to prevent an explosion in the case of a serious fire, but it would certainly give you extra time. I'd fitted the locker door some time ago, but it just opened up straight into Jim's interior.

The first thing I did was fabricate the box out of sheet steel. I had a load of rusty 3mm sheet in the garden which I cleaned up with a wire wheel on an angle grinder, I then used my small plasma cutter to cut the pieces out, and welded them together. 3mm is excessive, 1.6mm would have been fine, but it's what I had to hand. It would also have been easier to fold the steel and save on welding, but I don't have a press brake and I enjoy welding. I welded all seams fully, but used some sikaflex anyway to be sure the enclosure was air tight.