Saturday, August 31, 2019

Rebuilding “Ms. Merry” the Amerigo–The new Loo–Part 2

Ms. Merry is continuing to look more like a usable camper with each update Smile.   This time around, we’ve been working on getting the sewer plumbing in place, allow for at last, the installation of Merry’s new holding tank and the sewer and vent lines that go into Merry’s new bathroom Smile!

20190829_175130The first step we had to tackle was getting Merry’s new holding tank in its final position and the inlet flanges located for the new toilet and the vent line that would be going up through the shower (Painted white like a column, similar to how we did it in Mr. KIT in The Great Bathroom Remodel.  The difference in Merry being her vent pipe will go from floor to ceiling, where-as in Mr. KIT, it only had to go from counter top to ceiling. 

One thing I love about Ms. Merry’s new holding tank is unlike Mr. KIT’s whose was made of polypropylene and required spin welding to attach anything, Ms. Merry’s is ABS plastic, which simply requires cutting the holes for the flange and then gluing it in place, much much easier! 

You’re likely wondering what the white compound is around the outer dump valve, that is water proof (below water line) epoxy putty, which was used to pack in the remaining gap between the flange the T- fitting between the two main valves.   I had hoped when I removed the studs and glued the valve on that it would be a tight enough fitting that it would be water tight, sadly, it still leaked a little bit, which the epoxy took care of. 

The valves are currently in the wrong alignment in the picture, they’re going to all be repositioned so that the pull handles point down so that the handles can extend through the floor of the heated compartment and are accessible underneath so they can be accessed without having to add a second hatch to the compartment floor that might come open during travel.   The main valve bodies will be up in the heated and insulated tank compartment, allowing them to remain warm during winter use.  

20190829_180930Once we got the flanges in place, the next step was to install the floor insulation, cut out the pass through holes for the pipes and install the spacer ring to the underside of the floor that the tank would be anchored to.   The spacer was necessary to give the flange on the top of the tank and the bottom of the offset flange enough room to be able to fully join, as the flange extends down an additional inch and a half below the floor.  

The offset flange was needed to allow the toilet to be fully situated back near the wall in the bathroom, and keep the whole valve and dump connection assembly to remain inside the tank compartment and kept warm.   During winter use, we’ll likely need to make a water proof packing ring to stuff in around the sewer hose as it comes out through the compartment hatch so that the warm air being suppled by the furnace isn’t lost to the outside entirely. 

In the picture, only the initial screws were installed to hold the spacer in place while the tank was being positioned for flange installation.  Once the flange work was done, the tank was removed and additional 3” screws were drive in all around the spacer to fully anchor it into the floor.  The tank was then later reinstalled to this spacer ring with lag screws and wide fender washers all around its perimeter to permanently anchor it into place securely enough to handle the liquid movement force of a full holding tank while the camper is moving. 

Once the toilet flange and other pipes are in place, the tank will then be filled completely and left full for 24-48 hours to check for leaks an anchor failure. 


With the tank finally in its permanent home, we started plumbing the lines going into the tank, starting first with the grey water lines going up through the floor, where the first T connects the pipe to the drain line come from the shower before going up to a second T that takes the feed coming from the bathroom sink and then later traveling on to the kitchen sink at the front of the camper.  


Originally, I had planned to use a HepVo valve instead of a standard P or U trap on the shower’s drain line, however, after unpacking the HepVo valve, it was very clear that the membrane in it would end up slowing the shower flow too much to work properly and with the spacer ring providing additional space between the floor and the tank, there was more than sufficient room to simply cut an additional hole in the floor for the U Trap to drop into above the tank, allowing for the use of standard plumbing practices instead of the rubber membrane HepVO valve.   A Inlet valve or “Cheater Valve” was installed at the top of the drain line, though the access hole still needs to be cut so that it can be serviced if at some point in the future it fails.  

The use of a inlet valve in this space, allows for the air inlet to be inside the camper, a second one will be installed on the line going to the kitchen sink, allowing for the complete removal of one of the roof vent holes in the roof, allowing me to permanently patch that spot in the camper’s roof and reduce the number of potential leak points on the camper’s roof.   Ms. Merry’s original ceiling showed the signs of water entry around the original vent when we were demolishing the original interior.  

As the pipes were installed, standing full pipe water tests have been performed to ensure that none of the joints in the new system leak.  A final full system standing water test will be done once I pick up some test plugs to make sure that the there are zero leak locations. 

20190830_20580720190829_175130The pipe coming up through the floor on the left is the tank vent, which the tank inlet can be seen in the picture of the unmounted tank. 

You can see more clearly why the offset toilet flange assembly had to be used in order to connect the toilet to the tank without losing vast amounts of precious bathroom floor space.  

The white piece of pipe on the end of the long pipe running across the floor on the right, is a piece from the Hepvo valve kit that I reused, as it fits the threads of the new stainless steel shower drain and threads right into a standard inch and a half FPT connection.  The Valterra drain unfortunately will not directly thread into a FPT connection and a comparable match from the hardware store has the same issue, neither is designed for direct threaded connection, unlike the original flanges the camper had (The shower flange broke into pieces during removal as all the original flanges were made of plastic), necessitating the use of the elbow assembly from the hepvo as a normal slip fitting with a regular elbow is too tall to fit in the narrow confines below the shower floor. 

You can see the elbow more clearly in the second picture below.   I will be building a little access hatch into the bottom of the front walls of the shower so that I can easily access the shower drain flange for servicing in the future.  

I ended up needing to add a 3/4” spacer to the floor frame to lift it up even with this so that the drain line going the shower had a proper downhill slope to ensure proper drainage.   Like the other fittings, this too, was standing water tested and fed water as fast as I could pour it in to make sure that the drain did not slow.  The water on the floor underneath it is due to the fact that the fittings on the drain were not fully tightened at the time of testing as I did not want to weaken the seal on the rubber O-ring that seals the elbow to the drain by fully tightening it until it was time for final permanent installation. 

The shower floor will need to be removed at least a couple times more to allow for the installation of the heater vent line and wiring for the “See-Level” tank sensor system for the holding tank.   Once those two parts have been completed, the holes for the carriage bolts that will permanent clamp the shower floor in place will be installed, and the aluminum flashing installed around the perimeter so that the floor and side walls can be fiberglass sealed in place.   The final floor finish will be made of a sheet of FRP “orange peel” texture which will be epoxied into place over the top of the underlying fiberglass coating. 

I will also be working the floor area in the front section with a grinder to properly slope the pan down to the drain so that all water is directed into the drain.  The pan as a whole is sloped already via the underlying floor framing, however a low point needs to be still made to help the final water direction into the drain.  The opening was already recessed for the drain flange and will be sloped down to that.  


A 2x2 support lip will be glued and screwed to the underside of the front of the floor once all under floor work is done, this will then be anchored into the remaining bathroom walls so that the floor is fully supported and strong enough to take my weight.   As I wasn’t able to completely eliminate the rear butt sag, the shower pan’s support structure was designed to compensate for the sag in the rear so that the bathroom toilet sits level, but has just enough slope to allow for water to be directed properly to the drain.   I modeled the slope degree and direction after the original shower pan that had come with the camper. 

And that’s it for “The New Loo – Part 2!” Smile

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Rebuilding “Ms. Merry” the Amerigo–Merry goes to the wall! – Part 2

We’re back for Part 2 of wall building in Ms. Merry!   In our last chapter, we’d just gotten the main cabinet wall in place, now, we’re back with the rest of the inner bathroom wall put together!


Since we’re only reusing a small section of the original bathroom, I had to build an upper wall to house our medicine cabinet.   Like everything, its made of a combination of 2x2 and 2x3 lumber, the 2x3 at the bottom there to add a couple sections of 2x3 ledge to go under the bottom of the sink frame so that the fiberglass is fully supported since it no longer has the rigidity that came from the full clamshell enclosure.  


Ms. Merry’s medicine cabinet is another donation from Mr. KIT, a new medicine cabinet was bought that was the original smaller size I had originally installed in Mr. KIT back when the bathroom was first remodeled.  This larger, somewhat nicer medicine cabinet with adjustable shelves was the replacement I ended up later getting due to me being a moron and not making a shower curtain that went in front of the cabinet to keep the water from soaking the cardboard backer.    Another thing we’re doing differently is in Merry, the cabinet is recessed into the wall, giving us a better line of access to the sink and making it easier to hopefully get a spring loaded latch to keep it shut vs the bungee cord job I was using with Mr. KIT.  


We’re later on going to use the grinder to taper the fiberglass on the back edges of the section being reused so that they more easily slip under the FRP board that will make the walls and floor of the wet bath.  

You can also see the faucet assembly we’re using temporarily installed for visualization purposes and pipe planning.   We’re going to be using two faucets in the bathroom, the original sink faucet is going to be replaced with a nice standard bathroom faucet.   The shower head will be attached to this nice chromed solid brass outdoor shower assembly we picked up.

I haven’t decided on if I’m  going to go with galvanized pipe painted with chrome paint to go between the faucet and the point on the sink where they’ll pass through and connect to the camper’s pex plumbing, or use stainless steel braided water lines and simply use brass connection points coming up through the sink top.  

Sadly, there’s going to be a bit of a delay before the next post, I’m going to be out of town this weekend, so sadly, no additional work will be done till the following monday.  

When we come back, we’ll be resuming work on the waste tank and ABS sewer plumbing work, as we now have enough of the bathroom walls in place to route the pipes that are going to the holding tank in the rear, allowing us to finally get the tank compartment done.   Since the summer doesn’t last forever, I’ll be working on jobs that will allow me to get all exterior related work finished before we lose the weather again, but allow for Merry to be finished over the winter if we can’t get her done by the time the weather turns south. 

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Rebuilding “Ms. Merry” the Amerigo–Merry goes to the wall – Part 1

Progress has been a bit slow on Merry in the last couple weeks, partly due to the ER visit a couple weeks ago, due a nose bleed that wouldn’t stop.

But, its good progress that is being made!

Already, we have the first of the inner bathroom walls in, plus the main cabinet wall frame is now in as well!  

I pulled the sink during this, as it still needs the bottom edge trimmed to match the slope of the new bathroom floor (It slopes down to the drain point), once its trimmed I can start building the rest of the inner wall frame that will get tied into that open large gap on the left.  

We ended up building the cabinet wall to be a bit extra sturdy because it will be carrying a big hunk of the Air Conditioner load on the roof down to the floor of the camper, helping to keep the roof crowned and from sagging under the weight of the unit as time passes. 


The small framed in openings in the lower section are for a Cadet Com-Pak 1000watt in-wall electric heater (Our secondary heat system, borrowed from NetBoy’s design that they did so many years ago, been waiting years to use that one Winking smile) on the left and the new Progressive Dynamics dist ribution panel on the right.

The notch out in the wall behind it is so that there is path for the air moving through the 3-stage converter to travel (I actually ended up cutting the plastic back section off the panel near the board and heat sinks so that the air could travel trough that tunnel space, there’s going to be a little grate in the corner wall near the kitchen for the air movement so the blower can properly cool the converter).


With the wall panel installed Smile.   The upper section will have the finished maple frame installed on it covering over the framing.   One thing we’re doing different is I’m getting rid of the two drawers below the main wardrobe cabinet in favor of another cabinet space, in which we plan to store the towels.  This cabinet will have a removable false bottom to sit above the wires and pipes that will be running underneath which can be easily lifted out if service work needs to be done.  


With the Progressive Dynamics Power Panel and the can for the heater temporarily installed in place.


You can see that our heater has ample clearance around it and a bit more clearly on how the indent works for the back of the distribution panel.   Soon, we’ll be able to take that giant spaghetti of wires and bundle them together and finally tie them into something!  


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Rebuilding “Ms. Merry” the Amerigo–Oh, the Progress we have Made!

So, I’ve once again fallen down on the job of telling the story of Ms. Merry! 

We’re now in Summer number four, can you believe it?   Will we actually make it to the finish line this year?   I’m thinking we will, but the world has already tried to knock us down a couple times this year, first with kidney stones in April and then a blown blood vessel in my nose a couple weeks ago!

Since I got a late start this year, I ended up taking a full week off in July and marathon working on Merry during that week.   My goodness, we got so much done when we were able to work twelve hours a day, every day on Merry!  

When you last saw her, she looked like this on the inside:


Since then, she now looks like this!



You can see all we ended up keeping of Ms. Merry’s original shower, though I have the pan in the garage for reference.   We’ll be fiberglass in aluminum joints along all the corners between the pan floor and walls before the finished fiberglass panels are glued into place to form the new wet bath.  

The hole in the back left corner of the floor is actually where the tank vent pipe will be coming up through the bathroom, painted white, similar to how I redid the vent pipe in Mr. KIT.  

Looking towards the Rear


The 2x4 near the door and the 2x2 near the edge of the bathroom are actually the starting beams for two walls, in the case of the bathroom, its part of the door front bathroom wall frame.

In case of the dinette, its part of the back wall of the dinette (I’m putting in a full floor to ceiling wall, as that area needed some extra strength as its a part of the rear jack mount).  

You can see how much larger the new bathroom is versus the original by how much more of the snap-n-nap opening is blocked off, now.  

We’ve also finished rebuilding the crank mechanisms on the big jalousie window and unbending the drive shafts.   The windows all need a good application of white lithium grease at all the pivot points to loosen them back up, the last owners sadly, just used more force to get the windows to open instead of relubricating them and broke all of the crank mechanisms on the larger windows and twisted the drive shaft out of shape. 

Looking toward the Kitchen


All of the walls are now paneled, with the exception of the front wall below the cabover, it simply doesn’t need to be paneled until its time to start building in the lower kitchen cabinet area.   All of the upper cabinet frames and interior walls can be put in with the camper as it is now.   Getting the walls paneled in was a major milestone in the completion of Ms. Merry, as it was the first time the entirety of the interior was starting to look like a camper again, instead of an assemblage of structural timbers.  

Looking forward


Yes, that is fiberglass insulation peaking out from the underside of the cabover bed.   In the end, I ended up pulling out what foam board I had put in and going with pink bat insulation as it filled the full void under the bed far better than I was getting with the foam board for a higher R Value than I was going to get stacking in the more expensive foam board. 

The removed foam board was reused in the walls and ceiling after being pulled from the cabover floor. 

It’s almost time to do the fridge swap between Ms. Merry and Mr. KIT.  Both fridges are functional, but Mr. KIT’s fridge is in a lot better shape physically, plus it already has all of my boosted cooling modifications done on it.   

Fortunately, with the door removed from Mr. KIT, and the front lip ring removed from the fridge, the door opening is just wide enough to get the fridge in and out of on Mr. KIT! 

We will have to make a custom duct for the roof vent, on Ms. Merry its set inwards from the wall further than it was on Mr. KIT and the distance between the ceiling and the fridge is a lot shorter!  So, we’re going to get a sheet metal bending press to make a custom duct to go from the fins on the top of the fridge up into the vent where our fans will be to help pull air up and out the vent.

I’ll be lining the compartment and wall with sheet metal to help protect the camper walls and encase the fridge in a blanket of rockwool insulation.  

The front cabover wall still needs to be installed, its been postponed till I get up there with the cabover window curtain track as its one big piece and it won’t be possible to get it up into the cabover after the walls are in place without damaging it.  

The propane tank compartment still needs it insulation panels installed on the sides and the insulation bat installed on the rear, as well as the gas line for the fridge routed through the gap under the fridge platform floor.  

The main black pipe gas line will run from the cabinet compartment down across the top of the fresh water tank and then down the left side of the camper where it will terminate at the feed fitting for the furnace at the rear.  

Current Project

I’m currently constructing the wall frames for the bathroom and the floor to ceiling cabinet and drawers on the driver’s side so I can get the lower wall framed in and install the electrical distribution panel, allowing me to finally start connecting up all the circuits in the camper. 

And, now you’re up to date Smile