Wednesday, August 19, 2020

We may be moving hosts for the Journey of the Redneck Express

Due to the ever increasingly brokenness of the blogger platform, we're likely going to need to move the blog to a new host so that we can continue providing you with awesome camper updates :). 

Sadly, this will likely cause some delays in the new posts, but given we can't even make posts right now, because we can't even get a picture to upload, its not exactly any worse off. 

So, stay tuned, and we'll update you on where to move to continue this journey! :). 

Friday, July 3, 2020

Rebuilding “Ms. Merry” the Amerigo– And the Story of the Flimsy bed–Part 4

During Part 3, I mentioned that other work was going on while the glue and fiberglass cured on Ms. Merry's new Snap-n-Nap Wings, so in Part 4, we'll cover the work going on inside Ms. Merry's Snap-N-Nap to prep for the installation of the new wing walls :).

To start off, here's Merry's Snap-N-Nap Bed with the mattress finally removed!  The pan wood is actually in better shape than I was expecting, given the mildew smell that this area had been hanging onto.   Turns out the smell was actually coming from that nasty fabric wall covering they'd used.

The paneling on these sides was held on with a couple small pan-head screws and a very minimal amount of adhesive, I basically just had to push a putty knife between the wood and the aluminum and popped right off.

Time to start getting that nasty vinyl fabric wall mess out once and for all.....  To remove it, I simply ran a box knife along the joints to cut it and pulled it out by hand.   The vinyl is carpet foam backed type stuff and is only held on with spray adhesive.  As I tore it off, I discovered that moisture had gotten in around the window at some point and had soaked into this nasty fabric as the back of it was stained with old mildew and mold spots.

Yay.... more spray foam.....That's all going to have be scrapped off so we can come back later and install some wooden framing along the perimeter for installing proper insulation board and wall paneling later.  Mercifully, a rubber mallet and a putty knife pops it off the fiberglass in nice big chunks, leaving little residue behind. 

The wooden "floor", and I use that term loosely, was simply held in by two 1/4" headed hex head screws, with them removed it lifted right out. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of the laughable 1/8" thick fiberglass insulation mat that was underneath the aluminum sheet that makes up the bed pan's outer skin and the wall paneling floor that was in place.

So, my next discovery of stupid was the fact that they had glued the wiring for the tail lights on the inside.... to the foam.... Which makes zero sense, because there's a nice cavity specifically for pulling wires inside of, formed into the fiberglass wall!!!

Fixing this wasn't hard, just annoying, as I had to remove the new tail lights had I installed a couple years back so I could run my fish tape through the wiring cavity and re-pull the wires like they should have been done from the factory. Also took a moment to drill a new entry hole into the top edge of the cavity so that the wires going up to where they pass through the bulk head would be able to be placed behind the new wall insulation.

This also gave us a moment to remove the original plastic license plate light/mount, which some tourist decided to help themselves to the original Washington License plate a couple years ago by breaking off the lower part of the mount. I'll return in a later chapter to show the new one installed after sealing the original holes and installing the new steel mount.

Once the wiring was taken care of, I set about cutting 1/2" polyisocyanurate foam insulation to put in the voids in the bed pan frame (there was no insulation here from factory). As its wasn't practical to remove the aluminum skin that makes up the outer skin of the bed pan, and because there's nothing on the outside of the bed pan on the back section that's up in the clamshell, we'll push the insulation in place in those sections later.

Using the original pieces as patterns, I traced out new wall paneling and reinstalled in into place along the perimeter walls.

And this is the new bolstering floor frame that is being installed in the bed and and will be sandwich anchored to the original aluminum framed pan floor, which was way too thin to safely support an adult sleeping in this bed.   This floor, which is based upon the design and materials used in the cabover floor of Mr. KIT, which supported two adults sleeping on it for years, will be more than durable enough for the single adult that will generally be using this bed.   So far, its been weight tested up to 380lbs (AKA I crawled on it) without any bowing or buckling, and this was before the insulation or plywood floor was glued and anchored on top. 

More 3/4" polyisocyanurate foam board :). In case folks are wondering why I use this type of foam, its because unlike polystyrene foam found in most RVs, it has nearly double the RV value for equivalent thinkness. Most of Ms. Merry's walls are rated at at least R10 or higher, where the same thickness in polystyrene only yields R4 at best. Since we do alot of camping in cooler temps, bolstering the insulation factor of the walls will help keep the furnace from having to cycle on as much while dry camping or urban boondocking.

And last, but not least, the new plywood floor is in :)

This wraps up Part 4, but there's still much more to post! So stay tuned, I'll be adding more in the upcoming days. :)

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Rebuilding “Ms. Merry” the Amerigo– And the Story of the Flimsy bed–Part 3

 Alrighty!  While the date on this reads June 28th, its actually been about a month since I last updated this blog!   Lots of works been getting done, so let's get caught up! :)

When we left off, we were rebuilding Ms. Merry's Snap-N-Nap Wings, as the originals were a trash design that we've yet to figure out the logic of.

So, we've been recreating them using proper laminated wood truss-type construction with a 1x3/1x4 inner frame, a thin plywood exterior.

Now that we've got the body of these made, we've installed 3/4" Polyisocyancurate foam board in the center (Yes there is glue between the other side of the foam board and the outer plywood, and now we're laminating on the Finished RV wall board that will be the interior facing side of the wings :).

 Since we can't really hide the staples we use for anchoring the  wall board in place while the adhesive cures for the inside, the solution has been to apply the adhesive to all the gluing surfaces, then temporarily clamp the panel on the mirror side of the section we're working on so that we can flip the inner wall sides facing each other and make a compression clamp sandwich of the two, using the wing pieces to give us a nice tight bond.  

These will be left to cure for about 24 hours in this state so that the glue properly sets up before removing the clamp sandwich.

Because I'm working on a few different areas of Ms. Merry at the same time, the second sandwich got set up on the roof of Beasley the Bambi-Slayer's roof while the work bench got used for other tasks :p

For those that haven't met Beasley, Beasley is my donor Suburban for my next vehicle project, the restoration and 4x4 conversion of Charlie Blue, my childhood family car that I grew up with.

I bought Beasley off a neighbor who paid to have him brought back from Southern California sight unseen only to discover Beasley was going to be a bigger project than he was hoping for, so I bought Beasley off him to donate his 4x4 parts, and drive train components to finish getting Charlie Blue back to road worthy status.

Now, that the panels have had a couple days to finish curing, we can tape up the corners of the RV wall panel side so that over run from the base coat of fiberglass resin won't get on the nice wall paper sides of the wings.

We'll be removing the tape after the first coat has had enough time to setup to were it can be touched, but still soft enough that we can remove the excess by simply peeling the tape of.

We'll be applying multiple layers of fiberglass resin, along with the cloth after this base coat, as the base coat is simply meant to seal the pores of the wood.

The results of the first fiberglass coat, looking shiny!  We'll fix that with some nice sanding to prep it for the application of coat number two, and the fiberglass cloth around the edges.

And sanding is complete!

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Rebuilding “Ms. Merry” the Amerigo– And the Story of the Flimsy bed–Part 2

Part 2 of  the ongoing rebuilding saga of Ms. Merry's Snap-N-Nap!   When we left off yesterday, we'd discovered that the flimsy plastic of the accordion wings was all that was holding the bed pan to the outer clamshell of the Snap-N-Nap bed, which wasn't exactly a very strong setup.

We'd hoped that after doing some more digging in the interior that we'd find another piece of wood fiberglassed into the wall of the outer clamshell that was supposed to have a piano hinge attached to it to bear the load of the bed, unfortunately, during today's investigations, what we thought was wood was actually just dirt inside in hollow cavity that was formed in the fiberglass to allow wiring to run for the tail lights, so sadly, we're going to need to rebuild the wings as they were.

Since we can't change the design, I decided to go with rebuilding the wings from scratch and building them so that they're a proper structural piece made of a laminated truss.

To start, I used the dismantled wings to trace out the pattern of the original design on some thinner door skin plywood I had on hand for this sort of thing, then cut out two new uppers and lowers.

The wings were made out of this sanded plywood because we'll be coming back once these are fully laminated together and finishing the exterior sides and frame edges with fiberglass resin and then painting it with a glossy polar white epoxy paint to match the sides of the Ms. Merry.

Compared to pre-made filon, these are thicker and much more structural stout.   The center of the Uppers and Lowers will be filled with foil-sided Polyisocyanurate insulation foam which will be glued and laminated in as part of the wing structure. 

For the main structure, I used 1x4 and 1x3 lumber to make the frame, with 1x4s used along the edges that would be getting clamped in place when the bed is deployed so that latched could be attached to the wings allowing me to remove the hinged clamp boards that were used originally in the camper. 

A quick side by side of the new lower and the original with its non-structural loose wooden interior pieces.   That wood is only attached loosely to the outside plastic, and what was bearing all the load of the deployed bed pan and carrying the load into the outer clamshell structure. 

The only thing carrying all that weight is that disintegrating plastic, it literally was crumbling under my fingers, I am truthfully amazed the bed didn't drop out, when the Snap-N-Nap was used for storing building materials in the past couple years.

Another side by side, and yes, the new wing is built the right direction.  Gardner Industries used the same wing piece for both sides, so on one side the seam of the overlapping plastic faced inwards, on the other it faced outward.   With the thin fiberglass insulation removed, you can see the original color of the Snap-N-Nap wings, and how much they've yellowed in the last forty-five years!

Ran out of time today to get the last upper assembled, but all the pieces were cut, and tomorrow I'll be able to finish the assembly and start cutting the new insulation and trace out the inner skins.

And here's one of the new sides test laid out on the workbench :).  I'll likely  trim the little corner on the upper so that it ends flush with the lower (This is an exact trace of the sides, and they're not the same size, and there's no real purpose to one being half an inch longer than the other). 

These should be a tad stronger than the flimsy plastic originals and I won't have to worry about them catastrophically failing while on a trip. 

Rebuilding “Ms. Merry” the Amerigo– And the Story of the Flimsy bed–Part 1

So, once again, Ms. Merry and Jake the Pickup have slumbered through another soggy miserable Oregon winter, hoping that this year, THIS year, the Fat Man in the Orange Dodge hat with the power tools will finally be finished rebuilding Merry so that they can all escape from the Madness that has been 2020 and go to the more important places, the places where there’s more fish than there is people, because the Fat Man has grown extremely tired of people and their stupidity and would prefer the company of his wife, their cats, their camper, and a lot of fish and very few people. 

This brings us to today Smile.  For the past few weeks, the Fat Man in the orange hat has been collecting supplies again to make sure that they have enough materials to work on Merry for the next couple months without needing to deal with crowds of people.   In the years past, The Fat man wouldn’t be bothered by them, but with the world darkened by a new sickness from China, the Fat Man has been spending many tiring months working and doing little else than walk from bed to the work computer, sit there for twelve hours, then go back to bed, with food sometimes mixed in between.   The never ceasing rain has not helped the Fat man much, so any sliver of it not being a dreary, drippy day on the weekend (The weather has been doing a fine job of being nice on those long days when he’s trapped inside working, and returning to absolute piss when the weekend finally arrives for the last two months), he grabs.  

Today, he decided to finally start tackling Ms. Merry’s Snap-N-Nap rear bed, the very last piece of Ms. Merry that hadn’t been changed since he brought her home several years ago.   It is still “resplendent” in its spray glued vinyl covering that at one time was white, but has yellowed and aged, and tacky 70s paneling.   He has many plans, plans to remove the original accordion sides and replace them with a single hinged fold down side that latches in place on the rear shell, allow the bed to have a thicker mattress and to fix the design flaws that rely on the rubber rain covers for the hinges to close gigantic holes in the corners of the snap-n-nap when its folded open.  

Little did he know what new madness he would discover……


Hello, again, everyone!   Its been a long time since I last worked on Jake and Merry, and as I dramatized above, its been a rather poor winter and the world’s been a festering disaster since February, and I’m looking forward to trying to actually get them finished this year.   With me working from home part of the week and part on, being able to dive into work on Merry as the weather stabilizes will be a nice change. 

So, the story of the Flimsy Bed (AKA the Who-thought-this-was-a-good-idea! Bed).  

I call it this, because I’ve either found a ludicrous design choice that Gardner Industries made to cut corners and pinch pennies that could of potentially led to a lawsuit, or the last missing part in the Oil Embargo special that seems to have highlighted Merry’s original construction from day one of this restoration project. 

Since I was starting back into the home stretch on Merry, I decided that I would start the year by completing some of the last big lift items that still needed doing, the Snap-N-Nap being a big one that’s still as it was when I bought the camper.  I had always planned to remove the nasty, tacky vinyl and reinforce the bed pan because my earliest observations were the aluminum frame and door skin were really not strong enough to handle an adult sleeping in that bed much before things started to break.   Part of that plan involved reinforcing the floor by adding additional support structure as much as reasonable without making the bed too heavy, a proper plywood floor, and changing the accordion wings to a properly sealing design.  

Most Amerigo owners pride themselves on that rear bed with its automatically opening and closing wings, however, in almost all cases, the thin thermoformed plastic shells are almost always disintegrating by the time any of us get ahold of them and while they can be glued and patched, that plastic is still brittle and forty years or more old.   So, my plan was to completely remove them, and make a solid single hinged wing that would fold up against the “ceiling” of the Snap N Nap and be held in place by a sliding latch, one of the same ones that would later be used to latch the wall in the down position after the bed was opened so that it compressed tightly to the new sealing surfaces and make the snap-n-nap airtight and water tight to the elements, something the original design was lacking and tried to make up for with large amounts of vinyl. 

Unfortunately, like everything else in Ms. Merry, the wooden anchor bar at the top of the snap and nap sides was installed with those damnable double inward crescent security screws.    Since said screws just went through a piece of one by one cheap yellow pine, I just drilled holes in the wood near the screw heads through the piece and then wedged a flat head screw driver in the hole to split the wood and separate it from the screws, allowing me to pull the side down, so I could then use a 1/4” socket on my drill to disassemble the rest of the accordion for removal. 

What I wasn’t anticipating to find was that the only thing attaching the bed pan to the outer clam shell of the snap-n-nap was these flimsy plastic accordion sides that have no structural frames at all inside them.   I expected there to be a second piano hinge along the top far edge of bed pan that attached it where it met the clamshell so that the bed was hanging from the rear wall and the clamshell at two points with the sides just being attached so that they would automatically open and close.

Investigating behind the rotten vinyl I can even feel what appears to be a 1x4 piece of wood embedded into the fiberglass of the clam shell at the height where that piano hinge should be.  I don’t know, as these pictures are the first I’ve ever seen of the inside of an Amerigo’s Snap-N-Nap accordion sides, if this was by design, which makes little sense, given the wood you see in the pictures isn’t even attached to one another, they simply line the edges and are held inside the clam shell by a couple staples through the plastic.   There is absolutely no way these were mean to the load of that bed and its occupant, there’s simply not enough structural integrity to them to do that.
I might have believe it possibly the case, had these been welded aluminum frames or the wood was actually attached to one another, but there is literally nothing structural to these, and I seriously cannot believe a company would think a thin strip of Vinyl would be enough for a load baring hinge. 

My only conclusions I can draw are, there was a hinge that was supposed to have been installed, it never was.   Some previous owner removed it and never reinstalled it, but there’s no evidence of one ever having been installed.

Directly behind that vinyl below that screw strip is that "potential" 1x4 piece of embedded wood.  The bed pan is currently hanging low on this corner because the side has been removed.   I’ll be setting up a cradle tomorrow to support the bed pan so I can fully detach the clam shell from it and set about installing the missing hinge. 

From what I’ve peaked behind the vinyl I’ve pulled free, its a very real possibility I may need to glue a 1x2 frame onto the fiberglass to give me a surface to anchor the RV wall paneling to to install it. 

So, welcome back to the restoration adventure, I’ll try to post updates as often as I can, so stay tuned! Smile