Category Archives: Bicycle Camper: Work in Progress

Camper Progress 3/22/12

I haven’t done much at all with the camper since the last post. I’ve been very busy with work, working long hours and sometimes 6 days per week. What little creative boosts I’ve had have been spent tinkering with the wood stoves…but at least they’re for the camper! I feel bad I haven’t been working on it though. I do have a tendency to start things and not finish them, but that’s not going to happen. I have some other cool projects I’d love to do, but I won’t until the camper is finished, that’s a little incentive.

I’ve never installed piano hinges before, and I just winged it for the first two floor panels. Just lined the hinges up and started screwing away. Worked fine. Then I tried the same method with the largest panels. Got all done, tried to fold them closed, and they stopped 6″ short…expletive. So I thought about how it should be done…the pain in the donkey method. Lay the panels next to eachother, line the hinge up, mark the holes, drill them. then install the hinge on one panel, then the other. Googled it after work, and yes, the painfully slow way is the right way. Barbara Streisand!!!

So I’ll get back to it soon. The good news is it’s all on the downhill now, though there’s still alot to do.

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Camper Progess 2/22/12

I’ll admit it, I’ve been lazy. Making the camper floor is like taking work home with me. I finished the last two floor panels this morning, reinforcing the 1/4″ plywood with firring strips that is. Maybe I’ll get to the piano hinges later.

But my laziness wasn’t without productivity. I’ve finished a solar distiller, and have most of a solar pasteurizer done. I finally found a medium size cast iron frying pan, used, for $5. That’s needed for the woodstove, which was started yesterday. I’m using a Heineken draught keg, 5 liters, for the stove. As it will be a horizontal stove, for ease of use and longer burn time than a vertical one, it has no flat cooking surface. My plan is to inset the frying pan into the top of the stove a bit. It may be a challenge to keep it from leaking smoke…we’ll see. Inspiration for the wood stove comes from:

Heineken Wood Stove

I’m sorry, this link didn’t work, I’ll have to figure that out. In the meantime, just go to youtube and type diy tent stove proto 2 part 2.

This guy has a plethora of outdoors information. There are alot of other videos of this wood stove as well.

A while back I’d made a heiny keg fire pit, upright. It worked well, but it was alot of work to keep it working well! And I’ve seen a few wood stoves made from it that were vertical, they seem to work well…but I don’t want to have to babysit this thing. So hopefully insetting the pan will…”pan out”, hyuck hyuck! If it doesn’t I’ll have no choice but to mount it on top, as Sousaville did with his soup lid. But I’m envisioning steel half tubes, round on bottom and flat on top, under the right and left sides of the pan, filled with sand. That should make for better heat dispersion and retention.

Another reason for trying to inset the cast iron is I’ve noticed alot of the old time horizontal barrel stoves had a lid that you removed, so the cooking vessel could be placed on the flames.

Camper Progress 2/13/12

I didn’t work on the camper floor at all over the weekend, after working in the cold all week, I needed the down time. Funny phrase if you think about it. “Down time” lifts your spirits, it’s recuperating. I finished one of the smaller panels tonight, all the firring strips have angle cuts. On the previous panels most of the strips were straight cuts…but I discovered I should have been cutting the ends at 45 degrees. I don’t have enough strips to replace them, but I can drill and screw ’em together, so all is good. I’m going to do the same with all the corners, 45’d or not.

Tomorrow is my last day of siding until next monday. That’s lower case on purpose. mondays are a horrible way to spend 1/7th of your life!!! More than likely I’ll only get one more panel done. I may have some window work to do Wednesday and Thursday, maybe Friday too, but they’ll be short days, so I should have the remaining floor sections done on Wednesday. After that I can start connecting the floor panels with piano hinges. I bought four 6′ sections on Saturday. I only need 20′ of that, but I’ll find a use for the leftover, prolly for the shower floor section. Total cost of that is $64.

So far the total camper cost is $344. My $400 total cost hopes are probably done for. If I’m lucky (and anyone else who wants to build this!) it’ll be under $500.

Well, that’s all for now, I’m beat, time to relax.

Camper Progress 2/9/12

I’ve been busy with work lately so I only have five out of nine floor panels finished. I’ve walked on all of them, and they all pass. I have to cut 1/4″ off of all the screw tips, after they’re through the plywood and firring strips of course…although if I’d clipped ’em before that would certainly explain the slow progress!!! The problem is I can’t find screws that are shorter than one and a quarter inch. Ran into this problem with the cargo trailer, but it didn’t matter then. It does now!

The bathroom floor section, the shower area, to be specific, is giving me some challenges. It is because of this section that I want to elevate the entire camper 2′ off the ground. I know I’ll have to sit in order to take a shower, but that sure as hell beats squatting on the balls of my feet! I could not add any firring supports to that section, and it would keep it simple…but then I could never utilize that particular floor panel space, you WILL crash through 1/4″ plywood without proper support! I’m willing to elevate the entire camper 2′ just to make showering more comfortable.

I want this to be a home away from home, you know? It’s not like I’m in danger of becoming homeless or anything (or else I wouldn’t be spending hard earned cash on this!), but I do have a place in my heart and mind for the homeless. I was homeless once, when I was very young, and while I learned alot about life, society, and the nature of people (trying to make a negative possitive here!), sleeping under a bridge sucks! So making showering in a compact space just a little more comfortable is important to me.

I know most people have never/will never be homeless, and therefore will never know what it’s like. I also know how most people think of the homeless. Guess what? They’re people too. Anyone can become homeless. I often find it curious, the ammount of right wing christians who say things like “get a job” or “stop leaching off society”…when their very god himself was homeless, and advocated it! Oops! I just got a little philosophical there, something I try to keep out of this blog. I guess my point is that not all people who are homeless are addicts or mentally ill or thieves. Just like not all people who own homes are outstanding citizens. Some of them are drug dealers and murderers, or worse.

I guess my intention is to say that once you’ve been homeless, it’s always in the back of your mind. So this isn’t just a camper, it’s a “if the fecal matter hits the fan” back up plan of sorts. I call it a “motorless home”.

I’ve got the shower floor panel sitting in front of me, so that I can obsess…er, I mean meditate, on how to make it work. I’m sure after a walk or two I’ll figure it out.

Camper Progress 2/6/12

I set the camper up on the floor earlier, and have the angles cut. Don’t really feel like working on it, but I might start cutting the firring strips later. Until I get piano hinges and window locks progress will be a little slower than usual.

As for elevating the camper 2′, I realize the traditional way to do so would be with telescoping legs, like what you see on folding tables, but with the capability of adjusting height, for uneven ground. If I were to choose aluminum tubing for this, it would cost around $150. If I decided not to make them adjustable it would still cost around $100. If I use 1″ electrical conduit, non adjustable, it will cost $30, adjustable: $40-$45.

Why I’m telling you this, I don’t know. Call it blogging brain storming. I had previously planned on using firring strips for the legs…but not like folding table legs as I’ve described. I planned on doing them this way:

I came up with this because I’m cheap, er, I mean frugal, and at the cost of $3 for enough firring strips to do this…Plus I figured that the triangle is the second strongest shape, and I could easily make these height adjustable using three pivot points and some bolts through the floor. It’ll all make sense when I show the real deal.

I’m considering using electrical conduit for this design instead of firring strips, not because of cost (obviously), but for weight. If 24′ of conduit is lighter than 24′ of firring strips, I’ll spend the $30 or so. I know some people don’t think fir strips are very strong, at 3/4″x21/4″, but I respect the stuff, and it’s not like they’ll be holding the weight that conventional campers do. However, under the weight parameters of the bicycle camper, they may eventually start to warp or crack. And wood is alot harder to weather proof than electrical conduit. So, in short, I think I’ll go with the latter, but with my triangular design as opposed to telescoping folding table legs.

Yep, this was, to coin a phrase, blog storming!

Update: I cut enough firring strips for the largest three parts of the floor and assembled one of those panels…no more doubts about whether or not I’ll be able to walk on 1/4″ plywood. Sadly, I’ll have to resort to 3/8″ ply…NOT!!! IT WORKS!!!! Woo hoo!!!

Camper Progress 2/3/12

I have all nine floor panels cut, sort of…they’re all rectangles, I didn’t cut any of the angles because I suck at math and don’t want to mess them up. Am probably being anal retentive, but I’ll wait for the angles until I set the camper up again on the floor, better sorry than safe, I always say. Or something like that =p

I could have had all the cuts done sooner, as well as the firring strips, but my work lately has been thinking, of how best to lock the floor panels together and how to best elevate it 2′ off the ground. As for the firring strips, in two of the ways I’m thinking of interlocking the floor, if the strips aren’t cut just so, poopy. The easiest way is to use window locks…but I’m not sure if it will work, so I’ll experiment with a couple panels first. If that doesn’t pan out, then I’ll try the least complicated of the other two methods I came up with…which is also my favorite for structural integrity, but not for weight or ease of set up.

As for elevating the camper, it took a couple of days, and, after a long walk I figured that one out. As I stated before, all the thought that has to go into this project is the best part of all. It’s cool seeing a dream come into reality, and realizing how much more dreaming it takes to do so since starting it.

Camper Progress 2/1/12

I love graph paper! I used three sheets to figure out the best way to cut the floor panels. Just to keep you guys guessing I won’t show you how they fit together =P But here are pics of how the plywood will be cut:

Camper floor plywood cuts sheet #1

Camper floor plywood cuts sheet #2

Because the inner width of the camper is 63″, the outer width is 65″, one inch shy of my 5’6″ estimate. These pics are slightly deceptive, as the panels are 2′ wide, that would make the floor 72″ wide, 7″ too much. I considered cutting them at a width of 22″, making overall width 66″, and then taking one inch off the last set of panels, giving me the exact 65″ of the camper. Scratch that, I’ll keep them all 22″, a half inch overlap on each side isn’t a big deal and allows for human error if I didn’t have the camper set up 100% right. So the pics are deceptive because they show no waste when there will be some. I just drew these up to see how to make the cuts most effectively.

Hopefully I can get these cut today…I just realized the blade on my circular saw is toast, hopefully I can borrow my buddies.