Thursday, August 27, 2015

Lots of details

There are so many little details to go into this project!  Dale does the big, major things (like building walls!) and I do all the smaller, precise things, like making trim that fits around the door:
To do this, I used 1/4" plywood, since the trim I cut elsewhere was about 3/8" (cut down from 1 x 3s), and I only had it 1.5" wide.  This way, I could get the nice curve on top without having to piece it from a number of boards.

I also made a door:

I used regular dimensional lumber here. First, I built the window out of channels I cut from 1 x 2s with stained glass cut to fit.  Then I built the rest of the door around it.

I also built up the window frames by adding trim to the outside, then using bondo to fill any gaps, sanding down so it's smooth. This will make a nice solid window frame.

I also added trim to the four corners and along the bottom edge.

You can also see the mollycroft (or trolley, or skylight) in this angle. It still needs a roof, but we'll get there.  I also added the ceiling along the back rafters.  I had to trim the front rafters, they've been bothering me because I felt they were too long, so I took them down a bit.

Today, I cut the curves on the final rafters, the decorative ones that will go on each side, but I need to get those sanded before I attach them.

Oh,and finally, I added the center panel to the bow window.  But I still haven't got a fastener on the inside, so it's being held in place with a little wedge, which will disappear when I get the handle/hooks installed on the inside.

We also chose a color scheme -- which looks rather mundane, but there is going to be a LOT of decorative painting, so having a fairly subdued background will help.  Green for the body, brown/black for the trim and cream for the ceiling and roof.

Now, I'm back at school so I can't work on it as much as I want, but we'll still make progress!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Vardo coming along

So we've been working slowly but steadily on our little vardo camper.  Last time I posted, we had just begun getting the two end panels on.  Well, we've made a lot of progress since then:
We got both sides framed and added the rafters.  These are notched into the tongue and groove ends for stability.  We also got the sides skinned with beadboard paneling:

And I got the door and window on the back end cut.  The "back end" is actually the front, but it's the end away from the trailer hitch. 

I added a little detail around the window while Dale was doing the plywood attaching on the sides.  For this window, I used the last remaining stained glass panel and had to cut/reassemble it -- here's what I had left:
Just a long skinny half.  I cut that in half - you can see where I drew a line with sharpie above -- and then I cut the lead with a utility knife. Lead is super soft and cuts easily.  Then I snapped it in half.

 I cut off some of the extra lead, and then cleaned off the cement that is used to weather proof it. 

I removed the center rectangles from one piece, cleaned out the channel, then slid the two halves together.

Then all I had to do was further clean up the lead, solder the joints and cement the new joins.  Then it was all ready to go!

So now I have a window for the door end of our little vardo!  I didn't show it here, but I also cut down that wide outer edge of lead channel, so I didn't have so much to hide in the window frame.

The other thing I did this week is get the bow window for the other end (mostly) finished.  I still need to put the last window in, but I needed to run out last night and pick up some hinges.  We still are working on ways to get it to prop open, but those are just little details to work on later.  Here's what it looks like so far:

I think I will make some kind of sloping roof for it -- it looks a little flat across the top.  A sloping roof will probably also make it a little aerodynamic, since this is the "leading edge" when we are towing it.  The window will be hinged at the top and open out from the bottom.  We'll also have to make shutters for this window so that the glass is protected while we haul it.  We're thinking something like this:

that, by the way is from a blog post here:
There are a lot of great internet resources, including the blog above, instructables, other people's generous build journals and a wonderful site called Teardrops and Tiny Travel Trailers, which has a ton of resources on building methods.  We've gotten a lot of useful information there.

Finally, I also made frames for my two stained glass panels for the side windows:

These are ready to hang as well in their own window spaces, but I need to get the framing done around the holes before we hang them. 

We picked up the materials for the roof, so that's our next job in this project!

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Progress on the vardo

I thoroughly enjoyed teaching a workshop in Tennessee at the Tennessee Arts Academy - a first class job that was exciting and exhausting.  When I finished up my week there, I rented a car and drove from Nashville to Indianapolis to teach at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and also to spend some time with my grandson Parker.  We made lasagna:

He's such a lot of fun!

We got the basic box built for the vardo, and already we're altering our plans. Originally the ledge was going to be 12" -- but that looked large so we made it 10."  We also had put up some basic wedges to hold the ledge in place, but decided to cut out some curved wedges. 
We got the box built and also the back deck.  This platform will help make a transition to entering, and also serve as a place to put our camp stove and any other equipment.  We'll have to move the lights and license plate later.
We set it up on jacks so it's level and stable while we're climbing all over it.  We are going to probably add some jacks welded on later but for now, these work fine.

After we got the basic box and ledge done we started on the back wall.  This was exciting and kind of anxiety inducing -- all of a sudden, it seemed really huge!  Luckily, one of the online forums I joined to learn more about building these was super helpful, and it turns out we're right on track.  Right now the box and the one bar across the door are stabilizing until we get the sides put up.  We have the back end up -- or at least 75% of it - it got dark before we could finish.  It's cut, just need to get it attached.

 We have a couple of things we want to splurge on, even as we try to keep costs/weight down. I bought two stained glass panels on for our side windows:

These were about $115 each, and I will build frames around them for our side windows. I also have a piece of leaded glass in the garage that I got off craigslist awhile back for about 10 dollars, and that will be the center of the bay window.  I'll see what I can do for the front door and I think I want to add a small window next to the door as well.

So we're having fun -- but we're not in any rush. I'll get the stained glass this week and then we'll know what size holes to leave for windows.  We're also rethinking some of the other parts -- maybe redesign the mollycroft so it blends more into the roof -- it's so tall, I don't want to have too much wind resistance!  I ran across this plan and I think we can do this instead:

On top of all that, I had gallbladder surgery yesterday == ouch, but I'm glad that thing is gone!  it was no fun dealing with that the past few months.  Easy laproscopic surgery but I'll be sore a few days.  We'll get back to business in no time, though!
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