Trailer Build – Day 1

Trailer Build Phase

We woke up early on the morning of July 25th, at which point it still hadn’t quite sunk in that we were actually starting the tiny house for real. After getting together all our work clothes, gear, and a quick breakfast, we headed out!

It was an awesome first day!! I learned so much, and Tim is a first rate teacher. Being around welding and in a welding shop is kind of intimidating at first, but as long as all safety precautions are followed and, obviously, someone experienced is doing the actual welding, it’s actually really, really fun. I guess the part I found fun is what’s considered the fabrication part of the work- this involves the fitting of pieces in the correct positions, and making all the pieces square and level. We started out by welding on two end pieces to our side rails in order to bring them both to a full 28 feet. In order to do this, Tim had to prepare the pieces of HSS by bevelling their edges to an angle, using a torch and a grinder.

Tim, about to bevel the edges of the two adjoining pieces for one side rail of our trailer.

Tim, about to bevel the edges of the two adjoining pieces for one side rail of our trailer.

This was the first time we really had a good look at the steel we had ordered and could visualize the full length of our tiny house. Once that was done, the front and back end pieces were tacked on to make the exterior box portion of the trailer frame (using 2 x 4 HSS). This was a big step, since it represented the footprint of our future tiny house! I can’t believe how fast time goes when you’re doing this kind of work. There are so many tiny adjustments that need to be made, and problem solving is a constant. What I hadn’t even thought about is that tiny discrepancies in accuracy or precision with respect to materials and the environment you’re in can have a big impact on the integrity of something new being built. Even the floor isn’t perfectly level everywhere. So, it was key to have scraps of metal and wood around us to shim and prop up our pieces of steel, making sure all of Tim’s welds resulted in flat and square corners. I think my favourite fix was the situation in which we used a hammer to bang on the steel perpendicular to a weld while it’s still molten, in order to squish it into place. I’ll just let some pictures do the talking now, since they tell the story much better than I!

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Bevelling!

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Removing slag with a chipping hammer, after a weld was completed. Slag constitutes the tiny impurities in the metal rods used for welding, which float to the surface and are easily removed once the weld is solid

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Stick welding! Don’t worry, I was wearing a shield to take this picture (and at all other times, too).

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This is what the contact point looks like between the stick attached to the whip and the molten puddle of metal, from behind a welding shield. It’s not this blurry in real life, the camera couldn’t really focus. Just wanted to give perspective

Pretty weld! :)

Pretty weld! 🙂

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Standing on one adjoining end of a weld to pull it level while it’s still molten.

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Tim with his torch. Reminded me of some weird welding version of American Gothic, haha.

Me with all my gear on! Fortunately, I already owned coveralls, boots, gloves and safety glasses from my last job as an geo-environmental scientist. Tim had an extra welding shield, which was lucky!

Me with all my gear on! Fortunately, I already owned coveralls, boots, gloves and safety glasses from my last job as an geo-environmental scientist. Tim had an extra welding shield, which was lucky!

The exterior trailer frame! Aka, footprint of our tiny house. Feels big!

The exterior trailer frame! Aka, footprint of our tiny house. Feels big!

Buffing the welds with the grinder to make them flush.

Buffing the welds with the grinder to make them flush.

Progress by the end of day 1. Exterior frame, and 6 of the ribs on the front end of the trailer.

Progress by the end of day 1. Exterior frame, and 6 of the ribs on the front end of the trailer.

When it was all said and done at the end of the day, we had completed the outside main frame of the trailer, as well as 6 of the 11 ribs that are positioned perpendicular to the side rails (not including the section for the axles). The ribs are made of 4 inch C-Channel, for reference. We worked for about 9 hours, and were happy with our progress! The tricky bits are on the docket for Day 2, including the tongue and axles.

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Pre-Trailer Build Update

Research Phase

Between the jigs and the reels, we have been delayed by about a month on our Tiny House build, due to things outside of our control. It has been a challenge, since we are very eager to start; and, the more time we have to ponder, the more chances there are to panic and worry! A few things have happened since I last wrote, and we have spent a bit more money. The axles arrived right on time, but since the steel wasn’t ready yet we let them hang out in the warehouse over at our supplier’s for a few weeks. We picked them up (and all their associated parts) and brought them to our trailer building location two weeks ago.

After shopping around extensively, we ordered our windows and front door on June 24. WHO KNEW windows were so expensive?! We collected a load of quotes, but the place we settled on was the best by far. I highly encourage you to shop around if you’re in the market for this kind of stuff! It’s amazing the price differences you’ll see for seemingly identical products. My heart was set on wooden aluminum clad windows, but we found out from the dealers that going that route is anywhere from double to quadruple the cost of vinyl. For reference, if any of you guys are looking for top notch windows, we’ve come to understand that Pella are very good, as are Norwood. If money were no object, I’d be getting Norwood, since they’re made in New Brunswick (yay for the Atlantic Canadian eonomy!) and they’re designed for the climate we are so luckily situated in (as I sit inside on July 21st while the thermometer is topping out at 9°C…). Since we are not rolling in dolla bills, we took it on the chin and went with Acan vinyl windows and steel door. We’re happy with this purchase none the less, since Acan products are made right here in Newfoundland, and they have all the necessary Energy Star and CSA certified ratings to withstand the most severe weather in Atlantic Canada. We are still waiting for these to arrive, but I’m psyched we’ll have them prior to starting the framing so there will be no mistakes made on rough openings.

Main event: we got word today that our steel has finally arrived! So we are aiming to have our trailer constructed by the middle (or maybe end) of next week. We cannot wait to have this phase completed and to get everything shifted out to our main build site, about an hour outside St. John’s. Pictures will be soon to follow!