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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2 thoughts on “Trailer Build – Day 1

  1. 1. Awesome! A frame OUTSIDE the wheels. Way better for exterior strength under the walls where it’s needed.
    2. How on earth are you going to change your tires??
    Any chance you could help me figure out the tire question? I’m currently planning my own from-scratch trailer build (there don’t seem to be that many folks doing that so I was glad to find y’all!) but have been juggling the need for exterior strength with tire access and would love to know how y’all have managed it.
    Thanks!
    Tex

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    1. Hey Tex!

      Sorry for the loooong overdue reply. We’ve been living in Japan since January and I haven’t been keeping up with the blog. Getting geared up to return and continue our build now.

      1. Thanks! We think so too.
      2. We don’t plan on moving very often. If we owned land, we may have build it on a concrete slab, but since we don’t have land yet, our best solution was to put it on wheels with the intention of moving it only once – from the build site to the home site. I think we’ll actually jack it up and remove the wheels / axles once we get it to its forever place, and support the steel frame on shores.
      This is the only way to change the tires – jack it up and drop the axles off. It really wouldn’t be ideal for someone who wanted to move often due to the inconvenience and time-consuming nature of it all. But for our situation, it was the best choice in order to maximize our indoor space.

      Do you plan on moving often with your tiny? What did you end up doing?

      Like

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