Subfloor finitum.

Exterior Shell, Sub-floor

After much ado, the subfloor and its many components are finally done. It’s one of those things where a lot of hours go in, with not a whole lot to show for it. The last step after insulating all the spaces between the steel joists of the trailer was to lay down 3/4 inch tongue and groove plywood to cover the entire surface.

The first sheet of plywood!

The first sheet of plywood!

We started on September 10th (Day 16 of the build since bringing the trailer out to our site) and finished on Saturday, September 12th. It was the icing on the cake so to say, but even with the reward of having that clean slate to start raising walls on, my energy was waning during this part.

It is very gratifying to complete each step, but it is a challenge constantly having to check your expectations at the door in terms of how long things take and how tricky they will be. Little failures or overlooked details are constantly acquainting you with the many shades of humility.

OOPS! Nothing a little PL Premium won't fix.

OOPS! Nothing a little PL Premium won’t fix.

Mental fatigue is definitely a bigger challenge than physical fatigue with all of this, which is something I never would have guessed. A steady effort of holding objects in your mind in 3D and moving them around in different positions to be correctly placed is exhausting!

First thing first, we laid down more sill gasket on all the steel that would be in contact with the subfloor plywood. This is to prevent thermal bridging – a fancy term describing how a more conductive material (steel) creates a pathway for heat to be quickly transferred through a thermal barrier (the insulated subfloor). It makes sense… the steel joists are going to get cold, and they IMG_20150910_155249run up through the insulation to touch our floor. A heat thief if I ever saw one. So the sill gasket provides an insulating break between the steel and our floor. It should help a good bit. We tried using PL premium as an adhesive to stick the strips of sill gasket down, but it didn’t work very well. A few pieces of tuck tape were much more effective.

The 3/4″ tongue and groove (T&G) plywood came in 4′ x 8′ sheets. Each sheet has tongue along one of the 8′ sides, and groove along the other IMG_94388′ side. The top and bottom (the 4′ sides) are square. Each sheet is also
stamped with a “This Side Down” marker, which results in each sheet lying concave up. In the instructional video that came with our plans, it
was explained that the sheets of plywood must run their length perpendicular to the underlying strength axes (which in this case are the steel joists of the trailer).  It is also very important to stagger the sheets so that the seams don’t line up with one another, creating sustained linear weaknesses along which the structure can bend. Alternating our seams at 4′ intervals gave us the maximum strength and unity our subfloor was capable of having.

So to be clear, it wasn’t just me who was tired, Tim was pretty tapped out as well. He was in go-mode though to just power through, and didn’t even stop to take many pictures. I tried to snap a few here and there to make sure the process wasn’t completely lost in time. The fact that each sheet had to be oriented specifically to face down the right way, and to have the tongue of one sheet tying into the groove of the next meant that we had to be really careful about each individual cut we made with the circular saw. Once that cut was made there was no going back, and, like the rigid board insulation, each sheet of plywood is worth a pretty penny!

We used 1.5″ screws to tie down the sheets of plywood. Every six inches along the perimeter (into the wooden side rails) and every twelve inches in the field of each sheet was our pattern. For the screws in the field, we were back to those #$^*)(@$% self-tapping screws again, since we were attaching to the top sides of the steel joists.

Fifth times a charm?

Fifth time’s a charm?

I really SERIOUSLY can’t stress this enough: invest in your fasteners. It sucks to pay a premium on the small stuff, but it will be so, SO worth it. The same goes for drill bits. If you buy (unknowingly or not) poor quality screws and/or drill bits, they will snap. Repeatedly. We used over 200 self-tapping metal screws and maybe 150 wood screws in total, and I didn’t count how many of those were duds. After this though we’ll be done with metal, and be able to work exclusively with wood (at least until the metal roof goes on, but that won’t be nearly as thick as the 1/4″ steel in the trailer joists).

Mind the gap! Lolz

Mind the gap! Lolz

As was the frustration with the 2′ x 4′ side rails, the plywood was pretty bowed, which made it difficult to fit the tongue and groove together completely, and to keep all four corners square. An important thing to remember with this is that wood swells, so you can’t abut adjacent pieces tight to one another – leaving about 1/8″ gap all the way around each sheet allows the plywood room to swell and shrink with varying moisture levels. Not doing this can result in your floor buckling under your feet, which is obviously undesirable. Our carpenter’s square is 1/8″ thick, so that made it quick to check our placement. The thing to keep in mind with these gaps is that they are constantly adding on to your total length, with each piece that is laid. This slipped our minds at first, and actually caused us a bit of hassle.

This sheet didn't line up properly. We had to take the screws out and skim a strip off the end of the sheet in order to make room for the next piece.

This sheet didn’t line up properly. We had to take the screws out and skim a strip off the end of the sheet with the skill saw in order to make room for the next piece.

The steel joists are on 2′ centres, so, the ends of two neighbouring pieces of plywood must meet each other equally at the centre of each joist in order to have enough room for the screws to bite into the metal on each side. These joists are the only surfaces on which the pieces of plywood could be attached in the field, so each one needed to be shared 50/50. Successive 1/8″ gaps add up fast, and without taking them into account, you can end up with one piece of plywood hogging a steel joist, with no room for the next sheet to tie in!

Other mentionable quirks include routing holes to accommodate the pieces of threaded rod, and cutting out pieces to IMG_20150910_221159allow for our wheel wells. It seems that with rough carpentry, it doesn’t matter how precise you try to be, it’s impossible to have everything just so. What a positively fantastic exercise for the nit picky hair-splitter in me!

As you can see in the header photograph for this post, on the right hand side of the trailer we ended up having to cut narrow strips to finish off the entire surface – much like with the aluminum flashing on the underside of the trailer. It would have been so much nicer to have the trailer a perfect 8′ wide by 24′ long, side rails included; then we could lay full sheets with no modifications required. But I digress… Again, since the tongue is only on one side of each sheet, we were left with a lot of wood that didn’t have a tongue for us to work with. Tim being Tim (economical and creative) decided to fashion a tongue himself on the long 10″ wide strips we had cut to fill out that right hand side. All it took was a table saw, a bit of cleverness and elbow grease.

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A really great tip: take a speed square and pencil, and trace the edges of the steel joists onto the side rails prior to laying your plywood.IMG_20150910_174006 These lines can then be extended along the tops of your plywood so you can know exactly where the steel joists lie, and hence, where to sink your screws. It was a big help for us! We finished up the last few pieces and finally swept off our floor for the very first time. There were a few housekeeping tasks to clue up then, like trimming some of the perimeter overhanging edges of plywood, and using the grinder to cut off any of the snapped screw shanks left sticking up out of the floor. We also caulked around the threaded rod for good measure. All the cursing and frustration has been worth it, and we can now put in our order for 2′ x 4’s for our walls. Before you know it we’ll be raising the roof!

 

 

Tim taking it easy after a hard day's work.

Tim taking it easy after a hard day’s work.

Me, feeling proud :P

Me, feeling proud 😛

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An Insulation Sandwich to Stand On.

Exterior Shell, Sub-floor

After we finished installing the flashing, we had to close up the seams between all the lengthwise sheets, as well as gaps around hangers and the tongue. To do this, we used a special kind of duct tape IMG_9245made by IPG that is typically used in duct work or on chimneys. It’s heat resistant, which I thought was an added bonus, and it came in a roll of about 45 m (omg, finally something in metric). It also came with a hefty price tag though- $15 per roll, so we bought just one to see how it went. Turned it to be perfect for our needs, and we were able to do the entire trailer with just the one roll! The ‘aggressive adhesive’ lived up to its hype and I feel very confident that we’ve been meticulous enough about moisture and tiny intruder prevention. As a side note, it’s miraculous how well the volume of our purchases have been working out. Little waste makes us happy campers.

There was something very oddly pleasing and enjoyable about peeling the backing off of each strip of this stuff and sticking it to our flashing. Smooth lines, and no more IMG_9266gaps! Simple joys 😀 There was a scattered spot (in the area where we first began our flashing, when we still sucked at it) where the flashing was bowed a bit extra – in those places we beefed up the closure using caulking; PL Premium, to be exact. This stuff worked really well, I’d recommend it. IMG_20150903_154529We also used this stuff all around the perimeter of the axle section, and the hangers belonging to the leaf springs and equalizers. If there’s anywhere on the trailer with a higher risk of water infiltration, we figure it will be around the wheels, so that’s why we did that.

Ready for insulation!

Ready for insulation!

Since the caulking takes a little time to dry, we had to space this out a bit, and did it over two days: September 3rd and 4th. We were going to head straight home for the weekend then to recharge our batteries, but we decided to spend the afternoon on Friday the 4th getting the subfloor insulation started. Now, since I did the post on insulation in the research phase, I’ve learned a good bit more about it all. You might recall that we had said we were planning on rigid board (also known as code board) throughout, but at that time I had no idea how expensive the stuff was. Turns out, a 2″ thick 4′ x 8′ sheet is around $50 a pop. So to cut down costs, we tried to come up with a compromise for our subfloor, since it is probably the lowest risk area for heat loss. A lot more research ensued, and to be honest, I wasn’t really able to get a straight answer on anything.

In the plans we bought, the instructions did not include the seam taping that we did on our flashing. They said to use one layer of 2″ thick rigid board, and another layer on top of the first, of 1.5″ thick rigid board with a radiant barrier (shiny silver backing) on the side facing upward. This would allow for the required air space between the radiant barrier and the plywood subfloor in order to properly reflect radiant heat back into the house. No vapour barrier was used in their method on either side. My issue with all of this was that not taping the seams left the underside of the trailer too vulnerable. Also, using a radiant barrier in the floor didn’t make a whole lot of sense since the majority of heat loss would be happening through the roof – I would consider it up there but not in the floor. And lastly of course, the cost of all the rigid was daunting. So we bought some Roxul mineral wool batts – really cool stuff! IMG_20150827_162456IMG_20150904_140455It’s made from volcanic rock (basalt) and steel slag, spun into a fibrous mass which is basically fireproof, highly moisture resistant, and much healthier and practical than fibreglass. It is recommended to install a vapour barrier with it though.

With all of this insulation research, my biggest concern was vapour barriers and if / when to use them. Theoretically, in a predominantly cold climate, you want to place a single vapour barrier on the warm side of your insulation (towards the inside) in order to block moist air moving from inside the house, into the wall / floor space and condensing on the insulation or exterior sheathing once it meets the cooler temperature towards the exterior. Since we had sealed the bottom, moisture and water vapour were effectively blocked from that side, so if any moisture got in, it would be kinda stuck with a vapour barrier on top as well. I was worried that putting that vapour barrier / retardant on the top would run the risk of turning our subfloor into a big ziplock bag of mould, if any vapour was able to sneak inside somehow. Oh the stresses… we decided against it in the end and went back to plan A to fill the entire trailer with rigid board. IMG_20150904_143856That way we don’t have to vapour barrier, and we’ll be adding extra structural integrity to our base. The rigid board is closed cell foam, and it is petroleum based of course, so it is intrinsically very adept at preventing moisture intrusion (and mould development). It’s printed on each board that at least 20% is recycled material, too. Our floor is going to be R-20!! Hooray for warm feet. The roxul won’t go to waste though because we are going to put it in all our walls 🙂

We have an account at the hardware store now, so we’re feeling very professional and important being able to say “Yes, put it on my account, please”! We bought our stack of insulation and the very nice people working in the yard offered to bring it over to our warehouse with their forklift! Gotta love rural Newfoundland. IMG_9276

Each (standard) bay in the trailer frame is 4″ thick, 23 3/4″ long, and 91″ wide. This meant we would get two pieces from each sheet of rigid board, and each bay would accommodate two pieces stacked on top of one another. There are a few exceptions to this, such as in the axle section, and the two end bays, so we adjusted measurements accordingly. We first started out cutting our pieces to size using our circular saw. This achieved very straight lines, and it was ok, but the IMG_20150904_163058blade spins so fast that it actually burns the foam a bit along the cut, and also, I find it a bit overkill / aggressive for this kind of material. The weight of the saw causes the sheet to bow in the centre along the axis where it is being cut, and this sometimes causes the blade to get pinched by the foam, resulting in the saw kicking from time to time. This is not fun. It is a pretty amazing machine though, I enjoyed using it when it was cutting smoothly, and it will be much better when using it on wood.

On day 2 of insulation, Tuesday September 9th, we incurred a power outage for the majority of the day, so we had to try a different method. As it turns out, using a utility knife blade to score the rigid board and snapping it along that cut works beautifully! I’d say even cleaner and faster than the circular saw, and safer as well. We kept this up even when the power came back on. Getting a really snug fit for these pieces of insulation is really important in order to block drafts and to have an efficient and economic subfloor. Why pay for heat if it’s going to escape out through gaps? I took a segmented video laying out the whole process of preparing a sheet of rigid board to place within the trailer frame- you can watch it below!

Using a regular handsaw works well too, and we used one for some of the smaller, thinner trimming we needed to do on certain pieces. And that bread knife… I gotta say, it was essential for those notches. If you’re a good hand at cutting homemade bread, you’ll be great at slicing insulation with the same knife. We finished insulating on September 9th, and bought our stack of 3/4″ 4′ x 8′ tongue and groove plywood for our subfloor as well. We’ll very soon have something to stand on!

Finished job!

Finished job!

The Aluminum Flashing Blues

Exterior Shell, Sub-floor

I’m writing this now after 4 of the toughest days on record of this entire project. I must say, I’m glad I waited until now, because this post would have been steeped in a lot more despair and frustration otherwise, haha. We started on Saturday, August 29th thinking we would do the entire job in one day. Hey, it’s just a bit of aluminum flashing! We said. Roll it out and just pin it on! We thought.

Tim, looking sad, brushing shards of metal out of his hair.

Tim, looking sad, brushing shards of metal out of his hair.

Not so much.

This is an excellent example of where theory and practice do NOT equal each other. However, there is a silver lining (other than the one going in underneath your trailer – hehe). With something extremely challenging such as this comes a great sense of accomplishment, and allows your confidence to grow, even if it’s just a little.

I’m not going to spend too much time on our failures and struggles, because neither of us really want to re-live them, but I’m also not going to sugarcoat this. About half way through this task, I asked a group of fellow tiny housers in desperation whether or not this was the hardest part of the whole build, and a lot of experienced people actually said it was. This gave me a little strength to keep on going, knowing that we weren’t the only ones who struggled, and that it was going to get better!

Flashing the underside of the trailer is an important step in any tiny house build. It ensures that any little critters looking for a home won’t end up sharing yours. Also, since we are insulating the bays in between our trailer joists, it will keep our insulation dry and in place. Lastly, it will deflect road wash and any debris or small rocks from the road when we’re towing our tiny house. We bought the majority of our flashing at Kent, and it came in 2′ wide, 50′ long rolls (we bought 2 rolls). A lot of people use galvanized steel flashing on their tiny house trailers because it’s cheaper, but all we could find was aluminum, so we went with it. Since our trailer cross members/joists are on 2′ centres (that means that from the centre of one joist to the centre of the next is 2 feet), we wouldn’t be able to align our strips of flashing width-wise because proper overlap (at least one inch) wasn’t attainable that way. The only option was to send the strips length-wise. THANKFULLY we had the good judgement from the beginning to not try and do full 28′ long strips… I think we’d have each other murdered by now if we had. We decided to break it up into sections, as per the picture.

Our trailer, broken into sections for flashing installation.

Our trailer, broken into sections for flashing installation.

We started in the red section, progressed to blue, then green, and finally purple. They each had their defining qualities, good and bad. Of course, as with anything you’re doing for the first time, the beginning is kinda ugly, and the end is kinda beautiful. I’m also really glad we chose (not on purpose though) to start at the back, where it is the most straight forward. The process basically dictated that we attach each strip, from left to right, overlapping each one by an inch. The perimeter is attached using wood screws (as it is attached to the wooden side rails), and the field is attached to the 1/4″ steel joists (C-Channel) with 3/4″ self tapping screws. We were able to cut our strips of flashing just using a utility knife against a straight edge. Going over the cut 3  to 4 times and then bending along that line would snap your piece off cleanly.

On deciding how to orient our overlapping edges, it was useful to think about how shingles work. The bottom pieces go on first, and you work your way to the peak of your roof, so that water will be directed down and away. BE the drop of water and imagine where you would go. We decided to have the flashing strips overlap such that at any lengthwise intersection, the left piece was on bottom and the right piece was on top. Since oncoming traffic would direct water towards our trailer from the left hand side (in North America, anyway), it made sense to us to overlap our flashing to protect infiltration from the left. Similarly, since driving would direct any water hitting our trailer from the front to the back, we overlapped the sections such that the front section (green) was underneath the middle section (blue), and the middle section was underneath the back section (red).

The good news is that aluminum flashing is light and flexible, making it easy to manoeuvre. The bad news is that aluminum flashing is light and flexible, making it difficult to get it flat and straight. SIGH. This was our biggest issue overall. I’d almost consider getting a slightly thicker gauge of flashing if I were to do it again, just so it would stay a little more rigid when installing. In the beginning, we were trying to hold IMG_20150829_144149up the strips of flashing using our hands and a few clamps along the edge. We also tried milk crates as stands, but they weren’t tall enough. These methods didn’t last, since only two of our clamps are really any good, and we just couldn’t get the sheets uniformly tight enough to the underside of the trailer this way. We did this for a whole day though, and then spent the better part of the next day re-doing it all. Every time we would drive a screw, the aluminum sheet would buckle slightly, in one direction or the other, creating dips and bows along the length and width of the piece we were working with. It was maddening. At last, we found the silver bullet, using long, narrow pieces of wood under the two adjacent sheets being worked with, along their centres, clamped at either end using a metal C-clamp OR a scissor jack.

Loosening your clamps a touch allows you to wiggle the sheets into place so that they’re square, flat, and properly overlapped. When they’re perfectly in place, tighten, and then you’re ready to roll around on the floor on a sheet of cardboard for a while. Drilling the pilot holes and driving screws into steel from UNDERNEATH the trailer was pretty miserable. To make it worse, every hole that was drilled spouted hot, sharp, metal filings that would rain down on your face, neck, arms, and into your shirt. Blissful. We’re going to be finding these little bits for days I think, in our clothes, in the bathroom, the kitchen.. everywhere. They grab onto your hair and your clothes, even after having been washed!

Up until now, I haven’t truly hesitated with anything connected to the building process of our tiny house; we’ve split everything 50/50. But once Tim was nearing the halfway mark, I will admit, I was questioning my capabilities and a little doubt snuck in. It was day three of this task, we had been working long days, often as late as 1:30am, and we had only just started to yield a little success with it all. I’m going to be honest, doing this kind of stuff tests you. It will test your relationship with your partner, your ability to stay positive, to be kind, to communicate effectively. Especially when one role of a task is significantly more demanding, both physically and mentally, than the other role. The person underneath the trailer driving screws can’t really see the steel joists that well, or the degree to which the flashing is buckling, so constant discussion and trouble shooting amongst each other is required. When my turn came, I was determined, but I did need a bit of a pep talk, and Tim did a great job 🙂 I’m psyched to say that I basically did the entire front end of the trailer: the green and purple sections.

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The purple section probably took just as long as the green section, just because it was so time consuming to think through all the shapes and angle translations required to

Step 1 - Check it out and take your measurements

Step 1 – Check it out and take your measurements

IMG_20150901_135544

Pieces that fit in around the tongue

fill in the spaces around the trailer tongue. It was also tricky accommodating the 4 hangers we installed on the corners for our scissor jacks, and the 6 hangers within the axle section. Measure twice, cut once, people!!

If you do cut a bit too much off, or you have any kind of gap, it isn’t the end of the world though. It can always be patched, or filled in with caulking, or even taped over with aluminum foil duct tape.

Step 2 - Trace out your cuts on to your sheet with a sharpie.

Step 2 – Trace out your cuts on to your sheet with a sharpie.

Also, a sharpie is perfect for drawing lines on aluminum.. just hard to keep the felt tip clean is all.

Step 3 - Make your cut!

Step 3 – Make your cut!

It kinda felt like a big arts and crafts project towards the end, and we really started gaining fluidity and momentum. By the end of it, we were feeling pretty good about it all, and it seems as though we have succeeded in protecting our investment from underneath. I might even go so far as to say I’d do it again… but maybe that’s the elation of being done talking. Here’s a few pictures we took on Day 4 of the finished product (Tuesday, September 1st).

Part of the green section

Part of the green section

Looking towards the back, from the tongue..

Looking towards the back, from the tongue..

Suggestions for anyone doing this themselves in the future:

  • Invest in an automotive ‘creeper’ (like a skateboard) so you can roll on wheels and not your back.
  • Make sure you have a combination square, a carpenter’s square, a utility knife, a measuring tape, large metal c-clamps and scissor jacks, a few 10′ – 12′ lengths of 2″ x 4″ or 2″ x 6″ wood (for bracing), and needle nose pliers. Of course the screws, drill bits, drill and driver go without saying.
  • If you have the means to flip your trailer over so that you can have gravity on your side when installing the flashing, DO IT!
  • Give yourself a break. This is hard work, and you will get through it in your own way, in your own time. Don’t rush it, because you will probably get even more frustrated and potentially end up wasting material.

Sub-floor Prep

Exterior Shell, Sub-floor

Now that the trailer has been completed, we have started what we’ve been fondly referring to as “The Real Build”. The anticipation to start working with wood has been high, and we got our first taste of it on Friday, August 28th. It took us nearly 9 hours to install the wooden rails around the outside perimeter of the main frame of the trailer. These rails will provide a nailing surface for our plywood sub-floor and the bottom plates of our studs. IMG_20150828_153023I have to say, it was really enjoyable! Wood is a DREAM to work with compared to metal. Even though we were still attaching wood to metal, it was the wood that we were manipulating and levelling, and what a difference!!!

The first thing we did was spend about 10 minutes levelling the trailer from all four corners using our 2-ton scissor jacks, and then we were ready to get at it. We used 2″ self-tapping screws to go through the 1.5″ of wood and 1/4″ of steel, and staggered each screw 1′ apart along the length of each piece of wood. Alternating our screws from a higher position to a lower position, with respect to the centre line of the wood, prevented the creation of a single axis of screws along which the wood could curl and potentially crack, over time. IMG_20150828_183357Our purchased plans said to place screws every 2′, but this didn’t seem sturdy enough to us, so we went with the 1′ intervals. The imperial system is still driving me nuts, but on top of that, I find it so irritating how the measurements of wood are not even true to their imperial names. 2″ x 4″ wood in reality is actually only 1.5″ x 3.5″. AND, any given piece of so-called 2″ x 4″ has a better chance of spouting maple syrup than it does being actually straight! Rant over….

It wasn’t in the plans we bought, but it was mentioned to us that it might be wise to use a cushioning / water barrier material between the wood side rails and the metal of the trailer frame, as well as when we’re laying down the plywood sub-floor. I brought this query to the awesome facebook group “Tiny House People”, where I got a resounding “Yes!” to this question. So glad that we decided to do this. I’ve already complained about how wood isn’t straight, but we didn’t really take into account the fact that even though our metal should theoretically be flat, after painting, the surface was a little uneven due to drops of paint having dripped down and hardening into little convex ridges here and there. We picked up a roll (in the range of 80′) of 6″ sill gasket, and wrapped it around the entire exterior perimeter of the trailer frame in one continuous piece, sandwiching it with our 2″ x 4″ wood rails as we went. It filled any gaps between the two materials, creating a nice tight seal. This stuff is basically composed of a squishy, white, open cell foam sheet.
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Before we could start attaching anything, Tim notched out cylinder shaped channels in the wood where it would line up with our welded-on threaded rod. We didn’t really have the right tool for the job… I think a router would have worked well. But we had a grinder, so Tim marked lines showing the needed width of the grooves and just ground out the wood with a wheel on his grinder. Not perfect, but it worked.

C-clamps are now my very best friends. They are amazing. If there’s a bow in your wood, or it’s twisted in any way, they are there to reduce the amount of profanities used and make your life generally easier. Self-tapping screws however… we’re not as good friends. I’ve heard you can buy ones that actually work, but ours were a big sham. Somehow, the very first one went in ok, but after that they kept breaking so we had to drill pilot holes.

We bought a box of 100 screws, and ended up having 5 left over. Sunk a few additional screws around the pieces of welded-on threaded rod, to bring the wood as tight as we could around those, as well as any other places that needed a little extra coaxing to be tight and straight.

In addition, we made the realization that our trailer is actually about 3/4″ longer than expected! We measured everything and it turns out that the 24′ pieces of HSS from the mill were slightly longer than spec. Never even considered that could be possible! Haha. The wooden 2″ x 4″s come in 10′ and 8′ lengths, so we needed two 10s and an 8 to flank each side of the trailer entirely. With the newly discovered discrepancy, this meant we had a little 3/4 inch gap between the tail piece and each side rail. To accommodate, we cut two small blocks and hammered them down into each gap and screwed them in from the end. No biggie.

I feel terrible writing about all of this next bit, it will be such dull reading. But, I’m afraid if I don’t write it down, I will forget the small details if we do this all again someday. If you’re curious about the specifics, read on! If not, stop here 🙂

 


 

The process of sinking each screw went a little like this:

  1. Place the sill gasket against the metal trailer frame with left hand, then hold the 2″ x 4″ wood against the sill gasket with right hand. Tighten clamp around the whole thing. Your partner does the same thing at the other end.
  2. Take a measuring tape and stretch it the length of your 2″ x 4″. Mark a vertical line with a pencil at each 12″ interval, making sure to have the two end screws 2″ in from the edge of the wood, regardless of where the nearest 12″ interval lies. Mark a horizontal line at each interval, 1″ down from the top or 1″ up from the bottom, alternating, creating a zig-zag pattern. The intersection of the lines at each position will be the home for each screw.
  3. Make sure the top of 2″ x 4″ is flush with the top of the metal using a combination square and a level, so that the plywood sub-floor will lay flat across them both.
  4. If the situation isn’t level, use a rubber mallet to hammer up or down on the wood, whichever is necessary, on the outside of the clamp. Doing this allows small increments of change in the position of the wood, all the while keeping it snugly in place thanks to the clamp.
  5. Drill a little piece out using a 1/2″ drill bit, to a depth of about 1/8″ to 1/4″, giving a space to counter sink the screw head. This way, the heads of the screws won’t be poking out making it impossible to get our sheathing and siding flat against this wood down the road. Pro tip: wrap some painter’s tape around the tip of the bit, making an edge so you know exactly how deep to go when drilling. Don’t want to make these too deep.
  6. Drill a pilot hole through both the wood and the metal so that your “self-tapping screws” (i’m convinced this concept is a sham) will go through without getting worn down or snapping off. We used #10 screws, which have a shank diameter of somewhere around 13/64″ (imperial, whyyy???) so we needed the pilot hole to be smaller than this. I think it was something like 9/64″.
  7. Sink your screw, at last. Move clamp further down the line.
  8. Repeat

 

Grinding and Painting

Trailer Build Phase

Although sandblasting is the go-to method for rust removal and preparing metal for painting, we were DIYing it, and we don’t have any experience with sandblasting. Also, it requires purchasing sand, making a bit of a mess, and tracking down two working sandblasters for us both to use. Instead, under the recommendation of more than one experienced friend / family member, we decided to go at it with wire wheels, attached to angle grinders. This is the same tool we used for re-shaping and cutting the steel during the build, but with a different attachment on it (see pictures).

3-inch wire wheel cup

3-inch wire cup

5-inch wire wheel (straight)

5-inch wire wheel.

If I had any apprehension before about using grinders, it was all gone by the end of this process. Thursday, August 20th, we worked non stop from 4:00 pm until 11:30 pm and on Friday, August 21st, we worked from 11:30 am until 8:30 pm – JUST grinding off rust. That adds up to a total of about 15 hours of nasty, dirty manual labour. A hot shower and gas station sandwiches for supper were never so glorious in my life. At this point I was starting to understand why the quotes we got for this work were so high…lol. It’s like those scenes in army movies where the fellas in charge make the newbies scrub the floor with a toothbrush. Unbelievably slow progress. It was pretty mind numbing, but also sort of therapeutic in a weird way. We of course had respirators, gloves, safety glasses, and long sleeve shirts to protect ourselves, but even then we encountered a few rogue moments when the grinders fought back. I’ve got a bruise on one leg and Tim has a bit of a (shallow) gash above his elbow. But none worse for the wear! It was actually really cool to see the steel getting all prettied up; the quality of the welds and the integrity of the whole thing became much more apparent.

Right: Pre-grinding - Right: Post-grinding

Right: Pre-grinding  –  Left: Post-grinding

We were really nervous at the end of the night on Thursday about leaving the freshly cleaned steel overnight prior to painting. It only takes 3 hours for the oxidation process to start up again; however, it mustn’t be visible to the naked eye. When we came back on Friday, all was well and we just carried on. I should mention that all this rust I’m talking about is just surface rust, nothing major. The steel is brand new, but it is carbon steel, not stainless. Anyway, the anticipation was quite high to get going on our first coat of paint. The stuff we got (from my paint expert uncle!!) is a black epoxy paint, that must be added at a 1:1 ratio to a curing mixture (hardener). Once it’s mixed, you have 1.5 hours to apply it. We took a guess at how much we should mix – 1 litre of each, for a total of 2 litres. Lo and behold, we covered the whole trailer in an hour and 45 minutes, with not a drop to spare. Random luck. By the end of it, the paint was kinda like tar… you definitely gotta be quick with it. We just used a couple of rollers and a paint brush to apply. Actually, we used the brush for all of a minute towards the end, and it wasn’t very effective- rollers were best, for sure.

Me, grinding away.

Me, grinding away.

Tim, grinding away.

Tim, grinding away.

We set up Tim’s GoPro on a ladder to take our first stab at making time lapse videos. This is probably the best way to show you what we did. We made one of a portion of the grinding process (forgot the extra battery and charger at home), and another of the entire painting process. We’ve set up a YouTube account for this purpose, and I’ve also stuck the videos in here for you to see!

Since we got one coat out of roughly 2 litres, we figure we can get 4 coats out of our 2 gallons of combined black and cure paint. I don’t think we can handle putting more than 4 coats on, and I don’t think it’s going to be necessary. We did a killer job (if i say so myself) of the first coat, and triple checked all corners and undersides. Saturday, August 22nd, we applied coat #2, after letting the first coat dry for a full 24 hours. The process was repeated again on Sunday, and today (Monday), to complete the entire job.

Putting paint on bare clean metal was satisfying and easy to track your progress with. All subsequent coats, not so much. Trying to see black on black is basically impossible, and the dry paint looks basically just as shiny and glossy under the lights as the wet stuff does. We had to be much more methodical about the order in which we did things so as not to lose track. There was definitely a bit of touch checking to see if certain parts had already been done. Anyway, there’s only so much you can say about paint, haha. I’ve likely over done it as it is. This is our life now!!! And we’re loving it 🙂

Moving Day #1!

Trailer Build Phase

As it turns out, professional sand blasting and painting is extremely expensive and outside our budget! We got a few quotes around town, and all were much more than we were expecting. I don’t know if this has to do with the fact that most shops are doing work in compliance with offshore steel requirements, or if that just really is how much they charge regularly. After very little deliberation, we decided to hack it ourselves, out at the build site. Three visits to motor registration later, in search of clarification on the rules of transporting the trailer, we finally received an in-transit permit on August 14th! This permit is basically a one-time-use document that allows you to move a trailer or other vehicle from one location to another, on an agreed upon date.IMG_20150814_165719 The conditions of this permit require you to have working electric brakes and all lights (tail and signal lights, front, and side amber marker lights), and the trailer must be unloaded. It was $15, and hassle-free; my favourite kind of permit! The next day, my kind and helpful brother stopped by and helped us wire up everything (he’s an electrician). We didn’t want to permanently affix anything to the trailer since it was all going to come off once we got it out to the build site anyway for rust removal and painting. So, we attached all the lights and wires to the steel with plastic zip-ties! Brilliant invention. I wish we had had black ones though instead of the white, as they would be a little less conspicuous. After we had finished, the trailer ominously looked as if it were held together by those zip-ties. I will discuss the ins and outs of the wiring later when we do it in a permanent way, since the focus right now was just to get it working for the time being.

On Sunday, August 16th, the trailer made its way from St. John’s out to the bottom of Trinity Bay without a hitch! Well that’s a lie, it did have a hitch, to attach it to the truck. HA! I wasn’t able to attend this monumental event since I had previously committed to coming out of retirement and attending a track and field meet in honour of my coach. I think this was for the best because I would have been super nervous and anxious about things that could possibly go wrong. Tim’s cousin who is a professional truck driver kindly offered to give us a hand and towed the trailer for us from A to B. We were so grateful to have someone so experienced help us with this! IMG_9035Apparently there were no issues encountered, and the trailer was just fine in transit! With the safety chains hooked on, and the 7-pin plug plugged in, away they went. Tim followed behind in our car. He said the only thing was that since the trailer was so light, completely unloaded, it did a bit of bouncing up and down when going over bumps. I was so excited to see the picture of the trailer from behind on the highway with the functioning tail lights!! This past week we’ve just been getting our things packed up and ready to head out to the build site for what we hope will be about a month of construction work to complete the shell of our tiny house. We are staying in a summer home out there so we can stay close to the build and have steady progress every day.

Trailer Build – Day 5 & 6

Trailer Build Phase

We are DONE with welding and construction of the trailer is complete! Five hours on August 2nd (Day 5), and another hour and a half on August 3rd (Day 6) saw all the last little details get taken care of and, at least mentally, a big milestone in our tiny house build was accomplished.  We were really trying to get it all clued up yesterday, so I stepped up my game and drilled a bunch of holes through plates of metal!! Sounds lame, but it’s actually really hard.

Drilling holes into the plate welded to the tongue jack.

Drilling holes into the plate welded to the tongue jack.

Drilling holes into the plate welded to the tongue jack.

Drilling holes into the plate welded to the tongue jack.

Tim had the great idea of welding a plate to the tongue jack and another plate to the tongue cross bar, allowing the jack to be bolted on when in use and removed when not necessary. Four holes (one in each corner) drilled through both plates accommodate the bolts.

Plate welded to tongue cross bar.

Plate welded to tongue cross bar.

Completed tongue jack attachment.

Completed tongue jack attachment.

Tim drilled the tiny pilot holes because I didn’t feel quite confident enough that I’d be able to make them perfectly straight. After that though, I took over and used a larger drill bit to bring them up to size, and let me tell you, if you need motivation to hit the gym, try doing a bit of this. I felt so weak…! It was especially tricky to get good leverage while drilling the holes positioned lower to the ground. It was so cool to have a little project of my own though and complete it solo. Proud moment, lol.

While I was doing this, Tim cut some triangular gussets out of scrap plate metal that he would later weld to the C-Channel belonging to the ball hitch for added rigidity and strength.

Cutting with the plasma cutter.

Cutting with the plasma cutter.

Gussets!

Gussets!

He also cut small rectangular pieces from the scrap plate to use as makeshift hangers on each corner of the trailer for bolting on the scissor jacks. We bought these (and the various bolts and nuts we required) at Princess Auto, and they’re each rated for 2 ton. These jacks are just used for levelling the trailer, which will of course be very important during the build as well as setting up the tiny house in temporary locations. They won’t be used as much when the tiny house is at its final destination, since it will sit on blocks.

 

Hangers for corner scissor jacks.

Hangers for corner scissor jacks.

A pair of the little rectangular pieces were welded on perpendicular to the underside of the trailer in each corner, spaced just enough apart to allow the head of a scissor jack to slide in between.

Holes in the head of a scissor jack to accommodate the bolt that will attach it to the hanger.

Holes in the head of a scissor jack to accommodate the bolt that will attach it to the hanger.

We will drill holes through the jack heads and the tandem pieces of plate to allow bolts to run through and attach each jack when it is needed. A lot of trailers and RVs have these scissor jacks permanently welded on, but we think the tiny house will look much better not having to have them on all the time.

Another clever idea from the mind of Tim that was not part of the plans we purchased: pieces of threaded rod welded to the exterior frame of the trailer (with accompanying nuts) to allow for the floor sheathing and base plates of the framing to be bolted down as a extra measure of security.

Can see the pieces of threaded rod sticking up around the edges of the trailer.

Can see the pieces of threaded rod sticking up around the edges of the trailer.

The sheathing is 3/4 inch thick, the 2 x 4 base plates are 1 1/2 inch thick, and we got 5/8 inch nuts to match the rod; so, we allowed 3 inches of each rod to stick up above the edge of the frame, and an addition 3 inches below to be welded on.

We cut eight, 6 inch pieces – four for each of the long sides of the trailer.

6" pieces of threaded rod we cut up with the bandsaw. These come in 36" lengths from any hardware shop.

6″ pieces of threaded rod we cut up with the bandsaw. These come in 36″ lengths from any hardware store.

The last task was to go around and grind down any uneven parts of welds, and to touch up any bits that needed a little extra TLC. Thus far, I had been very tentative to use a grinder, since I had no experience with them. When I did my safety hazard training at my old job, the example used to illustrate the dangers of taking on tasks that you’re not trained to do (which can lead to a health and safety incident) was, of course, using a grinder. So naturally, I was a little apprehensive. But, I was feeling extra confident today, and Tim was very thorough in his instruction and supervision, so I went ahead and took on the grinder! Feeling accomplished, indeed. IMG_8928
Next up is to wire the electric breaks (and potentially tail lights.. we’re not sure if they’re needed yet or not at this stage) for towing to the shop for blasting and painting, and then finally to our framing site. Also, here’s a pro tip: MAKE SURE to put your lug nuts on the right way round 😉 That means the narrow tapered side facing towards the hub. We just got back from Gros Morne National Park, so we’re getting back up to speed now. Stay tuned, there will be more to follow soon!

Trailer Build – Day 3 & 4

Trailer Build Phase

These two days I am discussing together, since they both had the same focus due to our very first mishap… dun dun dunnnnnn. Things had been going so smoothly, I guess we should have been expecting something to get fooled up. It wasn’t a mistake per se, more so an unexpected issue we wouldn’t have been aware of, had we not had the good fortune of getting advice from one of the employees at the welding shop. As it turns out, one of the welders at the shop used to be a mechanic, so he is very familiar with the particulars of a properly functioning trailer, and what needs to happen for the trailer to pass a mechanic’s inspection (required for motor registration and licence plating).

On July 30th (Day 3), the first thing we did was tack on and weld the tongue cross bar. IMG_20150730_153209As I mentioned previously, this adds rigidity to the tongue, and it is also where the tongue jack will be mounted. Next, we continued on with mounting tandem axles to our suspension system.

Leaf springs mounted underneath the axles.

Leaf springs mounted underneath the axles.

Perspective!

Perspective!

This went smoothly, and we were able to get everything on, until our friend at the welding shop pointed out a small flaw. So for context, I’ll explain a little more about the suspension system. suspension diagram

On each side, each axle is connected to its respective leaf spring by a pair of U-bolts. One on the inside and one on the outside of the spring. Our trailer is (as the internet tells me) “underslung”, meaning the springs go under the axles; we did this to give ourselves a few more precious inches of headroom inside the tiny house, since this set-up allows the trailer to ride comparably lower to the ground than an “overslung” trailer. This type of suspension set-up has the spring saddle sitting on top of the leaf spring (and under the axle), to translate a round surface to a flat surface. The anchor plate sits under the leaf spring to allow the U-bolts to do their job and clamp the axle to the spring (which is in turn bolted to the trailer frame as I showed in the last post). Here is the bit that we didn’t think about. Since the springs are fixed in place in their hangers on the inside bar of the wheel well box, everything attached to the spring would of course be landing in fixed positions based on the location of that bar. Our spring saddles unfortunately were positioned directly on top of the weld that attaches the hub to the pipe portion of the axle. I understand this is a lot of jargon and it’s hard to picture without actually being there. This picture gives a bit more perspective, as you can see where that inside bar of the wheel well box lies, and the weld I’m talking about on the axle. axle diagram

Our friend said that our current set-up would prevent the spring saddle from making proper contact on the axle (and right he was, as a weld is an uneven surface after all), and an inspector would not pass it. This meant that even though our tires had good clearance, our wheel well boxes were about half an inch too narrow. The only way to fix that was to cut out the entire section, shorten the connecting ribs between the two wheel well boxes, and re-install all the pieces of steel to allow for slightly wider wheel well boxes. WHAT A MESS!! IMG_20150730_192846Cutting all of this out with zip cuts and the torch, grinding down the uneven surfaces, remeasuring everything again and welding a second time over to put it the way it needed to be put us back about 5 hours. It was so disheartening. You definitely wouldn’t be able to do this sort of thing alone- two people were absolutely necessary to lift and hold all the pieces in place during the measuring and tacking process. About half way into our day on August 2nd (Day 4), we had gotten back to where we were, before finding out about our mishap. I was so happy to be able to help Tim with this stuff as much as possible, especially where he had mysteriously hurt his back over the weekend. We make a great team 😀

Me, tightening the nuts on the U-bolts. As you can see, the U-bolts are sitting inside of that dreaded weld that connects the hub to the axle pipe. Success!

Me, tightening the nuts on the U-bolts. As you can see, the U-bolts are sitting inside of that dreaded weld that connects the hub to the axle pipe. Success!

Tim, bending a U-bolt into alignment with a vice.

Tim, bending a U-bolt into alignment with a vice.

And, we're mobile!

And, we’re mobile!

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C-Channel with mirrored pairs of holes drilled in it to accommodate the ball hitch.

We then continued on to weld the piece of C-Channel to the centre piece of the tongue for the ball hitch to attach to. The holes allow the hitch to mount at variable heights, depending on the specs of the towing vehicle. That was all we had time for before calling it a night.

I know there are going to be more unexpected hiccups along the way, but I learned a lot on this first one. Particularly about your headspace and the effect it has on your communication as well as short term / long term outlook on the project as a whole. I think as long as I can remember that these things are inevitable, and all a part of the process (!) I will be mentally prepared to jump the hurdles as they come our way. This comes naturally to Tim, lucky duck, so I am looking forward to honing my skills on staying positive. It’s about the journey, not the destination,  right?!! 🙂

Trailer Build – Day 2

Trailer Build Phase

We continued work on the trailer the very next day- Sunday, July 26. We punched a 10 hour day, from 11am to 9pm, and man it feels good to see such fast progress! We put in the remaining 5 ribs, as well as the section that will accommodate the axles, AND the tongue! There’s really just a few odds and ends that need to be finished up, and then we’ll be ready to get the completed trailer sandblasted and painted to prevent it from rusting. I forgot to mention in the last post that we were very fortunate to have most of our steel cut to size by the welding shop where we’re doing our work. There was just one 40 foot length of C-Channel we had to cut into 7’7″ pieces for the remaining 5 ribs. I was glad they didn’t do it all actually, because this way I got to see the bandsaw in action and learn how to use it. Here’s some pictures of us cutting a piece of steel:

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IMG_20150726_125322There was a lot more welding to be done today, so we made sure to wear proper respirators (with the appropriate cartridges, of course) to protect ourselves from the fumes. It gets pretty stuffy and warm wearing glasses, respirator and a welding shield, but it is totally worth it to not have to smell gaseous phases of metals (duh).

The pair of us with our respirators.

The pair of us with our respirators.

I should explain the difference between tacking and welding- the ribs we put in on Saturday were just tacked, which means a small little blob of metal to hold the corners where they need to be. Once all the pieces of steel are tacked in place exactly where you want them, then you weld around all the edges to make it permanent. So we tacked in the remaining ribs, and then Tim welded all the top and bottom edges to the exterior main frame. The same applies for the small section near the centre where the tandem axles go.

IMG_20150726_120423We framed out some narrow rectangles on each side that will house the tires, and then put in two shorter ribs between those two sections to maintain structural integrity. We were kinda nervous about our pre-determined measurements for the wheel wells since we did all the math prior to actually seeing our tires (and by we did math, I mean mostly Tim). Decided to take a gamble and just tack in our pieces and hope for the best. The tires came with the rims on, so we just popped them on the axles and positioned them inside our wheel wells to check and see if they fit. Good news!! It worked out perfectly. Then we were set to attach the hangers.

A hanger!

A hanger!

These little do-dads are used to couple the suspension to the trailer frame. The suspension system is made up of two leaf springs on each side (under each axle) connected by an equalizer in the centre. All of this is held together by a series of nuts and bolts.

Suspension system on one side.

Suspension system on one side.

After we got all that fitted up and were comfortable with the axle situation, we were able to get at the tongue. The axle presented its own complications in terms of calculations to determine acceptable clearances for the tires and positioning of the leaf springs. The tongue on the other hand was a whole different kettle of fish. The tongue was all about trigonometry, transferring angles, and finding the exact centre of a triangle with undetermined angles. I am so, SO grateful that Tim has a head for math, because it just doesn’t really come naturally to me. I can follow it and understand what’s going on once it’s explained, but I wouldn’t be able to figure out what to do in order to get the desired result from scratch, like Tim did. IMG_20150726_175640In this picture, you can’t see the centre piece very well, where the two tongue arms meet, but Tim made a 4 x 3 box by welding together two 6 inch pieces of 4 inch C-Channel. He was hoping to find a scrap piece of 4 x 4, but I will add that I came up with this neat substitute 😀 (shamelessly proud of myself for a tiny contribution, lol). The smaller piece of HSS laid on the tongue arms parallel to the front end of the trailer needs to be cut down to size a little, and will be welded basically in the same position it is in the picture, but flush with the rest of the pieces. This is to add strength to the tongue. The hitch will be mounted to the front of the centre piece. You can actually see our hitch in the picture, sitting on the ground a little ways in front of the trailer (it’s painted black).
In a nutshell, what he did included the following:

  1. Draw the estimated angles for the bevelled end of the tongue arms directly on the HSS with soapstone.
  2. Bevel the ends with a torch + grinder.
  3. Find the centre of the front end of trailer, and place the centre piece that will adjoin the two tongue arms together at the correct distance from this point.
  4. Make sure that the centre piece is completely parallel to the front end of the trailer.
  5. Tack the two tongue arms in place.
  6. Measure everything again and ensure it’s all level.
  7. Weld everything.

He asked me to say that he would have liked to mark the exact angle on the tongue arms, but he would have needed some sort of protractor tool that he didn’t have, so estimation was required. It was ok though, because any small discrepancy could be made up for by a thicker or thinner weld- whichever was needed to make it perfect. Precision and accuracy were paramount for this part of the job, because if the tongue wasn’t perfectly centred, the trailer would not tow straight when being hauled by a truck. It would compromise the entire tiny house, in essence, due to unequal forces being distributed to either side during towing.

So excited to finish this off and hopefully not break the bank on sandblasting and painting! Thanks for reading  🙂

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.