Lightweight TD Refurb after losing hatch...

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Lightweight TD Refurb after losing hatch...

Postby jonw » Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:16 pm

In 2011 I built a lightweight teardrop based on Mike's Ultralight design - here's the original build journal http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=47260

This year (2013) my wife Lyn and I drove out from Massachusetts to the 20th anniversary Dam Gathering in northern California during which a gust of wind from an approaching thunderstorm blew the hatch over the roof of the tear, springing the hurricane hinge. In Arizona on an interstate it blew off completely, miles before I realized it was missing. All this resulted from me not securing the galley props from lifting up due to a strong wind (which people had brought up to me but I thought was not likely to occur :oops: ).

You can see a slide show of the trip and how we dealt with the issue at: http://www.jonweinberg.com/Calif2013/

Here's what it looked like before the trip:

92022

Here's how we dealt with it on the road:

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and here's some of the damage it caused:

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So after the gathering we boogied on home and over the next several months I repaired the damage and made several other improvements to the teardrop:
  • built a new hatch and replaced the hurricane hinge
  • fabricated a more positive latching mechanism than what I had before
  • replaced the broken counter self-stick tiles
  • replaced the I beam tongue with a lighter, longer box beam version
  • replaced the stationary front stabilizer jack (that repeatedly hit things and got bent) with a swing-up jack
  • mounted the spare tire under the floor between the tongue arms
  • replaced the cheap, wimpy vent+fan with a Fantastic Vent unit
  • painted the gross aluminum with epoxy auto primer and paint to match the metallic grey finish of my CRV

Each of these areas will have a separate post below with my lessons learned and pictures, but here is the finished product:

109460

109461
Last edited by jonw on Fri Jul 12, 2013 10:21 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Lightweight TD Refurb after losing hatch...

Postby desertmoose » Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:29 pm

Looks great Jon. :applause: :applause: :applause:
I really like the color match to the TV.

Sam
See our build journal at: viewtopic.php?f=50&t=45718

See the shakedown trip at: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=50112

More photos at: http://photobucket.com/horny_towd_teardrop
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New Hatch

Postby jonw » Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:29 pm

I built a new hatch structurally the same as the prior one
109436

I made it wider and longer so I could trim it to exactly fit. Unfortunately I somehow measured the length wrong and cut the bottom too short. So I trimmed the piece I had cut off and glued it back onto the hatch ply
109437

And then fiberglassed the bottom side to add stiffness and strength. The glue-ed on piece was sandwiched between the aluminum skin and the fiberglass and worked out fine.
109438

I brushed the leftover mixed resin on the underside of the hatch side overhang edge instead of using aluminum strips as I had done before. Much easier.

Instead of trying to glue the aluminum skin to the ply surface as I had the last time, I just let it float and be secured by the pop rivets on the edge trim
109442
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Replacement Hurricane Hinge

Postby jonw » Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:37 pm

I had to remove the old roof side of the hurricane hinge which I had used silicone caulk to seal it with. What a mess to scrape and clean up
109440

The trick on replacing the hinge was to re-use the existing screw holes on the roof side. Grant Whipp cut me a longer than normal piece of hinge so I could line it up with the existing holes and still have a little overhang on each side after cutting off the excess. This was not an issue on the hatch side since I had to drill a new set of holes in the new hatch.

Here's the new hatch-side hinge being measured after the roof-side piece was attached:
109441

This time I knew enough NOT to cut it flush with the sides, but left a 3/4in. overhang to divert water when the hatch is open.
Last edited by jonw on Wed Aug 14, 2013 12:14 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Latch mechanism

Postby jonw » Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:02 pm

For the prior latching mechanism I used spring loaded household door latches and they would open up when going down the road. I had to use bungee cords and subsequent other modifications to keep this from happening. Not good.

This time I went with a mechanism more like a garage door or pickup truck bed cover door latch. Rotating the T handle drives rods into a hole in a plate that positively keeps the hatch from opening. I used two turnbuckle adjustable rods used to keep wooden screen doors from racking (I can't remember what they're called). They are strong (steel) and have flattened ends with holes already drilled that I could use for attaching to my rotation handle plate. I cut the flat part off one end to fit with a little extra for adjustment.

Here's a picture of dry fitting and adjusting the whole setup:
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Here's a picture of the T handle bar cut to fit the hatch thickness, with the rotating plate (with a square hole cut to match the handle bar) sandwiched between multiple washers, and held in place by a collar with a set screw:
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Here's how much the latch rods are extended when the handle is in the closed position. Note the metal ferrule inside the hole that the rod is inside of - this is to keep the wood from being rubbed and worn down. You can't see it in this picture, but I also slightly tapered the ends of the rods in case they don't perfectly line up with the hole they are destined to mate with:
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And here is the business end of the mechanism on the inside edge of the wall. An aluminum plate with a hold drilled in it to match the rod diameter. I also drilled a little into the wall so the rod can extend fully into the hole. To get this right I used a piece of masking tape on each side wall into which I forced the rods by temporarily extending them. From the mark in the masking tape I could determine exactly where to drill the hole in each plate so the plate could be positioned right on the edge of the wall.
109446
Last edited by jonw on Wed Oct 30, 2013 4:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Galley Props

Postby jonw » Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:16 pm

I wanted to make sure the hatch could no longer blow upwards, which was the source of all our problems that resulted in losing the prior hatch.

I bought some spring type props from Frank Bear at Vintage Technologies but could not get them to fit in my teardrop due to the way my galley is laid out. The area they needed to be attached to is where all my electrical outlets and fuse panels are (on both sides of the top shelf). Frank was kind enough to take them back and issue me a refund.

What I eventually settled on for a design is a variation of what I had before with a better shelf and using small trunk latches to hold them in place so they can't blow up.

Here's the bottom section being glued and screwed to the inside wall of the galley area:
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And here is the finished mechanism:
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When the hatch is closed the props fold up and are secured to the ceiling using cabinet door clips. This is the same as I had done before.
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BTW, the inside of the hatch is a sheet of coroplast. I was able to cut down and re-use the same sheet we bought in Nevada and used as a temp hatch at the end of our trip out west.
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New Tongue

Postby jonw » Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:32 pm

The tongue we had was a little short. So short that the bracket for spare tire we had mounted on the side of it got bent due to the back of the car hitting the tire if a turn was too sharp when backing up.

The new tongue was designed to have these attributes:
  • had to exactly fit the holes in the floor used to mount the old tongue
  • long enough to mount a swing-up stabilizer jack on
  • be constructed from lighter and stronger 2x2x1/8 square tubing instead of 3in. I beam steel

I'm also hoping the increased distance behind my CRV might improve the gas mileage when towing (although I'm not holding my breath for this one).

For yucks, here's a picture of the teardrop with the old tongue removed. The frameless, unibody construction allowed this to happen. I resurrected the wheeled 4x8 platform I used when constructing the TD to hold it off the ground while the tongue was off, but still allowed my to roll it in and out of the shelter as needed
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The new tongue being painted (in my HF porta-garage) with two coats of POR15 after being de-greased and the metal etched:
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And bolted back onto the teardrop (minus the trailer wiring which is still lying on the ground in this picture)
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I had won a tongue handle at the Dam Gathering which you can see attached to the side of the coupler in the above picture. It's nice - saves getting my hands greasy when picking up or moving the trailer/tongue. A lot less picking up now that I have a wheel on the front...
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Countertop tile repair

Postby jonw » Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:35 pm

Because I had used self-stick floor tiles before this was pretty easy. A heat gun and a putty knife made short work of removing the old tiles and I simply stuck in new ones in their place. Easy Peasy...
109450
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New Fantastic Vent fan

Postby jonw » Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:43 pm

Removing the anemic old fan was a mess because I used silicone caulk between the roof and fan apron to both seal and adhere it to the roof. Boy, did it adhere - I needed a crowbar to break the seal, which destroyed the metal fan apron.
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Here's what the roof looked like after the old fan was removed:
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After scraping off as much silicone as I could I used DAP Silicone-Be-Gone to remove the rest. The new unit provides a polystyrene gasket to use between the roof and apron, and i only needed to caulk along the edges and on top of the screws. A much better way to do it.

And here's the newly installed Fantastic Vent/fan from the inside of the teardrop - what a difference!
109456
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Spare Tire under the floor

Postby jonw » Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:53 pm

I drilled two holes in a strip of 1/8in. thick aluminum bar and squared off the holes to fit the 6in. carriage bolts I bought. Drilled two corresponding holes in the floor and simply mounted the spare tire outside side up on the bottom of the floor between the two tongue arms underneath the trailer. Out of the way, accessible if needed, and adds only a little to the tongue weight (because it is closer to the axle than being mounted near the front of the tongue.

The floor-level view from the front of the TD:
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And a closer look:
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With the spare tire not being on the tongue and now having a longer tongue I hope to be able to carry my EZ-Up or follding bike on the tongue. We'll see. A future project is to build a small wooden shelf that will sit on the tongue to hold such things.
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Re: Lightweight TD Refurb after losing hatch...

Postby jonw » Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:54 pm

desertmoose wrote:Looks great Jon. :applause: :applause: :applause:
I really like the color match to the TV.

Sam


Thanks Sam! Good to hear from you...
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Painting

Postby jonw » Thu Jul 11, 2013 2:33 pm

I bought single-stage epoxy paint and primer from an auto paint supply store and they mixed it to match the metallic grey color of my CRV. I liked the grey siding Woodbutcher used on his trailer so I went with that.

Not much to show here except the trailer masked and ready:
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I had a cheapie Harbor Frieght HVLP sprayer I planned to use for the primer and bought a better one from HF with an attached pressure guauge that I planned to use for the finish paint. There was only a half hour dry time between the primer and finish coats and I didn't know if I would have time to clean the first spray gun to then use for the paint coats.

The two coats of primer went on fine. Then I mixed up the final paint and loaded up the HVLP gun. Went to adjust the pressure and the gauge broke off in my hand. So I removed the gauge and connected the gun directly to the hose and nothing. No pressure, and the paint would only dribble out the nozzle. I then poured the paint out of this gun and into the first one (that I had cleaned after the primer) and luckily it was still functioning.

However by this time the sun was overhead and the trailer was getting hot. As soon as the spray hit it dried and and what I ended up with is a stippled finish instead of a smooth glossy finish. I actually like it but it's not what it should have looked like.

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So the morals of this story are:
  • Stay away from Harbor Frieght paint guns
  • Don't paint outside when it is sunny or hot
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Running Lights Re-wiring

Postby jonw » Thu Jul 11, 2013 2:43 pm

I had never really finished wiring the trailer with the old tongue - it was a bunch of twist connectors wrapped in duct tape that had melted in the sun, and was opening up and was very gooey. Yuch.

So I peeled off all the tape and cleaned off the left-over adhesive on the wires, and diagrammed out all the connections. I then cut all the connections and rewired it all with new connectors inside a plastic electrical box I got at Home Depot. When I was done I use PL construction adhesive on the top of it and glued it to the underside of the tongue, holding it in place with plastic cable ties.
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I had bought a trailer extension from Harbor Freight that I cut off one end and wired it in the box with the plug on the other end to connect to the TV. One of the connections inside the connector was bad and I was not getting any power to one of the signal lights. Another strike against HF. I bought a connector from Autozone and replaced the HF one with it and it now works fine.
109463

So that's the end of the refurbishment. I hope you found something helpful you can use for your build.
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Re: Lightweight TD Refurb after losing hatch...

Postby aggie79 » Thu Jul 11, 2013 2:54 pm

Jon,

I'm sorry to hear about losing your hatch. But what a recovery you've made! :applause: :thumbsup: :applause: Thank you for a very detailed and informative description of your re-building process.

Take care,
Tom
Tom (& Linda)
For more on our Silver Beatle teardrop:
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Re: Lightweight TD Refurb after losing hatch...

Postby nevadatear » Thu Jul 11, 2013 3:00 pm

Wow Jon, have you been busy since the dam or what. Your refurb looks fantastic. A whole new trailer. Randy says Hi! Great job! Hope our friends from mass. Are both doing well. Loved ready your rebuild journal. That tongue is Sooo inproved!
Debbie (with Randy looking over my shoulder)
Our build thread: http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?t=41295&highlight=monstero
2009 Homebuilt woody, Kenskill inspired 5 wide
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