The "SJ Cruiser" , a 5x10 benroy in the PNW

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Re: The "SJ Cruiser" , a 5x10 benroy in the PNW

Postby yrock87 » Tue Aug 02, 2016 10:32 am

Okay, I made some visible progress. got the roof building complete and trimmed the excess ply off the sides. also cut out the roof vent. next step is gluing a layer of 1/8 ply along the galley wall edge so that I can trim that wall excess off too (the green visible at the galley).

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14.5x14.5 cut out compete! the glue bonded well and my minimalist works seems to be working. only one spar on the front edge, the other sides seem more than strong enough for the fantastic.

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a shot of my "junction box" fantastic wiring is waiting in this cavity for me. also I spliced my ceiling lights together here, I have access to this area if I pull the vent in case I have a problem down the road.

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the main roof spar. this is the only 1x1.5 I used on the roof.

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I couldn't help but test fit the Fantastic

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me standing on the vent cut out. no framing in this piece and it easily supports my 185 lbs over a 12 inch gap. I did notice significantly more flex if turned 90 degrees so that the "bendy" bias of the ply was spanning the gap. however if turned the correct way I felt no deflection and can see just a little bit in the photo.

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profile shots without the "wings". I routed off the excess of the side walls that I nested the roof into. in hindsight, I would have routed off that excess after installing the roof foam and before installing the roof ply. I had some fit issues with the roof ply binding against the side wall ply. that could have been alleviated by cutting flat to the foam, then bonding the roof ply across both the foam and the top edge of the outside walls.

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the rear galley area. I am 13 inches from hinge spar to bulkhead. and the hinge is at eye level. should be perfect to add 1 ft of cabinets above the counter
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It looks messy, but this will get cleaned up after I glue down some plywood skin onto the foam face of the galley walls. I didn't want to burn through the foam with the bearing bit, so I just stoped routing at the hinge spar.

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some imperfections in the roof. my idea to add extra bonding/strength by screwing through the ply and foam into the wood framing caused some indents which transferred throught the router to the wall cut. This should all get hidden by the aluminum and trim, but I will still do a rough fill with epoxy and wood flour. the lifting of the ply was only evident after I routed off the side wall excess. this is where the roof and walls were binding and it caused a whole area of the roof to not bond to the foam. I will fix this by drilling small holes lengthwise on and injecting epoxy or construction adhesive (probably epoxy), then clamping down to get a decent bond between the ply and foam.


after working out the above, I will fill and epoxy the edges of the cabin.
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Re: The "SJ Cruiser" , a 5x10 benroy in the PNW

Postby yrock87 » Fri Aug 26, 2016 3:06 pm

I've made some more progress. the epoxy skin has made me really appreciate epoxy in general. I mean that in more ways than one. it is a GREAT product for specific things. skinning gets a much thicker/stronger coat than urethane, laminating panels together with glass is an amazing way to get a water tight seal. and laminating/ glueing two products together with epoxy allows for joining on a less than perfect plane, something that wood glue does not allow.

I also respect Epoxy as far as its working time and breakdown of materials go. my foam roller would last me right at 30 minutes. if I tired to go longer than that I ended up with specks of foam in my finish... something that required me to take a razer to the shave off, then sand smooth. it also has a viscosity that gives it a life of its own. it will stick to ANYTHING and then find a way to dribble off. all in all, I am glad I spent the money on it. I have 2 coats on the entire trailer (including the bottom), with a third on each side and I still have about a quarter of my 1.5 gallons remaining. If I ever do something likes this again, I will use Epoxy to bond foam to wood rather than the 3M Fastbond. the cost is the same and epoxy gives a better product.

to the pictures!

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the galley is all cut flush with wood trim covering the foam. I used 3mm BB ply for that, cut to size and will epoxy over it all. yes there is a slight dip on the main hatch cross spar. I didn't notice it until it was too late. I have not checked to see if this will affect the function of the hurricange hinge. I hope it doesn't but if it does then I will shim/fill in the middle to bring to top back to flat.

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another shot from inside the galley on the end cap. it was glued with gorilla glue (to foam) and wood glue to the 3mm ply of the wall. I clamped it where I could and used drywall screws into foam to provide some clamping force while the GG dried.

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profile shot of the rear and side together.

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after 1 coat of Epoxy. I used Raka UV inhibited slow cure. it has a pot life of 30 min at 77* and was very forgiving to me as a novice. the wet out was quite good on the fiberglass taped seams and it dried crystal clear and colorless.

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I cut my own tape from a 1 yrd square of 2oz cloth. I wish I would have paid the extra $15 for a roll from raka. it would have been easier than cutting my own. and the same price as I had to buy 2x 1 yard squares to get everything covered. having said all that, I learned a lot about fiberglass. cut on the bias, a 45* angle, causing the weave to make an XXXXX pattern. that way there is no loose threads at the ends of the piece that fall out of the weave and end up as globs of thread in your project. also I imagin it is stronger because at a 45* angle, you have twice as many threads crossing your joint opposed to only weft of the weave crossing while the other directing in parallel to the joint. and XXX is stronger than an HHH when joining.

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two coats of epoxy,

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oh no! I ruined my trailer!!! joking...
oh wow that really stops the heart the first time to sand to get to the finish you want. I first washed the amine off, RAKA UV is supposed to be a no blush, and I did it under warm and dry conditions, but I washed anyways out of an abundance of caution. then I sanded with 150 grit. the real goal was to knock down the drips, runs, and tape seams, and then fast pass over the whole surface to provide a good mechanical bond. I oversanded in two spots and had to reapply some stain, left it on for 10 min and wiped off the little bit that hadn't dried. after a coat of epoxy I couldn't tell where I oversanded.

I plan on one more coat of epoxy on the sides and seams and leaving it at that. the roof will be covered in aluminum, and as of now, the sides will be left bare. the wood looks better when wetted out with the epoxy and I don't want to add another 100lbs of aluminum. I may paint at some point in the future, but the epoxy is good enough to get me out the door before camping season ends.

as far as the finish. I just don't have the patience to do a proper job. the tape at the edges is noticeable up close, but it passes the 10ft test after the single pass with the 150. plus half of it will be hidden by the trim. the field looks good and I think I will be happy enough with it. I hope to be campable for labor day so I will go naked epoxy through then. after that I will either paint or put on several coats of spar urethane.
Last edited by yrock87 on Mon Aug 29, 2016 2:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The "SJ Cruiser" , a 5x10 benroy in the PNW

Postby yrock87 » Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:17 am

Had a busy weekend getting the hatch together. I started last week trying to cut out hatch spars out of some 3/4 fir ply from the box store. it didn't go well, my little saber saw wasn't up to the task of cutting that much material and I rushed it, thinking I could fix it later with the belt sander. I ended up with two spars that looked roughly like the shape I needed, but with odd angles on the cuts due to the saber saw blade pulling to one side or the other. also there was a LOT of flex in the 4 ply cheap fir with crappy filler material.

My parents came over this weekend to help me out and spend some time with the grandbaby so first thing my dad and I did was run to the hardware store to pick up some fastners, paint and paint supplies, then to the lumber yard to pick up a sheet of Baltic Birch 1/2 5x5. MUCH higher quality. it is 9 ply with no filler. at $31 it wasn't cheap, but then again a 4x8 sheet of the highest quality (okay but not great) ply that the box store had was also $31. so I consider it a win. the Baltic Birch is so superior to cheap stuff. it really is amazing what quality materials allow you to accomplish. once the spars were cut out, the 1/2 BB was stronger than the 3/4 Fir I had made previously and that are now in the garbage can.

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1x spar cut from 1/2 Baltic Birch ply. I used a router on the inside, and a skill saw and jig saw on the outside cut. I made 4 in all, using the first one as the master to draw the template for the next three. I also used the flus bit on the router and the master to cut the inside curve, I would place the master up next to the previous cut. the radi were different (inside vs outside) but that got me within about half a router bit between the new cut and old cut. Saved me from trying to plow the router in, cutting on both sides. good thing too. my flush bit from the HF set is toast now. it cut through a few hundred linear feet during this project, but I think it is finally ready for retirement, I noticed some chips on the blades after I was done.

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After the four spars were done, we made two gussets for the outside spars. The purpose of the gussets is multifold. First, they extend from the hinge point down across the rear curve to as far as allowed before hitting the galley counter, that also happens to be the same location that the flat up-down of the rear hatch starts. so along the rear hatch I either have a straight line, or a gusset, making for a very strong, stiff frame that will resist springback. Secondly, the Gusset provides a mounting point for the galley struts. there is some significant force in play at those strut mounts and this will distribute said force without having to use heavy pieces of lumber. In this photo you can see a slight curve cut into the straight edge of the gusset. That curve is to allow the hatch strut to clear the hatch and gusset. we pre-measured and fit all of the strut movements, and made cuts as necessary when the pieces were still on the bench so I wouldn't have to take the saber saw to my finished hatch to get the struts to fit.

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You can see here both finished outside struts after the gussets were glued on.
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Re: The "SJ Cruiser" , a 5x10 benroy in the PNW

Postby yrock87 » Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:41 am

To sum up. thuse far we cutt the four struts; cut, fit and glued the gussets, and created a lam-beam with a piece of 3/4x1 oak and 1x1.5 pine for the hinge. Next is to pull out the Kreg Jr and drill some pocket holes.

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We built on the trailer in order to keep it square. we started on the workbench, but moved after glueing/screwing the outside struts to the top lam=beam. We placed a 1/4 spacer at the top between the frame and the trailer, then screwed the top beam in place. In this photo, the two inside struts are not yet attached. we cut the tops and bottoms off until the fit between the top and bottom beams. we cut each side like 3 times to ensure we didn't overcut.

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in this photo we had a majority of the hatch framing together. Starting at the bottom, we made big square gusset boards that helped pull the hole hatch into square, they also double as mounting points for the hatch latch/locks later. next we added the top spacer all the way up against the to beam. that spacer also helped bring the hatch into square as it provided the standoff for the inside spars. only then did we secure the inside spars to the top and bottom beams. we then placed two additional spacers on each side in the middle, they are located attached to, or immediately adjacent to the gusset. The spacing for the spars was picked to allow a full sized 2ft piece of foam to fit in the middle. I did the same spacing on the floor, this is the best compromise between strength, and needing to cut down every piece of foam.

You can also see in this photo the driver side gas strut hanging from its mount. notice the cut in the gusset provides the necessary clearance? the spar is to the outside of the gas strut while the gusset is almost perfectly in line with it. the hatch gas strut mount will be sticking down from the bottom of the gusset, with a renforcing block added after the exact mounting location is determined.

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A close up of the construction. all joints were glued and double pocket hole screwed. tightbond was used in most locations, but I tried gorilla glue on a few of the end-grain joints.

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Center span supports are added. Two in the middle and rather than full top or bottom, which are already supported by the top and bottom beams, I just blocked in the inside spars to give them some added strength where they attach to the top and bottom beams. the whole frame is light, about 25/30 lbs and easily carried by one person. There is also no flex when sat on the table like this. The gas strut notches in the gusset double as "lift points" for the whole assemble! notice how the notches on the left help hold the whole thing to the table and keep it from shifting.
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Re: The "SJ Cruiser" , a 5x10 benroy in the PNW

Postby yrock87 » Mon Aug 29, 2016 12:29 pm

The hatch is built! I skinned with 1/8 inch Baltic Birch, wood glued and stapled to the frame. I worked on the table and started at the middle of the hinge. I worked outward from the middle, smoothing down the ply as I went, then down from the top to bottom, again smoothing.

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Hatch is built and resting in place. the notches for the gas struts serve triple duty to hold the hatch in place when on the trailer.

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Here is a side shot of the hatch. the skin has a 1 inch gap that I will need to fill with a gasket material and trim. this was the design all along, although I still haven't figured out a good way to fully seal that gap.

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A close up. The spacer I put in while creating the hatch worked perfectly. I have a perfect 1/4 inch gap to fit the hurricane hinge between the trailer and the hatch.

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A final shot of the profile of the hatch. you can see how the gusset extends along the weakest portion of the plywood spar, from the top where the hinge is all the way to the end of the curve. This dramatically increases the strength of the hatch and virtually eliminates flex.

of note although I don't know how much it will help. I also prebent the plywood for the last month, I had it pushed into sandbags on the bottom at the floor, then bent it up and ran it along a vertical surface like the shop wall or trailer. The weight of the ply and friction are what kept it in a bend shape. the Ply lost its "memory" of being straight at this location. it certainly isn't a replacement for proper steam bending, but it didn't hurt either.

up next is to epoxy the hatch (and galley floor). I also want to figure out a way to close the 1 inch gap between the hatch and the sidewall a little. the gaskets I could find were all in the 1/2 inch or smaller range. I am thinking I can rip one or two layers of 1/8 ply to fit between where the ply ends and the side spars. I can build up 1/4 inch that way and reduce my gap to 3/4 inch... any thoughts? I will post this as a question is a separate post as well.

oh! My aluminum came in today, I got a 60x51 inch piece for the hatch and a 60x144 for the front to top, no seams! although in hind sight, since I will have a 26 inch tall diamond plate on the front, I could have gone 60-120 and saved myself some time and probably $20-30... oh well. this is .040 5052 grade. I will be doing the roof only for now.
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Re: The "SJ Cruiser" , a 5x10 benroy in the PNW

Postby yrock87 » Tue Aug 30, 2016 10:06 am

So the Aluminum was not rolled, nor did it have protective plastic. the 60 inch wide 12 ft sheet wont fit flat in my little 5x8 utility trailer... I was hopping it was either rolled or at least had the protectant on it so that I could roll it. luck for me, the shop is 2 blocks away and the guy at the desk was excited that I was using it for a teardrop. so they will throw it on the flatbed and deliver some time today for me. for free! thankfully I am ready to install the roof. tonight it looks like I am setting it up there and stapling on a few corners to keep it in place until I get around to painting and installing the trim.
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Re: The "SJ Cruiser" , a 5x10 benroy in the PNW

Postby yrock87 » Tue Sep 06, 2016 1:52 pm

144626 a sneek preview of the aluminum on the trailer. the trim will be painted black and will have a black vinyl insert.

The aluminum is resting on the trailer until I get the trim sized and painted.

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I ended up cutting about 1/4 inch off the bottom right corner of the aluminum sheet. I have a single 5x12 sheet going from the front bottom all the way back to the galley hatch. and either the aluminum isn't square, or my work isn't square. I am gonna say it is my fault. the sheet follows within 1/8 inch from the galley until the front curve, then it veers off to the right side and cannot be corrected without the cutting. I am gussing that my front curve isn't perfectly square, that one side is slightly taller/farter forward than the other. something small enough that I cant see it, but when compounded by a 5ft wide, 4 ft long sheet of aluminum, it causes the sheet to go about 3/8 off square.




to fix the galley hatch gap, I built up the hatch side of the gap until the gap was only 1/2 inch.
144623 I ripped 8x 1inch strips from scrap 3mm ply. then laminated them onto the hatch one layer at a time. careful to try and keep the curve correct.
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I clamped and screwed using wood glue on the face of each piece and on the inside where the strips run against the outside spar.
144625 ended up with a build up 1/2 inch tall that will be covered with epoxy.

I want to thank those who provided input on the build techniques page. I appreciate the input and even though I didn't do exactly what was recommended, I am confident I will be happy with the result and it will lead to a waterproof galley. :-)
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Re: The "SJ Cruiser" , a 5x10 benroy in the PNW

Postby yrock87 » Thu Sep 15, 2016 10:55 am

No photos today. I had a slow couple of weeks. Once I realized the mad rush to get camping for labor day was going to end in futility, the better half reminded me that I should spend some time with her and the kiddo. Gosh I love that kid!

Anyways... I now have two coats of epoxy on the hatch. I will put a third coat on the edges of the hatch tonight to ensure a water tight structure. I also cleaned and painted the off-grey trim that I had a nice gloss black. I pre-bent the trim to shape for the main cabin and the hatch before bending as I didn't want to encourage any chipping or breaking of the brittle paint on the soft aluminum. The trim was painted that off-grey, so I am hoping that my prep was sufficient. I should have a pretty good idea tonight when I get home.

Other work that I got done was a final sanding of the side wall epoxy. A total of four coats has been applied with sanding after coats 2 and 4. that last coat was a mess! it was very hot when I applied onto the vertical surfaces and it ran like crazy. I focused on knocking down the worst of the runs last night, but it is going to be a 10ft finish. tonight I as soon as I get home I will apply a coat of Spar Urethane over the expoxy for UV resistance. I'm not thrilled with the Spar urethane, but it seems to be the best thing for the job. I am really tempted by the clear drying base coat exterior paint option, but it appears that everybody who went that route also garages their tear. I will not be able to do that, so I am going to go with the known quantity. Light sanding and applying a fresh coat of spar every 2 years is doable. I just want to make sure my Epoxy does not get any sun damage. gulp!

In order to protect our investment, I think I can sell my wife on a HF carport at our next house for the tear to live in. (being military, we move pretty much every two years). unfortunately, I don't know that I want to put one up right now, knowing that I will be moving in less than a year.
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Re: The "SJ Cruiser" , a 5x10 benroy in the PNW

Postby yrock87 » Thu Sep 15, 2016 11:03 pm

Got two coats of Spar urathane on the side walls. Got home early and out the first coat on the freshly sanded walls. Then mixed up (a near the last) batch of epoxy to apply to the bottom edge of the hatch seal area. I also added epoxy to the rear edge of the counter and other locations I needed it because I mixed up to big a batch. On that note, the pump to measure work great, up until the level gets too low and they start sulking air. I mixed this batch by eyeball. I stated mixing, dropped the cup. Unmixed epoxy in a streak 10 dt across the floor. And I might add it was about a quarter of what I have left! After cleaning the mess I found myself with a cup with abiut 1/3 as much fluid as I started with. It had a distinctly yellow harder hue to it so I added more resin hoping to get somewhere close to the 2:1 ratio needed. 4 hours later it still isn't cured. It has hard tack, so I am optomisttthat it will cure hard, but it will not be a "strong" batch with proper strength & harness properties... I hope it is good enough for the minor sealing I used it for.

I also applied Spar urathane to the inside of the hatch and to an oak table I have been needing to finish for about 6 months. Then I decided to throw a second coat onto the floor of the cabin. Finally after dinner the walls had dried enough to sand and apply a second coat. (4 hours from when I started) I started with he driver side and it was lading up the 220 grit just a bit. But it wasn't bad so I finished that side. The passenger side was fully dry and was a breeze to knock down a few high spots and stuff the rest up. I have to say, the semi-gloss that I went with hides the imperfections well. It doesn't have that automotive shine that the gloss epoxy had, but it looks good, and hides some of my demons. I may decide I want a high shine later, but I am happy with the semi for now. Rather than the 10 ft finish (it looks good from 10 ft out) it is gonna be closer to a 3 or 5 ft finish with the semi-gloss.
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Re: The "SJ Cruiser" , a 5x10 benroy in the PNW

Postby hartk1213 » Thu Sep 15, 2016 11:12 pm

Hey man looks great!! My local metal supplier didn't carry it rolled or with a coating either and I had to pick it up..it got scratched here and there but I put those sides down on the inside so you can't see them :-) ...anyways looks great man nice work

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Re: The

Postby yrock87 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:10 pm

hartk1213 wrote:Hey man looks great!! My local metal supplier didn't carry it rolled or with a coating either and I had to pick it up..it got scratched here and there but I put those sides down on the inside so you can't see them :-) ...anyways looks great man nice work

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Thanks Hark,

You getting your build finshed is making me anxious to get done myself. although I don't know that my fit and finish on the interior will be as nice as yours.
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Re: The "SJ Cruiser" , a 5x10 benroy in the PNW

Postby hartk1213 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 9:57 pm

yrock87 wrote:
hartk1213 wrote:Hey man looks great!! My local metal supplier didn't carry it rolled or with a coating either and I had to pick it up..it got scratched here and there but I put those sides down on the inside so you can't see them :-) ...anyways looks great man nice work

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Thanks Hark,

You getting your build finshed is making me anxious to get done myself. although I don't know that my fit and finish on the interior will be as nice as yours.

Oh thanks man it has been a lot of fun camping in it..we just took it out last weekend and it was great

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Re: The "SJ Cruiser" , a 5x10 benroy in the PNW

Postby yrock87 » Thu Sep 22, 2016 5:47 pm

Got some work done on the hatch! I finished sealing with epoxy and got the trim painted up. I then fit the aluminum onto the hatch and starting with the hinge, began installing the edging around to hold the aluminum in place
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I screwed from the "underside" of the hinge on the hatch to avoid screws on the top where water could penetrate. after installing with 2.5 inch kreg scews (through oak into pine) I doubled up by adding short and wide 1 inch machine type screws that would give me full bite into the closer oak as well. (the kregs have a long neck, so no thread in the oak, only pine)
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then I started at the top and added the side trim to each side.
I was left with the bottom piece that I had cut to short to go edge to edge on the bottom, and my sides were to short to reach the bottom. . I will be fitting a new straight bottom piece to go edge to edge, with enough on either side to partially wrap around the corner to the side edging.
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Lots of pre-drilled holes for the hinge!

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not a flattering angle, but the hatch is skinned and on! it was a PITA to slide the hatch onto the pre-mounted cabin side of the hinge. my hinge isn't perfectly straight, there are some slight bows where I added some bracing under the aluminum due to my cabin having a concave slop at the hatch. I property braced the center of the roof to have a convex shape when I glued everything up, but for the 12 inches of roof in the galley I forgot, so I had to deal with some inward sloping. I thought that adding some blocking would be the best approach. and while it leveled out my roof, it created binding points on the hinge. the hinge operates smoothly still, but I will NOT be taking the hatch off without unscrewing the hinge. it took two of us about 30 min with a block and a deadblow hammer to get the hatch all the way slid on. in hindsight I should have added some lubrication, but I doubt it would have been a problem if I would have ensured I had a perfectly flat bed for my hinge to mount to.

Have I mentioned that I have learned a lot in this build?

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I also installed gas struts. my struts are slightly undersized. I got a little ahead of myself and picked these up a few months ago, so returning is not an option. but at least you can see how it would work. These two 45 lb with 8 in throw struts are about 7 lbs short of being able to hold the hatch up on their own. the * inch throw is also a little short as the rear of the hatch is about 6'2" above ground and I am 6'1". not a lot of room, especially I the ground is uneven. adding about 2-4 inches of throw and 10-15 lbs per strut should give me what I need. on a side note, the hatch weighs in at about 30 lbs. however the aluminum on the hatch weighs and additional 12 lbs. these struts would probably work if I didn't add aluminum... also, the aluminum sheet as a whole ads 48lbs to my build. that isn't trivial as the cabin weighs in at around 300.

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A shot from above to the open hinge. the screws on the hatch side are under the hinge and the screws for the cabin side were screwed through a bead of RV roofing sealant. all trim edges will be clear silicone calked before going outside.
my cabin trim still needs to be installed, it is just setting there in this photo.
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Re: The "SJ Cruiser" , a 5x10 benroy in the PNW

Postby yrock87 » Sat Sep 24, 2016 8:40 pm

Got most of the trim on! Need to get the front and back edges next. Need to cut and paint some more trim for that. Roof vent install will be shortly. I need to finish rewiring in a pulse width modulation controller. I have the pwm, but I need to make some cuts in the shroud to physically install the on-off-reverse rocker switch. I hat and some hot glue and the roof vent will be ready to rock.
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The SJ Cruiser, my 5x10 Benroy build http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=64944
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Re: The "SJ Cruiser" , a 5x10 benroy in the PNW

Postby S. Heisley » Sun Sep 25, 2016 8:30 pm

It's looking very good! :thumbsup:
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