We have a floor!!
Our Teardrop Rebuild has officially begun! The teardown has been completed, and now we’re well on our way to making this thing look good again….or a hell of a lot better than she used to look, anyway 😉
^^left photo: untreated vs. treated marine-grade plywood. right photo: sikaflex’d edge vs. non-sikaflex’d edge^^
An important factor to our teardrop rebuild is making our vessel insulated enough so that we can cold-weather camp and waterproofed enough to withstand any rainfall. To do that, we needed to come up with a design that would allow us to insulate the heck out of this thing as well as protect it enough from the elements to ensure that it lasts us a long time to come. For our subfloor, we went with marine-grade plywood. This is an added expense, but it’s a lot stronger against water. Having a strong and protected base is super essential to a good home-build. To protect our floor even more, I coated both pieces of plywood with a poly sealant and then coated the edges (+ an inch overlap on each side) with Sikaflex. This is pretty much the best waterproofing sealant you can get, and we’ll be using a lot of it. It’s important to note which kind of Sikaflex you need to buy, as there are interior and exterior (UV protectant) kinds. It’s also important to wear gloves when applying this stuff because it does.not.come.off. Trust me!
One minor lesson we learned amidst this whole “floor install process” is to measure twice and cut once, and never assume that everything is uniform. If it’s old and used (like our trailer), chances are that measurements won’t always be equal on both sides. We definitely caused ourselves a little bit of repetitive work, but overall nothing too bad. And I’m super happy with our end result so, no harm no foul! Once we got our first piece of plywood correctly measured out and sikaflex’d, we laid it over the belly pan that we had cut with pneumatic metal shears. This tool uses an air compressor to power it and makes cutting aluminum really smooth and easy. Cutting the belly pan may have been the easiest part about installing the floor!
So anyway, we’re at: belly pan, coated plywood, teardrop cage. We laid the cage on top of the second piece of sealed plywood and drew out our notches — the places where the cage is built up. Virgil cut these one-inch notches out with jig saw, and Rach and I had to Sikaflex those little grooves and let it dry.
^^carving a little divet in the first 2×4 for the electrical wires to lay in flat^^
In the meantime, we had Virgil shave down a couple pieces of 2×4’s so that they were level with the base of the trailer. I used the circular saw to cut these pieces into 45″ chunks (the width of our trailer) and we squeezed them in 16 inches apart from one another. This was done to supply extra support. We decided that since the grain of the plywood went vertically, we would lay our 2×4’s horizontally. In between our 2×4’s, we cut foam insulation pieces to fit snuggly. Placement of the wooden 2×4’s was important in the rear of the trailer, because we need to ensure that we can screw into them when we start installing the kitchen. Everything needs something else to hold onto!
One thing to note about our 2×4’s is that we had to drill a hole through them to route the electrical through for the tail lights. The original owners had the wiring running below the trailer where it could get hit with the elements or get caught on something. To stop that from happening, we wanted to run the electrical inside the trailer, between our subfloor pieces. It involved drilling two small holes though the belly pan to route out to the tail lights, which went really smoothly actually. The electrical battery will always live in the big steel box at the head of the trailer, and we’ll store our smaller DC battery up there as well when we run a tiny bit of electrical through the walls. Our plan is to have just enough power to charge our phones, cameras, and GPS safety tracking devices.
Once all of the floor insulation was installed and the wiring was set, we were able to squeeze on our top piece of subfloor with all of the notches cut out and Sikaflex’d. It was a tight squeeze, but that’s exactly what we wanted! I gave it all a test sit — nothing felt bowed — and then Virgil went around and drilled the top plywood to the 2×4 to the bottom plywood. And that is how you build a sturdy trailer floor!
While Virgil made a pitstop at his work to cut the 2×4’s thinner, Rach and I hung back and started taking measurements for our kitchenette. It’s a small space, measuring only 45 in across and 17 inches deep. We started with our two largest essentials — our cooler and our camping stove — and we worked from there. Rach couldn’t stress enough that she wants to design this space to suit our needs. So we really took a hard look at all of our camping items, what we use the most, and what we wanted in it. It’s going to be our own custom little kitchen and I’m so excited about it !!
I definitely went into the weekend with super high expectations and goals — I was hoping to get an exterior wall or two back on … but that didn’t happen with all of the little trips we had to make to the hardware store and back, and all of the extra cutting and Sikaflex’ing we had to do. But I learned that quality things take time, and at the end of the day, I’d rather have a quality trailer built to last than something less-than-perfect just because I wanted it done faster. This whole experience is a learning process for me and I’m having a freaking blast. Most weekdays I sit at my desk and just wish that I could be out working on my trailer instead! Of course, the work is always made better when friends get involved, and I absolutely loved having Rach here this weekend to help out. She and Virgil really are a Mastermind of a team. They know how to problem-solve and work together and to always check and double-check each other’s work. It was really cool to get such an up-close look at how they accomplish things together. I will never be able to fully stress how important their skills are to this whole project. They are just the best.
And that’s it for my latest Dewey Update! Tonight we’re sitting down and planning out everything we have left to do and building a schedule to follow, as well as plugging in our kitchen dreams to a design program … I’m super excited to see the mockups come to life!