We were back on our Dewey Grind this weekend! And honestly, there is no other way I’d rather be spending my weekends right now. I was looking forward to these two days all week and I’m so happy with the progress we made. She’s really starting to look like a trailer again!
What We Accomplished –
^^the circle is where we’re trying to create a hole for our stabilizing jack^^
After buying the wrong stabilizing jack on the first go-around, the correct one finally arrived and Virgil has been working diligently on drilling the hole through the tongue to make this thing fit. Drilling through layers of a metal (and welded) trailer frame isn’t easy, and we’re currently on our third whole saw. We have to do this step in small chunks because it causes the tool’s motor to overheat and auto-shut off. Slow and steady, am I right!? Getting this jack installed will be a game changer for us because we’ll finally be working on a level surface!
^^installing pop rivets vs. installing buck rivets^^
Perhaps the biggest piece of visual progress this weekend was getting our exterior walls back up! In order to do this, we had to take out the top layer of subfloor (again), loosen up our 4x4s momentarily, and squeeze the aluminum sides between the trailer frame and the base frame. When doing this, we had to make sure that all those holes we drilled out from the rivets matched up, so that we could reattach everything without adding any additional holes to our trailer. We want this thing as watertight as possible, after all. Through doing this we realized that we had to trim our subfloor again in order to make everything fit. So that meant trimming, sikaflexing, and making sure it fit the space all over again *cue heavy sigh.*
^^you can see the difference between the buck rivets (going vertically) and the pop rivets (along the curved edge). Both are installed by drawing compressed air through this guy!^^
The way that Dewey was originally put together was with pop rivets. They’re super easy to install with a pop rivet air-compressed gun, but they aren’t as strong as buck rivets. On our turn with Dewey, we decided to stick with pop rivets along the edges because they are easiest to install into the electric conduit (think: metal tube) frame, but we used buck rivets on the parts of the frame with L-brackets because we could get the bucking bar on the other side. We’re also using them for our windows because they’re more watertight! This entire process gave me a clearer understanding as to what Rosie The Riveter was all about! I definitely understand why she has such strong muscles now! 😉
The front right corner of Dewey’s walls just so happened to be short. When riveting, it’s a good idea to start in a corner and work your way out, as you can sort of “pull” the aluminum towards the direction you need it go. Holes may not have lined up originally, but as you rivet outwards, you’ll see them start to line up. But we got to our last corner and things were still short. This was mostly due to the fact that we made our subfloor with two pieces of 1/2 in. plywood, which is thicker than what it was originally built as. To ensure that our walls were nestled in well enough, we cut smaller strips of aluminum and wedged them between the trailer base frame and the aluminum wall and riveted them together. Cracks, be gone!
Once our walls were all in place, it was easy to install the roof with the pop rivets. We ran into a similar problem in the front, but we were able to fix it the same way. After the roof, came the back hatch door, which was another easy install! We took a hammer and started smoothing down the edges where a lip had formed from prying the pieces off with a crow bar a couple of weeks ago.
Before & After!
We sprayed the interiors of Dewey’s fenders with a black Rustoleum to prevent any further rusting in the future. And then we had Alex apply Bondo to any parts of the outside of the fenders that showed cracks or chips. Once this dries, we’ll sand it down super smooth and we’ll give Dewey’s badass fenders a fresh coat of paint before reinstalling.
^^the original front door was way too short for the frame … how the heck are you supposed to keep heat in or rain out with a crack this big!? We’re brainstorming the most time-efficient way to fix this^^
^^post-angle grinding … don’t worry, that will all be covered up by the fenders and polished up a bit before we call it quits on our Dewey!^^
We decided to hold off on our front door dilemma for the weekend, and instead focused on the windows! We used a fine-brush angle grinder to grind off the remaining caulking on both the window frames and the aluminum siding. We needed a flat, clean surface to reinstall the windows the right way. Once we got everything smoothed out, we attached a rubber weather sealant to the back of the window frame before riveting it into place on the trailer. By the time we got the first frame attached, we couldn’t even tell there was weather-proofing in between! Success! We were well on our way to install the actual window when our drill bit broke (again)! and so we ended up calling it for the night. We finished up the weekend by fully screwing the floor into the frame for added support and because our walls were all officially in. No more taking that floor out!!!
^^rubber weather sealant is definitely the way to go over caulking! And a lot less of a mess too 😉 ^^
^^first part of the first window-frame, complete!^^
All in all, it was an insanely successful weekend, especially visually. There were some things that I would have liked to get done (like getting at least one of the windows on, or the fenders), but there are only so many hours in a day and we weren’t expecting to run into as many snags on Day 2 this weekend as we did. I think that’s sort of how luck works though … one day everything seems to go your way and you cruise on through, and the next day you struggle to even get one task fully complete! It’s always a process, and I’m just thankful we get to do this project outside in the California sunshine…because that’s what it’s all about anyway: spending time outside!
We have a couple of small tasks we’re hoping to complete over the next week, and then we’re back out there again next weekend!