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 Living on the Road :: Wothahellizat Mk1 :: Construction Diary :: #08

20 Feb 1999

It's one thing to be intelligent, but you also need to be able to manipulate things to make use of that intelligence. Humans and some other animals have an opposing thumb which allows them to grasp an object. We were also blessed with reasonable quantities of smarts(?), and have reached the point where we are building all sorts of neat gadgets.

After buying a new hi-fi system it's very convenient to have an opposing thumb that allows you to turn it on, and this is the main reason dolphins, despite being fairly intelligent, aren't big in the hi-fi business.

Bu what's this got to do with building a motor home? Well, while building a metal plate for the engine cover, I had to cut some odd shapes and this required holding the grinder in awkward positions. While reaching around the plate to do some of the grasping I referred to above I had a brief loss of attention, and ground the end of my bloody thumb off.

At first it didn't hurt but shortly after it began to throb and within a day or so it was very tender and I couldn't use the thumb at all. I finally realised the importance of an opposing thumb. Now if my anthropology teacher had just done me a favour and ground the end off my thumb all those years ago I would have had practical experience, and done much better in class.

While talking of digits, the fingernail I jammed a while ago finally died and fell off. I'm devastated, that finger nail played a key role in my daily nasal cleansing routine.

TIP OF THE WEEK. Don't grind the end of your thumb off.

27 Feb 1999

I've been doing a lot of upholstery lately. It started as a somewhat hit and miss affair as I tried to wrap the material around corners etc, making cuts in what seemed to be the right place until it fitted. I decided there should be a formula for doing this and set out find it.

Well it didn't take long and I've illustrated the technique for wrapping fabric around a rounded corner of a plywood panel.

Start by cutting the material much larger than the panel and gluing them together. When dry, trim the material down to about 30mm larger than the panel. Cut the corners, fold and glue all the straight sides. The results should now look something like the photo below.

Trim the side of the remaining tag to be roughly parallel then divide the tag into four equal sections (more or less according the the radius of the corner) by placing three marks as shown below. Remember to place the marks out from the panel to allow for the panel's thickness.

Now cut three Vs into the marks.

Fold the resultant triangular pieces in and glue them.

There now wasn't that simple?

6 Mar 1999

Tomorrow the truck's on show at the Motorfest exhibition. The cab's looking pretty much finished, so I thought I'd go for a run. I've been working real hard over the past couple of weeks, trying to finish the cab, and I'm due for a bit of fun.

I take the truck down to the lake, do a bit of bush bashing, have a swim and generally relax with my new toy. It's great to be able to actually USE the thing for a change.

The truck obviously liked the outing as well and couldn't resist a big smile

30 Mar 1999

I can't believe it's been so long since I did any work on the truck. I did want a week or two off, but it's been about a month now. At this rate we won't be leaving this year at all.

I decided to get my arse into gear, I've ordered a rubbish skip and cleaned up the last six month's offcuts and general crap. I've also ordered the steel for the body.

2 Apr 1999

The steel arrived today. 1.5 tons worth, and they can only dump it outside the workshop. I have to get it inside somehow and they are all 8m lengths. Most of it is 75x75mm which, while heavy, I can drag inside. But there's five 152x76x5mm lengths. I thought I'd be able to at least lift one end and drag them but not a chance. By cutting some pipe and using it as a roller, I managed to get one inside, but I was totally buggered and decided to leave the other four lengths outside for the time being.

The size of this stuff reminds me that I'm undertaking an engineering exercise much more serious than I've done in the past. I start to doubt my ability to pull this off, but then the old self confidence kicks in and I'm happy.

I think this illustrates one of the most important attributes required of anyone contemplating building a motor home. Of course you have to know how to weld, saw, drill and be proficient at a thousand other tradesman-type skills but most of all, YOU HAVE TO BE CONFIDENT. Once you let too much doubt enter your mind you're done for.

12 Apr 1999

I've had to buy a chain block before I do myself a nasty trying to lift these beams. Anyway I'm about to weld the components into assemblies which will certainly be too heavy to lift.

Above we see the rear cross members sitting on the chassis and the main front cross member suspended above.

I couldn't resist being a bit arty when I saw these colours, too many years as a photographer I guess.

The mounts I bought a few months ago turned out to be the wrong size. After a month or so of doing little or nothing on the truck I finally get my arse into gear and get keen to do something, and I'm delayed by this stuff-up.

There's not much I can do without the mounts, but I can use the time to measure the chassis flex. I've been told it flexes a lot, I think I have allowed enough clearance in the design, but let's find out.

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