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 Living on the Road :: Wothahellizat Mk1 :: Construction Diary :: #18

2 aug 1999

The engineer came today. I can build a truck body without involving an engineer, but I do need a certificate from one to get the truck registered so it seems reasonable to involve him during the project.

He came, had a quick look and said "Yep, looks ok, I need to go for a drive but the certificate shouldn't be a problem". That's a relief, I had visions of him saying "Tear the whole thing down". I must admit though I'm a little apprehensive about the truck's performance with this massive body added.

6 aug 1999

I start a three week holiday and hope to get the motor home clad and registered during this time.

7 aug 1999

Our lifestyle change moved another step closer today. For a while we've been tossing up what to use for a secondary form of transport, a 4x4, one motor bike, two motorbikes, push bikes? We pretty much settled on two motorbikes so then the question was, which ones?

They had to be fairly small to fit inside the motor home, also Chris wanted something with a low seat height so she can reach the ground, but they had to be capable off the bitumen. I suggested a Harley, after all they have a low seat. That idea didn't fly so my next suggestion was a Kawasaki Sherpa. The Sherpa is a 250cc cross between a road bike and a trail bike, but closer to the trail bike style.

I liked the Sherpa but Chris was unconvinced. My next option was a Yamaha AG200, this is an "ag bike" which means that it is designed mainly for work on the farm. It's a bit larger than the Sherpa but we decided to go look at one anyway.

On entering the bike shop I spied the AG at the back and made a beeline for it. I plonked my backside on the machine and looked around for Chris. No sign of her. Oh well I thought and continued to inspect the Yamaha.

"I've found it" Chris announces from behind me.

"Found what?"

"A Honda 230, come and have a look"

Well I must admit it was a nice bike, a good size to sling around the bush and a very neat looking machine.

So to cut to the quick, we bought two of the little darlings on the spot plus riding gear such as helmets, jackets etc. Chris pushed hard for a deal, which she got...they threw in about a grand's worth of gear for free.

I returned to the workshop and finished preparing the roof for cladding which I intended to do the following day. Some time later, while sitting atop the frame four metres above the floor, I nodded off. OK I can take a hint, I packed up and went home. I watched a bit of tele then pulled out my "Touring Alas of Australia", all those red lines, each one a highway to an experience.

The map looking remarkably like my eyeball veins (my eyes have been quite sore lately, bit of welding flash I think).

I slowly entered the land of nod with images of the Cobourg Peninsula imprinted on my retina.

14 aug 1999

The new motor bikes arrived today but it was too late in the evening to go for a ride. We placed the two as close together as we can to see if they will fit in the spot allocated for them in the motor home. Will they?...it's going to be close.

I spent the evening figuring out how to don and doff my new helmet without tearing my ears off. With a normal full-face helmet this is not a problem, but we've bought a new type of lid. These new ones are full-face but the chin part lifts up to convert the helmet to an open-face style. This will be good in the hot weather because we can get good ventilation, say when just cruising 'round the back streets or in the bush, but when on the road proper we have the protection of a full-face helmet.

15 aug 1999

I got to drive the truck today, a total distance of about 20 metres (ten out of the shed, and ten back in). I thought it was time for a photo shoot. In the shot below you see me comparing the design with the real thing, just checking that I've built the right motor home.

There have been some new bulkheads added. These will give strength to the body and hopefully prevent any lateral distortion of the frame.

As it happens these bulkheads line up exactly with some of the internal walls and therein lies a lesson I've learnt. You can't necessarily have walls and cupboards just anywhere, there are often an integral part of the body and provide much of it's strength so part of the design process involves juggling the location of these items between where they should be and where you'd like them to be.

Having said that, the fact that I'm building the frame from steel and have made much of it overly strong does give me more leeway to place things where I like.

The next photo shows the detail of one of these bulkheads. Note that the sheet is stitch welded all around, this creates a diaphragm that is very strong. The cross brace is really just to stop the sheet drumming.

For a while now I've had the help of a friend and fellow motor homer Bob Ecclestone (Bob is the president of the local CMCA chapter). Here we see him finishing off the welds on the outside of the frame (yes they are safely glasses, just don't look like it).

You can do a project like this entirely by yourself, but for some things (handling the large sheets on the roof for example) it's a hell of a lot easier with a helping hand.

At one point I was going to have the internal walls follow the body's main support rails (upper arrow in the photo below). This seemed nice and neat, not to mention easy. The trouble is this caused some parts of the cabinet work to be deeper than required and others to be shallower. Using this technique would cause both internal walls to be about 700mm from the external walls which in turn meant that all cupboards, benches etc would be 700mm deep.

The trouble is that the shower needs 750mm and the motorbike storage (the garage?) needs at least 850mm, whereas a kitchen bench any wider than 600mm is a waste of space. So I decided that the placement of the internal fittings would have little or no relationship to the main rails.

Once I decided this I was free to do what I liked at the expense of creating myself more work.

The bottom arrow in the photo below shows the the supports I've added for the right-hand wall. Note how it allows for the kitchen cupboards to be about 700mm deep (in the foreground) then steps out to the 850mm required for the garage.

Adding these supports was a lot more work but the end result will be cupboards and benches that are an appropriate size.

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