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 Living on the Road :: Wothahellizat Mk2: Construction Diary : #08

Mon 6 Aug 2007

Yes I know, it's been a few days, mostly because I haven't got much done since Chris came home, and that's mostly because we've been catching up and researching heaters, ovens etc. I've been a little slack as well.

I have however removed the body from the truck and returned to working on the toolboxes.

I did a lot of work on the toolboxes a week or two ago but had trouble deciding what type of hinges and latches to use. I want the hinges to allow the toolbox doors to be removed, and the latch to hold the door in two places but only require a single padlock.

I can't find anything suitable so, as usual, I resort to building my own.

The hinges are nothing but a hook-shaped piece of 25mm flat bar and some 6mm round bar bent into a loop. When the door is closed the hook holds the loop firm, but when you open the door the loop can be removed

Animation that hopefully shows how it works.

Detail of the hook-and-loop hinge.

That's that, now what about the latch? As mentioned I want it to hold the door in two places but only require one padlock. I also want it to be simple and cheap, so I come up with the following.

Diagram of the latch. It slides sideways to latch/unlatch the door and rotates to allow the slotted tab to pass over a tab with a hole through which a padlock is inserted.

With a few short pieces of flat bar and a length of round bar it doesn't get much cheaper or simpler. Here are some photos.

Detail of the end with the slotted tab.

Here we see the latch pushed home and half-rotated over the padlock tab. Once the latch is rotated over the tab it cannot be slid sideways to release the door. A padlock will hold it in place.

The almost-complete left hand tool box.

Tue 7 Aug
Over the last few months I've had a lot of people offer to come up to the workshop and help with building Wothahellizat 2. So far not one person has actually turned up, but that's alright, I'll struggle on :-)

It's really a case of help is not needed at all on the one had, but would be good to have all the time on the other. There's no particular weekend that I need help, but there's 20 or 30 times a day when it would be useful to have someone hold the other end of a length of steel or a bolt, or fetch a tool I've forgotten until I've climbed to the top of the roof.

You can easily build something like this yourself but there are times when a third hand would be very helpful. Luckily I think I've found one. After turning over one of the toolboxes to weld the bottom I went in search of my gloves, only to find after several minutes of fruitless searching that one of them was already holding the box for me.

My helping hand in action

Now if I can just train it to wield a spanner I'll be right.

Tue 7 Aug

The winch cable is supposed to run along the chassis, under a roller, and through to the front of the cab. This roller feeds the cable below the cab level, and on the standard ACCOs the cable gently changes level from the rear sheave block (located on top of the chassis) to the roller over the length of the chassis.

This means that it gets lower and lower as it approaches the cab. This is no good to me though because I have various shockie mounts and fuel tank hangers in the way, so the cable has to stay a couple of inches above the chassis rail until it gets near the cab. Then it has to be forced down to the standard roller level.

To do this I have bought another roller and welded it to the front body mount.

Detail of the new roller.

This photo shows the original roller (left) and the new one. The red line indicates the new path of the winch cable, the blue line is where it would run on the standard ACCO.

I also finished the welding of the toolboxes and primed them ready for spraying.

Wed 8 Aug

It's time to buy some appliances. Although we're still several weeks from actually installing anything I have to know exactly what I'm dealing with because the shape and size of an appliance affects the placement of steel in the frame. So we drive down to Brisbane.

Initially we planned to buy a Smev oven, but on looking at those displayed we decide that the Spinflo (now owned by Thetford) is better made. Unfortunately they aren't in stock so we have to order one.

Then there's the toilet.

My amazing toilet/shower/entrance/kitchen bench/laundry space/brewery requires the toilet to slide out from it's storage location, and because of this we can't use the loo from Wothahellizat 1. The old loo had a holding tank and a wheelie bin to cart the poo away. This not only took up a lot of space but would be all but impossible to plumb with a sliding loo.

So we're going for a Thetford C2 cassette dunny. This we do manage to find in stock.

After sorting out these two items we continue down to the Gold Coast to stay with Mark & Gail.

Fri 10 Aug

I cleaned up some of the truck's air lines today. On Wothahellizat 1 I added features over a long period, and each time I needed another source of air I would tap into the existing air lines wherever I could. Over time this grew into a rat's nest of T and L fittings.

So I bought a 6-way terminal/junction/distribution block (whatever you call them) to tidy things up.

The rearranged and much neater air lines.

There, that looks better, is potentially more reliable, and I have a spare outlet for expansion.

While at it I've also moved the exhaust brake control from the back wall of the cab to a spot more accessible near the gear levers.

Another appliance arrived today, a heater. Partly because it seems that everywhere we go it's cold, and partly because we will probably travel slower in the future and therefore not be able to escape the winter, we've decided to splurge on a diesel heater, specifically the Dometic (aka Eiberspächer) Airtronic D2 twin outlet model.

These little numbers are smaller than a loaf of bread and from what I've seen so far a very nice piece of engineering.

More about these appliances when I come to installing them.

Sat 11 Aug

Today I though I'd revisit the storage compartments located just behind the cab on the passenger's side.

There are two compartments, the front one will hold the compressor and generator, and the rear one miscellaneous stuff like a fuel filter, fuel pump, jerry can etc.

I'm using some parts from the old truck and making some from scratch, it's working OK but looks a bit like a dog's breakfast so I'm going to make a single door for both compartments that will hide everything and make the area look uniform and in synch with the new body.

Very interesting, but almost nothing to do with today's diary entry.

In true "make everything do two jobs" fashion I've decided that the compartment door should double as a workbench. That should be simple, I just prop it in the horizontal position and hey presto, as long as it's made from a suitable material I have a workbench.

Trouble is, that would give me a bench 1200mm high, way too high to work comfortably.

So why not just lower the hinge point so the bench sits at the standard bench height of around 900mm?

This would work but it would cut the opening to the storage compartment almost in half and make it impossible to get the compressor and generator in/out.

There are a few ways to solve this problem, but I've decided to go with double hinging.

By using two hinges joined together instead of one I can pivot at one point when using the compartment door as a door, and another when using it as a bench.

An animation showing the double hinge principle.

Note that,

  • The distance between the two hinge pivot points is half of the required lowering amount.
  • Gate hinges are usually sold as left- and right-hand. I used one of each to make the double hinge.

One of the double hinges.

By far the most normal use is as a door, and in this case the bolt in the middle of the hinge extension remains in place thus stopping the bottom pivot point from moving.

To use the door as a bench I remove the bolt, lift the front of the door to a horizontal position while lowering the back. Then I place some adjustable legs under the front corners.

That's basically it, although I may have to provide for reinserting the bolt at a different (ie lower) location to steady the bench, otherwise any lateral movement, say when heavily filing, would move it on the hinges.

Mon 13 Aug

I've started working on the grey water tank. I'm using our old one and as many of the fittings as possible. One such fitting is a neat gadget that allows you to tap into a tank from the outside when you don't have access to the inside.

I bought this several years ago when we did some modifications to Wothahellizat 1, because we didn't want to have a custom tank made we bought an off the shelf fresh water tank, but the catch was that, being a fresh water tank, it didn't have a large drain outlet. I initially tried to use the standard 1/2" outlet but it clogged very quickly.

So I had to add a large outlet in a molded tank with no access hatch, and I found this device.

The parts of the tank tapping device, you can see a stainless steel tube inside the threaded part.

It can be inserted from the outside and tightened to produce a water tight outlet with a thread, onto which you can attach any standard plumbing fitting.

Mouse over the text to show the three stages of inserting the tank tap.

Insert barb into tank. The barbed part of the fitting and some of the threaded part has large slots cut through it so the barb can compress, thus allowing it to pass through the hole then expand inside the tank.

Insert stainless steel sleeve. The sleeve holds the barb out to it's full size and therefore stops it from compressing and being pulled from the tank.

Tighten collar. The collar has a rubber seal that is compressed against the tank forming part of the seal, the thread should have sealing compound or thread tape applied.

There's another really neat feature of these fittings, you probably haven't twigged to a potential problem yet, but how do you tighten the collar without turning the threaded barb?

There are six small grooves cut into the inside of the threaded part, they are only a fraction of a millimetre deep that's but enough to trap the head of a bolt so you can grip the bolt's shank while turning the collar.

A bolt inserted into the threaded part so I can tighten the collar.

Having got the fitting inserted I work on the mounts for the tank while Chris primes the storage compartments so they're ready for spraying.

The finished compressor/generator compartment.

And the jerry can, fuel pump compartment.

Tue 14 Aug

I reconnect the recently moved exhaust brake control, spray the generator and fuel pump storage compartments, and then hang them, hopefully for the last time.

After hanging the generator compartment I have to relocate the air receiver's drain valve because it is made inaccessible by the compartment. The valve was always hard to get at, so this is a good excuse to fix the problem. I've run a length of air line and placed it out near the side of the compartment where it can be easily reached.

Wed 15 Aug

I've done all the fuel plumbing today, this mostly entails reinstalling the various filters, pumps etc. I also tidy up all the fuel lines by running them through conduit, and simplify some of the connections.

Below is a shot of part of the fuel pump storage compartment.

Mouse over the red dots for descriptions.

All this is from Wothahellizat 1, I've just rearranged things a little.

When done I prime the fuel filter then run the pressurizing pump for a while to ensure there is fuel in the lines. Then with a touch of the key the motor fires, it looks like I got everything right.

Fri 17 Aug

In the true use-every-available-space tradition I'm building a tall narrow storage compartment that will fit in the 200mm (8") space between the spare wheels and the right hand fuel tank.

And what to store in a tall narrow storage compartment? Some tall narrow gas bottles and a fire extinguisher.

The frame of the storage compartment.

And here it is in situ.

I've always like to carry an oxy/acetylene set, it's very useful for all sorts of jobs. With an oxy you can bend steel, crack rusted nuts, free jammed bearings, and cut just about anything. Very useful.

The fire extinguisher is a rechargeable water type, I use it mostly when working in an area surrounded by flammable materials, like dead leaves. Unlike most extinguishers I can refill it and pressurize it with compressed air, so if I use it in the middle of nowhere I'm not left without a useable extinguisher.

Rechargeable water extinguishers are often used by four wheel drivers because it's common to get spinifex fires when this extremely volatile grass gets caught between the hot exhaust and another part of the vehicle.

On some tracks this can happen regularly, so it's no use having a one-shot powder extinguisher.

Of course because they use water as the agent they are no good for electrical or fuel fires, so we also have several powder types as well.

Sun 19 Aug

Apart from painting, the gas bottle/fire extinguisher compartment is finished.

The near-complete storage compartment.

I have made a small change though since this photo was taken. My original intention was to store the bottles vertically, however there is not enough space, so I decided to lay them down.

I wasn't sure about the advisability of this but we've been storing these bottles horizontally for seven years in Wothahellizat 1 without problems, so I figured to do it again.

However I received an email from a reader (I do appreciate the feedback I get from people so keep it coming) advising me that laying them down was not a good idea. So I did some research.

BOC (the gas suppliers) confirm that laying the acetylene down was not the right thing to do because the acetone can leak from the valve. Their official line is that the oxy should be stood up as well, but said that didn't really matter and was up to me.

So I've found another spot for the acetylene bottle and in it's place have created a shelf at the top of this compartment.

Mon 20 Aug

Maybe you noticed the good-looking fold in the steel side of the compartment. I find that simple folds in sheet metal can easily be done by clamping the sheet between two lengths of sturdy steel bar and either bending it by hand for a small angle, or bashing it with a hammer for larger angles.

However with small lengths it can get very fiddly trying to juggle the various pieces of steel and G-clamps, so I decided to knock up a gadget for these small folds.

By joining two short lengths of 25x25 RHS with a length of bent flat bar I have much of the juggling under control as the two pieces of RHS are always aligned. The flat bar acts as a spring allowing the device (a foldamatic?) to seperate to insert the sheet and also lightly clamp to the sheet without moving while I apply the G-clamps.

Drawing of the foldamatic. Note that the two pieces of RHS should actually be held together by the spring, not separated as shown here.

The foldamatic in action.

Detail of the foldamatic.

It's no pan brake, but I find that with this simple device I can do quite reasonable steel metal folds.

I spend the rest of the day doing a job I've been putting off for some time, the overhead welding on the body. So far most of the welding on the body had been done from the top as the underneath has been too difficult to reach, but it all has to be done and I can put it off no longer.

I jack the body up as high as possible and get underneath with the MIG to complete the joins.

Aahh this is the life, being showered with red-hot welding slag for hours.


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