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 Living on the Road :: Wothahellizat Mk2: Construction Diary : #13

Fri 2 Nov 2007

Gavin and Tracy (of hobohome.com fame) arrive today. Their bus has a Mini Moke stored in the back, it's a tight fit but the system works well.


The bus disgorges a moke.

The bus used to belong to other friends of ours Mark and Gail (motorhominglifestyle.com) and they engineered the emerging moke several years ago.

With their light weight, lowerable suspension and convertible roof Mokes are ideal for this application. They're getting hard to find though.

Sat 3 Nov

I'm working on infilling the frame, which is to say adding all the short pieces of steel needed to support partitions, shelves, appliances etc. It's very fiddly work that consumes masses of steel and before long the truck has eaten about five lengths of 20x20 RHS. It's difficult to see where it's all gone though.

Gavin helps by cutting the lengths so I just have to measure and weld.

At night we sit around and talk motorhoming, photography, and electronics, my favourite subjects, although I haven't done much with electronics for several years.

Sun 4 Nov

I start on the bedroom hatch doors today. Like everything on this truck it needs a fancy hinge so there's quite some time involved proving that not only the main shutter works, but also the parallel hinges that are for the fly screens.


The blue parts are folded flat bar that connects the body and the hatch to the continuous hinge.

The pivot point of the hinge has to be high so the hatch folds over the adjacent solar panels (yet to be installed), and the weird shape of the folded flat bar allows the roof sheet (in green) to protrude lower than the hatch to help with waterproofing (a timber surround to be added later will complete the overhang).

Mon 5 Nov

The bedroom hatch is mostly finished.


The bedroom hatch nears completion.

Having done that I return to adding fiddly bits for cupboards etc. BOORING, and not worth photographing or talking about really.

Thu 8 Nov

I confess to hitting a bit of a wall lately. Basically I'm getting sick of having to figure out how to make things work and sick of being showered in red-hot welding spatter.

Fortunately I'm within days of finishing the main fabrication part of the project. Hopefully moving to the cladding and fit out will help.

This "wall" probably explains why the postings here have been a little less frequent of late, although the other reason is that my interest in electronics has been rekindled lately. It's been over ten years since I did any work with embedded microprocessors and I've been spending time at night researching what's going on in that world.

There's some pretty interesting stuff around these days and I can feel some gadgets for the truck coming on, a speedo would be nice (the current one is broken), some fridge temperature and duty cycle monitors would be a plus, maybe a trip meter, battery monitor, gas alarm...

Fri 9 Nov

One of the main jobs lately has been the the motorbike box, but let me go back a few months.

Originally the idea was to just have the motorbike stored at the rear of the lounge room and lower it from the ceiling with a winch. However we decided that this would look too messy, and instead we would store the bike in a box and lower the box with bike inside.

So now we're starting to build the mechanism to lower the box.

I need some runners to guide the box as it lowers, mostly because the truck may not be level at the time. So I came up with this design.

The runner will consist of a length of 50x50 angle mounted to each side of the box and some bearings mounted to the body.


Two cross sections through the bearing blocks and angle that form the runners. The top one shows the bearings, and the bottom one the mounting bolt that allows for adjustment. Adjustment is required because the two tracks (the ^ shape) must be exactly parallel.

With the bearings at 45° I only need eight as each effectively works in two directions.


Two close ups of the bearing assembly, made from a piece of angle with a section removed and flat bar welded in place.

After making four bearing assemblies I weld them in pairs to some angle (to ensure they're aligned) then mount them to the body.


Two of the mounted bearing assemblies. This pair and the two on the other side of the body must be exactly parallel, hence the adjustment bolts at top and bottom.

Sat 10 Nov

I start this morning by making the base for the motorbike box.

After some time though we think about what we're doing and decide to scrap the whole idea and return to the original plan.

So now we will lower the bike through the floor of the lounge room. This is a massive saving in complexity and weight, at the expense of being slightly less automated.

Wed 14 Nov

I built the bicycle storage today. We've had Mongoose folding mountain bikes for several years but hardly ever used them and we were not going to include them in the new design.

However we changed our minds a couple of weeks ago and now have to find somewhere to put them.

The decision is to store them in the ceiling above the deck. This will reduce the headroom considerably in this area but our reasoning is that the deck area is mostly for sitting in deck chairs and therefore headroom isn't an absolute necessity. Of course this area is also an extension to the lounge room and extra headroom would be nice when it's being used as such.

Bad luck, when you're trying to pack a lot of stuff into a small motorhome you have to make compromises.

Thu 15 Nov

Having largely finished the push bike storage it's time to think about the motor bike.

As mentioned before this will be raised into the lounge room /deck through a trapdoor and I plan to use one of the Superwinches we have. But when I try the winch it doesn't work.

Plan B is to use the hoist that we used in Wothahellizat 1. I've been wary of using it this time because I cannot find the manufacturer or indeed any information about it, and I get paranoid about using anything that has no support for parts etc.


The Uni Hosen hoist, made in China.

It's an increasing problem these days, a local company imports 1000 widgets from China at a good price and sells them off. Then they either drop them like a hot potato or the manufacturer moves on to making something else. Either way you're orphaned.

To be fair this hoist has been reliable and as it's rated at 400kg, only lifting 100kg, and used infrequently so I'm confidant that it will be OK.

As a backup though I'll make sure that we can use our block and tackle.

Anyway there are advantages to using this hoist, firstly it's just that, a hoist not a winch, which means that it's designed (and rated) for lifting dead weights. The Superwinches work OK but they are not designed for lifting, just pulling. Secondly, the hoist is 240v which means that I don't have to add a 12v battery near the device.

The reason a 12v winch would need a local battery is that it pulls 20-30 amps when in use and our system is mainly 24 volts with provision for only about 10 amps on the 12-volt circuit.

After some ado I can lift the motorbike into it's new home.


The motorbike in place, Hugo's Unimog in the background.

Fri 16 Nov

We've pretty much got the motor bike loading and securing sorted. Now there's just a few things to work on (like adding mounts for draw runners) and then we can undercoat the internal steel.

Sun 18 Nov

Most of the infill is done, by "infill" I mean the myriad of steel pieces that are needed to mount stuff.

I haven't posted any photos because it's not that interesting and also really difficult to photograph. But here's an attempt.


The skeleton of the utilities area, pretty straightforward eh?


And here's a shot that's a little easier to understand.

As you may realise it's all been painted which was today's job, at least until I run out of paint at which time we switch to cutting the the partitions and shelves from sheet steel.

Wed 21 Nov

I had a small computer scare today, things started acting up until the machine rebooted itself, or at least tried to. It wouldn't restart so after several attempts we decided to do what we usually do in these situations, nothing. Often computers fix themselves if let be for a while.

Meanwhile I'm wondering how long it's been since I backed up (nearly a month) and how much work I've done in that time. A lot as it happens, not to mention the last eight months worth of truck construction photos that have never been burnt to DVD and only exist on my hard disk.

Sure enough, half an hour later it starts just fine, and its first task is to run a belated backup. When it comes to backups I'm probably better than most people, but only because most people never backup their important stuff.

My next job is to dust off my external hard drive and mirror my working directory to it, a task that I'm supposed to perform every night.

That was the best kind of scare, one that causes no harm but that makes you get your act together.

Thu 22 Nov

It seems that I've done nothing but sheet for the last couple of days, no no I said sheet, I've been making the interior partitions.

One reason it's taken so long is that there has been a lot of folding, cutting and thinking to do as I try to partition the gas and water sections both from each other and from the rest of the house.

This partitioning of gas and water is supposed to contain and vent any leaks. Obviously it's important to allow gas to escape, but It's also a good idea to give water somewhere to go if a pipe bursts.

With the way the utilities area is designed any stray water should find its way to the sump in the shower area.

Another complication is to provide an escape path for hot air created by the hot water system.

All in all it's been something of a challenge, but I think it's all done now.


A couple of views showing the new partitions with a light coat of etching primer.

So far we've manage to do all of the partitioning using off cuts of the .75mm steel we used for the roof and floors.

As you can see I construct most of the cupboards and storage compartments from steel, they are an integral part of the frame. This is probably harder to do than the "normal" technique of building a box then fitting it out. However it makes the frame very strong, and anyway, despite starting my working life as a carpenter I'd rather work with steel than wood.

We used this method in Wothahellizat 1 and it worked well, so if it ain't broke...

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