We've been back at work on our overland RV build for nearly 3 weeks now. It is a full time job that's for sure. It was a good trip on the boat from St Augustine back to Washington, NC with some great sailing. The moon was full so we had company all night (so much easier to see) and lots of dolphin during the day. I love the way I can hear them clicking & squeaking through the hull. We were giving them a good bow wake to play in. There weren't many ships or fishing boats so there was a decent amount of solitude and I hope we can find that same feeling when we get rolling in the truck to remote places. I do enjoy that aspect of passagemaking.
Its hard to believe that before we left we were wearing lots of layers at the workshop, running the little box heater off & on and wishing for warmer days. Six weeks elapsed and all has changed. Now we've had a long stretch of seriously hot weather with temps over 100, we've bought yet another AC (this makes 3, 2 in storage in Vermont) but there wasn't really a choice since we can't sweat our brains out all day at the truck and then do the same all night. We're really enjoying the birds, especially at the workshop because a mockingbird sits on the power pole close by and sings all day. We've made new friends on the dock and have enjoyed some nice dinners with Frank & Deb too.
We started out mounting the Maxx fan which is a great two way overhead fan that we'll have in the head area. It can remain open even if its raining and it also has a thermostat. The wires are run for the AC, the heat exchanger for the Webasto heater is installed and Jon spent some time wiring up the lithium battery bank. He built a platform for the shower pan and I bonded in and painted all the little pieces for that. Then he installed the pan. We ordered up a nice porcelain bathroom sink that we're really excited about, ordered an Airhead brand composting toilet (I can already see I will miss our boat head), and tried everything out in the little space- its tight but it all fits! Tomorrow Jon plans to start building out the cabinetry in the bathroom so we'll have storage space, a medicine cabinet with mirror and a counter for the sink. We have plenty of blue solid surface left from the galley counter so he'll use some of that for the bathroom. We plan to get a roll-up shower door that looks like it would be the best fit in there since we need something out of the way to make as much room in there as possible.
The stereo speakers are in and some of the LED lights. The speakers just barely squeaked by the window shade compartments- an oversight that we feel lucky to have gotten away with. It's hard to plan for everything that needs to be installed and make accommodations for it in the right order. The lights look really nice and sort of class up the place. The seating area needed a rail all the way around it to provide the framework for the cushions and that took a few days for Jon to make and for us to bond in and then for me to paint & varnish. That's 2 gallons of paint so far and 3 quarts or varnish. More to go. Oh and several tubes of caulk. There is a varnished ledge on my side of the seating area with some storage cabinets below that also allow access to the water tank hosing. It took a lot of time for Jon to get that all designed and built and then for us to bond it in- many pieces! We certainly know our way around a caulking gun now! Outside on the camper box, we installed the water tank fill and the shore power connection.
The panels that we bonded in over the winter to form the bathroom needed to have a door built and Jon had been dreading that somewhat because it was going to be a ton of work and something altogether new for woodworking skills. One thing about our boat is it has beautiful wood craftsmanship that you don't often see anymore. All of our door supports are rounded with many layers of laminated wood strips all smoothed out to make a real work of art. So using this example, Jon did similar on the door jam. It took several days and many layers of soaked wood (because we have no means to steam it) bent to shape and then wood glued in place but finally he turned it over to me to varnish. The door itself is white FRP and is in the line-up of things to finish. Because we want the RV interior to be really strong and well supported, we have been adding aluminum strips along the base of several walls, the bathroom being one to give them extra support from the bottom. I hate the sound of metal being cut, but I think this is a good idea too and each time Jon hands me a piece, I bond that in with adhesive. The cabin feels very tight and is certainly well insulated.
This past week we started in on doors. I will try not to go on & on about how beautiful a job Jon is doing on the woodwork, even with crap tools and a makeshift workshop setup. We are really trying to be thrifty where we can. But he is doing a stellar job. His table saw finally bit the dust and so we had to get a new one which seems to be the way a lot of our stuff is going lately- it seems like every day something else breaks. But he fixed my favorite little shop-vac! We've had that for almost as long as we've known each other I think.
The theme for the doors, of which there are a ton of them, is white FRP (fiberglass reinforced plastic) for the bed area, the bathroom and the lower closet/laundry area and then maple/walnut for the galley & sitting area. When we ordered the FRP panels for the camper box from Total Composites, they cut out the window and door openings for you based on your drawings and then send all the cutouts to you. That used to be standard practice but they aren't doing that now since we got ours. It made it a lot easier to assemble the box. So we can pull the shiny white plastic gelcoat layer away from the foam and use those panels for things like doors. Jon is using epoxy to bond them to good quality plywood on both sides and then make a flush door that sits into the maple framework we have bonded in for the cabinets. The edges of the plywood are visible when the door is open and make a nice look we think. There is a lot of work in each door because even once they're made, the hinges need to be cut in, mounts made for them so that everything lines up, the latch ring installed and a mount for the clasp for that and of course everything has to be painted and varnished. But they are coming along. And then in the past 2 days he's moved to the walnut doors so 11 of those are done so far and I have my work cut out for me getting 4 coats of varnish on them with a minimum amount of drips!
Thankfully we ran short on wood so had to make a trip to Raleigh a few days ago which meant we could do another bike path. Except this time everything was green and prettier. Afterward, we stopped at an upholstery shop and looked at fabric for the cushions. We chose a blue velour and think it will be nice against the wood and the blue countertop. I had wanted a different pattern but it was over 70 bucks a yard! We made a more modest choice. We like Raleigh and wish it was on the water so we could live there but be here.
We were all excited to have a reputable welder lined up for the many metal projects that need doing on the outside of the RV but unfortunately this guy is so popular (he does the welding for Pacific Seacraft which is right in town) that we're wondering if it is practical to think he will ever have time for us. It is critical to have things like a rim around the roof in aluminum that both protects and provides mounting points for the solar panels, understorage boxes that also incorporate mud flaps for the rear tires and a pretty significant rear tire rack/motorcycle mount/tail light mount for the back of the truck. We're hoping to get this going within the next few weeks, one way or another. When we first got back and I was getting the boat cleaned up from the trip and doing a mountain of laundry, Jon made cardboard mock ups for all the understorage boxes so we could visualize what needed to be done.
There have been so many decisions to make about what we want in the truck, where it should go and then ordering up all the little pieces to get it together. Jon's head is spinning most of the time trying to research things and get them ordered in time and we both just want this project done. But it is encouraging to install some of the things that we've been tripping over for months and anticipate what it will be like to someday use them!
My mom was able to find this photo from the start of our first cruise back in 1997 on the Cape Dory (also named Evergreen). I don't know where our youth went but we've had a lot of fun since then. We're excited to think there's more on the horizon. By then all the doors will be done!