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Two out of Three Weekends...

Posted: Mon Feb 25, 2019 8:10 pm
by RobX
First weekend was spent untangling the electrical loom from the donor caravan and mounting it into conduit on the wall so it's out of the way of the large seat on the front-right. That was an awful lot of unwrapping black insulating tape..! But now I know where everything ends ready for when that part of the project starts up again.

Middle weekend I was away, so no chance to do anything.

This weekend just gone has been about getting the next layer of skin on. First insulating the right-hand side of the box:
This was a little less...artistic than the left-hand side as the pattern was much more regular.

Before fitting the ACM panels, I decided what kind of joiner I want between them: t-section aluminium glued into a slot. I've bought a length of this, which looks great but it's expensive (I would need nine lengths). Simple T is cheaper but less pretty. I suspect I'll end up using the Diall stuff for the walls, and simple T for the roof and back. As luck would have it, the vertical of the T is 2mm, and a circular saw blade is around 3mm. So I used my long plunge saw guides:
The saw itself has an ingeniously designed exhaust port that always blows sawdust in your face unless you are directly in front of it - somebody must have spent a lot of time designing that (it's a Titan copy of a Makita). I'll probably paint the t-section white before fitting it - I think that'll look nicer than aluminium-coloured dividers.

Then a couple of panels of ACM (I would definitely invest in an electric sealant gun if I was doing this again...):
...and then I ran out of glue. Doh! More ordered and should be here tomorrow, hopefully. That'll give me enough time to get the third sheet on before the rain comes back. There's also a lesson here about design: both inside and out, it was not clever to align a window edge with panel joins. If I was going to do this again, I would ensure windows are either mid-panel (ideal for the best water sealing) or overlap two panels by a reasonable amount. I switched suppliers of ACM too, since the last lot were weeks late with an order. I'm using this company, and it seems better quality. Six more panels should finish the roof and back, then I'll have a waterproof box.

In the mean time, I did most of the insulation in the roof:
The big empty gap is where the skylight will go - some loose bits are placed in there to support the hardboard cover that is the temporary roof; and the small one at the rear is the vent for the toilet. The clear corrugated panels are one level of rain protection - they sit on top of a layer of thick polythene which is another and the camper cover goes on top; the idea is to allow air to flow between the layers so damp can't accumulate and it's worked very well.

Here's a vanity shot of the left-hand side with the protective (ha!) cover removed (which was peeling off on it's own anyway):
This will also need slots cut for the t-section but now I've tried it with the panels off, I'm confident to do it with the panels on; and it will look a lot less like a panel van when I cut the windows, cassette door and fridge vents out, which I won't do until I'm ready to fit them.

It's apparently going to rain next weekend, so I'll find something indoors-y to do, like start the panels for the seats and lockers; and prepare the cassette and battery doors by replacing their inner and outer skins with the same stuff as the camper.

Re: Advantura Rebuild

Posted: Tue Feb 26, 2019 10:19 am
by VDUB384
Keep up the good work you will be able to relax and enjoy when it’s finished.

Re: Advantura Rebuild

Posted: Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:28 pm
by RobX
Thanks, Dave; though I'm expecting I'll get bored a bit quick and need another project. :)

Last weekend was about starting the front panels for the seats: I'd decided to save some money by buying 3mm Vohringer to put on a wooden frame. Halfway through it occurred to me to work out the size, and was a bit surprised to find "not a lot". The 15mm ply is roughly £100+VAT per sheet, and the 3mm £40. Sounds like a big saving, but wood prices being what they are it turned out I saved only a few quid per panel. And each panel need five or six lengths cut, halving joints, glue, etc. as opposed to just cutting out a rectangle with a plunge saw..! So my advice to future builders: bear this in mind at the start.

There was a break in the weather through the week, so I managed to get a third panel on the RHS; only the Luton sides left to cover now. I used way too much glue this time though: thinking it would spread out. It does, but not that much. Lesson learnt for the roof panels.

I also finished one of the front panels, fitted it and attached the bench top (taken from the donor caravan). That's now almost done: just needs a brace in the middle to stop the front bowing out under load. I'll add pictures for that tomorrow.

Today was very physical - fitting roof panels. Lots of up and down ladders, squeezing out glue (and wishing I owned an electric mastic gun..!) Here's the first one:

The second one fitted is just forward of that one. Making the curve for the slope was a bit of a challenge. I'd hoped that with one pull the ACM would take the shape but it put up a fight. In the end we put a 2.4m CLS 2x3 in the right place and put a car battery on each end of it. Getting the flat panels to stick was - as you'd expect - much easier than the side panels. We used the same 2x3 to tamp down the panel by hanging off each end of it - it has bowed quite nicely so it pushes the middle down well before our weight flattens the ends.

While the glue was drying I fitted a frame to the front of the Luton. Unfortunately I got my measurements wrong and it's a little higher than it should be, but that's an easy fix tomorrow. Hope to put the back panels on tomorrow (even with the forecast wind, the back is in the lee and it shouldn't cause problems). The interesting challenge here will be getting it to follow the curve. We're thinking to clamp the roof end of the panel close to the panel that's there now (I'll need holes to fit the aluminium corner mould anyway) then use a piece of thick plywood to roll the ACM over the back curve. I'm not expecting it to conform 100%, but hopefully enough that we can use ratchet straps to hold it flat while the glue dries.

The rain started literally as we did up the last zip on the cover after putting it back on. :)

Re: Advantura Rebuild

Posted: Sun Mar 10, 2019 8:06 pm
by Phil Bradshaw
You've done well to get so far before the weather broke. :thumb:

A day on the inside...

Posted: Sun Mar 10, 2019 8:50 pm
by RobX
I was lucky for sure. :) The wind was way too strong today to do anything on the outside (and - no surprise - the forecast of no rain turned out to be untrue too, so good thing I didn't). So I focused on finishing the two benches inside. In the morning I cut holes for the various controls and a socket in the rear bench, and adjusted the width for the front runner, and in the afternoon I fitted them. One sentence, many hours' work! This is the front bench (bit washed out as it was in a lot of shadow):

You can see I'm already hiding stuff in there. This is the rear:
That's obviously not the final arrangement of cushions, but since one of the cats threw up on the proper ones, I thought I'd improvise until they're cleaned... :) The box furthest from the camera is the mains breakers, the middle pair is for the water heater and the front pair will be a socket and the pump switch/battery meter.

Placing a big order with Magnum now, which will arrive this week. I'll use the evenings of the first half of the week to do some electrics; then I've got Thursday and Friday off to really crack on. Hoping that next Sunday's post will be that all the skin is on and the windows in. Fingers crossed...

Electrics and first curved ACM panel

Posted: Mon Mar 18, 2019 10:04 pm
by RobX
Well, so much for weather forecasts! Nothing as predicted, so mostly worked on the interior: did some mains electrics and fitted the controls to the rear seat front. Yesterday (Sunday) we had some good weather so had a go at fitting the first curved panel to the roof, where the roof transitions to the rear wall.

Biggest challenge here was getting the stuff to bend. I was hoping keeping them flat would be harder, but it turns out not. :) So here's the method:
  1. We butted the sheet up against the fitted sheet, then I drilled a couple of holes in it to fix it in place through blocks; a kerb stone under a wide strip of plywood helped to keep it flat.
  2. First we tried just bending it by putting a 2x4 CLS beam on it trying to force it around the curve... but no joy: it's just too thick to put any kind of permanent bend in it.
  3. Then we screwed the same beam into the blocks from step 1, put four screws in it and used ratchet straps down to the chassis to pull it flatter; other beams across as formers stopped it bowing around the straps. With as much tension as we dared on the straps, we then spaced the beams with blocks of wood to push the ACM flat to the frame.
  4. We then left it a few hours to form. For half an hour I waved a heat gun at it from the inside but frankly I think this did little more than make me feel useful.
  5. Finally: we took it all apart, put down glue and then put it all back together again.
Here's what it looked like while it was forming, in a slightly weird combined picture because I wanted to play with my image software:
That's not a (rubbish) special effect on the right, I just didn't realise I needed to open the window (looked OK on the phone's screen). And yes: that cat usually is around (he prefers the sunshine when it's out, while the other cat likes to be inside the camper unless there's food around). Tomorrow I'll remove the straps and hope the panel doesn't come off. :)

Re: Advantura Rebuild

Posted: Tue Mar 19, 2019 7:58 pm
by RobX
The screws holding the CLS down gave way overnight, and released the strap tension. No harm done though: just saved me undoing them and lesson learnt.

First job today was getting the next rear panel on: pretty straight-forward stuff. First I cut the groove across the bottom of the upper sheet, then stuck in some 3mm shims. After trimming the next sheet to width, we offered it up and measured to the pointy bit. At first I was thinking of trying to fold the panel around the point, but since it's not long enough to reach all the way to the bottom of the skirt, there'll have to be a join anyway. So rather than figure out how to fold ACM (not that hard, I found later - rout a groove in the back) we went with a seam on the angle. Never again will I make such a complex shape..! From now on it's modern-looking square boxes. So: glue on, panel on, screw some blocks under to support it, then a lot of squishing the glue down. I found a rubber mallet is pretty good for getting the glue to spread (I could see in the edges and watch it squish as I hit it). Here's what it looks like:
Looks like a giant advert for this Coala product, doesn't it? The arrows probably mean something, but it all looks flat white to me. If I'd noticed it before I'd have made them point the same way.

While that glue was drying, I moved to the other end. The Luton still needs a front, so I set to fitting that. Curiously, one of the first frames I made was for the inner corner of the rear wall to roof. In the original Advantura design, this was done with a 45-degree slope (I guess an internal curve was a bit vexxing and I can appreciate that). Since I changed the design, that had become yet another thing that got moved around the garage a lot. Lucky I never threw it out as it turns out it was the perfect size for the Luton front. Here it is with some H-section glued to it for the internal roof panel:
The cat is called "Scampy" apparently, and we found out today he's about ten.

Anyway... so back to the Luton. Here it is before:
You can see the roof panel which will slot into that H-section on the frame in the previous picture.

Another amazing coincidence was that I had a piece of ply kicking about that was almost exactly what I needed to complete the front. It just needed a couple of centimetres off the length and width to fit. The length was a bit challenging because the cut needed to be at around a 30-degree angle. I hadn't tried my plunge saw with angles before, but it all worked a treat and the panel fitted first time. Here's the two pieces in place:
The frame is screwed in already, but the panel is still loose. I need to make six pieces up that copy the two curves of the Luton's profile (three per curve). The lower pieces will be attached to the plywood to help form and strengthen it (the frame is bowing outward a little right now). When I glue it all in I'll use my faithful ratchet straps to hold everything in place while it dries.

On the inside, I'm planning to use 3mm ply wall board to go from the other side of the H-section down to the bottom-front corner. This should put a nice curve in it that will go nicely with the curve formed in the roof panel. I'll probably do this after fitting the skin though: I'm thinking to fill the cavities in the curves with expanded foam. This will insulate it better (top curve), give it more strength (lower curve) and - most importantly - not give moisture somewhere to collect. I also mustn't forget to arrange the cables for the Luton's front- and side-lights...

The next few days will be about making the shapes for the Luton, for which I'll need to get more wood. I'll also experiment with curving ACM - I've an idea to remove the inner aluminium layer where it needs to curve so that: a) it' simply easier to form the curve as I won't be compressing the aluminium layer; and b) applying heat will actually go straight to the plastic rather than dissipate through the aluminium as I suspect it did with the rear curve.