Damn, I love a Barry Build Thread. I get a mental erection reading these. It is much more pleasurable than it sounds.
The Nice Car:
2018 Ibis White Audi A4 quattro 2.0T - Have HEX+CAN VCDS, PM Me
The Hoopty Beater: SOLD
1987 Alpine White Audi 4000cs quattro "special build"
Alternatively, they do make electric tankless water heaters, though they aren't nearly as efficient as a gas tankless water heater (or at least they weren't when I looked into them 8 or so few years back).
Common sense, or purely paranoia on my part, prevailed. I had told Tom my story about a near-death experience from carbon monoxide poisoning. He was not convinced. We had rented a house that the landlord wanted back after his wife threw him out of their new house. The judge thought badly of his tactics and gave us 4 months time to find a new place to live at no expense to us. We kept finding houses that had a one car garage. While looking again at yet another 1 car garage house I noticed an owner sale open-house up the street and immediately noted that it was on a large corner lot and had no garage. The house cost more than we could afford and we had a 1-year balloon that we had to meet. There was no such thing at used house warranties in November of 1975 and we bought as-is. The first week the water heater went out. We were having headaches and attributed it to the dying water heater, but they didn't clear up and there was no such thing as a carbon monoxide detector. I had been away on business and my wife was complaining that her headache hadn't gone away. This was my first night in the house in a couple of days and I woke with a bad headache. I knew something was wrong because I never get headaches. We call the local utility and they red-flagged our furnace and disconnected the gas. The old oil-fired drum furnace looked like an octopus. It had been converted to natural gas. The furnace design was kind of clever but it nearly killed us. The exhaust from the burner ran through an exhaust tube that ran through the cold-air return, acting as a pre-warmer, making it more efficient. The previously owner had installed a power humidifier that took pressurized air from the hot air duct sending it to the power humidifier where it passed through a mist of water to be injected into the air stream. Unfortunately, the mist of water landed directly on the hot exhaust pipe turning it to Swiss cheese. Every time the burner kicked on the fan would come on and suck carbon monoxide through hundreds of pin holes. I ended up fixing it by sliding on a custom sleeve and welding it to the heat exchanger until I could save up to replace it. Carbon monoxide is scary stuff. I convinced him that having propane anywhere in the trailer is inherently risky, coupled with the fumes from the heater. I think I convince him that I would feel personally responsible should something happen.
So, we're looking for a point of use water heater in 120-volt and about 1500-watts. That's a comfortable consumption on a 20-amp dedicated circuit. They seem to deliver 1.5 gallons a minute, the same as the ventless model.
When he relented I also did an in-kind back-down on something that bugged me. The handyman installed 2 of 3 of the power roof vents backwards. I insisted that common sense would dictate that the hinged side faces into the wind to prevent them from lifting and letting water in, or ripping off in a string wind. Sitting stationary forever in its new resting point it doesn't matter what direction they face in. These are pretty slick units. They are remote controlled and you can reverse the direction of air flow for quite a cross-breeze. They have rain detectors and close automatically. The only problem is that they use a 120-volt color code for the input wiring and they run on 12-volts. Tom has promised to tape the lids down for travel.
The trap for the shower protrudes through the belly pan. Many get mangled in travel. This one is rubber and should deflect instead or breaking.
While installing the fab trims I discovered the hole in the ceiling was too small. I had to remove as much as 1/2" of 1/4" paneling and this tool worked perfectly. I have no ides what it's supposed to do, but works great as a panel nipper.
Poor Tom has been screwed by every person that's touched this trailer. A local "welder" cut off the old rotted tongue made of 10 gauge C channel and replaced it with rectangular tube. In doing so he simply hacked off a critical parallelogram brace that ties the tongue to the parallel frame members. I almost lost my breakfast when I saw this work.
We could have an entire thread on this photo.
Wright Steel made me some replacement supports in 1/4" plate that will now tie the new tongue to the chassis in a meaningful way. I'll look tomorrow to see if thus guy is a welder or a grinder. Note the trailer lighting wiring. It is running exposed under frame members or through holes never deburred, already cutting into the insulation. Arggh!!, the same company that had to drop the new tires in from inside the trailer and never told the owner. At every turn.
Your threads never disappoint. Thank you for taking the time to document and share this journey with us!
I had the pleasure of visiting the Petersen Auto Museum this week and touring the vault. I was so pleased with myself when I properly identified the Continental Mark II parked down there, and absolutely beamed with pride when I was praised by the tour guide for not calling it a Lincoln. I have you to thank for that.
Former: '87 Jetta GLI, '97 Jetta GL, '01 A4 1.8TQ, '08 TT Roadster, '01 325Cic (RIP), lots o' Miatas
Current: '15 Mazda6, '10 Miata, 04' Ranger
"The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. Instead of altering their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views...which can be very uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering."
- Doctor Who (Fourth Doctor) "Face of Evil"
I offered my welder to do the tongue work, but Tom wanted to give a local guy a shot. He turned out to be more of a grinder than a welder. There's a distinction. I'm a grinder, but my welds often look decent. While this may be durable welding, it sure isn't pretty. However, it's 100 times better than what was there (or not there) before. The grinder sure didn't know a lot about the equipment, using the wrong gauge wire for the roller and wire guide. Maybe I'm too fussy. You tell me. He had it covered in undercoating before I got a great look at the work. Very telling.
Noticing a trend here...may be time to stop letting Tom make decisions on who works on his trailer, besides you, Barry. He’s lucky to have your thorough expertise on the project.
Well put about him being a grinder and painter, not a welder.
Your question months ago about tire sizing is making sense now
Love a good Barry build! I foresee much pleasurable un*ucking ahead .
I don't want to be mean, but based on the scope of the project and the obvious cash outlay, the owner is a successful individual. However, the question must be asked: how did he make it this far?
I hope your wise council with regards to tradespeople has some effect on how he selects not only the people he chooses to work with, but when to cut them loose if it is not working out.
Last edited by cplessl; 03-17-2019 at 10:05 AM.
I don't think he made it very far in a year, at all. The trailer interior was stripped by a crew, in a day, I believe. After a year the trailer had only had its holding tanks installed, its windows butchered, it's frame altered with no engineering, its wiring "installed" and the body foamed. The roof still leaked onto the particle board floor, yet the paneling was already installed. It also got new axles and trailer light wiring, which was poorly done. They drilled holes in the frame and never de-burred them. I used to electrical rough a 1500 square foot house in a day and I did 2 complete service changes on homes in a day, too. The first two weeks in my shop were spent undoing what the handyman did wrong.
It's really great that he had this dream. This is a daunting task for anyone, little lone a guy that never fixed a car or took a shop class, in his life. He came from a background similar to mine, in that working with one's hands was denigrated as "dirty" work. I was taunted by my father for my initials, BCW, which he declared stood for Blue Collar Worker. Funny how so many of us electricians, plumbers and carpenters are now sitting on the high hill while college-educated office rats get let go at 50 and have to scrounge for work when they need it the most. While I see a value in a college education the piece of paper is meaningless in many situations. I cut my first car in half when I was 15 while my parents were unreachable on a cruise. That portended my future.
I heavily-modified our first home and added a 5-car garage that was nearly as big as the house. I started my first business at 20, because I needed the work. I was a NIID, a Nutone Independent Installing Dealer. I spent 5 years sub-contracting to builders to install intercoms, fans, vacuum systems and food centers. In doing that I became expert in how homes are constructed. When I needed work in the '70s I built a chain of CB radio stores for someone else. In 1977 I established the lighting maintenance business. I had an advantage as I didn't need a ladder to work on an 8-foot ceiling.
An amusing anecdote. I got hired early on in my business to install wiring for driveway lighting at an apartment complex a quarter-mile off a main road. At the on-site meeting it was suggested that my trenching be used for a sprinkler system. The blueprints for the lighting closely matched the sprinkler layout. The lighting and sprinkler had both been calculated for pressure and voltage drop giving very specific wiring and pipe sizes, even down to the sprinkler fitting numbers. They asked if I could incorporate that work in mine. I went home and told my wife that I had signed the largest contract in my history and that we needed to celebrate. She asked, "That's great, but how long have you known about sprinklers?" I replied, "Since we could use the money." This may seem contrary to what I've said, but it builds on the "It's all nuts and bolts" philosophy I hold for all things mechanical. You need the basic knowledge only a shop class or an involved parent can give you. I used the shop classes as a basis for everything I do.
Last edited by barry2952; 03-17-2019 at 01:27 PM.
Back on my high horse.
I'm going to sound like Grandpa Simpson, but I think young people aren't getting the best eduction if they don't get a little dirty or raise a callous or two. Shop classes offer so much more than a few slivers and a birdhouse you'll never hang. It teaches fine motor skills and an absolute respect for machinery. It teaches tool use and associated safety issues. Eye-hand coordination should be something more than shooting-game responses. It teaches you about every-day skills such as planning in terms of materials and time management. It teaches you to analyze, sometimes complex, with mathematical problem solving and plotting skills. It puts the theoretical world in direct contact the physics of manufacturing. It teaches you that you can do more than one thing at a time. It teaches you what quality work is. The biggest benefit of shop class is in the making of something you can take credit for. There's an intrinsic glee in a job well done.
The problem with not having the shop experience is that you truly don't know what you don't know.
Last edited by barry2952; 03-17-2019 at 02:11 PM.
^ a thousand times yes.
Problem with these days is that unless the project is your own, n-o-b-o-d-y takes the same amount of time - nor attention to detail as a job that was done by yourself.
I see skilled guys that know better, but cut corners for profitability sake all the time, sadly.
And then there’s’ the guys like the one’s you have described where they talk a fantastic game but skills aren’t on par.
Thankfully, guys like you and I still exist to try and unf**k the horrible things done by hacks.
Cheers to you Barry
Back to February 21st. By then I had figured out that the shower had to be set to work back towards the kitchen, but I couldn't get it to line up with the window opening. It needed to be 1/2" higher. I cut a plywood template under it and it fit perfectly. That notch on the wall side is where hot air passed into the bedroom through the cabinets.
This is often what I had to work with. The plywood everywhere in the bathroom area was rotted away at the base. I had to use other trim pieces to get a true measurement.
The humidity at the ceiling of the bathroom delaminated all of the original plywood.
The original oak upright that screws ti the shower opening was half-eaten away at the base, but was long enough so that I knew how long it was originally.
We were having miserable results staining the wood paneling to match the walls and ceiling. The stain was drying way too quickly leaving a splotched finish. I was able to develop a technique where I slathered on the stain like thin paint and worked it into a faux woodgraining about 1/10th the time it took on the first panel. You can still see the woodgrain, but it's not mottled.
Not sure this is applicable to this situation, but I learned decades ago that you can stain ordinary plywood and get really nice results, if you prepare it properly.
Ordinary plywood will yield a very mottled appearance because the soft portions drink up the stain while the hard parts don't take stain very well. The trick is to prep the plywood surface and apply shellac, then lightly sand the surface before staining. The soft portions of the plywood gets filled with the shellac and thus the plywood takes the stain in a much more uniform fashion. Made some furniture for our first apartment and the results looked very good.
You guys must be tiring of my complaining about previous work. Well, you can add wire-melter to the Grinder's title. I hooked up the third brake light as the original locations are way too low. I wanted to test it so I exposed the trailer company's work and found that they simply twisted wires and taped then up. No wire nuts, no crimp connectors, no solder, no nothing but a wad of tape. When Tom backed his truck up for hook-up to test the light his turn signal went dim. As soon as I pulled the plug the lights on his truck brightened to normal. We verified that the problem was the trailer when we hooked it up to one of my trailers and the lights worked fine. I immediately suspected that there was welding heat damage, somewhere. I went to the first place the Grinder fused metals and sure enough, the wire above the welds had melted and shorted to the un-chamfered edge of the hole. Every single hole they drilled in the chassis had no clean up or bushings. They should have used some of their tape and just put some around the wire where it passes through the rough hole. In an attempt to neaten the job by suspending their bundled wires they caused them to rub on the edge of every crossmember. The worst of it is the color changes. There's a trailer color code for a reason!!!! Common sense should have prevailed as one shouldn't have run wires under the chassis, to begin with. Road rash on a wiring harness is never recommended.
This made no sense to me as the incoming colors are wrong. There aren't supposed to be two green wires.
Trailer codes are standardized so that anyone can work on them. 3 seconds on the Google-machine produced this.
Back to February 20th, a month ago. When the shower pan was replaced they didn't duplicate the dimple in the floor where the drain goes. Had I installed it flush he would have had standing water the depth of the flange. I had Positive Tool fab me up a dimple-maker based on my ball-bearing draw punch.
Tom selected a location for the drain and I used my mini drill press to drill a 1/4" hole through the aluminum, 1/2" plywood spacer and two pieces of 3/4" particle board. I then moved the shower out of the way and drilled a 4" hole through the wood.
I then spent some time installing the vanity and shower wall. The vanity fit perfectly. With the shower stall securely fastened it was time to make the 1/4" hole into a 7/8" hole with a punch.
Tom thought this was pretty humorous.
I am so relieved that Tom acquiesced after my impassioned plea to leave carbon monoxide and pressurized flammable gas out of the equation. The PRV needs to go on top so it may end up sitting on the wheel well to get the needed clearance. The other option is to install it in the closet next to the electrical panel. It's not a tankless water heater as it keeps 7 gallons of hot water on tap. With the high-recovery features of 100% efficient electric coils it should have no problem keeping up with a low-flow shower head. It's rated for 2-sink use. They make units with a smaller reserve, but they are the same physical size.
Last edited by barry2952; 03-19-2019 at 06:10 PM.
Thanks a bunch, now my head hurts due to all the forehead slapping I've been going through. I can see you hate shortcuts (and the people who take them) as much as I do... If I live to be 100, I'll never understand doing it. But with the headache I've got right now, I may not make it that long anyways...
Feb 25th. I convinced Tom to let me take the gray and black water tanks out of the frame. When I went to remove the 1 1/2" drain from the kitchen and bath to the grey water tank I expected a struggle but it broke free of the tank, startling me. What came off in my hand I would call a bulkhead fitting. It's rubber and its collapsable inside a specific size hole. The wall of the tank fits in the groove. When you put the pipe in the fitting it pushes out the rubber groove, sealing the inlet into the tank. The Handyman had cut a hole and glued the rubber to the tank plastic, ensuring immediate failure.
Oh! I almost forgot. All wire nuts are righty-tighty lefty-loosey, as is most everything in this world. The Handyman would strip two solid wires and twist them together. That's proper and common practice but he would twist them with a linesman's pliers counter-clockwise. He would then twist on a wirenut clockwise, unwinding the wires he just wound up. Leaving loose connections, every-single-time. I hope none of you ever live in a house he's wired.
Thank you all for allowing me to vent. Tom's tired of hearing about the blunders.
This reminds me of the Steyr I restored. It came to me in boxes in 1,000 parts stuffed into a freshly painted body shell. The man that took it apart stripped everything off the body and sent it off for a paint job. I don't, for the life of me know why, but he sandblasted all of the mechanical assemblies and threw the parts in milk crates in preparation of restoration, ruining every bearing on the car and removing any witness marks to tell how it went together. He got a few days into the first steps of restoring the parts when he passed away. That's how it ended up with me. Like this trailer it came to me as a jigsaw puzzle with no box top.
I love a good challenge, but there's been too much time spent undoing.
I'm with you and totally understand the frustration with that wiring. spent many weekends rebuilding outlets in my lake house, I hate back stab connections, and found a few switches that switched neutrals. Oh and the car port and dock wiring was indoor romex, indoor plastic boxes and regular outlets outside exposed to the weather, at least the dock had a GFI. Country wiring, no permits, no inspections, and no concept of following code.
Speaking of GFI, you'd mentioned Tom got shocked. GFI outlets protect everything plugging into the outlets and don't protect upstream. Curious why you're not using GFI circuit breakers? I know they are expensive, but giving the workmanship and potential for a short to structure wouldn't GFI circuit Breakers provide better overall protection?
Oh goodness. this would all drive me nuts. Reminds me of our first two houses!
A(u). Klasse A, unbeschrankt, ungedrosselt
Compared to a British roadster, all Volkswagens are reliable!
nevAr Lose - DE Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Bankruptcy Controller - IPROfftopikstan, Den Mother - Team Emmett, BRZlord
In seeking out the dim lighting when the trailer is tied into the tow vehicle I uncovered a host of problems with their work. The D.O.T exists to protect us from shoddy workmanship by standardizing things like trailer wiring. Clearly, you'd want to be able to take it to a repair facility and have them be able to troubleshoot a wiring problem without having to take the vehicle completely apart.
It's not rocket science. This trailer uses the standard green, yellow white and brown wires for all the trailer lights. The white wire is always the ground wire. The chassis is used as the return path to the negative side of the battery on the tow vehicle. Most people don't understand that the flow of electricity is a circle. As a simplified explanation the electrons flow out the positive terminal of the battery to a switch of some sort that stops the flow of electrons by opening up a set of contacts. When you close the switch the electrons enter a light bulb, for example, and they bump around in the filament (resistor) creating 90% heat and 10% light. What's not used up in heat and light is returned to the battery to be pushed out again, until the battery is dead.
This manufacturer of trailer supplies uses a junction box that is trailer-specific, and nicely made. It has a terminal for every mandated color use. If you can see from this picture they have threaded studs with the ends painted the color of the wire. Logic should dictate that only that color wire go on that stud. The color changes in this box are the antithesis of standardization. If you look closely at what wires are going where you'd see some crazy combinations. I discovered that the magnetic brakes were wired to the brake light circuit. That's a lot of amperage on a set of light-duty brake light switch contacts. I doubt that they worked, at all.
After stripping away all but the incoming wiring, take a look at what I found. Total disregard for safety and workmanship. It's not difficult to find out the right way, or to follow a color code.
People are depending on them doing it right.
One of several random color changes.
This was nice. Instead of using the old isolated wire clamp, or installing a new one, they simply jammed the wire between the trailer skin and the coarse steel edge of the crossmember. Classic fail.
The poor planning continues. They installed a junction box for the electric brakes, which would have been appropriate either before or after the tandem axles, not between them. Even with my long arms I had difficulty reaching the wiring.
What was the thought process?
High marks for low quality. Note the tiny hole the wires pass through. Burrs all-around. If you look to the left you can see the wire stressed over the raw edge of the angle iron. Note the clamp next to that. There's another about a foot away that has the pair of wires tied in a knot and tightened. 3 mistakes in 4 feet of wiring. That has to be some kind of record.
The first thing I did was to relocate the junction box to the side of the frame rail, taking it, and the cable out of harm's way.
Last edited by barry2952; 03-20-2019 at 10:23 PM.