Wish Me Luck

Hey, I made it halfway to Arizona! The solar system just wanted sun so badly I decided to not head for the ocean first. So far, my truck had a minor breakdown with a $55 bill….and an $850 tow. Wiped out my emergency fund right there, but that’s what it was for, eh? At least my truck is healthy again. Had to get some kinks out of it’s system I guess! The fix was so minor, it was laughable. All the mechanic did was bypass the water extraction thingie and replace it with a bent metal tube. Ah, to know engines….

That was in the Modoc National Forest, in California. The next evening I made it to Reno where I met up with a trucker friend at the Sparks Petro truck stop. Seeing a friend so far from home was great (and weird)! He turned back north and home this morning. But maybe half of the 700 or so drivers here couldn’t go on with their travels due to Interstate 80 closures and chain requirements. That includes little ol’ me. My friend said to me when I asked his opinion about chaining up and going for it, “chains are for getting out of trouble, not going toward it”. Made sense to me!

So here I am, at a huge truck stop in Sparks, Nv. Could be worse; free cable in the tv room, pay showers, laundry facilities, and a safe place to sleep. I’ve made some acquaintances, which is rare for me, so there’s company if I want it. Much nicer than being stranded at the side of the road on a lonely highway, that’s for sure!  Thanks for the memories, California!

But I’d like to continue my journey south. Weather patterns are looking bad through the weekend, so I might be stuck here for days. Please, think thoughts of clear, warm days here for me, and all the other drivers trapped here. 😀 We’d appreciate it.

It Feels Like Forever

Since I last posted.  But, well, the Beast has been in the shop all this time, so except for a little painting on the windows and door trim, I haven’t been able to do anything.  It was frustrating!  But I got it back a couple days ago with a clean bill of health and at the low low cost of $88.  The shop didn’t charge me any labor!  They checked out the whole truck, and said it was in amazingly great shape. 🙂  The fuel tank got emptied and a pump related to it was replaced, they replaced the broken hood hinge, made the “check engine temp” light go off, replaced the vacuum belt that makes the brakes work properly, and looked at EVERYTHING.  I’m so happy!  I’m so relieved!

The first thing I did (besides go do some much-needed grocery shopping) was to give the door a few more coats of paint.  I want to completely finish that before putting on the doorknob.  As I know now the door is working properly even after several weather changes, I felt confident enough to seal it with Reflectix tape before stuffing the gaps with more wool, in preparation for putting up the exterior door trim.  By the end of day tomorrow, hopefully the door will be completely finished.  It feels like a huge step forward.  I sat in the doorway this evening, looking up at the old, beat-up but freshly painted door and frame and just…felt good about things.

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Taping the gap with Reflectix tape.

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Leo came in and hung out with me today. 🙂

Short and Sweet

The brakes on the Beast are fine!  No costly repair!  Merely the belt for the vacuum thingie (it’s a diesel and they have interesting bits) needed replacement.  So relieved!  The mechanic did ask how I managed to stop it…made me laugh.  A one-ton with a heavy load like the build definitely has momentum.  I have enough saved up to pay to have the problem fuel pumped out of the rear tank (water in the diesel turned out to be the cause of the horrible running and stalling) which covers all the mechanical problems.  Thinking I should be knocking on wood or something for saying that.  I celebrated by bleaching my hair again, in preparation for going lavender.

He also asked if I am building a camper or Tiny House.  The other workers wanted to know.   I also had a girl I’d met previously follow me the other day to chat about something ~ I cannot be invisible in this rig!

The picture here is the Original Oliver.  He’s gone now but will never be forgotten.  Best damn cat I’ve ever known.

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My best buddy Oliver, may he rest in peace. Here, he’s hanging out with me while I vacuum out a truck I used to own. He was afraid of nothing.

Anyway, good news should be shared. 🙂

The Beast is Sick and Pretty(er)

There’s no feeling like your brakes going out while driving!  So the Beast is in the shop again, hopefully with a not-too-expensive repair in his future.  My loan was just paid off, too!  At least that means I can take a new one if needed.

Now that Spring is officially here, along with wonderfully warm and dry weather, I’ve been able to get some major work done.  The skylight is in!  To line the well, I pulled out a few sheets of bead board I purchased at the Restore.  After a coat of paint, they look good and reflect light into the house interior nicely.  I still have to put up corner trim, which will hide the small gaps at the corners and to disguise the weird angle of one of the corners.  The skylight itself still needs some paint, and a latch to hold it shut, but even loose most of the rain is staying out.  I found a leak under one corner, and when the truck is back home I’ll check to see if my weatherizing did the trick to fix it.  If not…well, that means the leak is coming from the roof most likely, and that won’t be fixed until I get the liquid rubber applied.  That should be the last thing needed to complete the roof.  It will be great to have that whole project complete!

Interior of skylight well (please ignore the filthy windows)

Interior of skylight well (please ignore the filthy windows)

I spent the entire day yesterday putting in the door.  I’d recommend if you don’t want a hassle, and have more money to spend, to buy a new, pre-hung door.  Making lots of reclaimed pieces play nice together takes a tremendous amount of effort and time.  The Quick Hangers did make it easier.  Not easy, just easier.  Once again, I find that seemingly simple tasks are made harder because of my lack of height/upper body strength.  I do think that if I had experience, that would make up in large part for my weaknesses, but the three combined caused a lot of staggering around with an unwieldy door and casing.  Also once again, after a lot of do-overs, I was able to get the thing together and functioning.   This is the most important lesson:  be willing to tear things apart and start over if necessary.  Trying to work around a problem makes more problems, and usually takes more time than simply starting over with a troublesome issue.

Danced with the door and casing for hours before getting it all hung properly

Danced with the door and casing for hours before getting it all hung properly

Finally got the door to hang properly in the casing. Mortising the hinges was the easiest part

Finally got the door to hang properly in the casing. Mortising the hinges was the easiest part

Using the Quick Hangers helped me a lot in hanging the casing straight.

Using the Quick Hangers helped me a lot in hanging the casing straight.

Another example of that important lesson cropped up in my skylight.  The trim wasn’t laying flat, and initially instead of fixing it, I tried to quickly slap some weather-stripping on just to keep forecasted rain out.  Unsuccessfully.  Once I pulled off the offending trim and shimmed (then sealed) it properly, I had a nice flat surface to work with, and a much better looking skylight.  It took less than a half-hour to do the entire fix, a very good trade-off.

The house is now light gray instead of green, a welcome update. 🙂  The neutral color contrasts well with the red of the truck.  After dropping off the Beast at the shop earlier today, I started painting the door trim in a dark gray, which I think looks great with the lighter gray structure.  I’m still playing around with color combinations in my head, but for now the windows and door will remain white.  I’m hoping the classic and understated colors will offset the somewhat janky nature of the build, lol.  I’m putting a lot of faith into the power of a good paint job!

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New light gray outside. Pretty!

Focusing On The Door

I’ve gotten so used to being busy that now that the rain has forced me inside I’m feeling a little cabin fever.  Luckily, there are tasks still available.  I pulled the door today out of the designated “warm” room where it’s been curing, to see if it needs more putty.  I took sandpaper and steel wool to it and found a few small places that need more putty (around one of the wood plugs and in a couple small dents).  The layers of putty are thin enough so that even outside of the warm room it was dry within a couple hours.  It’s looking good!

While waiting for the putty to dry, I pried off the old pet door surround at the bottom of the door.  It was de-laminated and starting to rot so had to go.  Now, I actually want an opening in the door, for running a water hose through to fill the tank just inside.  Once again, poking through my store of materials for the original Oliver’s Nest turned up a solution in the form of a brand-new (found at a local thrift store) pet door I forgot I’d purchased.  All that I have to do is enlarge the hold a little, and screw the new pet door on!

It’s just bleh plastic, but still nicer than what was there originally.

I called my mechanic and bad news.  The tank will need to be dropped, drained, cleaned and (oh no!) possibly even replaced!  Depending on if it’s rusted out.  Apparently the fact that the “water in fuel line” indicator light comes on means there is a LOT of water in the tank, way too much for an additive to take care of.  He also recommended I take the Beast to a dedicated diesel shop for this.  Luckily there is one only a mile up the road from me so that’s handled.  I can easily walk home and then back when the truck’s ready to pick up.  Yay!  Now if only I find $400 laying on the side of the road to pay for this. But, that’s what credit cards are for, right?

I think I’m going to take the evening off from fretting about this and play a video game instead.

More Progress!

The rain is back. Not that it was completely gone, but I could do lots of things between the semi-hourly showers.  Now I’m at a point where I need several days (and nights) in a row that are completely dry, and Weatherbug is telling me that’s just not going to happen for at least ten days.  Sigh.
Good news though!  The Beast (my truck) is running well, as long as I only use fuel from the front tank.  I believe the diesel in the back tank has water in it.  I’m going to call my mechanic and see what his estimate for dealing with that is.  I HOPE it’s not much!  I’m going to call tomorrow if I feel brave enough.
Here’s a list of what has gotten done since my last post:
-walled in the area behind the truck cab/under the loft
-installed the rest of the metal roofing
-installed cedar drip edging all around the roof, except for the front slanting portion where the front windows will go
-rebuilt the door casing (it was easy!)
-puttied the old doorknob holes in the door
-cut the hinge grooves with a chisel and hammer (not nearly as difficult as you’d think but a bit time-consuming)
-continued puttying the windows ~ it will be at least another week to get it all done
I’ve thought a lot about what to use for trim on the vertical edges.  Cedar?  Cut strips of the metal siding down and fold into an “L” shape?  Use metal flashing of some sort?   When it started raining this afternoon, I went rooting through my piles of building materials and found a bunch of old metal flashing that was given to me a few years ago.  It came from an old barn, and other than the screw holes and some more of that black gook that was on the metal roofing panels (they were from the same barn), is in great shape.  It’s straight and long and wide ~ perfect for glueing and screwing to the edges.  There’s enough to put on every vertical and semi-vertical edge on the whole structure!
I’ll spend the next week or so while it’s wet out to get the black substance off the flashing.  I also plan on sanding down the door and casing and getting them both painted.  Once they are ready, I can install the door!  I found a product that will make hanging the door easier:  The Quick Door Hanger kit.  It only costs $5, and makes it much easier to ensure the casing is straight so the door works properly.  I could use shims, but honestly, after so much effort with the door, I want a little ease.  Plus, I really want a usable door that opens easily and doesn’t stick or swing shut on it’s own.  🙂
My mood has been good.  I have lots of energy.  All I need is enough time.  Crossing fingers and toes and everything!

How To Donate To My Cause (If You Are So Inclined)

A couple of lovely people have spoken to me more than once about giving followers a chance to donate money to me.  I’ve been resistant, but….I’ve decided it won’t hurt to put the information out there, at least I hope not!  What with the Beast needing a little trip to the shop, and my scooter being semi-wrecked, and building Oliver’s Nest, and, you know, life, maybe it’s a good idea.  So, if you wish to donate, please look over at the right-hand side and you will see a Paypal “Donate” button there.

Please don’t feel I am asking you to support me monetarily, this is available only if YOU wish too! 🙂

paypal.me/coffeewitholiver

Be well!

Still Awaiting Batteries, But Found My Kitchen Cabinets

So I’ve done a possibly bad thing, but for a good reason.  My terrific Insurance company sent me the check to fix my poor lil scooter, and I’ve gone and used some of the money for Oliver’s Nest.  I have time to get Saxith (yes, I name all my vehicles) fixed, but I don’t know if I have a lot of time to get my truck house finished.  Seems like a no-brainer to do what is the most important *now* and wait on the rest.

I was at another local ReStore yesterday looking for exterior primer, and found the perfect kitchen cabinets, and after measuring and thinking (I even finally sat right down on the floor in contemplation, LOL), went for it and bought them.  They are in perfect condition and are the perfect size to hold most of my kitchen goods, minus food and large equipment, which I’ll keep in a separate pantry area.  They are likely from an older home, as they are old-fashioned looking, with lovely glass-front doors.  The hinges are loose and need adjusting, but undamaged.  Of course they could use a new paint job.  I really like the small, rounded shelves at the ends  Here’s a picture of the upper cabinets:

This section is 13" deep and 30" tall, giving a respectable 16" between it's bottom and the countertop below.

This section is 13″ deep and 30″ tall, giving a respectable 16″ between it’s bottom and the counter top below.  Normally there is an 18″ space, but everything is smaller in Oliver’s Nest.

The other section is technically also an upper cabinet, but will instead sit down on the floor, on a base I’ll build.  This section is a corner unit, 24″ by 24″ with another set of little shelves attached on the left side.  I’ll have to remove the top shelf and part of the left-hand top of the main cabinet as the sink will sit directly above and is fairly deep  All the pots/pans/smaller cooking supplies will fit.Here’s what this part looks like:

Once set on a short base, this cabinet will tuck under the counter sink, on the floor.  I might even create a flat pan/cutting board storage in the base.

Once set on a short base, this cabinet will tuck under the counter sink, on the floor. I might even create a flat pan/cutting board storage in the base.

This view was taken standing behind the cabinet.  The flat part along the upper side is the glass-front doors.

This view was taken standing behind the cabinet. The flat part with the blue tape is the glass-front cabinet doors.

I’m also doing research on backup cameras, as I have zero visibility behind me.  The Beast is wider than most other vehicles, which means I simply don’t see them behind me unless they cast a shadow….not good!  Changing lanes is “thrilling”, and backing up is downright frightening.  Wide field-of-view, low-light/infrared cameras are available for very little cost, and as there’s no stereo installed anyway, I’ll just look for one that has a monitor included that can be used to show the camera’s view.  I don’t know how to tell if the truck needs new speakers.  It doesn’t make sense to get a whole system and not be able to use a major function, so I’ll look for good quality speakers on sale, just in case.  I don’t know how to install any of this, but will give it a go to save on installation costs. If anyone out there has recommendations on any of this electronic stuff, please feel free to share. 🙂

Oh, I want to mention that the rerouted fuel intakes are working as intended.  I filled the front tank a few days ago and the flow was smoother and faster, and no leaks.  Phew.  Thank you, Son, for your help there, I couldn’t have done it without you!

So it’s off to paint I go.  This is all so exciting to me!

May your day go well ~

Parker

Hard To Post Lately.

Why has it been hard?  Two reasons:  the first is that I was scared off the road on my scooter by a *very* close encounter with a deer and crashed, and the second is my old nemesis, my mood disorder.  I’ve decided to try powering through that, and despite being a bit smooshed from the accident, have gotten a bunch done.  This will be a picture-heavy post because my hand hurts 🙂

Thank goodness for insurance!

Thank goodness for insurance!

The trade-off for light weight is plastic body panels that crack and break easily.

The trade-off for light weight is plastic body panels that crack and break easily.

To keep this post safe for everyone I won't show ALL my damaged bits!

To keep this post safe for everyone I won’t show ALL my damaged bits!

I sprained my ankle and one of my fingers.  Ouch.

I sprained my ankle and one of my fingers. Ouch.

Done, Done, Done!

Front fuel line mod is now Done, Done, Done!

Having something to trace the proper curve really helped.  Freestyle tends to get me into trouble!

Having something to trace the proper curve really helped. Freestyle tends to get me into trouble!

Still to be done is framing for the windows on the rear, and all the very front and roof framing.

Still to be done is framing for the windows on the rear, and all the very front and roof framing.

Tried to get a good picture of my pup but he wouldn't stay still. :)

Tried to get a good picture of my pup Hank but he wouldn’t stay still. 🙂

Tried to get a nice pic of Leo too, but he wanted to head-butt me instead....

Tried to get a nice pic of Leo too, but he wanted to head-butt me instead….

He finally stood still for me!  I love that he keeps me company while I work (and swear, and cry, and finally fist-pump when I get something done).

He finally stood still for me! I love that he keeps me company while I work (and swear, and cry, and finally fist-pump when I get something done).

A Helping Hand

My son came over yesterday and we moved the back tank’s fuel filler line!  It takes more muscle than I posses to force the pieces together, so he donated his strength to the cause.  It is so nice to have a little help sometimes, even though I wish I could do it ALL myself.  It’s an internal fight I tend to have over many things, but this one is too important for me to be too proud.  There are times when accepting or even asking for help is the smart thing to do.  We didn’t do the front one as it turned out I didn’t have enough hose clamps.  They will be arriving tomorrow so this should finally be completed by end of day tomorrow or Wednesday.  I so love Amazon Prime!

Needs a couple more clamps here....

Needs a couple more clamps here….

There was no way to move these things in such a way as to keep them out of the living area.

There was no way to move these things in such a way as to keep them out of the living area.

Looks professional!

Looks professional!

Before my boy got here, I spent several hours filing in the cabover sleeping area with the sheep wool insulation, and getting part of it covered with the sub floor.  I was afraid it would be difficult to handle the heavy plywood up there, but it went quickly and easily.  I was pleased to see that everything was square.  I have to use the truck and metal bracing itself as the “level”, and thankfully the ground is pretty level so it hasn’t been hard to handle that.  Otherwise, I’d have to keep everything equally unbalanced, if that makes sense.

As for the insulation, I discovered something interesting.  I pulled both some pink fiberglass and a box of sheep wool out, and found an ugly and disgusting RAT NEST, complete with a freaking large rat (which scared me and yes, I squawked!) in the pink stuff.  The wool, while a little musty around the edges, was otherwise perfect.  The box was super disintegrated from moisture, but no rats, mice, bugs, etc.  I’m once again glad I went with the expensive but environmentally-conscious wool.  No matter how I try, everything here molds, melts or rusts!

So gross!  Big ol' rat jumped out while I was moving the bag, yuck!

So gross! Big ol’ rat jumped out while I was moving the bag, yuck!

Completely undamaged sheep wool withstood the weather and local wildlife.

Completely undamaged sheep wool withstood the weather and local wildlife.

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Once again needing cutouts for the metal bracing.

Once again needing cutouts for the metal bracing.

Last thing is I picked up a couple more windows from the local ReStore/Habitat For Humanity for $10 each.  I am not going to be able to use the gorgeous double-paned windows I already have, as they are not advised for campers.  The seal breaks too easily, especially for a house that might go four-wheeling!

36" by 18" Matching Single-Pane Windows.

36″ by 18″ Matching Single-Pane Windows.

Sorry about the picture placement.  WordPress and I having our typical fight.  Peace out 🙂