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.


Taping the gap with Reflectix tape.


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.


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!


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.

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.


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 🙂

Mostly Moping But A Little Progress

Yeah….Hi, my name is Parker, and I’m a moper.  Do they have a 12-step for that?   All I can say is that depression sucks.  It hasn’t completely gotten the best of me though, and I have gotten things done.  Short post today because I’m still not in a great mood, but I wanted to record my progress.

First off,  the cabover portion is ready for insulation and the 3/4″ plywood subfloor.  Everything is bolted, nailed or screwed firmly together.  One thing I did differently with this area as opposed to the flatbed was to use several layers of fine metal screen mesh over the planks for both keeping the wool inside, and for allowing it to dry if it gets damp.  The mesh will also keep bugs and tiny critters out of the insulation (shudder).  On the flatbed I used metal panels with drip holes.  Another difference is that I used angled metal straps to attach the planks to the joists as another way to ensure they hold together snugly.  I’ve stood on the joists, jumped up and down on the planks, and tried to shift the various pieces, and it’s solid.

Three layers of metal mesh will serve to allow the insulation to breathe, yet keep out nasty critters.

Three layers of metal mesh will serve to allow the insulation to breathe, yet keep out nasty critters.

It doesn't show in this picture, but the metal angles are spaced evenly over the cabover to ensure each plank is attached.

It doesn’t show in this picture, but the metal angles are spaced evenly over the cabover to ensure each plank is attached.

On another subject, I finally checked out the fuel filler hose situation myself today.  Turns out it’s not that big a deal and I’m going to do the fix myself.  The supplies should all arrive by the end of the week at the latest.  This piece from Amazon turned out to be perfect for my needs, and is inexpensive, to boot.  Unfortunately, it’s not long enough so I had to purchase more hose from another company, and some quite expensive couplers.  Still, the total cost of parts will only be about $100, a quarter of the cost to have a shop do it.  Plus of course, there’s the satisfaction of doing it myself!

That’s it for now. hope you are all having a great summer so far 🙂


In hospitals, it’s called triaging.  Deciding what is the most urgent need, and addressing it first.  That’s what I’m presented with now, taking a long look at my truck and figuring out what needs to be addressed next.

I have enough studs to fully frame the walls of the living space, including the cabover portion.  But.  Due to the weight of the sheathing, I am going to need to attach it to the studs prior to lifting them into place.  On my first build, I learned the hard way that I’m not strong enough to handle full-size plywood panels myself, and ended up cutting them into much smaller pieces in order to hang them.  I don’t want to do that again.  The only way around that is by screwing them into place onto the studs while they are still laying flat on the truck bed.  I can leverage the heavy walls sections up and into position myself, and brace them while I work on the next section.

I don’t have the sheathing yet, though.  It’s expensive.  Plus, there’s a more pressing need that has to be addressed first ~ the fuel tank inlets.  They must be rerouted from the bed to the new sides, and it’s an expensive process.  Unbelievably expensive, in fact, as in $400.  So, I have to wait.  I do have the appointment made for next month so I can reassure myself that progress will be made as soon as possible.

Inconvenient spot to fill your tank, believe me.

Inconvenient spot to fill your tank, believe me.

Why don’t I at least build the wall frames while I wait?  Because once again, the weight issues mean I need to build them on the flat of the bed of the truck, so I can lift them into place.  I can’t simply do it on the ground.  There’s also the issue of access to the fuel inlets where they currently reside, which would be inaccessible if I had a pile of wood framing laying in the way.

So, I will wait.  Bored, frustrated and scared by the time this is taking, but I will wait.

Hope your week goes swimmingly 🙂

Insulation Medley, Anyone?

I have multiple boxes of sheep wool insulation that completely slipped my mind.  I dragged one out of storage, cracked it open, and BOOM, more insulation than I even needed to finish filling the floor.  So that makes it four different types of insulation in there: Polyisocyanurate, a different kind of rigid foam board, Roxul, and wool.  Kinda makes me smile, but it’ll work just fine.  Dragged up and cut to size one of the 3/4″ plywood sheets, but then realized I’d forgotten to sand down some uneven spots.  Sigh.  Back on the scooter to the local big box store for sandpaper to fit my little powered sander.  Now it’s too dark to work, so I thought I’d throw on a quick update.  Raring to get out there first thing in the morning to finish up the sub-floor so I can finally start on the walls.  That’s when it looks like an actual build is happening.

Met my first “travelers” today, by happy chance.  We chatted for a while, and exchanged emails as they know of some great places to camp and stay for longer periods of time.  It was pretty cool to talk to people who are already doing what I’m just planning…makes it more real…or something.

Tomorrow is also (hopefully) Beast repair day, as I’m going to take the batteries to my mechanic to see if he won’t start due to a problem with them, or if it’s maybe the alternator or cables or whatever magical mechanical thing is keeping him stuck.  Those batteries are huge…it’s going to be super fun taking them on my scooter…but I’ll figure out a way.  After all, she’s carried 10 foot long pipes, big boxes of random stuff, and even a window home once.  I love that scooter.  Ted (the mechanic) is also going to help me figure out how to reroute the fuel lines to the tanks, as the fillers reside on the bed now, which obviously won’t work.  I think I love Ted, too. 🙂

Pics of the day:

This is what sheep's wool insulation looks like.  Pretty much like sheep wool :p

This is what sheep’s wool insulation looks like. Pretty much like sheep wool :p

Inconvenient spot to fill your tank, believe me.

Inconvenient spot to fill your tank, believe me.  Apparently typical location on flatbeds.  I have two of these to reroute.

A little dusty to work with, but not toxic in any way, and super effective insulation.

A little dusty to work with, but not toxic in any way, and super effective insulation.