Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Super Camper goes to the OC!

After way too long without a surf trip, we finally hopped in the camper to explore a surf spot not too far away and were definitely rewarded. Check it out!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Super Camper: It's back on there!

After nearly 6 months of separation, as of this past weekend the Super Camper is finally back in one piece!

On Cinco De Mayo we prepared everything. We tie-wrapped loose wires, cut 2"x4"s to be used in the lifting, tested out the farm jack, and celebrated the Mexican holiday...

On Sunday the sixth of Mayo, we lured a handful of friends with the promise of carne asada, salsa, guacamole, and cold tecates! Our friends are getting a little tired of doing so much heavy lifting. Hopefully this is the last time for a long while we will need their services. It was a beautiful day and the surf was really good, so they showed up a little tired.

Ryan promised them they wouldn't have to lift as much as last time since he purchased a Farm Jack from Harbor Freight to help out.

My sister Helina showed up to participate and was very helpful!

Even Dale came by to lend a hand and a few crazy stories.

Finally, the camper and truck were reunited!

Big thanks to Dale, Andy, Helina, Uncle Jimmy, Petrocelli aka "Fartsaresmelly", and the Butchman!

Finally, we could get back to our preferred hobby - gardening - without feeling like we needed to be working on the camper!

Check back soon for photos and stories from our next adventure!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Super Camper: Rebuilding continues...

Quite a few people have asked about the costs associated with the camper buildling project. From the first purchase we made (the truck itself) we put every receipt into a shoebox that after more than two years is now overflowing with bits of paper. We have been curious about the final cost tally as well and finally got around to adding everything up. So, here it is:

Original price of New Truck in 2004: $25,000

Nida-core: $3,638
Metal: $789
Fiberglassing supply: $531
Windows: $1,024
Refrigerator: $500
Mattress and cushions: $800
Wood: $160
Solar Panel and controller: $1,022
Tools, supplies: $879
Paint, adhesives: $417
misc items from Boater's World: $300
misc hardware items from McMaster Carr: $1,852
Carpet: $50
Towing Mirrors: $86
Truck upgrades (sway bar, lights, etc.): $950
Total not including truck: $12,838

This is a rough estimate. It would definitely be cheaper if we made a second Super Camper as we learned quite a bit in the process.

It took quite a while to get the truck back from repairs. On first inspection it looked pretty good.
Then we looked closer....
Ryan filled up the gas tank and it only took 14 gallons while the previous tank held 18. So, he took the truck back and demanded the proper tank.
Of course our main concern was the straightness of the frame. Ryan had me hose down the alley until a big puddle formed and then he drove the truck through to make sure the tracks were perfectly straight.

We each had our own style of claiming the straightness, but as you can see, the frame seemed pretty good.

Next, while we had plenty of room to work without the camper on the truck, Ryan wanted to strengthen the frame so that it would be less likely to twist in case of another impact. He decided to box the frame where possible and "double the web of the C" -- add a stiffening plate to the outside of the frame.

Ryan enlisted the help of his friend Sergio for the welding:

Sometimes there were sparks flying in both directions with Sergio welding one side, while Ryan used the grinder to prepare for welding on the other.

Ever since seeing this photo online of someone else's misfortune

Ryan has been worried about the strength of the bed mounts. Prior to the accident, he had installed mount supports which helped quite a bit but still the mounts caved slightly.

So, Ryan decided to weld a plate to box the bed mounts as well.

After welding there was grinding...

mmmm.......Liberty Ale!
then there was priming...

then it was painted!

Finally, he installed a metal "strap" that Xs in the middle to help prevent any twisting of the frame.

At last, he could sit on the porch and enjoy the last few sips of his Liberty Ale along with the last few moments of sunshine.

In case you were wondering, it is gardening season once again....which means it is time for my favorite thing in the world (note sarcasm) indoor planting!

Check back next time for the reunion of truck and camper!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Super Camper: Rebuilding Begins

After removing the camper from the truck (thanks again for all your help, friends!), we got a chance to take our time and really survey the damage to the frame from an easier angle. Ryan appreciated not having to be underneath the truck for once!

One thing we didn't notice before was the severe kink and crack in the cross beam that supports the spare tire.

Here's another shot of the broken spring. Ryan was pleased with the strength of the extra bed mount support that he installed. For anyone who doubts the strength of rivets, these seven rivets allowed us to drive 20 miles, and sit for two hours in line to cross the border. If they hadn't held, we would have been in a far worse situation.

Even with the supports, the bed mount buckled slightly. Imagine the damage had the supports not been installed!

This photo is taken from above, looking down at the frame on the right side. You can see the little kink in the metal that pushes out along the bottom of the hole on the side of the frame.

All this damage has made us understandably depressed ever since the accident. That combined with the fact that Ryan wasted a week of vacation from work and we didn't even get to surf, has made for little to be excited about.

So when the surf report lit up in bright red, I was relieved to see Ryan with a smile on his face.
It was after sunset, so he grabbed his binoculars to help see through the darkness to the flag that sits atop the post office and gives an accurate reading of current wind direction and speed.

He liked what he saw...

...and set the alarm to wake us early for what was sure to be the biggest wind swell of the season.
The morning dawned, and it was big alright.

But far from perfect. There were lumps running this way and that, and often the waves would look amazing as they approached all the way up until the time they broke. We watched a few of our friends try it out but it looked like much more work than the payoff would warrant, so we just watched.

We weren't the only ones choosing to watch instead of paddle out.

Since the surf didn't provide us with an excuse for any more procrastination. It was time to begin rebuilding.

Ryan donned his battle gear and got into it.

Since we had ordered just enough Nida-Core for the project, with only a little extra, we had to get creative and pull together a bunch of bits and pieces of scraps to make the shape of the utility box door that was blown apart in the collision.

We then layed out layers of fiberglass tape and resined it into a complete piece.

Ryan fitted the aluminum angle along the edges and riveted them on.

This man looks like he needs a martini!

Ahhhhh..... that's better!

The next step was to begin rebuilding the utility box itself. Fortunately we had plenty of extra aluminum and steel sheet metal left over from last time.

We are very greatful that most of the damage to the camper itself is cosmetic. Only the front end was hit, so the very corner was smashed in which created a crease in the underside of the aluminum edge trim.

Ryan drilled out the rivet, used his grinder to make a tear in the metal and then set up the jack underneath the pucker to use the weight of the camper to try to flatten it out.

He then used his grinder to smooth out some of the scratches in the metal on the corner.

After receiving our estimate from the insurance companies appraiser, our depression level increased. Sure we didn't expect them to offer us the full amount at first, but the $4,500 appraisal seemed like a joke. It will obviously take much more than that to repair the truck. The Toyota was towed away to a body shop and now we just have to wait to hear their estimate, and find out what we can do next. In the meantime, we have been shopping for white 2004 Tacomas, with 4x4 and the TRD package. If you or anyone you know has one for sale for less than 50,000 miles, let us know!

Finally, we went to the Redondo Beach Brewing Co.

for a beer.