Bring in the Reinforcements!

It’s been a while since my last update, so there’s a lot to cover. My parents were here over Memorial Day, while large parts were arriving every day.

My dad helped me reinforce the roof by cutting and installing various lengths of 1/8″ aluminum L brackets along the cross members. This took forever because every hole had to be pre-drilled, and that aluminum is tougher than my old drill driver.

Next, we had to reinforce the curved corners sitting atop eight metal studs because, as you can see, all of them were cracked and some were split all the way through. And that means the roof itself was essentially supporting the supports!

To fix this, we used 6×6″ Simpson Strong-Tie galvanized steel L straps and bent one end to 90°. (My dad’s creative idea.) That gave us three points of contact with each load-bearing structural point and added only a few pounds to the overall weight. Once I get the rest of these screwed in, I’ll be able to get up on the roof to install the vents and the solar panels. Otherwise I’m sure I might have damaged the roof, since it was designed to protect cargo—not to support heaver things like air conditioners or me.

I made my first holes in the hull. The first was a 2-3/4″ hole for the Marinco Shore Power 30-Amp inlet port. It’s stainless steel and beautiful.

Next, I measured and cut two 14-inch square holes in the roof for the Fan-tasic Vents. This involved learning how to use my new DeWalt jigsaw upside-down. I got them cut cleanly but it took a while including sweat breaks. And my arms felt like they were vibrating the rest of the night.

The vent in the front will be set to suck and the vent in the back will be set to blow, which just might obviate the need for a power-hungry air conditioner.

These vents have remote controls, thermostats and rain sensors to open and close themselves automatically. The vents set in place nicely, but before I can get up on the roof to seal and screw them into place, I need to do some additional reinforcement.

The hull was strengthened significantly from side-to-side and at the corners, but the steel skin is still a bit saggy in between the cross-members. So, I’ll be adding two more aluminum angle brackets inside each ceiling pocket, in perpendicular fashion. This will require the use of some sturdy 2″ steel corner braces to secure a brace to each end of the bracket, and then the braces to the cross members.

There’s a strip of Dicor butyl tape between all the aluminum angles and the roof. That’s to reduce vibration. And the rule here is that “no new screw shall penetrate the roof if possible.”

That should complete the reinforcement phase to the point where I can safely start installing the roof-mounted goodies: Solar panels, vents, lights, wire conduits, insulation and ceiling panels.

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