Friday, October 12, 2012

1955 Travleze trailer - goals and random thoughts

It's been a week since I first discovered this travel trailer project.  Now that it's safely home in our workshop, I need to start making decisions.

But what a huge amount of information to take in and consider.  My mind is out of practice when it comes to analysing all the variables.  So this post is basically musings about things to come.  Goals I have.  Considerations that need to be met.  Stuff like that.

There is so much I don't know about all this, and every time I think I know something, ten more monsters raise their heads and stick out their tongs and say, 'Na na, you don't know this!'  It's very annoying of them.  But I figure, plod along, take small steps, make small goals so that it feels like I'm getting somewhere constantly, and suddenly it will be done.

Just like knitting, a seemingly infinite amount of stitches to make a sweater, and yet break it down to one row, then another, then suddenly the body is finished and you are ready to knit the arms.  I figure this project is like a really complicated sweater, with colour work and integrate cables and stuff.  One of those two year sweaters.

  • I would an all electric trailer.  Most fuel gives off fumes which trigger my health problems, so a gas stove inside is not an option.  So all electric everything!  That's going to take a lot of batteries.  But it's okay, because...
  • I would like the trailer to generate most of it's own electricity   Am I insane?  Probably no, but maybe a bit too much wine.
    • Thinking about the self sufficient house, one that generates it's own electrical energy.  Maybe this could be a prototype or R&D kind of system.  So what I need for that is to create a three part system, energy out, energy storage, and energy in.  All three parts are customizable at any time, so some sort of universal plug would make for easy wiring   I wonder if this kind of plug and play energy system already exists or if I need to create my own for this project.
    • The electrical system is going to be my biggest challenge and largest expense  so I need to save up and do my research!  However, by creating a plug and play kind of energy system I can try different options and see what is most efficient.  For example...
    • can charge a battery off the engine of the car while it's driving along.  Or one could put a hub generator in the wheel of the trailer like a bicycle has, but this might produce too much drag and reduce fuel efficiency   Or one could put a light weight solar film on the roof of the trailer, or one could create a vintage looking mini wind generator to put on the roof when it's parked.   Or, one can use generators that takes the up and down motion of the trailer as it is moving along and converts it to electrical energy.  Or one can take the difference in temperature from inside and outside the trailer and convert that to electrical energy via a Stirling engine or the system that uses different metals and temperatures and works somehow I have no idea but is way more efficient than a mechanical system.
    • I am very, very, very keen on capturing waste energy and using it as a way to trickle charge the batteries on the camper.  This may not be - probably will not be - enough to provide all my electrical needs, but it would GREATLY extend the time between charging the batteries by plunging them into a wall socket.  
    • This is where my steampunk background comes in handy.
  • I would like it to be nicely insulated.
    • My limited experience with campers is that they are either way too cold or worse, too hot!  
    • A combination of insulation and airflow would help with this, I think.  At least, I imagine it would.
    • Since making the outside walls as ridged as possible greatly improves fuel efficiency  it's a good idea to take this into consideration while I'm deciding on insulation.  
    • So the traditional version of this trailer has an aluminium shell, a wood frame with some fibreglass insulation, and a wood panelling interior wall.
    • What I'm thinking of doing (and costs seem to be reasonable at this point) is going from outside to inside: aluminium shell, layer of something like Prodex (which is something like R15), the wood frame and cheep Styrofoam insulation which is more for rigidity than anything else, and then the interior wall.  This should be about the same weight as the original as the fibreglass is quite heavy.  It should also be far more efficient than the original which was usually less than R7, and since the fibreglass use to sink to the bottom of the walls quickly, I think this will work marvellously well and is well worth the expense.
    • This Prodex stuff would also add some water resistance and is good at preventing condensation.
    • The only problem I can foresee is the the fumes from the insulation might permeate the interior of the camper.  These fumes are ones that tiger symptoms for me. So, I need to ensure that everything is well aired out prior to installation AND that the interior panelling is well sealed with something like Tried and True, a beeswax, linseed oil finish.
  • How much original and how much me do I want to put into this?
    • Please don't hate me too much for saying this, but I really do not like (most of) the 1950s style. There is something so 'America is the Best Place On Earth' to that style of décor  and although it's very nice when you don't take history into account, it has for me, a feeling of foreshadowing all the bad things to come in the world.  The beginning of the cold war, the dependence on oil, American meddling in the affairs of other nations with the believe that they are doing the right thing, but usually make a mess of it all.  To me, the 1950s is the beginning of our plastic age.  For me, if you take the 1950s style and isolate it from history to come, then it's quite lovely, but in context, I really don't like it.  Something changed circa 1948, I don't know enough history to know why, but the difference in décor and style and function happened then.  It's like the sewing machines, before then, not a drop of plastic, and ANY sewing machine made before that year will last a couple of hundred years at least,but after then, something is different.  Plastic starts to seep in.  The design ... trying to find the word, but the only think I can think of is Lines, the lines of the outside of the object seem to change drastically at that time.  It becomes as smooth as a crooked cars sales man.  But like I said, that's just my opinion.
    • One of the things I like best about the original design is the focus on the kitchen.  Cooking food yourself was still quite important in the 1950s, and there wasn't much reliance on fast food.  The kitchen and being able to cook inside the trailer is very important to me (yet another reason why I would like an electric system, so I don't need to worry about gas in a small space).
    • There is a lot of value if I restore it to the original condition.  It should take about 4k to restore to original from what I have, maybe a bit more, but it would quadrupedal the investment.  So, pretend I put $4k into it, then I could easily get $12 to $24 thousand for it.  But then I would have to sell it, and find another project trailer, and start again at making myself a home away from home.  I'm not sure I have it in me to make a second one, plus the hassle of selling it and finding a new one to start with.  This way seems like too much stress just for a bit of extra spending money (okay, a lot of extra spending money).  Basically the stress to profit ratio is not sufficient and I really do think this can ham of a camper is as close to my style as I'll ever get.
    • So, basically not restoring to original condition.
    • The basic floor plan of the original canned ham trailers is very efficient, so I think I'll stick with that.
    • Making it all electric (see above) is going to add a lot of extra expense and time, but I feel it's going to be really worth it.
    • I would like to make it lighter in colour on the inside due to the occasional bouts of claustrophobia.  This might be as simple as using lighter wood for the panelling and darker wood for the lathes.
    • I think some sort of unifying theme would be useful for the interior decoration.  I'm thinking some steampunk, meats some traditional Japanese interior design, with a nod back to the 1950s vintage of the trailer. The more I think about it, the more that Ume Blossom inspires me.  Here's an ever increasing collection of pictures that I'm using as an idea book of sorts.    

1 comment:

Josiane said...

You're taking on what seems like a huge project, and you're right: there's a lot that needs to be taken into consideration at once. That's really impressive to me, and I wish you the best of luck with it all!