Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Upper Cabinets Done...Except for Doors!

Between downpours of this relentless rain, I have managed to get the cabinet boxes built for the upper cabinets, and get them installed in our cargo trailer camper conversion.

The first of three wall cabinets built.
Unlike ordinary store-bought cabinets, these had to be specially designed to match the contour of the roof, provide a place for a wiring chase at the back corner, and include enough bracing in the proper places to match with the blocking in the ceiling to secure them properly.

The right-side upper cabinets from the front.
As before, I used my adjustable trucker's cargo securing bar to hold the cabinets in position until I could get screws in them. In starting with the first one next to the side door, I left the right-side screws slightly loose, until I could get the second cabinet secured to it. Only after the second cabinet was secured did I come back and tighten the screws holding the first one.

In the left side of the second and third cabinets, I clamped them to the cabinet to the left, making sure the face frames were aligned perfectly, and then secured them together with three 2-1/2-inch deck screws, countersunk into the edge of the face frame. The heads are on the side away from the viewing angle from the front of the trailer. Securing them this way will make sure the face frames stay together, even with all the bouncing down the road that will happen when we travel.

My original guess of making three 30-inch wide cabinets was dead on, after I confirmed it with a tape measure. The first one is held 1/2-inch away from the edge of the aluminum door trim, same as the single cabinet in the front corner. At the back, there is just enough space for another piece of 3/8-inch plywood, which will be added later as a divider wall, separating the upper bunk from the storage compartment.

The space between the upper cabinets and the cable pulley for the rear ramp door.
The cable pulley and springs will have a sort of "box" around them across the full width of the trailer, to separate them from the sleeping area. By using a slightly higher rear wall, it will create a shelf on the back side of the divider wall with a built-in lip on it. This can be used for additional storage space for the rear storage compartment. The bottom of the "box" will be just below the point where the cables attach to the rear ramp door.

The right-side wall cabinets from the rear.
If you look closely at the photo above, you can see the three screws in the side of the left face frame, that secures the cabinet to the one to the left of it. There are also four 2-1/2-inch screws into the top front of the cabinet, through a nailer just behind the face frame, as well as three down each rear corner into the wall, and four screws across the bottom, through the shelf support. As soon as I make a material run again, I will get some self-drilling 2-inch sheet metal screws to add to the ones on top, that will go into the steel roof bows...just for additional strength.

When I get time, I will make the doors for all these cabinets, but it will likely be one of the final tasks. The reason being that we will be running close on time to get out of here, and they are something that I could even do while traveling. I will have my small table saw with me, along with my other woodworking tools. Trim can also be applied after we leave, as well as doing the priming and painting. Adding a ceramic tile backsplash behind the sink will also come later.

In the meantime, we will have to find a way to keep things from falling out of the cabinets, but I already have an idea for that, which I will explain later. 

The next task will be the framework for the front couch/bed, which has to fit around the air conditioner which will be mounted below the couch. I have already started the layout work for it and will be cutting and assembling the front of the couch later today. I still have to buy some metal screening for the air conditioner vents which will go down through the floor. The incoming air side will also have to have filters over the screens. I plan to use first, a heavy duty (1/4-inch squares) hardware screen for rodent protection, topped with a normal metal window screen for smaller bugs. The outgoing air at the rear of the air conditioner shouldn't need any more than that, but the incoming air on either side of the air conditioner will have to have filters, something that can be checked and changed regularly. A cut-down furnace filter should work just fine. It will be secured with a sheet metal frame around it, same as most filters are held in place.

A baffle will be installed around the rear of the air conditioner to separate the air blowing out the back (and down through the trailer floor) from the air being sucked in through the sides. This is all "outside" air, which will never mix with the air being circulated within the trailer at the front (room side) of the air conditioner.

There is also a drain port on the bottom of every air conditioner, to drain off the condensate water that collects during the cooling process. They don't make a very good port for such things, normally just a hole punched through the sheet metal bottom of the cage, since that part normally hangs outside of a window or wall. The trick here is to make sure that the water drains straight down, and doesn't wander off somewhere and get on the floor.

So before mounting the air conditioner, I will have to remove the unit from its case, or at least open up the back of it, and use a makeshift press, made from a wrench socket and a bolt, to pull the edges of the hole down to create a funnel effect, or a drip edge around the hole. This will prevent water from wandering off to the side in case the trailer is not setting level.

Through the floor, I will then install a small plastic funnel (which may have to be trimmed to fit) so that the top opening is larger than the drain port in the air conditioner. This will ensure that any water that drips from the drain port will go straight down the funnel in the floor to the ground on the outside, and never wander somewhere else. We definitely don't want a wet floor in the trailer!

Anyway, this gets into what is required in order to make this "inside mounted, bottom vented" air conditioner work, and I will talk about that in the next post, as I build the framework around it for the front couch/bed.

As always, any comments or questions are welcome, and thanks for reading.

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