Monday, July 20, 2015

The Cargo Trailer Roof Rack

This may be somewhat out of order, as it was the last thing done, but is one of the most important tasks in getting the cargo trailer ready to travel, as it is the prelude to mounting our power source!

The roof rack was purchased along with the solar panel package from another blogger who offered it to me at a great price. I wasn't sure at the time if the roof rack would even work on our cargo trailer, but the price was right, and I figured if it didn't work, I could afford to sell it and recoup my money.

After looking it over and checking all the dimensions, and even attempting a test fit on the gutters, I came to the conclusion that it "would" work, with a few modifications. In reality, the main problem was that the crown of the cargo trailer roof was much higher than a standard van, which is what the rack was meant for.


On the upright pieces that attach to the gutter, I could easily see that the square cups that were welded onto the uprights to fasten each end of the cross members into, was going to be way too low. The cross members would never clear the roof. At the top of each upright piece there was an extra large hole, probably meant as a place to anchor ropes or ratchet straps to secure the cargo. By utilizing those, and a few extra parts from my stock, I was able to make everything fit.

A roof rack upright showing the extra hole and how I filled it.
From my electrical days, I had some flat corner pieces from a product called Unistrut, which people in the mechanical trades use extensively. By using these corner pieces and drilling an extra hole in the upright below the one-inch "tie down" hole at the top, I could raise the crossbars high enough to set nearly on top of the upright piece. The closest thing I could find to fill the difference in the hole diameter between the 1/2-inch bolt size and the one-inch tie down hole, was a lock washer. In the photo above, you can see that it still leaves a little space around it, but not enough to hurt anything.
Also, it was about the same thickness as the upright.

In the upper right corner of the photo above, you can see the bolt laying there. It has a lock washer under the head, and then a large flat washer. Between that and the corner piece on the inside, this effectively traps the spacer lock washer within the larger hole, in between the two, like a sandwich. Then I added another lock washer on the inside, topped with a nylon-insert lock nut. Since the bottom bolt was in a hole of the proper size already, no flat washer was needed there...just a lock washer on both sides.

The finished bracket, showing all washers and nuts.

The cross members also had to be drilled out for the new bolt position. Rather than a 3/8-inch bolt going cross ways through it, I had to use 1/2-inch bolts going up through it. The Unistrut corners were a little too wide to fit inside the cross members, so I had to mount them on top. But if you look close at the photo above, you can see all the nuts and washers.

The center part of the cross bars telescope into one another, to adjust for the width of the vehicle, and then there is a bolt that serves as a set screw to lock them in position. That was the very last part to be installed, once the rack was secured on the roof.

I have one concern now, and that is the open ends of the cross bars. They could set up a "whistle" when going down the road at highway speeds, and that could be very annoying. I may have to find or make some caps to cover the ends of the tubing if that happens.

The roof rack installed on the cargo trailer.
As you can see in the photo above, there isn't a lot of clearance under the cross bars at the center of the roof. Had I dropped each side the thickness of the cross bar, it wouldn't have allowed enough clearance, and any weight on the bars may have caused them to touch the roof and possibly damage the roof coating. After putting two coats of POR-15 rust-eating paint, and then at least six coats (I lost count) of Kool Seal on it, we don't want any damage to it! As it is, there is less than two inches of clearance, but that will work.

The other concern I had when starting the project was that the unused square cups that were welded onto the uprights, might hit the edge of the roof. But thankfully, the uprights were designed with an offset of their own, which made them stick out a little beyond the gutter, and that kept the cups well away from the roof edge. But after seeing it now, I can see that they wouldn't have been a problem even if the uprights had no offset.

The other issue was verifying that I had enough clearance to get behind them to clean up the edges of the roof where it's painted. As you have seen in some of the photos, there are a lot of rust tracks where water ran off the rusty galvanized roof, and stained the paint. I'm hoping that some Kit Wax or Turtle Wax Rubbing Compound will remove the rust without damaging the paint and make the trailer look like new again. 

The roof rack uprights, showing the clearance to the roof.
Even though the Unistrut corners are 1/4-inch steel and very strong, I still have a concern about sideways movement of the rack once it gets weight on it. The extra height adds a lot of leverage for inertia of the load on the cross bars. But that will be easy to fix. The welded cups already have a horizontal hole in them, so all I would have to do is drill another horizontal hole through the cross bars at about a foot from each end, and then bolt on a piece of flat 1/4-inch aluminum or steel to reinforce those corners, and keep them square.

The other concern is front to back movement. But again, that is also an easy fix. I can attach a horizontal piece of Unistrut to each side, using the existing bolts just above the square cups. Or for absolute strength, I could attach one leg of a flat 90-degree Unistrut corner to both of those bolts, which would provide two anchor points and then connect the other leg to a length of Unistrut between the racks. Then there would be no way anything could rotate or twist out of position! All four mounts would have to get ripped off at the same time, and there's little chance of that happening unless the trailer flips over!

So the next situation is how to mount the solar panels to the rack, and we'll talk about that in a later post. I have to round up some material yet, but it should happen soon...probably this week. In the meantime I have some other parts to work with, and I'll show you those tomorrow.

In between working on getting the trailer ready, we are busy going through the house and sorting what stays, what goes to temporary storage, and what goes with us in the vehicles. And in between that, we are listing specialty things on eBay (user name azgrand001, if anyone is interested). We have also listed a few larger things on some of the local Facebook yard sale/garage sale/flea market type sites, but to be honest, we have gotten really discouraged with that, and here's an example.

We have a 40-inch Samsung LCD TV, with every possible option you can think of on it, that we paid over $700 for when we bought it. It was mainly for the eBay training I was providing as an Education Specialist Trained by eBay (my official title). We don't watch much TV at home, other than a DVD or VHS now and then (yes, we still have a LOT of those). We have no antenna and gave up our satellite service over seven years ago. We currently watch any TV on the computers, directly from the network web sites, and sometimes third party providers like Hulu, Viewster, or Yidio.

The Samsung TV has well under 30 hours of total use on it, and is like brand new. We listed it on a Facebook group for the paltry price of $200, and some of these idiots on Facebook have made offers of $100 to $120 for it! I have to tell, you, that kind of stuff is an insult to my intelligence! It's a good thing that my wife is the one listing it under her name, because I don't bite my tongue real well, and would probably tell them exactly what I think!

At other times, people come right out and ask "What's your bottom dollar?" before they even get off their lazy butts to come look at an item! They have no idea what it's really worth without looking at it! And that kind of stuff is also very unprofessional. If we tell them on Facebook what we will really settle for, that puts it out there for everyone else to see, and limits what the next person will offer for it! That is totally stupid, and after nearly 50 years of managing businesses up to 8 million dollars in value, I'm not going to play those games!

Like any other financial matters, what is agreed to is between the two parties of the transaction...and no one else! Even on eBay, if there is a best offer option, and it is accepted, that final sale price is never shown in the completed listings! There's a reason for that! And yet, the things that I see being done on Facebook is so far from being professional, that I don't even want to see some of it! These people would no more be able to manage an eBay business than a six-year-old...which is probably why they are on Facebook groups or Craigslist  in the first place! With no rules, people tend to do what they want, including stupid and unprofessional stuff! I try to avoid both of those places!

The problem is, that Sharp County is (self proclaimed) the poorest county in Arkansas, despite its having the very first planned retirement community in the country. Cherokee Village just held it's 60th anniversary in June of this year. But the problem is, the people (mostly retirees) who have moved here, all made their money somewhere else, and they don't need a whole lot more to keep them happy. There's no industry here except maybe what limited tourist industry there is, so jobs are scarce and pay very little. The only people making a decent living are those who are ambitious enough and educated enough to manage their own businesses.

The rest of the county has a very high percentage of welfare recipients who can't afford to spend a lot and are always wanting something given to them for little or nothing. Those who do work are mostly at minimum wage jobs, and still can't afford to waste their money.

Then, to top it off, we ourselves, are on a hard to find circle drive that no one ever goes down (unless they're lost) except the postal driver or school bus, and since the neighbors moved, we don't even see a school bus (unless he's also lost)!

We have tried garage sales, and ran one nearly every day that Sharon had off work last summer. There were at least two days when NO ONE showed up despite having it posted in the paper as well as on a dozen different Facebook groups! And in Facebook, I even provided directions to get here, AND color pictures of what we had! When we have had traffic, it rarely is more than a half-dozen customers a day.

People said we should have signs out, but because of our peculiar location, we would have to have at least a dozen different signs on various corners all around us, up to a mile away, and then have to spend an hour putting them up and another hour taking them down after the sale! If I have to go to that much trouble, I'd rather donate the stuff to a charitable organization and take the tax deduction! It's not worth our time to organize merchandise and price it for a sale if no one shows up!

We aren't looking to get rich off the stuff we are parting with, but we do expect a reasonably fair price for it. We're not in the business of wholesaling it off so that someone else can take it home and put it in their own yard sale! But rather than haggle with people who always want (and have always gotten) something for nothing, I would rather sell the entire lot to a someone who does buy wholesale lots...but it's not going to be one piece at a time. I may have to part with that TV for less than $100 as part of the whole package, but not to an individual buyer who wants something for nothing! We want everything gone, all in one transaction, and for that, I would be willing to make sacrifices! Anyone who is interested in that, we'll talk discounted price with them...IN PERSON...and after they look at what we have! It's not going to happen on social media, nor is it going to happen on the phone!

Even then, there may still be some things that we know we will do better with on eBay, and anything like that, that hasn't sold by the time we leave here, we will either take with us or put into storage to dispose of next year...but I'm not giving it away! There are many household and furniture items that we know we will never use again, and are still useful and worthwhile for someone else, so there will be plenty of good stuff for whoever buys it, and they will be able to see all of it and make a lump sum offer on it when the time comes. 

Anyway, that got off onto a tangent that I didn't intend to get off on, but it is what it is. Getting rid of a whole houseful of stuff is very stressful as it is, without having idiot tightwads making ridiculous offers on stuff that is still worth twice what we are asking. I don't have a lot of patience for stupidity! Let them go buy someone else's "very" used crap for what they are willing to pay, and then they will get just exactly what they were willing to pay for!

But a special thanks goes out to those who are still following along. We have less than a month to go before we are out of here (we hope), and then instead of construction details, we will have more travel stories, so we hope you will stick around. But I can't please everyone, and I am who I am. Either accept that or move on. I tell it like it is, and to some people I may come off harsh, but if they knew me, they would know that I would do anything to help someone (or even animals) in need. That doesn't mean I will help lazy-ass druggies or welfare recipients who are capable of getting an education and working. I just won't lie to them just to tell them what they want to hear!

And speaking of deadlines, I need to update the count-down timer in the right margin. There is no way we're going to be able to leave here on the 28th of this month. We're now shooting for the 12th of August, but even that isn't written in stone yet. It won't be until we actually pull out of the driveway for the last time!

As always, comments are welcome, as long as they are positive, and relevant to the topic. In other words, things like "Great blog!" could apply to anyone's blog, and has nothing constructive to say. Become involved in the conversation, not just an outsider making one-liner remarks like Henny Youngman. Everyone has something to say, and should know how to put their thoughts into words on a keyboard, not just on a phone!

Why is it that out of several hundred subscribers, it's always the same half-dozen people who speak up? Maybe they are the same ones who actually go out to vote, instead of accepting the political candidates that everyone else chooses for them. The people who aren't afraid to speak up are usually the educated ones...the decision makers. The other 60% are followers. No wonder our country is in trouble.

But that gets off on a whole new topic. Isn't conversation fun, once you take part in it? If no one will take part in the conversation with routine stuff, maybe I need to get more controversial and shake things up a bit. Certainly some of you must have an opinion about something!



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