Posted by: Steve and Bethany | February 2, 2009

FRONT WALL ASSEMBLY

Date; 10/15/09

I’d mentioned that I rented & moved into a shop big enough to house the bullet & work in during the winter, good move, it’s been raining for the past week, & the first step in assembling the front wall was to have the bullet’s rear window removed, so I’m not as weatherproof as I should be, but after the window was pulled out, I debated just giving it to the glass place, as they’d have more of a chance of using it, until I looked closely at the inside of the window, it had small metal tabs on the bottom & top of the glass, I immediately had an idea, I took the window with me, got back to the shop, bent the tabs around pointing down on the bottom, then slid the tabs just inside the metal rear wall of the truck, just tight enough to compress what was left of the urethane seal around the window. the top tab, I drilled a small hole through then pulled a wire through & wired it to existing clothes hooks on the back ceiling of the cab & ‘voila’, the cab was mostly weatherproof  & completely dust proof again (within reason) at least enough to get me through construction.

the first step was to mount the front wall, then trace the exact outline of the rear window, so as to simplify the construction of the window boot.front wall 002

I cut down by 7″ the front wall panel, the width of the cabover floor, the upper wall, as well as cut down the height to a whopping 4 5/8″ above the front aluminum radius. before I did this, I cut down the width of the front roof radius, set it up on a frame holding it the right height above the cabover just to check my designed height, looked fine, enough room for the mattress, blankets & pillows below the lowered roof, as well as enough room for this newly married couple to .. …sleep .. under the roof in the raised position (i like camping!).

mock up of the actual roof height with the top lowered

mock-up of the actual roof height with the top lowered

front wall 006I also designed a temporary bracketing system to hold this whole assembly square & rigid while off the truck for painting, then during the installation on the truck without flexing any of the connections so as not to compromise the newly painted seams.

As of right now, the brackets are cut out ready to be put together, i’m just waiting for the adhesives/ sealants to arrive. I went with Degabond 54 adhesive/sealant for the aluminum to aluminum connections in place of rivets in areas like the roof membrane to the roof ribs as well as connections of all aluminum edges to the panels (this was a recommendation from Gary Shapiro from http://www.ecoroamer.com . In addition I ordered Degaseal 2000 elastomeric adhesive/sealant to seal the new aluminum exterior panels to the fiberglass sandwiched U-Haul panels.

I removed the back nameplate to get better lighting behind the BULLET XV cutout, adding some stainless steel mirrors, & reflective film to improve backlighting.

the BULLET XV nameplate illuminated

the BULLET XV nameplate illuminated

I also had Randy @ harvest valley specialties extend the front posts down      2 1/2″ to line up with the side walls (although the height from floor up to cabover was fine) I had Randy not add a butt weld to the bottom of the posts, rather add a piece over the top of the posts up 22″ (roughly) to have a weld line where it lined up with the exterior floor boards for aesthetics (or muscular ‘shoulders’ to the bulldog) I then did some ‘body work’ to smooth out the welds.

the smell of bondo makes me want to go smoke cigaretts behind my neighbor's shed, just like when i was 18!

the smell of bondo makes me want to go smoke cigarettes behind my neighbor's shed, just like when i was 18!

I’ve determined that these will, as of now, be ‘running’ posts, meaning I will add pictures as I go instead of waiting till I finish a step to post.

I got the adhesives, & started putting together the front wall assembly permanently, building at the same time my rolling bracket contraption to hold things square & true during painting. parts of this bracket system will be removed after painting yet still hold the assembly square during installation on the bullet.

front wall interior view with brackets

front wall interior view with brackets & front floorboard

old lawnmower wheels make this assembly mobile

old lawnmower wheels make this assembly mobile

I am now confirmed as to why i used the U-HAUL for my donor, look at all the bolt & rivet connections (all backed up with degabond 54).front wall 011 I love assembling pieces like this, & love the tough look of all the fasteners, just look at my home shop doors, I built these back in ’96’

my home shop doors (just a little too small for this project)

my home shop (just a little too small for this project)

I’m just about to start final sanding, then painting.

ok,  I’ve learned something while sanding, although leaving a bead of caulk @ the joints, then pulling it down with your finger to create a small fillet works fine on architectural construction projects, it doesn’t cut it here, metal is too strait & precise, & the imperfect nature of this technique doesn’t match the perfect nature of the cut metal visually, so I ended up taking a razor blade in both planes to remove the caulk outside of the actual joint leaving a clean square joint. (you just need to make sure you get 100% fill in between the two pieces of metal, as to not have gaps) the look is much more professional. What I’ll do from now on is to run a bead of degabond 54 close to the edge of the metal before I push the pieces together (as I was), when the two pieces get pushed together & fastened, some of the caulk will squeeze out (ensuring complete edge fill between the two pieces) I’ll let the caulk dry in that position, not pull it to a fillet, it will then be easier to cut off with a razor blade & get that clean edge I’m looking for.

Take your time here, this can make or break the look of a project.

I also didn’t realize just how much ‘body work’  I’d be doing on this project, I’ve done a ton of sanding, priming, sanding, priming, sanding, etc. to get the look to be as perfect as I’m aiming for. I’m actually enjoying this, remember, enjoy the ‘project’ not just the product.

while I’m waiting to have the front wall assembly painted, I mocked up the front light housings full-scale (i do this alot).

uhaul 007

the original front lighting

the U-Haul front roof piece has cutouts for 3 rectangular lights, which I didn’t want to keep, too U-Haully!  so what i’ve come up with is to put 3 off-road spots in that location to cover up the holes. These housings will be welded to the front roof piece & hold 4″ lights, the two side lights pointed outward slightly, & all three, pointed down slightly.

front lights 004

3 new 4" housings (cardboard mock-up)

front lights 001

the front lights mocked up at actual location above the truck

I’m also going to have the extra fuel can holders made, i’ve already designed these to fit exactly the two cans I have, & I’ve gotta keep busy..XV fuel can holder( 1)

while I was waiting for the upper lights to arrive, I made a full-scale model of the fuel can holders, primarily to make sure I had the clearances I need when I tip the can to get it out, because the bottom has a permanent lip.fuel can holder 002fuel can holder 001

with minor dimensional changes, we were good to go, so I drew up the drawings & plan to bring the model, drawings & the upper light mock-up as well as the spare tire mount (yup, it’s custom too) over to randy @ harvest valley specialties to get made, all out of aluminum

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Jay I found your build on Expo and would love to see it first hand. If this build is in the PNW would you be willing to show me your project?

    • mike,
      thanks for your interest, but the pics online are right now, the best way to see what’s going on. I’ve learned the creative process isn’t an explosion, like fireworks that awe the audience, it’s more like a dull glow with little blips here & there. stopping in’s like watching an accountant do his work!
      the website is brilliant in that it edits the time between ‘picture worthy’ events.
      i know as the bullet takes form, it will become more & more ‘public’ for the same reason I’ve been looking at other build sites for the last couple years, for ideas & knowledge (& mistakes)! & i’m looking forward to that.
      i know we’ll be talking down the road, & yes, i live in Oregon

      Steve – yup, ‘Steve’


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories