I mentioned it in an earlier post, but will say so here again; we had talked about only skinning the trailer with wood, rather than doing the aluminum. While it would have saved some money up front, it would have been a much larger maintenance commitment long-term, because wood needs way more love and upkeep than metal. (Duh.)
One of the first things was logistical; how to get the sheets of aluminum home so we could put it on the trailer. After much discussion, we rented the cheapest trailer from U-Haul, and it was a perfect $20 solution to get our stuff home.
Jamie found a sheet metal supplier about an hour away, so he went down and back in a single day; he purchased .04 thick brushed aluminum; two sheets of 4×8 for the sides, and a single sheet of 5×12 for the top.
A scary thing? A 12 foot long rolled up piece of aluminum held closed by strapping, and then having to cut said strapping.
I was fully prepared for it to basically explode open, but it didn’t and we survived the unrolling process. *whew*
I feel like I’ve said it before about other steps, but this was a very dramatic day in construction. I had expected it to take more time than it did, but we actually knocked this part out in about a half a day!
Step one was the adhesive; using a roller, we coated the wood of the trailer and the siding with contact cement. We bought a gallon to be sure we had enough; we had leftover, but I don’t think we have enough leftover that we could have gotten away with only a quart. Maybe two?
Jamie clamped two small guides to the bottom edge of the trailer, so could rest the siding on it as we slowly pressed it down, working our way up.
(Don’t forget to drill holes for wiring! You see our porch light wires sticking out in the above photo)
Once it was fully adhered, we ran our hands over it to help force out any bubbles that may have been left behind.
Next was to trim the excess aluminum. I don’t have photos, because I was needed to hold the piece that was being cut off, to keep it from getting in the way or falling and hurting Jamie while he was cutting.
Jamie used his trusty router with a trim bit with guide like this one. While there were a few moments of roughness getting started, once he was underway, it went smoothly. Safety warning! There are tiny, sharp, hot bits of aluminum curls flying around when you do this! Keep children and animals away, and wear face protection and long sleeves and shoes and pants.
We did each side completely; cutting out the hole for the door involved drilling a hole in one corner and using that as the start point for the router to cut through. Again, it’s important to have a second person there to hold the piece as it’s cut, so that it doesn’t fall and injure anyone or get bent somehow.
Side one nearly done!
Once the main cutting is done, you’re ready to apply the trim. We used aluminum RV trim for a watertight seal, and a finished look.
Once everything was attached, we got to do one of the coolest things ever. You know how, when you buy new electronics, there’s that thing plastic coating to protect the screen? And it’s so pleasing to pull it off?
Peeling that plastic off a whole trailer is like a million times more satisfying! For REALS.
And that’s the overview of the whole build! I’ve got a couple more posts in the works; next is a “Finishing Touches” rundown, and then the last one will be a “Lessons Learned/Tips and Tricks”
PLEASE do me a favor, and leave any questions you have in the comments below. I’ll be sure to address them in one of the last two posts. Thanks so much for following along, and if you have your own homebuilt, I’d love to check it out! Leave a link to photos below.
Next post: Door construction
Previous posts: Planning & Framing | Walls & Interior Skin | Galley Counter & Flooring | Insulation | Interior Ceiling & Fan | Exterior Wood Skin & Sealant | Hatch Construction | Child’s Hammock Bed | Galley Design (and Redesign)
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