Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Dog House

I was planning to live on the boat in Hawaii but when the Marina heard I had a dog it was clear that Goldie was not welcome. Non-live-aboards are allowed to sleep aboard for three nights a week and they said she was welcome aboard as long as I didn't spend that fourth night....if I did we would both have to go!
So we had a place to live three nights a week. Now what to do for the other four nights of the week? I didn't want to pay the going rate of $1,600 per month for a no frills studio apartment for only four nights a week.
I looked on Craigslist for a camper to put on the truck and was not surprised to find they don't exist in Hawaii.
I had never seen one on the road here. Oh sure they have lots of campers listed....but they are what we from the mainland call a "canopy". Here a canopy is a fabric beach shelter.....a camper shell goes on the truck. So I decided I would knock out a cheap, simple camper made of plywood, similar to the one I had on the mainland but without the appliances etc.
The boat would be used for daily living, I mean.....visiting.....not living.......and the camper would  be a place to "live" four nights a week. The camper would be a perfect doghouse for Goldie to hang out in when I'm working. Heavily insulated to keep the sun off with plenty of ventilation.

Jeff asked what the plan was.
Plan? I said. I plan to build a camper.
"But how, whats the plan?"
No plan, gonna wing it, start from the base and add whatever seems to work as it takes shape.
Ok,... sounds good, he said. With a healthy dose of scepticizm in his tone.

I thought we'd start with 1/2 inch plywood for the floor and seats and go from there.
I bought a bunch of 2x2's to use as framing and several sheets of plywood and some glue, screws, etc. I decided on 2x2's for framing to allow 1-1/2" of foam insulation to keep her cool inside.
The added weight of the wood was no problem as the rig would not have the weight of appliances and water / holding tanks that a regular camper has.
The base (floor and up to the seats), front, back, and bed platform over the cab, would be built with 1/2 inch plywood. The sides and roof would be thin 5mm plywood.

Jeff had to work so I drove to a remote beach park & local tent camping place and started the project.
I built from the floor up to the seats and was pleased with the results.
Plenty of people came by to have a look and ask what I was building.
A camper, I replied.
Ah, oh, I see,...they said, clearing not understanding what a camper was.
Very few people knew what a camper was or looked like. This was a remote "locals" beach park and few tourists or haole's (what the locals call white folks) made it here.
After tiring of repeating the explanation over and over I decided to just call it "the doghouse".
Yup, building a doghouse for her (pointing at Goldie) so she has a place to hang out when we go snorkeling, working, etc.
"ahhh cool.....lucky dog! most said. As it took shape some added "hey you could use it for camping to you know, would be perfect for it!" I smiled and agreed.

It started to rain and I drove to the local Home Depot store where they had covered parking and continued to build. We went to the beach park to build when we needed to make dust or paint, and stayed under the covered parking the rest of the time. The staff at Home Depot got to know us well and always had kind works of encouragement as it took shape in their parking lot.
It was handy to have a fully stocked hardware / lumber store a few steps away.
Every item we used was bought from them, from wood to tools. If they didn't mind me building it there I certainly didn't mind buying all the supplies from them.

Jeff helped often, spending his days off and mornings helping me. It would have been very difficult to erect the walls and square up the frame without his help. I am grateful, thanks Jeff!

A white elastomeric roofing compound was rolled on the roof and their special 4" wide polyester fabric was used over the seams and edges as a solution to the expansion and contraction problems at the joints. It worked well and the white color helps reflect the heat.

We put in 48 x 12 inch opening double pane windows in the sides. Petty theft is a huge problem here and we kept the windows narrow to reduce the temptation to break them and try and crawl thru. The back of the camper has a narrow sliding door reinforced with steel backing behind the tracks so that it cant be kicked in. A steel plate will be added at the bottom on the outside so it can't be pulled or pried out. Two large barrel bolts fasten the door from inside. Both have locks on them. It would be very difficult to get at the locks and impossible to get cutters or pry-bars on em. It is as secure as I can make it.
Its a long way from finished but is well under way now. There will be some fill and fairing later when I have access to power at a future date. It was built with hand saws and a cordless drill. Near the end we also used a cordless sawzall which helped speed up the process.

 The start!
The Floor

Building at the beach park

Ships come and go while I build

Raining, take cover!

 1/2" plywood foundation done

Painting and walls going up

Jeff, head shaved for Halloween, he was "Mr Clean"

Goldie enjoying the temporary Lanai

Roughing in the forward bunk

Goldie enjoys the trades blowing through

Closing it in
Roof coating applied

first of many coats of paint

roughing in the windows

Windows in

slide up door


Rob said...

If it looks as good close up as it does in the photos you've done a great job on your camper. If you're that good with something you just slapped together in a hurry, I imagine your Alberg is going to look amazing when your work is complete.

Don said...

Thanks Rob,
It looks great from ten feet back!
"Work Truck" finish / construction.
I figure I can always pretty it up later with a long-board and a bit o' Bondo.....but probably won't.
I can hide some inherent defects with some painted lines too, give her a boot-stripe! ;-)