Monday, March 11, 2013

Let's Talk about the Trailer

After talking with Daniel last week, I arranged a meeting with James this week (Monday).  I loaded up my construction plans, my notes, a slew of color photographs, and crossed three county lines to meet with James face to face.

Here are questions that were posed to me by Daniel, and questions posed to me by James...  and then the answers that surfaced after speaking with James, and having another telephone conversation with Daniel tonight.  In some cases I'll even give you the reasoning for the answer... You know I can't do that for all of them, because, well, sometimes I just know what I want.  I know.  Just try to act surprised.  And thank me for this condensed version.  It won't seem condensed but trust me, it is...

Primary Conclusion:  
I'm going with James building a custom trailer, versus buying a ready-made on the West coast and modifying it.

1)  Trailer length - 16' or 18'?  Sixteen is the answer.  One, if I am going to go tiny, then go tiny.  There was discussion of making it longer to have a larger porch, but I decided against it.  The whole world can be my porch.   Two, I am planning on towing this thing around, and well, I currently drive a Mini Cooper.  Let's not completely lose our minds.

2)  Trailer width - I still need a final number on this, but I'll not likely stray far from the standard, which is 8'6" including the wheels.

3)  I am going to build between the wheels, not over the wheels.  There are limits of how wide a trailer can be, barreling down the countryside, before you need a special permit and a special license.  Also, I want to maintain the magical proportions (or as Jay calls it, the "sacred geometry") as far as the height/width/eaves go so that it looks right.  If I go too wide at the bottom, either the eaves get shortened, or the whole kit and kaboodle (it's the kaboodle that will get you, every time) gets too wide.

4)  Much discussion is being had with regard to insulation.  Typically the insulation goes on top of the trailer joists, and then the sub floor on top of that.  James is proposing to seal it inside the trailer bed - have it blown in and sealed in, and put the floor on top of that.  There's a debate - does that save space/height inside?  And or do you lose space below the trailer?  What terrain are you anticipating - do you WANT to lose space between the road surface and the bottom of the trailer?  Sealed in it would never get wet.  With a steel bottom, there is no need for aluminum sheeting to keep rodents out.  But what if water gets in between the steel and the plywood sub floor?  Not cool.  And then there is the varied expansion - steel vs. wood, and the fasteners have to allow for that.  We must call this one as TBD.

Yes, the turban* is starting to loosen.

5)  I will not need conduits in the floor for wiring or for plumbing.

6)  Axles:  Two.  5000# capacity each, not 3500#.  Do we want regular or dropped?  Boat trailers often have dropped - they dip down in the middle to accommodate the boat hull - and then back up to the wheel centers.  (I am making no attempts whatsoever to understand how an axle that has two bends in it can rotate wheels.  No.  Attempts.)  Again, we must consider the height from the ground up.    

7)  In the realm of the trailer bottoming out - Daniel says sometimes RVs have a small tire mounted towards the back, in the center, under the RV so that in case it bottoms out, it rolls on the little tire.  How does he know these things?  One of the many mysteries of Daniel...  I have to pitch this one to James for consideration.  I have nothing to contribute other than the wonder of how crafty RV manufacturers are (-- but then I think, oh, Chevy Chase, and the RV or Breaking Bad and THEIR RV and I think, ohhh, I guess you do have to anticipate drivers doing dumb things.  That probably could be me.)

8)  The tires must be rated to carry the same weight as the axles.  There's a bit of common sense.

9)  I do not want a custom steel lip around the perimeter of the trailer to hold the siding.  It's too much of an opportunity for water to get in and sit.  We don't like water.

10)  Brakes?  Yes, definitely.  Electric or hydraulic?  TBD.

11)  Wiring - how many pins?

12)  Hitch size - we are going with the larger size - I think it is 2 5/8".  

13)  James is going to have the whole affair galvanized.

14)   Cool custom feature:  James offered to make the lights and the license plate on a removable bar so that I don't have to look at them when I am parked somewhere for a period of time.  Smart.

15) The propane tanks will live on the trailer tongue.

16)  The water reservoir can live in a variety of places - under the floor, in the floor, inside cabinetry... it's more of an interior design consideration than a trailer consideration.

17)  James is going to build a box for storage on the tongue.  Daniel points out that it will need to be removable so that it isn't in the way during construction.  Good point.

18)  Both James and Daniel agree that the standard roof structure should be plenty adequate for the hook for my yoga sling.   You can read about that nuttiness here: Upside Down  Hey!  I have this opportunity to really make this place mine and I am!  I love to be upside down, and I'll be able to do that in my living room.  No judging! 

19)  The trailer will need to be licensed and registered in Texas before it gets towed to California.  I have no idea how that happens.  "Oh Jaaaaames.....!"

What are we not thinking of?  (Tom, I'm looking at you.)

What's next?  At this point, James is going to start sketching a design for approval.  I am going to read over the construction plans in detail to see what other accommodations the trailer needs to have to accept the house.  Daniel is going to confirm his Spring Break Santa Fe Trip.  I am going to get answers from James for Daniel, and we will have a few final decisions to make.   (Time out:  I am so grateful for James and Daniel and their willingness to share their knowledge and experience!)  And then....?  TRAILER CONSTRUCTION and a road trip to Santa Fe!

Meanwhile, I realize that I have indeed a dream (living in a tiny house ) with a date (December 2013) and that it is now a goal, not a dream.  I'm breaking down my goal into steps, and that makes my goal a plan.  A plan backed by action is what will make my dreams come true.  (paraphrased from Greg S. Reid.)  But all of that to say?  I'm on the 9 month countdown to tiny.  My friend Amy came to see me tonight - she lives down the hall - and I sent her home with a houseplant under her arm.  Yeah.  It's happening.

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