It’s Sunday. I’ve been back from Chestertown since Friday evening, and my body is still sore. As of Friday, both roof racks are permanently installed, sealed with silicone and fastened with Grade 8 bolts through the support ribs of the roof. It took some time to get the aftermarket rack ready; it needed to be wire wheeled almost everywhere before it got new paint. We had to chop 3″ off the original support feet we’d cut and welded in order to get it as low to the roof as possible—and it still has only about 2″ of clearance from the top of the storage shed.
Inside, we washed everything down with Simple Green and removed all of the stickers and leftover Scotch tape. The interior has three coats of tough enamel paint over all of the flat surfaces, which makes a huge difference in how things look inside. I fabricated five window screens and aluminum clips to hold them in place, which will need a little modification before they’re perfect.
We’re at a stopping point now while we wait for the big items to start arriving; the popup tent is been manufactured, the seats are in production, and the roof hatch is on its way. Brian has the flooring ordered and we’ll see how long it takes for that to come in. We’re going to work out a plan over the next couple of months for me to drive over and put a couple weekends’ work in as things arrive so we can keep things moving.
When I started on this project, I was packing shorts and T-shirts and sweating through each day, swatting clouds of mosquitoes and drinking bottle after bottle of water to stay hydrated. By the end of the fourth week I had to start the Scout and let it warm up to burn off the dew before I could drive; I was nursing coffee until 11 to knock the chill out of the air and as soon as the sun dipped behind the trees I was putting layers back on to warm up.
One of the things I really enjoyed was working as a team with Brian. I think we complement each other’s skillsets well. He has, well, all of the knowledge in how to build stuff, and I have just enough experience to make myself useful and not get in the way. Together we’re smart enough to talk over possible solutions and come up with a plan to solve problems, and I think I was able to offer good ideas throughout the project. I also learned a lot from Brian just by watching how he did things—from measuring the storage boxes for installation to welding to what tools he uses daily (cordless tools are my new religion.)
And having the right tools is key. Brian has a full set of 20V DeWalt cordless gear—drills, saws, grinders, impact drivers, etc. and the benefit of not dragging cords around is huge. My drill is the 12V version but I could easily see myself investing in a bunch of 20V gear in the future as I phase out the older tools. That having been said, the tools Dad left me were absolutely clutch for the work we were doing. We used the mismatched second-hand socket set I got from him extensively and I was glad to have it. After struggling with a dull ceramic diamond blade to cut through the box steel, I invested in a Diablo metal blade and it went through the steel like butter. And the safety glasses I bought for the job were perfect—I could wear them all day and not worry about metal shavings sticking in my eyes. Carrying my gear to and from the job site in the Scout was fun, but by the second week I was wishing I had a full-size pickup with lockboxes.
I also continue to have respect for contractors and what they do every day. My quads feel like Jell-O from climbing up and down off the bus all week. When I was young and doing it myself I was able to bounce back quickly from an 8-hour day of constantly moving, bending, kneeling, climbing, and lifting. At this age I can do about three days before it starts catching up with me, and a full 5-hour week requires a lot of recovery time and a handful of ibuprofen. I think I’d be in permanent traction by now if this had been my lifetime career. I don’t know how Brian does it.
I’m grateful for him asking me to work on this, and I worked hard to make sure I didn’t let him down. I enjoyed almost all of the time spent in the bus (if I’m honest I could have left chiseling the rubber floorcoating off to an apprentice or helper) and the time we had together just fucking around figuring out how in the hell are we gonna do this? And I’m extremely thankful to Jen for taking on the house and the dog and Finn and her work while I got out from behind the computer and stretched my brain in a different direction.