Saturday, June 02, 2012

2012 Project for RoadAbode - Entry Step & Door Window

In the past, my Winter/Spring Projects for RoadAbode have usually revolved around installing "new" things. Past projects included an inverter, new TV and sound system, and new table mechanism to name some favorites. This year's major project was repairing something old. RoadAbode's entry step. Am had noticed that the first step as you come into RoadAbode felt soft on it's right side. So on our Mother's day trip out I lifted the rubber tread and took a peek underneath - and didn't like what I saw.
The wood had dry rotted and was crumbling away. Just like a scab or hangnail in an annoying spot, we started picking and pulling at the wood, and pretty soon saw the extent of the damage. The way it was constructed was pretty cheap too. Three or four layers of plywood built up inside the metal box in front of the battery box and glued to each other, with Elevator Bolts that held the mechanical step in place embedded between the layers. Plywood was neither marine grade or pressure treated. I was looking for the next upgrade of RoadAbode - and looks like it found me! We took out what we could with our on-board toolkit, then cut in a temporary replacement step from one of our older foam interlocking playground pads we use for our "patio". The next few days we formulated our "attack plan". We took measurements and on work day, stopped at Lowes to pickup supplies.
When we got to RoadAbode, not being a carpenter, I forgot what "Nominal" means when purchasing lumber. So while Am did some cleaning and prep - I went and picked-up another pressure treated board to serve as our new step (at $9 - a cheap reminder in lumber measurements) First, we disconnected the electrical connection for our mechanical step.Am borrowed a Saws-All and after removing what was left of the bad step with a wood chisel, we cut the bolts - which were pretty rusted and not easily accessible. We setup some cardboard and padding for the mechanical step to safely fall on to. I did forget to remove the magnetic switch that let's me know if the step is in or out from the driver seat! (Doh!) After removing the glued-on magnetic switch, I could lift the mechanical step totally out of the way. Test fit the wood. It was two pieces of Pressure Treated Deck, 2X10X25" (Nominal, that made it about 3" think, which perfectly fit. The top one I needed to shave off a 1/2" of width to make the reduced area of the threshold.
Next, we cleaned the box the step had been set into. The steel was in good shape, with only some surface rust. We sanded out the rough spots, cleaned, then Am taped out and painted the interior with Rust inhibitor/neutralizer. That needed to dry for 24 hours, so we cleaned and closed up till next time.
Next time I could take time to work on her was a week later. I was alone on the assembly, as Am had a baby shower to attend.  After a few stops, Got to RoadAbode at 11am - a little later than I wanted, but at least it was a beautiful day to work outside. Marked the Step to drill holes for the Elevator Bolts - fit perfectly! Used my car jack to lift the mechanical step in place (too heavy for me to hold AND bolt in place) Worked great in a pinch! Got three nuts on and hand tightened - easy! Except - of course - last nut was the wrong size! Back to Lowes. Felt strange to exchange one nut - but was easy, no cashier involved for that.
Back at Roadabode, fit the top piece of wood over the elevator bolts, then drilled pilot holes and screwed the pieces together using deck screws (something that wasn't done on building the original step apparently) Lastly, I tacked the rubber threshold on the front side, then used Liquid Nails to glue it down, and tacked along the edges.
Reconnected the Mechanical Step electricity and magnetic switch - looks good, sturdy and feels good to do ourselves. Took longer than if I took it in for service, but I used "better" materials, and learned more about how RoadAbode is built!
After feeling good about how the step went together -and still having time - I looked at another small issue RoadAbode was having. The glass in the "house" door kept sliding down and leaving a 1/2" crack at the top. I first used painters tap to secure the outside bezel to the door. Then removed the screws holding the inside bezel. (the bezels connect together and hold the glass in place) Why the glass was sliding is the black bezel has plastic pins that hold the glass in place, and the bottom pins were broken. Also, the silicone caulk needed to be replaced, as it was missing in places. I figured I could cut some more of the foam from the patio tile I used previously, and it would help replace the plastic "pins" on the bottom of the bezel. I glued that in place, removed and re-caulked the bezel - re-inserted the glass, and fit everything back together. I think the glass will stay in place now! By the time I finished cleaning  and packing up - it was 4:30pm. Two jobs and RoadAbode should be ready for her next adventure!

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