Monday, April 7, 2014

In the shop: A new porch for the travel trailer, and now for the steel

Last time we were inside the utility trailer it had $600 worth of virgin supplies in it for several different projects.

I've pretty much wrapped up those projects, except for some painting and I'm not a fan of painting so I always find excuses to put that part off, and now all that's left of those supplies are some cut-offs over there on the left, as well as a nearly full box of 6 mil black plastic that I'm sure will get used over time (I just have to find a place to store it in the mean time!) and a few pieces of EMT on the right waiting to be cut to length as curtain rods for one of the projects. (The one that requires painting!!)
That steel sitting in the middle right now is what I picked up the other day when we drove the van into town and will be used for the new trailer steps. Unfortunately the steel comes in 24' lengths and my van and trailer both have only 12' of cargo space so each one of the 4 sticks of 1.5x1.5 square tubing I bought had to be cut in half, at $1.50 per cut.
Seems like kind of a high price for something that takes the guy less than a  minute to do on their large cut-off saw, but that's a lot cheaper than buying a 24' trailer!!!
On advice from my brother I changed some of the pieces for the porch structure into angle iron with the intent of reducing overall weight. That was a good idea and I jumped all over it. Unfortunately two things went wrong with that.
First I assumed (Yeah, I know. . .) that the angle iron also came in 24' lengths and I carefully laid out my cut sheet to utilize one stick cut in half. Turns out the angle comes in 20' lengths so I had to buy two and have them cut into 12' & 8' lengths. What I'll use the two 8 footers for I don't know.
Second I assumed, once again screwing up, that the square tubing I used to build the trash can cart and bought for the steps project too, was .12 wall thickness. As I was helping the guy carry the cut lengths of 1/8 thickness angle iron out to the van I thought it seemed pretty heavy compared to the 12' lengths of square tubing we had just carried out. You guessed it. . . Once I got home and got the dial calipers out I found out the tubing was actually .083 wall thickness and that I bought angle iron twice as thick as I should have.
Well I own it now so it will have to do, extra weight or not.

This is the cut sheet I created as part of my Sketchup drawing for the steps. This is a step I always take on all but the simplest of projects in order to make sure I make the best use out of the materials I buy. The two sticks at the top represent 12' lengths of angle iron, the 8 sticks in the middle 12' lengths of square tubing and the short stick at the bottom is a leftover piece of square tubing from the trash can cart project. Red represents tall vertical pieces, yellow short verticals, blue the diagonal braces and green the various horizontal pieces, and finally clear represents waste cuts. (If this was wood I could cut and glue up the waste into segmented pieces I can throw on the lathe and turn into various useful or decorative pieces. I don't know what the hell to do with left over steel!!)
As I make my cuts I come back to Sketchup and superimpose a rectangle, which is really quick and easy to draw even with gloves on, on top of the pieces I've already cut. This makes it easy to keep track of where I am.
Here I'm measuring and getting ready to cut the 4 vertical pieces that will form the two tall sections of porch structure which includes the handrails. I'll actually make the cuts with a metal blade in my reciprocating saw. A saw so old I have to whack the hell out of it with a dead-blow hammer to get it to start the first time after it's been sitting a while.
And here are all the horizontal and vertical pieces of the 4 main sections of the porch structure, two tall and two short, cut and grouped together waiting on me to get up the courage to get the welder out. (I'm ready this time though. I bought fresh batteries for my auto-darkening shield!!)
The pieces for the step railing as well as all the diagonal bracing won't be cut to size until I have the rest of the structure put together. That way I can make sure I get everything to fit properly. Besides, I've been on the wrong end of that reciprocating saw long enough today!!

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