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Barry Wolk

"Toybox" trailer project (7) "The final details"

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It was suggested that I post a picture of what the trailer looked like originally.


New tail lights lit and new black Lexan window.


Tail lights are clear until lit.


Front clearance light lit.


Cut hole for roof top heat pump/AC


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Windows. They're done.

I used 250 ft of 3/8 foam backer rod in-between the aluminum frame and rubber gasket. This pushed the gasket tight to the window material and gave the windows the correct shape.


I've learned that silicone is not the correct sealant, butyl is. I filled the gap and covered the backer rod. I worked a smooth surface around the window leaving the excess for easy removal after the material sets.


Everything in the back is finished, except the floor. I am seeking a 21 foot length of gray battleship linoleum to cover the floor in-between the E-tracks that I have on order.


The windows and ceiling vents were trimmed in bright anodized aluminum.



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I decided to restore the original mechanical doorbell, and I'm glad I did. The tone is melodic and the shape is beautiful.



I eliminated two of the original roof vents and restored the other two. The vent mechanisms were simply suffering from neglect.


In preperation for the installation of the EPDM rubber membrane roofing I mopped the dust and dirt off of the roof and then hand wiped the surface with lacquer thinner to remove all remaining dirt and oils.


The roofing came in one piece 9' x 26', 45 mil thick. It was heavy enough that the hi-lo became the preferred method of putting it on top.


I spread out the material last night, at the roofer's request.


At first I thought they had shipped the wrong material because it looked real white under my shop's metal halide lights. It was only after comparing it to something I knew was white that I saw that they did ship the gray material, as ordered.


I am extremely glad that I hired out this task. The roofer was not. He is a perfectionist and he wasn't happy with his work because there are a few wrinkles in it. Had I done a glue down this big myself I'm sure there would have been more than a few wrinkles. I am more than satisfied with his work.




As soon as the rubber went on I installed the air conditioner, It really was a simple as the instructions showed. The whole installation took about 45 minutes.




Next step is to acquire a 2KW true sine wave inverter to power the air conditioner and wine cooler when off-grid.

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7-30-2006 13 days left

In order to make the rear hatch water tight I needed to bridge the gap of the clam-shell door.


I found one of the aluminum extrutions at a local metal warehouse. It's 1/4" x 3/4" and rounded over on one corner.

The other extrusion is an aluminum edging commonly used on '50s kitchen tables. It's a hammer-in "T" moulding. The short barbed section normally implanted in the plywood top served nicely as a finish detail on the side of the door, when open.



The finished stacked molding gave me a 1/4" gap over the body. I've installed a test piece of 3/8" x 3/4" weather strip to check the fit.



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8-2-2006 10 days to go

Bill finished the table top and took measurements for the service area cabinets.


The bubble lamp casts an intersting circle on the table top.


Tha back end is just about done. The aluminum moulding turned out better than I expected. It almost looks like it was part of the original structure.



I installed the 2KW inverter/charger. For the uninformed, as I was, there are inexpensive inverters and there are expensive inverters. True sine-wave inverters are necessary to run sensitive electronics and certain types of electric motors.

I sized the inverter based on the actual load of the trailer and all its goodies. The A/C unit I selected only draws 8 amps vs. 13-15 amps for a larger AC unit. At 7,100 btu this unit will freeze us out in no time. Four inches of insulation and 5/8" of bamboo makes the cabin like an icebox.

I actually read the instructions and followed the installation guide (lots of pictures) and fired up the unit. The LCD display lit up and told me it was charging the battery.

I disconnected the AC power and the inverter transferred power to its 120-volt output at 2,000 contant watts and 4,500 peak watts. That was more than sufficient to let the rooftop AC unit keep running at peak output.

I have three new 650 CA Optima marine batteries and I have room for five more in the rack. I'll add batteries as needed. I'm sure I'll carry a generator in the tow vehicle, but it will be nice to be totally off-grid if necessary.


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I took the trailer for its first drive Saturday and it performed beyond expectations. I hooked it up to one of my heavy-duty work trucks and took it for a spin. The time leading up to the first run was filled with trepidation because some jerk had planted in my mind that I had too much braking capacity and that the trailer tires would lock up whenever the brakes were applied. He was dead wrong and the drive went flawlessly. All of my hard work paid off.

I had an audience for the second, much further, trial run. I had been contacted by a Free Press editor through my web site. Her note stated that she had been surfing the web looking at travel trailer links and mine popped up. She said she was fascinated by the project and wanted to do a mixed-media story on it. It seem our home town paper is venturing into the 21st century.

The newspaper sent out a photographer last week and she took a bunch of shots and stayed 4 hours while she watched me work. She took shots of both of our show cars and went back to her editor to expand the story. They sent out a video-reporter (whatever that is) and he interviewed me about the cars and trailer. He followed us out to the Sunday cruise we frequent and interviewed a number of the well-wishers and people that were fascinated with the project.

It was quite a day.



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8-8-06 Down to the wire.

The maiden voyage cross-Michigan is this Friday. I installed the e-tracks to secure the car. They were installed so that the inner edge of both tracks are fastened to the frame with 1/4"-20 stainless screws that are drilled and tapped into the 10-gauge metal. The outer edges are fastened with 1 1/2" #14 screws with heads that match the machine screws. The deck is two layers of 3/4" plywood.


Before the first jaunt I installed a load distribution hitch with anti-sway. It probably didn't need it. I drove it a distance without it and noticed now sway, just a little more porpoising.


The crowd at Baker's loved it.


Parked in front of the house and left the running lights on near sunset. See how it disappears at dusk.



Celebrated the weekend with a bottle of champaign while sitting in my air-conditioned, off-grid, silver palace.


Bill built the cabinetry for the "refreshment center". The upper section is flush with the bulkhead wall. It will be framed in the green window sill material or the aluminum strips I framed the windows in.

That's the 6-bottle wine cooler on the right. Next to it, and level with the top of the cooler will be the microwave. Underneath it will be an open area for serving tray storage. The trays will be retained by a stainless rod made from the leftover curtain rod material.

In typical trailer interior fashion, there will be a one piece door that will be top-hinged for the upper storage area.

The lower cabinet will have a wet sink built into a countertop made of the same material as the table and windowsills. There will be an ice bucket and a waste bin also built into the countertop.

There will be two drawers big enough for dishes and other serving utensils. The lower left divided areas are more storage and the white object is the RV toilet. It will be concealed behind doors.


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I really enjoyed your article about your "Toybox" With all the work I'm sure you are proud of it. The pictures are great. I will be on the lookout for you at car shows.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Can we get the make and model of the Inverter and the A/C unit?

Chris </div></div>

I used the Polar Cub heat-pump/ac unit. I bought that unit because it was fitted with a condensate pump that removed the moisture and discharged it through a tube that is vented to underneath the trailer while the straight AC unit spills its condensate out onto the roof and then down the sides of my shiny trailer.

The inverter is a Pro-sine 2.0. It will handle a 2,000 watt running load and a 4,500 watt peak load. Standard inverters don't work well with electronics and air conditioners.

I currently use 4 Mptima marine batteries and I have room for 4 more in the rack. I get about 3 hours of AC use off of 4 batteries.

As far as seeing the trailer at car shows, that will have to wait until next Summer as I wrecked the trailer on our way to a show. It will be repaired but the repairs will be particiluarly slow as they will be done by a very fussy air frame mechanic.

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Your chronicle on the assembly of the Toy Box has been wonderful to follow. The Herman Miller pieces were especially interesting because we have several of his pieces, one of which I had shipped back to Virginia from Austin, Tex. where there is a store specializing in his work.

I am sorry to read of an accident involving this marvelous project. My curiosity, however, forces me to ask its cause and consequences. If the subject is emotionally charged for you, please forget I asked.


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No problem. I'm still having some problems dealing with the crash but this is what I sumised happened. I believe I loaded the Porsche too far back in the trailer. I had sufficient tongue weight but I believe I had too much mass loaded at the rear of the trailer. I believe the weight distributing hitch masked this condition until it fell apart, which is covered in the thread "Disasters tend to come in threes"

Even though I had a decent tongue weight I believe I created a pendulum effect by having the mass of the car too far rearward. After the crash I disassembled the crushed new hitch and dropped the stock 15,000 lb hitch on a stock 2 5/16" ball and drove it 30 mile home. I did tie the Porche down where it stopped, about 4 feet further forward. There was no sway, all the way home.

It turns out that the hitch was advetised as anti-jackknife and that was explained to me as being anti-sway, which I have learned wasn't true.

The Porsche is in capable hands. The suspension work will be completed befor the body work begins. While it's in the whole car will be blocked to make it as smooth as possible without completely stripping the car. We'll paint it the same color as it is authentic.

The trailer will be fixed, but that may take awhile. I'm insisting that it be repaired in my facility so I can supervise and finish other details I hadn't finished by its launch date.

There was someone that used to post here that gave me a really hard time about the brake design of my trailer. It was my good fortune that he was very wrong as the trailer brakes save our lives. If I hadn't had the huge braking capacity I would never have been able to snap out of the last sway.

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I've settled with the insurance company. I've decided to make the repairs myself. The Phoenix will rise again.

As a caution to anyone with a round-bar weight distributing hitch. Since this accident I have found numerous stories of similar occurances. The overall design makes mechanical sense, but suffers, in my opinion, from a failure to be idiot-proof. There are just too many things that could happen that would allow the round bar to drop out.

However, I take some responsibility in the crash. There is a trailer towing dynamic that I was unaware of. Everyone talks about tongue weight as the most critical measurement in towing. I now believe that inertia is much more critical.

I loaded the Porsche in the trailer right over the center of the three axles. That created too much tongue weight. The rear of the F-450 sat down about 4". That produced an obvious overload. I moved the Porsche back in the 21' space within 2 feet of the back end. This produced about a 2" drop in the tow vehicle. As a rule of thumb, a 2" drop on an F-450 is plenty of tongue weight.

What I hadn't accounted for was mass. The Porsche is rear-engined. While the car has excellent weight distribution, most of the mass is at the rear. In fact, the Porsche engine sits aft of the transaxle, so all of the mechanicals are at the rear of the car. I had a 13 foot car in the rear of a 36 foot trailer. I has effectively set up a pendulum.

The pendulum effect was thoroughly masked by the new weight distributing hitch until one of the round bars somehow disengaged. When it fell off it changed the towing dynamics so dramatically that we started to spin.

The extreme "wags" of the trailer was apparently due to the position of the car, at the end of a 36-foot trailer. Once it started, the mass of the car kept it going as a body in motion tends to stay in motion. The side to side skid marks on the floor was evidence of extreme side forces which played further into the mishap.

I've entertained two schools of thought about the actual detachment of the round bar. The first would be that the cumulative manufacturing errors contributed to the bar falling out of its socket. The other school of thought is that the chain tensioner came up over the edge of the frame rail and disengaged the tension on the round bar. The torsion bar could have rotated sideways 90° and then fallen out as the pin can not hold the bar past 90°. It is my opinion that the tensioner should have been welded in place but the unit is clearly marked that welding would void the warranty.



The Porsche suffered extensive body damage on the passenger side. It also suffered some severe suspension damage on the same side. Both side wheels are bent, as are the extremely rare aluminum brake drums. The front spindle is bent and both hubcaps are ruined. The rear axle appears to be bent and the transmission may have suffered some internal damage.

The car is too rare not to repair. It was insured for a bit more than the anticipated damages and the insurance company hasn't balked at anything.

The front suspension has been repaired but the engine and transaxle need to come out for repair by another specialist. While the transaxle is being repaired the car will be disassembled for a complete paint job. The windshield, top windows and interior will be removed and reassembled after the bodywork and paint are done at Autometrics, in Pontiac, MI. I should get it back better than new.


Was pretty banged up. The inner wall was pushed out about 4 inches. 4 wood studs broke and two aluminum supports on either side of the rear door were badly bent.


The door is bent at the same angle as the trailer wall. The door was trapped closed by the guardrail when the Porsche hit the wall from the inside. I couldn't figure it out at first.


The passenger side got the worst of it, just like the Porsche. You can see how the guardrail left its mark.


The driver's side took a smack that did some superficial damage but made a kink in the rear opening.



The inertia of the impact wracked the ramp system. I should be able to bend this back into shape.


The door frame took the brunt of the damage.


My first step will be to remove the FRP lining and remove damaged wood and foam.

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9-15-2006 Back at it.

Stripped off the FRP from the damaged areas. Removed foam from wall cavaties. The foam stuck very well to exposed surfaces. did not stick to tar.


Found broken studs and bent door frame supports. Both simple parts to duplicate.


Once the bent supports were removed the door frame was simple to straighten but left some cosmetic scars.


A little hammer and dolly work.


Coarse through 600 grit sanding.


Some compounding. I think it looks fine.


I decided to replace the bottom 24" of Alclad in the damage area.


I measured a distance of 1 7/8" inch below a rivet line and created a stop for my circular saw with the aluminum-specific carbide blade. This cut line will become the top of a lapped joint, matching the joint 24" above it.


I learned a trick I'll pass on. If you put a piece of masking tape across the cut line the edge will be virtually burr-free.


I drilled out several hundred rivets and removed the damaged sheet metal, exposing the back side of the broken studs. The damaged metal will be hammered flat and used as a template for new Alclad material.



This is the piece I'm going to have to have made, or sacrifice an entire trailer for.


I'll remove the foam several inches above the new horizontal seam for better access for riveting.


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Took the weekend off and drove the Mark II to the Glenmoor Gathering of Significant Automobiles in Canton, Ohio.

Back to work for a couple of hours. I decided that I wasn't going to sacrifice another trailer to repair mine so I hammered out the damage to the factory-formed radiused edge piece. I think it will turn out just fine. I used an electrical knockout punch outer shell as a mandril to reform the metal. With a bit more hammering and a bunch of sanding and some finish polish I think it will look just fine.





Kind of looks like I'm disecting an elephant.


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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Kind of looks like I'm disecting an elephant.</div></div>

But at least you know how it was all put together so you know how to backtrack to take it back apart for the repairs.

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9-21-2006 Finished product. Good enough for me.

New .032 2024-T3 Alclad siding shipped today from Kansas. Check out Lots of cool aviation supplies.


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Straightened the ramps by bracing the top of the ramp to the wall with a 2 x 4. Drilled a hole and installed an eyelet through the outside wall. Hooked a come-along to the furthest point on the main ramps and pulled them slightly beyond straight. Set the spring tension and the ramp system worked perfectly.



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Barry, you had one more thread with the comparison pictures of your old towing hitch, the one that failed. I'd like to see those pictures put on this forum, if not the entire thread.


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