Saturday, March 27, 2010

Carpet Time

After a few discussions with Mike from Tri-Valley Auto Interiors, I am off to the races with the overhead bunk carpeting project. Mike assured me it was more time consuming than complicated, and ordered up some very flexible and easy-to-work-with carpet to match the cab. He's going to do the seats and the door panels. The rest is mine. I have to say working with quality people is just a pleasure, and we're lucky to have Mike around here. Not only is his work respected by the automotive community in the area, he's just good people. He sent me home with one of his staple guns and an air hose so I could work on the rig this weekend without going to the rental yard. Who does that anymore?

Glue and Jute

First step was a final cleaning of the fiberglass surface -- just another wipe-down -- and scraping off the remaining foam padding from the ceiling panel above the wraparound windows. Easy stuff.

Next comes the jute padding.

It's worthwhile to note the original carpet installation -- the heretofore mentioned shaggus repulsivus -- was house carpet and had been installed as such. It was held in place at the perimeter of the upper bunk by staples and little plywood strips. Those strips were attached with screws into the Luan panels along the sidewalls and into the wooden frame at the cab/coach interface. It is hard to imagine any actual 'design' involved in the installation, more a 'make it work with more screws, leftover plywood and more staples.'

To paraphrase Bruce Dickinson, "I've got a fever and the only more staples."

I have removed all those little bits of plywood and instead am opting for contact adhesive to hold everything in place. The jute is easy to work with -- cuts with scissors and stretches or compresses just like felt to fit into place. I did the large flat area in two halves by cutting the jute to fit, then folding it over and coating first the fiberglass and then the jute itself with the contact glue. 15 minutes to dry and i could roll it carefully out to make contact and press it into place. (Thank goodness for the Fantastic Vent and the air conditioner fan...the fumes are significant) I left a little extra jute along the outside edge to tuck underneath the Luan. Even though there are some remaining holes and fractures in the Luan, I think it will make for a nice finish in the end.
To complete the job, I just duplicated the same approach on the other side. The contact cement is a bit more forgiving with the jute than I've experienced with things like laminate, so there is some ability to reposition a piece if it isn't quite right.
Around the rim of the cab interface, I wanted to have some better cushioning so I cut two strips of scrap carpet and tacked them around the edge with the staple gun. For the vertical panel by the door with the step, i cut a panel of the same scrap carpet to fit, then contact cemented it into place. I used scrap carpet rather than jute primarily because it was a little easier to work with on a vertical surface.

I was able to tuck the edges under the original plastic trim in the cab of the truck. If only the Sunrader folks had done it this way and avoided the 20 holes in the trim that formerly held stainless steel screws.

I've yet to figure out a remedy for this, so I may wind up using screws myself, though with the black low pile carpet I'll opt for black fasteners instead of silver. TBD.
The final carpet is charcoal that matches the molded kit in the cab below. I rolled it out for a look tonight and I think it will be pretty sharp. A nice upgrade. I added a few more pictures into the album tonight, so you can see it there.

I'm a bit concerned about the challenge of cutting it to fit precisely around the front windows. While the carpet cuts easily with a pair of scissors, I can't decide whether I'd be better off creating a pattern out of paper, then cutting it out on a tarp on the driveway. I suppose the alternative is to just do it all in place, but that seems a bit dodgy. I kept the thin covering that originally went up around those windows when I did the demo, so I may use it as a template... hmmmm...


The GoodGuys show is in town this weekend at the Alameda County Fairgrounds so Duncan and I went over to take a look at some hot rods and talk to the folks at Meguiar's about the best polishing strategy for the fiberglass. I haven't ever owned anything big enough to justify a power polisher before, and I wanted to get some pointers from the pros before I go rent (or invest in) one and wreck something.

So this morning while normal people were having coffee, I was polishing the side of the Meguiar's truck. Piece of cake. I'm going to give their RV/Marine kit a try and I think the local tool rental folks actually have some decent car polishers, so we'll see if we can make the coach shine again. I'm sure everyone has a point of view as to who has the best products for polishing or restoring this or that, but every time I visit the Meguiar's display at GoodGuys there are nice folks there who genuinely believe in their products, know how they work and are excited to tell me how to use them successfully. Good business.

And I'm excited to give it a try. The 'rader didn't look too bad after a basic wash, so I think there's still good life in the gelcoat and it might just come out looking good. AFTER I get the carpet done. With this project, there are so many bits and pieces it is easy to get distracted with fun stuff.

The Stove
I'm almost ready to finish up with the stove. The opening where it sits has a plywood frame. I think I mentioned it before. The strips of plywood are simply siliconed to the underside of the fiberglass counter to provide better rigidity and support the weight of the oven. While ultimately I'm going to replace the cabinet altogether, and with it the countertop, I managed to clean and re-silicone the old plywood back into place (note to anyone who cares, Liquid Nails was a BAD first choice even though I had an old tube on the shelf). Now that its cured, I'll get the fully cleaned-up stove back into place and test the gas line for leaks. That part of the project can be put to bed.

Tomorrow. More carpet.

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