191012: Growing Pains

I didn’t think living in a 31’x8’ 46 year old aluminum tube would be hassle free. However, I wasn’t expecting to have to quite dive into southern engineering mode so sudden either.

After sleeping on the warped door problem, Rance and I decided to tackle getting it shaped back to at least a waterproof state. The top and bottom were about 2” out of place. After a few Google searches and inventory of tools on hand, I rigged up a tow strap to the door corners routed through the side handle. I positioned a rubber mallet to provide tension in the middle. The first attempt didn’t quite bend it enough. I found bending it just a bit more than the shape I needed while under tension would allow the aluminum to flex back to the desired position after removing the straps. The final result was a tighter fit at the top and bottom. The only problem was the half a dozen rivets that popped out and the door wouldn’t latch. The rivets could wait until we got back to Paul Mayeux’s shop, A&P Vintage Trailer Works, and a bungee would take care of holding the door in place.

The next day we slept in and enjoyed a leisurely morning slowly packing things up so we could make a final stop at The Dixie Chicken for lunch. Thankfully, The Chicken is a constant mile marker of consistency in a town that changes daily. Who would have thought there would ever be so many low-rise buildings on University Drive! After a quick race down bottle cap alley, still amazed this is around given the value of that real estate, we headed back to pull out. That is when the fun started back up.

After unhooking everything and making the final drop on the trailer hitch ball, I discovered the passenger’s side sway bar clip was bent and canted at a 45 degree angle. As this is one of the most integral components of the Reese weight distribution and sway control kit I was a bit concerned. Thus started the five hour journey to find a solution on a Sunday afternoon when all nearby hitch stores were closed, which surprisingly there were several nearby.

The first stop was Napa where Colton helped me out big time. He took the time to heat up the bent bracket with a blow torch to attempt to hammer it back in shape. Due to the thickness of the metal this didn’t really work and since the setting bolt was stripped even if we did get back in shape, there would be no way to secure it to the trailer frame. I settled on a back up plan of drilling a hole in the trailer frame and bolting it. Come to find out, that is what Reese called for in the original installation instructions to begin with.

After a few more unsuccessful searches at nearby stores for the actual clip replacement part I decided to use what I had and try and bolt it to the frame. My 20 year hold DeWalt cordless drill barely made it through and died at the very last moment when I penetrated both sides of the frame. Another lessons learned from our two initial trips is to always have a good cordless drill with a spare battery. After driving the bolt through the frame it was about 1/4” too short to get the lock washer and nut on.

By this time I was exhausted and the family tired of hanging out in the now vacant parking lot. I was tempted to just leave without he sway assembly hooked up but decided to try and find a bolt that would fit. So we made one last run to Napa where Colton helped me out finding the right sized bolt. I think he could tell I was desperate to get on the road so he gave it to me for free. The bolt fit and everything snug up well. I hooked up the assembly and got ready to pull out when low and behold the truck bed cover was loose. So that turned into another 30 minute project of off-loading all the gear in the truck bed and re-assembling the bed cover. If tempted to buy the Lund trifold cover (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01DNSVU1I/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1), don’t do it. The clips are plastic and come loose if tightened down too hard. After five hours of delays we were finally back on the road!

2 comments on “191012: Growing Pains

  1. That’s some creative engineering no doubt inspired by your recent years observing many creative construction techniques.

    We’re headed to the petrified forest today and Grand Canyon tomorrow. See you there?


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