Tuesday, March 7, 2017

I Have a Little List...

I have a three and a half page (typed and printed) list of items to work through on renovation of my gutted shell of an Airstream trailer.  There are approximately 130 items in all, arranged in a rough sequence. Some of the items on the list can be done earlier than they're listed, but others have to wait until close to where they are in the list. Some will take a few minutes, some will take days, and its not always clear until I start working on them. Some are pretty well known, though - sanding, priming, painting, applying polyurethane, etc. are reasonably predictably.

Creating the list felt uncomfortably-reminiscent of project management activities at work, though more immediate and thankfully without any need to guesstimate hours required. Only I shall attempt to be holding myself accountable to whatever deadlines or milestones may arise; no managers shall hound me. With all the unknowns and potential complications on this effort, if I attempted to estimate a schedule for this work, it would likely be at least as nebulous as the most nebulous software development estimate I ever put together in my day job.

Take tonight, for instance. I completed all of three items. There's another (painting a section of steel) that I had plenty of time an energy to work on tonight - except I'd just primed it this evening and have to wait 24 hours for the primer to dry first. All three items were wrapped up in about thirty minutes total, and I went on to another item. Couldn't do it - the pieces don't line up like I thought, and there's no way to fit the tools where I need them to go. Oops. Back to the drawing board on that one, so I thought I'd move to the next item I could work on: replacing a couple missing/damaged sections of the frame to which the aluminum skins attach.

Photograph showing missing/damaged sections of body frame circled in red
They need to get replaced as part of the process of attaching the street side of newly-installed floor to the shell, and as prerequisite for reattaching the open sections of aluminum skin you see. The frame sections are basically sheet aluminum bent into a channel, but the channel has a slight curve to it. I'm not clear how it was originally created. Perhaps they bent the sheet into a channel, then annealed it so it could be bent on a jig, or perhaps they used some type of hydraulic bender, or dies. Whatever the case, fabricating replacements turned out to eat up all of my evening, and then some. They were several approaches I tried and discarded.
Orange tabs were bent 90° and the right piece was bent around the left piece.
The right piece lay flat against the bent tabs.
Finally I settled upon cutting out two pieces and riveting them together into T-sections rather than channels. It's not the same, but should be adequate, and is well within my limited fabrication skills. Alas, the initial trial and error with the various techniques took so long it was nearly 10:30 PM when I had the smaller of the two sections fabricated and had confirmed it more or less matched the size and contour of equivalent intact channel.

So now I write this up, get showered up, and climb into bed. If I still have a bit of energy left I may continue reading The Language of the Land, the new steampunk novel by Alma Boykin. If not, its lights out. Take care, everyone.

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