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Let There Be Light!

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I think there have been a few days where I was really frustrated and wanted to quit, but today takes the cake.  I knew I wasn’t talented at electrical work and today proved me right.  After spending quite a while hooking up all of the new fixtures and outlets last weekend and during the past week, I was ready to finish hooking up the breaker box, power inlet, and ground wire so I could plug the camper in.  I managed to finish the breaker box and shore power inlet pretty quickly, as well as drilling a hole in the floor for the ground wire and attaching it to the frame below the camper.

In order to figure out how to wire the new breaker box in the first place, I consulted my favorite forum, http://vintagetrailertalk.freeforums.net/thread/2368/71-shasta-loflyte-amp-upgrade.  The thread I just linked is one that includes step by step instructions on how to upgrade your standard 15 amp system to a 30 amp.

 

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I followed the instructions from the forum on my iPad while I worked.

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I removed the 60 amp breaker that this box came with and replaced it with two breakers, one 20 amp (left) and one 15 amp (right).  In this pic, I have already connected the 20 amp circuit to the breaker.  It will feed the lights and outlets inside the camper.

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In this picture, I have connected the 20 amp circuit (seen on bottom of pic) and the shore power inlet. I used 10 gauge wire for the shore power inlet and 12 gauge for the other wiring.

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And here’s the box with the last circuit installed that will go to the external outlet for the AC (and twinkle lights :)). Since the AC draws 7 amps of power, I thought it would be best for it to run on its own circuit.   You can see that I used a jumper wire to complete the circuit from the 20 amp to the 15 amp breaker. I used 10 gauge wire for the jumper wire.

After connecting all of the circuits, I went outside to hook up my shore power inlet.  I had to buy another hole saw for the job.  Not sure what I’ll do with these hole saws when I’m done!  I ordered my stainless steel 30 amp power inlet from http://www.vintagetrailersupply.com/.  I looked around online and they actually had the best price on these.  I also ordered a 30′ cord to connect to the shore power plug at the campground.  Both of these items are made by the same manufacturer, Furrion.  The cord even has an LED light on the end near the plug to indicate if polarity is reversed.  If it’s lit blue, that means the trailer is wired correctly and if it’s red, that tells you that the electrical current is not running as it should be, which is probably due to incorrect wiring.    I thought this was handy seeing as how there was a good chance I did something wrong on the trailer wiring!

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Here’s my stainless steel power inlet and the 2 3/4″ hole saw I needed to make room for it.

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Hole is cut and ready to install power inlet.

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All installed! It’s nice a shiny, just like Junebug’s skin!

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Here’s the interior pic of the power inlet. I accidentally removed a little too much of the sheath over the wires, so I added a bit and taped it down, just for added protection. I’m pretty sure it will be fine but I wanted to be safe. I used screws that were a little too long and they poke through the wall, oops. Luckily this will be hidden by the bed anyway.

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I used some insulated staples to secure the wires.

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The final task was to connect the ground wire (seen in green). I drilled a hole through the floor and ran it down below the camper and wrapped it around a bolt attached to the frame.

After hooking everything up, I was ready to plug it in!  I was so nervous that my knees were literally shaking.  I don’t like to mess around with electricity.  I went in the garage and plugged in the end of the cord.  I went back over to the camper and didn’t see that the light had come on.  I stupidly went to the fixture and pulled the chain.  It shocked me! eek  And.. it didn’t turn on.  ugh  I went back and unplugged the cord.   So disappointed…  I got online and posted some pictures on Vintage Trailer Talk to see if anyone could help me.  I also chatted briefly with a guy who works at RV Masters here in Houston to see if he could help me troubleshoot.  We both agreed it was either a problem with the ground or there was a piece of hot wire touching something.  I went back outside to check all my connections.  I disconnected the light fixture above the bed and then noticed that my ground wires had come loose inside the j-box near that fixture.  I reconnected those and everything worked!  I unplugged the cord again and reconnected the light fixture above the bed.  When I plugged it back in, everything wasn’t working.  ugh  Back to square one!  After at least an hour of messing with it, I realized that one of the hot wires inside the fixture was exposed and was touching the ground wire.  This was causing the whole fixture to be live.  Once I fixed that, everything was working again, yay!

I screwed a light bulb into the fixture above the sink and it worked!

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Then I went back to the troublesome fixture above the bed.  I put it back together and screwed a light bulb into it.  I went back out to plug in the cord, and when I returned it was on!!

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Unfortunately, even though it was working, the stupid fixture and the j-box next to it were electrified when I touched them with my voltage sensor.  ugh.  At this point, I was fed up.  I called the guy from RV Masters, and he said he could come by next week with his electrician to take a look at it.  I can probably fix it, but I’m wasting a lot of precious time on this when I need to be finishing up other items!

I’m so disappointed that I couldn’t get this all working perfectly on my own.  I’m so close I can taste it!  That being said, I really don’t want to hurt myself or my camper.  I’d better leave it to the professionals.

After giving up on the electrical, I finished a few trim pieces around the kitchen window and secured some smaller pieces of countertop that go around the stove.  I also hung some curtains in one of the windows.  I didn’t get pictures of these two things.  I guess I was too annoyed about the electrical work not to mention I was running out of daylight.   I think the curtains are going to look really cute in there!

Here’s the list of everything I still have left to do before the party (in no particular order).  The list looks relatively short, but I know how long it takes me to do things so I’m sure it will take me right up until the party to get these things completed.   I hope I can do it!  I’m starting to feel the pressure..

  • Install mirrors in benches (behind starburst cutout)
  • Secure bed and benches to floor
  • Make cushions for benches
  • Finish painting closet and patch holes
  • Get electrical system working properly (electrician will take care of this!)
  • Install Fantastic Vent
  • Paint tongue and bumper (maybe wheels too if time), also paint propane tank
  • Install Shasta emblem and other little emblems as well as door catch
  • Finish installing vent for AC to go on cabinet face
  • Install baggage door
  • Polish wings and reinstall
  • Seal cracks and staples on exterior with gutter seal
  • Finish hanging curtains and add other decorative items

Tomorrow is a new day and I’m not going to let my electrical system woes get me down.  I will ignore that for now and get busy on the other items.

 

 

Determination

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Determination

I can’t remember what life was like before Junebug.  What did I do with all of my time??  Sure, I had other hobbies, but I didn’t do anything nearly as obsessively as I work on this project.  It’s kind of like trying to imagine my life before the internet or my iPhone. haha  Maybe I was just relaxing more or perhaps watching more movies.  

Both of my neighbors admitted yesterday that they doubted me in the beginning and didn’t think I could do this project on my own.  Little did they know, I am a very determined person, and when I put my mind to something, I will do it no matter what!   One of my neighbors also said that I had done a good job for a girl.  rolleyes  That offended me, and I told him so.  He then backtracked and said he meant that he didn’t think there were many girls who would take on this sort of project.  He might be right, but I’m hoping maybe some other women who aren’t sure about doing something like this will come across my blog and see that they can do it!  All you need is time, money, and a lot of determination. 

This weekend, I got a lot done, but I still didn’t completely finish my electrical system like I had planned.  I had no idea how difficult 12 gauge wiring was going to be to deal with.  I still feel pretty good about where I’m at, although I’ve only got two weekends left until the unveiling party, so I am a little worried about time.  I will probably have to work on a few things during the week just to be sure I finish in time!  Luckily, my next two weekends are three day weekends, so that really helps.

I think I mentioned in my last post that I had lost my keys.  Wouldn’t you know, they were hanging on a nail in the garage the whole time!  I have become so disorganized with this project, this is unlike me!  I now have a little camper key cover on my keys.  Maybe this will help.  If nothing else, it’s cute. smile

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I was off on Friday, so I got up early and started working on finishing the exterior of Junebug to get her ready to take to Oscar’s shop to finish the bumper and spare tire mount.  I had to finish stripping the paint off of the drip rail, and of course, it took forever!  I don’t know how that paint was so stuck on there.

After doing that, I polished the eyebrows and installed them over all of the windows.  

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Before

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After

 Oh, by the way, I’m not going to post any more full exterior or interior pictures until after my unveiling party on September 12th.  I don’t want to ruin the surprise for my friends who will be coming to the party and also read this blog.  For anyone who can’t make it to the party, sorry, but I promise to post lots of pictures after that!  

It took me most of the day on Friday to finish up the exterior, and around 6pm, I started getting Junebug ready to go to Oscar’s shop.  I noticed that my jack had become really hard to turn.  I got the camper out of the driveway and hooked up to my car, but I couldn’t get the jack to go back up so I could get on the road.  Apparently, it had decided to break on me. grr  My nice neighbor came to the rescue, and he helped me remove the jack and put it in my car.  I went on my way to Oscar’s place to see if he could help me with it.  Once I arrived at Oscar’s shop, he immediately got ot work on my bumper with his son and his friend as his assistants.   I got really nervous with the welding so close to my beautiful pre-polished aluminum skin.  That stuff scratches so easily!!  They put a few new scratches in it, but in the end, it turned out fine.  I snapped a couple of photos while they weren’t looking. hehe

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I’ll wait to post a pic of the finished bumper with the spare tire mount.  It still needs to be painted, and I want to wait until after the unveiling to show it off anyway.  

I noticed that my side running lights and license plate light didn’t work properly when plugged into my car.  I was really worried I had wired them wrong, but when Oscar hooked Junebug up to his two vehicles, everything worked great!  

Since it was late on Friday when I took Junebug to Oscar’s place and my jack had quit working, I decided to leave her overnight at his shop and pick her up in the morning.  On Saturday morning, I took my VW to Master Hitch since that’s where I got the wiring installed, and they said everything was working perfectly in it.  ugh  I guess I’m going to have to take my VW and Junebug to Master Hitch because it doesn’t seem like the problem is my camper.  Luckily the most important lights are working, the brakes and blinkers.   I went ahead and bought a new jack while I was at Master Hitch, and Oscar installed it for me.  It only cost $29, so that was a relief.  It works great too!

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I’m planning to paint it when I finish painting the hitch.  I can’t decide if I want to paint it silver or purple.  

On the drive home from Oscar’s shop, I noticed Junebug was swaying a little bit.  She didn’t sway at all before, so I’m wondering if it’s the new bumper and spare tire.  I had to install the spare tire to the side in the rear so it wouldn’t cover up the license plate.  I’m thinking this is messing up the weight distribution.  Hopefully by the time I install the propane tank and fill up Junebug with stuff, it will all even out.

After getting home on Saturday, the first thing I did was install the two holes for the AC.  I wanted to finish wiring the receptacles inside the camper, but I knew it would be way better to do that with the AC on!  

I got my AC from ClimateRight.  It’s an 8200 btu unit that is AC only, no heat.  A little space heater warms up Junebug just fine, so I didn’t need a heater.   This little AC sits outside the camper and connects via two hoses that are actually the hoses you would use for a dryer exhaust.  Their website said to install the two holes for the hoses on the side of the camper, but I thought that would be ugly.  I decided to drill two holes in the floor underneath the kitchen cabinets for my intake and output.  I haven’t finished making it look pretty yet, but it’s working great!  I got this kind because a window unit would look ugly (in my opinion) and Junebug’s frame isn’t strong enough to support a roof unit.  Other people have installed a window unit under the bed and vented it through the baggage door or through the floor, but I didn’t really want to go that route either.  This seemed like the best option for me, and so far, I’m happy with the decision.  It has a little infrared remote control that serves as the thermostat so it knows the temperature inside the camper at all times.  

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I had to buy a hole saw and the attachment to go with it. It cost around $40 for both so it wasn’t cheap!

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One of the holes I had to cut was going to go through the old asbestos tile. I was a little nervous about this, so I wore my mask and kept spraying the floor with water while I was cutting. I then carefully gathered up all of the shavings after I was done.

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The one on the right will be under the fridge when I put it back in its spot. It’s for the output. The one on the left will be the return air vent, which is under the sink.

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Here’s a pic of the one on the right after I drilled the hole and put the attachment in it.

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And both are installed! I added some ductwork to the output and a screen to the return to keep particles out. The ductwork is a little too long since I will be putting a piece of wood back in the space below the fridge. I am still trying to decide how to cover the space and have a vent. None of the vents at Lowe’s were exactly what I was looking for.

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Here’s the unit hooked up outside. I am going to find a base for it with little wheels. I also need a way to secure it to the hitch so someone doesn’t steal it from the campground. I will worry about those things a little later.

Once I got the AC hooked up, I got to work on the electrical.  Unfortunately, it was late in the day, so I didn’t really get anywhere.  I made more progress today. 

I ended up deciding to replace both the fixture and the fixture box above the dinette.  I didn’t like the idea of having the plug on the fixture itself like the original, it didn’t seem as safe.  The wires in the original fixture were old too.  The only thing I don’t like about the new fixture box is that it’s blue, and you can see the top of it when standing over by the kitchenette.  I may go back and replace it with a different one later, I don’t know. I also had to add a j-box between the outlet and the fixture above the dinette and pigtail the wires from the outlet.  It was too difficult to get two sets of 12 gauge wire into the little outlet box because it’s so thick.  I also had so much trouble accessing the boxes in this space because the ceiling is curved.  

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Before connecting the wires inside the j-box. The old fixture box is still here.

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With new j-box and wires all connected and stapled down. I really hope this works when I hook it up to power!

The 12 gauge wire was so difficult to work with!!  It took me forever to hook up each receptacle thanks to the 12 gauge wire.

After finishing the dinette, I installed the outlet under the sink for the fridge.  It was an easier one because I only had one set of wires connected to it since it was the end of the circuit.  

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I then moved over to the closet.  I wanted to add an outlet here for general use, but also because I ran the 12v wires from the Fantastic Vent over to this area.  I bought a voltage converter and a plug so that I can plug the Fantastic Vent into a normal outlet(it comes in 12v only).  Later down the road, I plan to upgrade my system to include a battery so that I can have electricity off grid.  That’s too much to take on right now though, so I’m just hooking up the fan this way for now.

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I bought some fancy new wire cutters, specifically made for stripping 12 and 10 gauge wire. They really made my life a lot easier.

 

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Here’s the closet receptacle. I bought a double outlet box so I would have room for the wires to the side. I put a cover over this so you can only see the outlet now.  I will also be painting the box and area around it purple.

And the pictures below are the fixtures all hooked up again!  

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I also installed an outdoor plug underneath the camper to plug my AC into.  It has its own dedicated circuit (15 amps).  It only draws 7.2 amps, but I wanted to be on the safe side and let it have its own.  I accidentally picked a spot for the outdoor plug that was too tight initially, so I had to move it, and in doing so, I exposed some of the wire (rated for interior wiring only).  I may need to go back and redo it later.  I’m going to leave it for now because I have so many other things I need to finish first.

The pictures below are the underside of the camper.  On the left, you can see the outdoor plug I installed.  Above that is the air vent for the AC.  It didn’t come with a cap, and I really needed one, so I was excited to find this adjustable cap at Lowe’s.  It expands when you turn the wing nut so that it fits snug inside the opening.  I bought two of these to cover the holes where the AC hoses connect when it’s not in use.  They worked perfectly for this task!

 

 

 

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All that’s left of the electrical system is the power inlet and the breaker box with corresponding wiring.  I also need to run a new ground wire.  I ran the old one and bolted it to the frame, but it’s a really high gauge and won’t work for my new system.  I bought a piece of 8 gauge wire to use for the new ground wire, so I’m going to have to fish it down to the frame, hopefully using the old piece.  If that doesn’t work, I may just drill a hole through the floor and run it to the frame that way. I hate to drill more holes in the floor though, I think I may have reached my quota! 

Hopefully I’ll have some time during the week to finish installing the breaker box and inlet, otherwise I will start out next weekend a little behind schedule.  We’ll see how it goes!   Two weeks to go until I need to be finished…deep breaths…. 

 

 

Crunch Time!

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I just sent out the Evite for Junebug’s unveiling party this past week.  Evite even had a little Shasta camper template so it couldn’t have been more perfect for the event!  The date is September 12th and now the pressure is on to finish.

I thought since I now had September 12th as my new deadline, I would get extra done this weekend, but that’s not really how things went.  On Saturday, I applied a third coating of paint stripper to the drip rail.  I let it sit and went in the garage to finish rebuilding the door.  I thought the door wouldn’t take me that long to finish because I finished stripping the paint off the frame pieces during the week.  Unfortunately, it took me almost all day!  I initially thought it would be a good idea to add some putty tape around the edges of the door frame to seal it.  That didn’t work at all.

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What ended up happening was that the putty tape was too thick and I couldn’t get the frame piece around it because it’s supposed to fit tightly.  Then I tried some gutter seal, and that just made a big fat mess everywhere, so I gave up and didn’t add any sealant.  If some water gets in there, oh well.

Once I was done rebuilding the door, I got ready to install it.  I first put the screen door back in the door frame because it was still attached to the hinge.   It was at that time that I noticed the screen no longer fit in the doorway!  When I retiled the floor on top of the old tiles, it added just enough extra height to the floor that the screen was too long.  ugh  I was planning to make a new screen door one day, so I guess that day will come sooner than I imagined!

I removed the screen door and then installed the door.  After I found the handle for the exterior and interior, I went to look for the keys and then realized I had no idea where they were.  I searched high and low and still haven’t found the stupid keys!  I usually don’t lose things, but this project has made such a mess of my garage and house that I have been losing things right and left.  I went ahead and installed the handle, but now it won’t lock unless you’re inside the camper.  I may have to pay to have it rekeyed…again.

Later that day, I tried scraping off the remaining paint from the drip rails.  Unfortunately, some of the paint would not budge.  I ended up deciding to use the wire wheel on it to scrape the rest off.  It leaves scratches all over the aluminum, but I was too tired of messing with it.  Even using the wire wheel, it is taking me ages to get all the paint off!  I still have two more pieces of drip rail to go before they’re all cleaned and ready to install.

Today (Sunday), I installed the drip rails that were finished and ready.  I also spent an hour at Lowe’s looking for various pieces I needed to get my AC installed correctly.  I had to get a bit creative, but I’ll save that post for another day.  smile

After installing the drip rails, I also installed the license plate.  It is really starting to come together!  I’m still a little nervous that the tail lights won’t work when I hook them up again.  Fingers crossed that none of the wires come loose under all the skin!

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The lines don’t exactly match up on the left side of the door for some reason. It’s not that noticeable so I’m hoping no one will see it. I’m definitely not taking the door off and starting over!

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Awning rail installed! There’s one screw sticking out a little because I ran into a screw behind it that was holding the frame together. I think I may cut this screw short so that there’s still a screw in that hole.

It’s really starting to look like a complete camper again!

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I’m going to try to work on the electric wiring during the week this week just to get a bit of a head start on the weekend.  My new 30 amp plug and cord came in the mail today, but I’m still waiting for the 15 amp adapter that I will need to test it out at home.  I still need to finish installing the breaker box and all of the receptacles first anyway.  Next week’s post should be electric!  hehe

Slow and Steady

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Slow and steady wins the race, right??  I’m starting to get impatient because I was hoping I would be further along by now.  Not that I haven’t gotten a lot done though.  I guess I just keep thinking each task will go quickly and that’s not what happens.  You think I’d have learned by now that this project is just going to continue to be like that!  haha

I didn’t get to work on Junebug at all yesterday because I had a brunch scheduled with two of my girlfriends and then we did some shopping.  By the time I got home, it was evening, and I decided that it was too late to start on anything.  This morning, I spent too much time messing around with the photos on my computer and then taking Baxter to the park, so I didn’t get started until around 2pm.  Oh well, sometimes I just have to do something else for a little while to regain the energy to get back to my project.

I’m getting closer to finishing the exterior of Junebug, so that’s exciting!

The first thing I did today was roll Junebug out of the driveway and hook her up to my car to make sure my tail lights were still working.  I connected them to the wires last weekend but didn’t try them out.  I was having trouble getting the batt connectors to close over the wires tight enough, so I was nervous that maybe they wouldn’t work today.  Thank goodness they did!

After finishing that task, I rolled Junebug back into the driveway and set about finishing the street side.

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My neighbor gave me these cut resistant gloves. They work great and I sort of look like a transformer! haha

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I trimmed the street side bottom edge and folded it under.

I think the bottom edge looks ok folded under, so I may wait until later to add the trim.

Next, I finished the rear panel.

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Rear is folded under and secured!

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Can’t wait to get the bumper on so the look will be complete.

 

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Still has the stupid creases in the metal on this side. I tried to get it to smooth out but it wasn’t happening. I’m hoping the bumper will cover it up a little.

 

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Screwed this little trim piece down and peeled back a little more of the protective film. This piece isn’t perfect since I made it, but it works! I will make a few more to go around the whole door frame.

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Next, I drilled little holes in the four corners of the remaining windows so I had a guide for cutting the hole.  Then I used my sharpie to trace the outline.

 

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All cut out and ready for a window!

Then I got to work cleaning the windows.  They had paint and who knows what else from years of exposure to the elements.  I also had to remove the bits of putty tape from the inside edges.  I used this wire wheel attachment for my drill that I picked up at Harbor Freight.  It worked really well but it also scratched up the aluminum pretty bad.  I don’t really think it will matter in the end though.

 

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My neighbor gave me this tube of metal polish. It works great!

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All clean and polished!

I thought my window was so shiny until I put it up against the pre-polished aluminum skin.  I don’t see how I would ever get it that shiny so I will just live with it.  It doesn’t look bad though.

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I had to peel back some more of the protective film to get it out of the cracks between the skin and the window. It looks so beautiful!!

 

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Another angle. 🙂

So my work is done for today.  I need to finish cleaning and polishing the other three windows and then they’ll be ready to install.  I am also planning to take some of the leftover skin to a sheet metal shop to get them to fabricate some frame pieces for the door.  They are folded too tightly for me to do it myself without it looking bad.  Hopefully I will be able to easily find a place to do it for me.

Next week, I’m going to visit my family at my grandma’s house near Austin.  I won’t be able to work on Junebug for a little while, but that’s ok.  I’m very excited to see my family since I usually only get to see them a couple of times a year.  I will post an update as soon as I am back at it the following week.

 

 

Battered and Bruised

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Warning:  The first part of this post is a bit depressing.  If you’re not in the mood to handle a depressing post, you can skip the first paragraph and come back to it later when you’re mentally prepared.

I feel like I took a beating this week.  Monday started out ok, nothing special happened.  Tuesday, however, was the day from hell.  First, I spent part of the night feeling sick and had to go into work a little late.  Maybe my body knew somehow that the day was cursed and was trying to avoid it.   On my way into work, I spilled coffee all over my white shirt.  Then, when I got to work, I accidentally stuck my smart card (my badge that I have to insert into the computer to log on) into the cd drive because someone had the clever idea to put the card reader directly above the cd drive just to mess with people like me who are having a bad day and not paying attention.  ugh Of course, I couldn’t get it out and I couldn’t go anywhere without my badge, so I had to recruit a coworker to go with me to the IT floor to get someone to help me.  The guy took my computer apart, but I finally had my badge again after about an hour of wasted time!  After that, I thought things could only get better.  Unfortunately, I was wrong.  It was a nice day outside, so I decided to forego my usual spin class and head home to take Baxter for a run in the park by my house.  While we were out on our run, I saw a guy on a motorcycle hit a gravel patch, then the curb, then lose control and crash.  I wasn’t very far away, so I ran over immediately, thinking somehow I could help.  I don’t know what I was thinking since I didn’t have my cell phone, not to mention that I had a dog with me.  I guess it was just instinctual.  I was the first person to arrive on the scene, and as soon as I saw him, I wished I hadn’t.  He wasn’t wearing a helmet, and his head injuries were pretty severe.  I asked if he could hear me, and he didn’t respond even though his eyes were open.  He also wasn’t moving.  I noticed another car had stopped at this point, and the woman was calling 911.  I was relieved.  I thought the woman would get out of her car and come over, but she didn’t.  The furthest she got was to open her car door and step right outside of it.  She kept her distance and yelled over to me to answer the 911 operator’s questions.  A guy then runs up to me and frantically asks, “What do I do?  What do I do?”  I was trying to hold it together.  I guess everyone handles emergency situations differently.  A few seconds later, a nurse pulled up in her car and, with a somber expression on her face,  quickly walked over to the man, holding some type of first aid kit.  I stared at the man for another minute as people started showing up from all around.   I wondered if I needed to stay to talk to the police.  I didn’t know if anyone else had actually seen the accident.  Since it was only him and no other driver was involved, I thought maybe I didn’t need to stay.  At this point, I thought I might start bawling uncontrollably, so I decided I’d better go.  I knew he was getting help from the nurse until the ambulance arrived, and I was just in the way.  When I got home I cried really hard.  I don’t think I’ve cried that hard since my dad died.  I think I spent the rest of the week trying not to think about this man but failing miserably.  He was the first thing I thought of when I woke up and the last thing I thought of when I went to sleep.  I tried to look up information online about him, because I thought I could have some sense of closure if I knew what happened to him.  I’m pretty sure he didn’t survive, but I couldn’t find anything online about it.  Unfortunately, these types of motorcycle accidents are WAY too common.  If only he had been wearing his helmet, he would have been ok!   This whole incident got me thinking a lot about what is really important to me in life.  My family and my friendships are by far the most important things to me.  And Baxter too of course.  I want to tell my family and friends how much I love them every day, but that’s not always possible and would be a little over the top if I really did that I guess.  I hope that they know how important they are to me without me having to say it every day.   I kind of feel silly spending so much of my time alone, working on Junebug, when I don’t know how much longer I will have to spend with the people I care about.  Life can be over so quickly and unceremoniously.  I guess I keep working on Junebug because without a goal to work toward, I would feel lost.  And I felt lost this week and needed something to take my mind off of it.

So, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I will switch to the updates on my progress this weekend.  Junebug has a few bruises as well thanks to my mistakes.  It didn’t go perfectly (but when does it ever?), but I did finally finish getting the roof folded over and stapled down.  it was definitely the toughest job I’ve had to do yet, even harder than putting the side skins on last weekend.  Maybe because I was doing it alone, but I think it was just physically exhausting.

I started yesterday by finishing the insulation on the back panel.  I realized immediately that Oscar, my welder, had forgotten to leave some wire for the license plate light. ugh!  I had to call him because I wasn’t sure if I should wire it myself since that didn’t work too well the last time. haha  Luckily, Oscar is a really nice guy and was able to come by my house around 6pm yesterday to fix the problem.  He tested all of the wires and they worked, so let’s hope they stay that way once the lights are hooked up!

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Wires are all ready to go and insulation is in!

 

Next, I set out to patch up the mistake I made when cutting the side skin.  I cut a piece to fit over it and overlap slightly, then sealed the gap with gutter seal.  It doesn’t look perfect, but I’m hoping maybe it won’t be that noticeable once the drip rail is on since it’s up high.

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Mistake – before patching

 

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After patching – the protective film is still on the patch

On Saturday, I also finished trimming the bottom edge of the curb side and then folding it under.   I put a few staples in, but not many because I will be screwing in some trim along the bottom and sealing it with gutter seal.

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I made this little piece to go in the doorway from leftover skin. I will be doing the same for the top and sides of the door frame. I would also like to use some of the skin for the door itself, but the way it’s bent, I will likely need to take the skin to a metal shop where they have the right tools.

Today, I first removed a few of the stainless screws I had put into the curbing (the little strips of wood all along the outside of the frame that the roof staples into).  I decided that now that the curbing was in place and the curves were achieved, I didn’t need quite as many screws.  I was also worried about the screws being too close together and getting in the way of the screws that will hold the drip rail in place.

 

After that, I started securing the skin.  I started at the front, and worked my way toward the rear.  I did small sections on either side, going back and forth to hopefully avoid any buckling in the aluminum.

 

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I used a sharpie to draw a line after measuring so that I could cut the excess skin and only leave 1/2″ to fold over.

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Here’s what it looks like after cutting with my metal shears. I cuts a little slice right out of the middle. This allows the larger piece of metal you’re cutting off to stay put and not have to curl up. It’s pretty neat how it works!

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All ready to start folding over. I only cut sections at a time and then folded over.

 

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Here’s what it looks like after holding down a wood block close to the edge, then hammering over the edge with a rubber mallet. This was definitely a good arm workout!

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Front panel is getting close!

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As you can see here, I cut little triangular notches in the aluminum on the really curvy parts so that they would lay flat after folding over. It worked really well!

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Ugh! Buckling! I’m not sure what caused this, but I think it might have been the insulation on the opposite side that was sticking up a little too much.

 

I eventually corrected the buckling, but unfortunately the whole roof moved slightly toward the street side as a result.  Luckily I had enough skin left on the curb side to make up for it.  It was slight enough of a change the it didn’t make the pattern in the skin look uneven (thank goodness!).

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Here’s a close up of the patch I did now that the roof is stapled down. It’s not really that noticeable I don’t think. Hopefully it will be even less noticeable with the drip rail over it.

 

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Front is all secure! Just need to cut out the window now of course.

When I got to the rear of Junebug, I realized that I needed to go ahead and attach the tail lights so that I could make sure the excess wire was safely under the skin where I wouldn’t accidentally put a screw through it.  I thought that would be an easy job, but it actually took forever!  I couldn’t get the Batt connectors to hold the wire like Oscar could.  I didn’t have a crimping tool, so I had to make do with my wire cutters.  When I crimped the batt connector, I accidentally cut through it a couple of times.  confused I finally got the wires to stay, but I’m a little nervous that the lights won’t work when I hook them up.  I didn’t have the heart to try them tonight in case they didn’t work.  I will try them next weekend when I’m not so exhausted.  If something went wrong, I’ll have to undo the back panel and then restaple it after fixing the lights.  It’s doable, but I REALLY don’t want to do that!

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Unfortunately, I ran into another buckling problem, right at the end!  You can see where the buckling occurred, right next to the steel beam.  I also cut the holes in the skin in the wrong spot and had to make them much wider, thanks to my initial buckling problem.  So… Junebug is going to be far from perfect at the end of this.  But I’m not perfect either.  I mean, who wants to be perfect?  That’s so boring.  hahaha

I’m hoping that the bumper will help to hide these little blemishes.  I am also rethinking my plan to put the spare tire on the tongue, and may put it back here after all.

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And here’s a shot of the whole thing after two hard days of labor.  I still need to finish the very bottom of the rear, but it’s almost there!  I also need to finish cutting out the window holes and add the drip rail and trim.

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I’m glad this week is over.  I am hoping that next week will be better!

Working Vacation – Day Seven, A Day of Rest and Reflection

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Today is Sunday, and I am planning to rest (for the most part) and prepare myself mentally for my return to the daily grind tomorrow.  This week off (minus Wednesday) has been very productive for my project but also physically and mentally exhausting.  I have had a series of highs and lows, but overall I’m feeling pretty good about everything I got accomplished this week.  I’m not feeling good about two things though, 1. the electrical system in my camper and 2. the major screw up I caused on the upper edge of the street side siding due to getting carried away with my metal shears.

Yesterday, I had two major meltdowns.  The first one was when I cut the side edge on the street side of the camper too short because I didn’t have any staples along the edge in that spot to guide me and I couldn’t see the edge on the other side of the excess aluminum I was trimming.  cry  I ended up going at an angle too sharp, and cut it about 2 inches too short along a section of about 5 or 6 inches.  I panicked because once I did that, there was no going back.  That piece had to be installed in the exact spot it was in, so I couldn’t move it a little upward to cover my mistake.  I am still not fully recovered and don’t know exactly what I’m going to do to hide my horrible mistake and still keep the camper leak-proof.  I had two of my friends over yesterday to help me, Jennifer and her boyfriend, Ayk.  Ayk finally told me to just get over it because if this was the worst thing that ever happened to me, my life would be pretty good.  haha  I can understand that from his perspective it wasn’t a big deal, but I don’t think he understood just how devastating it was for me at that moment.  I’ve been working so hard on this project and the new skin cost me $1600, not to mention all of the other things I paid a lot for, so to screw it up like that, well, let’s just say I could not “just get over it”.  I’m sure I’ll figure something out, but it’s not going to be perfect like I had envisioned and that makes me angry since the mistake could have been easily avoided.

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This is what I’m talking about. It doesn’t look as bad from here, but even if I fold the roof skin over further to cover it,  it will still be difficult to cover up the seam because it’s too big of a gap for the drip rail to cover unless I move it down an inch and then it won’t be flush with the roof. I may end up doing that anyway, we’ll see.

I’ll get to the second major meltdown shortly, but first I will go through the day’s events in chronological order.  I was planning to get up really early yesterday to finish installing the insulation before my friends came over, but I was so tired and sore yesterday morning that I slept in until 8am.  That still wasn’t too bad, but by the time I went by the tool rental place to pick up the crown stapler and then went to Lowe’s to buy a few more supplies, it was already 10am.  I got to work quickly after that finishing the insulation.  It still took me forever to finish the street side.  My friends showed up around 11:30am, and we moved the camper so that I could hook up the tail lights to my car to see if they all worked.  If you recall, the welder had come over and replaced all of the wiring earlier in the week.  For some reason, he didn’t finish running new wires for the side running lights and the license plate light, but he told me I could use any of the leftover wire and hook it up myself to the hot wire, which was the brown one.  I did that the other day and wanted to test it out.  Well, sure enough, the blinkers and the brake lights worked when I hooked it up but not the running lights.  I was so annoyed because this was the part I hooked up and it wasn’t that difficult so I don’t know how I screwed it up.  I called Oscar (the welder) and he said he would try to stop by later to check it out.  So… I forgot about that for the time being and we got started installing the side skin.

My original plan was the line up the factory roll (bent edge) along the bottom edge of the camper on each side and then trim the top of that piece so that it would fit inside the s-lock seam along the bottom of the top half piece.  We realized after a bit of manoeuvring that it wasn’t going to fit.  The bottom edge of my camper frame was uneven.  The back piece of wood was slightly lower than the front piece on the other side of the wheel well.  This could be my fault but it could also be the way it was made since these campers were far from perfect.  So, I scrapped that plan and we installed the top piece first, then installed the bottom half and I will trim off the lovely factory edge later and add a trim piece.  I’m still trying to figure out what type of trim piece to use.  I could buy a piece of trim from a metal shop, or I was trying to figure out if maybe I could use the factory edge as a trim piece if I cut it just right since it’s already all nice and polished for me.

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All ready for the skin!

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Jennifer and Ayk were kind enough to hold still for a quick photo.

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We used some pieces of wood to hold the piece up after stapling the s-lock to the frame so I could more easily staple around the edges.

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All stapled and ready to trim the door and window! I probably used more staples than I should have because the stupid stapler kept misfiring.

The crown stapler I rented was a pneumatic tool, and I had to play around quite a bit with the air pressure to get it to fire more gently.  Initially the staples were going right through the aluminum!  I ended up having to set the psi on my air compressor at around 30-40 which caused it to misfire a lot, but I finally got it to work without the staples going through the skin every time.  I’m glad the skin was new at least because I would have had less room for error with the old skin.  I’m dreading using it again for the roof, especially since I already messed up the side skins with lots of misfires.  Hopefully it will work a little better now that I’ve had some practice….we’ll see.

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Door and window (upper halves) are cut out!

I am very pleased with the performance of my new electric metal shears from Northern Tool. http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200442137_200442137

They worked extremely well.  I was able to cut clean lines, and I was able to make the cut out for the door perfectly so that I can use it for the external skin on the door frame.  I can’t imagine cutting all of the excess skin with the manual shears!  I guess the one positive to that would be that I wouldn’t have made that mistake of overcutting on the street side.  But it would have taken me at least 3 times as long to do the job!  My neighbor came by a few times and when he saw me using the metal shears, he offered to buy them from me after I’m done with this project.  I don’t think I’ll need them anymore so I’ll probably sell them to him, but I’ll be a little sad to see them go because they are probably the most fun tool I have used yet!

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Bottom half is installed and ready to finish trimming the door.

After finishing the sides, my other neighbor, Rick, decided to come over to see if we needed any more help.  He’s always willing to lend a hand which is really nice for me!  This is Rick in the picture below, standing next to my one long front/roof/rear piece.  Rick and Ayk rolled it up and lifted it onto the roof of the camper, then unrolled it and we got it even on both sides.

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I think it’s kind of cute with the extra skin curling up at the back. It’s like Junebug curled her hair! haha I wish I could leave it but it just wouldn’t be practical.

Right after we set the roof on top of the camper, Oscar and his son showed up to take a look at the tail light wiring.  It wasn’t as convenient to get to now that I had the roof skin laying on top, but we made it work.  He hooked up his tester to see which lights were working and sure enough, the running lights weren’t working and everything else was.  It turned out that the brown wire wasn’t working at all initially. I didn’t think about it at the time, but when I put the side skin on, I covered up the two side running light wires and they were touching the aluminum.  This normally wouldn’t be a problem because I was planning to drill little holes in the skin and install the tail lights later before ever hooking it up to a power source.  Oscar didn’t realize I had done this at first, and he hooked up the tail lights to his tester.  While he was doing this, I went around to the front to put some self tapping screws along the base of the front so my roof would stay in place.  I’ll secure it all the way later.  While I was screwing in one of the screws, I got quite a shock!  This is about the time we realized that the side light wires were touching the aluminum underneath.  Luckily, it’s a low voltage current or I would have been in trouble!  I then had to figure out where exactly the stupid running lights were under the skin.  I should have marked it before stapling it down!  Luckily, I was able to dig out the old siding and put it up against the sides so I could drill a new hole.  After I did this, Oscar hooked the wires up to his tester again.  The wires started melting!  eek  We couldn’t figure out what had happened that time since it didn’t look like any of the wires were touching the aluminum.  Finally, Oscar decided he needed to run new wires to the side lights because the other ones had melted beyond repair.  At this point, I was super stressed and told him I didn’t care anymore if the side lights worked.  They weren’t working before!  He argued with me and said after all this work, I needed to have all of the lights working.  He wanted me to remove the side skin a bit so he could get to the light but I said no, I wasn’t about to undo the staples I put in.  It was quite an ordeal getting the stapler to work in the first place!  We finally reached a compromise and I pulled out a couple of staples so he could fish a new wire to the light. At this point, I figured he had fixed it, but NO!  He hooked up the wires again and all of a sudden I see smoke and the wires connected to his tester machine are melting!!  I screamed and he said to unplug it, so like an idiot, I grabbed the tail light plug and unplugged it.  I had to rip off my glove because it was so hot and had started melting into my glove.  My tail light plug and his were both ruined.  My neighbor got onto me and said I should have unplugged the machine, not the part that was melting.  I know it was dumb, but I didn’t even see the plug to the machine and just wanted the melting to stop!!  As you have probably figured out, this was meltdown number 2 (quite literally)!  Ultimately, Oscar got everything working again and said he would rewire a new plug onto my camper.  We then tested my vehicle plug and wouldn’t you know, the stupid brown wire (for the running lights) wasn’t working in it. ugh  So, the saga continues…

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Here’s Oscar and his son, along with my neighbor Rick, trying to figure out how to fish some new wire behind the skin to go to the side running light.

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Here’s a picture of the melted wire. There used to be a black plastic protective sheath around the wire and here you can see it’s been completely melted away, along with part of the wires as well! The burning smell is still noticeable.

This whole wiring debacle has me second guessing whether I should be running all of the new electrical wires in the camper myself.  I already installed the wires and was worried that somewhere in the holes I drilled, there could be a tip of a staple or twist nail sticking out.  I closely inspected all of the holes in each beam before fishing the wires through, but I’m still uncomfortable.  I may wait to secure the roof until I can put something else inside the holes to further protect the wires.  There’s not much room for anything else, but I am thinking maybe I can slide something thin inside there, maybe a really thin plastic sheath or some sort of material that can protect the wires.  I am not planning to put anymore staples/screws/nails into the ceiling, so that should protect the wires.  I will also likely get a professional to come inspect my wiring set up before I plug it into a power source, just to be absolutely sure it’s correct.  A 30 amp power system is capable of melting more than just a few wires!

After Oscar left, I finished the cut out for the door and finished screwing in the screws at the base of the front of the camper so my roof would stay aligned.  That was about all I had the energy left to do.  Ayk had to leave, so Jennifer stayed and helped me clean up the huge mess we had made.  There were metal pieces everywhere!

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Here’s a picture of Jen helping clean up and all of the old skins laying outside since I had to dig a few of them out through the day to use as templates.

So, overall my week has been fairly good, and yesterday was quite eventful as you can see.   I am planning to watch Larry’s videos again at www.cannedhamtrailers.com  on how to secure the roof so that hopefully I won’t screw anything else up.  I’m also going to have to ask him for advice on how to cover up the spot where I messed up.  I hope someone can help me come up with a creative solution!

 

I’ll leave you with the same photo I posted last night since this is the current state of Junebug.  There is still a protective film on the aluminum to protect it from scratches.  I peeled it back a little so that you can see how shiny it’s going to be.  I’m going to wait until it’s all installed though before I remove it completely since it helps to protect it from the elements.  It’s going to look so good when I’m finished, but at the rate I’m going, it sometimes feels like I’m never going to get there!

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I’m about to go outside to trim the excess from the rear so that it’s not sticking out from under the tarp all week.  I’m not sure if I have the energy to do anything more than that on Junebug today.  I don’t think I’m going to reach my goal of finishing by the end of this month but oh well.  I don’t want to rush anything again and make another big mistake.  I hope everyone had a nice weekend, and I’ll see you next week!

 

 

 

Working Vacation – Day Six

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I’m too tired to write a post tonight.  It was a REALLY long day.  I didn’t finish putting the skin on in one day.  I think maybe I was a little delusional thinking I could finish in one day.  I did get pretty close though!  I just thought I’d write a quick note to say I’m still alive (although I did get a pretty good shock from the tail light wires today).  I will write the full update tomorrow once I’ve had some rest.

 

Here’s a sneak peek at today’s progress smile emoticon

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