Tag Archives: door frame

New trailer door

I’m falling behind on my posts. There are several things to post about, but I’m going to start with the most recent.

We now have a new trailer door, and it is very exciting. Let us start at the beginning, shall we?

Having lived in our trailer now for three years, we have a pretty good idea of what its strengths and weaknesses are. Having ripped out everything from the interior and had it spray foamed has made a HUGE difference in getting through winter. However, there was always that really cold draft coming in from around the door. It never sealed perfectly. So we decided to replace it.

As you can imagine, a trailer door isn’t like your standard house door, it’s quite a bit narrower. So if you’re going to replace the door with something more house-like, it’s going to be an interesting task.

Here is a picture of the original door.

For this project, we decided to call a friend for some help. His name happens to be David as well and he is a professional framer. He has also done the Earthship Academy and is working on creating an Earthship community. I grabbed this picture of him just after we removed the old door.

Here you can see the old door leaning up against the picnic table.

And what kind of door did we replace it with? Well, you be the judge.

That is a solid western cedar wood door with a stained glass window. The stained glass part is sandwiched between two plates of tempered safety glass to protect the delicate parts. I found it on kijiji and it was a steal at $200. I’m sure the window alone is worth more than that.

Anyway, while David was working on the framing, I had the interesting task of trying to figure out how to install the hinges. These are no ordinary hinges. They are made by a company called Soss and they pocket inside the door frame. Yeah, that’s right. When all is said and done, you won’t see the hinges at all, from either side of the door, when the door is closed. Here is a picture of them after I managed to get them in the door.

I bought mine from Lee Valley Tools and I have to warn you, these things are not cheep. The new door we have is pretty heavy, so we bought four of the biggest ones they had. That cost us almost as much as the door did.

Here is a close-up of the hinge.

They were expensive, but they are really sexy, and with our door swinging outwards instead of inwards like a standard house door, this will give us some extra security as no one will be able to tamper with the hinges to get inside the trailer.

Meanwhile, David built this awesome frame for it around the hole for the original door.

The key to the framing working on the side of the trailer is how we attached it. If you look closely on the left side of that picture, you can see two bolts coming out that darker piece of wood against the door hole. Those go through a similar piece of wood on the inside and the bolts go through an aluminum tubing stud. So the wood is sandwiching the trailer walls on both sides. It’s about as secure as we can make it.

In addition to the new door frame, we also built new steps to go with it. Here is David working on that.

After futzing with the hinges for some time and getting everything prepped, we were finally ready to put the door on its new home.

It worked out rather well, don’t you think.

That picture was taken just after 19:00, so it was getting late by that point, but we had to finish it otherwise we would have to sleep with a big hole in the wall. Not good if you have indoor cats who don’t go outside. Also, we hadn’t had any dinner by that point either so hunger was weighing on us.

We packed up our things and decided that the door knob would have to wait until the next day.

So, this morning after breakfast, that is what we did. Installing door knob hardware is really finicky and I can truly say that I am no expert at it. However, we do have something functional.

Here is picture from the inside.

It ended up turning out even better than we had imagined so we’re pretty happy. David was an amazing help and the reason why we were able to finish the main part in just one day. A big thanks goes to him. If we had been working on that ourselves, it would have been a week or more, I’m sure.

There are still some fiddly bits we need to take care of, like adding weather stripping around the door, filling in all of the cracks and insulating around the outside. We’ll get to that sooner rather than later as the nights here have been pretty chilly. We’ve already had hard frost three times.

This isn’t the only project we have going on so I should have more posts coming up soon to cover those.


Colorado Earthship Build: Day 25 (Installing the atrium door frame and more)

Another clear night and another clear day. It was very nice and cool last night but another scorcher today with no breaks from the sun. Kat and I have been pretty vigilant about using sunscreen so neither of us has had any sun burns, but you do come home feeling a bit baked after spending all day in the sun.

We were back at it today, working on the atrium. We were extra lucky today because Lou, the plumber, said we could use his radio. So we plugged in our phones (first Kat’s then mine) and had a grand ol’ time listening to music that we normally enjoy.

That’s nice, Dave, but what did you actually work on today? I’m so glad you asked.

The first thing we did was finish the trex plating that we couldn’t finish before due to the concrete pour we had to finish first. Here you can see Kat drilling away on a piece of trex. We drill holes in it so the anchor bolts come through.


After that, we took that door frame we made yesterday and installed it. Doesn’t this look snazzy?


Another thing you can see in that picture above is the start of the 6″x6″ (15x15cm) posts that we are putting on top of the trex plating. There are two layers of that, raising the wall up a full 12″ (30cm). It seemed a bit odd to us, but they did that because they need the vertical columns to reach a certain height and needed the extra boost underneath to reach it. If you are wondering, these posts are truly 6″x6″, not 5.5″ on a side.

Here we have a picture of myself, Jen and Steve contemplating the Phil as he’s contemplating the stuff down below in the atrium. Contemplation chain, as it were.


Mike R came by and he and Phil had a long discussion late in the afternoon about atrium details. They came down from on high (the roof/second floor), brought their drawings and details were discussed.


It turns out there are supposed to be vertical columns in line with the door. We ran a string line across the whole atrium and the door did not meet the string, though it was pretty close. We ended up having to remove the door from its location and move it south about 3″ (7.5cm). It’s always fun to take apart and redo stuff. Taking screws out of trex is not always easy, let me tell you.

Speaking of screws, it seems the screws of choice for this work site use the torx bit. Now if you know nothing about screws, torx is a lesser used bit that has a six pointed star. The screws themselves are pretty nice, but the choice of bit, to me seems a tad odd. Also, no matter how many torx drill bits they seem to buy, they always disappear.

Anyway, I took a picture of the atrium at the end of the day. You can see how we have shifted the door frame forward. We’ll remove those blocks we put in front and rip a spacer to fit in the over hanging part. You can also see that most of the 6×6 post work is in place as well.


By the way, don’t drop the end of a 16′ (4.9m) 6×6 post on your finger. It hurts a lot.

Yesterday I said I thought they would have all of the trusses in for the upper floor green house, but I was sorely mistaken. Now that I think about it, they couldn’t put those in until the logs are in place, so that means that the bond beam at the back needed to be poured first. And so it was.

That big concrete pumping truck showed up again today and aside from waiting for the actual concrete to arrive, it managed to pour the whole thing. I’m not sure how much of the buttresses were poured, but I’m pretty sure some of them must have been.


Once that settles up, the nailing plate will go on and the logs will be put in place.

Here you can see all of the framing work they have been doing upstairs. There are now railings around the atrium hole and door frames for ends of the catwalk. You can also see all of the interior framing they have done in the previous picture.


More upstairs, but from a different angle. You can see they have put flashing underneath the edges of the door frames on the catwalk. That’s because those doors are exterior doors. The sections over the roof that they open up to are patios. Only the stuff behind the knee high wall will be interior, as far as the two ends are concerned. The center section will have a stairwell coming up through the atrium. You can see where they have left the gap for the stairs on the closer side.


I mentioned a while back that there would be six cisterns in this place. I have a picture of the four at the back after having been put in place. This house will be able to store a crap load of water. At 1700 gallons per cistern, that works out to 10,200 gallons (38,760L). You certainly won’t go thirsty at this place.


Just in case you thought it was being left behind, the arch over the east side garage entrance is catching up to the west side one. I watched one time on the west side how they get the concrete up there and they parked a wheel barrow full of the stuff and then just took a shovel and heaved it up over the lip. That is some serious work out, I’m sure.


Now this is interesting. This is a sand filter built from a wooden frame and a piece of lath. You throw your sand through this to eliminate clumps and make sure that it is all uniform. As you get further into your finishing coats for plaster and such, you would use a finer and finer filter, with smaller and smaller holes to make the plaster more refined. We won’t be seeing anything too refined as we’ll be heading out long before that.


Remember that interior can and bottle wall? Well it’s come a long way. It even has electrical conduit and junction boxes and so forth all setup.


Here is a finished bottle wall around the exterior east side door. It’s very well done and kudos go to Heather and all of her helpers for doing a great job.


Two more build days to go for us. There will still be a lot left to do when we leave, but we have certainly accomplished a lot as well. When we get to building our own place, it certainly won’t be built nearly as quickly.

Colorado Earthship Build: Day 24 (More atrium work)

I thought I would start off the day using up some of that nice bread we bought at the bakery. We’ve had a few loaves from them, and you often get to the ends which aren’t big enough to make sandwiches out of (for two people anyway) and you wonder what you can do with it.

I ended up making french toast. I sliced some bananas on them and sprinkled it with cinnamon and then broke out our stash of maple syrup. I should point out the sun had just crested the mountain, so it makes the toast look extra yellow. It wasn’t really that vibrant.


After that lovely breakfast, Kat and I headed up to the build site. It seemed really quiet this morning. That is partially due to the fact that a lot of people are working up top, so if you are working down below, you’re mostly alone. It is also due to the fact that some didn’t show up for work today and some others have actually left as their time is up. Supposedly they are getting another twenty people this weekend for the second phase. Our last day at the build will be Saturday.

Anyway, there is this big swimming pool of water that the concrete guys use for mixing and washing and it usually looks really murky, but today I arrived to it looking really clear. No one had disturbed it yet and all of the sand/dirt/concrete had settled to the bottom. It was pretty neat and certainly rare.


As mentioned yesterday, our first order of business was to pour the end blocks that we built forms for. I shoveled concrete while Kat stabbed it to get out her morning aggrivations. We had a bit of a panic when the form shifted so we shoved in more bracing.


In the end, we got them poured and the anchor bolts in place. We then let them set for most of the day.


While the concrete was setting, Kat and I started a new quest: build a double wide door frame for the front of the atrium. Oh, hey, let’s go look at the drawings and see if we can find the dimensions. Nope, no dimensions there. It only had references to other parts that we had to measure from to figure out how big the door frame was supposed to be.

That involved setting up the site/transit level and “shooting some lines” to figure out where things were. Once we had those, myself, Phil and Mike R had a discussion about the door and its dimensions. Phil and Mike came to an agreement and then I had some dimensions to work with.

I should also mention it was getting really hot by this point. Luckily, I wasn’t pounding tires or I would have had a much more difficult time. Nothing I did was too strenuous today, so I was hot, but I felt okay.

I don’t have a before picture, but this is the door frame I built. I finished it after lunch while Kat was out at the store.


I have to say, I was pretty proud of the results. I took extra care with my cuts to make them accurate. I made sure the whole thing was square using the diagonal dimensions. I added the bracing in to keep it that way too. It’s lying on its side, by the way, in that picture above. The extra bit at the top will have a window put in it.

The door frame will be installed tomorrow.

It was mid afternoon when that was all finished and by that point the concrete on our morning pours had set up enough we could take the forms off. So we did.


They aren’t perfect, that’s for sure, but they should get the job done. We also put the piece of Trex down across the part where the door is going to go. We tightened down the nuts on the anchor bolts and I used the grinder to cut of the excess threads.

We re-established the center line for the building and marked that on the door nailing plate and then centered the door frame on that line. I put in some wood stakes in the ground so we would have something for the door bracing to be attached too. I also cut the trex plates to go across the sections we had to leave undone due to the concrete pouring, but we didn’t put them in for fear of ripping out the anchor bolts in the new pour as it hadn’t finished fully hardening yet.

By that point, clean up had been called, so we know what we’ll be doing first thing tomorrow morning.


In other news, Captain Planet stopped by to have a beer today with the crew. He was a lot smaller than what I imagined.


The people upstairs have been getting a lot done. Here we have a picture of Mike R sitting on the short wall that will receive the angled glass for the green house. One of the trusses has already been put in place.


Here it is again from the other side. I would be willing to bet that all of the trusses will be in place there by the end of the day tomorrow.


Also I thought I heard someone say the cement trucks are supposed to make another appearance tomorrow to pour the bond beam and buttresses for the upper level. That will mean we should be ready to put the logs on the roof of the second level on Friday.

Here is another progress shot of the bottle work around the doors. I like this shot because it shows the full length of the house, messy as it is right now.


Tomorrow will be another action packed day of atrium work. I don’t mind it, but it does feel like we’re moving slowly. Though, I must say, it’s just been Kat and I with no one else to help. I’m sure things would move much quicker if we had more hands on deck… er atrium.

Colorado Earthship Build: Day 18 (Door frame, plywood and decking)

Today began extra early, around 5am. I’ll give you a big hint as to what it was.


That, my friends, is a bear print. You see, our tent is not all that far from the big metal dumpsters where everyone puts their garbage. They have metal lids on them, but one of them was left open last night. At 5am, Kat and I were woken up with some loud banging. Now we didn’t get out of the tent and actually check, but it would have to be a pretty sizable animal to move those lids. I verified it later when we got up when I found the tracks around the dumpster and took that picture above.

Adventures in camping. We don’t keep any food at all in our tent so unless it is one desperate bear, we should be fine.

Anyway, onwards with the build.

So that exterior door footing was rock solid this morning so Phil had us put the last door in before jumping on to other stuff. Unfortunately, this last door did not go well. We should have done more checking just after they poured it as once your concrete is set, it’s really difficult to fix things that are out of wack.

For one thing, it wasn’t perfectly level. It was close, but it wasn’t perfect and when you’re putting a door on it, you want it as perfect as possible. On top of that, the anchor bolts were all at different levels. Normally you put the nailing plate on top of the bolts and hit it a few times with the hammer so the bolts make an indentation in the wood. That marks the spots where you need to drill. If the bolts are at different heights, you only get some (in this case 2 of the 4) of the bolts.

We improvised and got the marks, drilled the holes and put the plate down. Then we discovered, after putting the nuts on the anchor bolts and screwing them down that one of them was right on the edge of the frame. You can’t drill a counter sink hole in the edge of your door frame where the nails/screws are holding it together. So we ended up just cutting that anchor bolt out completely.

Then we had so many issues trying to level the door frame. We had to shim the one side, but the frame itself wasn’t quite square so we were left with a dilemma: square the frame and then the door won’t close or “rack” the frame over a bit and have it look crooked. After consulting with the experts, we decided on the former. They will make some adjustments to the door later to make it close. It was more important that it look straight.

Here is a picture Kat took while standing in the doorway of the door we were working on. The one you see in the picture is the interior one we did yesterday. I’m the guy in the hat and blue shirt picking up screws. (You wouldn’t believe how many dropped screws I have picked up over the last while – it’s gotta be boxes worth).


After that we all moved over to the west side to work on the green house framing. I was in my element up in the rafters but I’m not in the frame of this next picture.


Here I am, waiting for… something. More pieces of wood to nail in probably.


Unfortunately, being up in the rafters and in precarious positions doesn’t lend itself well to taking pictures, so I don’t have a lot of the actual activities I was involved with. I did help nail in a few trusses, then I was helping put the plywood plates on the upper part of the frames. This is where the solar panels will eventually be mounted.

You can see the end result in this picture.


You can also see the vent boxes that were installed up top, though not very well. Here is a better look.


These boxes are essentially skylights, except no glass. You open them to let out the hot air and pull in more cool air through the cooling tubes. They are pretty big and will vent a tonne of air. Here is a shot looking down through one into the green house below.


I also worked on the pine decking that was put around the vent box. That was another bit of frustration. I had measured my first piece, drew the lines, cut the board and put it in place as a test. It fit perfectly and I needed four more, so I went about doing the same thing four more times.

Then I went to install them and it didn’t fit. While I was doing all of that cutting, someone came along and added another dang truss to the end, making all of my decking boards too short. Arg. By that point it was cleanup so we’ll have to finish that tomorrow.

In other news around the build site, remember that arch I had a picture of yesterday that had its mortar started? Well, here is a shot of all of the supports holding it up.


That detail in the middle, where the logs meet coming from the garage and front/bottom floor now has its infill work completed. They added a few bottles for extra drama.


Here is the longer shot so you can get an idea of where this is located.


Here is an interesting perspective. I was standing on the roof looking down into what will be the atrium. You can see the fort knox version of the form they have built to receive the next concrete pour for the atrium glass.

That big beam going across the top of the picture is the start of what will become the catwalk across the atrium.


All in all, we had some frustrating parts to the day, but nothing really serious. We just dealt with each situation as best we could and moved on. I do have to say that I seem to have developed a habit of having things dropped on me.

It first started with bits of mortar. Some people were working on can wall forms above me and occasionally, some mortar would fall on my head. Good thing I was wearing a hat. From there I graduated to water. On another day I got doused twice by the same girl who was getting overly excited about wetting down something in prep for receiving some concrete.

Today, I moved onto pieces of wood. They were trimming some decking up top while Kat and I were working on the door on the east side and a piece fell and hit me on the shoulder. I didn’t sustain any injuries, but still. I hope no one decides to drop a tire on me.

Kat managed to snap a seriously awesome picture today.


Sun behind the cloud with sun rays coming out all around it. A sign of good things to come 🙂