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possible DVD? My brother building a solar trailer from scratch  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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My brother and my dad used to work together. In the warm months they did construction and in the cold months they built trailers. These trailers were in high demand. I bought one and in the few years of use I had about 16 total strangers approach me and ask "where did you get that trailer?" and take the information for my brother.



They are designed to last forever. Extremely well built.

The solar power cart came on a trailer that was way too wimpy. So, Tim is currently building another one. It has a "walking beam suspension."

We videoed some and are realizing that some of the steps have not been videoed.

So, it sorta seems like damn near every idea that comes along, the solution is "make a kickstarter". But in this case, we would need to get enough money to buy some of these parts again and shoot the video again. Then there is all the stuff to do to for any other video (editing and the like). It seems like a tiny niche item. And the current kickstarter (earthworks and hugelkultur) seems like it would have 100 times the appeal of something like this. So then it seems like we would never get enough funding to make this happen.

So, I suppose the place to start is: if you would you buy the DVD of this for $20, put a thumbs up here.

Next, describe what would be features you would want in such a DVD.

 
Craig Dobbson
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You've used the "DIY level" scale before to describe how difficult something is, so can you tell me where this would fit on that scale? As in, "this is a DIY Level ______."

I would buy a dvd if I thought there was a practical way for me to actually use the information. But I suspect this is going to be more geared towards folks who can fabricate metals. My personal opinion would be to take some of what you have videoed and throw it up on you tube to let people get a better feel for it. Get some hype going and then launch a kickstarter based on the YT feedback. You may also want to get this out to folks who would need trailers that are outside of the permies crowd. When you're dealing with a small niche, you'll need a big audience.

How about a list of uses for these particular trailers?
Pictures
Links




 
paul wheaton
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Yeah, this would be for people with a welder, or people thinking of purchasing a welder.



This will hold the batteries, inverter(s), a propane generator plus tanks, a pole that will go up and down (with a switch) that will hold the panels and allow us to aim the panels at the sun. Maybe a little extra room for a few tools.

The trailer has to be beefy enough to handle all this weight, while remaining light enough to be pulled by one of the 4wd EVs. It's primary function is to be able to be pulled into basecamp every day to get a grid charge and take that charge back up on the laboratory.

 
R Scott
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There are trailer plans and ebooks out there (ebay, northerntool, and lots of personal websites) but I don't know of a DVD (but that doesn't mean one isn't out there).

It is probably a larger market than the earthworks DVD, but not much overlap with your current circles of influence (tough to sell). There is a whole subculture on building small off-road campers to pull behind jeeps on trails. They would love a walking beam design that works.

If Tim has a good way to DIY build walking beams that track true, that alone has potential. They are notoriously hard to get to work at highway speeds.

The other thing I keep wanting is a good dump trailer. It doesn't need power dump, it can be a back up to tip (like a military trailer) or manual winch/jack or any other genius idea. It needs to be low to the ground for easy loading and sidehill security (UNLIKE the military trailers).

The trailer you pictures looks like a great basic utility trailer that can handle off-road work.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Does he still build them to sell? Might be a way to make some money just taking custom orders for those who will come and pick them up.
 
paul wheaton
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Miles Flansburg wrote:Does he still build them to sell? Might be a way to make some money just taking custom orders for those who will come and pick them up.


Not really.

He is gonna weld up a flatbed for a guy this month. But that's a one off thing.

(he did weld himself up a fancy bumper for his truck yesterday)

bumper.jpg
[Thumbnail for bumper.jpg]
 
Joe Braxton
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Not trying to derail this thread, but here's a link to a DIY dump trailer for R Scott. Maybe it will give you some ideas.

http://www.tractorbynet.com/forums/build-yourself/211560-my-dump-cart.html


BTW - Damn nice work on the trailer and the bumper! I might have to steal the bumper idea for my own truck.
 
Sean Henry
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For $25 I would get a DVD, I think I could get a few more people to get copies on ecomodder.
 
Josh Ritchey
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I know nothing about welding so I would need a from scratch thing. The price is maybe too good though. Depending on whether you're doing a from scratch to a great trailer or just the tips and tricks behind a great trailer would change the price significantly. I'd be willing to pay in the $60 range for a full thing, but for tips and tricks to getting that quality trailer maybe your price is just right. Throw in a book like the RMH book by ernie, I could surely scrape up even more cash. I just have to be able to justify the money i'll save in the future to the wife with what i'm spending now. Kids trash their shoes way too fast for me to buy all of these I might want.
 
Eric Evans
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I'd buy one.
 
Richard Hauser
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I don't think the appeal for regular trailers are there, specifically because cheap trailers are available from Harbor Freight.

The walking axle bit is interesting and not generally covered, but I would like to put a vote in for a well designed teardrop trailer.

I would think they would appeal to this crowd (they were mentioned in some tiny-house threads) and the presently available ones are extremely expensive.
The other advantage is that the trailers could be sold way above cost. (Profit is good! It is not a residual income, but a product producible by homesteaders with skills to create extra income.)

I would especially love to see the permies take on construction materials, such as substituting wool or rock wool for foam board and figuring out an exterior that withstands sun and rain but isn't made by sacrificing salmon to make electricity or toxic gick to make fiberglass. Maybe oiled wood or just using black locust? If using black locust could you make the panels from many thin sliced boards with a tongue in groove or crowning each board to prevent rain intrusion even with expansion? Though even this would have issues on the roof.

Since your brother is a welder there is also weight advantages to a steel space frame as opposed to the standard use of flat trailers with everything built on top. This design also has a smaller frontal area per headroom for better mileage.
Maybe design one that is both a utility trailer and a camper (stacking functions!). All you would need is a removable "kitchen" area and some thought applied to a durable interior (though maybe unnecessary if the walls are black locust?).

Also since you mentioned there is some crossover audience from jack spirko (I am one), the teardrop trailer is a good addition for bugging out.

 
paul wheaton
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Richard Hauser wrote:I don't think the appeal for regular trailers are there, specifically because cheap trailers are available from Harbor Freight.


That is so funny.

It was a harbor freight trailer that failed. We are currently moving everything off of the harbor freight trailer to get ready to go onto the new trailer. So I'm thinking it would be good to video him repairing the harbor freight trailer. He has a list of things he is going to do to make the harbor freight trailer go from temporary-light-duty to long-term-medium-duty. But I think one of the things he has to do is to fix the axle.

So now I'm thinking that if we ever try to do anything with the footage, the teaser/intro should mention the harbor freight trailer.

 
Daniel Worth
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I'm a certified pipe welder and would love a DVD about this. Just knowing how to weld doesn't mean I know how to build trailers, also, I've been putting a lot of thought into using trailers for my own farm project for all sorts of things. This would really compliment my own ideas by know about proven designs for trailers and not trying to reinvent the wheel.

Dan
 
Sean Henry
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Richard Hauser wrote:The walking axle bit is interesting and not generally covered, but I would like to put a vote in for a well designed teardrop trailer.


Making a well designed teardrop trailer will need to start with a good platform to build on. On top of that a well designed teardrop trailer will be designed specifically for the vehicle that is pulling it. Why I say that is pulling it behind a truck with an flat cap would be a lot shorter than pulling it with an SUV. Since it is teardrop you would want to optimize it so the trailer is hidden in the wake of the vehicle, actually you would want to design it to reduce the drag.
 
Josh Ritchey
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Richard makes a great point with the mini house. That is part of my plan to escape the rat race and could be a valuable part of a kick starter. This could pull in more people by combining the welding w/ mini trailer house design. I would personally pay a fair amount if you took me from no experience welding to a completed mini house trailer. The value would be compounded and I'm sure you could find use for one whether it be farm or sale purpose.
 
paul wheaton
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Valerie Dawnstar
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Here's the link to the Tumbleweed trailers. Could he build one like this? Could he teach anyone to build like this? Maybe another angle to consider.
http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/products/tumbleweed-trailer/#ad-image-0
 
paul wheaton
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We have a small shack on skids here called "the love shack". It was built in a day. We currently have plans to upgrade it a little. But since it is on skids, it is much lower to the ground than a tiny house built on a trailer.

We have lots of stuff on skids.

So we talked about something for all the stuff on skids. We were calling it a dolly. So there would be a lot less metal and a lot less to build. The love shack would sit on the ground when parked. And when you want to go down the road, you could put it on the dolly. We've talked about lots of ways to get the love shack on and off the dolly.



 
Josh Ritchey
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I'd love to hear more about the love shack, I don't quite understand how you and salatin keep these structure together when moving them over rough terrain.
 
R Scott
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paul wheaton wrote:We have a small shack on skids here called "the love shack". It was built in a day. We currently have plans to upgrade it a little. But since it is on skids, it is much lower to the ground than a tiny house built on a trailer.

We have lots of stuff on skids.

So we talked about something for all the stuff on skids. We were calling it a dolly. So there would be a lot less metal and a lot less to build. The love shack would sit on the ground when parked. And when you want to go down the road, you could put it on the dolly. We've talked about lots of ways to get the love shack on and off the dolly.





If you build all your skids the same width, it wouldn't be too hard to build "clamp on" axles similar to what people do for chicken tractors and portable high tunnels or what some old farm machinery had (they pulled sideways down the road because they were narrower that way).
 
paul wheaton
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My brother is currently working on two other projects. One is welding up a ladder rack. Another is welding up flatbed trailer with a dump.
welding-ladder-rack.jpg
[Thumbnail for welding-ladder-rack.jpg]
 
paul wheaton
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paul wheaton
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So we have the solar cart almost complete:



The flatbed for the truck with a hydraulic dump:



We are about to construct a bigger trailer to hold 3 kilowatts of solar panels and movable battery packs (for electric vehicles and electric tractor and just electrical use wherever we need it.

And the ladder rack for the little ford pickup:




I think there are three or four other welding projects that have been done. And I could see editing them all up so that they would fit into about two hours on one DVD. But that is a large amount of work for eight copies (there are eight thumbs up on the first post in this thread). So I'm thinking that this would be a kickstarter where we would ask for something like $11,000 to do this. And the DVD would be $20 during the kickstarter and $35 after the kickstarter. A downloadable version might be something like $15 during the kickstarter.

So at 8 copies at $20 each, that's a total gross income of $160. And $160 is far less than $11,000.

Granted, this is not so much permaculture and more like homesteading. But I'm thinking that this would still be something that people might like to get their heads wrapped around.

So in two hours there would be five projects:

1) the solar power cart (with walking suspension)

2) the jumbo solar power cart (with walking suspension)

3) the pickup flat bed with dump

4) the pickup ladder rack

5) We do a lot of skiddable structures (kinda like tiny houses) and we have an idea for a dolly that could easily go under a structure so it can be moved. The upside is that a tiny house could then rest closer to the ground and be raised up only when it is being moved.

So I'm thinking that this would be a pretty information packed DVD for $20. I think that if there were a hundred thumbs up then we should set up a kickstarter. But at 8 it seems that this isn't going to pan out.

Any more thumbs up?


 
paul wheaton
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Part of me thinks that a DVD like this might reach a lot of people that are interested in homesteading and welding, but have not yet heard of permaculture ....

 
Steve Lansing
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Ok, so where is the thumbs up icon....is it that obvious that this my first chance to use the icons? Love the idea of a welding DVD. Very timely as that is a skill I need to learn fairly soon. Wish I could attend you class coming up. A bit far to drive for a weekend for me, coming from North GA. Your Permies site has been talked about in my new neighborhood. I took the plunge and purchased 7.4 acres to have a small homestead and do some Permies myself. Seems it is not zoned RA and getting it rezoned RA has mifted some of the neighbors. Seems not everyone likes having a few goats on a neighbors property, or a small pond or renting out a few rooms as a B&B... Wow, ok, guess I need to compromise. County comm. meeting is May 15th. Wish me luck. Love your site. It has been helpful. I hope to contribute more soon. Best Wishes. Rich
 
Stacie Kellogg
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Thumbs up here!
 
Quintin Holmberg
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paul wheaton wrote:Part of me thinks that a DVD like this might reach a lot of people that are interested in homesteading and welding, but have not yet heard of permaculture ....


Starting in on homesteading was my catalyst to finding permaculture.

I think this would make for a great DVD in homesteading circles provided, as mentioned by a previous poster, it started basic enough for someone to get off the ground with welding. That someone has to be brave enough to take the dive knowing there is noone there to hold their hand. For those of us who are, I'd love a way to get off the ground through building a useful project to get there. Pick one of the projects and turn it into a techniques for beginning welders styled project. Maybe the truck ladder rack?

I'd pay more than $20 for that.
 
Jason Learned
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I'd be interested. It would be nice to have some simple plans and materials lists included.
 
paul wheaton
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Steve Lansing wrote:Ok, so where is the thumbs up icon....


Look at the top edge of the first post. You should see a little thumb image with a number next to it. And to the right of that there is a button you can push that has another thumber and a "+1"

 
paul wheaton
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Quintin Holmberg wrote:
I think this would make for a great DVD in homesteading circles provided, as mentioned by a previous poster, it started basic enough for someone to get off the ground with welding.


I think there are a couple of approaches here. One is to show lots of welding happening. There can be some discussion of techniques and different kinds of beads. Maybe some different equipment. The other approach is to list off tools and equipment for a beginner and show how to do your very first weld.

Maybe the thing is to have five different people try their very first weld and see how it goes.


 
Kerry Rodgers
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I'd probably give you $20 for whatever you kickstart, but what I really need is a way into the big world of welding and metal fab. I have my dad's stick welder and some gas equipment, both from the 80's and I've never learned to use them. I gather there are now these tiny MIG units at harbor freight--are they good for anything? Guys at work make bumpers for their hobby-jeeps, but I'm *not* going to give up my few hours a week of homesteading to go to their garage to watch. I need basic skills to know what tools to get, how to repair/make smaller projects. Chicken house/love shack/metal-fence-post kinda stuff. I would like to make an urban battery cart that would fit on a hand-truck, and a welded one would be hugely better, I think.
 
paul wheaton
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Lots more pictures of the solar power cart, starting with all the bits mounted on the old trailer that broke, and the new trailer being built: http://www.permies.com/t/28774/labs/Solar-Power-Cart
 
paul wheaton
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Kerry Rodgers wrote:I'd probably give you $20 for whatever you kickstart, but what I really need is a way into the big world of welding and metal fab. I have my dad's stick welder and some gas equipment, both from the 80's and I've never learned to use them. I gather there are now these tiny MIG units at harbor freight--are they good for anything? Guys at work make bumpers for their hobby-jeeps, but I'm *not* going to give up my few hours a week of homesteading to go to their garage to watch. I need basic skills to know what tools to get, how to repair/make smaller projects. Chicken house/love shack/metal-fence-post kinda stuff. I would like to make an urban battery cart that would fit on a hand-truck, and a welded one would be hugely better, I think.


I no longer have a stick welder and Tim does not like stick. Most of the welding has been done with this mig welder which Tim refers to as "a suitcase welder":



(amazon)


That one had something go wonky and the manufacturer is being weird about fixing it, so we recently bought this:



(amazon)

The new one can work with thicker metal and bigger spools. Tim also thinks that "a suitcase welder" has smaller parts that will have a shorter lifespan. So this bigger welder will earn its keep because of the extra welding we are doing.


Along those lines, when I look up my amazon account, here are things that we have purchased that seem related:

We bought one helmet which eventually just became annoying to tim. We upgraded to this one which he thinks if far better:



(amazon)




(amazon)


He goes through a pair of gloves every two to three months:



(amazon)




(amazon)

 
paul wheaton
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The floor of the little golf cart is aluminum and falling appart. It needs a mend. And how you weld aluminum is a little different.

If we do this DVD project, I'm guessing that doing a few repairs of this and that would also be helpful?

 
paul wheaton
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Here are pictures of the dump trailer tim built for me in 1999/2000
dump-trailer-1.jpg
[Thumbnail for dump-trailer-1.jpg]
dump trailer
dump-trailer-2.jpg
[Thumbnail for dump-trailer-2.jpg]
dump trailer raised
dump-trailer-3.jpg
[Thumbnail for dump-trailer-3.jpg]
dump trailer closeup
 
Lewis Brown
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I like the general idea of this DVD, but a quick search of YouTube finds many introductory welding and trailer vids. There may be other ways, but one way you might distinguish this product from all of these others is to focus on low cost, low input, versatile, homestead-useful welding projects (perhaps using unconventionally-sourced materials).

As for trailers, they are key to my work around my place. I only need to maintain one engine, but can haul a variety of specially purposed tool kits around easily. In fact, I like trailers so much that I'm with an earlier poster in wanting to live in a custom built trailer home. Therefore I would be keenly interested in anything along these lines that you guys might produce.
 
Ty Morrison
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Nice trailers and Tim appears to be a great welder.
 
Scott Stiller
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This is something I'd be into. Welding and working in solar where I can would be a great benefit to me.
 
Valerie Dawnstar
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Can you power a welder with solar power? I.e., photovoltaic cells?
 
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