Author Archive

Flip down boarding ladder

December 30th, 2008

More shiny stainless steel.

Trog is tall.   Getting in and out of it is quite the chore.   Recently I found a great telescoping stainless steel ladder at a consignment marine store, and as a diversion to working on the popup, I decided to spend some time on it.   All the hardware and mounting rails are stainless.    It glides on  UHMW plastic rails (the white stuff below the ladder).   It will tuck nicely under the passenger side rear door.


Extended, it extends about 10″ more than necessary.   The bottom rung will just rest on the ground, with it’s section partially extended.


Yes, that’s a bigfoot gas pedal on the TIG welder’s foot pedal.

I spent some fun lathe time making a spring loaded stainless latch (seen on the right here)


Here it is in place:


Depending on how slippery the polished rungs are, I may need to apply some sort of grip tape.


Bottle Jack Extension

December 13th, 2008

An unfortunate result of the extreme ground clearance of C30x’s is most normal floor and bottle jacks don’t have the range of lift to jack the car up.    Unfortunately a previous owner of Trog lost the official “Volvo wood block” so it didn’t come with one.   Some use Hi-lift farm jacks on the bumper, but they are a bit scary and can tip easily.

I don’t like the unsteadiness of blocks or other bodgy jack extensions so I welded up a stainless bottle jack extender that fits over the bottle jack piston.


The pin sticking out near the bottom is a stop that the top of the jack presses against.    I turned the inside of the pipe on the lathe to make it slip snugly over about 1″ of the top of the piston.    I probably should have captured more of the piston but 1″ should be ok.   Total height is approx 7″.


At the top is a plate with some 1/4″ stainless rod on the sides to cup the bottom of the spring pack on the front


and the pivot on the bogie axles on the back of Trog.


Of course I could have fabbed the extension out of mild steel in a bit less time, but I then would have to paint it and it still would eventually chip and rust.    Trog has given me a heatlhly dislike of rust…


Pops with Roof

December 12th, 2008

The popup mechanism works great with roof on.    The roof weighs maybe 200+ lbs — my DeWalt drill drives the winch just fine.     With solar panels, the canvas and interior lights on it should still be no problem.


The 2×4 cross braces are there because I don’t fully trust the lift mechanism to stay up.   I don’t have a way to keep it locked up yet and am just relying on the worm gear of the winch not liking to be driven from the load.



December 2nd, 2008

A few weeks ago, I took Trog to the Seattle Burning Man decompression party, Seacompression: American Apocalypse.

Begin a “post apocalyptic” vehicle, Trog fit right in.

We filled the back end in with temporary furniture, some gauzy netting and some color changing LED lights.


Popup mechanism works!

November 26th, 2008

I finally settled on a rope and pulley mechanism for raising the roof.    At each corner, I have 1.5″ stainless tube that runs in linear guides.

The guides are also stainless with UHMW bearing surfaces which were turned on the lathe.  

Here’s the forward passenger side guide with the sliding pole.

Routing the ropes was somewhat tricky, but in the end, I got a route that wasn’t too intrusive and involved a minimal number of pulleys.

The ropes are led to a Thern 472 winch.     This is a worm drive winch, which has the useful property of not being driven backwards by the output load.    Thus it acts as a sort of brake to prevent the roof from dropping.   It’s not robust enough to be the only means to lock the roof in the up position, but it does make raising and lowering a pleasant affair.   I’ll most likely use four pull toggle clamps to do that.

In this photo, the winch is clamped to a table in Trog for some prototyping.

I removed the existing input crank arm and hub and replaced it with a 3/4″ lug nut.   It’s the same size as the lug nuts on the wheels, so I can potentially use the same tool to raise/lower the roof and change the tires.

Boring out the lug nut to the 5/8″ diameter of the winch input shaft.

and mounted on the winch.   I’ll use a cordless drill to raise and lower the roof (if it can develop enough torque.   I calculated it to be ~20 in-lbs, which a drill should handle).   Otherwise, it’s 120 cranks to raise the roof!

The winch is mounted with the lug nut exiting on the side, at about waist level for easy cranking if necessary.

And here is the four corner poles raised.  I put about 100 lbs of weight, about 1/3 the roof weight, on the driver side poles — everything seemed ok.   Raising the roof was relatively easy.

I’ve been stressing about this mechanism for quite a while.   It’s good to demonstrate that it should work well.    Now I need to get a few friends in the shop to help lift the roof back on.

Here’s the spreadsheet I used to calc the loads on the winch.



November 11th, 2008

This is an old post that has sat as a draft for quite a while.   I’m finally publishing it…

A while back, I purchased a Precision Temp TwinTemp Jr propane hydronic water heater.   This unit will provide  both hot water for showers as well as heat via a heat exchanger.     It’s a bit big for Trog (it really is designed for the RV market), so I had to get creative in mounting it.

I fabricated this box to into the hole on the right side of Trog.   It will descent about 7″ below the floor, to the same level as the bottom of the frame members.

Note the red primered steel that makes up the “step up” to the rear area.   This, is a heavy  4″x2″x1/4″ gauge U channel piece, which I believe is unique to the firefighters.   The water tank must have added quite a bit of load.     Colby’s Volvo just has some sheet metal here.   There’s some empty space there which makes a useful conduit for water, propane hose and electrical runs.    I left the space uncovered on the right and left edges.

A settee will go above the heater.    This means the right front door will no longer be an entrance to Trog.   Instead, I’m going to use it as a hatch for storage below the settee.


Roof insulation and stiffening

November 11th, 2008

The roof, when removed from Trog is suffers from a fair amount of twist.    That could cause the vertical poptop supports to bind.   To fix that, I have cut a piece of 0.050 aluminum which sandwiches some foam insulation.   That should stiffen the roof up considerably.    I haven’t glued the panel down yet because I still need to layout the interior lighting and run wires thru channels routed in the foam.

I’m gluing the panel to the foam to isolate it from the metal of the roof to minimize thermal conduction.   If I didn’t do this, water vapor from cooking and our breath would condense on the cold aluminum and drip.

Here’s another shot of the roof, with Colby’s TGB11 in the foreground.   He’s subletting space in the shop for a bit to work on his popup roof.


Scissor lift prototyping

October 17th, 2008

Ok, with the cap out of the picture, it’s back to popup designs.   I’ve played with a number of schemes for the popup to happen.   Perhaps easiest is to do something similar to the “hinged” popup of Vanagons and Eurovans. They aren’t really hinged, but have a compound scissor lift which lifts the rear portion a bit (about 1 foot on Eurovans)

This works pretty well, and has the advantage of being relatively stable laterally because the low end is only raised a bit and the canvas acts as a shear preventer.

However, the angled top limits usable interior floorspace.   So, to do a full popup, I need 3 (or maybe 4) scissor lifts.   Using 1″ sailboat T track and track slides, I can create a simple scissor lift.   It’s made out of 6061 aluminum so it’s relatively light.  Here’s the prototype collapsed.

and extended

It’s quite smooth and is also fairly stable to torsional forces.    Side to side, not so much, so that’s why I need a 3rd scissor on the end (and possibly on both ends).   I will most likely add gas springs to make lifting easier.  Maybe even some compressed air driven gas pistions (as I’ll have onboard compressed air).

Now I have to figure out the mounting of this, as well as the placement of the canvas to keep everything flashed properly so it’s weathertight both when deployed and when driving down the highway.


It’s a drag…

October 16th, 2008

Sorry to give you a heart attack, Willem and hdegroot.

I’m concerned about the extra drag that the high cap will introduce.   Trog is already underpowered, with the B30A engine only producing 125HP or so.   So, I did some modeling of the drag calculations.

Google spreadsheet here.

I had to make a number of assumptions, some of which I think are a bit suspicious.   However, I believe the general shape of the curves are accurate.    See the spreadsheet for values and some notes on uncertainties.

Speed vs HP

I added 500lbs to the high-cap version to account for the new walls and windows.    At 60mph, the practical top speed of Trog due to engine RPMs, there’s an additional 16HP required to push that cap thru the air.   When laden with an upper limit of 1500 other camper conversion junk, it’s pushing 100HP.   I’m not comfortable running Trog that hard.

On a 6pct grade, Trog already bogged pretty severely, with top speed being around 30mph.   With the extra weight it’s much worse.   Since speed is reduced, the extra windage caused by the cap doesn’t matter as much.

I encourage readers to check my spreadsheet and look for anything that seems out of whack or missing.   (the 30% mechanical losses seem way high to me).

So, it’s back to popup designs.


Topless Trog

October 15th, 2008

I’m finally back from six weeks and 6000 miles driving all over the American Southwest.    It’s time to start tackling the popup.

Removing the top was surprisingly easy.   30 minutes to remove about 30 bolts and 12 screws.   The mastic seals parted with a deadlift.     The top is made of aluminum so it’s quite light; two people can easily lift it.

I’m thinking of permanently raising the roof 3 feet, to give me standing room inside.   It also makes interior layout much easier.   Here’s what it’d look like.

I think it looks pretty good, keeping the boxy military lines of the original vehicle.   The new walls would be framed in aluminum, possibly with Alucobond composite panels.   Alucobond panels are 0.020 aluminum skinned foam.   It’s a bit lighter than the 0.100 or so solid aluminum skin I would use.   Windows are Motion Windows 1600 series.


Hey, I’m subfamous!

September 27th, 2008

A bit of Trog in my shopmate’s big media splash.

Click here a locally produced video about HazardFactory, a local arts collective of which I’m a member.  It includes a few shots of Trog and the shop I share with Rusty.

Another HazardFactory video (skip to 12:30).

Last year I won Ms. Congeniality for this entry


Blogging from afar, 5000 miles into a Western US road trip, with a head full of Trog.


Northwest Trogfest 2008

August 21st, 2008

Errr, Northwest Mogfest, that is.     After a mad dash of work, finishing and bolting everything removed from Trog over the last 6 months, Colby and I left for Mogfest, pretty much on schedule.    The drive down was uneventful, other than an early fan controller failure on Colby’s TGB11.    He hacked in a relay to force the fan on all the time and off we went.


We found a very nice campsite down by the river (with a dirt driveway that featured a 45 degree angle, pits and a fallen log — no problem for Trog)

It was hot there — in the 90s most days.    I recruited soldiers for the Swedish Army and we fought the Germans in their Mogs.

My valiant freedom fighters

Strafing some hapless Boy Scouts German spies.

Timmaaayyy! in his friends Pinzgauer joined in the fight against the Nazis.

Trog played in the pits — not even close to getting stuck…

Luci seemed to like the pits…felt closer to home.

A little Nitrous Oxide helped during the parade race.

All in all a great time.    I’m already looking forward to NWMF09.    I’m off on a road trip for a bit, so no TrogBlog posts til October…


Refurbed emergency site light

August 5th, 2008

The old stalk light on the back of Trog was looking pretty bad.   The post had corroded, and the hose clamp stops rusted.   The light housing itself was also corroded.

A little processing, painting and new stainless stalk fabricated, along with stainless shaft collars as stops, and it looks way better:


Polished door handles

August 5th, 2008

I bead blasted and sanded the door handles — they polished up quite nicely.

I originally thought I’d hard anodoize them black, but upon further research, that may be a bad idea.   It turns out that glass bead blasting aluminum is a no-no if you want to anodize it later.   The glass beads heat up the aluminum, opening the pores.  Also as they hit, they explode into fine grains, which embeds itself within the aluminum.   The process of anodizing involves opening up these pores, then soaking it in a dye and then closing the pores.    The glass mucks up this process.   Also, these are cast aluminum, which often has high Silicon content, which also messes up anodization.

Also, powder coating may also be out of the question.   Again, the glass bead remnants mess with the powder coat as it’s curing, causing problems.

Hrm….maybe polishing w/ a 3M unitized wheel will remove the outer layer and glass beads?


Exhaust Simplification

August 5th, 2008

The Volvo C3 series exhaust routing is a little bit strange.    The muffler is on the right side of the vehicle, but the exhaust is routed under the drive shaft to exit on the left side of the vehicle.   This takes up valuable room for a propane tank and hydronic heatert.

Re-routing it to exit on the right side was super simple.   I picked up a 1 7/8″ ID right angle elbow at an auto parts store.     That, plus the now functional chrome exhaust bling now makes the exhaust exit on the right side of the vehicle.

I bent it a little bit so the angle is a bit more than 90 degrees so the exhaust exits pointing a bit towards the rear.  (pic is of 90 degree, before bending)

Most cars are designed with the exhaust on the opposide as the fuel filler.   In the case of Trog, there’s about 10 feet separating the exhaust from the filler at the rear of the car, so I don’t think safety is compromised in any way.


Leaky by design

August 3rd, 2008

Check this out.   There’s a hole drilled in the front window sill on the side with the safari window.   It’sprobably there to drain water that collects there.   Unfortnately it drains into the metalwork behind the dash and eventually trickles down inside.    This helps explain the rusted out driver side footwell.

Some polyurethane caulk plugged the hole…Of course now I have to worry about the sill rusting out.   Maybe I’ll plumb up a proper drain, but access behind there is difficult.   Maybe a tube from the corner leading to the side?


Fix for wimpy windsheild washer jets

August 3rd, 2008

On Trog, the windsheild washer jets were plugged with paint from the last paint job.   A needle poked in the jets helped, but still the washer fluid barely reached the window.   Turns out there’s a flow restrictor after the fluid reservioir.   It was probably put in there when the washer motor was new and had lots of mojo.    30 yrs later, it needs all the feed liquid it can get.

The flow restrictor is the blue plastic thing.


Talkin’ about Mud Flaps…

August 2nd, 2008

To continue the theme of shiny things, I thought I’d replace the mudflaps. Then I shopped for the things. $100 to $200+! For friggin mud flaps? No way. Instead, I decided to renovate the old ones. I added some stainless weights/extenders to the bottom.

Between the bumper and the main box, the old design used another piece of rubber. It was flawed in that it allowed mud to collect in the crack above the rubber, causing the bumper to rot out. I’m going to replace the rubber with some rigid pieces of rolled stainless, fastened/welded appropriately. Rust isn’t really an issue anymore since I replaced those sections with stainless. Still, it’ll be one less place to clean out after going off road.

I’m resisting the urge to add the classic mud flap girl:

Or, with the little one now in the house:

Thanks to Chris Marshall of SimpleMachine for rendering this version.   My lovely wife had CaféPress print a coffee  mug with this as a Father’s day present.


Trog Tetris

July 23rd, 2008

I cut out a few rusty sections of the floor a few months back.    Yesterday, I finally started replacing them.   Here’s a shot with the 1″ square tube floor “joists” welded in place.

Luckily an L shaped piece of 14 ga steel fell into place, after a careful rotation.

I’m hoping a rectangular piece is next.

Overhead welding sucks, so I’m going to drill holes in the sheet metal and weld to the joists from the top, rather than from below.

Here’s a blurry pic of the new panel with holes drilled and weld-thru cold galvanizing primer.   The primer has zinc in it, to minimize corrosion in the space between the panel and the support pieces.

I also removed the cowling covering the rear portion of the engine and transmission and cleaned all the rust off of it.

Shot of the engine and transmission:


Cheezbrgr vs Cheezbrgr

July 1st, 2008

In the catagory of unnecessary data I don’t need, I performed tests  of the outputs of the old cheezbrgr lights compared with the new LED lights.    I placed a piece of white Sintrel 1 meter away from the lights.   There was some ambient light in the shop due to the skylights.    All pictures were taken with a Canon 30D 1/45sec F 1.8 with a 35mm lens.

In each picture pair, the top one is old incandescent and the bottom is LED.   Pictures were taken off axis by about 1 meter and from about 2 meters away.   (I had a prime, non-zoom lens on the camera and had to step back to capture the illuminated patch.)

Tail light:   The only test where the results were pretty close, though the LED seems to be hotter in the center.

Brake:  Here the LED light is radically brighter.   This is the case that matters most, I think.

Turn Flasher.   Again LED better — I could barely see the incandescent flasher on the Sintrel..

And finally, a comparison of the incandescent tail and brake light vs LED brake light (night braking)

I didn’t test the reverse lights.