Tag Archives: build

Odds & Ends

10 May

New Orleans has been our first stop after leaving Florida.  We encountered a few issues so we decided to take a few days to make life a bit more comfortable.  On the drive our windshield wipers gave out.  The plane blocks a lot of the rain and I put some Windex so the rain would bead.   I replaced the faulty wiper motor.   We also discovered we have weak headlights.  We switched them out with some brighter ones and added auxiliary driving lights.  Those have yet to be road tested.  A few organizational changes were made to the cabin.  The last few days were productive.

I decided to install a composting toilet for the following reasons: they have no odor, they can be dumped anywhere, they have to be dumped less frequently, and they do not require the installation of a holding tank.  These toilets are pricey.  I bought a marine toilet and spent lots of time modifying it to make it compost.  The key is to separate liquids and solids.  I accomplished the separation but it wasn’t pretty.  It did work for a while until Sarah and I first spent the night in the camper.  It had a major failure.  Needless to say sometimes its better to buy some things then make them.  I found a few suitable toilets in the market.  I bought a Nature’s Head toilet.  So far it has worked great.  I am always happy to use it.  The install was easy and we have no odor.  Anyone interested in a compost toilet should go with a Nature’s Head.  If you want more information email me and I’ll give you the skinny.

I also wanted to mention that I will be trying to be honest and transparent with my entries.  Being on the road I feel I have the freedom to be honest without having to deal with the fallout.  When you have a job and are one place we all have to play politics and be diplomatic.   My good friend Doug is always transparent in all situations.  He is not only honest about who he is, how he sees things, and his emotions to me as his friend but to anyone he meets.  It’s refreshing and it makes me want to be honest and quit hiding my thoughts.  So I dedicate this initiative to Doug who has showed me that being open and vulnerable is liberating and endears people to you.  If any issues arise with this approach take it up with Doug.

I heart NOLA

9 May

After we left Miami, it seemed like we were playing beat the clock. I wanted to be in New Orleans to see Fleetwood Mac at Jazz Fest on May 4. But once we got to Hani’s parents’ house, we started running into problems.

The drive from Miami to Ormond Beach was long and a bit shaky. Hani couldn’t diagnose the problem and needless to say, I had no clue. So we spent the first full day in Ormond going from one mechanic to the next to the next to the next. Eventually, it was suggested that a good start to fixing the problem was to get our tires trued (rounded) or buy new ones.

Thus was my birthday.


Fun. We spent all day (and $1,000) at this truck repair shop. All. day. But we now have brand new front tires so I can’t complain too much. Since the day was already shot, we drove over an hour in traffic to the Apple store to get Hani a new iPhone after his inexplicably died. We got back to the house around 9 that night to a nice dinner and birthday cake. And with the intention of spending my  birthday with belated festivities in New Orleans.

With the shaking problem (mostly) resolved, we planned on leaving that next morning. Then re-orangization got the best of us and it took for.ev.er. to re-pack and get ourselves together to leave. And we realized our water tanks had green gunk growing in them. My uncle was right. Never start a project involving water in the evening.

We were so anxious to leave Ormond, we didn’t care that the next morning we were hitting the road in a semi-monsoon, with windshield wipers that were not quite up to par. It rained basically non-stop the 2 days it took us to leave Florida. We drove along the coastal roads, which were really pretty, and would have been even prettier if they weren’t being viewed from behind rain soaked windows.

Despite all these set backs, we made it to Jazz Fest! Neither of us thought that was going to happen. And we went Saturday and Sunday just because we could and because we were so happy to be here!


Even forging through the mud to reach the stage.


Now its time to slooooow down. We have spent almost a week in New Orleans hanging out with friends and doing minor adjustments on the truck while parked on their residential street (the looks we get are priceless). We now have working wipers, organized storage, and a new set of headlights! We plan on going with them and some of their friends to the beach this weekend in Grand Isle, LA and then continuing on to Texas.

American by Birth, Southern by the Grace of God

17 Mar

That’s right, we will have a motorcycle with us.  It’s a Yamaha XT 225.  It’s a light enduro bike that will allow us to travel without having to break camp.  But I have already written as to the many uses and versatility the bike will give us.  This post is about how we will carry the bike.  The carrier is on the rear of Skyhorse and is made entirely of aluminum.  The aluminum makes it lightweight and it does not rust.  Weight is an issue since we have 70 gallons (584 pounds) of water already in the back of the truck.  The bike is 300 pounds.  The truck can handle the weight but I don’t want to necessarily place that amount of weight all in one place.

There were two design aspects to make the carrier functional.  The truck is high off the ground so we need to lift the bike up onto the carrier.  It is not feasible to drive it up.  Also, we did not want to lose the ability to open the rear doors.

We solved the height issue by installing a winch above the carrier.  I purchased a Superwinch Terra 25.  This was recommend since it has a brake and would not free spool.  It easily handles the bike and came with a remote control.  As the winch lifts, I have to pull the bike out a bit until it is above the carrier so it doesn’t scrape against the carrier.  It took more time to install the electric and of course added costs to have the winch but it makes deploying the bike so effortless.  If I had gone with a hand winch, I probably would get less use of the bike because of the effort required just to take it off the lift.

In order to easily access the rear doors, we made the carrier with two hinges, one on each end.  The two hinges allow us to swing the carrier open from either side.  Now we can open the rear doors by swinging the carrier out the way.  It is not necessary to lower the bike to open the doors.

We accomplished both design goals and the carrier works like a charm.  This project required lots of designing and quite frankly it was a project I left till the end since it was an unnecessary luxury.  I am proud to have completed this final job and how cool it turned out.  Looking forward to having the wind in my hair.  Yes, I know I have no hair and I was born in Egypt.

The Roof Is On Fire

11 Mar

Nature is designed to sustain us.  I have designed Skyhorse to live in and be nurtured by nature.  I’ll be damned if I have to rely on stuffy rv parks to support our nomadic life.  So we turned to the sun.  I have installed four 145 watt solar panels to the roof.  We also have four 210 amp 6 volt batters.  We have a 420 amp battery bank that is charged by 580 watts of solar.  While we drive the truck’s alternator also charges the battery bank.  We should not be consuming that much energy.  The largest draw is our refrigerator which still is efficient.  I have strived to install the most efficient systems available so that we dry camp for as long as possible.  The only thing that will limit our length of camping is our 100 gallon water supply.  Water goes quick my friends.  Speaking of water, we utilize two panels that are 2′by 2′ to heat our water.  Those two panels are on top of the plane.  There is a 12v pump that circulates water through those panels giving us hot water in a few hours of sun.  The sun is telling us to live free and not be tied down to generators.  It’s nature speaking to us.  I’m listening, are you?


11 Mar

I figured we should bring a couple of toys to keep us entertained when we are in the middle of nature.  I just placed a two seater kayak on the roof of the truck.  It stays up there with three ratchet straps.  To load it on the roof I will put it up against the back of the truck and pull it on the roof.  I am hoping to get lots of use out of it.  I am still considering bringing a porta bote which is a 12′ folding boat that can handle a 5 horse motor.  Part of me says why not bring it I have the room and I already own it.  The other part says why haul another boat and a motor I have to maintain.  Leave some feedback if you have some insight.

We will also be carrying a motorcycle on the back.  This way we can explore and get around with ease.  We can also travel without breaking camp.  It’s also an alternative form of transport if there is an emergency.  The rack swings out so we can still access the rear doors.  There will be a winch that lifts and lowers the bike onto the rack.

A sigh of relief

26 Jan

This past week I’ve been caught up in the details of this trip and started totally stressing out about the minor aspects. AND THEN I found a really awesome site that links up all these people who are traveling the Pan American Highway! I sent out a bunch of emails and Facebook requests asking all the stupid questions that have been bogging me down. Now I not only have a bunch of new traveling friends, but great resources and piece of mind.

So with that enthusiasm, we had our first yard sale bright and early this morning. We made $133 on CRAP, completely better than I expected! The only thing that would have made it better was if we got rid of everything in that first go-around.
yard sale 1/13

Hani then took the money and went to his home away from home, Home Depot, and bought a screen door so we can keep the air circulating, the dogs inside and the bugs out! Pictures to come…

The build

26 Jan

Here is a link to Expedition Portal where I have chronicled the construction of Skyhorse: http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/47231-Ford-F700-Build?referrerid=16179

Most recently, I finished connecting the camper to the truck.  I had to take the rear window of the truck and cut into the camper so we could walk through.  I made a door out of starboard since it is in the shower.  The doors lock from both sides.  The key side is in the truck so no thief gets inside the camper from the truck.  I am still considering what to with the rear of the cab.  I took out the bench seat so you could walk through instead of crawling through.  I didn’t want to add anymore projects at this point, but the safety and connivence factor really sold me on it.



A holey situation

7 Jan

With still so many more projects left to complete, Hani decided to create a walkway between the cab and the living area. Cut, cut, cut. Another big setback, but the end result will be so worth it.  It definitely adds more open space and is an important safety feature. Now just need to make a door so we aren’t soaking the entire place when we shower!