May 3, 2012

The Galley Hatch - Beginning

Since we began this project the one item that has been the bane of our existence was the galley hatch. We had read other blogs about teardrop trailers and it seems to be the consensus that this is one of those “dreaded sections of the build” for everyone. Needless to say we were slightly worried.

We decided that our hatch would recess into the side-walls. There are many ways of doing this, but this seemed the easiest and least painful method without cutting anymore into the exterior walls.  This recessed detail is illustrated below.

To do the hatch frame I first began with some rather cheap ½” plywood, since the spars of the hatch will never be seen (we decided after the fame was built, to cover the exposed spars with aluminum trim), this was the easiest way to go, however there were draw-backs. Cheaper plywood has less strength than more expensive kinds, which meant we had to double up on the spars.

I began creating a cardboard template of the spar.  Each spar would be 1½” deep to match the 1x2 oak and pine framing members we used throughout the trailer.  I then used the template to trace out the spars and cut them out with the jig saw.

After cutting two spars out of the plywood, I glued and screwed them together to form a double spar.  This strengthened each one substantially. I clamped all of the completed arced spars together and let them dry and straighten overnight. After they were cured I sanded them down while they were still clamped together to get a more uniform shape - jig saws unfortunately don't make perfect cuts no matter how hard you try!


Next I worked on creating the entire hatch. I cut out each upper and lower full spars. I then attached the outer two arced spars and created a sort of box. We decided to use 1x3 oak for extra rigidity just like we did with the cabin.

I test-fit this box on the trailer using a 'leakproof' galley hinge that we purchased from Lil' Bear Tag-Alongs. Things fit rather well, it still needed additional spars to stiffen it up but it was beginning to look like a hatch!

Ta Da!  It works!

I attached the inner spars with blocking on each upper and lower full spars. I decided to use blocking since it would be a rather weak connection if I were to just screw into the end grain of each arced spar.

The hardest part of this method was keeping the entire frame square. I managed to accomplish this by pinning the frame between nails which I pounded with a hammer into the garage concrete. It worked out really well and when I assembled the frame everything was pretty much square!

Another dry-fit on the trailer and things seamed to be working out well. I think it will stiffen up even more once the skin is on each side of the hatch.

Its hard to see, but there are nails in the floor to help keep things square

Fits like a glove!
 Next up skinning the hatch…

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