Part Twenty "Mixed Media"

At Winters Bitter End, 2018

Winter is still hanging on around here in Indiana, but that's ok because we are making progress on the Astroliner!

Today we're talking about the Media Center for the camper. It's a combination footboard/TV cabinet with a secret feature!  When I first showed Carrie the new TV, she sort of frowned.  I said, "What's wrong? You don't like the TV?"  She said, "No, that's not it... I just hate having something hanging on the wall that we probably won't use that much anyway.  Can't you make it disappear into the footboard somehow?"  Well, seeing how she doesn't really ask for much, Matt and I set out to figure how to make a TV disappear into the footboard, and here you have it.

We bought a Flat Screen that fit perfectly in the spot on the wall.  But Carrie had other ideas! 

Brother Matt put his engineering mind to work and came up with a plan to raise and lower the TV.  We essentially used two ball-bearing sliders mounted to the wall and a actuator that was originally used for a wheelchair lift.  It was designed to lift 250 lbs, so I'm pretty sure it can lift this 3 lb TV!  

Once we got the TV all worked out and functional, it was time to design a cabinet to hide it all away, and that's exactly what we did. The reason we call this the Media Cabinet is because it not only houses the TV, it also will have a charging center for two phones, a 110V AC outlet, as well as a speaker for the Stereo and TV.  Speaking of, here is all the gear that went into providing the Astroliner with entertainment!

What you are seeing here is, the "SuperSonic" TV, two front "CT Sounds" speakers and two rear "CT Sounds" speakers, the control panel that houses the "Dual Stereo Bluetooth Receiver" (more on the control panel in a future post) a "Rockville" 1600 Watt Amplifier and all the wiring it takes to put this system together.

I want the Media Cabinet to have 60's style sliding doors, because they have a cool, Mid-Century look and a simplistic style.



I know... so far it doesn't look like much but hang in there!


And there it is.  All finished with fresh Lacquer and the speaker
and charging ports installed.  Now for the tricky part.  Installing it into the coach and installing the TV and the rest of the electronics.

I thought it might be best to just show you a short video of the Media Cabinet installed in the Astroliner.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Click the link below to watch the YouTube video of the finished product!

If you like our blog please take a second and shoot us a message! We would love to hear your thoughts, questions and ideas!

As always, Happy Creating!

Michael & Carrie

Part Nineteen: Seat, Sit. Sat.

In the New Year, 2018

It's time to tackle the Dinette area and I'll be honest... Matt and I have put it off because we knew it would be one of the greatest challenges yet!  The Dinette seating sits in the coach at an angle, the seats themselves will be curved to match the table so it can turn into a bed, plus they will be curved on the ends. Also, the wall they meet up with is curved in a totally different direction.  So we push forward and try to figure this thing out!

One of the first things we did when we started building walls and cabinets was mark everything out on the floor in green tape so we could get a "visual" and work out placement and measurements. 

Next, after a lot of crazy measuring and figuring, we began to build the framing for the seats. We know the coach will take a lot of bumping and bouncing down the road, so like everything else, we built the frames very sturdy with interlocking pieces which makes them very solid and secure.

It took a lot of careful test fitting to make sure we had everything right. All the angles, curves and fitment have
to be exact!

In this seat, we are hiding the Fresh Water Tank, while giving it a safe, secure place to live.  Also, there is easy access to the water pump or any other plumbing connections.

On each side we built the seats to match the curve of the table. At some point there will be cushions and the table will be able to be lowered to create a twin sized bed.

Here you can see where the speakers will be 
mounted in the bench seats.

This is where it gets really interesting.  We had to come up with a "Birch Skin" for the face of the seat.  We searched everywhere for a bendable birch plywood to no avail.  Several people told us about a bendable barrel birch, which we found.  The problem was, the grain was going the wrong direction and we have painstakingly maintained a vertical grain throughout the coach.  The solution? We took 4x4' sheets of 1/4" plywood and ran them through Kent's drum sander.  It was tedious and we had only basic means of getting the thickness accurate.  It was trial and error for a bit until we figured it all out, but once we did, we had the material we needed to skin the seats.  Here are some pictures of the glue-up process.

Testing the skin to be sure it fits correctly:

Each piece was held in place by lots of clamps.  By doing it this way, no nails or fasteners were necessary.  This is the way most of the Astroliner has been built.

Each seat was glued up with epoxy and clamped into place.  After the glue was set, we mixed more epoxy and laid fiberglass cloth over the inside surface to strengthen the thin birch and help it hold it's shape.  

Almost looks like we are building a sled!



The speakers are set in place to make sure they fit appropriately. Check out the size of those magnets!  Those are going to sound good!

Even though the frame is glued in, there was still a bit of concern about the weight of the speaker pulling on the skin.  After all the epoxy and glass everything "should" be ok.  But as brother Matt always says, "We'll never know if we made it too good."  So in the spirit of always making sure we build it solid and we build it right, we added some carbon fiber to the frame for extra strength and peace of mind when the camper bumps over those Indiana potholes!

Now the holes are cut out with a router, the skins are glossed over with a few layers of beautiful amber lacquer and the speakers are installed in their new locations.

They are definitely starting to look like seats!

Time to make lids that open for storage.  Looks like the fitment to the table top are spot on!

The lids are a simple, hinged open with finger hole pull.  Check out those sweet curves!

The Astroliner is getting fuller and she is really starting to look like a real camper!  

That's all the time we have for now!  We hope you are enjoying the build and we promise to be back very soon for more updates.  The build is coming along faster than we can keep up with the blog, so we are hoping to have it caught up in a couple more posts!

Until next time, Happy Creating!

Michael and Carrie