Building the Street Side Slideout – A Change of Heart

The Best Kept Secret

Once a year, usually around beginning of Spring, I would make a long road trip. It seems like after a long Winter hibernation, even us humans have the urge to venture out to celebrate nature’s renewal. This year, I’ve had a chance to visit Arizona’s best kept secret: The Kartchner Caverns.


No camera was allowed so no picture of the cave itself. However, you can get general of information from the Arizona State Park site. Reservation is required and can be made online:

Normally, I am not a fan of caves. However, this is an extraordinary cave for the fact that it is “live” and the people who have discovered it took extraordinary measures to preserve it near-pristine condition. To enter the cave for the tour, you will have to go through a doubly-sealed steel door entrance so that the inside cave environment is completely isolated from the outside. The cave was discovered in 1974 by two amateur cavers, Randy Turfs and Gary Tenen. They kept it as a secret until 1988 when the cave was announced to the public after protective measures were well established to protect it. Thanks to their foresight, we now have an opportunity to view the cave as it has been for millions of years.

Aside from the cave itself, the park also has RV camping sites. All sites are full service with hook ups. I didn’t use the RV site during my visit so I can’t tell you how good or bad they are. However, the desert theme landscape of the Discovery Center and the hiking trail are quite beautiful:

Ack! What about the trailer? How is it going?

A lot has happened since the last time I updated the blog. I’ve built the street side slide-out as planned. The work was pretty much straight forward since it is fairly similar to the curbside slide-out. After the completion of the street side slide-out, I took the completed trailer even without windows out for a spin. The windows are custom ordered so they do take a while to arrive.

With the outside trailer completed, once the windows are installed, I can concentrate on the inside of the trailer. I ordered tons of materials and equipment to furnish the trailer. The equipment selection process is lengthy and laborious. Just to decide which equipment (i.e. water heater, furnace, water pumps, etc.) took quite a bit of time. When I tried to order them, I ran into problem from a certain web site which advise the items I need. When I placed the order, the credit card was promptly debited but the items weren’t delivered. Instead, I’ve gotten an email telling me that the most expensive item is either not available or back ordered. I will need to order similar item which are available at different price! Trying to get refund wasn’t easy. After a while, I’ve developed a “black” list of these sites. Never again! I will vote with my dollars!

I recently had my heart broken

Broken Heart

A friend of mine had a very well maintained diesel truck that was for sale for a very reasonable price. I had all but sure that the truck will be mine. My friend did not advertise the truck for sale so no need for me to hurry. The truck will be perfect to tow my 6,000 plus lbs. trailer. Heh, heh, life will be good! I had imagined a life of us together. Travelling the back roads of the beautiful U.S. We will be spending time gazing at the stars on the moonless nights in the middle of the desert without a soul within miles. Birds will be singing to celebrate glorious mornings while we are sipping our favorite coffee watching the sun rises from the horizon. Then out of the blue, I was informed that the truck has been sold to someone else!

What’s just happened?

Like a jilted lover, I meekly took stock of the situation. How could I miss all the signs?  Did I not paying enough attention to her? Did I take too long to tell her of my intention? What am I to do now? I could go on and look for another heavy duty truck. My momma always says there’s plenty of fish in the ocean. Or, could it be done I wondered…built another RV specifically for a full size SUV as a tow vehicle? When it comes to automobile toys, boys always be boys. I am gonna built another super light weight RV so that I can use my SUV to tow it with. She will have to be very lean and athletic looking. She’ll be the envy of all other RVs! I’ll show ’em!

So, I started with a blank sheet of paper

First of, she will have to shed 3,000 plus lbs. so that her dry weight is less than 3,000 lbs maximum. She will be thinner and shorter in both length and height. So the overall specifications look like this:

Sleeping Capacity             2 – 4

Overall Length                   19’ 11”

Exterior Width                   7’

Exterior Height                  9’ 7”

Interior Height                  6’ 5 “

Dry Weight                         < 3,000 lbs

Fresh Water Cap.             40 Gal.

Grey Water Cap.              39 Gal.

Black Water Cap.              17 Gal.

A/C                                        13, 500 BTU

As small as she will be, one thing is absolutely certain: She will be designed to be more like a tiny home with all the comfort of a home.

Honey, do I look fat to you?

“Of course not, honey!” I shot off without hesitation.

“You are lying!”

Hmm…wrong answer again! If your spouse or girl friend has ever asked you this question, you know you are in trouble. I have hypothesized that there will never be a correct and appropriate answer to this question. For as long as I can remember, I have never successfully answered this question. If I hesitate a bit or answer too fast, I will be accused of lying or not caring. The closest to success was one time a female co-worker of mine asked me a similar question. Without hesitation, I replied:

“Fat? Just so you know, the other day Justin Bieber asked me if you are available. I hated to do it to him, but I had to gently tell him that you are way out of his league. So no, off course you are not fat.”

That really put a smile on her face. She offered me a cupcake claiming that she doesn’t really need it. Score! But as I walked away from her cubicle with the spoil, I was thinking I may have been duped. She really didn’t want the cupcake, she just wanted me to “earn” it. That’s another one of my hypothesis. Women will entice and train men just like training their puppies. We will be unwittingly enticed into doing whatever they want without ever realizing that we are being told to do so. Now let me digress back to the issue of trailer weight. Well, if your trailer is heavy, you will be brutal.

“Off course, you are fat! Girl, you need to loose some serious weight before I can take you to places.” So, how do you shed 3,000 plus lbs. on the design?

  1. Streamline the overall dimensions for SUV towing by reducing the over all dimensions of the trailer. The new design will have a box of 7 feet wide and about 16 feet long. I wanted to reduce the width of the trailer so that I don’t need the extension mirrors on the SUV. One less item (actually two extension mirrors) to care about. However, with only 7 feet wide to work with, the floor plan is extremely challenging to design.
  2. Reduce frame weight by eliminate basement storage. This is quite painful but necessary to reduce the overall height. It is nescessary that the trailer does not project too far above the SUV in order to improve stability. Additionally, making the trailer frame as a single box design to spread the weight along the frame. Typical trailers have a very rigid frame consisting to either heavy I-beams or heavy gauge tubes. With a rigid frame built using these rigid beams, the rest of the trailer is built on top of the frame. This is fine and dandy, but if you’re gonna lose some serious weight, you will have to start with a lighter frame. As any first year engineering student will attest, instead of using one heavy duty I-beam, one can substitute the I-beam with a ladder (struss) design by using a lighter tube for the basic frame then run a parallel lighter tube on top of the frame forming a box. This approach is very conducive to trailer frame design. In the previous design, this approach is used to provide basement storage. In this design, the box is squatted down to only a few inches. Just enough to provide space for running electrical wires and gas hoses.

Even with the draconian mandate to lose weight, there are a few things that I won’t give up:

  1. Full size resident shower stall
  2. Regular Queen Bed
  3. Electric Refrigerator
  4. Full size toilet

With these specifications defined, off to the computer modelling shop I went.

This is what has been keeping me busy for the last few weeks.

 Exterior Views

Curb Side View
Curb Side View
Street Side View
Street Side View
Top View
Top View

Interior Views

Nite Mode with Murphy Bed

Murphy Bed and Booth Dinette Close-up

Murphy Bed Closeup

Cooking Island

Day Mode Cooking Island

Full Bath

Full Bath

The Disappearing Toilet

Disappearing Toilet

I have a secret love affair!

Perhaps with a much lighter design and an extremely small foot print, this trailer will allow me to explore even the remotest areas while retaining a comfort of a Tiny Home. Years ago when I was still a young teenager, I have camped all over the Sonoran desert in Arizona. Back then, camping meant tent camping. Out of those experiences, I’ve developed a deep love for the desert. The desert is like a beautiful but firm fairy. Her best appearance is at dusk. You will be enchanted by the most spectacular desert skies at sunset. However, if you are patient and quiet, look deep around you and even at your under foot. The desert fairy will reveal to you a host of her inhabitants. Reptiles, insects, birds, and mammals all coming out when the sun is no longer in command of the hour. Look but don’t touch. Some of her inhabitants can be quite deadly.

PBS recently re-ran a film about the Sonoran desert – Desert Dreams: Celebrating Five Seasons in the Sonoran Desert.

This is not your ordinary wild life film. It is an artistic visual treat not to be missed. The review can only be described as: “mesmerizing”, “stunning”, “powerful”, “incredible”, “spectacular”, etc. Keep in mind that I don’t get paid to endorse this film. Consider it my extremely condensed “movie” review.


When I first start this project, I’ve always known that the design will evolve as I’ve gained more experience. In my past experience working for my employers, the first built unit was always referred as T-1 or Test Unit #1. T-1 article provides engineers with invaluable knowledge on what’s working well and what needed to be improved upon. I don’t want this post to be the conclusion of the Yellowstone Project but rather a temporary pause. I plan to complete the new design then go back and continue to furnish the current design.

The new design is a whole new different approach with the emphasis in light weight while giving up on some functionalities. Starting with the next post, I will provide a much shorter but condensed progress of the new design. See you soon with the new design adventure.


2 thoughts on “Building the Street Side Slideout – A Change of Heart”

  1. I totally understand your desire to reduce your trailer weight. That said, I’d sure encourage you to keep tandem axle. A single axle, even with shock absorbers, rides pretty rough on the gravel roads of the Southwest.


    1. John,

      I wish there’s a way that I can take your sage advise. With the two large slide-outs, it is extremely tight. Additionally, I already have purchased the single axles ;-( May be next time.


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