External Views

Ok, so here we go.  This page will be heavy with pictures, because that’s the best way to describe the RoadArk.  Under each picture, I will be going through the details of, its construction, it’s purpose, and why I did it like that.

Front View 

Here’s the overall front view of the RoadArk, as it would appear, uncovered, and detached from the vehicle.  As you can see, it’s sitting on four legs, which are fully adjustable in height.  Those legs are made from 1″ aluminum tubing, which has a wall thickness of 3/16″.  They are not meant to take sideways forces, although they will withstand a reasonable amount of pushing from all sides, but their main purpose is supporting downward force.

I decided to do it this way because, it wasn’t my main purpose to be taking this unit on and off the truck regularly.  I did want the option available, should it become necessary, or if I was going to be staying in one place for longer periods.  Also, to add legs much stronger, didn’t make any sense, because given the height, and narrowness of the stance, even with 2″ solid steel legs, the unit could be pushed over, from either the front or the back, especially if it was at the top of its adjustable range.  Having said that, the force required to push it over, on a level surface, would need to be with the intention of pushing it over.  In other words, it’s not going to be something that happens accidentally.

Most of the weight is carried in the bottom of this unit, and is spread out, as evenly as possible, along the full length, so that does supply some stability to it, when it is free-standing.  Also, I have 3″ diameter pads on the bottom of the legs, which sit on 5 1/4″ square, pressure treated wooden pads, to spread the weight, in case of soft ground conditions.  These wooden pads, when not in use, store conveniently in the sides of the basket that the RoadArk sits in.

The basket, itself, is a modified hitch-mounted carrier that I purchased.  It is rated to carry 500 lbs, although, now that I’ve modified it, I’m sure that this will void any guarantees from the company that manufactures them.  I’m not all that worried about guarantees though.  The truth is, there are no guarantees in life, and if we didn’t do anything because it’s not guaranteed, then it would be a very boring life indeed.

So, I’m not going to go into a lot of detail on this overall picture.  I’ll get to the finer details with close-up shots later.  I just wanted to start off with an overall view first.

Foot Detail 

Here is the detail of the foot, sitting on the wooden pad.  I didn’t want to incorporate a huge pad into the leg, because, for the most part, I expect that the legs will be in the up position, and a large pad would only get in the way.

Front Right Detail 

This is a close-up of the front, right portion of the RoadArk.  Here you can see the 700 watt inverter, and beside it there is a 12 volt cigarette lighter style outlet, and below that, an on/off switch for the 12 volt Shurflo, on demand, water pump.  Further down, towards the bottom, on the right side, you will see two clamps, holding a long 3/4″ square piece of wood.  I will elaborate on that a bit later.  Over to the left, near the top, is a towel rack, and just above that, you will see the locking mechanism, which locks both the hinged back panel, and the hinged countertop to the main unit, so that it can’t be opened, at least not very easily.  If someone wants to get in, they will get in, no matter how many locks you put on it.

Front Right Side View

On this front, right side view, you can see, more clearly, how the sliding legs fit into the design.  When fully retracted, they will slide right up, just touching the underside of the countertop.  There’s still about 3″ left hanging down under the hitch basket, but that’s not a problem, since it’s well above the ground clearance of the truck itself.  You can also see the spring clip pins that hold the leg in place, in whatever hole/level, is selected for height.  These same pins hold the legs in the fully up position too.

That chain you see, hanging near the back leg, will be used to stabilise the unit, once it’s attached to the truck.  There’s one on each side, to prevent the load from twisting from side to side, since it’s only mounted in the center, where it fits into the 2″ receiver.  These chains will be bolted, tight, to the top of the step surface, on the rear bumper.   Besides preventing the twisting action on the receiver, they also provide another attachment point to the truck, since the only other attachment point is one bolt, which replaces the usual pin, that holds the draw bar in the receiver.

That little gap, at the end of the basket, between the unit and the basket, is where I store the wooden pads that are presently under the feet.  You can also see a rope handle, just above that, for lifting the unit in and out of the basket, which I don’t expect to be doing very often.

Leg Detail

Here’s a closer look at that chain, and the pin in the adjustable leg.

Front Left View 

At the front, left of the unit, I’ve installed a utensils drawer.  That’s a sideways cork I used for the drawer pull.  There’s one of those plastic utensil trays inside the drawer.  I could only make this drawer big enough for that tray, since much of the space inside the unit is taken up, and, as you will see later, that drawer is attached to the bottom of the countertop, and lifts up with the countertop, to allow access to the components below.

Front View including Top 

Another front view, this time including the top.  Those ribs on the top provide rigidity, and protection for the top surface, since it’s only about 1/4″ thick.  It does have a lot of support on the inside also, as you will see later, but, I may, in the future, decide to strap other items to the top while travelling, and I wanted support for that possibility.  Also, as far as the 1/4″ thick top goes, during every part of this building process, I had to consider weight, while also giving strength it’s necessary attention.  I haven’t actually weighed the unit, as it sits, but my estimate would be somewhere around 300 lbs.  Probably a little more, rather than less.  The maximum tongue weight on my truck is 600 lbs., without a weight distributing hitch, and 1000 lbs., with a weight distributing hitch.  The maximum load for the basket, is 500 lbs.  So, I feel fairly confident that I’m well within the technical limits of everything.  Still, I don’t want to push those limits too much.  Nothing is for sure, and keeping things as light as possible certainly won’t hurt, as long as adequate strength is maintained.  It’s a balancing act, just like everything in life.

Rear View

The overall rear view of the RoadArk, shows the electrical connections, and the inline tankless water heater with its related plumbing.  The piece of black PVC pipe that you see alongside the water heater, is a mount for the bicycle.  One of the pedal crank arms slides into that piece of pipe, to support the weight of the bicycle, so that the weight is not bearing on the rack that sits across the top of the RoadArk when the cover is on it.

Rear Right Side

This closer shot of the rear, right side, gives a better view of the electrical connections.  Right behind those connections, inside the RoadArk, is an Optima AGM battery.  I have it so that the side terminals are facing towards the outside, and I put longer bolts into the terminals from the outside, partly to hold the battery in position, and partly so that I could access the terminals from the outside.  This way, I can hook up my solar panels to it, or I can hook up the on-board battery charger to it, or I can hook up the vehicle’s alternator to it, through the trailer wiring harness.  The two sets of positive and negative clips you see there, are for the two latter purposes, and the solar panel clips are attached to the panels, which will be stored in a 16 cubic ft., streamlined cargo box on top of the truck.

Down a little bit, and to the right of those connections, you will see the water supply hose for the water heater coming out, and going across to the water heater.  Straight up over that hose, you can see another hose connection with a red plug in it.  That connection is meant for either,  an input for shore water, or an input for water that will be stored on the roof rack of the truck, in two 4″ diameter, 6′ long, inter-connected, black PVC tubes, which will heat that water free of charge, using good old sunshine.  Just as a side note here, I won’t be travelling any distance with any of my water tanks full.  All my water tanks will be filled on location, or close by.  This not only saves gas, but it also reduces the weight on the truck, and the RoadArk substantially, and makes for a safer, and more enjoyable trip.

Close-up of Electrical Connections 

There is a clear, hinged Lexan cover over top of the live 12 volt terminals.  The screened holes you see just over the negative and positive terminal markings, are vents for the battery compartment.  I do have an AGM battery in there right now, but it’s possible that I could replace it with a non-AGM sometime in the future, so I allowed for that option, and besides that, it doesn’t hurt to have vents in there anyway.  The small chain you can see, hanging just above those vent holes, is a safety chain for the back, upright portion of the countertop space, just in case wind should catch it, or it should get bumped by accident.  This will become more clear later on.

You can also see a small white fuseholder near the bottom, attached to one of the positive clips.  That is the inline fuse for the alternator charge wire.

Left Rear View 

From the left, rear side, you can see the plumbing under the water heater, for cold water in, and hot water out, and also for propane in, which is the black hose.  All the water hoses are white RV type, drinking water supply hoses.  The black wire hanging down over, and past the propane hose, is the alternator charging wire that will be connected to the trailer harness of the truck.

The little hood over the water heater provides some protection from things falling into the top of the unit, but its main purpose is to deflect hot propane fumes away from combustibles.  There is about a 2″ gap between the back of the water heater, and the RoadArk, just as a safety precaution.

Water Heater close-up 

I have to say that the plumbing on this thing was one of my biggest challenges.  Not only routing it, but, with all the joints, short runs, and corners, it was a nightmare when it came to passing the pressure test.  If this part doesn’t look all the complicated, just wait until we have a look inside.

Under the Cover

Ok, so lets take a peek under the hood, so to speak, at least, the first hood.  Here you can see the layout of the countertop and the back panel.  From left to right, on the countertop is a Coleman propane, two burner stove, which is mounted right to the countertop, then I have a sink, with hot and cold running water, and a kitchen-type sprayer.  The countertop itself, is 1/8″ thick cork, which makes an excellent countertop surface, and is very light weight as a bonus.

On the back panel, as you can see, I have a number of compartments.  There are 3 main vertical compartment, each having its own LED light at the top.  You’ll also notice that I used the same 1/8″ cork material on the back panel, and it certainly serves as a good place to hang things like pictures.  Those are pictures of my son, when he was just a little guy.  He’s a lot bigger now.

In the center compartment, there is a mirror, right over the sink.  In this picture, that mirror is pinned back with a 1/8″ diameter wooden pin that runs across the bottom of the mirrors edge, through both the sides of the compartment.  The pin is there to hold the mirror back when the top is closed.  The mirror is hinged at the top, and the bottom can swing out to adjust for the individual who happens to be using it.  Once the bottom is swung out, a narrow piece of lexan, which is also hinged at the bottom of the mirror, is swung inwards to hold the bottom of the mirror in any desired position.  It sounds complicated, but it’s really practical, and simple.

In the far right compartment, there are two items there that are a bit difficult to see in this picture, but the top one is a battery monitor, which is hooked up directly to the onboard battery to monitor its state, and rate, of charge, and it also has a temperature sensor.  The smaller one on the bottom is a little digital clock.

Things that I use all the time can be put on these shelves, within easy reach, and when I have to close the top, for any reason, I just have to put the stuff on the shelves inside the sink, for temporary storage.

Battery Monitor and Clock 

Here’s a closer look at the Battery Monitor and the little digital clock.

Utensil drawer

This is the utensil drawer, partly opened.

Taps and Sprayer 

A closer look at the controls.

Open Countertop

The open countertop, from another angle.


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