Today I placed the order for my tansu steps, made of reclaimed elm burr wood, with no plywood, and no toxic stains or finishes. They are being built for me by Green Tea Designs in Toronto, at a significant discount from the listed price.
I had to make some adjustments to the step heights, but it will be very close to this design. I've ordered two of them, on for each side of the trailer, leading up to my sleeping platform.
I had a choice of Elm or Gingko. I decided to go with Elm wood.
Last time I wrote about the challenges of finding the right truck to pull the weight I'll be carrying. I was at my dentists' office, telling him about the Vehicle while he was getting his tools ready. He said, "Come with me," and led me out to the garage, told me to stand right behind his "clean diesel" car and turned on the engine. I smelled NOTHING!!!!
So I went online and starting reading about clean diesel. I am very reactive to diesel exhaust, so if I go this route, I need to make sure the engines in the heavier pickups meet my standards, but it's an exciting possibility that would give me some more leeway with weight. I still need to keep the whole thing under the limit that would require me to get a commercial license, but I wouldn't be weighing every ounce.
Here's what I found:
Effective Emissions Control Technology
Introduction of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuels for both on- and off-road applications has been a central part of the new clean diesel system designed to meet near zero emissions standards. With the introduction of lower sulfur diesel fuel, a number of exhaust treatment systems such as particulate filters, exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), selective catalyst reduction (SCR) and diesel oxidation catalysts (DOC) can further reduce emissions from diesel engines. The installation of various emission control technologies may also improve emissions from older diesel engines through retrofit capabilities. Read more about retrofit capabilities to reduce emissions from older vehicles and equipment.
I have not yet been able to find out exactly what the heavier trucks I'm looking at are fitted out with, but hope to know in the next few days.
One of the most important decisions to make correctly in the world of towable homes is choosing the right truck for the job. It needs to be able to safely tow the weight of the fully loaded trailer, without undue strain that can lead to parts wearing out early, or just plain dangerous driving. There are a lot of factors to weigh, as it were, and I'm on a steep learning curve to find out about them.
One limitation that's specific to me as someone with MCS is that I can't drive a truck with a diesel engine. Diesel powered pickup trucks can pull almost twice the weight that gasoline powered ones can, but the fumes are extremely toxic, linked to lung cancer, and I have a specific liver enzyme malfunction that makes me extra vulnerable to diesel.
Biodiesel that's actually 100% vegetable, instead of a mix of diesel and vegetable fuels, is very hard to find, and in most of the world, feeding corn to engines instead of people is considered a crime against humanity. I don't have the physical stamina to collect and convert used fast food oil, so until there's a viable alternative, I'm stuck with gasoline. The best I can do is to plan my travels carefully, so I'm not zig-zagging around the country, and keep my vehicle in good shape, so it's burning as cleanly as possible.
But what that means for my trailer is that every single ounce counts. What frying pan I choose, whether I keep hardcover or paperback books, what wood I use for my bookshelves, how I heat my water (tank or tankless)--in fact, every decision must take weight into account.
My frame, outer walls, trailer, doors and windows and built in storage will weight around 6000 lbs. That's not counting the insulation, inner walls, subfloor, flooring, counters, bookshelves, appliances, furniture and belongings. My old journals will need to go into storage because I can't afford the ounces to haul them. The three plants I plan to bring have to go into lightweight pots. I'll bring only the tools, books, kitchenware I most need, and leave the rest.
I knew I'd need to thin out my possessions because of size and weight limitations, but the inferior pulling power of gas is raising the stakes. So I'm keeping my scales at hand.
Aurora Levins Morales is a chronically ill and disabled writer, historian, visual artist, and activist