Sunday, October 4, 2015

Food Cart Project Part XXX: Refrigeration and Stainless.

Plumbing is still underway in the cart. I've been stalled due to having to sort out my water heater options. The one I'd ordered turned out to be a gas model, which I'm trying to avoid. Rick over at Curtis Trailers was very cool about this, as it's an item he can put into his floor stock and move fairly quickly. Figuring out which electric model to go with required I do a little snooping around to see what sort of electrical service is typical for food cart pods around town, and it turns out that 200 amp service is pretty much the norm, or at least not uncommon. This is good news, because on demand electric water heaters are power hogs, and this operation is already pretty electricity intensive, with the induction burners, deep fryers and rice cookers. 200 amps should be plenty of power, though. I ended up ordering an 11kW EcoSmart water heater, which should arrive this week, and I'll get back to the plumbing next weekend.

In the meantime, I've been working on other tasks, the first being refrigeration. I picked up this 7 cubic foot merchandising fridge last weekend from Smitty's Vending Services. And yes, it is actually run by a guy called Smitty. This is not a huge refrigerator by any means, but my Cambros fit in there pretty nicely, and I think it should serve my purposes pretty well as long as I'm judicious in packing it:

I bought some sheet stainless for the cooking wall, and installed it over the backer board this weekend. So, there are no longer any unfinished walls in the cart. That's kind of a milestone. You'll also notice that I swapped out the formica counters I'd built for a couple of stainless prep tables. I'm pretty sure the Multnomah County Environmental Health Department will prefer this set up:

Those tables have bottom shelves which will house the immersion circulator, an extra rice cooker and the ice cream maker. At some point, I might squeeze in a countertop convection oven down there as well, but here's how it stands at present:

I also had a conversation on the phone this weekend with a guy called Dale Barron, who does a lot of work installing stainless and exhaust hoods around town. I was referred to him by the guys over at the Oregon Deli Company on Mississippi Avenue, where he'd done a particularly impressive installation. He was much more encouraging than the last guy I talked to about hoods, and he's open to the idea of helping me install it. We'll be setting up a time next weekend to have him come take a look at the cart and devise a strategy. I'm looking forward to that, and I imagine he'll have a recommendation or two for electricians. Much forward movement; stay tuned!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Food Cart Project Part XXIX: Shelving!

I was hoping to continue with the plumbing this weekend, but my tankless water heater has yet to arrive, and I'm kind of stuck from going any further until I have that, so I spent the past few days dialing in the shelving. What I'd originally put up was pretty flimsy plywood, which was in place as a stopgap because I had a bunch of leftover material. I replaced that with 1/2" MDF, and while I was at it I decided to expand it a bit. I imagine the Multnomah County Health Department will be more comfortable with this than the barely painted, rough plywood. Here are a couple shots of that:

My cousin Barry's wife Shellane had an audition in town, for a commercial for Haggen Supermarkets, so they came down from Seattle with the kids. We had brunch across the street at Broder Nord, and they had a look through the cart. Barry and Shellane ran a bar in Queen Anne back in the day, and now have a bottle shop up in Lake City; it's always good to have someone with some experience in the food service industry take a walk through and not find anything too out of whack. And of course, it was great to see these guys...

So, with any luck, I'll have some more plumbing to show off next weekend. For now, I'm happy with the shelves.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Food Cart Project Part XXVIII: Plumbing Begins.

Having picked up the sinks and first round of supplies last weekend, I was able to jump into the plumbing side of things over the last few days. The first step was to install the water pump to the wall:

Next was to run the cold line from the fresh water tank to the pump:

And then to continue it from the pump to the T-connections which will lead to the cold faucets on the ware and hand sinks:

Here's how all of that looks from underneath, with the sinks and their counter back in place (if you look closely at the fresh water tank, you can see the "cage" I built for it out of 2x4s, which I then painted white; this is to help the tank keep its shape when full):

You might have noticed that there isn't any copper anywhere to be seen. I used what's known as "pex," which stands for cross-linked polyethylene. It's pretty much standard nowadays in mobile, as well as residential, plumbing applications. The connections basically screw on to the pex, and create a seal (other connection types include using copper compression rings, and expanding the tubing with a plastic "shape memory" collar that shrinks back to its original size).

After all of that was in place, I installed the door for the water:

Here's what that looks like from inside the cart:

The large hole will be connected to the fresh water tank's inlet with about 1-1/2" esophageal tubing, while the smaller hole will be connected to the tank's air vent with 1/2" tubing (the door itself, of course, not being air-tight). A piece of plywood, painted white and with a couple of holes cut out for the tubing, will finish it up nicely, and I'll get some of the insulation packed back in there.

Before I can go any further, of course, I'll need the tankless water heater and the gray water tank. Those are on order and should arrive sometime this week. So, by the end of next weekend, I should have some more plumbing in place for you to check out...

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Food Cart Project Part XXVII: Plumbing is Nigh...

Lots of forward movement on the cart this weekend. I headed to Pitman Restaurant Supply on Friday to pick up my sinks. I had to do a fair amount of re-engineering on the counters on Thursday, as I'd designed them for a three compartment ware sink without drain pans, but per an update in Multnomah County regulations, a drain pan on either side of the the sink is now required (glad I found out about that before buying the sink!). I got that sorted out, however, cut out a couple of holes in the counter for the hand sink and the ware sink, and voila, my sinks are now in place:

I also visited my plumbing guy, Rick, at Curtis Trailers this weekend, and picked up the majority of my plumbing supplies. The gray water tank and tankless water heater are still on order, but the fresh water tank, pump, water lines, and various fittings are now in possession. Here's the fresh water tank:

The ware sink will need a faucet, obviously, and I'll need to build a cage out 2X4s for the fresh water tank to keep the sides from bulging out when it's full, but I feel pretty good about this weekend's progress. Curtis Trailers, by the way, is Portland's go-to for RV supplies, and they have a couple of really nicely restored vintage camping trailers on display up in the mezzanine in their showroom. This one's a 1937 Coleman Roadhouse:

So, that's where I am so far. The next couple of weekends will be devoted to plumbing, then the electrical and exhaust hood work will begin. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Food Cart Project Part XXVI: The Trim is Done!

The trim ended up being a much more involved process than I'd anticipated, but I finally finished sizing it, getting it into place, and painting it. Here are some shots of that:

Here's a shot of the trim around the side window. I'll probably pull the horizontal pieces off at some point and carve some detail into them with the jigsaw...

I also got the ball rolling on the plumbing this weekend. Rick over at Curtis Trailers has my sink and tanks on order, and I'll be picking those up along with the pump, water heater and assorted hardware, hoses and fittings next Saturday. So, things are moving along...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Food Cart Project Part XXV: Nothin' but Trim...

I've spent the last couple of weekends working on exterior trim. This turned out to be a much bigger task than I'd anticipated, but I'm mostly finished measuring, cutting and installing it; just need to finish up on the front window side, as well as a small piece above the door, and it'll be ready to paint. Most of it will be painted with the same maroon I used on the millwork in the door window, but the vertical pieces covering the seams between the siding panels will be the same yellow. Here are some shots of it as it stands now:

So, yeah, just trim. Not a whole lot to look at, but it represents another step forward, and I think once it's painted, it'll make a world of difference, so be looking forward to that next weekend!

Oh, one interesting development that's worthy of mention: My landlords, a couple called Sue and Trip, run a construction business in addition to the three apartment buildings they own. Lately, they've been expanding that business into the development side, and are working on two properties at the moment which will include food cart pods. One of these developments is in SE Portland, right on the new Max line to Milwaukie, and is slated to open mid-fall. I've been renting my apartment from these two for six years now, I have a very good relationship with them, and I'd be more than happy to rent space for the cart from them if the numbers and the timeline pencil out... So that could well be a possibility for a location once I'm done with build-out and have the mechanicals in place. Obviously, this is potentially exciting news... Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Food Cart Project Part XXIV: Big Yella Box, Big Yella Box, Meet Me Down By the Big Yella Box!

I finished gluing up the insulation on the last roof panel this weekend. Behold my innovative clamping method:

With that last panel finally in place, the roof/ceiling is done (the first part of it, at any rate; the upper canopy still needs to be built). Here's what it looks like through the door:

I also got the exterior siding put up this weekend. I went with standard composite bead board. It's not exactly an exterior grade material, so I'm just kind of hoping for the best in terms of how it holds up to the weather. But it's cheap, light, and it was relatively easy to install. Worst case scenario, I'll end up replacing it with cedar shake somewhere down the road...

I finished that up last night, and came in this morning to knock out the first coat of mustard yellow exterior paint:

It's difficult to tell from the photos, but after the first coat, the color is still pretty uneven. Next weekend, I'll give it a second coat, and paint and install the trim. At that point, this thing is gonna start to look like a food cart. It is a pretty aggressive shade of yellow, obviously, so I picked up a can of a slightly lighter shade, and will be using that to paint on a subtle ghosted bamboo pattern, which I think should serve to visually break it up a bit. Stay tuned!