Sunday, May 31, 2015

Food Cart Project Part XIX: Roof, etcetera...

This weekend's work on the cart started with finishing the last section of counter, which was built out of 2x2s and plywood:

After gluing the Formica into place, it took some finagling to get it even with the other counters (the photos above show that it torques a bit upward at the upper left corner), but it worked out nicely:

I also added the trim around the inside of the windows. I'll need to fill and paint the gaps, but these turned out pretty well...

After cutting a hole for this pan, I now have an ice bath for mise en place items that need to stay below 40 F. The pan doesn't really work with Cambros, but it holds six round 1-qt. deli containers perfectly:

Also, I finally got the roof structure started. This will be covered with plywood, wrapped in Tyvek and fitted with R-6 board insulation:

Here's the larger view of everything so far:

As I mentioned last week, we have a number of artisans doing very interesting things at Civilian. Here's Austin working on another bonsai stand. He's got a total of thirteen commissions for these things, and he's doing each one as a unique piece, specific to its tree...

I happened upon another artisan, Jacob, out on the back patio, heat treating parts for his tattoo equipment. The guy doesn't just do tattoos, he makes his own tattoo machines. How bad ass is that?

And finally, here we have Austin and Ashley's dog Maui, who likes to stand on the bookshelf in the lounge area and survey her domain...

Monday, May 25, 2015

Food Cart Project Part XVIII: Painting and Formica!

This weekend was all about painting, and finishing the counters I built last weekend. All of the trim is now painted, as are the shelves and counter bases. I also cut the Formica to size and glued it onto the tops and fronts of the countertops themselves:

There are still a few spots that need to be retouched with paint, of course, and some adhesive overage that needs to be cleaned up, but overall it came out really well. I used a construction adhesive called Liquid Nails to secure the Formica, and it set up pretty nicely. The counter on the left in the foreground will have holes cut out for the sinks once I have them. The counter behind that will be for prep and/or service. On the right, from back to front, are the counters for mise-en-place, induction burners and deep fryers. Underneath those last two, I'll put in shelves for the immersion circulator and convection oven. There's one more section of counter that still needs to be built and Formica-ed. This will go underneath the front window, and rather than sit on a base, will be suspended between the counters on either side of it (and probably supported with a couple of wall mounted brackets as well), the reason being that legs would likely get in the way of putting in the under-counter freezer. Here's the view from the other end:

I also started building the ceiling/roof structure, but that's not far enough along yet to warrant a photo; should have something tangible built by the end of next weekend, though. I was also planning on visiting the credit union with my business plan today to apply for a loan, but having failed to take into account that today is a holiday, I'm going to have to put that on the agenda for next Friday. Hope everyone's having a good Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Food Cart Project Part XVII: Shelving, Counters, Floor Tile, Etcetera...

More forward progress was made on the cart this weekend. To start with, I mounted some shelving hardware:

Which, as might reasonably be expected, led to shelves:

I also built the remaining counters. These three will be against the cooking wall, and, once given some paint and formica, will house mise en place, induction burners and deep fryers (and, underneath those, a convection oven and an immersion circulator). Yes, I know the third one is backwards; I somehow didn't notice that as I was taking this shot, and I'm not going back to re-compose it...

While it was nice to get those counters out of the way, the biggest accomplishment of the weekend, by far, was installing the flooring:

The floor represents a bit of a turning point for me. Before the floor, this whole thing wasn't much more than a plywood box on wheels. Now that it's in, though, there's no longer any visible plywood anywhere on the cart, outside or inside, and it's become a kitchen waiting to come to life. I can't help but look at that as kind of a big deal. There's a certain "kitchen" quality that wasn't there before...

The flooring, by the way, is what's called VCT, which stands for vinyl composition tile. I needed two boxes of it for my square footage, so I decided to get one each of black and white and do the classic checkerboard pattern. If you do a Google image search of "VCT patterns," you'll find that people get really creative with this stuff... I did not. But I'm happy with the way it turned out. VCT is very easy to work with, but there's one thing to be aware of, should you ever find yourself installing this kind of flooring. The tiles, while perfectly square, are not perfectly flat. Each one will have a slight bow to it, and you want to install it such that the corners are bowing downward, and not upward. Apart from that, though, like I said, it was a breeze to install. You might notice, by the way, that the trim I put in last weekend has been painted. I went with a glossy white.

My food cart, of course, is not the only project in the works at Civilian Studios. There are upwards of forty artists and artisans who rent space here; everyone from painters to sculptors to jewelry makers to motorcycle builders to woodworkers. My neighbor Austin is currently working on this bonsai stand. I'm quite fond of this piece. Austin's a wizard at bookmatching veneer, and I really dig the Greene & Greene references he has going on here. Very nice work...

So, a productive weekend for sure. Still no ceiling/roof yet, that's on next weekend's agenda, as well as putting the finishing touches on the business plan and talking to the bank about a loan... Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Food Cart Project Part XVI: Windows, FRP and Trim...

The windows made their way into the cart this weekend. Well, they didn't make their way into it, so much as I put them there. These were easier to hang than the door, which itself wasn't nearly as nightmarish as I'd expected. That flashing tape around them can be a little tricky to work with, however; it really likes to stick to itself. I went with a pair of pretty standard double-pane 4'x3' sliders:

I also made much progress on the interior:

All of the FRP (fiber reinforced plastic) and its moulding is in. This is the pebbly textured plastic paneling you see in pretty much every bar or fast food restaurant restroom in North America. It's durable, easy to clean, and it makes health departments happy. Much of this weekend was also spent milling leftover 2x4s into 3/8 in strips for the trim, which I then cut to size and installed. It still needs to be painted, of course. I haven't decided if I'm going to go with white or some shade of brown that mimics a stained look.

Next weekend's agenda will call for putting in the flooring, building the rest of the counters, and starting on the ceiling/roof. Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Food Cart Project Part XV: Let Me Show You the Door!

The door is finally on the cart! The first order of this particular part of business was building the jamb:

Turns out I got all my measurements right; as you can see here, the door fits pretty nicely in the jamb, with just about an 1/8" gap:

I had to shim the Hell out of the strike side, and will probably want to stuff some insulation in there, but once I got the jamb in place and got the door on its hinges, everything was nice and square and plumb. Here are a couple shots of the door on the cart:

Next, I took the door off and sawed it roughly in half. I now have a Dutch door, which will be nice in the Summer:

Of course, I'll need to get a knob and a couple of dead-bolts for the door. I also got the rest of the interior sheathing up this weekend. Next step here is to install the FRP and the stainless...

There's a pretty nice view of the Fremont Bridge right out of the garage bay (we also get a lot of trains going by):

One other fortuitous development this weekend was that Steven Shomler, author of Portland Food Cart Stories and host of Tasty Tuesdays on the Portland Radio Project, came by a barbecue I had on Saturday with his radio producer, Ken Wilson. They're interested in interviewing me once I'm almost ready to open. That'll be a fantastic bit of exposure. Many thanks, Steven and Ken! Oh, and thanks as well to Risa Dale for the door, and to James for helping to hang it!