October Part 2/2: Metal Procurement

Posted in : Framing, metal procurement, October on by : Tai , freemiumfreemiumfreemium Comments: 3

How Much Metal?

In the sketchup post I mentioned that I logged all the lengths needed in accordance to my build plan.  I calculated I’d need about 500-600feet total.  Assuming I will waste 20%  I then decided that I should probably buy 800 feet just to be safe.  However the price break I got at 1000 feet was enough to make that extra 200 feet cost only $40, so I went ahead and ordered 1000 feet of 16 gauge 1″ square tubing.

Shop Computer

Around this time I found a desperate need for a “shop computer”, so I scored one of my co-workers cosmetically broken alienware laptop for $100. It’s got a 2.4ghz i5, 4gb of ram, broken screen and broken “c” key on keyboard. I got the mouse and keyboard for $1 each at RE-PC computer recycling store. I setup the shelves accordingly. I also mostly(no cloud yet) setup a 4 channel security system but I forgot to take pictures of it.



Picking up the Metal

So with all this crap setup, I screwed in the navigator seat and my wife and I went over to specialty metals yesterday to pickup our metal! Below is what 1100 feet of various metals look like in a 20 foot bundle. It all went down super smoothly.


So funny story about yesterday. Apparently there’s been a bunch of storm advisories for “the biggest storm in years”. I’m not one to give into the hype on the news, but I was really sad that my drivers side windshield wiper was not working(I’ll probably bring this up again later). Luckily the metal shop is about 4 miles from my house so we were able to get there trouble free. Of the 3 or 4 times I went to varying hardware stores yesterday I thought it was funny that everyone is getting candles and generators and I’m buying cutoff wheels to cut all this metal. It’s also good to note that I was blessed to have a brief rainstorm and 3 days of sun preceding this storm, this gave me time to find leaks, stress over them, buy some automotive seam sealer (3m 8500) and seal the leaks, kinda, some spots still leak a little though. At this point I’m probably just going to lather it all over the troublesome areas extremely liberally.

The rain did cause a lot of inconveniences and problems though. My wife encouraged me to use a tarp to protect the passage between the bus and the garage. So I used my goto sailing knots to rig up a tarp to my bus’s roof deck. The tarp had holes but was EXTREMELY useful. I am so glad I spent the 15 minutes needed to make this happen.


With this done I pumped the tunes, cracked a beer, and went to town. I started this project around 3:30 and Finished at midnight. I took about 90 minutes of breaks to hardware stores and takeout food.

Note:  I chose to cut the metal because I was quoted at $2 a cut.  A little pricey for about 1 minute of work.


I setup a metal inventory spreadsheet on the shop computer to help me keep track of everything I needed to cut. After every few cuts I would go into the laundry room and punch in however many cuts I made below the corresponding lengths. Towards the end I developed a nice tally system that let me keep track of 80 feet worth of cuts before reporting my cuts. I was averaging around 45-50 seconds per cut, including all the side work. By the time I was done I drank about 20 ounces of water in 4 chugs, it was pretty intense.


About 80% of the finished cuts (the rest is scattered in various nooks and crannys).


To top it off we even returned the bus to it’s original parking spot and got it mostly re-leveled before 1am.

Here’s a picture of the bus I took last night before I returned it to it’s original parking spot. It looks much better during the day.


3 thoughts on “October Part 2/2: Metal Procurement”

  1. Jim Billington January 15, 2017Reply

    I find that places like specialty metals are hideously expensive, I buy mine from a scrap dealer, I am a Union graduate apprentice steel fabricator, but go to the son in law’s house to use his welding equipment.

    1. Tai January 15, 2017Reply

      I believe that! I’m slowly learning as I go. I couldn’t believe what a price difference there was between the retail side of specialty metals, and the bulk purchase side. Regardless do you have any suggestions for good scrap dealers to scavenge their inventory?

  2. Jim Billington January 26, 2017Reply

    I think you are in the puget sound, off the top of my head there is one on the renton/maple valley hiway, Navy metals in Bremerton, one near the Prison in Shelton, check out Pacific Metals south Seattle, I am sure there are more, but that is off the top of my head

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