1986 Burro Floor is Spongy - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-07-2016, 10:05 PM   #1
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Name: Carrie
Trailer: Burro
Georgia
Posts: 8
1986 Burro Floor is Spongy

Hello Everyone! We have just purchased a 1986 13' Burro, and after getting home realized a significant portion of the floor is spongy. I knew the door area was soft, but when I was doing a deep clean I discovered it is also soft near the wall under the gaucho bed/sofa, from the table flange towards the rear, and a little bit also next to the sink. Yikes! I think this means I need to replace the entire floor. Of course, I know I need to find the source of the leak, and I have already found several leak points along the water system (attachment for drain, the pump handle leaked, and the pressure line was cut/damaged). I've fully removed all the plumbing at this point. There, of course, may be water entering from windows. I haven't had it in the rain, yet, but I don't see any obvious lines of dirt indicating water drainage.
My Burro has foil insulation on most of the outer shell. Is that factory installed? It seems quite old, but this has had some work done on it by prior owners (carpet has been changed, bunk bed re-done, lineolum tile floors). I ask because it makes it hard for me to see where leaks would be from the windows. I presume the water would be dripping down from between the outer shell and the insulation? (Can someone confirm this for me so I don't go ripping up insulation if I don't need to!?

We have just purchased it, and the family is super excited (first trailer), and are taking it out this weekend, so I'll see what else we can find that needs fixing (certainly the door doesn't close well and there cracks and pits in areas of the gel coat. I also am motivated to put in Solar at some point. PO took out the battery, but put in a new fridge. Someone made blocks to support the fridge and there are water stains that wicked up the 2x4 support blocks that were made, so there has certainly been some long-standing water issues.

I figured the floor is the first place to start, and from reading other posts on here, I need to take it off the axel. Fortunately I have seen some good tips on how to accomplish that.

I will have lots more questions. Thanks in advance, and nice to meet you!

Rich
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Old 04-08-2016, 11:52 AM   #2
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Name: Kathleen
Trailer: Amerigo FG-16 1973 "Peanut"
Washington
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So many surprises to spring up at you.

Oh my. You surely will find lots of help here.

Last fall, we were where you are now, discovering our new 73 amerigo had a rotten floor and all the various leaks and flaws that contributed to it.

We have had so much help here on FGRV! And we're making progress, especially now with better weather.

Hope this goes well for you, and fast. I know how eager one can be to get out and camp.

BEST.
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Old 04-08-2016, 01:56 PM   #3
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Name: George
Trailer: 1997 16' Scamp
Michigan
Posts: 58
Hi Rich,

Congratulations on the new to you Burro. Sorry about the floor but 1986 was awhile ago. We purchased a 1997 Scamp a few years ago. It had some dry rot from leaks. The front window area where the bunk beds were had some damage. A side closet where a water tank had been kept had some damage. Under the sink where there had been leaks there were some problems and at the very rear on the outer perimeter under the dining area seats. It sounds like a lot of damage but they were all areas of 1 to 2 sq ft. I had worked on dry rot in boat decks before and had used Git Rot or epoxy thinned with acetone. I fixed the leaks and went to work on the floor. I took about a 3/16 drill bit and taped it to establish a depth of about 1/2 the thickness of the floor. I then drilled a checkerboard pattern of holes about 1" to 1 1/2" apart. I then mixed about a cup of epoxy and thinned it with acetone until it is a little thicker than water. I use plastic syringes that I purchase at West Marine and pumped the thinned epoxy into the holes. If the dry rot has made voids going all the way through, I use duct tape as a backer to keep the epoxy in the wood. The thinned epoxy can take days to cure. Mixing about a cup at a time is a good place to start as a pot of the stuff creates heat and can cause it to go " off " too soon. After all is cured and hard. I put a finish coat on. If I'm worried about structural strength, I add some mat.
My trailer is 11 years newer than yours and my floor could be saved. Your floor may well need to be replaced. I did this work nearly 3 years ago, 10 - 12,000 miles towed since and I have seen no change. My center floor does flex a bit. I weigh about 215 lbs and the floor will flex maybe 1/8" or so when I step between the steel angle that carries the floor. I hope that's natural for my trailer.

Oh yeah, the floor must be fairly dry. Put it in a covered place and run some fans and or heaters.

Good luck!
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Old 04-18-2016, 06:34 AM   #4
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Name: Carrie
Trailer: Burro
Georgia
Posts: 8
Thanks for the advice and encouragement

I appreciate the replies and encouragement. I am going to look at replacing the floor, since there are so many areas that are spongy, but maybe I can get by with patching areas. I'll drill into the floor and see--I hadn't thought about that route.

Rich

(whose wife is still shopping for a fiberglass trailer even though she already bought this one)
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Old 04-20-2016, 09:07 AM   #5
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Name: Rick
Trailer: Burro
Massachusetts
Posts: 76
Hi Carrie,

Here is a link to a forum thread all about replacing the floor in a Burro. I read this and gained the confidence to do mine, which I did, 3 years ago. Someone (generally a male) with moderate strength and some intermediate skills in building and repairing can do this.

No wonder the Burro floor is rotted

I used epoxy from "Raka". Just look them up and read their "epoxy manual" to learn how to work with it.

good luck,
Rick
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Old 04-22-2016, 01:58 PM   #6
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Name: James (Jim)
Trailer: 1981 Burro - 13'
Ohio
Posts: 28
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Hi, Rich, my name is Jim and I have an '81 Burro with severe floor rot. Vent was broken out for years; go figure. At any rate, I'm facing a complete redo, too. First, though, I have to get the vent replaced and a bad roof sag fixed. (It had a large tree branch on it for several years. That broke the vent.) Once I get the roof sealed again, what I plan to do is to cut out the floor areas between the frame supports enough to be able to get to the VERY rusted bolts. I won't cut out the edges; I'll need the existing shape for a pattern when I replace the ply. Bolts will have to be "finessed" out by any means possible; some will come out with a wrench, some may have to be broken/drilled out. I'll save as many holes as possible so I can use self-tapping screws when I DO get it ready to reattach. Ply will be fully fiberglassed on BOTH sides and will be in 3 pieces since you can't put it all together before you get it snugged into the groove all around the bottom of the shell. Joints across the frame supports. I want to ship-lap the 3 pieces about 2" where they meet so that the 3rd piece in will just lay down on the other 2. (I'll leave the ship-lap areas glass free and will glass the seams on top and bottom when I am ready to set it back on the frame.) I want to use 3/4" marine ply and will taper (or route down) the edges enough to let it slip into the grooves if it's too thick. Only on the bottom, though, so if it's thicker than the original it will hold the shell up off the frame a bit. Done a LOT of thinking on how to do this; if you have any questions feel free to ask. You can PM me if you want to. Also, if you have any alternate ideas, I'd love to hear them! We have to have the shell up and off the frame to do this; I plan on blocking it up and pulling the frame out for mods to it; add some bracing where the door goes, for example, plus a new coupler. When I set the shell/floor combo back down on the frame, I plan on drilling pilot holes UP from under the frame and into the floor so that I can run the self tapping screws from above. I may countersink the heads and glass over them. Planning on using laminate flooring leftovers from home for flooring; trimmed at edges. No carpet! I hope all this makes sense? It's a big job, but NOT too big; just remember that it will take more TIME than you even guess that it will! Go for it; it's very rewarding! See my other posts for some pix of MY "miracle in the works"!
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Old 04-27-2016, 10:03 PM   #7
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Name: Carrie
Trailer: Burro
Georgia
Posts: 8
Frame off

Well, I got the frame off. It was a bit harder than I anticipated. Probably 5 hours of work so far. About half the nuts came off with an impact hammer, the remainder had to be 'finessed' out. My finesse was a combination of using an angle grinder occasionally (a bit sparky underneath because of all the frame angles bouncing them back onto me), a bolt cutter once (hard to get the cutter up close to the frame), drilling through the floor to grab the spinning carriage bolt with the vice grips so the impact or ratchet underneath could unlock the nut. ALL the nuts were rusted. A couple were absent. One was replaced by a screw (someone put a ground wire to the frame. I don't think that was factory installed.) MOST, if not all (I didn't look that close) of the rusted nuts had nylon locks in them (that melted off with the angler grinder). I would estimate over half of the 3/8" 3-ply plywood floor is rotten. Much of the fiberglass is no longer adhering to the plywood. Much of the plywood can be scooped out with my fingers. Sand is present mixed with the plywood in the drivers' side wheel-well.

There has been an unusual repair under the driver's wheel well. I think it may have been in an accident, there is a lot of spider-webbing of the gelcoat and perhaps some bondo around the 'fin' when where the tail lights are. Someone had a LOT of silicone (two different colors, so I guess two different times) around the door, and had also installed a section of 2x4 to give it strength because of the rot at that location.

Tomorrow I plan to get the remainder of the fiberglass/plywood out. Initially I had considered trying to leave the lower layer of fiberglass installed as protection vs road debris, but seeing as a lot of the top layer is still adherent, the bottom may be adhering, too.
Sawing through fiberglass is very messy. I'm wearing a mask and long clothes and gloves.

I am planning to put in marine-grade plywood. I hadn't really appreciated the potential difficulty finagling it between the two fiberglass shells, so I am glad you pointed that out. I had initially thought I would fiberglass it in, but am reconsidering. It seems like overkill. I don't really need to repair any other fiberglass at this point, so right now I'm planning to simply put in the rot-resistant plywood floor, and then re-assemble. Also, I figure it will be easier to spot the leaks this way, and then correct them.
I was going to drill up through the frame holes after I re-assembled, then counter-sink for the bolt heads, and then put in a laminate floor over the top.

Partway through the dssassembly I did consider that a less-than-ideal, but probably acceptable fix would have been to ignore any rusted/weak area underneath the cabinets and sink, and simply put in a new custom-fit stronger plywood floor over the middle of the Burro. Rest this on top of the inner shell and secure to shell with screws and to the frame with new bolts/holes and leave all the rusted and rotten ones as they are. Needless to say, I didn't do this. I had read a prior thread about how rotten their floor was and rusted the bolts were, and I was worried for road safety and liability. As much work as I had to do to remove those bolts, I think they were collectively satisfactory at holding the trailer to the frame. Only about 1/5 of them broke and only a couple were fully rusted through.

Rich
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Old 04-28-2016, 06:15 AM   #8
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Name: James (Jim)
Trailer: 1981 Burro - 13'
Ohio
Posts: 28
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Sounds like we're on the same page! You're ahead of me now; just got the sagging roof fixed, got it up on blocks last night and about ready to start getting the old floor out and the frame out. Been using the long sleeve shirt, mask and hat for the fiberglassing already, just in time for the sawing from underneath! It pays to not be too squeamish about getting dirty! Keep me posted; I'm really looking forward to starting the INSTALL part of the floor! Demo is OK, but building is better!
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Old 04-28-2016, 06:55 AM   #9
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Name: bob
Trailer: 1984 u-haul ct13; 1996 Casita 17 Spirit Deluxe; 1946 Modernistic teardrop
New York
Posts: 4,244
you can use elevator bolts through the floor to the frame as is used on the Uhaul campers. They have a large flat head and a square similar to a carriage bolt.
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Old 04-28-2016, 08:32 AM   #10
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Name: Carrie
Trailer: Burro
Georgia
Posts: 8
elevator bolt

I had never heard of an elevator bolt before, although I was going to look at Lowes for a low-profile bolt. That looks like it will work great!
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Old 04-28-2016, 12:28 PM   #11
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Name: bob
Trailer: 1984 u-haul ct13; 1996 Casita 17 Spirit Deluxe; 1946 Modernistic teardrop
New York
Posts: 4,244
We used elevator bolts on roll-up doors (garage type door) on cargo trucks and trailers. UHaul used them to hold the body to the frame on their campers. There are some Burro owners on the Uhaul Facebook group as the trailers are very similar
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Old 08-12-2016, 08:33 AM   #12
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Name: Carrie
Trailer: Burro
Georgia
Posts: 8
Update

Well, it's been quite a while since I posted on this thread. The deconstruction/reconstruction has been quite a project. I had composed a lengthy email a few months back and somehow between typing and send I got timed out of the website and all my words disappeared. I was very frustrated and left the site alone for a while after that. So, here's a progress update:
I jacked up the frame and cut out the original floor with angle grinders. I did not wear a suit to protect myself from fiberglass hairs, which I regretted. Get one of those disposable tyvek suits if you attempt this, you won't itch for days like I did. Anyways, I proceeded to cut the fiberglass from above and below and removed the entire floor component. Also removed the propane system and the heater, as I don't think this will ever be needed. We are switching to induction burner hotplate.
Be aware that removing the floor removes some of the structure, so I used ratcheting tie-down straps to hold the shape of the burro while it was up on stilts. I cut out a new floor out of 3 pieces of pressure-treated plywood, and with a friend, shoved the front and back pieces into the slot between the internal/external fiberglass halves. This was secured with liquid nails in the slot before sliding in the fiberglass. "Sliding in" means aggressively hammering. It was a lot of work. The middle piece had been aligned with the metal cross-pieces on the frame, and I secured the new floor to the frame on both sides at those joints to prevent flex in the floor. The middle piece was pretty easy to install because there was very little lip to finagle on the door side of the trailer.
In retrospect, I wish I had painted the wood before re-attaching it. I think it would have helped to have put a couple of coats of exterior paint on the street side of the wood. I'll still do that, but it will be a real PITA to do it now that the floor is installed.
Because of the pressure-treated wood, I used stainless steel bolts to secure it to the frame.
I have also removed the stove, and put a butcher-block countertop (Ikea) in place/upon the original counter. Looks pretty nice. I have installed a new faucet, but am waiting for the flange to connect the new faucet to shore water.
I also ran LED strip lighting underneath/inside of all storage spaces. I jumped a new outlet from the original GFCI box to power a dorm fridge under the counter, and then ran wire and an additional outlet up into the cabinet above the sink.
I have a question about sealing the exposed plywood in the wheel wells. It looks to me like there was an old (possibly original) white caulk/resin type material that was securing the original wood to the fiberglass exterior, and I presume, protecting it from the elements.
Does anyone have advice for what material I should use to re-do this? I have considered silicone--the GE almond color matches the frame exactly, so this would be an invisible repair. It is flexible, so I presume it wouldn't crack. I'm just not sure that is the correct type of application for this space. Whatever material I had to remove was very hard and would stand up well to road debris/rocks/whatever. That being said, it was brittle enough to break off in places, and during the deconstruction, I removed rotten plywood that had sand in it from some prior owners' beach excursion.
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Old 08-12-2016, 11:39 AM   #13
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Name: Gary
Trailer: UHaul CT13
Iowa
Posts: 221
Carrie,
You've done a lot!... on a major undertaking! Good for you.
My 2-cents-worth on sealant in the wheel-well area: I'm really fond of 3m seam-sealant in places like that. So long as surfaces are clean n dry, it sticks well to just about anything, and dries to a firm, rubbery consistency... and lasts a long time. [I use the stuff that comes in foil sausage-packs that go in a special applicator gun, but I think it's also available in conventional caulk gun cartridges. I think the foil-packs are 3M part number 08193???] Available at auto supply stores that sell body-work materials.
Gary

Once it's cured paint will even stick to it. And should you ever need to remove it, it won't fight you like many silicones will.
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Old 08-13-2016, 09:08 AM   #14
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Name: Carrie
Trailer: Burro
Georgia
Posts: 8
Thanks for the seam sealant tip, groys02. I'm looking at the 3M product page and they have both urethane and silicone based seam sealers. Which type would you suggest? I was thinking the silicone, after reading a little about them. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to see the identical color of the GE 100% silicone cartridge in almond was the same color as the gelcoat. Any idea if the 'beige' color in the seam sealant is as close a match?

(BTW, that product number 08193 is for a nozzle for the dual-component cartridges.)

Rich
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