Bigfoot roof delamination - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-25-2010, 11:12 AM   #1
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Yesterday I started the dismantling of the trailer, I knew when I bought it that I had major work and paid accordingly. The roof is delaminated and had hail damage. My trailer is an early model with the flat roof which is structurally most likely a bad design.

I have had the winter to think about how to go about repairing the trailer; and don't have a heated shop that I can get the trailer in so it is sitting at the cabin. Waiting for when I can find time during nice weather, to work on it. The interior outside of the ceiling was in really good condition, but the only way to repair it was to take out the cabinets and bulkheads, so a total dismantling.

The first order of business was to buy a number of 2 x4's so as I took cabinets and supports out I could support the roof. I then removed the cabinets over the kitchen and the dinette; and also removed the corner supports (wall to ceiling) on the front section. The ceiling basically fell down at this point. The construction is this the fibreglass shell, one inch blue foam, and 1/8" wood panelling, all glued together with spray on pink contact cement, the type used by counter top companies.

The ceiling of the trailer consists of 3 panels approximately 4' by 7', it seems to me that it is best to only remove one panel and replace it before doing the next, the one caveat would be the wiring that is in the ceiling, although in good condition from what I can tell it maybe should be redone. I'm thinking of using PL300 as my adhesive but a little worried about working time on such a big area, it should be most likely put on with a notched trowel rather than several beads so that the roof becomes a structural member again. There is also the removal for the pink contact on the ceiling, leaving it there seems like a recipe for another failure, and not sure the best way to remove it.

One thing I forgot to mention was the hail damage seemed to be repaired with tar, I wanted to see if I could remove it with solvent but nothing seemed to touch it. So I tried sanding it. I'm pretty sure they used J-B Weld; it has excellent adhesion and has sanded down nicely so it should be possible to lay on some light mat and follow that with gel coat, at least that is the thought of the moment



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Old 05-25-2010, 02:22 PM   #2
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The removal for the pink contact on the ceiling is looking like a MAJOR PROBLEM, every remover seems to lacquer thinner or acetone based. The fumes are going to be scary. I do have two 450 cfm fans so maybe one blowing in and one sucking out with a good respirator, but it isn't going to be a fast job.

Does anyone have an environmentally saver method, I would sure appreciate your advice.
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Old 05-25-2010, 02:53 PM   #3
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I'd fix the ceiling the same way Smoke restorers do after a fire in a home. Clean it as best you can... maybe TSP, etc. then seal it up with Zinssers Primer, then finish with a good top coat of paint.

Primer Sealers from Zinssers
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Old 05-25-2010, 04:04 PM   #4
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Even with cross ventilation; you should have a respirator. The only solvents for the contact is either acetone or naptha.
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Old 05-25-2010, 08:02 PM   #5
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Oh shoot, I just read where you want to take the ceiling down and are looking to remove the pink insulation. Skip my idea! But if it were me, I'd add insulation back on top... may as well add insulation where you can and since heat rises keep it inside the cabin if possible.

Maybe blue styrofoam sheets would work? It doesn't wick moisture and doesn't melt when the proper adhesive is used.

On Edit: Chris and Maureen refurbished a 1984 Bigfoot 5th wheel that had some roof damage. You may find this topic and pictures of benefit. AND, I'd bet Chris and Maureen would be open to roof fix questions. 1984 Bigfoot 5th Wheel Updates
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Old 05-25-2010, 09:47 PM   #6
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Dave I think you are right, I will wear a respirator for sure. This is not going to be a job I look forward to

Donna it is the pink contact cement I want to get rid of, I'm testing a couple different glues to to replace the foam insulation, but first I need to clean off the old glue (contact cement). I will replace with new Foam board and new interior paneling. The shell of the Fiberglass shell of the Bigfoot is very thin and has no rigidity by its self, the gluing of the foam and interior paneling is what gives the roof its strength. Think of a hollow core door in your house, really just make of two pieces of 1/8" ply or Masonite held apart by some 1 1/8" wood strips on the edge and card board on edge in the middle, the door is much more rigid than the two sheets of ply. I am thinking of going to thicker foam and am not yet sure if I will, added insulation and extra strength are the pluses, but changing the cabinets is the negative.
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Old 05-25-2010, 10:08 PM   #7
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Donna I missed your edit Thanks
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Old 05-26-2010, 09:32 AM   #8
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Hi Daryl

Wow, this looks like a huge project. I believe you are heading down the right path to remove all the old foam and contact cement. Scraping and light sanding along with chemicals to remove as much as possible makes sense to me. On our Bigfoot trailers, I noticed Bigfoot installed some notched 1 x 1 joists along the roof usually where the ceiling panels joined. The notching was simple cuts about 3/4 of an inch to help make the wood flex to give the roof a minor curve. I read your roof is flat, but if you can push it up towards the center this might give it better water draining in the future. Also if you plan to install a AC unit now is the time to add the extra bracing to support it and box in the 14" x 14" opening for the venting and electrical.

Have you considered splitting the trailer? If you have removed the cabinets, the windows are not that difficult to take out. with the help of a couple of friends it should be easy to split the shell and work with gravity on the ground rather than fighting it upside down.

Once the inside is done and strong, fixing the fiberglass on the topside is your next step. Sanding the surface and applying new fiberglass jelly worked well for me. Then I sanded again, sealed with Interlux marine epoxy primer then painted with Interlux marine paint. Hope that helps. Please take a lot of pictures as this is a big projects where I'm sure fellow Fiberglass RV'ers would love to follow along with your progress.

Best of luck
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Old 05-26-2010, 02:45 PM   #9
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Daryl,
We are facing the same fix on our 5th wheel. As Chris mentioned ours also has kerfed joists in the ceiling. These seems to be the structure that gives the ceiling support in addition to the gluing of the insulation and ceiling panels. I agree with Chris about giving the roof some curve, I can't see where it would have been built completely flat.

Our plan is to remove the existing ceiling as you have, jack up the roof and install new joists either by glassing them in or using construction adhesive. We have also talked about putting in thicker insulation but like you don't want to have to redo all the cabinets.

Good luck with your project!
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Old 07-02-2010, 01:03 AM   #10
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Well I finally got got in to the trailer today to do some more removal. I have been busy and we are having an incredible amount of rain. Today I finished removing the cabinets and bulkheads. You get all that stuff out and is the trailer ever spacious.

Thank you Chris for you post, it was excellent. I did notice the 1" by 3/4" strips and the seem to be used only for attachment of the cabinets, or at least that is the only place they seem to exist in my ceiling. I think that I will make the ceiling thicker using 1 1/2" or 2 inch foam. The PL300 doesn't seem to creep, that may change in a hot trailer that sits in the hot sun, I guess time will tell. I did glue up some test pieces and found that 2" of foam with 1/8 ply glued to both sides deflected very little compared to 1" foam and ply did, an interesting test.

Lizbeth I think your method will work, I will try to raise my roof as well but it is basically flat, I have seen new Bigfoot's and they are curved, it does look like I'm putting in new cabinets. So I guess I can ad insulation

Now that I have the cabinets out I'm getting a head of myself and thinking up dating the interior I would like to get away from the dark wood and would really prefer to have it look like the newer Bigfoots I'm not sure how much weight 12 sheets of 1/8" ply would add, but I temped to redo the walls, The major problem out side of weight would be the windows.
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Old 07-02-2010, 05:58 AM   #11
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At this point you could do some interesting things to have a truly unique Bigfoot. I was thinking perhaps a hip roof profile like an Award -- maybe skylights down the center -- how about a raised center panel with windows down each side?

Or maybe a molded in roof rack for kayaks, canoes or a small flat sail boat?

Better yet, it might be best to leave the design as-is, get it fixed and go camping.

The scope of these projects can quickly get out-of-hand, can't they?
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Old 07-14-2010, 10:25 AM   #12
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Well the work is progressing Slowly, we have had the wettest spring on record and I believe it has rained every day. Today I hope to replace the center ceiling panel and the ceiling will be done. This is a real learning experience, but things are moving about as fast as I expected. A couple set backs were, that you cannot use PL300 to glue foam to fiberglass, Thankfully I did a second test on the roof and found out. The glue has to gas off and what it did is blow holes through the foam board. I did find the original glue in spray cans and have used it again, rather expensive at $15.00 a can, but it seems to have worked for the repair and I'm banking on it holding as long as the original. I also removed and reglued the top half of the street side, this was most likely the hardest thing to do as it was very hard to get that firm press fit that you need with contact. I was able to use clamp pressure to the back of the galley but the bathroom and closet area required a bit of strange support, I'm doing this out doors at our cabin, so if you don't have the right tool you have to make do.

My goal right now is to have the top half of the trailer done by Monday, I had wanted to use new paneling on the walls and replace the cabinets and bulkheads as the ceiling is now thicker. It looks like I won't be able to replace the paneling as that would make the walls too thick and would leave a gap of the paneling thickness at all the windows. I did find a nice commercial wall vinyl/wall paper that I would like to use but a month back order, so that puts it out of the realm of this repair maybe in the future. Although I would rather not do it I looks like paint on the walls. My plan is to use good quality exterior paint starting with primer, paint and then a combed glaze. I'm going with Allure flooring.

With another 5 days of rain in the forecast I looks like I will not be able to glass the roof, before the trip, there a number of spots that look like they were repaired with JB Weld. and I have found in doing the ceiling a couple of suspect places I need a temporary solution for them. If any one has any ideas I would appreciate them, It must be something I can clean up and be able to glass over in the near future. I also need replacement, covers and for the vents, water, power I have found. The bathroom vent is a very small about 8 inch I think I can repair it for now but would like to replace in the future when I do the roof.

Loren outside of a few expected surprises this is about what I thought the rebuild would be, I think it is important before you buy a trailer like this that you do a bit of planing. You should never think that with a roof leak you can just pain over the damage. I planned on the repairs and to pay myself to do the repairs. There is a bit of room left over for the unexpected, Hopefully I will get the trailer I want out of it and have had the satisfaction of doing it. I also enjoy these little projects as much as I enjoy camping, If I don't get it done in time I will take my other trailer.
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