Burro frame - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-28-2015, 11:33 AM   #1
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Name: Duane
Trailer: 1978 Burro
Michigan
Posts: 82
Burro frame

I picked up my Burro a few months ago and wanted to take it for a couple of month trip this winter to get out of the Upper Michigan cold. There were two things that I thought I had better do before hauling it over 1000 miles out west.

I took the frame from underneath it and wanted to check it out thoroughly. It didn't look too bad as it was but... I could see the frame was sunk into the front of the fiberglass body about 1/2" or so on each side of where it sat on the frame.

It was a little tricky getting it out from underneath. I used 4 - 8 foot 2x8s, two under each end of the body. I got a few of the 1/4-20 bolts out of the flooring, another few snapped off in the frame and drilled out a few more. At least 2 of them I pulled right thru the floor also when I jacked up the body.

I figured I had three choices as what to do with the frame. Bring it to a powered coating place near here, buy and aluminum frame and plop the shell on that or do it myself. I chose to do the last one and glad I did. The biggest problem I found was right where the first crossmember went from one side to the other. I found a 1.5" stress crack on each side right in the frame section running from back to front. It was hard to tell it was there until I sandblasted all of the corners on the frame. I used disc sanders and wire wheels to get most of the rust off but the corners had to be sandblasted since they were in a difficult place to get at.

I welded the cracks and added 5 more pieces of angle iron to stiffen up the frame up front. I also added a piece near the door across the two pieces of angle already there.

I had to drag the frame out from under the shell with the wheels off to get it out. When I put the frame back I used a dolly on one end so I could roll it back under. I put a couple of nail thru the floor in the shell so I could tell if I was about in the right place.

I did the 3 step POR 15 process which I had never done before on the frame and sure glad I did. There should be no more worries as far as that part goes. A buddy that did his Model A front bumper with this stuff told me about it.

I'm still wrestling with the fit of the door but "she's" going south now with all of the time and effort I have put in "her" so far.

Oh I also replaced the wheel bearings etc and put in some nice new grease. Races looked great along with the axle itself so that was a real plus.
Attached Thumbnails
Burro repair 016.jpg   Burro repair 020.jpg  

burro frame 009.jpg   burro frame 011.jpg  

burro frame 013.jpg   burro frame 010.jpg  

burro frame 007.jpg  
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Old 10-28-2015, 12:41 PM   #2
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Name: Alan
Trailer: 2000 17' Casita Freedom Deluxe...Tow vehicle 2015 Toyota Tacoma Dble Cab V6 Prerunner
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Looks nice ( great job)


Sent from my iPhone using Fiberglass RV
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Old 10-28-2015, 05:25 PM   #3
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Trailer: Li'l Hauley
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Wow, I'm glad you had the courage and knowledge to do all that! You have saved yourself some problems down the road. A fine job!
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Old 02-03-2016, 12:42 PM   #4
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Name: James (Jim)
Trailer: 1981 Burro - 13'
Ohio
Posts: 28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DuaneQ View Post
I picked up my Burro a few months ago and wanted to take it for a couple of month trip this winter to get out of the Upper Michigan cold. There were two things that I thought I had better do before hauling it over 1000 miles out west.

I took the frame from underneath it and wanted to check it out thoroughly. It didn't look too bad as it was but... I could see the frame was sunk into the front of the fiberglass body about 1/2" or so on each side of where it sat on the frame.

It was a little tricky getting it out from underneath. I used 4 - 8 foot 2x8s, two under each end of the body. I got a few of the 1/4-20 bolts out of the flooring, another few snapped off in the frame and drilled out a few more. At least 2 of them I pulled right thru the floor also when I jacked up the body.

I figured I had three choices as what to do with the frame. Bring it to a powered coating place near here, buy and aluminum frame and plop the shell on that or do it myself. I chose to do the last one and glad I did. The biggest problem I found was right where the first crossmember went from one side to the other. I found a 1.5" stress crack on each side right in the frame section running from back to front. It was hard to tell it was there until I sandblasted all of the corners on the frame. I used disc sanders and wire wheels to get most of the rust off but the corners had to be sandblasted since they were in a difficult place to get at.

I welded the cracks and added 5 more pieces of angle iron to stiffen up the frame up front. I also added a piece near the door across the two pieces of angle already there.

I had to drag the frame out from under the shell with the wheels off to get it out. When I put the frame back I used a dolly on one end so I could roll it back under. I put a couple of nail thru the floor in the shell so I could tell if I was about in the right place.

I did the 3 step POR 15 process which I had never done before on the frame and sure glad I did. There should be no more worries as far as that part goes. A buddy that did his Model A front bumper with this stuff told me about it.

I'm still wrestling with the fit of the door but "she's" going south now with all of the time and effort I have put in "her" so far.

Oh I also replaced the wheel bearings etc and put in some nice new grease. Races looked great along with the axle itself so that was a real plus.
Hi Duane; I just bought an '81 13' Burro and need to do most of what you did on yours; the floor is shot and I need to take off the shell and paint/check/update the frame. Looks like you also swapped the coupler, too. How many screws/bolts hold down the shell to the floor/frame? Is the floor anchored to the frame then the shell on top of that? I intend to take the shell off and make a one-piece floor from 2 layers of 1/2" marine/aircraft plywood with a heavy fiberglass coating all over it, then mount it all back on the frame. How heavy is the shell (gutted)? Love the pix; you do good work! And thanks for any tips/advice! I'm new here and not sure how this post will be answered; will I get a notice when/if you reply? Guess I'll find out! Good luck; I'm looking forward to taking MY Burro out for a romp!

Jim
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Old 02-03-2016, 03:15 PM   #5
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Name: Rick
Trailer: Burro
Massachusetts
Posts: 76
Hi Jim,

The floor is glassed into the FG shell, then the floor/shell component is bolted to the frame, through the floor. The FG shell is not directly connected to the frame.

The easiest approach is to pull the shell with floor attached off of the frame. This is easy as most bolts will be rusted away. Then you cut/dig the old rotten floor out of the shell's perimeter groove. This is ugly but not too difficult. The reinstall is trickier. Because of the grooves you will need to make the floor out of 4 pieces of ply, one for front curve, one for rear curve and one for each side of the center area. These are installed individually into the shell, then bonded together. A shiplap joint filled with epoxy then screwed together works nicely. Be sure to block it up before it sets so that it stays flat. Also be sure that the shell has not squeezed in at the door area. Most have done so and this is your chance to correct this, as the floor holds the bottom of the shell in shape.

Then just put the shell back on the frame and bolt it in place. There's obviously many more details at each of these steps, but this is the basic outline of how to replace the floor in a Burro. I learned how to do this by reading this forum an perfected my technique as I went along. Just don't rush it.

I lifted the shell with a friend and a few 2x4 levers in my driveway. Once most of the interior stuff is removed, it does not weigh that much. You don't need anything fancy if you just think it through before each step.

Rick.
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Old 02-03-2016, 07:14 PM   #6
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Name: James (Jim)
Trailer: 1981 Burro - 13'
Ohio
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Rick, I appreciate your reply very much! I think I might be able to make the ship lap joints by using the two 1/2' pieces of ply and letting them overlap that way! I saw another version of a rebuild and it looked like he (Bret) also bonded the floor to the shell before he put it back on the frame. And another question: when you say "squeezed in at the door", do you mean trailer width-wise or door opening left-right? (Left-right being the door opening width) My door does not currently fit flush to the shell at the bottom; the transom has rotted out. Is that the meaning? The shell wants to pull towards the center at the door opening? Thanks for the fast reply, too; I'm doing demo work now, got all the interior gutted and getting the screws in the inner flange of the shell out. Going faster than I'd hoped, so far! It will be a while before I'm ready to put the new floor in, need to work on the frame and get it ready. Did you replace the rubber torsion suspension? How do I know it's OK? (Full of questions!) Thanks again!
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Old 02-03-2016, 07:41 PM   #7
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Name: Duane
Trailer: 1978 Burro
Michigan
Posts: 82
Burro floor

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Originally Posted by CapnJim View Post
Hi Duane; I just bought an '81 13' Burro and need to do most of what you did on yours; the floor is shot and I need to take off the shell and paint/check/update the frame. Looks like you also swapped the coupler, too. How many screws/bolts hold down the shell to the floor/frame? Is the floor anchored to the frame then the shell on top of that? I intend to take the shell off and make a one-piece floor from 2 layers of 1/2" marine/aircraft plywood with a heavy fiberglass coating all over it, then mount it all back on the frame. How heavy is the shell (gutted)? Love the pix; you do good work! And thanks for any tips/advice! I'm new here and not sure how this post will be answered; will I get a notice when/if you reply? Guess I'll find out! Good luck; I'm looking forward to taking MY Burro out for a romp!

Jim
Hi Jim,

your Burro should be similar to mine but I'm a real novice so I'm not sure. I'll start with the coupler. I used a sawzall to cut the old coupler off. I cut it at 11" from the back edge (just went out and measured it, wish I measured it before I cut it off). I only cut off what would provide a place to put the 2 x 2 x 1/4 piece of rectangular stock which was 12" long(the reason I used this was it was left over from an axle I built for a 4x8 trailer). I had to pound in the chunk of steel since from what I remember because the opening was a little shy of 2". Then just used a coupler with a 2" opening.

Rick has some good advice on how to replace the entire floor. I would like to do that myself so I will never have to worry about it. I have a couple of soft spots in my floor. I like the idea of the lap joints and doing it in 4 pieces so you get a nice tight fit. Lap joints could be probably be done with a skill saw if need be I'f push came to shove.

You can tell how many bolts hold the floor on by going under the trailer and looking up at the frame. A whole lot from what I remember. Rick is right the shell is screwed to the floor.

If your whole floor is coming out Rick is right. I'd just take the floor right out and not worry about taking the bolts out first. I would try and remove as many of the bolts as possible though. Maybe some PB Blaster visegrips and patience? That way you can clean up the old holes and reuse them with your new bolts. Otherwise if you break them off you will have to try and driil and tap new bolt holes. When I replaced my bolts I used stainless steel because I figured someday I was going to remove the shell again and try to do the whole floor like you plan. You can get some pretty good deals off of the internet. I think I got mine off of ebay.

I have wondered how to keep the shape of the shell if I was to take the entire floor out. I have thought of securing some 1x wood from one side of the shell to the other. Maybe from one cabinet inside to the other cabinet? Maybe closet to the sink cabinet?

Maybe Rick has some photos of what he did to replace his floor?

Whatever you do let me know if I can be of any more help. I dont' have any of the photos with me that I took when I was working on my Burro but I've been living in it for the last 2 months here in Southern Arizona and will be living in it for 2 more months before heading back to Upper Michigan.

duane
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Old 02-08-2016, 03:12 PM   #8
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Name: Rick
Trailer: Burro
Massachusetts
Posts: 76
Duane,

Where in AZ do you spend the winter? We usually go to Tucson area for the winter but have been stuck in Mass for the past few years.

Good suggestion about stainless bolts. I never use anything but stainless fasteners on the camper. The slight extra cost is WELL worth it. The original fasteners were screws through the floor into the frame. I replaced those with 1/4" SS bolts, with nuts on the bottom of the frame.

The floor replacement job was a long one but I did it with minimal tools and only occasional help. And yes, adding blocking or wood between the 2 sides of the camper at floor level helps maintain the proper position of the lower shell wall near the closet. This is the point that is most likely to "flap around" when the floor is removed.

Rick
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Old 02-09-2016, 07:07 PM   #9
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Name: Duane
Trailer: 1978 Burro
Michigan
Posts: 82
Burro floor

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Originally Posted by rick.a View Post
Duane,

Where in AZ do you spend the winter? We usually go to Tucson area for the winter but have been stuck in Mass for the past few years.

Good suggestion about stainless bolts. I never use anything but stainless fasteners on the camper. The slight extra cost is WELL worth it. The original fasteners were screws through the floor into the frame. I replaced those with 1/4" SS bolts, with nuts on the bottom of the frame.

The floor replacement job was a long one but I did it with minimal tools and only occasional help. And yes, adding blocking or wood between the 2 sides of the camper at floor level helps maintain the proper position of the lower shell wall near the closet. This is the point that is most likely to "flap around" when the floor is removed.

Rick
Rick, I'm in Ajo and the weather is beautiful!! The weather here right now is what it's supposed to be in the middle of April. Kinda warm for me but I can take it! A friend mentioned Why but that seemed a little off the beaten path.

Where near Tucson do you usually RV? I'm liking this southwest corner and will probably come back again.

Ajo, AZ (85321) Forecast | Weather Underground

I've never been out here. I went to Florida a couple of times to get out of our winters at home. See below.

National Weather Service

I looked for some floor repair at the site and found two photos. You mentioned that you had done your floor in 4 sections and that sounds good. The less joints the better I'd guess. Did you do the two ends first and then add the two inner sections of flooring? I'm trying to think thru it before a little before I even get started. As you mentioned the middle of the fiberglass shell will have to be held from changing shape. The strap that is in the photo gives me an idea that after the center floor pieces are installed I could pull the two halves together and then secure the fiberglass to the floor. I am also wondering if the two middle pieces could run across from side to side instead of front to back. That way they could hold the form on the shell before I put it all back on the frame.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Thanks,
Duane
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Old 02-09-2016, 09:24 PM   #10
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DuaneQ, have you found this thread?

'83 Burro Floor Replacement

I was fortunate enough to take over the Burro in question when ShaneO when he had to move on to other things. Fortunately for me, he had done the hard work... the frame off, repaint the steel frame with a super rust proofing, then replace the totally sponged out floor with new marine plywood. He not only glassed in the edges, but also coated the wood top, bottom and edges with textured black pickup bed liner spray. This is where I came in, but by looking at his postings in the archives you should be able to see a lot of what he did.

I now have to work on the front window and readjust the door, and the bodywork is complete. Then I've got to finish reconnecting the electrics (12 V and 120) reconnect the stove top and then decide whether I really want the fridge back, or an ice box, or use that space for more storage. Oh yeah, the large table in back is being converted full time to a big bed and the front will be a dinette.

Froggie
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Old 02-13-2016, 08:52 PM   #11
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Name: Duane
Trailer: 1978 Burro
Michigan
Posts: 82
Burro floor

Quote:
Originally Posted by Green Frog View Post
DuaneQ, have you found this thread?

'83 Burro Floor Replacement

I was fortunate enough to take over the Burro in question when ShaneO when he had to move on to other things. Fortunately for me, he had done the hard work... the frame off, repaint the steel frame with a super rust proofing, then replace the totally sponged out floor with new marine plywood. He not only glassed in the edges, but also coated the wood top, bottom and edges with textured black pickup bed liner spray. This is where I came in, but by looking at his postings in the archives you should be able to see a lot of what he did.

I now have to work on the front window and readjust the door, and the bodywork is complete. Then I've got to finish reconnecting the electrics (12 V and 120) reconnect the stove top and then decide whether I really want the fridge back, or an ice box, or use that space for more storage. Oh yeah, the large table in back is being converted full time to a big bed and the front will be a dinette.

Froggie
Thanks Froggie!! I don't know if I'll get at the floor this coming summer since I have a lot to do inside and have to get another tow vehicle ready for next winter. But the summer after I will probably tackle it.
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