Fiberglass campers for dummies? Fiberglass 101? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-18-2011, 09:22 AM   #1
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Fiberglass campers for dummies? Fiberglass 101?

I'm new to this whole camper trailer thing, and not very handy to boot. However, I realize that I'm going to need to learn how to do some stuff on my camper.

These forums are fantastic, and I'm very appreciative of the information I have received to date, but it's all a little overwhelming and most is over my head. Is there a thread or threads on here or something on the web that really starts with the very basics, that "talks" to you like you're an 8 year old that doesn't know anything? A way to get started, if you will? (ie, fiberglass campers for dummies or fiberglass campers 101)

I have a crack on my new (to me) camper (have a thread in the problem solving forum) but I also noticed some other small spots on the camper that clearly need some attention, plus I'm just a total noob at all of this, from towing something to caring for my camper.
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Old 05-18-2011, 09:42 AM   #2
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Dan, I would suggest posting pictures of your trailers issues then we can direct you to post, links, etc to solve your issues.


There is plenty of info posted here that should cover just about any issue you may have. But, time consuming to search (especially if you don't have the correct verbiage!) So by posting a pic, that will help us direct you to a topic that will help you. Congrats on your New to you trailer!



As far as towing, I would suggest taking your trailer to an empty parking lot and practice backing up. Take it slow, remember even a little 13 ft trailer can get away from you.

There are lot's of topic's on towing as well as how to load the trailer for better handling.


One suggestion I have is to check not once, but twice, maybe even 3 times to make sure your trailer is ready to roll. Check your lights, hitch, tires, etc etc etc, before you ever pull out of any campsite or driveway. Many mistakes are made with towing and in my opinion occur because people get in a hurry from the beginning...............


And the only other suggestion I have is to Enjoy your new adventure.
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Old 05-18-2011, 09:50 AM   #3
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Welcome Maggot!
This site has a wealth of info, just gotta search.
I've found that if I ask specific questions I get a wealth of info promptly.
Scott
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Old 05-18-2011, 09:55 AM   #4
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Thanks Robin.

I won't clutter this thread with the door issue, since I already posted about that here -- still needs to be fixed, but I realize is more than a "fiberglass campers for dummies" issue. But sure, here are 2 examples:





Stuff that needs patching/coating, cracks (do they get fixed the same way?), etc. Also don't know how easy/possible/wise it is to attach things to the trailer, like, say, hooks on the door and next to the door so I can padlock it (if I can't get the door thing fixed better than that). Do I just drill and put a bolt/nut on? Sorry if that's a dumb question, but like I said I'm clueless and not very handy to begin with.

I wish I could find a fiberglass handyman nearby that I could pay to do some of these projects (and show me how). Or a fix-it class I could take.
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Old 05-18-2011, 10:03 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott H View Post
Welcome Maggot!
Heh, I guess I shoulda expected that!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott H View Post
This site has a wealth of info, just gotta search.
I've found that if I ask specific questions I get a wealth of info promptly.
Scott
I see that already, very impressed with this community. My problem is that I am so overwhelmed with the whole thing -- it's all so new to me -- that I don't know what questions to ask, what to search for, etc., and often don't understand the answers when I do search. For ex., someone posted a great link to a thread on how to fix my door but I could not really understand the fix and could see that the process was way beyond my skills/ability.

Another ex., I have done enough reading to know that I'm supposed to "gel coat" the trailer or it has gel coat on it (?), but I don't really know what that is. Is it like paint? Like caulk? Do I just get a tub of "gel coat" and slap it on those cracks/"holes"? Advice is fantastic, but it's tough when you don't even understand the language, ya know?
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Old 05-18-2011, 10:08 AM   #6
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Dan, in preperation for possible repairs to any newly aquired Egg I too was befuddled. I did a local Craigslist search and discovered several folks who could do Fiberglass repair. Now I live in FL so it makes sense I'd have more fiberglass options due to all the boats but I also discovered electricians, plumbers, carpenters, handymen etc so you may be able to locate somebody that way. I even found an RV refurbishing guy but didnt write the info down and now I cant find him again. I now have a notebook with a local retired (so very reasonable) upholsterer, a Fiberglass guy (Mobile service even!) and a wood working guy. Of course now that I have a non-fiberglass trailer a lot of this is moot as I'm starting all over again learning about my unique trailer but Craigslist does have a wealth of resources and several are licensed, insured and willing to give references. In the general search I just typed in "Fiberglass" or "Upholstery" or "Carpenter" etc. Whatever you need.

Just a thought, hope this helps.
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Old 05-18-2011, 10:14 AM   #7
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melissa, thanks, don't know why I didn't think of finding someone on craigs list.
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Old 05-18-2011, 11:31 AM   #8
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Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by LurkerDan View Post
These forums are fantastic, and I'm very appreciative of the information I have received to date, but it's all a little overwhelming and most is over my head. Is there a thread or threads on here or something on the web that really starts with the very basics, that "talks" to you like you're an 8 year old that doesn't know anything? A way to get started, if you will? (ie, fiberglass campers for dummies or fiberglass campers 101)
This website has existed for 9 years, and as of now there are:
  • 24,504 Threads
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  • 14,791 Members

To a it must feel like entering The Matrix



This sounds like a project I can sink my teeth into, since what you are asking for doesn't exist all in one place.
A good place to start might be a dictionary, to explain the terms.
You mention not understanding "Gel Coat". We'll begin from there. Would you list all the terms you'd like defined here?
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Old 05-18-2011, 11:38 AM   #9
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Dan, I was very overwhelmed when I first got my camper too! What is your goal? Do you want to restore it to "like new" condition or just get it functional and safe? I broke it down into systems.

Body- Your door is the obvious first order of business and it looks like your getting some good advise in the other thread, IE. is the door issue just a symptom of a bigger promlem. Is she water tight? If not, you'll want to address this; check window seals and rivets. The above dings and dents; it kinda depends on how nice ya want do it. The quick and dirty; clean the wound with a metal brush, sand the surrounding gel coat (the gel coat is the molded in factory finish, even after a bunch of years it can still residue of the mold release, so it needs to be sanded and cleaned if ya want anything to stick to it.) clean with denatured alcohol, smear on some body filler (Bondo), sand flush, prime, paint.

Frame- Inspect it for damage. Your axel is a torsion axel (your suspension is inside that bugger) if it's stock, it is probably shot. If you ever plan on leaving the pavement, I would look into replacing it, this will make it ride smoother and increase your ground clearance, if you ever plan on off roading then get it lifted at the same time. You need a working jack on the tongue and stabilizers on each side of the rear bumper. (parking, leveling, and stabilizing is a science worthy of it's own search!) Make sure your coupler works properly and that you have some safety chains. Your camper should tow level; get the proper rise/drop hitch installed on your tow vehicle.

Propane- In my camper propane fuels my heater, stove, and fridge. If you have a propane system, and plan on using it, get it professionly inspected and tested for leaks. You're going to want the heater working if you plan on using this as a ski recon unit!

Electrical- At the very least you need your tail and running lights working. A basic 12 volt system will require a deep cycle battery and some way to charge it. You'll want lights of some kind; before we got the 12V system working we used stick on battery powered LED lights from Wallyworld. Google "12 volt side of life" it's the bible.

Interior- Are all the cabinets operational? You'll want those latches to stay latched! Does the dinette/bed convert smoothly; mine needed a full rebuild to work right. How gross are the cushions? Clean em or get new ones from Scamp.

Plumbing- You may have a fresh water holding tank; I'd remove the tank, clean with a bleach/water solution and replace all the lines and make sure the hand pump works. The sink probably drains to a hose on the outside of the camper, this should be routed into some sort of holding vessel (ie. 5 gallon bucket) this is your grey water. My guess is that you don't have a black water tank (shitter).

Hope this helps!
It would help us help you if we knew what you have as far as appliances and wether they work or not.
Scott
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Old 05-18-2011, 12:12 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Frederick L. Simson View Post
This sounds like a project I can sink my teeth into, since what you are asking for doesn't exist all in one place.
A good place to start might be a dictionary, to explain the terms.
You mention not understanding "Gel Coat". We'll begin from there. Would you list all the terms you'd like defined here?
Cool! Hard to remember all the things that have confused me. But here are a few I can remember having to be sure of (remember, complete camper and towing newb):

Tongue
Coupler
Frame
Belly band
Rat fur
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Old 05-18-2011, 12:26 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Scott H View Post
Dan, I was very overwhelmed when I first got my camper too! What is your goal? Do you want to restore it to "like new" condition or just get it functional and safe? I broke it down into systems.

Body- Your door is the obvious first order of business and it looks like your getting some good advise in the other thread, IE. is the door issue just a symptom of a bigger promlem. Is she water tight? If not, you'll want to address this; check window seals and rivets. The above dings and dents; it kinda depends on how nice ya want do it. The quick and dirty; clean the wound with a metal brush, sand the surrounding gel coat (the gel coat is the molded in factory finish, even after a bunch of years it can still residue of the mold release, so it needs to be sanded and cleaned if ya want anything to stick to it.) clean with denatured alcohol, smear on some body filler (Bondo), sand flush, prime, paint.

Frame- Inspect it for damage. Your axel is a torsion axel (your suspension is inside that bugger) if it's stock, it is probably shot. If you ever plan on leaving the pavement, I would look into replacing it, this will make it ride smoother and increase your ground clearance, if you ever plan on off roading then get it lifted at the same time. You need a working jack on the tongue and stabilizers on each side of the rear bumper. (parking, leveling, and stabilizing is a science worthy of it's own search!) Make sure your coupler works properly and that you have some safety chains. Your camper should tow level; get the proper rise/drop hitch installed on your tow vehicle.

Propane- In my camper propane fuels my heater, stove, and fridge. If you have a propane system, and plan on using it, get it professionly inspected and tested for leaks. You're going to want the heater working if you plan on using this as a ski recon unit!

Electrical- At the very least you need your tail and running lights working. A basic 12 volt system will require a deep cycle battery and some way to charge it. You'll want lights of some kind; before we got the 12V system working we used stick on battery powered LED lights from Wallyworld. Google "12 volt side of life" it's the bible.

Interior- Are all the cabinets operational? You'll want those latches to stay latched! Does the dinette/bed convert smoothly; mine needed a full rebuild to work right. How gross are the cushions? Clean em or get new ones from Scamp.

Plumbing- You may have a fresh water holding tank; I'd remove the tank, clean with a bleach/water solution and replace all the lines and make sure the hand pump works. The sink probably drains to a hose on the outside of the camper, this should be routed into some sort of holding vessel (ie. 5 gallon bucket) this is your grey water. My guess is that you don't have a black water tank (shitter).

Hope this helps!
It would help us help you if we knew what you have as far as appliances and wether they work or not.
Scott
Thanks Scott! the breakdown really helps make it not seem so overwhelming.

My goal is definitely "just get it functional and safe".

The door issue is still a problem, but leaving that out for now...

Body: thanks for the simple explanation of the bondo fix, that sounds like something I can do. She does seem water tight (other than the door). We've had an unusual amount of rain in the last few days and it still seems dry inside.

Frame: local RV place is checking the frame, axle, etc out next week, hopefully. It appears to have a working jack on the tongue and stabilizers, we have those down right now (see here and here).

Propane: the camper has a stove and heater (no fridge), I have not checked those yet (was told they worked by the seller -- who seemed like an honest guy -- but we didn't have a tank to hook up to check). Guess I should check them. I'm assuming that the RV place can check out the system for leaks too, right?

Electrical: getting that checked by the RV place next week (and getting my truck wired). The camper does have a battery on the front, and the interior lights do seem to work.

Interior: cabinets all seem good, just need a cleaning, and the bed also seems good (though we've just done a test lie, haven't slept in it yet).

Plumbing: I think it does have a fresh water holding tank, but I need to investigate. No black water.
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Old 05-18-2011, 01:00 PM   #12
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Dan the RV place will be able to check the propane out for you - just buy a tank and fill it before you take it in.

I know you are not near an ocean but do you have lakes in your area? if so you may have a few places that do boat repairs who would do the gelcoat at a not so steep price as an RV shop will charge. You could also call a few autobody shops and ask if they know of anyone who does fiberglass repairs. On that note sometimes if you have a big ticket issue the RV shops are a place to avoid due to higher cost than say a speciality shop - ie electrical or axel repairs etc. Also ask around of other people with trailers in your area who they use for repairs. You may discover there is a small shop they use rather than the big RV dealer who charges more due to higher overhead.
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Old 05-18-2011, 01:33 PM   #13
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Wow you guys must have woke up early today, For those little areas that need repair you can use Bondo Glass, it is at most auto parts stores in a can and it has strands of fiberglass in it, much better than regular Bondo and it is easy to use. I even used it for the crack over my door, Sand first to rough things up and then pulled the cracked area back into the place where it belonged with a tie down strap and filled the crack with a good four or five inch overlay of the area and all is good. lots of sanding to get a good smooth surface and then primer.
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Old 05-18-2011, 04:23 PM   #14
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Dan
Thanks for asking these things. We too need a fiberglass for Dummies book. Although we bought new I know there are issues that are going to come up.

I didn't ease up into this camper thing but leaped from a 2 pole Mountain Hardware, two person tent with a Thermarest pad to a full equipped Scamp 5th wheel! It is a good thing my husband grew up on a farm and learned to back farm equipment. I don't have a clue!

It is wonderful to see how helpful all the others are in explaining and referencing
That in itself is very reassuring.
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