Floor Replacement Lil Bigfoot - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-27-2010, 08:59 PM   #1
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Trailer: Bigfoot 13.5 ft
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It started by having to replace a falling cabinet over the stove/sink area of my 13' Lil Bigfoot last night. As of tonight it's turned into a partial gutting. We are having the disintigrating tan wall covering replaced professionally by a classic car upholstery shop, and decided we wanted to have it done right all the way. Hence we started taking out the seats & other cabinetry to allow for the walls to be replaced from top to bottom.

We knew we had a problem when some of the screws we removed from the floor were so corroded they looked like they came off of the deck of a sunken ship. When we peeled back the original linoleum the plywood was wet and and soft. We've had the trailer for a year here in mostly dry and hot Texas, but have had some rain in the last several weeks. There is no obvious leaks, so we are not sure if the moisture occurred years ago and hasn't had a chance to dry out since the plywood has been sandwiched between the fiberglass and old linoleum.

Has anyone every replaced the plywood floor in a lil bigfoot? How easy is it to remove the wood? (My wife and I are novices at these kind of projects--so need to know what we might be getting ourselves into. Will this be a minor headache or a major nightmare?) Thanks for any help you can provide! --Carl

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Old 05-01-2010, 10:16 PM   #2
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Trailer: 1987 Lil Bigfoot
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I just had mine done about 5 months ago. I had some fiberglass experts do it... It was a big job. I couldn't have done it on my own like I initially thought... Let me know if you need their number and I can give it to you so they can tell you how they did it...



Quote:
It started by having to replace a falling cabinet over the stove/sink area of my 13' Lil Bigfoot last night. As of tonight it's turned into a partial gutting. We are having the disintigrating tan wall covering replaced professionally by a classic car upholstery shop, and decided we wanted to have it done right all the way. Hence we started taking out the seats & other cabinetry to allow for the walls to be replaced from top to bottom.

We knew we had a problem when some of the screws we removed from the floor were so corroded they looked like they came off of the deck of a sunken ship. When we peeled back the original linoleum the plywood was wet and and soft. We've had the trailer for a year here in mostly dry and hot Texas, but have had some rain in the last several weeks. There is no obvious leaks, so we are not sure if the moisture occurred years ago and hasn't had a chance to dry out since the plywood has been sandwiched between the fiberglass and old linoleum.

Has anyone every replaced the plywood floor in a lil bigfoot? How easy is it to remove the wood? (My wife and I are novices at these kind of projects--so need to know what we might be getting ourselves into. Will this be a minor headache or a major nightmare?) Thanks for any help you can provide! --Carl
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Old 05-02-2010, 12:41 AM   #3
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Quote:
I just had mine done about 5 months ago. I had some fiberglass experts do it... It was a big job. I couldn't have done it on my own like I initially thought... Let me know if you need their number and I can give it to you so they can tell you how they did it...
Thanks Jeff.

Yes. Please send me their contact information. I just removed the last cabinet today and would love to know what is involved in replacing the subfloor.

Carl
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Old 05-02-2010, 01:05 PM   #4
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Thanks Jeff.

Yes. Please send me their contact information. I just removed the last cabinet today and would love to know what is involved in replacing the subfloor.

Carl
Jeff,

A few more questions.... Did they fiberglass the entire plywood subfloor or just the edges? Does it look like fiberglassing of the subfloor on the Lil Bigfoot is necessary for the structural stability of the coach, or is it simply to keep water from getting under the subfloor in the case of a leak. Also, about how much did they charge? Had you already gutted the trailer or did they take out the cabinetry as well? Did you have the frame reinforced at the same time?

Thanks,
Carl
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Old 05-18-2010, 01:57 PM   #5
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Trailer: Lil Bigfoot
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Hi Carl,

I bought an '87 Lil Bigfoot last year. The owner was 'kind' enough to show me a section of damaged floor he repaired underneath a corner of carpet. I didn't check the rest.

We used it twice last year, and a Saturday morning inspection led to a Saturday afternoon gut. That was last Summer.

I'm now in the process of rebuilding this trailer (believe me, I'm a novice). I've learned to focus on the stair and not the staircase - it really is like a little home reno. I must say, it is equally satisfying to see it all come together. I'm gearing up this May long weekend to prep the outside for paint.

First thing to tear out was the old floor (literally rotten and black). I've replaced it with resined 3/4" fir, re-glassed the perimeter up the walls etc. Unless you have the money to play with, it's been my experience that you can really only come ahead (for lack of a better word) by doing the work yourself. All said, the floor took me one weekend not counting preparing the wood during evenings after work the week prior.

If you'd like more info just ask.

So far I've got the new floor in, lifted the trailer off the frame, ground any light surface rust, primed, painted, re-insulated the walls with 'Reflectix' and re-covered the walls with hull-liner fabric (aka 'rat fur'). Most recent I put in laminate flooring. Cabinet re-skinning is next....anyway, let me know. I'd be happy to help in any way I can.

OH...yesterday I picked up all the windows from the shop here in Canada that originally made the windows (SunView industries in Summerland). They told me they would re-furbish them and I was expecting a mediocre job. The windows look like new! And the price was very reasonable. I have local contact info for them as well if you're interested. It may be worth shipping your windows to them if you're taking it that far....food for thought.

Mike
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Old 05-19-2010, 11:37 PM   #6
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Thanks Mike,

Yes. Please do send me the contact at Sunview. My windows certainly do need a redo. Did they do just the two side windows or the font and rear as well?

Well, I'm close to being ready to remove the floor. I'm replacing with 3/4" medium density overlay (MDO), and I acquired the supplies and matierials to fiberglass the edges. Was the old floor glued to the fiberglass bottom? I used a Dremel tool to cut the fiberglass where it meets the plywood edge, but I'm wondering if I will encounter any problems in removing the floor.

I'm going to remove the old wall fabric and backing, but do you think it is necessary to remove the insulation and replace it with Reflectix?

How difficult was lifting the body? I'm wondering if it would be good to have someone weld some additional frame bracing.

Thanks,
Carl
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Old 06-06-2010, 10:51 PM   #7
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Hi Carl,

Sorry for the late reply. I didn't receive an email for your post, so I didn't get it until tonight while looking for some info on SS and acorn bolts for attaching fixtures etc.

Anyway, the website is: http://www.sunviewindustries.ca/
My contact there is a guy named Kent Miller (Kent.SunViewindustries[at]telus.net) - great guy to correspond with and very helpful.

To answer your questions:

Yes, I did have all the windows done. My front and rear were acrylic and badly cracked and starting to spider-web near the edges. They replaced the acrylic on both, and actually made me new frames/trim rings and powder-coated them black. My walls were originally thicker, and the windows were built up with 3/4" strips around the perimeters. As my wall thickness decreased using thinner insulation and fabric, this affected the trim-ring depth. In sum, new seals, tracks, locks, trim, screens, all for a very reasonable price. The windows, although considered 'refurbished' look brand new. I couldn't be happier.

RE the floor. Mine wasn't glued to the fiberglass floor. When I put my new plywood in, I patched old holes etc from plumbing/gas and misc. items with resin and cloth. I was pretty liberal with my resin etc on the floor before laying my wood down so that it would sort of adhere the two.

Also, before I cut my plywood (3/4" T&G Fir) I coated the entire sheet with resin. I made a paper template of the interior and used this to cut out 4 pieces from one sheet (one large one for the rear, one for the mid, and two smaller ones for the front, all attaching via tongue and groove).

One note - if you remove the foam, you'll want to sand all the glue off the inside of the trailer from floor level to about 6" up the wall so the the new cloth and resin will bind. I rolled cloth in resin and crammed it into the space between the wood and the wall, and then layed 6" strips around the perimeter, 'attaching' the walls to the floor.

RE the walls...My foam was in rough shape from mildew, removing the fabric and just age. That said, out it came. I didn't go nuts removing old glue - maybe 2-3 hours with a good paint scraper to remove loose stuff. I wiped it all down with acetone, and used my old foam pieces as templates for the Reflectix. It took 2 rolls of the stuff - up here it was about 80 bucks a roll at HD. I used the same 'trim adhesive' used for boat hull liners to glue both the Reflectix and Hull liner fabric aka 'rat fur'. If you're insulation is in good shape, I'd leave it. On the other end, the loss in width will affect your cabinets fitting. I'm learning this now. I will have to build up my cabinet frames to fit before re-skinning them to make up for the 'loss' of material (or 'gain' of space, depending on how you look at it.

Finally, lifting the trailer. Personally, I didn't reinforce my frame. There were no weak points, cracks, just surface rust, which I ground off and tremclad-ed. My flooring was sturdy, and carriage bolted (4 spots) to the 'A' frame. It's not going anywhere.

I did have to lift the trailer off to work on the frame though. It was quite a sight. I had 4 scissor jacks (just auto jacks) which I placed strategically and slowly raised one-by-one in my garage until it was high enough. Popped the wheels off b/c I couldn't lift it any higher in my garage, and dropped the fame onto a fridge dolly, rolling it outside. It was pretty sketchy. Once complete, I wheeled her back in and set her down SLOWLY, a few turns at a time. The tricky part was getting the holes to line up, but the frame moves around pretty good with some imagination.

That's about it. I re-rock guarded my front and wheel wells before spraying it with marine enamel. In hindsight, I would have painted the thing way back in the beginning. I've had to mask my windows and door twice now which is a PITA. You have to wash it prior to paint, water goes in (no matter how careful you are) your paper gets wet, on and on....anyway. If you plan on painting, I'd say do that before any interior work so you can just go to town. My 2 cents.

Keep well - let me know if you have any questions.
Mike
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Old 06-08-2010, 08:09 PM   #8
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Thanks for the great advice Mike.

I'm planning on leaving the factory insulation as it appears to be in really good shape.

In terms of the floor and frame, I'd really like to have at least two or perhaps three cross members welded-in. Although I'm using 3/4" medium density overlay as the floor, I'm concered that it will begin to sag with time. The factory set-up just isn't that great when it comes to support for the floor. But, I don't know how much it will cost to have someone do it. We'll see.

Thanks again,
Carl
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Old 06-14-2010, 04:22 PM   #9
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Hi Carl -
I'm hoping you can help me with something. I'm about to start putting my cabinets back in (need to re-skin them etc.)

A dry fit with my rear lowers presented a problem last night.

The flat part of the bench (seat) clearly was fastened to the wall to support it, but I didn't remove any wood supports tabbed to the fiberglass in this area. I can only guess that originally Bigfoot had used the plywood skin on the walls in this area and the lower benches were screwed into this 'wall skin'. Not much support, but maybe weight was displaced enough using a number of screws.

My issue is that I'm not using skin ply on the walls, so nothing to fasten the back of the benches to.

Can you tell me if I'm correct here? Is this how they were fastened?

I'm not sure how to approach this now, aside from adding to the 1x2 framing so that it runs down the wall and follows the curve of the wall near the floor to support the bench. The front of the bench is fine - vertical, uses it's fame-work as support and fastens to the floor, but the rear.....??

Thanks in advance Carl -
Mike
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Old 06-14-2010, 10:17 PM   #10
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Mike,

You are correct. Much of the cabietry and benches were fastened only through the 1x2 frame into the veneer wood skin, which was glued to the fabric interior, which was then glued to insulation, and that in turn to the fiberglass. Much like you, I was surprised. In fact, you could already see where the entire sink cabinet has torn itself away from the wall over time. Basically, I plan on using the old cabitry as a guide, but rebuilding it such that support will be provided principally by the floor. I do plan on using panels similar to the original. I purchased 4' x 8' maple (1/4" thick). It is two veneers with MDF in the middle. I'm not sure if I am going to attempt to stain the maple or cover it with some type of wall paper similar to the orignal.

I haven't decided yet whether or not I want to tab-in some wood support to the shell that I could use to support the cabinets. If done correctly with epoxy resin, you would only need several fairly small, strategically placed support blocks. Going this route would mean that you wouldn't need to the overkill number of screws that were orignally used by the factory in an attempt to keep the cabinets and benchs secured to the 1/4" panels held in place with glue.

Carl
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Old 06-14-2010, 11:44 PM   #11
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Thanks Carl -

I failed to plan for this, so tabs for the lower is a no go for me. Good call though - if I could go back,that's exactly what I'd do.

That said, my only option now is to bring a vertical down as far as I can and then angle it tight to follow the contour of the wall in order to support the back, and as you say, use the floor to give it support.

I'm going to rebuild all of my frames anyway b/c the existing are pretty wobbly, some are warped and were only fastened with staples. I think I'll glue/clamp and brad nail my new ones. Stained skin ply for me to finish them off, likely a light maple with simple shaker style doors.

I tell ya - at this point in the year, I'm ready to just toss a sleeping bag in there and crash on the floor...we've got a camping trip coming up this weekend and we'll have to tent it - it's killing me...lol.

Have a good one,
Mike
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Old 03-07-2014, 04:25 PM   #12
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Name: Steve
Trailer: Lil Bigfoot 13.5
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can someone experienced with replacing a lil bigfoot 13.5 floor email me at steve_weildatyahoodotca? I would appreciate it. Thanks!
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