Working on a Trillium 5500 - Page 4 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-24-2015, 09:35 PM   #43
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I’ve resealed two more windows, this time doing both at once. This time I did the two windows on the curb side, the one at the rear and the one over the galley. These two windows share the same wood framework, so doing both at the same time simplified things.

I’m recopying here most of what’s on my blog, splitted in a few posts due to the picture number limitation of the forum.

I made this little drawing, showing the windows I resealed, and the location of the wood frame inside. The horizontal pieces are running from the back of the trailer all the way to the door.



I’ve drawn the galley in blue. There is a storage compartment on top of the galley that is screwed to the same horizontal plywood strips. For those not familiar with the 5500, here’s what the galley looks like (this picture is not from my own 5500, but they are all pretty much the same)



Before I took the rear window out, I pulled off some of the Ensolite that was easy to unglue. I noticed that along that window, many screws where not even threaded into the wood frame. It’s a bit hard to see on the picture, but the screws only ran through the fiberglass, and right on the edge of it! This window wasn’t held to the camper by much…



Again, old rusted screws. Some wouldn’t come out, some broke right away, etc.
The rear window was stuck hard in silicone like the previous ones. I think the galley window had never been taken off before, as it still had its butyl sealant. Taking it down was MUCH easier!



The storage compartment above the galley is screwed the to plywood frames of the side windows. It had to be unscrewed before I could take the water-damaged wood out. Once the holding screws were removed, the whole thing wanted to tip forward and fall down, as there was nothing left to hold it. I could have removed the whole assembly, but there is another shelf attached at the rear and wires running in this cabinet. I just wanted the have enough space to replace the wood, so I didn’t disconnect anything, I just used some string to attach the cabinet to its roof brackets and let it hang a few inches from the wall.



Ensolite was a bit tough to remove at certain spots, and in other places I had to unglue fairly large areas, like between the two windows.



Here's what I found worked best so far for me to remove old sealant on window frames:
1-scrape as much as possible with knife or metal tool
2-wheel brush on dril
3-wipe with acetone rag
4-repeat steps 2 and 3 as required (about 2-3 times)
5-clean/wash with soap and aluminium cleaner, rinse and dry!

Half an hour of work and the window is clean!
Here is the one with the old silicone:



Old butyl was EASY to remove compared to old silicone:



Continued on my next post...
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Old 09-24-2015, 09:43 PM   #44
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Clean window frame:



A good scrubbing:



Removing the old silicone from the trailer with a plastic scraper. Silicone-Be-Gone was used:



Cutting cedar wood pieces:



New wood is in, and trailer cleaned and ready for the windows:



Putting back the windows on went smoothly. I made sure the new cedar wood strips were close along the aluminium frame, to insure the screws were biting into the wood this time.

I didnít glue back the Ensolite yet. We have to figure out first how weíre going to redo the backsplash.

Continued on my next post...
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Old 09-24-2015, 09:49 PM   #45
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Trillium lettering and decals

A few days after we bought the Trillium, we removed the ugly decals that the previous owner had made to cover the fading original TRILLIUM 5500 lettering. We will have completely new decals made eventually, but for now we need to take the old faded logos off. We managed to scrape off the Trillium letters on the curb side with significant effort, and now I wanted to remove the one on the other side.

After having tried various solvents and removers, nothing worked. Looks like the only way to get them off was scraping. I was using a small plastic scraper that wasn’t scratching the gelcoat, but it wasn’t scratching the old lettering much either…



So I decided to try something a bit more agressive... I went for a wood chisel … and it worked perfectly! The old logo was coming off nicely, and without any damage to the fiberglass finish. I have to say that the chisel was brand new, very sharp, and I wasn’t putting much pressure on it.



I just let it glide on the gel coat, and the edge would catch the old lettering which was flaking off in orange dust. So I got it all off, and we’ll be ready to have new ones made.





One last thing with the fridge

When I removed the fridge vents last week to repaint them, the lower vent was attached to the camper with two old rusty metal screws. I didn’t like the fact that some tool was required to open this vent and access the rear of the fridge. So instead of using similar screws to secure the vent, I used two small stainless steel metal bolts, that were inserted in the same holes but from the inside, and tightened stainless nuts on them. The result is a permanent threaded stud on each corner, over which the vent holes fit nicely.



Then I secured the vent with a nylon wingnut. So no more tools required to open the vent.



Continued on my next post...
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Old 09-24-2015, 09:55 PM   #46
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Door frame

The 5500 door frame is made from aluminium, and attached to the FG shell just like the windows (screws and plywood strips inside). Just like on the windows, the screws were rusted. Inside, I took off the faux wood trim around the door, and I found that for the most part, the plywood was in good condition. The only part that I replaced was at the bottom, on the hinge side. The rest was like new, no sign of any water damage at all, including on the floor. And the part that I replaced wasn’t soaked and rotten like some of the window frames I took out. It just wouldn’t held the wood screws very tightly anymore.
Here’s where I put a new piece of wood: bottom, hinge side. I used a cedar strip, just like I did with the windows.



New stainless steel screws. Looks much cleaner:



This door frame is made of 4 aluminium parts, welded at the corners. I noticed that there were cracks in the welds in the corners, especially the upper hinge side corner.



Same corner, closer look:



Stress crack in that corner:



Same corner, inside view:



As I’d just pulled the decorative trims around the door, it was time to reinforce that corner to prevent the crack from getting worst over time. I don’t have the required equipment nor the knowledge to weld aluminium, so the fix was to add an aluminium angle over that corner, screwed from inside with stainless screws.

I used a C clamp to hold the aluminium angle in place while I was drilling pilot holes.



Continued on my next post...
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Old 09-24-2015, 09:59 PM   #47
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Screwed reinforcement. Only the screws are visible from inside (and lots of clearance for the door to close over them).



View from inside the trailer:



Once the panelling back in place around the door, nothing will show.



In the upper opposite corner, there is also a small crack in the frame weld, visible from inside the trailer. Not sure yet if I’m going to reinforce this one as well.



One corner I’ll keep an eye on is the lower corner, opposite to the hinge. There is a very tiny crack, but I remember when I visited another 5500 last summer, the weld on that corner had completely failed, and had cause a some damage to the fiberglass below the door. Not good…



Water again?

I had to reinstall and reseal the rear left window again the other day, but it seemed that the wood frame was still damp. I retightened the screws a little bit, maybe 1/8 of a turn, 1/4 at the most. Butyl needs some time to spread out… Then, since it wasn’t raining, we did a leak test with the garden hose. I let the water run for some time, and I couldn’t find any leak. I’m relieved, but I’ll keep an eye on it…



I hope I will not have to take this window off a 3rd time. Because if water leaks in, I don’t have a clue where it comes from, as I’m absolutely sure this window is properly sealed. We’ll see…

Now I’ve resealed 5 out of the 7 windows. Hope to be done within a couple weeks.
That's it for now!

Carl
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Old 09-26-2015, 06:44 PM   #48
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Today I was cleaning up the rear dinette compartments, and I decided to take my fresh water tank out. It was laid right on the plywood floor. The floor around the tank is in good condition, but when I lifted the tank out I saw that the plywood under it was damp. I poked with my screwdriver, and found that the plywood was pretty soft...

Turned out that about half of the area under the tank has rot. I removed the bad wood as much as I could. The top 3 plies of wood were bad. Since this looks to be 5/8" plywood, I figure I removed 3/8" and there must be be 1/4" left. In fact, I removed the 1st ply on an area about half the size of the tank, the 2nd ply is a little less, and the 3rd is the smallest at about 6" X 8". Now I'm down to solid wood, thin but solid. And somewhat still damp.

My plan for now is to first let the wood dry.
I've read Matthew's (Ironhinge) posts on his 4500 floor repairs, and I'm planning to fix this with fiberglass resin. I'll just pour resin on the affected area, many coats as required, and let it harden. Then I'll lay a 1/4" resin-covered plywood on top of it, not screwed, not glassed, not attached in any way as is it not required, so if I ever need to replace it again I'll simply take it out an put a new one in.

This area is not structural, there is no floor covering, we don't walk on it, and it's not even visible. It's just the floor of a compartment.

When I put my water tank back, I think I will put it on top of a couple wood strips, leaving some space under the tank where air can pass and dry whatever moisture is there.

I'll have pictures tomorrow.

Any comments appreciated!

Carl
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Old 09-26-2015, 08:11 PM   #49
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Just wanted to be sure I effectively communicated what I had done, (all the work was done in a frenzied, camera-less state)
I had cut out a square that included all of the effected wood with a circular saw and after grinding and cleaning the glass underneath set a new patch into a bed of resin... I decided on the resin because as far as I could tell that is how the floor was "glued" originally.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that it doesn't sound like a structural repair and if you are just going to fill the existing floor back in there might be better materials to use... one thing I had thought of using was an epoxy product that is supposedly very thin and soaks into dry rotted or marginalized wood. It might do a fine job of stabilizing what is left. Then maybe you could use something like bondo fiber filler to bring it back up flat

oh yea and thank you for this very detailed and helpful account of your window repairs... I am currently considering this as my next task
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Old 09-26-2015, 08:33 PM   #50
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Hi Matthews

I've read about the epoxy products you mention, I'm not sure where to get them over here, and since all I want is to seal the remaining wood, and "re-attach" it to the shell, I think FG resin will do the trick.

I will look at it again tomorrow, I might decide to cut the plywood completely and remove the damaged part, but the problem is I'm just over the "pontoon" shape of the shell, meaning there would be nothing to put the new plywood on.

Carl
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Old 09-26-2015, 08:44 PM   #51
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cutting the plywood out completely only made sense to me because the area was so large and I was able hopefully to carry the stress of the seams back far enough into the trailer.

I think with a small patch like you are describing, especially one that is not though the whole sheet of plywood it might be stronger to patch the existing floor like you describe. My assumption with wood rot is that it goes deeper than it appears to so I thought a penetrating product might find its way to the places it is needed. Hopefully someone with more polyester experience will chime in but I still do not think it is the best choice as a filler. Maybe try looking at what is done in carpentry and construction, this sounds like a wood filler question

ps if you do use resin donít use too much at once, it can get very hot as it cures
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Old 09-26-2015, 08:48 PM   #52
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On a 4500, is the floor covered with a sheet of FG or is it bare plywood (or resin-coated plywood) ?
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Old 09-26-2015, 09:00 PM   #53
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There is a fiberglass floor, I think it is actually the majority of the interior furniture and the floor all together as one mould then set into the bottom half before the top is joined on with the belly band.
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Old 09-26-2015, 09:03 PM   #54
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although I will say unfortunately the wood is exposed and untreated in the cabinets and cupboards as well as a band around the outside edge over the pontoons
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Old 09-26-2015, 09:35 PM   #55
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Ok thanks. So on the 4500 it's the bottom shell, plywood, then the "cabinets shell", and then they join the top shell.

The 5500 has an all-wood interior, no FG cabinets. The floor is bare wood, except around the edges where it meets the wall, where they put a band about 2in wide of fiberglass, that seals the edge of the plywood with the wall. I haven't seen any opening along the edge where water could drain from above the plywood to the pontoons below. But there might be some I haven't seen. I know the pontoons have drain holes near the wheel wells.

This in fact probably makes the 5500 floor easier to repair than on a 4500.
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Old 09-27-2015, 07:19 PM   #56
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Got a few pictures.
Here's the back of my trailer, once I took off the plywood that covered the benches (the dinette had been made into a permanent bed by PO).
Water heater on the left, fresh water tank and 12V pump on the right:



Water tank removed. Floor plywood damp and damaged by water:



Then I started to scrape off the rotten wood. I peeled up to 3 layers off the plywood (about 3/8 in).



All rotten wood removed, I'm now down to solid wood.



I used my utility knife to cut a more definite shape in the plywood, then I made this patch out of 3/8 plywood to fit that shape.



The plywood patch will slide under the FG edge along the wall.
My plan for now is to spread some resin on the damaged area, and on all faces of the plywood patch, screw the patch in position and let the resin set. Then pour more resin and/or FG filler to fill any cracks and seal along the bottom of the wall.
This should make the floor as hard and water tight as it was originally.
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