Belly Band - Lil Bigfoot - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-06-2010, 02:02 PM   #1
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Trailer: Bigfoot 13.5 ft
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Has anyone replaced or resealed the belly band on a Lil Bigfoot. I am in the midst of a complete renovation and am concerned about leaks. I don't want all of the interior work (new floor and wall coverings) that I am about to install compromised by leaks. I know what I need to do regarding windows, but the belly band is a mystery to me. I cannot tell exactly how it seals. Is what I am looking at from the outside simply a decorative overlay or is it the seal itself?

Thanks,
Carl

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Old 06-06-2010, 02:49 PM   #2
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Can you post photos of the belly band? The outside, and whatever you can see of the inside?
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Old 06-07-2010, 08:05 AM   #3
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Here's a picture of the "Batmobile".
The Lil Bigfoot is a Boler clone.
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Old 06-07-2010, 09:57 AM   #4
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Yes but I don't know exactly how Bigfoot did the belly band, and since I do know that there are some other differences from the Boler (full floor pan, different door, etc.), I figured the belly band might not be the same either, and I didn't want to assume and thereby steer Carl wrong.

I've always thought they were nice looking li'l 13-ers

Raya
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Old 06-07-2010, 10:43 AM   #5
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If the little bigfoot is indeed a version of the boler...my scamp which is a knockoff of the boler I have photos of whats underneath the rat fur/ensolite. I had some serious mystery leaks so I pulled back the ensolite and found this..
I cleaned off the fiberglass /scrubbed etc etc. and then prepped the surface and then re-fiberglassed over that area to ensure no leaks would pop up. That side was somehow compromised at one point and time so water wicked its way in, hope that at least gives you a visual

.
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scamp_leak_004.jpg   scamp_leak_001.jpg  

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Old 06-07-2010, 08:10 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone. I'll try to get some pictures to you in the next few days. It didn't occur to me to fiberglass the interior joint. I guess that would certainly do the job. And since I'm about to install the new floor and glass it in, I could certainly run a 5" of 6" band around the belly seal. I'm recovering the walls as well, so the current covering is coming off anyway.

Do you think this will do the job well long term.

Thanks,
Carl
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Old 06-07-2010, 08:50 PM   #7
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Hi Carl,

Bolers, Scamps, Trilliums, Burros, and U-hauls (the last two being vertical and not horizontal) are all sealed at the middle by fiberglass on the inside. If you do a tidy job it will not only seal against leaks, but also would (if it had to) hold the two halves of the shell together (this is presuming the shells work that way - I'm still not certain how the Bigfoot is joined).

You'll get a better secondary bond with epoxy resin vs. polyester, and it won't smell strongly like polyester does (although for simple water leak prevention you could use polyester - I would use epoxy myself).

So... let's see some photos



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Old 06-08-2010, 03:10 PM   #8
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I found the job to be quite easy, it was a little like paper mache. I believe it was **Raya ** who wisely suggested taping off any areas I didn't want mucky resin. I just had plastic and duct tape, so the area below I didn't have to be overly tidy. When the job was done I peeled away the tape and viola instant clean up. It didn't take long to dry and after the next rain, to prove it was sea worthy, I just covered it back up. I bought the smaller container of resin so if your going to do the whole inside I would suggest the gallon size.

Also a wise suggestion was to wear multiple gloves so as the mess occurred I could just peel away and not have to stop mid task. I did this during the winter and as of yet have not had any problems since.



Quote:
Thanks everyone. I'll try to get some pictures to you in the next few days. It didn't occur to me to fiberglass the interior joint. I guess that would certainly do the job. And since I'm about to install the new floor and glass it in, I could certainly run a 5" of 6" band around the belly seal. I'm recovering the walls as well, so the current covering is coming off anyway.

Do you think this will do the job well long term.

Thanks,
Carl
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Old 06-08-2010, 07:29 PM   #9
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Thank you. I noticed that epoxy resin comes with different catalysts. Is there a recommendation for this application? Also, what about the ratio of catalyst to resin?

Also, the resin appears to be quite hard to find locally in gallon size. Is there a good supplier online.

Thanks,
Carl
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Old 06-08-2010, 10:24 PM   #10
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Hi Carl,

If you are using epoxy, then you are actually using resin and hardener (vs. resin and catalyst). I'm just clarifying, not trying to nitpick. So, the main reason for different hardeners is the "speed" at which they will "kick off." Typically you choose one based on the air temperature you will be working in --- say "slow" hardener in summer and "fast" hardener in winter --- but there are sometimes other reasons to choose one over another. For example "slow" if you need a very long open time for some purpose.

There are also "very slow" (WEST calls theirs "tropical") and special clear (for bright finished work), but you probably would do find sticking with "slow" (I see you are in Texas).

You may still want to use a few techniques to slow down the "kicking" so that it does not happen before you are ready for it to. One tip is to get it spread out quickly. It will kick much faster in a deep narrow container than it will once you wet out your cloth (then it is shallow and wide). Another is that you can keep the container of mixed resin in an ice bucket while you are working with it (but the first one will probably be enough).

Most of the brands of epoxy are roughly equivalent, although some are easier to "hand measure" than others.

WEST System is very popular, has been around a loong time, and is available at any West Marine (no relation), one of which might be near you. One potential minus is that it mixes at a 1:5 ratio, which is a little harder to do with cups (but they sell special calibrated pumps).

Other well-known brands that you can order include RAKA, MAS, and System Three. I think all of these mix in a 2:3 ratio, or maybe 1:2, so they are relatively simple to mix with cups - I make up a master set of clear beer cups with lines for "small," "medium," and "large" batches. Off the top of my head: RAKA can be ordered directly and I think they are in Florida. System Three can also be ordered - check them out online. Fiberglass selling places will have cloth, tools, and resins. Try RAKA, fiberglasscoatings, Jamestown distributors, or B and B Yacht design (very friendly mom and pop boat builders who sell resin and supplies out of North Carolina). Shipping is typically not a problem.

For quick small stuff, WEST System has some refill packs for their repair kit (the kit I don't find useful as it has a bunch of stiff like a little spatula and etc.), which are like twin packs of ketchup (small foil type packets) and are perfect for small jobs. The refill kits have about ten twin packs, IIRC.

Happy glassing And just pipe in as you have more questions.

Raya
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Old 06-08-2010, 10:55 PM   #11
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Raya has the best advice!!!!
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Old 06-08-2010, 11:55 PM   #12
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Hi Carl - just found this thread while looking for some window install advice.

I came across this too while gutting my Lil Bigfoot. As you likely know by now, the top half of the trailer sits over top of the bottom. The belly band on the BF is really more decorative than anything. I removed mine to paint the trailer, and it's still sitting in my garage (2 pieces - one long one, one shorter).

I caution you, as I found out the hard way, when removing the screws, take 6-8 out at a time, beginning at the end of the band. Then pull the band away from the trailer (it has some flex) and replace your screws. Continue this way until your done. I took all of my screws out in one shot and even though the top half has a lip about 3.5" high so it will seat on the bottom half, it still shifted slightly. It was a pain (lots of prying with nails etc) to get the holes to line back up.

If you haven't discovered this yet, behind the fabric etc. there is a strip of plywood about 1" wide that is glued to the inside of the fiberglass. This is what the screws bite into. On mine, many spots had delaminated, especially around the curves. I stripped mine all out and replaced it as some of it was rotten as well.

It really just came down to ripping strips on a table saw, and then using a chop saw, cutting grooves every couple of inches almost completely through (this allows you to get the flex around the four corners). I then just contact cemented the wood to the walls and used wood clamps to hold things in place until set, taking advantage of the window openings for the clamp placement.

I then just covered this 'protrusion' with the bubble wrap and ratfur - looks like a nice finished area now.

When I go to replace the belly band, I'm going to force silicon into each hole as I'm screwing thing tight...this should prevent any moisture from going in. I guess a person could put some butyl in behind as well....not sure if that would work.

I know the same 'trough' is used for the canopy track, and mine was butyl-ed.

Long story short, the track that runs around the trailer is just for aesthetics. I suppose with the trim plastic replaced, water should run right off of it.

Hope that helps,
Mike
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Old 06-09-2010, 10:19 AM   #13
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Mike,

Great insight into the Bigfoot belly band construction - I was wondering how it was set up.

I would, however, beseech you not to put silicone in each (or any!) holes as you re-install the belly band. I can't see the set-up exactly, but if any sealant is called for I would strongly recommend anything but silicone. The problem is that it does not seal all that well, in the long run, but, OTOH, the silicone and its oily residue will be with you virtually forever. When you have to dig it out to re-seal, and/or if you - or anyone - ever want to paint the trailer, you will be fighting silicone and fish-eyes for a LONG time

Again, I'm not sure if it needs a sealant or not, but if it does, I would suggest butyl, or if you would like to use a caulk, then something like Sika 291 or perhaps 3M 4200, or the like.

Raya

(Okay, anyone else want to use silicone? )
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Old 06-09-2010, 07:56 PM   #14
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Thank you for the insight! So, if I understand correctly, the top shell fits over the bottom, resulting in no possiblity of water leak from the seal itself (except if the fiberglass were damaged)? And, the only possibility of a leak is from the screws with which the band is attached to the trailer? If that is right, you just made my day. I was planning on having to glass the entire seal on the inside, which would mean extra money and time.

Thanks,
Carl
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