BIG problems with 1982 Burro - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-13-2003, 01:05 PM   #1
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BIG problems with 1982 Burro

Posted by Martin G., Member, from Rhode Island:

Hello--this is our first post, but we have been avid readers of the list for the last two weeks.
Okay, so we bought the "money pit", but thankfully it is a 13' Burro (1982) and not a 2200 square foot home. This was definitely a passion purchase...we love the whole small trailer concept and are eager to solve a few of our problems (more appearing every day). It is reassuring to read that others have had similar problems and have solved them through the helpful advice and encouragement (we need this) available on this website.

Here is where we are at. In order to give the Burro a fresher look and fresher smell (it really wasn't that bad) we pulled out the carpet and all the wood (hatch covers and cabinet door and table). There was some water damage visible in front of the door on a plywood floor that had been added on top of the original fiberglassed floor which we removed.
This is where the fun began...ants, big ones, and a bucket full of larvae. They were Carpenter Ants according to our neighboor who said, "can't you see their little tool belts?"

After spraying and bug bombing we began to probe the floor and discovered lots of WET rot below the fiberglass. We read some posts about floor problems here and decided to try to dry it and salvage what we could of the floor. Bad news, after using a dehumidifier for a full day, there was no significant change and the wood that we pulled up after pulling back the fiberglass was like wet pipe tobacco.
We realized that we would have to replace sections of the wood and re-glass the floor, but at this point we have pulled up the wood to where the inside shell attaches to the floor. And it appears that the wood continues wet beyond this attachment area and under the storage areas. So, what to do at this point...we really don't want to lift the shell off the trailer if at all possible. Our idea is to probe and remove the wet wood until we reach something that is sound and then add new wood in sections, cleating it to the original part that is left, fiberglass that all in, and add another sheet of plywood on top of that as the floor and then lay vinyl. (Of course, there may not be any sound wood left!) We are open to all suggestions from floor rot
experts and anyone who wants to weigh in...just don't tell us to sell.
Oh yah we say "we" instead of I, because this is a husband and wife (KayG) project. Thanks in advance for helping us out.

-----------------------------
Marty G.
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Old 08-13-2003, 01:33 PM   #2
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Posted by pjanits, Member, Schaumburg, Ill.


I would try getting some heat /air flow in there to dry out the wet wood thoroughly,( this may take a few days- maybe a wet dry vac may give you a running start) then use the resin stuff for rotton wood I have seen posted on this board somewhere ( try doing a search), see if that makes it solid again,then I would add another sheet over it.

I would do this before ripping out anymore wet wood or even thinking about lifting the body ( that would be a complete last resort for me).

Also while you're waiting for the floor to dry, pull off all your outside lights and push some butyl rubber tape into the holes for the screws and wires.(I had waterfalls coming thru mine).
check the top vent to see if it leaks, and run some weed whacker line into the drain holes on the windows to get the crud out.( this was the major window leak on my 81' Burro 13 ft.,crud in the drains)

I have used Parbond for sealing around windows and openings.It comes in white. I got it from a RV dealer. It's like a super silicon. It's what they use to finish the seams after installing windows with the tape.
You may want to pull the windows and re tape them with the butyl rubber tape but maybe the Parbond will be enough. Silicon will just leave a yucky look that will leak again withing a year.

Do NOT sell that trailer.

You will grow to love it more and more, no matter what problems it has. You just fix them as you find them.

-----------------------------
Pete
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Old 08-13-2003, 01:58 PM   #3
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Posted by Suz, Moderator, North Texas:

Hello Martin and Kay!

Ditto everything Pete said.

Those of us who purchased the older trailers certainly can relate to what your saying.

Some of us (me included) have had times when we thought we were nuts for having the older ones and not getting a newer one. But, have no fear...you'll get it fixed up and love it so much that you wouldn't dare part with it.


Mine had some pretty serious leaks. I finally found them all and corrected them. I thought I would never, ever get rid of the dampness and the smell that went with it, but I did. Even the wet part in between the outer wall and my shower wall. Circulation and ventilation. I kept fans blowing and blowing and it eventually dried it all out.

-----------------------------
Suz
1989 Casita
16 ft Spirit Deluxe
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Old 08-13-2003, 03:22 PM   #4
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Little by little

Posted by Thomas Haney, Member, San Francisco region:

Little by little
Welcome Martin & Kay,

I know that when you look at the entire list of things to do it can be paralyzing...

In due time, you will solve everything and then your list will be just cosmetic things. Those will be done too.

As far as floors, I had to replace major sections of mine too.
If yours is like mine you'll find that where the wood floor intersects the fibreglass there is a glass fillet on top of the wood and underneath. By fillet I mean a fibreglass strip that attaches and seals the edges of floor to wall. Yes? No?

If yes, I used a grinding wheel and cut off the top fillet as close as I could to the wall. Peeled up the wood which left the bottom fillet. Which is good. I just put new resin on bottom fillet and used it to position/hold the new wood in the correct level position. I'm probably unclear, so ask.

Use a dust mask if you grind away your fibreglass

-----------------------------
Sincerely

Tom
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Old 08-13-2003, 04:05 PM   #5
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Posted by pjanits, Member, of Schaumburg, Ill.:

Amen to the dust mask!!!!!
Use it for any sanding,grinding,cutting,etc.
If not you will cough your lungs out for about an hour.

-----------------------------
Pete
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Old 08-13-2003, 05:56 PM   #6
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Posted by Patricia Baxter, Member, Grand Rapids, Michigan:

Marty:
You can accelerate the drying-out process by putting a room dehumidifier in the trailer and shutting it up tight for a day or two. You'll be amazed at the amount of water the dehumidifier will collect. After this, keep a fan running to prevent re-absorption.
Dale :drums

-----------------------------
Grama Pat & Grampa Dale
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Old 08-13-2003, 06:36 PM   #7
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Bad Floor

Posted by Doug Temoin, Member, BC-Canada

Bad Floor
Marty & Kay
From your description, you do not have a complete fibreglass shell, rather a glassed - in floor. Some Bolers were made the same way. From everything I have read, your problem might require an off-frame reflooring job. Don't despair...big problems become little ones with research and thought. I was lucky to have a complete shell, and almost a year after commencing repairs, inside and out, I now have a little egg to nest in. My photos are too big to download here , but can be seen at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bolertrailerclub/. The album is 78boler2

-----------------------------
Doug
78 Boler 13'
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Old 08-14-2003, 12:35 AM   #8
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Rotten Wood -

Posted by sam davenport, Member, Naperville, IL:

Rotten Wood -
I read an article on line about treating rotten wood in boats. The fellow recommended using PEG poly ethylene glycol to treat the rot and then a min-wax woodhardener which comes in a quart can and is quite pricey - $15 to stiffen up the remainder of the wood. HOWEVER, I am not sure it will work on a floor if it is rotted through.
I hope this works for you. A fan and dehumidifier will work better than a dehumidifier alone because it speeds up drying process.
Good luck.




-----------------------------
Sam & Claudia
"The Casita Kids"
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Old 08-14-2003, 01:45 AM   #9
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thanks for advice and kind words

Posted by Martin G., Member, Rhode Island:

thanks for advice and kind words
We appreciate your suggestions and comments.
Drying out the wet, rotted floor and then using a wood hardener was what we'd hoped to be able to do. The dehumidifier ran inside the tightly closed Burro for at least 18 hours. After all the rain we've had this summer the dehumidifier, when running in our basemement, will fill up and shut itself off in about 8 hours. Unfortunately,after 18 hours in the Burro, it had barely 2 cups in the tank. Considering this fact with how much water was in the wood (picture oozing when pressed on) and just how advanced the wet rot was (picture lifting up the top sheet of fiberglass and briskly brushing your hand over the wood - in about 6 seconds you had a pile of wet sawdust and the bottom layer of fiberglass) made us realize that wood salvage wasn't realistic. Checked on a couple wood hardener products-they both stated that there were limitations to what their product could do and that to be effective the remaining wood must be 100% DRY as well as structurally intact. Tommorow we'll start testing the wood under the storage areas front and rear and hopefully find some decent wood around the periphery that we can tie into. I feel your suggestion about grinding away the fiberglass at the junctions will come in very handy at this task and if the configuration of floor/walls is right, provide the entry point and room needed to replace the bad floor without taking the Burro off its trailer. We will keep you up-to-date with our progress. Any additional comments/opinions are certainly welcome.

-----------------------------
Marty G.
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Old 08-14-2003, 06:33 AM   #10
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body off

Posted by Rick F. D., Member, Hudson, MA - USA:

body off
Marty,
Don't be too afraid to take the body off. Just be careful and block it up solid before getting underneath. This will give you a good opportunity to inspect the frame and work on the floor. The work on the floor will probably go easier and much quicker if you remove the body. See the following link for how others have lifted the body. Make sure that you remove all of the attaching screws and bolts. I removed the body of my Boler to repaint my frame.
A Project Begins
Good luck,
Rick D.

-----------------------------
Rick D.
'78 Boler 1300
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Old 08-14-2003, 10:03 AM   #11
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Posted by Kitty McKoon-Hennick, Member, Northwest US

Martin,

I found serious rot under both my hotwater heater and fridge in the 86 Bigfoot I bought last spring. The rotten area was completely unsalvageable, but it only amounted to about 4 square feet. Here's a picture I took after I stripped out the punky stuff. It shows one of the three rotted sections:

(image no longer available)

I was surprised (delighted!) to find that the plywood floor on the Bigfoot is not glassed in place on the perimeter. It's screwed onto 1 1/4" x 1 1/4" stringers, and all the vents, doors, whatever, that are mounted at floor height are screwed through the glass and into the plywood. After I took the above photo, I used my cordless circular saw to cut the sections out in straight lines, with 90o angles. The small blade on the cordless let me get in very close to the wall you see in the picture.

I kept cutting the plywood back until I found solid stringers. I cut the stringers out so I could lap new wood onto old like this:

(image no longer available)

I replaced the battered old foam and cut the new plywood so it would go in in two pieces, joining under the wall. The wall is just light plywood paneling, but rests on a solid wood "foot" so I could screw the plywood in place through both sites of the foot, making it very solid.

I dry fit it all, then smeared glue on the stringer laps and slapped it together, screwing through the plywood and into the laps. I only butt-jointed the plywood because this was all under cabinets and doesn't have to take any foot traffic.

BTW, a small Japanese draw-saw is wonderful for cutting in really close to the edge.

I hope some of this ramble is useful.


-----------------------------

Kitty
1986 Bigfoot
(still trying to rig it with sails)
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Old 08-14-2003, 10:39 AM   #12
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Posted by Thomas and Janifer, Moderator, Northeast Oklahoma:


Poor little Burro. I'm sure glad you found it and are into the rescue. It will be worth it when you are through.

You do need to make sure you have the leaks fixed, or all your work will just fall apart again - eventually.


-----------------------------

Jana Journeycake
PullsButtercupwithYellaEscape
1975 Surfside TM-14 (ft)
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Old 08-14-2003, 01:01 PM   #13
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Posted by Paul E Henning, Member, Warsaw, Indiana:


On Osmo, I used a Dremel tool fitted with a saw-blade bit to cut the top fiberglass fillet, then removed damaged wood - similar to what Thomas Haney suggested. A grinder would also work, but the Dremel tool can fit into tighter corners, and since it has a smaller blade and less power, it doesn't kick up as much glass dust. Still wear a mask, though (ask me how I know...).

For areas that don't have to support foot traffic (ie, under cabinets and storage bins), you may get by with stiffening the rotted wood. First off, getting it dry is a MUST for any repair. Run a dehumidifier, and then put a small fan in there, set on HI, blowing directly on the wet area. It will take a couple days to dry out a few square feet.

I started out trying the Minwax product. It is good stuff, but has it's limitations. It didn't stiffen the floor to my satisfaction. So, I took a 3/16" drill bit, put a stop collar on it so as to not penetrate the fiberglass underbelly, but just nearly penetrate the wood floor, and peppered the rotted area with small holes. Then, I mixed up a quart can of fiberglass resin with about 2/3 the recommended amount of hardener, and thoroughly saturated the rotted area. This was the amount I used to treat an area the size of one dinette-bench storage area. The drilled holes allow the resin to penetrate deep into the wood, and the light mix of hardener makes it set up slowly, so that it can soak well into the rotted wood fibers. Then, I overlaid the area with fiberglass cloth, and worked it into the resin sitting on the surface. Start in the morning, to keep the resin cool for a couple hours so it can soak in. As the day warms up, the resin will start to set up. Once it has hardened, the floor should be solid. I can jump on mine on one foot without it giving. The resin soaked into the wood very nicely, and the result is a very solid, completely waterproof floor patch.

-----------------------------
Osmo the Great (Osmo is great - Paul is just so-so)
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