Body sag - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-05-2006, 12:10 PM   #1
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Trailer: Surfside TM14 1978
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Hello!
I tore into my '79 Surfside structure yesterday. It appeared to be sagging on the curb side. After lifting the body off the frame I have discovered that the frame and suspension are square and true (no suspension sag). The body is the problem.
All along the curb side the body has drooped down just over 1 inch. You can grab the body and jiggle it up and down and watch the wall/floor movement. From an appearance point of view it looks as though the suspension is shot (it is not), and I am worried that if I paint it the ongoing flexing on the curve side will ruin new paint, and maybe with time and fatique eventually crack or shear this side off from the floor.
I am thinking of running steel braces across the dinette floor and then terminating with angle iron and running a row of screws every 4 inches along the back to both sides to brace them to the floor and repeating this in the front end. The trailer is currently completely empty (gutted).
Any suggestions???
Thanks! Adam
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Old 06-05-2006, 03:23 PM   #2
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Hi Adam:
Sounds like the fiberrglass is too thin in the corners. You should post a little diagram of where exactly the flexing occurs.
Steel reinforcement will only be a temporary fix, if I understand the problem correctly. This load angle will keep working, elongating the holes around the mechanical fasteners you install. That's the beauty of fiberglass - if it's done right, it will last an extremely long time. What should probably be done is: Lift ther body into correct alignment, fiberglass the weak area - first with a thin 'skin', then heavier 2 oz. mat. After it has cured, and you are sure the profile is correct, lay in some thin wood strips into another wet mix of fiberglass, and lay another section of heavy fiberglass mat over the top of the strips. Allow at least 8 hours to fully cure.
This will transfer the vertical load correctly to the floor.

Since the trailer is gutted, I would also check the other side. Once you're into it, it's not that much morework to do both sides.

And, yes if it's really flexing, it will eventually break open.

Tom
TrilliumRV.com
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Old 06-05-2006, 04:00 PM   #3
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Adam,
Your question makes me wonder what kind of shape the floor is in. Sounds almost as if you've got a dry rot problem. The floor should be stiff enough to support the body. Interior cabinets also help to provide body support. If the cabinets have also been removed, that could be contributing to the problem.
Have you contacted the manufacturer for their input?
Please keep us informed about your ultimate discoveries and solutions. That's how all of us learn!
Kurt & Ann K.
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Old 06-06-2006, 07:32 AM   #4
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Thanks Tom. Kurt and Ann.
Another problem I thought of with my original idea is that holes every 4 inches along the side of the rig will just provide a nice perforation and eventually allow the wall to tear off. The floor is quite good, but as Tom mentioned the builder was skimpy with the glass and at the point where the wall would have been glassed to the floor it has sheared off. It looks like their may have only been one layer of glass layed there, and it looks like it might have been blown/chopped glass not woven mat glass.
In case you are wondering, the wall continues down past the floor junction, curves nicely around and tucks back under where it joins the belly. While the floor wall junction is sheared, the belly junction is intact. The belly junction is taking the entire load.
I strongly agree that the interiour furniture are critical in holding the roof and walls and transferring their weight to the floor.
I wonder if the wall, and belly were cast as one piece, then the plywood floor was glassed in as a last step during build?
Re: contacting the manufacturer - would they want to know? It is a Triple E product that is probably 25 years obsolete by their standards. (I think that Triple E and Boler, and some other 'assets' were all thrown together in a corporate merger in the late '70s)
Some other areas I will be glassing include two thins spots in the ceiling (appear to be gel-coat, no glass), and a spot where the closet is (appears to have worn through much of the glass that was there.)
Lots of fun!
Adam
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Old 06-06-2006, 10:42 PM   #5
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Adam;

I had a similar, but not as dramatic problem with my Fiber Stream. The actions I took are shown in:

http://community.webshots.com/album/551123968ABqdPX

I had a floor-to-frame problem, all the 1/4" carriage bolts were loose. I repplaced them with 5/16" elevator bolts (great Idea from a forum regular). I repaired the few body-to-floor breaks I had with fiberglass mat and epoxy, and then fiberglassed the entire floor. The difference that makes is truly astounding.

Victor
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Old 06-06-2006, 11:14 PM   #6
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Adam,
I believe Casita strengthens the roof to accept the air conditioner weight by using sections of re-bar glassed in place width-wise. If placed strategically so they don't conflict with things like cabinet and vent locations, much additional strength may be realized. I've also seen cardboard mailing tubes split lengthwise and glassed in place, saving a little weight and providing a convenient path for wiring from one side to the other.
Different manufacturers arrive at solutions in a variety of ways. Attending rallies which attract a variety of brands can be very educational, particularly when you are contemplating extensive repairs and remodeling.
That's one of the reasons why "open-house" sessions are so popular.

Kurt & Ann K.
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Old 06-07-2006, 12:50 AM   #7
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Trailer: 1972 boler American and 1979 Trillium 4500
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Quote:
Hello!
I tore into my '79 Surfside structure yesterday. It appeared to be sagging on the curb side. After lifting the body off the frame I have discovered that the frame and suspension are square and true (no suspension sag). The body is the problem.
All along the curb side the body has drooped down just over 1 inch. You can grab the body and jiggle it up and down and watch the wall/floor movement. From an appearance point of view it looks as though the suspension is shot (it is not), and I am worried that if I paint it the ongoing flexing on the curve side will ruin new paint, and maybe with time and fatique eventually crack or shear this side off from the floor.
I am thinking of running steel braces across the dinette floor and then terminating with angle iron and running a row of screws every 4 inches along the back to both sides to brace them to the floor and repeating this in the front end. The trailer is currently completely empty (gutted).
Any suggestions???
Thanks! Adam
Hi Adam,

I have not quite gotten that far (gutting) into mine yet, but think I've found the same problem. I'm thinking this is responsible for the stress cracks and door sag on many 13' Bolers I've been reading about. The top left (closet side) of the door is bowing out and is cracked while the top right is bowing in and has a good 3" crack all the way through. From the underside the wall to floor glass looks pretty flimsy. I have not pulled the front bench yet, but imagine that is where the biggest source of the problem is going to be seen i.e. on the floor to wall seam. Allowing the body to drop and the belly to bow out.

I've looked at some of the other fixes, re curving the door and flattening out the surprisingly short hinge support bar. But think a different approach might be the answer. I'm considering jacking up the roof from the frame and supporting the hinge side of the door with a narrow wall (just wide enough to do the screen door mod). I'm hoping that I can McGuyver up a 1/2" wall using 2 pieces of Fiberglass sheets Mike W used in his closet rebuild sandwiching something like a commercial fluorescent light grill in between. Then beef up the floor to wall joints and tie in the new interior wall to the old outer shell. Plus repair the stress cracks somewhere in there. Cross my fingers and pull out the jacks.

Have you tried using your hand piece for prepping repairs yet? I'm thinking a good carbide bur will help.

Roy
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Old 06-07-2006, 02:51 PM   #8
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Trailer: Surfside TM14 1978
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Hi Victor! Thanks for the pictures. What are elevator bolts?

Thanks for great ideas Kurt. I do think that your suggestions are the way to go. I have lots of glass and resin from other projects and will have a go this weekend at lifting the body back into its proper place then glassing over the sheared areas and an extra layer down the good side to ensure its ongoing integrity.

Hi again Roy!!! Part of bringing my body back into place will include interiour braces until the glass sets. I think I will leave the braces in place until I am ready to reinstall the rebuilt interiour.

I may have found a good source for shell lining. It comes off a 5' roll and is $1.76 a linear foot. White closed cell 3/8" foam padding that should do a good job of insulating, it is washable and water proof. I have a sample and the contact adhesive that they recommend. Will report back on it later.

Adam
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Old 06-08-2006, 01:45 AM   #9
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I may have found a good source for shell lining. It comes off a 5' roll and is $1.76 a linear foot. White closed cell 3/8" foam padding that should do a good job of insulating, it is washable and water proof. I have a sample and the contact adhesive that they recommend. Will report back on it later.

Adam
Sounds interesting. If I recall the trilliums had a press in joint trim. I wonder if it is still available and how well it would work with your lining to cover the seams?

What are you using for the FG repairs. I remember reading there are 2 types of FG, with the older trailers using something different than the newer ones. Can we mix types?

Roy
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Old 06-08-2006, 07:29 AM   #10
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RE: FG repair. I read it somewhere on this site - I think. I have to look it up again before Saturday. I think it goes that Epoxy on Polyester is not a good mix, it will delaminate. Epoxy on epoxy is OK. 1960's through early 1980's is often polyester. I'll get looking and confirm that.

How's your Boler?

Adam
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Old 06-08-2006, 09:07 AM   #11
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Hi Victor! Thanks for the pictures. What are elevator bolts?
Adam;

Have a look at this thread; that's where my problem was solved.

http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/in...howtopic=19871

Victor
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Old 06-08-2006, 11:10 AM   #12
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Hi Adam
Have met the man over in Paris, another in Brantford, and another in Cambridge. As the family originaly settled in Galt there may be some connection WAY, WAY back........
I have used CTC products but prefer to get it from a marine suplier in London. I know that it hasn't been sitting on the shelf for a long time. If your surfside was done with a chopper then I'd suspect that it will be Polyester.
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Old 06-08-2006, 03:35 PM   #13
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Thanks James!
Can I use epoxy over Polyester? Or must I use polyester over polyester?
Adam
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Old 06-09-2006, 02:54 AM   #14
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Epoxy over polyester works fine. Polyester over polyester and epoxy over epoxy work fine!

The problem child is polyester over epoxy, but you would not want to repair a (high strength) epoxy laminate with (low strength) polyester. Applying a polyester gel coat to old epoxy laminate isn't usually a problem, but putting it over fresh epoxy doesn't work well.

There's a trick for this which works reliably: apply a thin smear of regular (ie, polyester) car body filler (US: Bondo?) over the epoxy - the filler sticks fairly well to the epoxy and the polyester gel coat sticks well to it. No, I can't explain why this works - I've asked experts and they can't explain it either, even if they know it works!

In all cases, we are talking about adhesion to a well-sanded laminate - if nothing else, like when repairing a small crack or hole, thoroughly scratching inside the repair area with the tip of a utility knife blade will be much better than nothing.

Andrew
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