Boler Structural Support? - Fiberglass RV

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Old 12-01-2015, 11:48 AM   #1
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Name: Cas+Jeff
Trailer: Boler
British Columbia
Posts: 1
Boler Structural Support?

Hello! My partner and I just bought a 1974, our first foray into fiberglass. The previous owner did a full gut (I'll post photos eventually), and designed his own floorplan with a double bed, drawers underneath, an L-shaped kitchen counter, and small bench in the front end. There are no upper cabinets, no closet to the left of the door, and no insulation. It's water tight and the hull in good shape, but eventually a remodel will need be done to accommodate a table and take advantage of vertical storage. Essentially, it's camp-ready apart from esthetics, though it does have about a 1" gap at the bottom of the door.

In reading around, I see that this is a common problem with a variety of simple and complex solutions. I figure that I could knock of two birds with one stone (storage cabinets and door sag) by installing some wooden rib supports, to boost the shape of the frame (such as found on Complete Guide to 13′ Boler Fiberglass Trailers). Unfortunately, I lack the MAD SKILLS needed to make such things, as well as the knowledge of how to glass things to the hull.

I'm starting to read about the basics of fiberglass--which is super fascinating in and of itself--but I'm wondering where I can find some general ideas on different structural supports for this egg. Could I use 4 telescoping poles with rubber feet? Where should I put them? Is there a diagram of ideal structure spots?

I'm trying to find pictures of how Boler's were originally supported, but no luck. I'm assuming that cabinetry would originally have been secured to the supports, not bolted directly though the hull.

Tips? We are located in Abbotsford, BC, if anyone local is receptive to me questioning the heck out of them in person!

Thank you!

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Old 12-02-2015, 08:32 PM   #2
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Name: Jon
Trailer: 2008 Scamp 13 Std
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Originally Posted by CampyHappers View Post
...I'm trying to find pictures of how Boler's were originally supported, but no luck. I'm assuming that cabinetry would originally have been secured to the supports, not bolted directly though the hull..
I've never owned a Boler, but I have a Scamp, and from all I can see, they are supported in pretty much the same way. Support is provided by the cabinetry itself, some of which is riveted directly through the shell.
  • A full-height closet just aft of the door is riveted to the shell. It supports the roof on that side and helps maintain the curvature of the shell for proper door fit.
  • On the opposite side, upper and lower kitchen cabinets are also riveted to the shell. A post between the upper cabinet and the countertop provids continuous vertical support for the roof on that side.
  • The front sofa base is attached with screws to a fiberglass tab (or ledge) that runs around the front of the shell. It is also screwed to the frame across the base. It serves to strengthen the shell attachment to the floor, especially near the door.
  • The dinette benches in the rear corners are also screwed to fiberglass tabs along the shell and to the wood floor. Like the front sofa, they strengthen and stabilize the shell attachment to the floor at the back.
All that is academic at this point, since it's already gone. I think your best bet is to post some good pictures of what you have now. Then you may get some suggestions for how to beef up the shell support. Ribs are the least intrusive way. Scamp and Casita use a partial bulkhead between the side dinette and rear dinette on some models. You can see it on the right side of these photos:

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I've never seen anything like the posts you describe... with fiberglass you usually want to spread out stresses over a larger area.

Meantime, it's not a bad idea to brace the roof with a square of plywood in the center of the ceiling and a 2x4 post. A little gentle pressure might take out some of the sag.

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Old 12-03-2015, 07:59 AM   #3
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Name: JD
Trailer: Scamp
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I did this on my Scamp 16 and I installed plywood bulkheads to carry the stress.
The main ones were epoxy/fiberglassed in and the others were glued and held in place initially with screws and washers. After the glue sets then the screws are unnecessary, but I left them in place since they can't hurt and are stainless steel and sealed with polyurethane.
I installed upper cabinets full length and also bonded them in and glued and screwed them to each other for added strength and stiffness. The also are glued and screwed to the bulkheads as well.
The twin beds on each side have the outside braces (2X2s) bonded to the walls and have plywood bulkheads under separating the utilities on the driver's side.
The plywood tops of the frames will be screwed to the wood supports for greater stiffness.
I don't know if I will install upright braces between the upper cabinets and the lower counter tops, but I might.

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Old 12-03-2015, 09:24 AM   #4
Name: Tim
Trailer: boler
Posts: 43

Good morning. All the bolers that I have seen have generally maintained a original look inside. The pantry/closet at the door and the Kitchen with upper cabinets and rod iron bars from counter top to uppers on the other side. All the cabinets are riveted to the hull. These are there to give the hull structural strength. If you want to get rid of these or in your case they are already gone, it is a good idea to integrate some sort of rib. Ian has been an awesome resource and when I looked at what he had done on his yellow boler, I was impressed. My wood skills are OK, so I used two stages, structural via gluing 2 x 6 cut to shape then capped by plywood to make it nicer then I'm going to cover that with a hull liner material to cover up. because my exterior is unfinished, I was able to use screws from the outside to hold the 2 x 6 in place until the construction adhesive could dry. repair the holes later. This way I can eliminate the closet. I didn't need the stove top but could use the overhead cabinet. They are going to be put back on with rivets.
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Old 12-03-2015, 09:45 AM   #5
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Name: JD
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I have thought about the mid wall brace from the lower cabinet to the upper and I am going install something.
While the top and bottom are plenty stiff the mid brace will come close to matching the two sides.
In my case the frame is really structurally attached to the shell with the added peripheral bracing welded in the side of the frame and bonded to the 3/4" plywood fiber glassed and epoxy floor.
This floor is epoxy glasses to the shell and the shell and frame will reinforce each other.
The front with the bulkheads will be stronger, but most of the weight and stress will be there as well.
This will shift the frame stress forward to the point where the frame exits the shell.
In this area I have extended the reworked frame, added stiffeners, and splayed reinforcements. Also at the bend in (actually welded joints) there is a cross brace to absorb the twisting stress that would otherwise occur here (and is the reason for the stress cracking in these and similar frames).
Of course this is SWAG engineering (scientific wild A$$ guess).

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Old 12-03-2015, 10:06 AM   #6
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Name: Jon
Trailer: 2008 Scamp 13 Std
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Just another SWAG... based on a post by a former fiberglass boat-maker, now egg owner, a while back... Too floppy is bad, but too rigid can be bad, too. The frame will flex and twist on uneven surfaces. If you create "hard points"- his term, not mine- the shell cannot flex, so something has to give, and cracks can be the result. I'm no engineer, but his comments made sense.

To me there is genius in the original riveted design. It allows some flex as you bounce down the highway (a rolling earthquake, as one forum member describes it). And if the fiberglass cannot flex enough, the aluminum rivets will shear off, saving the fiberglass and easily replaced.
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Old 12-03-2015, 10:40 AM   #7
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Name: JD
Trailer: Scamp
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You may be correct especially where stress is concentrated at single points. The idea (right or wrong) is to bond everything to spread it out more evenly.
Think if the shell like a real egg shell. A very strong structure until you Crack it.
This type of construction is called monocoque as used in aircraft which I am more familiar with.
The floor in my case completes the shell and the bulkheads on either side of the door are structurally there to reinforce this weak area.
As you correctly point out this will shift the bend in stress to the joining area between the shell and tongue and the reason it is reinforced as well.
Cracks and loosened or sheared rivets are due to point localized stress concentrations and not necessarily overly stiff construction.
Again. With that said while stiffer than relatively weak bonding with pull rivets the bonded joints, fiberglass panels and plywood will still flex and transfer loads efficiently.
The idea is to have the suspension absorb the shock loads.
If it doesn't then the vibrations and bouncing between parts will definitely cause cracking and sheared or loosened rivets.
I do have some experience with rivets since I have been an aircraft mechanic and inspector for many years and for this reason approach this project like what I know.
Sheared rivets and cracked skins are bad things in airplanes also.

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