Help! I just brought home a new-to-me burro around 30 years old. It has some issues - the first one I want to tackle is the door since it is the most serious. It does still latch and lock, but there are cracks in the fiberglass around the latch and the door has distorted a bit so that there is a gap on the bottom 1//2 side edge. Can the door be repaired?
Fooey. I guess there are no door solutions here - or at least they would be too complex to post. I know it looks pretty bad. So, I'm taking it in to an RV repair place recommended by a friend next Wednesday. Fingers still crossed - now so it will not be impossibly expensive!
It takes some work, a willingness to pay the "fools tax" as in I was a fool to do it that way, but this is the first time I fooled with something like this.
It helps if you figure that it's broken now so even if you can't make it perfect you can at least make it better. Go for it... worst case if your repair is just awful it can be sanded off and re-done. But I'm betting if you have some patience you can end up with a repair that no one will notice unless you point it out to them.
Donna is right I have come across pictures of trailers on the forum that have been crushed showing the process of patching the fiberglass and finishing it out. Not a how-to but they do show what is possible.
Also talk to area auto body shops and get a price for you bringing in the door off the trailer they may be cheaper than an RV repair place. If there is a community college with an auto body program in your area you may be able to get an advanced student to do the work at a good price.
Thanks for the help Roger. I think I will give it a shot. It would feel so great to solve my problem. The guy at the RV place said something about cutting the door in half across at the lock and then making it match the door to the body shape.
Matt, I was afraid to ask what it would cost - The guy was nice but he'd just told me I spent too much on the trailer. One slap on top of another was more than I could take. I may get brave enough to ask when I go back to pick it up after the electric is checked out. I know, "what a wimp!"
OK, now we're all curious. Without prying too much, what did you pay for the Burro? My guess is that the repair guy has no clue about these wonderful little trailers and would think $100 is too much.
As a temporary fix, you could use a gate latch bolted to the bottom of the door and the body to secure the door tightly to the body while traveling. Push in on the door bottom, put the latch over the connector (hasp?), and turn to secure or lock with a padlock. You couldn't do this, of course, while inside for the night. Also, a layer of foam weatherstripping may seal the gap enough for keeping the dirt and moisture out (and bugs!). We have a slight gap in our UHaul door, too, and the weatherstripping helps. Of course, the gap gives us fresh air, too!
Will you lose all respect for me if I tell you I spent $3950? You probably should. I did. In my defense I was fiberglass clueless and had travelled half of California to check it out after searching for months.
The guy at the repair place has a 17 foot Casita so I'd guess he knows what's up.
The door does still lock but as you can see from the pictures, there is definite cracking and distortion - and lots of space for rain and cold/heat to sneak in .... but then again since there isn't heat or AC, the cold and heat probably isn't much of an issue. (Yes, I blew it didn't I.) I will use your idea of the foam weatherstripping. Thanks. That sounds like a great short term solution.
Does look like there may be a little bowing out at the bottom which your doggie can clarify since they have had the close up view :-)
Once you remove the damaged material at the edge cracks you may find the door becomes more flexible so you can bend the bottom in just a little. Much of the rigid comes from the edges. As mentioned Door seal comes in lots of different thickness too. Would be easier to work on off the trailer.
Maybe make a cardboard tracing of the door frame curve then cut cardboard so you have a template to shape the door to. Once you have the curve cut, line it up in the door frame and use a stretched string or chalk line to mark striaght up and down from top to bottom of door frame on your template. This would give you a flat side and a curved side to your template.
Once you have the cracked part of door edge ground out you can put the door flat on bench, template flat side on bench and use the curved side of template as a guide to improve match up between door and frame curve. Don't try to force bend it to "perfect". Get it as close as it will readily go. use clamps, blocks or weight to hold it while you patch.
The material you removed will provide some give, you just want to avoid an obvious "bend" at that point. But those two cracks look to be approx. 3ft above bottom so even a tiny shift in angle adds up in three feet. Might want to patch one at a time so you can spread the shifting out between the two. Once patched the edge should hold the door shape.
If you can make it "sound" so the cracks are not going to get worse, keep the weather and skeeters out your good. Perfect won't make camping in your rather unique vintage camper more fun! That is what you paid for after all.
These FGRV's get used, rebuilt, restored, refurbished and customized by those that love them so they always seem to find a buyer. You can check out the prices in the for sale / sold section of the forum. Supply and demand drives price and a supply of used is not readily available. Sellers market.
In the documents section of the forum is an inspection checklist if you go through that and it's basically sound you did not do too bad in my opinion to get a 17ft for under $4k. Get it so you can use it, use it. Only way to get your monies worth out of it no matter what you paid! If you paid too much.... use it more ;-)
I bought a sad rotten Burro last fall and prior to getting it , I had never done any fiberglass epoxy repair. I spent a couple hours today bonding fiberglass cloth, with epoxy, to the new floor that I have made for the trailer. There are cracks in other places that I have fixed and so far I am happy with all the work that I have done. I am using the West System epoxy and hardener that RogerDat gave a link for. It is soooooo simple and everything that I have done with it has cured as it should.
Also, I am not in agreement with the "cut the door in half to fix it ". There are lots of postings on this forum that I have read about door fitting and fixing and never have I seen anything that even mentioned cutting a door in two. I have some of the same issues with my door and there is no way it will be cut in half. What a mess that would be.
My guess is that the tech didn't want to work on it based on the statement about how much it would cost.
Get some fiberglass and epoxy and give it a try. I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised. Best of luck with it.
Hi Sue. Instead of going to an RV shop why not try a place that repairs fiberglass boats. A visit to a marina will probably yield some leads.
From the pictures I am assuming that you can bend the door back into shape if you try. If that is the case it might be possible to make a wood form such that when the door is clamped to it it takes on the correct shape. From there you could add fiberglass to hold the doors shape. If I had to do this repair myself, I would investigate this approach. I know folks have posted about door repairs by forcing the door into the desired shape and adding fiberglass to hold the shape. Try the google search (search feature, bottom blank). Raz
The door solution I came up with was using an angle grinder to cut the joint where the inner, aircraft-style door meets the outer skin, all the way around. Then I cut the curve I wanted into a 2X4 and strapped the door to that to force it into the shape I needed. I tried just only straps wrapped around it to give it a curve, but the bottom of the door is curved much more than the top, so it didn't work. It took a couple of tries and, of course, made an unholy mess out of the door - I was painting the trailer, so I didn't mind too much.
For the lock, it looks like you might be able to get away with some fiberglass patches - take the lock out first, so you can do it from the inside and minimize the visual impact.
My lock was trashed, so I took out the original Bargman, fiberglassed in a 2X4 block of wood (inside the inner and out fiberglass skins, and fiberglassed the exposed parts where the Bargman holes had been), then drilled holes for a standard house door knob. That's worked pretty well, but I'd caution that the stuff made for a house doesn't hold up to the vibrations that come with a trailer and I've gone through a couple of them as a result. If you go this route, get the exterior version, they're built stronger.
More recently, the hinges busted off - we drive a lot of rough roads with the trailer, but it seems like a common problem on the forum. Again, cut off the bulges the hinges mount to, scraped out the old, rotten wood inside, fiberglassed in new wood, fiberglassed the bulge-flaps back on and finished it with Bondo.
I'd caution all of this is a LOT of work, so make sure you're up for it. And, as I said, these types of repairs make a big mess out of your gelcoat, which you can't easily fix. You can paint the entire trailer, but that's a challenge for another post.