Casita shell seems warped - Fiberglass RV

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Old 09-02-2006, 03:07 PM   #1
Brian Wood
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We've owned an 1986 16' Casita for a couple of years. Gradually the interior components (closet, sink cabinet, etc) began to buckle and twist. Since our last trip I no longer feel comfortable pulling it since I'm worried about a major structural problem. The other day I took out the closet unit. It was under a lot of pressure between the ceiling and floor. Once it was out I noticed the opening for the entry door (which is right next to it) had changed shape and now the door has a gap at the bottom of a couple of inches.

I continued to take more things out. I took off some of the OSB subfloor thinking it might be warped from moisture and pushing things up. It was warped some, but I don't think that's the main problem.

I discovered a break in the fiberglass shell right at the base of the wheel well (inside the trailer, on the other side of the closet from the door). The wheel well seems to sag at that point, but so does the one on the other side, though not as much. I think the molding process when they make the shell leaves things not all level and square, so I don't know if I'm looking at a major problem or not.

The trailer frame seems straight and intact. My question is can I repair the fiberglass tear, reinstall the closet (which seems to have a strong influence in the shape of the shell in that area) and fix my problem, or has something terrible and irreversible happened? Is the closet, in fact, structurally necessary for the shell to hold its shape around the door and wheel well, or is the fact that the trailer loses its shape somewhat when it isn't there a sign of something bad?

Thanks for any help,

Brian Wood
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Old 09-02-2006, 04:02 PM   #2
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Name: Brian
Trailer: Boler (B1700RGH) 1979
Posts: 5,000
...Is the closet, in fact, structurally necessary for the shell to hold its shape around the door and wheel well, or is the fact that the trailer loses its shape somewhat when it isn't there a sign of something bad?...
In the various discussions of this type of problem in this forum and a Boler-specific forum, the consensus seems to be that the [b]interior fittings, and especially the one on the door side (normally the closet) are important to supporting the upper shell. I don't know about Casitas, specifically, but I also don't know of a reason why they would be an exception.

In the case of my Boler B1700RGH, the kitchen is beside the door, and there are wrought-iron braces from counter to upper cupboard which support the upper cupboard, and I believe the shell as well; on the other side, the bathroom, closet, and refrigerator cabinet span floor to ceiling along the straight side of the trailer.

In addition to the cabinetry, there are also [b]braces beside the door in Bolers. I hear that they are chromed steel tubing in most 1300's; in my B1700, they are wood, and are screwed into the door frame area for its whole height, one on each side. In the current Escape, there is a substantial moulded fiberglass frame surrounding the door, bonded into the structure before the moulds are pulled off of the joined shell halves. I don't know what - if anything - Casita uses for door-area reinforcement.

1979 Boler B1700RGH, pulled by 2004 Toyota Sienna LE 2WD
Information is good. Lack of information is not so good, but misinformation is much worse. Check facts, and apply common sense liberally.
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Old 09-04-2006, 06:56 PM   #3
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Trailer: 84 16 ft Scamp
Posts: 725
If you want a real 'eye-opener' to what the interior of a small FGRV goes through you might consider taking a ride for a couple of miles or more down the old 'Santa Monica' at normal freeway speeds. It might enhance your enlightening experience if you got you brother-in-law to drive the tow vehicle. I know it would enhance mine. Just kidding!!

Seriously, you never see such a simple-minded suspension on a car, do you? Wonder why? Answer: They sell just fine as-is, because no one ever considers taking a ride in one of them. The CHP and others strike such fear in the practice that no one ever knows what goes on behind closed trailer doors. But if you consider it, you'll know that a whole lota shakin is goin on. And that's not saying much!

To resolve all the jouncing and bouncing that goes on, the interior is also a part of the structure, and in my mind, and as you have found, it is just the bare minimum required.

So, don't be alarmed at the twisted interior panels and don't even think about removing them. Better that these be reinforced some to better handle their loads and consider some additional bracing for the long haul.

Interesting, after returning from a quick trip to LA this morning, I'm wondering if I might be able to replace the suspension with something like what is on the rear of my wife's DeVille. It probably wouldn't fit up without some serious interior intrusion, but without a doubt the ride quality would be significantly enhanced!

What a mod that would be -- A FGRV with a Cadillac suspension! Guess this is in the wrong section of the forum.
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Old 09-11-2006, 10:23 AM   #4
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Trailer: 1989 Casita
Posts: 2
We had the same problem with our 89 Casita. After careful examination we found that our frame was broke in 2 places (had to take off the tires to see clearly). It was close to the wheel. We had it welded in Texas. When we got to Montana, I told my husband that the door was way out of wack again. Sure enough, the frame had broken again (different place). We had it welded again. Coming home thru northern Calif, the door again started warping bably. My husband said he wasn't even going to look - just hopeing it would make it home. He is going to have the whole frame reinforced. Look very carefully at your frame - it may be broken too.
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