Delamination on 1986 Bigfoot - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-18-2009, 12:06 PM   #15
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Quote:
You mentioned your roof flattening. Just so you don't feel alone, the front portion of our roof sags on either side of the fore/aft centerline. Not having seen another Bigfoot for comparison, we're not sure if this is the way they were made or if we have another problem. I've been up there and the roof seems strong.
That is the same as ours except it's in the rear where there is no structure to support the roof.
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Old 06-18-2009, 12:11 PM   #16
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George our side wall don't seem to have come apart from the insulation and paneling. It's more of a bulge/sag in the side wall.

I think it's very interesting that BF didn't attach the outside of the trailer to any of the inside cabinetry. That seems like such a simple way to make the whole structure more rigid.
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Old 06-19-2009, 05:18 AM   #17
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Thanks, George. Possibly the trailer could be parked next to a wall as something to push against using a telescoping rod. Getting the epoxy to where it is needed might be tricky. Removing a window might provide access without drilling through the fiberglass. After squeezing in epoxy, would there be enough time to reinsert the window to be sure the opening doesn't distort, then apply the braces before the epoxy cures? Just thinking out loud.

And Lizbeth, I agree with you it does not seem that BF attached the galley unit to the wall of the trailer. Is it possible that BF wanted to allow for a certain amount of flex in the shell as the trailer bounces down the road? Once again, just thinking out loud.
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Old 06-19-2009, 01:42 PM   #18
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You have an interesting problem. I had 97 Bigfoot camper and now have 08 Bigfoot 21RB trailer and did some modifications on both. I believe that Bigfoot was using cabinets or internal walls as structural elements. While modifying one of the cabinets on my camper I noticed that it was attached to wood brackets which were permanently attached to fiberglass. In my trailer the sink cabinet is solidly attached to the wall and the floor but I am not certain if it is indeed a structural element.



Thinking about potential way of using epoxy I came with the following process:
  • Build an outside jig to keep fiberglass contour during lamination. You could take use 2 or 3 2”X6”X8’ and cut their 2” side into the shape which would conform to the desire fiberglass contour (2”X6” will be perpendicular to fiberglass plane). Use 2X4 or 2X6 to build jig’s structure. As you suggested use a wall and the jig to force fiberglass to the desire shape.
  • Provide epoxy resin feeding structure from inside of the trailer. You could use gravity feed via multiple 3/8” Tygon like tubing. Drill multiple holes into you cabinet and inside plywood with drill diameter slightly smaller than outer diameter of chosen Tygon tubing. Forcing tubing into these ports should seal these joints. Place funnels on other ends of tubing and hang them high.
  • Seal all potentially leaking openings with a temporary tape such as ducting tape.
  • Force inside cabinets into the externally braced fiberglass wall using 2X4 braces against other side of the trailer. I would leave windows in place.
  • Pure low viscosity mixed epoxy resin with catalyst into the funnels while wishing for the best results but most importantly that you will never have to take it apart.

Good luck, George.

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Old 06-23-2009, 07:31 PM   #19
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Thanks, George!
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Old 10-04-2009, 02:41 PM   #20
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We visited several RV and fiberglass repair shops for opinions about our problem, which seemed to be getting a bit worse with time. The gap between the galley and the side wall was widening. All but one shop said that to effect a repair the wall must be rebuilt from the inside. To do this, the galley unit must be removed, including refer, furnace, and oven. Such a repair would run $2500-$3500. Yikes!

We found one shop that told us that they could repair from the outside for much less. Since the $2500-$3500 estimates had us looking for another trailer, we decided to give them a try.

They removed the belly band in the vicinity of the delamination. They inserted larger, longer screws to hold the side wall to the galley and loo. Going through the refrigerator vent, they ran plumber's tape from the belly band to the galley unit. On the inside they placed a length of angle iron at the side wall/loo junction, where wood lies beneath the decor paneling.

Almost two weeks have passed and so far so good.
Attached Thumbnails
angle_iron_galley_washroom.jpg   inside_refer_vent_small.jpg  

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Old 10-04-2009, 03:40 PM   #21
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Good to hear you may have found a solution Since you're saying it's getting worse over time, do you know why??
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Old 10-04-2009, 03:50 PM   #22
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Tim, thanks for the pictures! That looks like what we have planned for our side walls.

The we get to tackle the sagging ceiling!
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Old 10-06-2009, 06:36 PM   #23
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Donna, perhaps the problem was getting worse because of flex going down the road, but I'm not sure. We have driven a fair bit of washboard/potholed unpaved road. I'm just glad I no longer look to the great outdoors from the back edge of the galley.

The other day a 1979 "prototype" 17' Bigfoot parked next to us at Fred Meyer. Much of the port side seemed wavy and squishy. I didn't get a chance to speak to the owners much as they were in a hurry, so I do not know anything more about it.
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Old 10-06-2009, 10:43 PM   #24
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This is my first post; let's hope I don't mess it up too badly.

I bought a 17' Bigfoot yesterday, the owners who were not the original owners, said it was a 1978, but when I went to register it the SGI had it in their computers as a 1970. I would really like to know the actual age the serial is 555** (last 2 numbers replaced with **).

Anyway my trailer has delaminations the roof sags with water damage, otherwise not in bad shape. This is what I suspect. The fiberglass shell is very thin with very little strength on its own. The way they most likely built the trailer, thin fiber glass shell to that they glued rigid foam and wood blocking where required for future attachments like bulkheads and cabinetry, beds, etc. Then the main wall paneling was glued to the foam. There is a good chance that this could have been done while the fiber glass was still in the mold. This type of construction would give an extremely light weight rigid shell. The interior cabinetry would also strengthen the trailer, by providing further bracing.

I believe the point of failure in these trailers at least ones of my vintage is that the glue between the fiberglass to foam and foam to wood is breaking down, and a guess that they did not have a water proof adhesive at the time that would work with the rigid foam.

Anywhere I can see delaminating I can see water damage as well. Now this is just a hypothesis on my part. I'm wondering if anyone can confirm this. If this is the case, I will have a lot of work ahead of me.



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Old 10-07-2009, 01:34 PM   #25
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Daryl,

In the case of our trailer, water damage and delamination went hand in hand. The separation of the [fiberglass/foam/wood frame in places/decor paneling] sandwich seemed to be a combination of glue not holding as well as screws not holding in punky wood. At holmesonbigfoot web site you can ask a former Bigfoot employee specifics about the construction. He does expect a donation for his information.

We received contradictory opinions about the severity of our problem from the shops we visited. One shop predicted catastrophic consequences should we fail to repair. The shop that actually made the repair thought we could probably get away without making any repair. Everyone else was somewhere in between.
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Old 10-07-2009, 07:40 PM   #26
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Thanks Tim!

I got through a few other posts last night, and have been thinking about it all day. The trailer most likely could use the roof repair the front third at least. This would require the removal of the upper cabinets over the dinette back to the closet on the galley side. If I was to do the complete roof I would have to remove the complete interior, and where do you stop. There appears to be only a small area in the back third of the trailer, so not likely a problem. There is also more roof support. I checked today on materials and the local auto body supply store has everything I would need. They also have a glue fiberglass/foam/wood, or metal. The chap there thought that on small delaminations one could drill small holes in the fiberglass and inject a small amount of glue making sure that there were holes for any excess glue to escape. He thought that just hand pressed would insure a bond; it might be a good idea to test this theory first, maybe testing with a piece of thin plastic laminate (Formica) and a scrap of rigid foam would make a good approximation.

As for structural strength small sections might be okay but large areas such as the front third of my roof are worrisome, not only for traveling, but winter snow loads. Also if there is undo flex in an area it is no doubt going to cause further problems. I would like to think you did the correct thing repairing your damage, did you notice the area getting bigger over the time that you first noticed the problem till the time you repaired it?

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Old 10-07-2009, 09:24 PM   #27
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Daryl, as far as we can tell our roof is not delaminated and does not have visible water damage. I think ours sacked out due to not having enough support to begin with plus the addition of an AC. It will likely November before we have time to tackle the project.
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Old 10-08-2009, 10:29 AM   #28
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Tim,

I should reread before I post, you did say it got worse before you fixed it. The other thing I noticed was that the plywood had delaminated as well. The delaminating of the ply would be next to impossible to repair injecting glue. I worked on boats in the 80’s and very few types of plywood of the interior paneling types had waterproof glue. I think Bruynzeel brand plywood was the only one we could get with a guarantee.

Lizbeth

I’m not sure what the weight of an AC unit is but it would be my guess that it should have some support. If there is any delaminating between the fiberglass-foam-wood then you would really need support or repair. Think of corrugated cardboard if you have paper on both sides of the corrugations you have something that is fairly strong, take the paper off one side and you can roll up the sheet up. Somewhere in another post it said that later models of the Bigfoot had 2” of foam insulation, if all else in the construction was the same it would make for a much more rigid construction.

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