I'm new, excited & scared. Compact Jr 1971 Help! - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-25-2012, 01:23 AM   #1
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Name: Kris
Trailer: compact jr
California
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I'm new, excited & scared. Compact Jr 1971 Help!

Hello! I'm both excited and terrified over this new purchase. Please be gentle with me if I've bitten off way more than I can chew. I fell in love with this 1971 Compact Jr and now it's sits in my driveway waiting some TLC. My biggest concern is the floor & frame. The plywood is black underneath but it feels okay - it doesn't really bow when I jump on it or feel soft when I poke it with an awl. EXCEPT FOR THE LEFT CORNER ON THE HITCH SIDE OF THE TRAILER - THERE IT'S COMPLETELY ROTTEN. I'm confused how I can replace that section of floor and still have it be sound. Do I brace it to the healthy plywood somehow?

Also, the chassis is rusty. Not crumbly-rusty but definitely rusty. How rusty is too rusty?
Lastly, the fiberglass is split behind the wheel (in the wheel well) on both sides of the trailer. (photos of rust & split below). Why does that happen? What can I do?

Please take pity on me. Your answers will determine whether I go for it and repair the pop-up or cut my losses. 1,000 thank yous for your help! This is an amazing resource and I hope to meet you all one day when my little Compact Jr is presentable.
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Old 07-25-2012, 06:25 AM   #2
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Repairs are doable depending on your skills, time and temporment. But I am sure glad I never have had to replace floors or repair fiberglass cracks. Some people take that as an opportunity to do a serious restoration.

I don't know those trailers well (at all), other will have more specific advice hopefully.

Good luck! You can do it, if you really want. (As Jimmy Cliff said)
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Old 07-25-2012, 06:52 AM   #3
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Welcome! You don't have to restore this camper to pristine condition, just fix it up enough to safely enjoy it. Your skills will improve over time, so build on that fact and start with small stuff.

If the plywood is soft in one small area, but dry and intact, you can treat it with a wood saturating fiberglass resin like GitRot, available from boating stores.

Rust is natural on unpainted steel surfaces, so if it is not deep enough to have removed large parts of the metal, it may just be cosmetic. You probably know someone that is mechanically inclined - ask them to take a look at areas that you are concerned about.

The split area of the fiberglass can be repaired, but first try to determine why it broke. Are there missing bolts holding down the body that allow it to flex? Is the frame weak in this area?

Lean on us! Your camera and this forum is a great resource. There are posters here that have done full frame off restorations and can guide you in any repair.

Good luck.
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Old 07-25-2012, 07:03 AM   #4
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Lean on us! Your camera and this forum is a great resource. There are posters here that have done full frame off restorations and can guide you in any repair.
What he said!
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Old 07-25-2012, 10:17 AM   #5
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Welcome. I suspect your rust issues are not serious. It looks like you have a u channel frame. I would suggest putting a cresnt wrench a on the lower leg and if does not bend under moderate pressure I think you are ok, at least for rust. You should also inspect the frame for stress cracks.
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Old 07-25-2012, 11:49 AM   #6
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Hi Chris
Send us a private message and let us know were you are located. We are just finishing up a Compact II and may be able to help you evaluate your rig.
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Old 07-25-2012, 01:38 PM   #7
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WOW! Thank you for the words of encouragement and kind offerings of assistance! I'm getting psyched-up to tackle this. I'll take lots of photos and hopefully be able to help someone else some day. Please keep the advice coming.
Thomas G - you suggested I find out WHY the fiberglass cracked and that the frame might be weak in that area. I hope not - it's right over the axle!! AHHHHH! I'll be calling you. (sorry - I can't figure out how to include a quote from your message)
THANKS ALL!
Kris
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Old 07-25-2012, 03:14 PM   #8
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..............Thomas G - you suggested I find out WHY the fiberglass cracked and that the frame might be weak in that area. I hope not - it's right over the axle!! ...............Kris
Don't freak out. You can strengthen a section of frame by "sistering" another piece of metal right next to it with bolts through each and tightened up really well with washers to distribute the load.

You don't want to repair the broken fiberglass only to have it break again right way. I put myself through engineering school working as a mechanic. I learned that the first rule of a good mechanic is, "Find out why the old part broke before replacing it".
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Old 07-25-2012, 03:39 PM   #9
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I'm not sure that's really a split in the fiberglass. Could it be the joint between the wheelwell and the side of the trailer?

On Sis' Compact Jr, the wheelwells are little box-shaped pieces that are fiberglassed to the floor and body side. The way they did it left a "gap" showing inside the wheelwell, unsightly but not a structural problem. Sis' appeared to be leaking in a couple spots, so I reached up inside the wheelwell and used a putty knife to pack two-part epoxy putty (Elmers, which has a consistency like cake frosting) into the wheelwell-to-body joint, just to make the joint waterproof.

EDIT: After taking another look at the picture, I'm sure that's the case. The "split" is nothing to worry about (unless, of course, the wheelwell-to-body joint is leaking, in which case you would want to putty it).
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Old 07-25-2012, 08:02 PM   #10
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Hi Kris, sorry I'm late to the party... but, I wanted to welcome you to FiberglassRV. You're going to get lots of help here from kind people.

If I was in your spot, and I'm not... I'd first make sure the trailer was safe to go down the road... you're sharing with others. I'd clean it thoroughly (your dirt is cleaner than their dirt) and if necessary... use the trailer as a hardsided tent! Don't get all tangled up with making the trailer perfect. Just perfect for you! Even a portion of a floor that's soft can be handled.... true story
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Old 07-25-2012, 08:07 PM   #11
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Thank you Donna! I've been waiting for you. I'm honored. Yes - I can always make my Compact Jr. pretty, I just want it to be safe first & foremost! Everyone has been so kind and I'm sure their phones will be ringing this weekend.
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Old 07-29-2012, 05:38 PM   #12
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UPDATE! I crawled underneath and tugged on the frame. The rust is cosmetic at this point. Whew! In other good news, Steve Hilby was right! What I thought was a spit in the fiberglass is really a (sort of open) seam that I might putty.

So I took out the left bench and pulled up the linoleum to look at the wood (1st photo). The corner behind the yellow bungie is rotten. The bolted area within the red bungie is also suspect. The rest of is in surprisingly good shape (2nd photo is under right bench).

So.... can I cut out the rotten wood (+ 3 inches) and, using long steel strips, brace it to the good wood?
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Old 07-29-2012, 06:07 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KCan View Post
Also, the chassis is rusty. Not crumbly-rusty but definitely rusty. How rusty is too rusty?
Your picture does not look too rusty to me. It looks very similar to my 1971 Compact Jr. and I think it is just surface rust... Poke at it in the same way you found the rotten wood in the floor...

I bought a spray-on "Rust Converter" primer that seems to work well at Home Depot.
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Old 07-29-2012, 06:24 PM   #14
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How rotten is the wood? Can you easily stick a screwdriver into it? If it is soft, but not falling apart, I'd try to go the GitRot (thin resin) route. You can drill 1/8" holes 3/4 of the way through, repeatedly, to honey comb it, then pour on the resin and let is soak in and cure. The wood needs to be dry first.

Use a drill bit stop to make the job easier.

7 Piece Drill Stop Set


http://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userportal/show_product.do?pid=2093&engine=adwords!6456&keywo rd=git_rot_epoxy

You can remove the stuck flooring with a heat gun and a putty knife.

Heat Gun - Dual Temperature Heat Gun, 1500W
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