New Amerigo Owner - FINALLY.... Need Advice. - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-11-2014, 04:35 AM   #1
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Name: Chris
Trailer: Amerigo
Utah
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New Amerigo Owner - FINALLY.... Need Advice.

Hello All,

I promise that my first post will be the longest.... so bare with me...

First off, I will say that I have been actively hunting down a FGT for the last 2 years..... and always getting beat to the punch. (I have found that it's a little difficult to get a hold of one, on a recent college grad's budget out here in Utah....) With that said, I have done a lot of reading and lurking on this site since then, and wanted to give a shout out of thanks to all that actively post your re-buids and adventures. I have learned a lot way before I got my hands on one, so I am ready to rock! And mostly, it allowed me to live vicariously through your rebuilds since snagging one for myself seemed almost impossible... haha so thanks for all the documented rebuilds. I will definitely be paying it forward with plenty of photos of my new ambitious project...

So the journey begins as of 2 weeks ago... I was fortunate enough to snag an old 1973 Amerigo FG-16, that luckily (knock on wood) survived a 2700 mile trek back to UT..... and now I am prepping for a full interior remodel. The exterior (body, frame, axle) are both in fantastic shape, minus the weather stripping and seals around the windows and doors. The interior is shot.... molded paneling, water damage, funky smell, etc. etc. and considering I need a CLEAN interior due to my asthma/allergies, I am prepping for a total interior gutting. I was told that the duette range/furnace and refrigerator work, so I will be keeping those to put into the new interior since I will be on a tight budget, but every thing else is making it's way to the dumpster.

This brings me to my first question. Before I start ripping out the interior, is there anything I should know before hand, or be careful about as to not damage the underlying fiber glass (besides watching out to not damage the propane lines and such)....?

I guess what I am trying to say is do I need to be careful to the extent of removing all the screws that hold things in place like the benches, cabinets, etc. and carefully take things out (as all the factory screws seem to be a funky screw head), or can I just tear into it and start ripping out all the old wood, etc, to get down to a bare shell a lot quicker....? Any advice on the "OH CRAP - I have to completely gut the interior...." phase would be greatly appreciated.... Especially on removing the fridge and stove unit.


Lastly, the windows all leak and need resealing, and new weather stripping (door included). I figure this would probably be the first and foremost thing to start with after ripping out the interior, as to preserve any of the future interior rebuild from continued water damage... Anyone have any advice on the best way to go about this....? Cost is a concern for me right now, as student loans unfortunately have to take precedent over my new 'adventure baby', but access to tools and handiness on my end isn't an issue....

So after gutting, I plan to seal up the windows, and then hunt for any leaks in the fiberglass to patch up before I then start the new plywood subfloor. That is my immediate build order/order of operation for right now unless advised otherwise.... does it sounds like I am missing anything in the immediate....?

Glad to be representing as one of the few, but proud, Amerigo owners; and even more glad to FINALLY have a retro piece of fiberglass awesomeness sitting in my driveway....

(will post pics soon)

Cheers!
-Chris in UT
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Old 02-11-2014, 05:39 AM   #2
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I'd say seal the windows FIRST. You want to stop any leaks from damaging the interior further. If I remember right, the cabinetry in an Amerigo is connected with blocks. You don't want those dry rotting.

Plot and plan what you want the interior to look like and don't throw anything away until you know you won't need something for a template (to get the correct shape). Even if the appliances don't work, ask if anyone here on FiberglassRV can use parts. Pay it forward.

Don't forget to document the rehab/rebuild. It will remind you of all the sweat equity you've put into your trailer. And really that let's you give yourself a pat on the back when you get frustrated...

Best of luck and don't forget... we love pics!
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Old 02-11-2014, 09:56 AM   #3
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Unless you have inside work/storage space, as Donna mentioned, windows and exterior leaks must be first. Windows are reinstalled with RV type putty tape, NOT Silicone sealers.....

Take everything apart carefully, screw by screw, staple by staple. You don't know what you will need for patterns later and you want to be careful not to rip any of the wall blocks off at the same time.

I would also take a close look at the kick-up area at the front of the frame. Of the three Amerigo's that I have seen, two had frame cracks or repairs in that area, must be telling us something. Remember, these were built by one of the many Stewart Gardner companies, all well known for minimalist fabrication. (BTW: Gardner also built Sunraders and used a lot of the Duette units in them because they were cheaper than both a stove and a furnace.)

And last, get a box of disposable Nitrile gloves and face masks to wear during tear out. Hard telling what you will run into from fiberglass to asbestos to mold spores.

Good luck, and let me know when you get tired of working on it and I will come pick it up. LOL

FIRST... Toss the Duette Stove/Furnace. These were recalled years ago for CO leaks. My source for that information is a former Gardner-Pacific Production Manager (Same guys that built your Amerigo) when he saw one in my 1978 Sunrader. They also used them in Sunrader FGRV's from 1972-1978.

Next... get a supply of disposable nitrile gloves and face masks to wear during tear out. Hard telling what you will find in a 40 y.o. trailer, from fiberglass dust, to asbestos to mold spores.

And when reinstalling the windows, use RV type putty tape, not silicone sealers of any kind.

Finaly, when you get tired of working on it, give me a call and I will come pick it up.... LOL
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Old 02-11-2014, 10:31 AM   #4
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Chris,
You certainly have a big job ahead of you. Take it one step at a time, step back and admire your progress.
Check out posts on this forum about our Rally in Moab this May. Hope to see you there.
Patti
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Old 02-11-2014, 10:55 AM   #5
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Welcome to the Forum Chris.
We look forward to making the journey with you.
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Old 02-11-2014, 11:04 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donna D. View Post

Plot and plan what you want the interior to look like and don't throw anything away until you know you won't need something for a template (to get the correct shape).

Donna has given you great advise.

Over my time here can't tell you how many times people have posted they wish they hadn't thrown such and such an item out!! May want it for a template but they may also discover it would have been way cheaper to fix the item rather than buying or rebuilding it from scratch. Way to many gutted out trailers end up for sale here as a "project trailers" after 6 months or so once the party realizes that having thrown all the insides out just how much money and time it will take to rebuild the interior from scratch.

The second best words of advise already given was to use butyl tape only to reset your windows and roof vents and anything else attached to the trailer - no silicone!
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Old 02-11-2014, 11:19 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Miller View Post
FIRST... Toss the Duette Stove/Furnace.
Do not toss it! If you decide that you do not want it I will buy it from you! My Fiber Stream has one, and it has been working well for the last 10 years. Never once has it set off my CO alarm. As with all appliances, poor installation practices and neglect over time is probably what did these units in. I do not dispute Bob's information about a recall, but I operate recalled items (3 on my Honda Odyssey alone) without catastrophe. Recalls usually have repair instructions.
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Old 02-11-2014, 11:40 AM   #8
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Bob tends to be a bit of an alarmist. He advises tossing many useful things. If he were inclined to sell the items he tosses, I would likely be one of his best customers. I don't have a use for an oven, let alone one that is a furnace, but I thought that was a brilliant idea, when I heard about it. Make sure your CO detector is tested and working.

Bob, I would like a link to the recall though. The more information that can be brought to bear on a decision, the better.

I made the mistake of tossing the T molding on my first Trillium. It was all wavy and misshaped. Then I found out that if you boil it, then it smooths right out. I was kicking myself for some time.
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Old 02-11-2014, 04:13 PM   #9
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Name: Chris
Trailer: Amerigo
Utah
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Thanks everyone for the warm welcome and fast, insightful responses! I'll definitely start the windows and be very "selective" in the tear out process....

Also, I am a bit worried on the asbestos part, or being exposed to anything serious.... I will be wearing gloves and a respirator. However, it just makes me nervous all together considering my health conditions. Where would there be asbestos and on which part should I be more cautious is tearing out...? Would it be the flooring....? And I have ripped out a few panels and spent some time in the trailer as is, inspecting things... would I need to be worried about exposure to anything from just that....? As my understanding, is only if you grind things and produce dust/airborne particles, then you're in trouble. Any insight here is GREATLY appreciated

I would possibly consider selling off the duette, as my ideal plan is to outfit the unit with a nice battery bank and solar panels to get off the grid. Then run a small microwave along side a simple propane cooktop, and then just use a Mr. Heater for the cold months.... However, the dometic fridge is another story. I am still up in the air as to what to do with this. They seem like such a hassle with having to vent and such if you want to relocate it from the stock location... and considering I will be doing a custom layout, it will probably be relocated. However, the thought of a 3way fridge is quite nice, especially since I probably won't have the juice to go all electric any time soon. Even though this one is so old, are they much of a problem throwing in a modern rebuild or should I sell it and put in a smaller, electric, dorm-style fridge..... the much simpler/worry free route it seems (though I could be wrong....).

On the butyl tape... can I just pick up some from home depot or lowes, or does this need to be a certain 'RV grade' tape, as I have seen the stuff for roofs and such at home depot.. I assume that's the same thing....?


Lastly, Bob, where specifically are you referring to as the kick-up area? Just behind the propane tanks I assume....?
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Old 02-11-2014, 07:59 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by cvc0922 View Post
On the butyl tape... can I just pick up some from home depot or lowes, or does this need to be a certain 'RV grade' tape, as I have seen the stuff for roofs and such at home depot.. I assume that's the same thing....?
No, at least I can't buy butyl tape for my Scamp at a big box store. You CAN buy it at just about any RV supply house. You want the gray, it's cheap... like 50 feet for $10 or so. You want the shiny, sticky stuff. It has paper on both sides of the roll. When you stretch the butyl, it stretches like bubble gum and sticks to your fingers. Buy the width that is a hair narrower than the window rim against the body of the trailer.. it squishes out when you cinch the window down and you'll trim it with a plastic knife. Don't use a metal knife... it may score the gelcoat. And don't cinch the window down real tight the first time. Come back a couple of days later and screw it down another couple of turns, trim again and you're done for 20 years or so!

But, first start with a clean surface on the trailer and a clean window. Get rid of all the old butyl, caulk or silicone that may be there!

Best of luck
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Old 02-12-2014, 08:47 AM   #11
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If you are planning on new panelling, try to save the old panelling as you can use it as templates to cut out the new panels. Your Amerigo is probably close to my Ventura in how the walls are done. My panels were stapled and glued to 1x1 wood strips that were glass in. Mine had some of the strapping rotted which need to be replaced. I went with 5/16 tongue and grove pine rather than panelling. Replacing the interior is not as bad as it seems if you have some basic skills and tools( an air stapler / brad nailer are a must). Just be careful with the size of staples or brads or fiberglass repair may follow. Make sure you have the frame leveled and blocked so you have some reference for level when installing your panels and cupboards, mine didn't have a straight wall anywhere. Before installing the walls, make sure you have good blocking in place to support any cupboards as this is a great time to add extra support.

Check the roof supports and replace or repair, mine had three cracked supports which I glued and sistered 3/4" pre-arched square tubing to the side of.

My build is New look for and old Ventura
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Old 02-12-2014, 09:39 AM   #12
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Chris, I am a BIG fan of the "Danfoss" style 12 volt compressor style refrigerator/freezer (NOT a "dorm" style refrigerator). We almost exclusively camp off the grid using a group 27 battery & 100 watt solar panel, to run our Nova Kool, throughout the southwest & northwest, sometimes 60 days straight.
We have never drawn the battery down to 50% capacity, but we do have all LED lights and no TV. Here is a link to Nova Kool products.
novakool
Best of luck with your projects, and as neighbors, we look forward to meeting you.
Dave & Paula
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Old 02-12-2014, 08:47 PM   #13
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Name: Chris
Trailer: Amerigo
Utah
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Dudley,

We are definitely on the same page..... I know your rebuild quite well. Great work, might I add..... I am a huge fan of T&G interiors, so I am going with horizontal running cedar. My dad and I refinished his entire basement in cedar T&G and it is awesome... though after doing one room with hammer and nail, you're spot on that a brad nailer is an essential to keep all of your hair intact.... Luckily, I'm equipped there.

From the little gutting I've done, all of my anchor strips and the wood that helps join the two fiberglass halves are rotted. I will basically have to glass in new foundation strips to attach the T&G panels to. I will definitely be getting in touch with you when I get to this step. I figure glass on the side but leave the face un-glassed so it will take brads or staples cleanly and not having to penetrate resin. Though it seems it'd be easiest to just use some liquid nail to attach the wood strips to the fiberglass shell. Do you see this as a bad idea versus having to mess with glass to build out the 'skeleton' of wood on top of the fiberglass shell....?

And David, thank you for the links to the fridges. Glad to know we are FGT neighbors seems as though there is a shortage out here in the 4 corner states..... But I'd love to have one of those setups, however way out of my price range at this point so I guess I will tackle the refrigerator conundrum later on..... Do you see any downsides in reusing the old 70's dometic fridge that came in it, knowing that I want to be an off the grid, boondocker.....?

I'll be starting the gut this week end, and will post pics. Thanks everyone for all the info thus far. I definitely don't feel alone in this awesome adventure, yet to begin.

-Chris C.
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Old 02-13-2014, 08:50 PM   #14
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About Duette Stove/Furnaces
I consider my source on the Duette Stove/Heaters issue to be unimpeachable. He was at Sunrader builder Gardner-Pacific, in Vallejo (now American Canyon) CA, from about 1976 until it closed in 1992. He then ran a sucessful RV dealership in Napa, CA for many years.

I contacted him some 6 years ago about finding a fan for the Duette in the 1978 Sunrader I was restoring and he told me that Gardner-Pacific stopped using them in 1979 because there had been a recall on them because they had co leakage problems. Good enough for moi.....

Considering all of the combo stove/furnace units on the market since then, there must be some validity in his claim.

Although I have a perfectly good 40 y.o. Dometic refrigerator in my Hunter, I am still no fan of 40 y.o. furnaces.

About the Amerigo:

The frame has a kick-up at the front to raise the hitch height of a very low frame, The cracks and repairs I have seen have been at the lower bends.

The T&G interior sounds very nice, but have you gathered the total weight of how much you will need to use? Also remember, the walls in an FGRV are neither straight or flat.

And about the fridge: The Amerigo shell is specifically designed for where it accomodates the LP refrigerator and moving or removing it will entail major coach shell modifications.

FWIW: I have always wanted an Amerigo because I thought that it offered the perfect floor plan, but to each their own.....
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