New frame questions: Campster - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-11-2012, 12:23 PM   #1
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New frame questions: Campster

When I got my hitch put on I asked about building a frame, and the shop said they could do it. So I'm thinking about it.

The known issue is rust. When I was working on my boat trailer (15 years younger but having been submerged in salt water periodically) there was a lot of rust but solid metal underneath. No suggestion of weakness (other than the fenders broke off within the first few years.) The Campster frame is lighter-weight but has also not been in the water.

However, it now lives on the Sound and gets salt air so one concern is what does a frame need to be rust-resistant, and can I do that to the existing frame?

Second, how can I determine if the existing frame is structurally sound? I know it has rust- especially underneath where not recently painted. But one option would be pull the trailer, sand and paint the frame, and put it back.
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Old 07-11-2012, 12:28 PM   #2
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Okay, part 2. if I do a new frame, what do I want?

I don't want to add length, no more than a foot, anyway, as I need to keep TV and trailer under 30 feet max for the ferry, and TV is about 15 feet.

I do want a propane tank support of some kind and a spare tire carrier.

I want welded-on jacks (the kind you can use a drill to raise and lower.)

An X-pen rack of some kind would be nice but I'm not sure if it can be done without much more length.

Anything else I should be thinking about?

Someone mentioned going up in size on trailer tires. I have 12 inch tires now and the rig is just 7 feet high (I know because it goes into my 84 inch garage.) So I could add a couple of inches without going over 7.5 (ferry again). What are the advantages besides wear of larger tires? The trailer has a LOT of clearance now.
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Old 07-12-2012, 12:21 AM   #3
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Bobbie,
It is quite possible that your current frame still has plenty of structural integrity, even if it sports a lot of rust. However, you should take the necessary steps to mitigate any problems -- and rust, of course, can be a problem.

Assuming first that you (or your mechanic) can separate the shell from the frame, I suggest you have the frame sandblasted and then thoroughly inspected for all weak areas. Your local welder can correct rust problems, straighten any bends, and add new steel where necessary to reinforce any "soft" spots. Your welder may also be able to engineer some of the add-ons you mentioned. Then consider having the frame powder coated. Much tougher than paint.

But should your original frame be in such poor shape that repairs do not make sense, then your welder can use the original as a template to build one new. Again with your add-ons. My new custom frames (with many of the same options you described) cost me about $1500.00. Again, I recommend powder coating. About $300.

With the old frame now in good shape again, or with a new frame, consider the age of your axle. Over thirty years? Probably wise to upgrade to a modern option. This would be the time to see about bigger wheels and tires, and the value of adding brakes.

If you have the time, inclination and cash, repairing, restoring or replacing your original frame is not difficult or mysterious. Certainly any competent trailer shop can help you out if you'd prefer that a "professional" do the work.
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Old 07-12-2012, 08:48 AM   #4
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Thanks, Robert. I've had the axle checked out and its okay, but if I do anything to the frame it does make sense to look at it again. I need to look and see what the bolts to the frame look like. Did you have any problems removing the trailer from the frame?

Brakes, I have mixed feelings about. My TV is rated for 1000 lbs without brakes so technically I could go over that, but I don't carry that much. I never notice any braking problems. It does surprise me that the TV is rated to pull 2500 with brakes as I think under 1000 slows me down a lot- in other words, I feel the weight while pulling, not while stopping. I don't think I'd want to be pulling 2500 lbs.
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Old 07-12-2012, 09:31 AM   #5
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As I recall on my Campster remodel, separating the cabin from the frame was straightforward. Old rusted bolts were a small problem, but eventually all came undone.

In reviewing a couple photos of my frame, I'm reminded that some previous owner had made some mods to stiffen and strengthen the frame with added steel.

Also, my frame featured a non-torsion style axle set-up, with very short shock absorbers. My local NAPA store helped me locate some replacements.

And you can see how I accommodated the propane tank and battery up front.
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Old 07-12-2012, 10:17 AM   #6
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Mine has leaf springs and a straight axle. And a different frame altogether, though. At least, it looks very different in the front. I had a little work done on the springs (the piece that supported them, that is) a few years back.
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Old 07-12-2012, 10:18 AM   #7
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And is it really a 69? I wonder if that was a prototype; I thought they were made only 70-75. Do you know the VIN number? My 70 is S 149.
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Old 07-12-2012, 01:12 PM   #8
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Here are some Compact (Jr and II) frames that members have posted.
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Old 07-13-2012, 08:29 AM   #9
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Frankly, I cannot verify the VIN, or even if the frame was original -- 'cuz the trailer lives in WA now. When i had it the state registration listed it as a 1969. I can confirm that it is a TW Campster, not a Compact Jr or II, not that I'd know the difference by their respective frames.
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:02 AM   #10
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The Compact II I owned had a channel iron frame. I have a Trails West knock off camper and it has a 2" square tube frame. Both trailer are very light in the nose and because of the rear enterance they are prone to tip up without rear stands.
If I were to build a new frame I would add at least one ft. to the front of the frame and install a storage box. Lowes sells a small aluminum pick up up bed box for just over $150. (60" long, 16" tall and 12" wide.) This will add much needed storage space to your trailer. Even though small you can a store several fold up chairs or long items in it. Also a good place to store your blocks and chocks. I installed one of these boxes on the back of a Scamp, it doubled as a cooking surface and table top.
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http://www.lowes.com/pd_67952-76354-...%7C1&facetInfo=






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Old 07-13-2012, 09:23 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddie Longest View Post
The Compact II I owned had a channel iron frame. I have a Trails West knock off camper and it has a 2" square tube frame............
Just a general comment about frame material. A tube or box section is much stronger in twisting (torsion) than a C channel or angle iron. So given a choice, I'd got with square tubing when fabricating a new frame.
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Old 07-23-2012, 09:48 PM   #12
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The second (middle) photo was my CJ in the middle of a rebuild. That frame was light channel. The unpainted rusty parts are crossmembers I added. I then trussed the frame to get the flex out of it. Larry
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Old 07-24-2012, 12:22 AM   #13
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With what appear that it just might be a '55 Chubby in the background.... (?)
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Old 07-24-2012, 10:10 AM   #14
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Heres the one we built for the Campstar
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