Roof Sagging On Our Bigfoot TT ???? - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-26-2007, 08:41 PM   #15
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We are interested in finding out the age of this trailer. We are going to look at a trailer for sale next weekend and have not heard of this problem before. Is this common? If anyone knows what vintage was prone to this problem we would be really glad to hear some advice.
In particular we would like to know how to spot this problem.
Donna&Chris
Hey Donna and Chris !!!
We have noticed it in two Big Foots so far.... Ours is a 1980 and the other was from 1984. All you need to do is stand on the front of the tongue or better yet a ladder and look at the front of the trailer roof looking aft. The sagging is front centre on the roof. Then look inside the trailer right at the entry way/door. There should be wooden ceiling panels that meet. So there going from the door side to the cupboard side. If there is any sloping or dipping it's had damage !!! There may be water damage around the vent too. Sometimes people paint everything to hide stuff. Like some of the previous messages sent after my initial post, look for cupboards missing, difference in walls and wall coverings . Hope this helps !!! Happy trailer hunting and happy trails Mitch
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Old 03-26-2007, 08:42 PM   #16
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Take a tall enough ladder that will allow you to view the roof top. If there is an area which allows water to puddle, the problem will grow worse with time. The weight of the water (or snow/ice) just sitting will gradually increase the problem. Restoring the crown's curvature with internal or external bracing is the cure.
Avoiding the problem in the first place makes sense, but if you find an older TT which meets your other desires this needn't be a deal breaker.
Kurt & Ann K.
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Old 03-26-2007, 09:08 PM   #17
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...Well a Bigfoot owner told us that they we're aluminum framing and we just assumed they we're all made that way. So maybe our vintage has a wooden frame then....
It could be that the Bigfoot owner had a new 3000-series or 4000-series trailer, truck camper, or motorhome, and didn't realize it was unlike a 1980 model. They could also just be misinformed - it's amazing what some people think is inside stuff they own...

I think the best idea is to think of the trailer body as a [b]shell (like an eggshell, thus all of our "egg" references) which supports itself, and just gets some help from interior wooden parts (and could instead or in addition use moulded ribs as others have described). To say "a wooden frame" suggests a structure of wood, with fiberglass bits just covering it, which would be a traditional "stick-built" trailer.

The idea that a Bigfoot dealer thinks that a failure of interior supporting structure could be fixed from the outside is disturbing, and makes me think that the person at the dealership did not understand the problem. Since Bigfoot dealers also usually sell other makes, that person may have no idea how the Bigfoot is built. Conventional trailers are often fixed by peeling off outer layers to get at the framework, rather than going from the inside, but this doesn't apply to our moulded shells.

I would take it directly to Bigfoot (I know, it's few hours from Calgary... maybe you could just send photos?) or at least to the local dealer so they could see it in person before I put any stock in what they are saying.
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Old 03-27-2007, 12:58 AM   #18
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I have a sag in the front on my Hunter 1 (Compact II). It is right in front of the pop-up, but I don't have any cabinets inside to support. It is over the table in the middle. I do like the 1/2 tube ideal. But I also thought of a brace on both the inside and outside.

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Old 03-27-2007, 10:52 AM   #19
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Linda,
How about a temporary "T" brace made of 2X4's on the inside to straighten it? Then a 1/2 tube on the outside to keep it there. With a little shimming on the top of the "T" brace you could even create a small crown so water would drain to the sides.

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Old 03-28-2007, 11:09 PM   #20
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Kurt,
Thanks for the ideas. These are my questions.
1. What are the 1/2 tubes made of? Cardboard or PVC?
2. Would I have to heat up the existing fiberglass (roof), because of the memory? I don't want the fiberglass to crack, it is 32 years old.
3. Would I just fiberglass the tube to the roof, or should I bolt it down and then fiberglass?
4. I thought of a metal beam of sometype on the outside and a piece of decorative wood on the inside, and bolted together. But we are worried about stressing the sidewalls.

Linda
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Old 03-29-2007, 08:36 AM   #21
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Good questions Linda, and I'm no expert. It's been many, many years since I've had my hands-on experience.
The tubes on my boat were simple cardboard mailing tubes.It's actually the cured fiberglass which provides the strength, The cardboard is simply a form used to create the shape with the cloth draped over it.
Use a "T" brace with the vertical part a little too long to fit. To protect your floor use a piece of plywood. The "T" goes against the ceiling and as you straighten the brace the ceiling will be forced to return to the original shape.
Details about how many layers of cloth and/or roving are needed should be researched at a boat repair yard. They can also advise about how temperature affects
cure rate.
Heating the fiberglass seems like a good way to start a fire.
Concentrated points of impact are what cause too much stress, I doubt if cracking will occur as long as the "T" is long enough to spread the stress. You are only trying to return the roof to it's original shape (and possibly a little more), not trying to gain inches more head room than was there originally. Wrapping the "T" with some rags should protect the ceiling then slide the bottom to apply the vertical pressure. A second person would be a big help if only as an observer. A long straight stick across the roof will provide evidence when it's been raised enough.
Anything permanent against the ceiling will eventually come in contact with someone's head!
The more info you gain, the better your chances of success,

Kurt & Ann K.
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Old 03-29-2007, 05:02 PM   #22
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I'm 99% sure the 'half-tubes' in Frederick's photos are part of the mould that the body came from, so they are completely integral to the shell, not added on. So you can't copy those directly.

The idea of bolting or screwing anything thrugh the roof doesn't appeal to me - the stiffeners you add on the outside are bound to make rainwater pool up against the stiffener, so having bolt or screw holes just near that pool of water is asking for trouble, however good the sealing is.

So I like exactly what Kurt has descrbed which is external-only bonded-on stiffeners. It sounds like he's talking about whole mailing tubes, which would look really awful, but I'm guessing he meant tubes cut carefully down the middle to make half-tubes.

So here's a repair scheme. Sorry if it's long, but the detail may avoid potential problems.

1) Mark off where the half-tubes will go. They will stop 3" short of the sides of your roof bulge - I'm assuming that's what you're trying to straighten. If it's the whole roof, centre bulge and sides, then that's a much bigger job. I would guess that you'll need stiffeners spaced at 2 to 3 feet intervals - that may be just one or as many as three or four.

2) Mark off 3" all around the half-tube and really, really sand this area. Ideally you should sand through the (unreinforced) gel coat and just (just) start to see reinforcement fibres. This step is the single most important by far - skimp on it and everything else is a waste of time. Less than an hour of sanding per half-tube is skimping, unless you do the easy thing which is to put a 60 grit sanding pad in a small angle grinder and carefully (carefully) sand with that. When done, re-mark the half-tube positions that you've rubbed away.

3) Prop the roof exactly as Kurt described. The props will stay in until after the whole job is done (and then some). You might want to apply masking paper around each site, staying 1" beyond the sanded area, to save dripping resin on the rest of the roof.

4) Cut the half-tubes to length, chamfer the ends and stick them to the roof. This is so they stay in place while you're working, and so strength isn't critical. You could use a little resin and hold the tubes in place with masking tape till the resin goes off. I would do the same but using car filler (Bondo) as the adhesive. Remove all masking tape before continuing. Fill the chamfered ends of the half-tubes with Bondo so they smoothly taper down to the roof - square ends are not good.

5) I'm assuming you know how to mix and apply resin and glass - if not there are lots of guides, so I won't repeat it here. I suggest you apply four layers of 1-1/2 oz/ft2 (ounce per square foot) chopped strand mat in regular (clear) polyester resin - three is strong enough, and the fourth is for luck! Make the first layer nearly out to the 3" mark and then make subsequent layers a little smaller so you don't get a sharp step where they end. Apply two layers, let it cure and then apply the final two layers - four layers in one go is fine for a pro, but a bit much for an amateur. You could use the more expensive epoxy resin, in which case three layers is plenty, but it's a bit overkill for this job.

6) The next day, sand any bumps or spikes smooth - you won't get a smooth surface, all you're doing is knocking off the high spots. Now apply a generous coat (as thick as you can) of 'flow coat', overlapping the edge of the repair and covering any sanded area - 'flow coat' is gel coat resin, tinted about the right shade of white to match the existing roof, but it has a small amount of wax pre-mixed in it. This will provide the very best protection and watertightness - paint is definitely second-best to this. Without the wax, gel coat resin will never set, so if you can't get gel coat with wax in it (ie, flow coat), which you'd have to get from a fiberglass supply store, you'll have to use paint - a marine paint would be best.

7) Personally, I would leave the props in for several days, but 24 hours after step 5 is the minimum.

This won't give you a smooth glossy finish like theret of the roof - it will be white, it will be watertight and how often do you crawl around on the roof?

If you want to get real fancy, you could fair (smooth out) the glass after you've sanded it in step 6 with some Bondo and then sand that smooth before appyling the flow coat.

If you haven't used fiberglass before, I suggest you practice the whole of this scheme on a piece of cardboard or plywood first, to get some experience. Either throw it away afterwards, or mount it on your living room wall as proof of your new-found skills.

Any questions?

Andrew
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Old 03-29-2007, 05:35 PM   #23
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I'm 99% sure the 'half-tubes' in Frederick's photos are part of the mould that the body came from, so they are completely integral to the shell, not added on. So you can't copy those directly.

Thanks, Andrew!
Close inspection of the interior surface would seem to confirm this. It looks like part of the manufacturing process added flat "patches" enclosing the underside of the ridges in the roofline. The exterior surface is completely smooth.
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Old 03-29-2007, 05:43 PM   #24
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My guess is, Frederick, that most/all of the fiberglass layers go around the half-tube, then they filled in the hollow centre with some pre-cut pieces foam and a bit of filler, and finally slapped a layer or two of glass on the underside (inside). The foam never fits perfectly, so that's why you can see the slight bump on the underside. Actually quite good workmanship as the extra layers on the inside replace the front-to-back strength that is lost in the half-tubes.

What I don't like about it is the negative aerodynamic effect of those transverse ribs, but in truth I'm being picky.......

Andrew
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Old 03-29-2007, 06:04 PM   #25
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Good advice Andrew. Thanks for contributing to the info.
I was under the opinion that a layer of woven cloth would increase the strength considerably when added to several layers of the chopped strand mat (roving). My memory is that the first layer was woven cloth. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
It would be nice to have a body of info for the "tutorials".
Linda, please try to get step by step pictures of the process if at all possible. Probably best to leave photos to someone else though, because you'll be busy!
Use some TP or paper towel rolls to practice shaping the ends.
Once the process is over, you'll realize the project is actually relatively easy and kind of fun being creative with a different medium.

Mitch,
Are you soaking this up?

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Old 03-30-2007, 07:10 AM   #26
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Woven cloth is better (ie, stronger weight-for-weight) than chopped strand mat by quite a margin, but it's also more difficult to use - wetting cloth out is easier to get wrong, and mostly it doesn't conform to shapes as well as mat does.

If you are going to restrict yourself to buying only one reinforcement, then chopped strand mat is the cheapest, most universally available and most universally usable. If you are willing to buy products to start up a small fiberglass repair shop at home, then for sure other reinforcements would appear on the list! Having worked in a professional fiberglass shop, I see the biggest problem facing the amateur as locating and buying the materials in sensible quantities (and at sensible prices) - using the stuff is fairly easy by comparison!

Taking this one step further, the first place I found by Googling "fiberglass supplies san diego" is Fiberglass Warehouse - who seem to stock all that Linda might need. However even they don't sell pre-mixed 'flow coat' or 'topcoat' resin. They do sell white gel coat resin, so at least that avoids the expense and complication of buying white pigment to mix into clear gel coat resin - though their white certainly won't be a good match for old Boler white. So Linda will (would?) have to make her own flow coat resin by mixing in 2% by weight of what Fiberglass Warehouse call 'Surfacing Agent' into standard white gel coat resin.

Sadly Fiberglas Warehouse don't seem to provide much online assitance. The only place I know is a British supplier CFS Fibreglass Supplies and anyone wanting basic info might want to read their 'methods' and 'projects' articles. I don't doubt there is better information available online within the US - if anyone knows of it, I hope they post a link.

Andrew

PS All techniques recommended for fibreglass work just as well on fiberglass.....
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Old 03-30-2007, 12:22 PM   #27
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Linda,
Since you are in San Diego, Calif. you should have a number of choices for locating materials. Many paint stores sell fiberglass supplies, possibly even Home Depot or Lowe's. Automotive paint stores, boat supply stores and even boat dealers who sell supplies are other choices. For small quantities of cloth, a boat repair shop might be able to help. It appears as if a minor quest is in the offing.
The half-tubes on my boat were not filled with anything. In fact the ends were not even closed since they were on the underside of the bow deck and not visible unless one crawled in there. For your purpose, sealing the ends makes sense.
Again please keep us posted about progress, your ultimate sources for supplies, etc.
Andrew, thanks for sharing your expertise.

Kurt & Ann K.
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Old 03-30-2007, 03:22 PM   #28
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Mitch,
Are you soaking this up?

Kurt and Ann !!
!!!!

Just checked out another BF last night and it had a sagging front roof too !!!

I'm heading to Florida for our winter break and will have my notes with me

I look forward to reading more when we're back .

Happy trails y'all !
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