Rot - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-14-2017, 11:23 AM   #1
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Name: Matthew
Trailer: Toyota Chinook
Arizona
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Rot

First time rv owner here figuring things out as I go.

I found some rot in my 75 Chinook. Right behind the driver's seat there's another seat with storage, and the rotted spot is in there at the base of the cheap fiberboard. How do I go about figuring out the extent of it? My loose plan was to start pulling out what I know is shot and then just probe around from there. My hope, which is unlikely, is that it's just the cheap fiberboard and nothing that is actually structurally important. Can post pictures later, too. Already started reading up on repairing such an issue and it sounds like a serious project.

Thank you for any help!
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Old 08-20-2017, 08:10 PM   #2
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OH
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Your method of pulling out what you know is shot and probing around from there is a good one and that's basically all anyone does.

It can get involved depending on where it leads and how far it goes but do not fear, just plod through it. If you find more than you expected don't get all bummed out about it, just be glad you found it and are doing something about it. If you find less than you expected you will be the only one who has ever found less than they expected. Lol. In other words, no matter what you get into, someone has been there and done that and just plodded on.

Don't go half way and don't take short cuts. Take your time and do it thoroughly. Believe me, when you are done it will feel great to go camping in your rig - because it's really your rig when you have fixed stuff like this and you have done it right.

While you are in there, the key is to find where the water is coming from and take care of that source of intrusion so your new work won't get ruined in a year. Once I get things apart a bit I go out there during a good rain and just sit inside and look closely and find and follow the water. A good LED flashlight, even in the day time, is really helpful for this.

Good luck! And enjoy the process.
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Old 08-21-2017, 12:37 AM   #3
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1980 18' Sunrader Motorhome and 1971 Trailswest Campster
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Particle board that has been ruined will fall apart very easily. One way to test it is to put a screw (drywall screw is perfect) into it and then pull up on the screw with a pair of pliers. If it does not hold then you know the particle board no longer has structural integrity. While it does not have the best screw holding ability when new it will at least have some screw holding power to it unless the water has ruined it. You can test how much it normally has by screwing into a sound area or use a scrap piece of particle board from some other source to help you understand what it should feel like when in good condition.

For checking to see if real wood has rotted here is a good video to watch.
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Old 08-23-2017, 09:32 PM   #4
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Name: Matthew
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Hey guys. Thank you for the responses! I'm not receiving notifications so I'm sorry I didn't post again sooner.

As of now it seems like I may have lucked out. The particle board was shot as it had been kept wet by the shag carpet all weekend. I broke off the wet section of wood and pulled the wet carpeting. Further probing didn't reveal any other damage, but it will get re examined once I return home.

I believe the source of the leak was the run channel in the window which was original from 1975 so you can imagine how dried out and porous it had become. So that will need replacing and then it's time for another camp and hopefully some rain to see if I got a good fix on her.

Any suggestions for tracking down that run channel?

And here's the only pic I currently have. You can see where I pulled the wood and shag then placed a fan and baking soda to aid in drying that section out. It's down to just fiberglass and some treated wood that appears fine. Maybe I caught it the first time it happened. Click image for larger version

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Old 08-24-2017, 12:02 AM   #5
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1980 18' Sunrader Motorhome and 1971 Trailswest Campster
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 75Chinook View Post

Any suggestions for tracking down that run channel?
Quite likely it is this flexible glass run channel.
http://www.crlaurence.com/crlapps/showline/offerpage.aspx?Productid=17056&GroupID=20808&Histo ry=30587:19748:19780:20758&ModelID=20808

You need to measure the inside width and height of the channel it fits into, the height is not as critical as the width. You can measure the thickness of your glass, I believe 3/16" glass was the common size for that era. Various companies sell this felt run but I suspect they are all getting it from the same source. Use the keywords and the dimensions to look for prices from various sources elsewhere such as Ebay. Even if you don't need 100' of it there will be others with older trailers with sliding windows such as my Trailswest Campster that use this size of channel. That means you could sell the leftover pieces long enough for their windows in this forum's classified section. At this point in time all this original material will be rusted out in the 1960's early 1070's trailers that used this in their sliding windows.

To remove the rotted felt and put in a new piece I had to take my window out, then remove the rivets holding the frame together. Use a large spreader bar clamp to gently open the frame wide enough to take the glass out. Work carefully on top of a padded table while you take the glass in and out of the frame so you don't break it. Scrape all the old felt run out of the channel and put in the new felt. Reverse the disassembly process using the heads on the bar clamps turned in the other direction to pull the frame back together. Then get the shortest 1/8 stainless rivets you can find and put them in. Pull the new felt out of the way while installing the rivets. Use a Dremel motor to trim the rivet length back to barely protruding (but still holding the pieces together). You don't want it bumping into the glass or overly distorting the felt track too high. Best of luck to you! I did this same process on my sliding windows and it turned out just fine.

One thing to note, on the fixed pane in my windows at the bottom inside the track there were some little plastic channels that elevate the edge of the glass. They do two things, cushion the glass edge and elevate it so that water can run underneath it and on out through the weep holes. Very important, when you put these pieces back in the channel to be sure they are not located in front of the weep holes thereby blocking them. The originals on mine were made of styrene plastic and were in very poor condition so I 3D printed some replacements as I could not find that size of plastic channel anywhere to purchase for cutting to length. The new pieces I 3D printed from ABS plastic are much stronger and have a tiny island of material in the center to help keep the glass from making the channel sag in the middle. I am happy to share the 3D print file with anyone who needs to replace these in their sliding window track.

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Old 08-26-2017, 08:43 AM   #6
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Name: Matthew
Trailer: Toyota Chinook
Arizona
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Thank you for the link and the detailed directions! I actually found that same company and ordered channel run that I just installed and pulled out as it was the wrong size.

I am sending that back and ordered what should be right this time and looks far more similar to the run channel I originally pulled out. My window is actually plexiglass so I don't have to worry about being as gentle with it. I can bend it a bit to muscle it in place.

I'll let you know how it goes!
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