Starting to look at the project - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-20-2009, 07:49 PM   #1
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Trailer: Scamp 13 ft
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I was given 13' Scamp last spring in pretty rough shape and i'm starting to look at what it will take to get it on the road. The obvious issues are:1) a large crack in the roof starting at the top of door opening and about 1 1/2 feet long(this is keeping the door from properly shutting); 2) mouse infestion; 3)Never had a camper before, so I don't real know even the basics of keeping up one of these units; 4) May sound like a bad idea, but I would like more ground clearance-possibly a lift.

The crack has me worried the most: is it structually unsound? What signs should I look for? A quick look underneath showed no obvious damage to the frame, so what would cause this crack. Is there a good source of recycled parts for these-ie junkyard.

The mouse issue answer seems obvious-Clean thoroughly, rip out all carpet, use decon and stop entrance of mice.

Is there anything I need to do before winter actually gets here?
Any other concerns I should look into before I get to far into this project.

Is there a reason not to lift it an inch or two? If not, how do people do it(I'm used to lifting leaf sprung vehicles)? What is the biggest tire that will fit in the wheel well without causing damage? I'm not looking to go offroading, but would like to be able to take it down two tracks without dragging.

Archie
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Old 11-20-2009, 07:59 PM   #2
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Name: Donna D
Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA, 2014
Oregon
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Quote:
Is there a reason not to lift it an inch or two? If not, how do people do it(I'm used to lifting leaf sprung vehicles)? What is the biggest tire that will fit in the wheel well without causing damage? I'm not looking to go offroading, but would like to be able to take it down two tracks without dragging.

Archie
What year is the trailer Archie? Torsion axles typically last 15-20 years. Maybe it's time to replace it, that alone will give you some lift. I replaced the axle in my Scamp with a 45 degree down and now run 15" tires.
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Old 11-20-2009, 09:14 PM   #3
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Like Donna, I, too, replaced the axle on my '88 13' Scamp and now run 15" wheels. I love the new stance.

I'd take the trailer to a good auto body shop to get an opinion about that crack. A professional repair seems like a good idea.

Good luck.

RJ
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Old 11-20-2009, 09:35 PM   #4
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Trailer: Boler 1984
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Do a search for Roy in TO. He bought an older Boler [similar] that also had some major issues, such as a tree through the roof. Check out his posts and you may find some useful information.
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Old 11-20-2009, 09:40 PM   #5
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Can you share some pictures of your project trailer?

-- Dan Meyer
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Old 11-21-2009, 01:04 PM   #6
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Trailer: Scamp 13 ft
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Not sure of the year yet. I have no title or registration yet. I couldn't find a vin on it anywhere. There is nothing on the tongue and it looks orginal. Are there any tells that give approximate year? There is no vin on the frame and I couldn't find any vin plates/tags. This comes to me with no history at all and efforts to contact the former owner are fruitless.

Looking at the axles makes me think they are in need of replacement. How much ground cleanance do you get with new "stock" torsion springs? My wheels seem to lean in a little bit, this isn't normal is it?

Took some pictures of the issues as I see them, but they seem to be too big to upload. Some of the fiberglass seem thin in spots-I can see through them in spots, not cracks, but transparent.Is this normal or a concern? Ive done some light fiberglass repair in the past and this will be learning project. This of course translates to- I will be doing everything myself due to money issues..

The crack above the door-I'm thinking of trying to realign it together and repair it. One side is slightly lower than the other(1/4"), but not to seperated. any ideas on how to this?

Archie
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Old 11-21-2009, 01:28 PM   #7
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Archie, sounds like your trailer issues are repairable, but I am sooooooooo not the person to give you advice on those subjects other than, go for it! You will have a great little trailer in the end that you will be proud of. And what a great deal! Have fun, remember when you project gets crazy you can always come here and get encourgement to get you thru it. Enjoy!

That being said, I can help you with resizing your pictures........ (if your a pc owner) you can resize your picture in (Paint)

Right click on your pic, where ever it is scroll down to (Open with Paint) click on (Image) scroll down to resize/skew click on it, a box will open, change the values of the (Resize) horizontal and veritcal only........... It takes practice to find the right "forum posting size" but maybe start with changing both to 50% then click ( OK ) now click on (File) and scroll down to (Save As) if you don't use save as, you will lose your original picture! So save as and a box will appear that you need to name. For me, when I resize a picture for use on "forums" I name the pic with the word forum in it, that way when I want to post that pic again, I know it's already resized and ready for posting to the forum. Example- Carter Lake forum. So next time I want to post that picture it's already to post. I would resize before going on line, but it can be done once you have clicked on the post's browse button, but it takes more time and searching. So I just try to resize all of mine when I download to my computer.

Sometimes you may have to play with the picture size depending how big your picture is. So try the steps above with a picture then try to post it and see if it's accepted. Good Luck!
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Old 11-21-2009, 01:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
Took some pictures of the issues as I see them, but they seem to be too big to upload.
Archie
Along with the suggestion from Robin, you may want to try this, from the Basic Website Tutorials: Resize Picture Help Using "Shrink Pictures" site, simple as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!
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Old 11-22-2009, 11:59 AM   #9
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Ok here are some pics.
Attached Thumbnails
door_crack.jpg   kitchen_counter.jpg  

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Old 11-22-2009, 12:26 PM   #10
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Archie. two things:

1) Yikes!

2) I find projects that begin from "scratch" that most satisfying to complete. Looks like you're gonna have a fun ride!
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Old 11-22-2009, 12:38 PM   #11
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Hmmmmm, I agree with Roberts YIKES! Can we say, Bleach! Nothing like a good scrubbing with some bleachy soapy water. But have to say it's all fixable! With some hard work, you will have a little "egg" you can treasure for many years of camping pleasure.


Only one thing, (again I am not versed on major "egg" repair) but would say that the crack is probably caused from some kinda of structural issue but now just figuring out what...... Hopefully someone with crack experience will pipe in and help you threw it. Best of Luck!
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Old 11-22-2009, 12:44 PM   #12
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Trailer: 1974 Boler 13 ft (Neonex/Winnipeg)
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That crack looks to me like it was caused by weight pressing down on the roof. Maybe snow.

If I were going to fix it, I would remove the drip cap from the outside and the Ensolite from the inside (extending out about 8" from the crack, or as much as you need to be able to work comfortably).

Next I would put in some temporary support and arrange it such that the gap was closed and the trailer was back to its original shape (watch out that you don't "overjack" and cause problems somewhere else).

Then I would clean the inside surface of the fiberglass (inside the trailer) with a mold-release wax, like Interlux Solvent Wash 202 (mold release wax should only be on the gelcoat, but I wouldn't take any chances myself).

Next I would sand an area extending 6" or so beyond the crack in all directions. You will probably have to bring a bit of glass around to the outside of the trailer where the crack hits the door jamb - I can't see it closely enough, but you may be able to keep it confined to the "lip" that the door covers up. You can use a fairly rough grit for this. What you want to do is make it reasonably flat, and knock off any shine. Watch that you don't go too deep. Also be sure to wear proper protective and safety gear.

Next I would cut some patches out of fiberglass cloth. I would probably use something like biax/mat 1708, but you don't need anything that heavy, really. With that one or two layers would be way, way stronger than the original trailer (these are actually built rather weakly, which is why they don't stand up well to things like snow load). You can make one patch slightly smaller than the other one to stagger the edge (it will be covered by Ensolite, but still a good idea to prevent a bulge and/or a stress riser). You can feel free to mark up the patches with Sharpie for orientation, etc., as it won't show later.

Note that I am totally switching from "I" to "you" here

Now mask off everything except the patch area. Epoxy WILL drip

You can now lay out the dry patches, right on top of each other like they will be when they are on the trailer. Thick plastic over cardboard makes a good work surface, or a dishpan, or etc. Mix up some neat epoxy resin and saturate the patches with it. The white cloth should go clear. You can use a squeegee or an old paintbrush. Paint some of the resin onto the camper where you plan to patch. Remove excess resin from the patches, and then lift them as a unit and position them on the trailer. You are going to be working against gravity, but they will have a certain stickiness to them. You can hold them up until they cure with blue tape, or some people make a form (flat something with plastic or waxed paper on it) and then hold it up under the patches with a stick), but that might be a bit tricky with your concave area. You can work some of this out ahead of time with the dry patches. Also, like stir-fry cooking, have all the "ingredients" ready and set out ahead of time. For example, if you are going to use tape to hold up the wet patches, cut off lengths ahead of time and have them hanging somewhere, ready to grab.

If you have a rough or overlong edge at the door opening (I can't see whether you will be wrapping it around, but you very well may be able to just run it flush with the door edge), you can just let it "run out" wild; then, when the epoxy gets to the "green" stage (can still dent with thumbnail), you can easily cut it off.

Once it's cured, you wash the surface with plain water and a Scotch Brite to remove any amine blush (waxy coating that can form), and then you are ready to sand off anything that you feel would show through the Ensolite.

Then glue the Ensolite back, and know that that part of your trailer is stronger than all the rest

Raya

PS: Speaking of messy epoxy, one trick I like to use is to put two or three of the blue nitrile disposable gloves on each hand; then, as they get stick, I just peel them off to reveal a clean glove beneath. That saves a lot of "oops, there went a glob of epoxy onto my wrist" while you are trying to dig out and don a new glove.

PPS: This was just a basic outline, with only one small photo to go by; so feel free to post more photos of the crack, or ask more questions.
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Old 11-22-2009, 02:43 PM   #13
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Trailer: Scamp 13 ft
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here is another picture. Thanks for the advice on glassing the crack-this is definately what i need more of to bring this to a usable state. Are there any signs of structual problems that are common in these trailers? I can't see any obvious sign of impact to the roof and the crack is lower on the hitch side so snow seem unlikely. This is assuming the wall is stronger than the middle.Right? The cracks around the bumper i assume are from the back end dragging-definatly need to replace the springs.

Archie
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bumper_cracks.jpg   door_crack3.jpg  

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Old 11-22-2009, 02:54 PM   #14
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Name: Rachel
Trailer: 1974 Boler 13 ft (Neonex/Winnipeg)
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Archie,

It's hard to tell without being able to look over the whole trailer. To me even the cracks by the frame look like they may have been caused by weight from above (i.e. a downward force).

Really, these trailers were built to be light and to be economical. So while it is possible to make fiberglass really strong and rigid (think of fiberglass boats smashing through the waves), our campers aren't. The materials are minimal (to save weight) and they were built with relatively quick methods (to save time, which means money).

As a result, they are somewhat fragile when it comes to things like heavy snow load, large branches hitting the top, collisions, etc. When these things occur, cracks or failures will typically happen.

Now maybe your cracks were caused by frame breakage, but I thought you had said it looked like it was in good shape, which would make me think they were caused by weight from above (from what I can see).

Despite what I said above about the trailers being somewhat fragile, it's not common for cracks such as you have to occur simply from normal aging. Something specific caused it. More usually, there is a bit of sagging on the back corners (outboard of the frame rails), or a bit of "ballooning" of the body (especially if cabinets/closet are removed).

So I think that once you have the cracks fixed, you will be okay. But of course you should check for more damage, and definitely ascertain if there is anything remaining on the trailer that could re-cause the damage (broken frame, saturated floor core that is causing floppiness, etc.)

Raya
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