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Old 07-17-2012, 09:49 AM   #1
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1971 "Ocean Boler" Reno

A couple of years ago we decided to sell our VW camper. It was slow, noisy and lacked airconditioning. It was fun when we were students, but we found we were using it less and less. We always liked Bolers, my father in law has two and friends of ours had just bought one so we decided to get a Boler as a replacement for the VW. We purchased a 1971 Boler which originally had the optional bathroom. The previous owner had removed the bathroom and replaced it with a bench. The original fridge had been replaced by a newer one that was a few inches deeper.

Here's what it looked like when we brought it home:
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IMG_0514.jpg   IMG_0515.jpg  

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Old 07-17-2012, 09:54 AM   #2
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As you can see, it had a few of the typical Boler problems - a sagging axle and a door that didn't fit. After spending a bit of time with it, I also found that the frame was cracked and bent. We decided to get a new frame built for it. As you can see, the early Bolers had a really lightweight frame. The frame was built with what looks like C-channel that was stamped from sheet metal. Many quarter inch reinforcing plates had been welded to the frame and many of those were no longer completely attached - the frame material failed again at the weld.
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off frame.jpg   frame crack.jpg  

frame crack 2.jpg  
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Old 07-17-2012, 10:03 AM   #3
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Luckily, my brother at one time manufactured trailers and he volunteered to weld a new frame. While I was waiting for the new frame, I decided to start taking apart the body. I found that when the previous owner had removed the front seat beside the bathroom, he had removed a structural support for that side of the door opening. Looking along the side of the Boler, you could see that the curve of the shell was quite a bit different on that side of the opening. The vent for the bathroom was still there, and it was held together with electrical tape. There were a few holes in the roof from the rivets for the bathroom walls that were filled with silicone. The original spare tire carrier was just bolts through the shell and the shell was a bit warped in that area. Carpet runner had been glued and screwed to the front of the shell, and it was starting to fall off again. When I removed it, I found that quite a bit of the gel coat was chipped. I imagine the Boler saw a lot of gravel roads.
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bare shell RR.jpg   bare shell LF.jpg  

door curve.jpg   bathroom vent.jpg  

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Old 07-17-2012, 10:05 AM   #4
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Removing the interior was a bit like an archaeological dig. I found that the water tank was originally under the floor and somewhere along the line someone had cut a large hole in the floor to remove it from inside the trailer. The 120v side of the wiring had a few melted wires, which was a bit scary. The running light wiring had a lot of dicey splices. The front marker lights weren't hooked up at all.
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bare shell interior front.jpg   bare shell interior rear.jpg  

front floor.jpg  
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Old 07-17-2012, 10:18 AM   #5
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Finally, the frame was finished. My brother did a great job. Although it's made out of quite a bit heavier material, it's probably lighter overall without all the extra quarter inch plate. There are also a few custom additions to the frame.

  • I had him weld in leveling jacks to a reinforcing cross member in the rear.
  • The axle was now trailing rather than leading and the trailer is about 6" higher now. The new ride height is actually very close to original judging by brochures from the time.
  • The new axle has brakes.
  • The floor area has a few extra reinforcements to help with the structural integrity lost because of the door opening in the frame.
The other nifty thing he did for me was to weld the original distinctive curved bumper to the new frame. To me, this is a big part of the Boler's distinctive look and I was happy he was able to keep it for the new frame. With the extra cross member in the middle of the rear of the frame, the bumper isn't as important for structural integrity as it was.

Roy's thread on his axle replacement Replacing an Axle - leading arm to trailing arm was a great help in figuring out what to do with the new axle.
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new frame rear.jpg   new frame front.jpg  

new frame bumper.jpg  
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Old 07-17-2012, 10:23 AM   #6
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Since I had all the windows out, I decided to replace the windows with tinted plastic. Some of the glass in the side windows was cracked, and the weather stripping was also shot.

I had a window seal rebuild kit I had purchased for the VW, and a lot of the components were usefull for rebuilding the side windows. I also got a few of the seals from Vintage Trailer Supply. I was able to replace all the seals.

While I was at it, I polished all the aluminum with a buffing kit I got from Caswell Plating. This was quite a bit easier than hand polishing, and I was able to get a much higher sheen than would have been possible by hand. I polished the door hinges, which now look like they've been chromed.
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Old 07-17-2012, 10:29 AM   #7
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A month or two ago I set a deadline of July 21 for getting the Boler back together. The plan was to at least get it semi-usable to sleep in.

So, I've been busy reconstructing the Boler. I've glued in plywood reinforcements to provide the structural supports required for the shell. As with the original fiberglass cabinets, in most cases this plywood will be part of the cabinets. The only exception is a reinforcement I added on the door opening opposite the closet - this will not form part of a cabinet, but it will be used to support a screen door.

I extended the galley cabinet out a few inches to accommodate the newer fridge. This also allows me to put the new power center in front of the fender.

The cabinets are made with 1/2" ply, 1/4" ply and 1x2 fir for framing.
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Old 07-17-2012, 10:37 AM   #8
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I filled all the holes in the shell that were used to attach the cabinets. I also filled the hole for the bathroom vent, removed the bolts for the spare tire carrier and removed the carpet runner from the front.

I added two new holes, one for a porch light and another for shore water.

The carpet runner was held on with what seemed like 100 screws. It had also been glued using flooring adhesive, which wasn't entirely successfully in attaching the runner to the body. I spent a lot of time on the front of the shell removing all the glue and filling all the holes and stone chips.

I decided to go with a two-tone paint scheme like the original. The green is quite a bit brighter than the original, though. I rolled and tipped the paint, and it looks not bad. This is the first time I did this, and I should have taken more care with the finish on the primer. As expected, the finish coat takes on all the imperfections under it. I may sand it all off and do it over again. It's always easier to do a much better job the second time around. Currently, it's what a friend of mine calls a twenty foot paint job - it looks good from about twenty feet away.
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Old 07-17-2012, 10:39 AM   #9
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Wow, your doing a great job at saving the Boler! Keep the pic's coming of your progress!


I know setting a timeline is a great idea, but don't get down on yourself. Perfection sometimes exceeds timelines............................
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Old 07-17-2012, 10:50 AM   #10
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VERY WELL DONE Peter! I really enjoy reading about full-scale renos!
Phil
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Old 07-17-2012, 05:34 PM   #11
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impressive rebuild! I love the bright green on the exterior too. Those aluminum windows are going to make this new-again Boler... eye popping!
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Old 07-18-2012, 07:59 PM   #12
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Robin G, perfection will have to wait. I really do need to get the Boler usable again, and having a deadline and posting to the forum help with motivation.

Yesterday and today were spent getting the lights, shore hookups and most of the windows in. I have to get the front window and street side window in yet. I did get some tinted windows made for the front and back, but it's about 1.5mm thicker than the original. I thought I could make it work, but they were just about impossible to get in. The old windows went back in and I'll try phoning around to find someone who carries the right thickness.

I also put in the fantastic fan and the flooring. I used non-skid marine flooring paint tinted the same as the green on the outside for the floors. We will likely have area rugs for comfort.
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Old 07-18-2012, 08:34 PM   #13
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I am so impressed with your skills. This will be beautiful when it is done. Please keep sending pictures.
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Old 07-19-2012, 11:37 AM   #14
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Nice work and I love the colour!
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