1978 Boler Complete Restoration / Rebuild - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-19-2012, 12:02 AM   #1
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Name: Slavomir
Trailer: 1978 Boler
Washington
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1978 Boler Complete Restoration / Rebuild

Greetings!

Well, back in September my wife and I acquired a 1978 Boler! It was pretty exciting to find it and arrange with the owner a get-together to check the rig out. We expected just about a ruin of a vehicle but structurally the shell was in a pretty good shape, so it was a good start. The inside was rough though...very rough. The frame was very rusty and the axle shot...say about 25 degrees up! No surprise...from what we have learned this Boler has seen the US and Canada on a few occasions, coast to coast.

The owners were really awesome people and we felt blessed to meet them, and they live only about 30 miles from us.

After a chat and tea, we hitched the old girl to our truck and off we went into the sunset, knowing that at sunrise the work will have to begin.

To make the story short, we have been camping out of the back of our first and now second truck (with a canopy) for about 16 years. We have been ready to move up to something comfier for a while. This year we adopted our first dog, an older gentleman by the name of Stan, and the back of the truck just won't do...and the tent...forget about it!

With this, we hope to do a full rebuild/restoration and get to enjoying being on the road again, in style.

Before I continue, a big thank you to many people on this forum who have kindly answered my questions thus far. And a special thank you to Mr. Robert Johans for all his help and inspiration. He is truly a master craftsman.

Some pics:

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A few from the inside:

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Stan already likes it!

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Better give her a wash before we go any further...

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Old 12-19-2012, 07:23 AM   #2
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to FiberglassRV Slavomir and Heather, we're glad you're here.

Nice new-to-you rollin' vacation home

Thanks for posting the pictures!
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Old 12-19-2012, 10:31 AM   #3
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Thanks Donna, we're glad to be here!

Slavomir & Heather
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:17 PM   #4
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Demolition is next.

As I've mentioned in the previous post, the inside was really rough. It smelled moldy/mildewy/rotten on the inside, and it would not be pleasant to try to sleep in there. The wall covering was sagging and bubbled in places from water seeping in over the years...I was certain there would be growth of some sort under there.

Also, as can be seen in previous interior pics and some here, the texture of the insulation was very much like popcorn ceilings in older houses. I was afraid that being from the 70s, there may be asbestos in there as a fire retardant. Luckily it wasn't crumbly like house popcorn ceilings; I believe it was painted with oil paint.

All of the cabinets were a combination of plywood and particle board. Most of the Boler pics I've seen had fiberglass fixtures, so this was puzzling to me. Had this been rebuilt? Has anyone else had wooden fixtures as "original" in their Boler?

The endless amount of rivets in the shell have leaked badly over the years, and some were replaced with mismatched screws and gobs of silicone sealer...and still appeared to leak. The wood was rotten, and at the entry floor had completely turned to soggy cardboard consistency. Just gross.

The demolition took parts of three weekends, and I used a respirator and gloves. Not a good idea to take chances without these items. I found all sorts of mold, including a carpet about a half inch thick and about two feet long under one of the seats where water was pouring in thru the busted electrical outlet orifice. Other items of interest: old wasp nest and rat nest.

Nothing was salvaged or really salvageable...

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The sponge insulation came off fairly easily with the help of a utility knife and putty knife/spreader. Thankful for that.

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The inside wood slats to which the windows were screwed to were fully rotten as well. Out with the windows! Just one leaky machine.

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Following the fun of tearing stuff out, it was time to get to the floor. The whole egg was held by four main bolts and several smaller ones that seemed an after-thought. Almost all fully rusted and requiring cutting.

But once that was taken care of the inside got a good wash and scrub. Looks pretty good now. Probably the cleanest since leaving the factory!

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Old 12-20-2012, 12:01 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slavandheather View Post
Also, as can be seen in previous interior pics and some here, the texture of the insulation was very much like popcorn ceilings in older houses. I was afraid that being from the 70s, there may be asbestos in there as a fire retardant. Luckily it wasn't crumbly like house popcorn ceilings; I believe it was painted with oil paint.
I doubt there is asbestos, or any other fibre, in that wallcovering. Whatever it was called - some brochures call it "Tylon" - it is a plastic (likely PVC) film over open-celled soft poly foam, like that used in upholstery.

Quote:
Originally Posted by slavandheather View Post
All of the cabinets were a combination of plywood and particle board. Most of the Boler pics I've seen had fiberglass fixtures, so this was puzzling to me. Had this been rebuilt? Has anyone else had wooden fixtures as "original" in their Boler?
The Vanguard Trailers plant in Winfield built the other model - the B1700 - with similar cabinets (and wall covering). Perhaps they were all that way for some years at that plant.
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Old 12-20-2012, 12:13 AM   #6
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Frame Removal

Now that we had the carriage unbolted and washed inside, it was time to get that old frame pulled out. We had some clues as to the "how" from searching the forum and asking some questions, but there was still a good bit we had to figure out. The job took about two or three hours and in the end wasn't so difficult but took some thinking and sweat.

Tools: two car jacks, a load of cinder blocks, towels, 4x4 post, a bit of brain power and a bit of muscle.

Here we are doing some thinking...

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Once the frame was jacked up some on one end and we got a cinder block under each corner, we put a towel on top of each as the blocks are really rough and I didn't want to damage the body.

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So that's how it went. Jack it up a bit at the front, insert blocks, then repeat in the back of the trailer, and back and forth a couple times. Almost touching the ceiling of the garage.

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The help was much needed! And Heather actually enjoyed the process, and that makes it fun. Stan supervised and delivered the beers after!

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A couple of kicks and the frame popped off the carriage. Having that 4x4 post at the front allowed the cinder blocks to be spread out more so we had room for the wheels to clear. And here is the nasty rusty frame, full of spiders...we were pretty beat after this job, but it felt good!

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Before we pulled this off I discovered that the axle was a trailing version. This was puzzling as so far I've only heard of Bolers having leading axles only. The previous owner didn't replace it in the 20+ years he had the trailer. This was good because we wouldn't have to do any recalculating since we would be getting a new trailing axle.

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Old 12-20-2012, 12:19 AM   #7
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Name: Slavomir
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
I doubt there is asbestos, or any other fibre, in that wallcovering. Whatever it was called - some brochures call it "Tylon" - it is a plastic (likely PVC) film over open-celled soft poly foam, like that used in upholstery.


The Vanguard Trailers plant in Winfield built the other model - the B1700 - with similar cabinets (and wall covering). Perhaps they were all that way for some years at that plant.

Thanks for the note, Brian. I was fully protected, but it is good to know that there was likely no asbestos in there. Robert Johans thought the same. The sticker on the inside of the cabinet lists the Boler as from Calgary, so perhaps you're very right about the features.
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Old 12-20-2012, 12:20 AM   #8
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Welcome, slavandheather! It is always amazing to see someone with a trailer in such condition getting it in good order. It's looking much better already. Can't wait to see how it progresses.
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Old 12-20-2012, 01:14 AM   #9
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Welcome, slavandheather! It is always amazing to see someone with a trailer in such condition getting it in good order. It's looking much better already. Can't wait to see how it progresses.
Thanks Cathy! We are very excited about this little rig. So far it has been fun working on it and I know that once it is back on the road we will love it.
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Old 12-20-2012, 07:24 AM   #10
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welcome, heather and slav! you have really gotten into the rebuilding and everything that goes with it!!
keep the photos coming....can't wait to see how it progresses.

now, you'll have lots of things to suggest for christmas gifts....the list is unending!
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Old 12-20-2012, 08:12 AM   #11
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Great start and wishing you the strength and stamina to finish it and make it your own.
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Old 12-20-2012, 09:15 AM   #12
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Thanks Theresa and Thomas! We definitely will be learning a lot of skills on this project, and indeed the list of supplies is endless...
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Old 12-20-2012, 04:30 PM   #13
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The sticker on the inside of the cabinet lists the Boler as from Calgary, so perhaps you're very right about the features.
Thanks for the info. Western Boler operations moved from Calgary to Winfield (my 1979 Winfield-built Boler's manual lists suppliers, which were still from Calgary), so it's not surprising that late Calgary and early Winfield Bolers are similar.
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Old 12-20-2012, 04:46 PM   #14
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Hey Brian, cool beans, thanks for the info. It is nice to know a little more about our rig. We didn't inherit a manual, so beyond the peeling sticker (which is now gone but was photographed so it can be recreated), not much info. We found a small metal plaque attached to the frame but it is as rusted as the frame and not legible. We do know that the previous owner is Canadian and brought it with him some six years ago when he moved to Washington. If I remember correctly, he bought it on Vancouver Island.
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