3rd Incarnation, Middle Age Remodel - Page 3 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-15-2009, 10:52 PM   #29
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Refrigerator Vent Modification...Installing a refrigerator roof vent without screws, permanently leak proof & make it changeable in 2 minuets too. "Oh! And its leak proof."

Chapter 2."Cutting the hole." First make a model..."cut out model"... To draw the hole to be finally cut out of the fiberglass hull, use the bottom opening hole of the vent to be inserted thru the roof into the trailer hull hole to be cut out. This cardboard model does not included the measure of the flange itself!!! "the space around the outside bottom of the vent", the logic employed here in this approach takes into account that the vent with the flange must fit from inside the trailer up into the correct size and shape of cut out hole so that the flange can be epoxied in place permanently from underneath the roof cut out for it.

Making a flat cardboard model as the hole stencil pattern also helps to position the vent inside the refrigerator compartment space helping position the cut out locations prior to the actual cut out in the fiberglass.

Take the cardboard representation of the exact size hole needed for the vent cone itself excluding the base flange size, drawing on flat cardboard stock cut out the model hole, test the hole by placing the cardboard model over the vent cone, it should fit snugly all around with none of the flange underneath to be seen, the flange around the base of the vent should firmly rest against the cardboard on top of it all the way around on the other side when flipped over...

The actual cut out pattern[/b] to be used in outlining the "cut out" hole to into the fiberglass roof is the one created using this cardboard model.

Our Astro refrigerator top vent needed a certain discrete distance from the pop top roof mechanical scissor and assist spring operations because the roof must clear the vent assembly not affecting these components as the pop top roof goes up and down. The vent needs this clearance not only for the vent cone but also its rain cap, it must be considered in pop top normal operations too so placement is important and needs thought...This was a crucial measurements, attention should be paid to this...

Making sure the base flange of the vent cone to be installed into the roof properly fits by full contact against the bottom of the trailer top roof surface so the RIGHT epoxy adhesion results is why all the modeling is done FIRST.


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Vent cone, showing the flange to be epoxied underneath the inside hull.


By modeling first we really protect ourselves from two large mistakes, which are two large a "cut out" and bad positioning of the "cut out" in the hull roof interfering with the pop top operations..

What tool to use to do the "cut out"?

When making the cuts in the roof on the lines left by positioning and tracing the card board model we use the side grinder with the 4 ' metal wheels to cut our straight lines first, then switch to a jig saw with abrasive blades rated for plastic avoiding a toothed blade jig saw blade to cut the rounded ends at the ends of the hole. We have also used a roto-zip or scroll saw too, they both work equally well.

Think Safety Please

We are always wearing full face & eye protection at all times, an organic respirator covering both nose and mouth behind a rubber mask that seals the face anytime we cut fiberglass, the filter mask uses inexpensive filter cartridges to filter air for breathing...Do not use a cheaper paper filter mask because these are not enough, ear plugs with eye protection are recommended too.

Making the "cut out"

Make the cut out from the top of the roof down, "the gel-coat side" use a partner with a vacuum running to suck up dust while cutting, We use a vacuum like the one shown earlier in the "Fan-Tastic Fan Modification" thread it's a worthy precaution. Kenna follows near my cut sucking the fiberglass dust away without hitting the tool in my hands while I cut going slow...There is no fast speed...The slower the better.

The roof "cut out" now made its time to test slipping up the vent up inside the cut hole adjusting the size of the hole into a tight uniform fit around the vent by shaving or sanding as appropriate.


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View of the "cut out" looking from the bottom of refrigerator up.


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View from the top roof of hull after the cut.

Why the a tight fit again?

After the cut out is made being tested regarding a snug fit, a good light clean up of the "cut out hole" edges is done "we use a coarse sanding sponge" then a wire brush on a drill is useful to clear any old interior paint back away from the contact edges that will be epoxied to the vent flange, the interior hull resin should be open to contact with no paint residue with the vent flange for the bonding epoxy, use the drill wire brush to clean and clear back the contact hull resin surface of the hull clean with Acetone before its bonded...Do Not Use Acetone on Vent

The goal is to be able to place epoxy around the top of the flanged base of the vent cone, then pressing the vent cone up from inside the trailer into the roof hole tightly until the flanged base with the epoxy bond on it presses tightly against the inside bottom of the roof/ hull leaving only the cone of the vent protruding above the roof line.


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Tools to clean any interior coating around the hole, clean to resin so flange bonds plastic to plastic.


***Warning***Do Not clean the vent with Acetone!!! just the hull resin.


The reason why?


"Do not use Acetone to clean the vent"…No one can really know today what plastic is used in the vent plastic or the blend formulations making up these parts today or their resistance to solvents. These parts are made in counties mostly that do not regulate well their plastic industries to save costs in manufacture.
If you must use any solvent on any plastic part TEST IT FIRST . Use an area that will be unseen and test the material and solvent you are using.

Favorite tricks or stuff?

In our minds the 5 min loctite epoxy (Homedepot or Lowes) is the only way to go.

We use a piece of scrap ply and a scrap 2X4 cut to the right length to put together to press up against the bottom of the installed vent, pushing against the floor holding up the ply against the bottom of the placed vent, hold this in place for 20 minuets with 5 minuet epoxy to set properly.

When the epoxy bond is set up there will be a slight fill needed topside between the hull roof and the vent cone/body to fill any gaps left there, filling up of any minor space with a back-fill of epoxy bond or a good epoxy fairing compound like Interlux "water tite".


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Vent pushed thru "cut out" hole and bonded underneath using flange.



Note of interest...You need to know this...

A very important reason to epoxy seal ANY cut out into the trailer hull is the phenomenon of wicking moisture...A cut out in a fiberglass hull for even the most usual reasons like water fill ports or cargo doors can expose a material weakness intrinsic to any the fiberglass hull.

Any hole cut into the trailer hull produces a ragged edge of fiberglass and resin mix around the cut providing an excellent point to wick any liquid around its circumference. Its the most overlooked area in trailer modifications, the fix is a simple one, take epoxy bond or epoxy resin and hardener sealing it completely or soak resin or epoxy into the fibers at the edges of any"cut out" by daubing it in at the edges of the cut...Any cut. We usually sand it very lightly when the resin or epoxy bond is set up, just to keep the"cut out" smooth but sealed well still.

"For the purpose of this post, this above step is why we instruct to fill any gap in the paragraph before this one."

When the coatings are applied after this step to the refrigerator vent and its seal our trailer roof refrigerator vent actually looks as if it were molded in.

If you are not using a total exterior coating replacement in favor of just a touch up around the vent modification the application of any top coat will make the vent look better.


***Tip***When choosing an exterior coat or touch up use a U.V. stabilized coating as bonds or resins are not U.V. stabilized and will deteriorate if exposed to intense sun to long rather quickly.

Remember we wanted two identical vents?

Taking the second identical vent now simply place it over the epoxied into place twin vent cone bonded into the hull...

We put a self adhesive foam protective strip under the bottom flange of this second identical vent cone, the foam prevents vibration scratches to the coating finish on the hull roof from the unprotected flange vibrating against it...This second vent cone functions as a slip cover being held on by two screws on the side.

This makes change outs easy, the rain cap or top is held into place by two more screws, since this modification requires two complete vents this leaves us with one extra cap.

This concludes the topic thread on Refrigerator roof vent modification (And its leak proof!!!)

Happy Camping, Safe Trails.



Harry & Kenna
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Old 11-16-2009, 01:01 PM   #30
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Hey Harry,

Great thread...

Sounds like your recovery is going well too. Glad to hear it. All the best.

RJ
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Old 11-16-2009, 04:42 PM   #31
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Robert,

Thanks for the well wishes mate, a few on F.B.R.V. have been sending positive comments, they are welcome by me, I am growing my hair back other than being bored stiff its been a cake walk up until now, but the bills are rolling in like bird shot in duck season...Glad you like the thread, I will try to keep it going until the unseen forces on F.B.R.V. tell me other wise...or the wifey pulls on the leash.

Cheers
Harry


Quote:
Hey Harry,

Great thread...

Sounds like your recovery is going well too. Glad to hear it. All the best.

RJ
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Old 11-16-2009, 09:26 PM   #32
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This Post within the Astro modification thread will deal with the elimination of the front window, reinforcing side window modifications and adding cargo doors.

The front window in any fiberglass trailer is a challenge, over the years Kenna and I have not really used it. With its butyl seal as a source of leaks periodically when speeding down a rain soaked highway facing hurricane winds it was a source of irritation for us.

When we first got the F.B.R.V. trailer we tried to utilize the trailer as designed, but not much to our liking. The cushions that made up the bed when it was set up to sleep were awful to lay on after the age of 40. In the first decade of our ownership in our 30s the idea of separate convertible dining and sleeping areas appealed to us, but after that the idea left our minds in favor of a permanent cozy bed with a nice thick lovely mattress and a dog.

The large comfy bed with no cushions to move apart letting our middle age derrieres slip down between the gaps onto the cold hard boards beneath was right up our alley. The kids gone now the larger trailer sold, the Astro was our good friend again having been stored but not forgotten, but Astro was showing its age now.

The glass front window made for colder heads at older ages too, also wet heads in cold weather so we determined to removed it, then we strengthened the wall thickness around the two remaining side windows, because stress fractures were showing up in the corners of the window "cut outs".

The bed rebuilt several times as a permanent bed by 2009 would be rebuilt again only this time we were putting in cargo doors underneath the bed for stowage we desperately needed, insulating the bottom of the bed with 1" foam sandwiched between two strong ply wood pieces provides a foundation for the bed in one ply wood layer, the other plywood layer provides for the roof of the cargo compartment.

We used insulated cargo doors purchased at Arizona R.V. Salvage that when opened would allow us to reach all the way thru to the other side of our created space. The plywood roof ensured that the compartment once locked was insulated and secure.

These cargo door "cut outs" like the window "cut outs" would be reinforced like the windows were, also an obstacle to over come would be relocating the water heater from the port side front to a rear facing location, the cargo door "cut outs" on this side were smaller that the "cut out" in the fiberglass hull the water heater used needing to be re-sized now for the new smaller sized cargo doors.

All holes would be closed up, water fill holes, drains, the works.

This thread is just how we did it, some teaser pics shows the inside front area after the end of the project discussed in this thread. If you want to do this modification then read on as we add to it as time permits.

The inside tricks we use will be shared, we wanted to use everyday materials getting body shop results, the outside of the front window modification will be handled in the chapter named (Body Repairs) "Eliminating the scars of trailer life" We will in this thread focus on the inside stuff. Its our hope that we can take the mystery out of making major modifications in F.B.R.Vs, its easier than you think?


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Picture of the end product of inside of window modifications.


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Picture of window with reinforced sides x4.


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Window showing the reinforced sides plus the cargo door "cut outs" below for the future cargo compartment.
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Old 11-23-2009, 11:09 PM   #33
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Large Front Window Modification
reinforcing side windows, and adding cargo door cutouts.




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1971 Astro showing top roof corrugations top and down the front

The above picture show the roof corrugations I have spoken about in prior postings regarding our Astro, this picture shows the trailer being striped naked to begin its journey into another life. The removed front window frame still shows the permanent bed frame which will be rebuilt latter on adding cargo doors.

The view of the roof top shows the damage that this trailer gel-coat had over the years, caused by the the baking of fiberglass in the Arizona sun powdering the top gel-coat into something resembling flat latex paint.

In the sections to come we address the fiberglass finish issues, these will be posted near the end of this thread...The purpose of presenting this pic is to show the corrugations unique to this manufacturer of this very well used design under so many other names too...Our desire to remove the front window will utilize these four corrugations as hiding features covering the external patch that will be eventually applied into the hole left by window removal.

First we would like you to understand the trailer itself took significant damage in an accident where the trailer and its tug left the road in an effort to avoid going underneath a jack knifed semi tractor trailer.


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Picture shows, fiberglass damage completely penetrating the hull

After removing the window, a clean up is needed, I use my vacuum attached belt sander, eye protection and a mask to remove the gel-coat to just the resin layer of the trailer.<span style="color:#000000">

The vacuum attached is a double bag system (available[at]lowes)


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<span style="color:#ff00ff">Vacuum using bag + H.E.P.A. secondary filter.

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<span style="color:#ff00ff">Eye, ear, nose&mouth filter, sander with vacuum pick up.

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Gel-coat removed to resin layer front window.
</span></span></span>
</span></span>
<span style="color:#000000">The purpose behind removing the gel-coat layer to the resin layer outside the trailer is to expose it in order bond the outer patch over the window <span style="color:#0000ff">"cut out" then switching to the inside of the trailer we bond the inner "fill plate" into the "cut out" hole depression formed there when the outer patch is secure in place, this will make the interior of the trailer uniform inside after the irregularities are filled in. </span></span>

<span style="color:#000000">We cannot just slap up a patch, on this large of a surface repair we need even pressure balanced with even counter force holding the patch against the hull in a uniform way, the correct bond will produce a</span> strong<span style="color:#000000"> outer patch.

This outer patch will require the construction of an outer flat pressing plate made of plywood, also an inner jig assembly, <span style="color:#0000ff">"a frame set up" that firmly transfers the force needed to press the outer patch in place to an outside area not being worked on. This jig/plate system needs to also allow any bond over run "oozing" pressed out when force is applied to be managed without bonding the wood plate forever in place holding the patch like a wood lid.


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Inside "jig" (a frame) bolt in the center into the plywood press outside.
Note Where you see the bright light is hull damage, needing repair.

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<span style="color:#ff00ff">Outer plywood press, make sure the press will not contact bond oozing out
Note bolt in center going into "jig" on other side?

<span style="color:#000000">This concludes the first part of this Large Front Window Modification thread, in the next installment we will show what we do to treat the F.R.P. (fiberglass reinforced board) to make this patch work even better, its handling and the actual bonding steps we take.

Happy Camping, Safe Trails.

Harry & Kenna
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Old 12-13-2009, 10:41 PM   #34
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Large Front Window Modification (continued)
reinforcing side windows, and adding cargo door cutouts.


After the press and jig are removed its time to place the large cut out plug on the other side


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Outer patch held in place after epoxy sets.

The epoxy in this case used was West System brand Six10 thickened epoxy adhesive, it comes in cartridges that insert into a caulking gun, be sure to order MANY mixing nozzles, this epoxy is a high load epoxy.

http://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userp...+Epoxy+Adhesive

Once the the outer patch was in place and the epoxy firmed up the press and the jig behind it were removed, the even pressure made for a good bond all the way around.

Looking from the inside of the trailer the now revealed depression where the window was needed to be addressed.

We cut a patch using an out line of the exact hole, cut this out of F.R.P. and sanded the textured side so the patch was roughed up flattening out the textured peaks about half way...a little more smoothed out to bond it evenly, this is the side to bond...


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Inside cutout tp plug interior depression where window was.

The side of the bond was epoxied and troweled using a piece of F.R.P. scrap, the ends were notched out at 1/4 inch spaces and the epoxy was troweled so when the patch was placed the adhesive bond would not over run.


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Close up of trowel spacing of epoxy bond.

The cut out patch was placed into the exact shaped hole against the back of the outer patch doubling its thickness, the advantage to this approach was the interior hull now will loose any trace a window was ever there.

Re-using the jig built for the outer patch placement step we press the patch in place and hold it until bonded.


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Re-used jig holding cut out plug in place, back was sanded and the epoxy troweled.

Our next step is the entertaining one, we gently brought the Astro up on its nose where these patches were placed, the reason to do this was we needed gravity to work in our favor. The characteristic rib structures that run off the roof and down the nose were in sorry need of reinforcing. The mentioned accident had resulted in damage to this section, from the inside of the Astro it would be necessary to re-lay the fiberglass matte, we would use a double thickness, also we would deliberately use the over run of resin to "fill in" any minor gaping in the interior plug patch, gravity would work with us with the trailer in this position.


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The Astro up on its nose.

Prior to the flip, we used the waxy paper trick out lined in the sections prior to this post within this thread. These exterior patches were placed over the tears in the fiberglass matte where resin might leak, this trick would act to mold the resin into a smooth exterior shape for sanding in later steps.


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Metal tape in place prior to the flip.

In the next post we will pour and do the interior fiberglass repair to the nose as the trailer sits nose down, also in this step we will blend in the imperfections regarding the inside patch where the window used to be.

Thanks for following along.

Harry & Kenna
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Old 12-14-2009, 10:47 PM   #35
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Large Front Window Modification (continued)
reinforcing side windows, and adding cargo door cutouts.



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Clean application area, clean with acetone, cut matte to shape to lay in
first layer of matte after "wetting out" area to be repaired.

The above picture shows the area to be repaired, looking into the corrugation dip area you can see the damage in the hull material (pitting, punctures) needing to be repaired.

This is an ugly messy awful looking repair process...Ignore that...Its all ugly in fiberglass that's why they make pretty coatings.

The area was prepped with a wire brush on a drill to first clear away 39 years of paint, then the bits of stuff was vacuumed up, we washed the area with a heavy duty degreaser (purple power) to clean the area of water based contaminants, we sucked up the excess water with the wet dry vac, following that up we dried the area with a volume of compressed air...We cooked the job absolutely dry with a heated blow dryer...Now its not clean yet? When dry dry dry of any moisture we next clean the area with an acetone wash, let this air dry... Never vac this acetone wash up...It can go boom if you do.

Using N.A.P.A. liquid resins mentioned in these earlier posts we epoxied our repair into place adding two new layers of fiberglass matte, by first outlining the area to be patched we knew where to lay the pre-cut pieces of fiberglass matte quickly.

Also on the other side of the work where resin would leak thru we remind the reader that we have used the waxy tape trick to close off holes where resin would pass thru...This trick is explained in earlier posts in this thread...One pic in this "windows" post shows the trailer nose taped off.

We always pre-wet with resin an area when laying in a fiberglass matte, often this is referred to as a process known as "wetting out" the work area...We worked in the pre-outlined space with our liquid resin laying it down quickly wearing the nitrile disposable gloves mentioned earlier in these past posts.

Next comes laying the fiberglass matte inside down on the proper marked (now wet) spaces of the "wet out" area... We must tap the matte down on the "wet" resin with a paint brush (a cheap china bristle brush) smoothing out the matte gently with the brush so there are no large bubbles under it, at the same time doing this operation hold the matte still, (I use a paint stir stick) as we will "wet out" the first layer matte brushing in one direction only anchoring the work with the stick...Once smoothed out...Apply more resin on top of the prior job for the second layer of fiberglass matte, the second layer can soak it up, when its installed on top of the first matte repeat the brushing operation to remove bubbles.

Tip/Repeat hint****Careful when brushing directly on the soaked fiberglass matte, the matte tends to scoot with very little effort making a mess, even brush strokes...So hold it in place while brushing the bubbles out.

Said again only differently below...

We used two layers of fiberglass matte for strength, so two patterns were cut to shape ahead of time to place them in the work area quickly...These two fiberglass mattes were layered one on top of the other placing resin under the first layer first, by placing epoxy between all the layers of matte alternately we ensured good penetration of resin into the fiberglass matte...When this is done resin was poured on top of the whole project to top it off evenly.

We were using a 10 min epoxy so we had to have everything pre-cut and ready to go to do this part.

Tip***Thinner coats of resin may mean longer the cure times, as does colder temps, a combination of these issues can drive up or down cure times surprisingly fast or long...

As resin pools into deeper puddles the larger amount of resin gives heat off as a byproduct of the curing process... This chemical heat accelerates the cure times exponentially...Mix in quantities of 5 minuet work sessions, use shallow cups. You can always go over work again and touch up, but once the clock starts and it hardens you cannot reverse it.

We use cups cut out of silicon cup cake pans for the small stuff, these cup cake pans can be purchased in many stores, they are flexible and resin does not stick to them, we buy a cup cake pan and cut it up into individual cups...The advantage is the resin after hardening pops out of the cup and the cup is ready for the next use...This is good for small batches...When large batches are needed we use disposable 1 quart paint can liners.


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First layer of matte in place, ready to "wet out" area again and lay in the second layer then finish off the top coating over the fiberglass matte.

In this second picture please note we have over lapped the F.R.P. plug a little, this was to strengthen its placement and blend in the lines that give away there was a window there at all.

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Second layer of matte placed over soaked first layer, then soak again.


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First and second layer of matte in place, resin hardening


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Both sides repaired, ugly isn't it? but that does not matter...
its structure that counts today, looks will come along later...
F.R.P. panel is now locked even better into place.


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There you see the mess is better, the outside looks will be addressed again in a different manner.


Next we will reinforce the remaining side windows, these served us well but the hull is very thin, in the past the corners have torn a little as the hull flexed on rougher roads, our desire was to strengthen this flaw so when the windows are reinstalled the hull is twice as thick.

Next The windows?
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Old 12-16-2009, 12:43 PM   #36
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Large Front Window Modification (continued)
reinforcing side windows, and adding cargo door cutouts.


Window reinforcements.

As mentioned earlier the windows need to be reinforced, in the corners of the window "cut outs" there were fractures in the fiberglass hull radiating out at 45 degree angels away from the window "cut out" about two inches into the hull then stopping. One rip occurred in the 2007 accident as the trailer was tossed violently into the air when our tug and the tow left the road on the way to our first Brandon gathering which we never made it too about two years back. Other tears just appeared.


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Note the crack in the hull skin...
This suggested forces needing a remedy.

We wanted to stiffen the immediate boarders surrounding the windows making a primitive casement for the window frames to set into, we felt that the butyl seal would mate better against the hull and window frame if the skin were stiffer behind the window seal...A side by-product hoped for is a little stiffening of the side wall structures as well...

The bed is a permanent structure built in as a bed now eliminating seats and a table, this permanent berth serves as the roof to the permanent lockable cargo compartment beneath it, with identical doors on both sides of it for access...It is no longer a convertible bench set up as before now.

[i]This made for a minor concern regarding vertical strength in the side walls ability to transmit load to the frame in a situation when you remove so much hull with these larger "cut outs" in the same area being above one another, we think enhancing the window "cut outs" is a good idea.

The real strength in this trailer design is admittedly the horizontal belly band such as it is...(its not a real belly band, but rather an interlocking seam) the upper body (or clam shell) has the distinct reinforcing corrugations molded into its hull which stiffens the topside nicely, but you cannot be to careful with a hull this thin so we decided to reinforce these major "cut outs".

What we did...

The first step is to remove old coatings around the window cut outs, removing any material to the resin layer with brass wire brush on a drill, we go at a slow enough speed to remove the years of paint without burning or scaring the resin layer itself, we clear away the needed distance that will be used as the bonding surface for the second layer of reinforcement material.


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Window cut out cleaned back far enough from
the edge to bond the
f.r.p. material.

We used F.R.P. (fiberglass reinforced board) as the material to reinforce the windows, having first worked "loctite" 5 minuet epoxy into the cracks that had developed and bonded them closed we sanded their repair smooth again on both sides of the hull wall.

We cut strips of F.R.P. to the correct lengths to surround the window entirely, then we epoxied these in place after sanding and roughing up the textured side of the f.r.p....We used this rough side to bond against the hull wall leaving the smooth side out for show, then we utilized our clamps for the required pressure to make a good tight bond happen...To make sure the pressure was applied was as even as possible we made wood strips so that the clamping force would be applied across the work evenly.


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Clamps in place, wood strips used...F.R.P. strips bonding onto hull.


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Doing small sections worked better than all at once.


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When clamps are removed it looks something like this.


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When sanded, and coated you end up like this...
Window is repaired and strengthened.






The cargo doors will be shown next, we did the reinforcing the same way, however we wanted to show this in a different post because we had to re-size the starboard cut out because there once was a water heater here, its hole was too large for the cargo doors, the other port side had some holes already cut into it that needed repair. Kenna and I wanted to put this into its own little post and show re-sizing cut outs from larger to smaller cut outs when needed...This was done twice...The cargo doors and then the refrigerator access doors.

Bear in mind we wanted to show these modifications can be done well with a few tools, and supplies from a local hardware store, some materials are a little exotic like the Six10 West System thickened epoxy adhesive we used but for the most part this is every day stuff done with every day material.

Next "Cargo Door resizing and cut outs"


Harry & Kenna
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Old 12-21-2009, 10:03 PM   #37
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Large Front Window Modification (continued)
reinforcing side windows, and adding cargo door cutouts.

Adding cargo door cut outs...
(sizing from a larger hole to a smaller one included in this project)

The challenge in this part of the project was two fold, the port side of the trailer where we wanted to put one access door to the future cargo hold in our F.B.R.V. was already occupied by a water heater, when this was removed it left a cut out in the hull larger than the doors we wanted to install. Hence the first thing to do was to make this cut out smaller.

Some tricks employed are pretty universal, there will be in this case a backing piece made, then a plug cut to the correct shape. The back and plug method is nice in applications where uniformity of looks on the inside do not factor into the issues, also this method is good because afterwords you get an increase in strength in the repair area.

Our door size modification was done using F.R.P. (fiberglass reinforced board) as the construction material to form the "backing" to the "plug" project. The "plug" is a piece of the actual hull saved up from the first remodel years ago, it is used as a fill piece glued to the pre-installed backing to bring the hull contours to a point that fairing compound or an epoxy filling of the space can be accomplished.

Hint* When we cut anything on the hull we save it...In this case when the water heater was installed we kept the "original cut out" from when we installed the very same heater.


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Drill and wire brush used.
Interlux 202 was used in final rinse after the degreaser with the water wash was dried out.

NEVER use flammable wash with a DRILL BRUSH set up together...one spark from the drill and boom!

Step one is to clean up the area, we use a wire brush on a drill, sometimes a little sanding to the resin layer generally does the complete debris removal step, we wash with a water base degreaser first, then rinse well and let dry, we follow up with a blow dryer to the work area making it very dry...Then follow up with an acetone rinse, then let dry again. NO BLOW DRYER AFTER THIS STEP!!!


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Epoxy backing piece of fiberglass, in this case F.R.P. (fiberglass reinforced board)
Use clamps and cut wood to spread clamping force at backside of work.
We used Loctite 5 min epoxy.

<span style="color:#000000">Once the backing plate is installed draw an outline of the resulting depression that needs a "fill plug" cut out of stock.

Ideally the plug material is the same thickness as the original hull which we had using saved material from the past...

Clean the back side of this "cut out plug" making it to the exact size and shape of plug needed, sand smooth the rough chop side which is the bonding side...This is to bond to the backing plate installed earlier...

The smooth original side (gel-coat side) is the outward side.

This piece should fit like a puzzle piece neatly and snugly into the depression used as a pattern for the insert.

If when put into place it's a bit higher than the outer hull skin do not worry, sand it down in the final step level to the hull surface.

If lower than the hull surface when inserted as in our case a final "build up" will be used.

Once this key "cut out plug" piece is made use it as a "plug in" by placing epoxy on its reverse sanded side, using the waxy paper trick described in earlier posts to this thread clamp the fiberglass "filler plug" into its nest or depression.

Clamp into place...Use the waxy paper trick so all seams will smooth out.


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<span style="color:#ff00ff">Wax tape trick using wood blocks and clamps holding filler plug in place.

<span style="color:#000000">When the clamps are removed the piece is ready to sand, used fairing compound or epoxy filler to create a seamless repair to the door size.


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<span style="color:#ff00ff">Clamps removed, the piece is glued into place,
the waxy tape trick spreads excess evenly filling in any irregularities.

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<span style="color:#ff00ff">Close up of how waxy paper trick automatically levels, fills in, and blends the plug in perfectly to the
surface level of the exterior hull.

<span style="color:#000000">The next steps of sanding and shaping we will skip, the steps to install the strips to reinforce the cargo "cut out" after it is cut into shape are simple, we use a 4 1/2 inch grinder with a metal wheel, our special vacuum mentioned earlier, a full respirator and face shield to cut the repaired fiberglass to the correct size of "cut out".

Once the correct "cut outs" were cut, the strips were applied...the final result when compared to the window modifications are this final picture.


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<span style="color:#ff00ff">End product, water heater re-sized, cargo "cut out" reinforced like window above it.
Ready for cargo doors.

<span style="color:#000000">In our next post the other cargo door "cut out" is repaired with slightly different issues...

Continued In...

</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span>Large Front Window Modification (continued) 2nd cargo door next...

Note: To the reader, In our posts we show a closer look at the techniques we do, we can show in larger steps with much more impressive results over larger segments of time, this is great for showing progress but not good for showing how progress is made or the individual challenges in a work in progress.

While we can wait for questions later on to arrive if the interested are impressed enough to ask for more info, it lacks to create a data resource when we are no longer available to ask questions in the future...

To some this close up point of view is a huge turn off...To others it is why they seek answers by reading the posts, trying to be a service to both realities is just not possible in one post with a limit of 5 pictures...But at the end of this post we will post more pictures in big steps to make up for these many close up posts.

Thanks for reading.

Harry & Kenna
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Old 12-28-2009, 09:45 PM   #38
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Large Front Window Modification (continued) 2nd cargo door next...

Below is a pic of the problem on the other side.


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Wouldn't you know it, we had a hole exactly on the corner of
the Cargo door "cut out" the repair is straight forward.

Our solution was to cut a "L" shaped backing out of the material we saved doing the cargo door "cut out"... All contact bonding surfaces are cleaned like the other side cargo door repair posted just ahead of this one...When backing is bonded in we use a "fill" piece in the depression to fill it up after backing is epoxied into place.

Remember that the all contact surfaces are roughed up and level being flattened out a bit with the sander, then the "L" piece is epoxied and clamped into place.

When this is "set up" the gaps are filled in, sometimes with the waxy paper trick and more epoxy or a fairing compound...A body compound works well when epoxy based.

Below are a rapid succession of pics to show the process and results.


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Paint removed on hull to resin layer, same with the backing patch too.


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"L" backing plate epoxied and clamped in place
wood used to distribute pressure evenly.


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Clamping was done on both sides simultaneously with round plug in place as well...
Waxy paper on backside of wood prevents sticking where not wanted.


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The plug is in place, more work will be done in the finish process
when coatings are applied.

Happy Camping, Safe Trails.

Harry and Kenna
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Old 01-06-2010, 11:56 AM   #39
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Re-model of refrigerator area...(roof vent re-model for refrigerator area was covered in an earlier post dedicated to molding in a roof vent)

This posting will cover new bulkhead locations, resizing lower refrigerator access door, removing and closing air/vent holes from prior furnace location, and a new support deck for the refrigerator, we will relocate the 6 gal water heater to the rear of the trailer here under the refrigerator.

The challenge of molding in the vent needed above the refrigerator area was covered in an earlier post, up to now the vent is done, its seamless design being molded in and it has an identical top (crown/slip cover) or twin that sits over the molded part protecting it in the long term from the elements providing the leak proof seal, while still being easily changeable (the slip portion) when cosmetics dictate that.


In this post We wanted to replace the bulk head to a heavier one, also we wanted a closer fit in the contours (curve) against the hull.

Since this area is unique in its requirements differing from other areas inside the trailer some different attention was needed to the general subject of seals between the outside world and the comfy inside of the trailer.

This area behind the refrigerator between two bulkheads needs to allow the outside ambient air into the space behind the refrigerator condenser...It needs to be exposed to the outside environment constantly, In this specific space the interior bulkhead (side walls) were the only thing isolating the living space temperatures from the outside ambient ones.

Any gaping of the bulkheads with respect to the hull seal with the bulkhead wall when in place was in the past a source of trouble regarding drafts of outside air penetrating into the trailer, also temperature losses due to thin wood veneers were an issue. This area has by operation a combustion process in the refrigerator going on and potential propane leaks from both refrigerator and water heater. All other interior areas of the trailer are simple storage areas, this one compartment has by definition the need to be an insulated utility closet.

Structurally it must be the strongest, tightest and most well ventilated area interior to the hull of the fiberglass trailer.

When re-locating curved bulkhead positions of course we change cabinet sizes, and in this case the lower refrigerator access door "cut out" size changed in the fiberglass hull to a smaller one...This meant re-sizing the original larger door "cut out" to a smaller one in the fiberglass hull. In this part of the remodel the water heater will be added to the rear of the trailer, partly because of the flat surface there and partly to clear space for a large cargo compartment where it used to be.

Below is a pic of the original cabinet that was demolished, the Suburban NT 16 furnace is seen here installed, this cabinet is 6 years old now, it served well over those years, the electrics above the refrigerator was an innovation that worked well too...All this will be removed, strengthened, insulated and rebuilt. The forced air furnace is not going to be re-installed, rather another passive convection furnace (gravity to some) will be installed under the sink...The holes used in the Suburban furnace will need mending.


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The original set up before with furnace.


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Refrigerator compartment near demolished, patching
has begun on hole left by old furnace.


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Holes needing to be mended, left by furnace
outside view, sanding prep just started.


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Showing new size needed for Refrig. access door
"cut out" this area will be made smaller.


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New water heater location.

In the following posts we will try to explain some of this section of the project, its challenges and our solutions to them, please follow along if you want and watch this old F.B.R.V. morph for the third time in our ownership into a trailer that we now need.

Happy Camping Safe Trails.

Harry and Kenna
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Old 01-13-2010, 01:40 PM   #40
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Re-model of refrigerator area...Continued.

The two furnace holes used for fresh air and dangerous exhaust in and out of the trailer cut into the hull needed to be repaired.


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Holes needing the repair viewed from outside the trailer after vent is removerd

These holes are a basic simple fix, located in an area where the interior wall will not be visible the "backing patch and fill method" is the fastest repair to do, this strategy is covered in earlier posts before this one so we will be briefer, the inside bonding surface is cleaned by wire brush of old coating to the interior resin layer being careful not to remove anything but old paint, then a water base wash is used, letting it dry completely, following up with an acetone wash just before bonding the flat backing for the F.R.P. (fiberglass reinforced board).

The F.R.P. is also cleaned with the same steps adding that on the textured side it is also sanded down a bit...The patch is placed and bonded with 5 min epoxy, on the other side, the holes will be filled in with cut round plugs of old hull stock saved up.


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Patch applied to the inside of hull as a backing plate, hull cleaned first to resin layer, then bonded in place.

***Tip...When the backing is in place and before it sets up, go to the other side and clean up the holes there, use a rag with acetone on it...The theory is when set up you can just drop a round plug into the cleared hole and bond it into place without interference from epoxy that might ooze into that space.



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Plugs bonded to backing patch, when set in place gaps will be filled in and sanded smooth.

When the plug is in placed into and filling the round depressions the waxy paper trick outlined in earlier posts on this thread can work to fill any edge gaps left or a compatible sand-able filler too can be used.

In this repair we used extra 5 min bond and the "waxy paper trick"...Then we sanded it all using a non repeating orbital sander with vacuum attachment, we used Interlux WaterTite epoxy filler as a fairing compound follow up.


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Sanding after "waxy paper trick" using more bond to fill gaping, Interlux WaterTite epoxy filler fairing compound will finish it off to a smooth surface.

We like the fairing compounds as they set up as very sand-able material in the first 24 hours becoming harder in the second 24 hours of set time.

When adding the plugs into the holes to bond these plugs to the prior set into place backing we sand these plugs to the correct thickness so they "lay in" into their respective holes or sockets as flush as possible.

Using the waxy paper trick and more 5 min bond any gaping of edges is quickly filled.

Sanding is done with the non repeating orbital sander on a vacuum system "as outlined earlier in this thread" until smooth and level, we start with an 80 grit sanding disk working up to in stages to a 400 grit finish...In our pictures you can see the blueish epoxy material used as a fairing compound.


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Interlux WaterTite epoxy filler as a fairing compound has been applied and sanded, its now ready for the PrimeKote primer to prepare surface for Interlux Perfection.

The Interlux WaterTite epoxy filler works well and is the last thing done prior to a PrimeKote application step in the final hull surface preparation. We like the very lite texture of this filler, its sand-able nature after the first 24 hours before hardening is great. Do not sand earlier than 24 hours though as it will clog the grit up on the sanding surface if done to soon.

Note*** In the instructions that come with Interlux WaterTite epoxy filler it is stated that it cannot be used under PrimeKote 404 because the Interlux WaterTite epoxy filler is a below the waterline filler and the PrimeKote is not for below the water line use...On calling the manufacturer it is resolved that there is no incompatibility issues IF the area is not being used in a constant water environment.

There are no incompatibility of materials issues combining the two products as we did if not in a constant water environment...The issue is solely in the packaged print to protect the waterproof claim of the Interlux WaterTite epoxy filler product...When used with a topside finish system such as PimeKote and its surface is not the intended bottom of a boat it will work just fine.


We will continue posting in this area of our trailer remodel soon, still the access door "cut out" needs to be re-sized from larger to a smaller size and the new bulk heads installed...Then a deck to hold the 2 way refrigerator is needed with the water heater installed beneath it in this space, this should pretty much finish up this area.

A cabinet face will be made of oak and placed over the works to tie it all in seamlessly.

Happy Camping, Safe Trails.

Harry and Kenna
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Old 01-25-2010, 10:09 AM   #41
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(Refrigerator Compartment cont.)
Resizing one refrigerator access door size to another.


Below is a "before" picture of the refrigerator compartment with the workings removed. Towards the rear is a little of the foil backed insulation which is peeled back for view here. The "middle" bulkhead will be refashioned necessitating the re-sizing of the access door "cut out".
This seems to be allot of trouble but we will pick up 32 square inches of space per shelf on the stowage side of the bulkhead...

This is the difference of being able to slide in a 10 wide plastic container or a 12 inch wide container. Also its the difference of listening to Kenna complain about the space she needs to stow away her treasures while camping... Doing something about her complaints pretending to listen pays off dividends.

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What the outcome is of this project creates is an access door of a different size "smaller" so the middle bulkhead placement is using up some wasted space from earlier designs in the refrigerator compartment area, by transferring the savings to the shelf area that space gets larger. The interior patch to the right of the large "cut out" is barely visible once coated... The interior patch from the last sections heater vent repair is middle farther right from the "cut out".

Note* The epoxied in roof vent for the top refrigerator exhaust which also covered in earlier posts.


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Area re-done, hole re-sized, the white coating was left off around the "cut out" on purpose, we frame these in oak so the
doors have more to set into and their screws hold better.

After tearing out the rest of the structures in this area and getting down to the fiberglass work itself we must first clean off the years of paint around the areas that need to be bonded, as in earlier posts a wire brush and drill suffice, we wear masks that have rubber to exactly fit the face. Once cleaned to the resin layer, the area is washed and dried with water and a degreaser, then rinsed thoroughly...Then completely dried and washed again with acetone. This is again completely dried.

A piece of F.R.P. (fiberglass reinforced board) is cut to size, the "textured" side is lightly sanded so the orange peel texture is smooth on the tops of the peaks of the textured design, a little flattened out is all we do...It is not sanded entirely sanded flat and smooth.

Clean the sanded side with acetone and let dry too, this will be the bonding side to be epoxied to the prior cleaned interior of the hull over the area we want to cover. This piece provides the patch and the "backing panel" over the open space to close up, it provides a scaffold to work off of and makes any "plug" work.

We used the Loctite brand 5 minuet epoxy, as explained in earlier posts it is a bond designed to mate many different materials to many different materials...To provide a platform to this project this is the logical choice.

Once the cement is applied to the contact edges of the piece to be bonded on the hull cut wood scrap is used and clamps to hold it onto place...We like the spring clamps...They are fast...BEFORE THIS "SET UP" clean the other side while its still a liquid with a rag dipped in Acetone, any ooze must be handled NOW.

NOTE** We like to bond a minimum of 2 inches around any work.

The other side of this patch will be clean and free of any fill, it should be a depression exactly outlining the old gap...this is the gap that must be leveled in the next step.


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Cut and place backing piece, epoxy in lace and clamp using wood scrap around the plate, BEFORE EPOXY SETS remove any oozing epoxy on the other side, clean area with acetone, let "set up" until cured. When clamps are removed it should look like this.

When the epoxy is set, use metal tape on the other side pressing it into this depression, leave the backing on it so it molds but does not stick to the fiberglass hull, by pushing it into the depression we can make an exact model of the shape we will cut out of old stock, this new "cut out plug" made from this process will fit smartly and exactly into this place.


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When the plug is cut out (in this case old stock saved from prior work) the plug fits exactly with little gaping. There will be some thickness issues, is our case the rough texture of "shot" chop on the backside needed to be sanded down to achieve a level placement of the plug. We flip this over and sand to the correct thickness.

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Since we are allowed 5 pictures per post the rest of the steps will follow on the very next post...

See... (Refrigerator Compartment cont.)
Resizing one refrigerator access door size to another
Chapter 2.


Happy Camping, Safe Trails.
Harry & Kenna
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Old 01-30-2010, 04:14 PM   #42
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(Refrigerator Compartment cont.)
Resizing one refrigerator access door size to another
Chapter 2.


In the the post prior to this one we got as far as bonding the rear "backing plate" and the correct "cut out" made, the last image is my hand holding our piece in place to show how close the fit can be made using just the foil tape to model the piece needed being cut out of old stock saved from prior work.

Once this piece is made the thickness will be a little more than you will need, We do not like sanding from the gel coat side unless we must when we need to adjust the thickness of a project like this...exposed fiberglass fiber tends to be problematic. Exposed fibers can "wick" moisture or oils, and cannot be directly surfaced without a process to re-resin them by any coatings.

We took the piece and flipped it over sanding it down with our electric sander, masks were worn, a dual vacuum filter capture system was employed with the final stage of filtration being a H.E.P.A. filter. (see earlier posts for vac set ups)

The picture below shows this "plug" after the sanding process, my hand is holding the piece with the sanded resin side out, the gel-coat side is on the reverse of this view.


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Sanded "<span style="color:#ff00ff">cut out plug" ready
</span>
On a "plug" such as this we make a small 1/8 inch spaced trowel, its just a plastic scraper (best a polypropylene one) with cut notches on the edge 1/4 inch deep at a spacing of 1/8 inch apart, this allows us to evenly spread the 5 minuet epoxy evenly, leaving in the grooved application of glue/bond the space needed to for the adhesive to spread when pressure is applied without making a mess.


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Wearing gloves apply epoxy.

The piece is now ready to set into place, have everything set up and ready, clamps should be available and small wood blocks cut to size to spread the pressure from the clamps evenly across the work, We have the metal tape pre-cut with some strips that have the paper reversed on the tape so the waxy side is facing out, these lay under the blocks when pressing, ooze cannot stick to it.

We like to do the waxy paper trick (see earlier posts) at this time so any excess is automatically used as filler to be sanded later, this prevents dripping and reuses other wise waste towards a useful purpose try to place at the seams of the "cut out plug".


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Clamping, using scrap wood holds even pressure, wax
paper used on wood to prevent unintended bonding. Wax
tape trick used on seams under wood.



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Remove clamps, peel plastic away.

Skipping ahead of ourselves to a more finished state this view shows the now modified hatch size to the one we want, the finishing steps to get here will be covered in future posts.


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The size now adjusted and ready after sanding and
prepping for priming coat.


Thanks for following along.

Harry and Kenna
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