A Tale of Two CT13's - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-19-2019, 10:17 PM   #1
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Name: Ken
Trailer: UHaul
New Jersey
Posts: 58
A Tale of Two CT13's

Here's the synopsis...
I discovered fiberglass trailers here. But, when I decided to buy a UHaul CT13 (umm, actually TWO of them), I ended up joining the UHaul Camper Facebook group and started a thread there that followed my journey of the two CT13's.

I finally had time to come back and create a thread here that showcases the same journey for those that are interested and not a member of the facebook group. So, here goes...

CT13x2 Project
What's in a name?
CT13x2 is as the name implies, two CT13's. I recently bought a 1985 Grey CT13 followed by a 1987 White CT13. Each of these will be receiving some upgrades. The white one will be receiving a wealth of upgrades, akin to the exo-skeleton build by the Weatherholtz's. The grey one receives a few modest upgrades and will be sold. So, if anyone knows anyone that is interested, please spread the word.
Background :
First and foremost, a warm and friendly callout, and thank you, to the Weatherholtz's. When I stumbled across their CT13 Exo-Egg build project, I knew I was hooked. In short order I decided I had to do something similar. So, they are LITERALLY the reason I own a CT13....errr two of them. Short story, the original 1987 I wanted to buy was "unbuyable" due to some lacking registration issues. So, I found and bought another CT13. Then, the unbuyable CT13 became buyable. And, I really wanted that one specifically. So, the rest is history. I can't make this stuff up. LOL
White CT13 Plans:
Exo-Skeleton for support of rooftop Coleman Mach 8 Cub AC, kayaks, dual Renogy 100W solar panels and 4 high-powered LED lights. I purchased a ROLA roof basket with several lengthening inserts (for a total length of over 7') to avoid having to fabricate one. This saved a lot of fabrication time.
Exterior paint will be either silver of white. Pros and cons to each choice and still deciding.
Lift kit to raise it 3 inches off axle.
New rear lights
New hubs, wheels and tires. Wheels will be powder-coated black unless I can find some that are already black. I will be going to the 5x4.5 layout for convenience.
New rear bumper. Undecided on exact type.
All new window moldings and restored windows.
New Atwood furnace.
Dual propane tanks
New Furrion range
New Dometic glass-topped sink
New Dometic AC/DC portable refrigerator or other solution. Still considering.
New cabinet and countertop (overlay)
New electric water pump
New potable water tank
New grey water tank with slide valve.
New LED interior lighting
New cushions and covers
New table pedestal receptacle and pedestal
Retractable bed cushions (think futon)
Grey CT13:
Restore some missing gas lines
Install propane bottle mount
Install furnace
Install cooktop
Install battery
Touch-up paint
Thanks for reading!



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Old 10-19-2019, 10:27 PM   #2
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Name: Ken
Trailer: UHaul
New Jersey
Posts: 58
So, I am a structural engineer and a pro-photographer. And I decided to use my skillset to my advantage. So, I fully measured the frame and shot photos of all sides of the CT13, including the top using one of my drones. I then imported all of that to CAD and created complete drawings for the CT13, probably better than the original designer/fabricator ever had back in the 80's! LOL. I know, a little crazy, but I believe that planning is critical for a successful project. Also, speaking of skillsets, I am strong in woodworking and general fit-up, but weaker in welding and auto painting. So, I decided to subcontract out the weak stuff and keep the strengths in-house. Right now, the CT13 is at the fabricator’s shop having the exo-skeleton fabricated according to the drawings. They do a lot of roll cages and such for race cars. Very adept at bending, notching and welding thin wall tubing. I will be visiting them to take a look at it this week so stay tuned…

I also went through the entire frame and the susceptible areas seem to be the round tube mitered corners right behind the wheels. Makes sense since the wheels spray water and debris on that area constantly. There is a very minor amount of work to be done there. Once the fabricator has finished tack welding together the exo-cage, he will remove it from the CT13 and finish welding it and Powdercoating it at his shop. I will take the CT13 and remove the body from the frame. I already bought sections of the 2.5" OD frame tubing (pre-cut with miters!) and we will be sandblasting the frame, welding those new mitered corners in place and repainting the frame (or possibly Powdercoating depending on exo-cage schedule). But I do like your idea of drilling a weep hole at each of those corners to release any internal water, old or new!! As for the solar, I just received two Renogy 100W solar panels that will be mounted to the front and back like the Weatherholtz build. Once again, Dawn W. Thank you for planting this seed and providing so much information. It has been extraordinarily helpful to reduce the learning curve!!



These are the pre-cut pieces of the 2.5" OD thin wall tubing..

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Old 10-19-2019, 10:29 PM   #3
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Name: Ken
Trailer: UHaul
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Posts: 58
So I took a trip today to the fabricator. They welded the Rola rack together and framed out the opening over the roof opening, where the AC unit will sit. The rack is now positioned where it will finally reside. The frame extensions were tacked in place and we discussed a few of the base details. By that, I mean where the exo-cage will connect to the frame extensions. The original idea was to make the exo-cage removable. However, since the AC unit (Coleman-Mach 8 Cub) will sit in the roof basket and have a short collar to the roof shell opening, having a removable rack is kind of pointless. If it were to be removable, the AC unit would have to have a 120AC disconnect. So, this will require a little more thought. Incidentally, I was going to do the same AC solution as the Weatherholtz build, but was reluctant to lose the front floor space. If anyone has any thoughts on this, I would love to hear them. I am aware of the gas mileage hit as a con, but the pros are AC support, kayak support, solar panel support, LED spotlight support. Anyway, here are some pics. Not too much to see yet.....



CT13 on the lift with the Rola Rack..



Another angle . The rack is pushed towards the front for two reasons, first, the AC unit then occupies the rear part of the rack in its entirety. That leaves the greatest space in the front part of the rack for potential storage. And, also, when the support tubes are in place, it has a slightly aggressive look to it. The rack is approximately 7'-7" long with its two extension sections installed. The AC unit (Coleman Mach 8 Cub) weighs 87 pounds total and is about 41 inches long x 28 inches wide x 8" tall. It provides 9200 BTU's.

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Old 10-19-2019, 10:32 PM   #4
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Name: Ken
Trailer: UHaul
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So, two other concurrent things happening...A few interior appliance components have been ordered. As a chef, I NEED to have a good kitchen, so, I pulled out the stops on the range. I went with a Furrion triple burner with integral oven, in stainless. It shipped today.



I also ordered the sink and faucet and went with the Dometic glass-topped unit.



And Dometic folding faucet



I previously purchased a brand new Attwood Hydra-Flame Furnace Model 8012-II.



I did say TWO concurrent things. LOL. So, a close friend has a general purpose shop and the plan is, once the fab shop is done with the camper, I will bring it to my friend's shop. We will disconnect the body from the frame (how many elevator bolts?), garnet blast the frame, cut/weld/repair the corners (previously described), lift it 3" and paint it. if all goes as planned, that will happen this upcoming Friday and Saturday. Fingers crossed.
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Old 10-19-2019, 10:32 PM   #5
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Name: Ken
Trailer: UHaul
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Oh, and a reminder, the grey CT13 is FOR SALE. Just sayin'..
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Old 10-19-2019, 10:35 PM   #6
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Name: Ken
Trailer: UHaul
New Jersey
Posts: 58
The fabricator sent me a few photo updates, so I thought I would share...a small triangulated base was created to support the front vertical tubes and they will also support dual propane tanks if I go that route. I figured I would try the single tank first and see how far it gets me between the furnace, the oven and the water heater. If it doesn't last too long, I will resort to a dual tank setup.







the red is where the sloped members will go..
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Old 10-19-2019, 10:37 PM   #7
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Name: Ken
Trailer: UHaul
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New pics from the fabricator..starting with top angle...







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Old 10-19-2019, 10:41 PM   #8
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Name: Ken
Trailer: UHaul
New Jersey
Posts: 58
So, we hit a milestone today!!!! The exo-cage fabrication is done!! Wow, one week to do that. I am beside myself and quite happy with the result. We need to coat it and I am considering powdercoating vs painting. It will be price dependent. But here are some pics of the completed exo-cage..



Kinda looks like you are in the rib cage of a dinosaur!

View from a ladder..



In order to get the cage on and off, we added this special connector..



And, of course the requisite shower curtain hoop, a-la the Weatherholtz's!!! Thank you Brad and Dawn! You guys took a lot of the guesswork out of the project.



I decided to do things a little differently than Brad and Dawn though. We have two solid steel studs over which the hoop slides. I wanted something really tiny to not interfere with the look. The hoop will receive a removable cable in its center that will connect back to the upper safari rack rail that will keep the hoop in place and level....

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Old 10-19-2019, 10:43 PM   #9
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Name: Ken
Trailer: UHaul
New Jersey
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The two big decisions today were whether to go to a twin propane tank setup and how to stiffen up the exo-cage from fore-aft flex. I deliberated for awhile and finally decided to kill two birds with one stone. So, we decided to go with a twin bottle setup and ditched the single UHaul propane ring, but kept the lock-on cap. We welded bent diagonals to each side to serve two purposes. #1 is to stiffen the exo-cage, and boy did they! #2 was to protect the propane bottles from accidental impact or damage. Check! We angled them just enough to add a zoom factor and voila!



Here is a shot of the front of the cage with the now integral lock-on cap..



And a shot of the zoomy gussets..



We also added mounting tabs for a light at each of the 4 corners..



And of course there are tabs for the solar panels that will go in front and rear..

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Old 10-19-2019, 10:46 PM   #10
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Name: Ken
Trailer: UHaul
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The exo-cage was left with the fabricator for final weld touch-ups and to be prepped for finish. With the camper back in hand, tomorrow is the next hurdle. I head to a friend's shop and we will pull the body off the frame to repair and repaint the few minor issues with the frame. I have to disconnect all of the bolts and the gas lines and once the body is pulled, there are several tasks: Sandblast, 3" lift, rear corner replacement and repaint. I am expecting to get all that done in two days. Fingers crossed. Here is the collection of repair metals..



And this is how we are going to repair the two corners...




This is a photo of someone else's frame that I have used for reference to figure out our plan of attack. We will be replacing the two corners at the top of the photo, behind the hubs. And weep holes will be added to prevent the collection of water inside the tubes.

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Old 10-19-2019, 10:47 PM   #11
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Name: Ken
Trailer: UHaul
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So, new day and new shop! My friend was nice enough to invite me to use his shop for the UHaul frame rehabilitation. With the Exo-Cage now done, we are on to the factory frame repairs. The first order of business was to remove the body from the frame...



Most the bolts broke, even though they seemed to be in good shape. So, if anyone has a lead on a source for the replacement bolts that hold the body too the frame, please share. These are the bolts with the flat, round heads and a 7/16" nut.

Once the nuts on the bolts were removed, or the bolts broken, and the gas lines detached from the underside of the body, it was time to lift it off. We used a fork truck to do it..



It's temporary parking spot..

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Old 10-19-2019, 10:50 PM   #12
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Name: Ken
Trailer: UHaul
New Jersey
Posts: 58
First order of business for the frame was to pressure wash it to really see what needed to be repaired..



The surprising part is the the black paint was literally blasted right off with the pressure washer.

We welded in the 3" lift-kit tubes between the frame and axle..



Inserted a 3" riser in the center to keep everything aligned with the lift..



Finished the welding of the Exo-Cage supports..



And backed up the Exo-Cage supports in front too..

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Old 10-19-2019, 10:51 PM   #13
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Name: Ken
Trailer: UHaul
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Tomorrow, errr, later today, we will repair the only rust spot on the frame, the passenger-side rear corner. So, instead of the extensive replacement I had planned, we only need to replace a part of one tube. So, I grinded out the bad material and cut the new piece to fit. Clamped in place and ready to weld...



The other things that have to be welded tomorrow are the new wing plates that will allow the axle to be attached. It bears against the 3" tube, but the it has to attach to the frame with 4 bolts on each side. We fabricated 4 plates to facilitate this. They had to be drilled to receive the axle bolts and I have to tell ya, I hate drilling holes!

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Old 10-19-2019, 10:54 PM   #14
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Name: Ken
Trailer: UHaul
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Posts: 58
So, a lot of progress today! And milestone #2 was hit! Frame rehab...Done! This is the corner that needed the work. Instead of the original plan to cut out the entire corner, I opted to cut out a section and then cut out an identical section from the good tubes that I bought.



The lift weldments are welded in place. So, a little background. There are three points that have to receive lift blocks, at each side of the axle and at the center connection to the tongue. Here is a shot of one of the side assemblies. Oh, and a total of 14 large diameter holes had to be drilled in the three lift blocks (two tubes and one channel). They could have been welded in place, but I wanted to make sure the axle was completely replaceable with bolts only. I accomplished that, however, I never, EVER, want to drill 14 large diameter holes in steel ever, EVER, again!



Here is the frame after all of the fabrication and rust repairs have been done and the existing primer has been scuffed with a red scotchbrite pad. Basically, ready for paint..



And, now, milestone #2, frame finished. I forgot how fun auto-painting can be. I had so much fun painting this. If you look in the photo, there is a vertical steel tube right behind the "Uhaul pillar". That is what I have chosen to call it. It is where the propane cap sits. And, if you have been reading thus far, you would realize that the Uhaul pillar cap is now a permanent part of the exo-cage (picture above somewhere). Anyway, the vertical tube was installed to support twin propane tanks, suspended from the sides of the tube.

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Old 10-19-2019, 10:56 PM   #15
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Name: Ken
Trailer: UHaul
New Jersey
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Some new progress today..we forklifted the body back onto the newly restored frame...



And towed it away!

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Old 10-19-2019, 10:57 PM   #16
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Name: Ken
Trailer: UHaul
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The propane mounting brackets arrived today. Looks like a perfect fit. I didn't like the typical dual tank brackets sold everywhere, so I opted for heavy duty tank brackets like the original one that came on the CT13. They will attach to the opposing sides of the new propane stanchion tube we welded on this weekend..



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Old 10-19-2019, 10:58 PM   #17
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Name: Ken
Trailer: UHaul
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The Furrion range was delivered today. It looks like a mini pro range, just what the chef ordered! LOL.



It has a folding glass top that also acts like a backsplash.

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Old 10-19-2019, 10:58 PM   #18
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Name: Ken
Trailer: UHaul
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All of the new fasteners arrived today. They are for the attachment of the body to the frame. I sourced the elevator bolts and regular bolts and washers and nuts all in stainless steel from McMaster.com. Love them. I have purchased a lot of hardware from them over the years..


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Old 10-19-2019, 11:03 PM   #19
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Name: Ken
Trailer: UHaul
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So, today, I embarked on Phase 3. Incidentally, if you haven't been paying attention, Phase 1 was building the Exo-Cage. Phase 2 was repairing and modifying the main frame. Phase 3 is prepping and painting the shell. And Phase 4 will be the interior fit-up. In order to prep and paint the body, everything had to come off/out. Most of the items are being replaced anyway, so it killed two birds with one stone. So, cooktop, out. Sink, out. Ice chest, out. Range hood, out. campsite connection panel, out. Furnace, out. Breaker panel, out. Here are some progress pics..



The sink was, by far, the hardest to get out. That surprised me. I thought it would be easy. But the sealant used around the edge was tough.



The hood was pretty easy, but the exhaust vent appeared to have had some visitors at one point..



The visitors..





The ice chest was a little difficult since some of the bolts were a bit tough to reach..



The furnace was not too hard to remove. I have a new one that will be replacing it.





Did you guys know there is a furnace gas shut-off valve? It is right behind the battery testing panel..

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Old 10-19-2019, 11:05 PM   #20
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Name: Ken
Trailer: UHaul
New Jersey
Posts: 58
Oh, and lastly, I tried fitting up a replacement wheeled jack on the tongue to replace the tired old Uhaul unit. I first tried a Tractor Supply one wheel. Then a tractor supply two-wheel version and then I finally bit the bullet and ordered in a Fulton F2 with a double wheel and brake. It has a lifetime warranty and it is small and it fits. I have to weld on a plate to receive it, but at least that will fix that problem.



The old range hood will be replaced with this new one..



Oh, I guess I forgot to mention something. The reason I had to pull out all fo the interior stuff was because I can't stand the drab and depressing yellowish fiberglass interior. So, I am having it all sprayed bright white. That should lift the spirits a little!
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