Burro Rehab - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-22-2005, 06:58 PM   #1
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Trailer: 1985 17 ft Burro
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It has been awhile since I've updated the progress on the Burro Rehab. A little recap of where we started...bought the Burro August 2005 on Ebay. I would have gone several hundred miles (possibly thousands) but got lucky and found this one 100 miles south. Since we didn't know the condition of coupler, wheels, axle, frame, and wiring, we decided to piggy back it onto a flatbed trailer. This was no easy feat. This is a wide-body Burro and we had 1/2 inch clearance between wheel wells on both sides, and it took us 3 hours to muscle it up onto the trailer. In retrospect, I would do it again, it was nice to have peace of mind on the highway.

Gutted it out completely as the previous owner had made several large wooden cabinets and structures in the Burro. Very heavy, and mildewy.

Discovered that the floor was 75% rotten. Just beneath the top layer of fiberglass the plywood had been reduced to wood chips. The awning attachment may have contributed as it was several cup hooks just screwed into the top of the egg. May have been the front window shield that was screwed directly into the egg. But it also appeared that the spray from tires had worn out the fiberglass and allowed water to enter freely in front and back of the wheel. This baby has many problems but it is so much fun learning how to rehabilitate it.

This is what we have done...Replaced axle with Dexter 22.5 degree down, with electric brakes, 5 on 4.5 hubs. Rather than mess with measurements that I may screw up, the local RV place suggested we just send Dexter the old axle so that they may replicate it. Cost $400.

Changed to 14" wheels for additional height. Bought St205/75R14 "C" rated radials from Belle Tire for $100 a piece with wheels. They will balance them for me once the Burro is on the road.

Completely sandblasted old frame and painted with POR 15 rust preventative that I bought online from the POR15 site. I bought a quart of the POR15 paint and a quart of the Black Cote (top coat) for $64.00. I just about used the whole quart of POR15 preventative but could have gotten away with a pint of the top coat. As it is only needed on the areas that are exposed to UV rays….bumper and front of frame.

Had a local fiberglass place take 4 sheets of exterior grade plywood, and coat both sides with 3 layers of fiberglass. They also sprayed black gel coat on the bottom to waterproof the underside.

I cut out what was left of the old floor. Made a pattern of the perimeter of egg out of large pieces of cardboard, placed it on the complete rectangle of fiberglassed, sandwiched plywood and started cutting. At this point the egg was suspended by 4 x 6 posts in our pole barn that had two 2 x 8 cross members. We could slide the flooring under the egg to check for proper fit, then trim, check for fit, and make minor adjustments. Then strapped the floor to the egg for fiberglass pros to finish glassing underside of flooring and inside edges of flooring to the shell.
We then dropped the egg onto the frame and strapped it to the frame.

Just had the neighbor weld on a new coupler, rated for 5000 lbs., $30 at Tractor Trailer Supply. Weld on a single step with bracket $15 at Tom’s Borderline Bargains (RV surplus south of Kalamazoo), and two lightweight stabilizers at rear ($15 ea at Bontrager’s RV Surplus…south of Kzoo.)

Pictures of new flooring on freshly painted frame and new axle/wheel assembly.
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Old 11-22-2005, 07:15 PM   #2
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Egg strapped to floor and frame headed down the road to neighbor’s house.



Next chapter: Rig up some taillights and take 15 miles to fiberglass pro shop to finish fiberglassing of floor to shell. Then I can permanently attach floor to frame via stainless steel carriage bolts. Taking great care to drill out holes, soak with resin, then install bolt with marine glue. I want this egg to outlast me.
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Old 11-22-2005, 08:14 PM   #3
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I can't wait for the next chapter! I was wondering how the project was coming along.
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Old 11-22-2005, 08:46 PM   #4
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Old 11-22-2005, 09:09 PM   #5
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Good Job Donna!

Roger
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Old 11-22-2005, 09:36 PM   #6
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............................Whoa...And I thought my Burro rehab was serious.

Will you be replacing the front window with new? If so is your rough opening 18 x 46" like mine? I just got an estimate on a custom built. I would like to upgrade to something that swings out instead of slides and maybe don't leak. But All-Rite's custom-build estimate comes to nearly as much as I paid for this egg. I need a second opinion.
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Old 11-23-2005, 08:36 AM   #7
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Myron,

I just removed my front window, cleaned up the fin on it, and sanded the area inside and outside of the shell. I have a rock guard on mine. I also took off all that hardware which was a mess. My front window did not appear to leak. I have hopes that by doing a solid reinstallation on the rock guard hardware, it will act as a deflector for water running towards the top of the front window.

Another option would to have a solid piece of Plexiglas for a front window and not have an opening window. It would make the bend easy. That should not cost much?

Gary
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Old 11-23-2005, 11:01 AM   #8
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Thanks for the encouragement...would not have had any courage to attempt a project this size without all of you. Thanks to you all!

I removed all the windows because there are several holes throughout the exterior and the whole egg needs fiberglass patching here and there, with a complete paint job inside and out. Thought I'd keep the windows out until painting is done.
I cleaned the windows in the bathtub and realized that there was thick mold growing in the bottom inside rubber seal. My sense of smell is very acute and this will be a problem if condensation should get trapped and grow mold once they are installed in the egg. Wonder if anyone else has noticed mold in the grooves?

I like the windows just as they are and hope to rebuild the originals with help from the local auto glass shop.

The rubber on the windows appears to have shrunken a bit, leaving 1/8" gaps at corners. The previous owner had applied silicone in these corners. I removed silicone and tried to stretch the rubber back into place while wet but the rubber just retracted. The smoked plexiglass is scratched on the large front and back windows so I think I will talk to a relative who owns a sign shop to see if they could provide new smoked plexiglass. Although I wonder if glass would be better due to the fact that plexiglass is easy to scratch anytime you clean it.

I am going to take the windows to the local auto glass place to see how much they would charge to replace rubber and install furnished plexiglass (or glass?) ...basically rebuild the window with supplied hardware. Will let you know how that works out.
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Old 11-24-2005, 08:30 AM   #9
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Donna,

Use glass. You'll be so much happier! That was always something I was never happy with in the Burro, but that I wasn't going to spend money to change out because the stock windows were perfectly functional, and not "too" scratched up. My "new" Scamp has glass, and while I'm sure they're a little heavier than the plexi windows, there's just no comparison to the plexi. They operate more smoothly, provide better sound insulation, and are much easier to see through.

Myron,

Check with some of the RV salvage yards across the country. If you can specify what size and style window you're after, they may be able to help you out for substantially less than custom-ordering a new window.

Roger
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Old 11-25-2005, 08:43 AM   #10
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Here's some information I've kept regarding polishing plexiglass windows. Polishing compound is pretty dang cheap in comparison to replacing the plexi. I think I'd give this a try first...but of course I prefer glass!

Quote:
I have a 10" Random Orbital Buffer (RO that I got at Harbor Freight a few years ago. It was about $15 and extremely lightweight, works very well. I had been using it on my daily-driver and it keeps that car looking better than factory new.

It's working well on the Egg, too. I've been using Meguiar's Cleaner Wax and that product line seems very compatible with both the car and the fiberglass trailer. It's only a question of making enough time to do the job properly.

I have a couple of problem areas on the trailer that are going to need special attention, and that's what I'd like to talk about.

First, the vinyl BURRO logos on both sides look faded and seem to have stains from the gelcoat decomposing. The ROB wasn't making much headway, so I decided to go another route with those. I chucked a 4" linen buffing wheel (available at any hardware store, and most auto parts outlets) into a drill motor and loaded it with tripoli polishing compound.

The type of polishing compound that you use on these buffing wheels usually comes in stick form, and several different grits are available, ranging from coarse to extremely fine. Each type has a different color, tripoli being blue. Tripoli is a fine compound, but not the finest.

Using the tripoli wheel, I polished out the vinyl logos. They came clean after just a few minutes, then I changed to a different linen wheel (don't mix compounds on the same wheel) and used rouge - red colored - extremely fine compound to finish up.

The logos look brand-new, except for the small nicks in the vinyl that you'd get over time anyway.

The second problem I found was that all the windows are plexiglas. Most of them were stained on the outside, and scratched and dirty on the inside. Normally, when you encounter plexiglas in this condition, you replace it.

While using the linen wheel on my car's headlights (those of you who have older Fords will know about the foggy yellow headlight problem!) I've achieved fantastic results, so I removed the sliding parts of each window and took them into the cool house to work on them. The fixed parts of the windows I'm working on in the cool morning hours...

Using the same tripoli and rouge polishing compounds that I used on the logos (and my car's headlights) I've managed to return those old plexi windows to 99%-new condition.
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Old 11-25-2005, 03:59 PM   #11
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Donna D,

I am stoked on your idea of buffing out the windows. I have enough $$ into my trailer and this seems a good way to go. They work well, why not keep them for another 20 years?

Thanks
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Old 05-27-2006, 05:10 PM   #12
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Trailer: Burro 1982 13 ft
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Myron,

I just removed my front window, cleaned up the fin on it, and sanded the area inside and outside of the shell. I have a rock guard on mine. I also took off all that hardware which was a mess. My front window did not appear to leak. I have hopes that by doing a solid reinstallation on the rock guard hardware, it will act as a deflector for water running towards the top of the front window.

Another option would to have a solid piece of Plexiglas for a front window and not have an opening window. It would make the bend easy. That should not cost much?

Gary
Gary, we just bought an 82 Burro. Do you have any pics of yours? Is yours a 13 foot like mine?
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Old 06-22-2006, 07:19 PM   #13
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Trailer: 1985 17 ft Burro
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Another chapter...rebuilding windows. Jason, another member with his Burro window currently apart, has prompted me to post an update on the rebuilding of my windows.

They are completely out of the trailer and all windows have minor scratches and some sections of rubber molding is hard as a rock. I took the windows to 4 different glass places and 2 different RV places in the greater Ann Arbor area and no one could rebuild or offer the molding needed to rebuild these. I thought I had found a local source for the plexi-glass until they checked into pricing. They said that I would have to purchase a whole 4' x 8' piece and have it cut...a minimum of $240. So i will be buffing these out as others have mentioned. One piece was broken so buffing is not an option. Luckily, I found a small piece of smoked plexi at Menards. Used the old piece as a template and with dremel tool, cut new plexi. Looks great.

On my windows (Burro originals) the small molding that holds the plexi in place has deteriorated. The large vertical molding is still pliable. Finally, after weeks of searching online I came across RV Glass Solutions. They have a website www.coachglass.com with a molding guide in pdf format with actual sizes of molding. One piece in particular looked like a close match (M18) so I called and asked if they could send a sample. They mailed me a 1' section and it fits perfectly. I called today to order 30' but had to run out and missed their call. I am not sure how much this will cost but the two girls I have talked to on the phone are very sweet and follow through promptly.

Here is the link to the molding guide along with their address and phone #.

RV Glass Solutions - Coach Glass Molding Guide
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Old 06-22-2006, 08:37 PM   #14
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Donna, I expect a personal tour of your Burro when you're finished! Good job tracking down the weather seal stuff!

Roger
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