Bye bye belly band! - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-19-2011, 06:58 PM   #1
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Trailer: Trillium 4500
Posts: 163
Bye bye belly band!

I finally got tired of looking at the 30+ years of bandaids sitting on top of my belly band and decided to do what the factory should have done in the first place; eliminate it.
Here's a step by step:

Tools- 4.5" angle grinder
palm sander
drill
pliers
respirator
ear and eye protection
chisel
widget

Suplies- Bondo Glass (short strand)
Bondo Ultimate body filler
Bondo spreaders
80 grit flap disc for grinder
80 grit sanding pads for palm sander
nitrile gloves
rags
stir sticks
paint roller trays
ultra smooth high density foam rollers and frame
denatured alcohol
enamel reducer
grey lacquer primer
paint-Omni AE acrylic enamel, Isuzu Parthenon Ivory #91110

First step- Remove old belly band. Mine mostly just pulled off but, you may need to drill out some of the rivets.

Pretty ugly under there. If you think your's doesn't look like this, I got a river in Egypt I'd like to show ya. The next step is the most pain staking of the whole project; removing the 30+ years of silicone, caulk, silicone, caulk, ect. I used a chisel, a widget, and elbow grease. I didn't worry too much about residue because I knew the most of the surface was was going to be ground/sanded away.

All but one of the metal plates were totally rusted. This corrosion had reeked all kinds of havoc with the glass that was surrounding them, leaving big bulges and irregularities all over; I highlighted them with a red marker.

Next I went to town with the angle grinder/80 grit flap disc. My goal was to create a "below grade" trench throughout the center +/- 2" of the belly band area, and expose as many of the rotten metal plates as possible, being careful not to disturb the inner layer of glass holding the camper together. This was DIRTY, nasty work. Respirator, gloves, headphones were a must, a full tyveck suit would have been a good idea.

Yank out as many exposed plates as possible with pliers.
Now I cleaned all exposed areas with denatured alcohol, and filled the main seam and all big holes with Bondo Glass. This stuff kicks fast so I was was only able to mix/apply about a golf ball sized glob at a time. By the time I made it around the camper, the starting point was ready for sanding. 80 grit on the palm sander was perfect.

Next I cleaned with DA again, filled all remaining low spots with Bondo body filler, sanded, filled, sanded, until flush and fair. This took me about 4 coats, each easier than the one before it.


Now I cleaned the area yet again and prepped for painting with blue masking tape.

Into the paint booth! (It started raining) Rolled on the primer.

Lightly sanded the primer, cleaned with a damp rag, then rolled on the first coat of paint. I rolled on two coats and was unhappy with some bubbling I was having so I let it dry overnight, light sand to remove the offending bubbles, thinned the paint just a touch with enamel reducer, and rolled on a final coat. Perfect!
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I think it turned out pretty damn good. I'd had no prior autobody/fiberglass repair experience. It took me 3 days but could easily be done in a weekend with this as a guide.
Don't be afraid!
Scott
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Old 05-19-2011, 10:33 PM   #2
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Name: Kristopher
Trailer: 197x Boler
British Columbia
Posts: 20
I decided to do this to my boler since it is a full build from a shell anyways. Maybe a huge mistake as the top and bottom halves are not aligned that carefully when put together so they don't line up perfectly when the band is gone. This means a whole lot more filling and sanding.

Great job on the writeup. I'm still curious to see how the boler will look once paint is on.
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Old 05-19-2011, 11:02 PM   #3
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Name: Roy
Trailer: 1972 boler American and 1979 Trillium 4500
Ontario
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Scott,
I tried a few of your photo links and got the following:

Invalid Attachment specified. If you followed a valid link, please notify the administrator
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Old 05-20-2011, 06:54 AM   #4
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Me too! I can only see the last four pictures.
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Old 05-20-2011, 09:11 AM   #5
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Yea, don't know what happened there, and I can't figure out how to edit my post. If anyone has some hints I'll give it a try, otherwise I'll just post the pics in a new reply.
Scott
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Old 05-20-2011, 09:45 AM   #6
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Trailer: Trillium 4500
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Here's another try at some pics.
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Still can't seem to get the order right.
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Old 05-20-2011, 09:50 AM   #7
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Trailer: Trillium 4500
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Some more.
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Old 05-20-2011, 10:40 AM   #8
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Name: Marjie
Trailer: Trillium 4500
New York
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Scott H.,
Thanks so much for all the great info., and pictures! Just in time for our Memorial Day weekend summer project. We started this last year actually, and didn't take our time and needless to say....it doesn't look so good.
Your trailer looks terrific, and I don't think it is missing the belly band at all.
Marjie
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Old 05-20-2011, 11:51 AM   #9
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My question is just what is holding the top half to the bottom half besides one or two layers of fiberglass cloth on the inside.

Bill K
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Old 05-20-2011, 12:30 PM   #10
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Name: Francesca Knowles
Trailer: '78 Trillium 4500
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I'm pretty sure that the only thing that's ever held the two halves together is the inside glasswork combined with the glassed-on cabinetry etc. People should always keep that in mind when doing reno's on Trilliums!
The only purpose of the outside "hump" is to hold the steel tabs that began to rot the instant Trillium put aluminum rivets in them way back when.
Steel + Aluminum= electrolysis= rotten steel.
It would be interesting to know whether the "new" Trilliums now in production are being similarly "equipped".

Scott:
Fabulous and thorough job!
Thanks for the very comprehensive explanation of how to go about this- I've been putting it off for five years, and may attempt to do it now that I've seen the success of your efforts!

Francesca
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Old 05-20-2011, 12:34 PM   #11
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Bill you are correct, 2 layers of fiberglass cloth on the inside and now some Bondo on the outside, which is more than was holding things together before this project!
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Old 09-05-2011, 01:11 PM   #12
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Name: John
Trailer: Trillium 1977 1300
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott H View Post
Into the paint booth! (It started raining) Rolled on the primer.

Lightly sanded the primer, cleaned with a damp rag, then rolled on the first coat of paint. I rolled on two coats and was unhappy with some bubbling I was having so I let it dry overnight, light sand to remove the offending bubbles, thinned the paint just a touch with enamel reducer, and rolled on a final coat. Perfect!

I think it turned out pretty damn good. I'd had no prior autobody/fiberglass repair experience. It took me 3 days but could easily be done in a weekend with this as a guide.
Don't be afraid!
Scott
Hi Scott, All,

Is there any downside to priming/painting 1 week (maybe longer) after applying the Body Filler and sanding?

I want to do the same but may not have enough time to do everything in 1 week.

Thanks...John
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Old 09-05-2011, 03:08 PM   #13
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Trailer: 1970 Boler
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you should be fine, the bondo is not water soluable like house hold stuff you use on drywall. The hardner in that suff dries super hard.

The two layers of fiberglass around the inside should be plenty strong
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Old 10-20-2011, 09:18 PM   #14
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Trailer: 1979 Trillium 4500
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I've been through the same process, and he's right it is not a pretty or fun project but is well worth it ,imho. I think trilliums look better w/out the belly band. The body detail where the band is looks good with out the metal accent. As a bonus you know you will never have to worry about leaks in that area again, let alone swells and bumps under the band.
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