Improving door fit due to body sag - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-05-2008, 07:14 PM   #1
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Name: Roy
Trailer: 1972 boler American and 1979 Trillium 4500
Ontario
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Warning, this is a long post describing a complex problem which required many different fixes and modifications. The entire explanation will have to be spread out over a few posts due site limitations.

Before attempting to fix my door which was ill fitting, did not close properly and frequently sprung open while towing; I searched the internet, looked at every trailer and every fix I could find.

I discovered that there are 4 types of problems that are common in the boler, Scamp and their various offspring. The problems are:

1. The door is warped
2. The body is warped
3. The hinges are loose, worn or both
4. A combination of any of the above.

My door was fine. There are a lot of good fixes for warped doors posted here and elsewhere. I’d suggest you determine which of those might best suit your needs if a warped door is your problem.

My hinges were both loose and worn. Hinge ball kits can be bought from Scamp trailers and work equally well on the bolers and their offspring. Just keep in mind that when you buy a “set”, you are buying the parts for just one hinge. One set includes a bolt, brass ball, spring, washer and nut. So buy 2 sets to do both hinges. The complete hinge can be purchased. Please keep in mind the Scamp hinge is attached by three screws on the door where other trailers are only attached by two.

Various sources state that since fiberglass is flexible the bodies on these trailers bows out like a balloon that has been squished from the top. To determine where and how my body was warped I made a wooden template to match the curvature of the body at the corners of the trailer. The template is first shown on the rear streetside corner below.


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When the template is moved forward to the front edge of the streetside window I found the lower body matched the curvature, yet was slightly bowed outwards where the top edge of the lower cabinets meets the lower edge of the window. The upper curvature closely matched the template along the frame of the window. The body seemed to be kinked outwards in the area of the lower edge of the window and the upper edge of the lower cabinets. Structurally this makes sense since the upper portions were supported by both the upper cabinet and the window frame and the lower part by the lower cabinet. In my trailer the rivets holding the wrought iron support had broken off allowing the body to flex outwards at the weakest point. Later on I’ll show pictures of what was happening on the inside of the trailer at this point as I begin to show my fix.


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Moving the template forward to the midpoint of the streetside cabinets, I found the body was more uniformly bowed outwards. This made sense because the body was not structurally tied to a large window or a cabinet edge.


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Further ahead the body more closely resembles the rear corner because it is structurally supported by the front corner, the cabinets and the lower bench.


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The rear curbside corner is similar. The template is away from the body on the lower half for 2 reasons. The seam at the belly band is slightly offset and the bottom portion of the body is longer and therefore shaped differently curbside than streetside.


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Moving the template forward to the front of the curbside window in the area of the rear of the closet, I found the body to reasonably match the template except in the area of the window. It seemed that the top of the window was pulled inwards. This really made no sense until I did my floor a year later. It turns out that the dinette bench on that side was made a little too long on its upright side which forced the closet to twist forward. This caused a dimple in the area near the top right corner of the window and a bowing out on the top left corner of the door frame.


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Bringing the template further forward to the latch side of the door you can see it matches the body fairly closely except for a hollow just behind the top left of the door frame. I feel the hollow is due to the torsion of the closet explained previously.


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Continuing forward to the hinge area, the template closely matches the area of the body where it is supported by the square tubular frame is on the inside. Yet that entire area is bowed outwards at both ends of the frame. One would think that structurally the front bench would prevent this from happening on the lower portion but this is not the case since the bench does not vertically attach to the side walls. I should mention that the plywood laminated horizontally to the inside of the trailer wall supporting the front bench had separated in this area and needed to be reglued.


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I feel this lack of support in combination with the added weight of the door and torsion due to the closet twisting were all responsible for the stress crack on the top right corner of the door frame.


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To be continued ....

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top_left_frame.jpg  
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Old 08-05-2008, 09:10 PM   #2
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Trailer: 1972 boler American and 1979 Trillium 4500
Ontario
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Part 2

The lower hinge was broken off the door, the upper hinge was being pulled outwards from the body by the weight of the door.


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Comparing the door to the body, it appears as if the door lost its curvature at the top and bottom portions moving away from the trailer body. In my situation I felt the door was intact and the body had warped even though the body is supported by the square tube inside near the hinges. The one thing that made me feel that way was the fact that the door shape matched the body shape generally where the square tube was.


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Looking at the top of door, one can see the body bows inwards just above the square support tube making it appear as if the door is sticking out


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The bottom of the door appears to start sticking out from where the square tube ends. In reality, the body is bowing in. There is a piece of plywood laminated to body in this area, which is screwed to the frame that appears to provide support for the body in this area. In my case the body was delaminated from the plywood which could be easily moved about the screws.


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When I jacked up the roof near the front edge of the door the body pulled in and the apparent difference in curvatures diminished. All the above indicated my problem was primarily that the trailer body was warped rather than the door being warped.


Moving inside the trailer, I noticed the bottom left corner of the kitchen cabinet was warped from previously trying to support the weight of the lower cabinet, upper cabinet and roof. All this weight simply sits on two narrow sections of cut fiberglass as the bottom front of the lower cabinet is simply hanging free to allow for a “kick space”. These pictures show the fiberglass warped from all the weight it carried over the years.


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This describes what I've seen as the various problems. I start describing the solutions in Part 3 next ...

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loose_wood.JPG   cab_front.JPG  

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Old 08-05-2008, 09:27 PM   #3
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Trailer: 1972 boler American and 1979 Trillium 4500
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Part 3

This is the point where I started my body & door fix. I jacked up the roof until the weight came off that end of the cabinet. Then clamped and glassed pieces of wood to the inside of the cabinet straightening the warped portions while providing structural support for the load this area is subject to.


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Once this had cured, I clamped my template to the window frame / body and pushed the body inwards till it matched the template.


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Inside I jacked up the roof and upper cabinet before attaching the wrought iron supports to the lower cabinet with 3 pairs of pop rivets instead of the original 2. You can see in the last picture the wear marks from the wrought iron supports where the rivets had broken free.


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The plywood front seat support was then clamped and glued back together.


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I brought the wooden template used to compare the curvatures to Athlone Metal Products in Toronto to build me an aluminum frame to match the body curvatures. I also brought a cardboard template of the door so they could match the size and shape of the door opening. I had also asked them to weld a couple of tabs onto the hinge side to provide better support for the hinges. They gave me 4 pieces to fit before final welding. 2 pieces of flat stock aluminum were bent for the uprights for the hinge and cabinet sides of the door and 2 thinner pieces that were cut and bent to match the top portion of the door between the two uprights.

Initially both uprights had two tangs welded on for the hinges (a misunderstanding). It turns out that they found a wider piece of stock aluminum so I didn’t need any tangs welded on at all to fit the mounting for the hinges and cut them off. The two uprights were 1-1/2” x 3/8” flat aluminum and the door frame top was cut from 2 sheets of 3/16” sheet aluminum then bent to match the curve. I had to shorten the closet side to allow for the forward edge of the wheel well. After fitting and marking all 4 pieces I brought them up to GC Alloyweld in Toronto to do the final welding. This is what the frame looked like before installing.


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I temporarily positioned the frame, jacking it up with the roof and temporarily clamping it to the body. It was a process of adjusting everything while using the wooden template till I got the best fit. I used a combination of SS machine bolts with washers and lock nuts, rivets and the door hinges to secure the frame in place. I worked my way down from the top in a side to side fashion. I even replaced the 2 large eye bolts the previous owner had installed to hold a security bar across the door with SS ones through the frame. I initially thought they installed the bar to keep the door closed while travelling, then I figured out that all one had to do was to remove the 2 nuts holding the hinge balls in place and the door could be easily removed even if it was locked. Anybody with a pair of pliers essentially had a key to my trailer and its contents.


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I'll post the 4th and final part of this series in a few days ... if it stops raining long enough to get the trim painted and installed so I can take pictures of the finished project to post.

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Old 08-05-2008, 10:16 PM   #4
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Trailer: Boler 1984
Ontario
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Quote:
I clamped my template to the window frame / body and pushed the body inwards till it matched the template.


Attachment 14977


As there has never been any upper cabinets supports in our Boler, and there is a bit of body sag in that area,
I have thought about what you are trying to accomplish and am in agreement. Great pictures. Looking forward to the rest.
Questions....
When pushing like this from outside, didn't it just move the trailer sideways? Or did you add equal and opposite pressure from the other side?
How much did it have to move to bring it back in line?
How much tension/pressure, when jacking the roof and upper cabinet will they take, before something goes CRACK? Scarry thought!
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Old 08-05-2008, 11:38 PM   #5
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Trailer: 1972 boler American and 1979 Trillium 4500
Ontario
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Quote:
Questions....
When pushing like this from outside, didn't it just move the trailer sideways? Or did you add equal and opposite pressure from the other side?
How much did it have to move to bring it back in line?
How much tension/pressure, when jacking the roof and upper cabinet will they take, before something goes CRACK? Scarry thought!
Thanks James,

I suppose if I overdid it I could CRACK something, in the grand scheme of things it did not take a lot of pressure. The fiberglass is somewhat flexible, try lifting your roof by hand from the inside and you'll see what I mean. I know a large pine tree had fallen on my trailer and was left there a while before I bought it. There was a couple of punctures in the roof, but no serious cracks. The crack at the door frame was there long before the tree fell.

The "roof jack" was one of those things used to hold loads from shifting in a Pick UP truck bed, I lifted as much as I needed turning it by hand. The side brace was held in place with a spring clamp on one side and wedged against a wrought iron railing on the other. I tapped it into position with a hammer. I didn't need to brace the trailer from the other side, since I only used just enough pressure to hold the wall in line. If you look closely at the picture you quoted, I left a gap in the template for variations in the belly band, all the pressure applied was on the walls and not on the belly band.

The scissor jack looks deceptively a lot stronger than I needed but it gave me the control to lift the upper cabinet precisely to align the original rivet holes. The C clamps holding the template in the picture you chose merely acted as a 4th and 5th set of hands. It may look like I was using the BIMFORD approach, but in reality, it was a lot of back and forth fine adjustments till I felt I had things positioned just right.

If you look at the 4th picture in Part 3 you can see approximately how much I had to lift by comparing the black wear marks (from the broken rivets) on the fiberglass to the rivets above the marks once back in their original position. Less the amount of lift due to the bow in the lower cabinet.

I should mention there was a bit of a "spring back" when I removed the jacks and clamps.

I think I still have my template in the garage. I might be passing by your area in the next couple of weeks, I can drop it off for you to use if you like.

Roy
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:24 AM   #6
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Roy, thanks for the offer but I think that I am almost done fixing for this year. Just some outside painting on the bottom half where I changed the marker lights, repaired a crack in the wheel well area and add a couple of hatches. Now just to enjoy it on a couple of small trips and the Wine Tour Weekend.
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Old 08-07-2008, 02:20 PM   #7
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great post. I believe that's the problem with mine although built a bit differently.
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Old 09-06-2008, 03:50 PM   #8
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Once the frame was installed I repaired the stress crack in the top right corner of the door and reinstalled the closet. The forward edge of the closet that attaches to the side of the trailer had to be slightly modified to pass over the frame. While doing the FG repair, I also patched up the holes in the roof and the door where the lower door hinge had broken off. The Ensolite was reglued and the door was hung.


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The door now swings and closes the way it was meant to. It does not pop open while travelling and the roof no longer leaks. This year we finished reattaching the Ensolite everywhere in the trailer, filled the seams latex caulking, reapplied the seam tape and painted the interior. I still have to finish repairing the gel coat; hopefully I can get to that next year. I intend to put a second coat of paint on the inside and replace the trim with new after the gel coat.


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The pictures above also show the new ST145/R12 tire and rim on the new 5 bolt trailing arm axle. It fits nicely for esthetics. I’ll post a separate thread about that with links available from the thread on the rest of our restoration.

In hindsight, the aluminum stock bars used were wider than we initially thought of using. Welding tabs on to connect to the hinges and then cutting them off was a waste. I think this would have worked as well with a straight piece of the stock bar (used for the sides of this frame) welded straight across the top of the door frame rather than the two curved pieces which had to be welded together. I could have saved a hundred dollars or more with just those two changes. (8 aluminum welds plus two additional sizes of stock aluminum)
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Old 09-06-2008, 05:04 PM   #9
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Whew! That's a lot of work.

Our Scamp also had some door issues. I found that the factory used some fiber board to provide separation for the inner and outer skins of the door. It was completely saturated with water and made the door extremely heavy.

To rectify this, I cut out and discarded the inner skin. Then I was able to dig out the saturated fiber board. Once this was done the curvature of the door correctly matched the side of the trailer.

I have also thought about the hinges, that a person with a couple of 7/16" wrenches could open the door, locked or not. However it might save the trailer some body damage if I lose my key!!!

That stated, I don't think a fiberglass RV is very secure in the first place, nor is any RV. Most any honest man could get in with little trouble in a few minutes. A thief would be in in a flash. Note that all the windows are secured with screws that take a simple 1/4" hex, the kind that any electric screw driver come with.

But your lock bar is about as much deterrent as could be designed.
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Old 03-29-2009, 09:19 PM   #10
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My door was fine. There are a lot of good fixes for warped doors posted here and elsewhere. I'd suggest you determine which of those might best suit your needs if a warped door is your problem.
I do have a warped door on my 73 boler. I have searched this site and a few others, and have not been able to come up with anything. I've used parameters like door, and warped door, and door fix, and door fitment....all the search results are the same and don't seem to have much to do with the door. any help? sorry to thread hijack, just a little lost
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Old 03-29-2009, 10:34 PM   #11
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Trailer: 1974 Boler 13 ft (Neonex/Winnipeg)
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Hi Nate,

I've had similar issues using the search function here, even though I do some Internet searching as part of my job. Not sure what I'm doing wrong.

As a workaround, I've been using Google's search feature. Here is an example of the structure; just type exactly this into a Google search box, with whatever term(s) you want before the part that starts with "site" (and incidentally this search shows a number of door threads if you run it for real -- I happened to know a member named Con posted some door stuff, so I included his name):

con boler door site:fiberglassrv.com

I'll be curious to hear others' comments on the search feature though.

Raya
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Old 03-30-2009, 07:39 AM   #12
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thanks for your help. going to try the aluminum angle and threaded rod to pull the bottom of the door in.

the search function on this site seems to lack...
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Old 03-30-2009, 08:16 AM   #13
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I can understand frustratations using Search. The moderating team works hard to make certain topic titles are meaningful. There probably isn't anyone who uses Search more than I. It really is pretty easy. But, then again.... I've read every single post on FiberglassRV... at least once! So, I know what to look for and who posted. For instance, searching for this door problem. I searched for: +Scamp +fix* +warp and only in the All About Our Unique Little Molded Fiberglass Trailers Subforums topics (certainly didn't need General Chat, Rallies or For Sale). I also set the search to display as posts... so I could see what was posted. This is the one I was looking for: Warped Scamp Door, How to repair

It's a training issue and the more you use Search the better you'll get.

Hope this helps.
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Old 06-04-2009, 10:13 AM   #14
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Well, I was lucky. I am currently restoring a '73 Boler 1300. I had a few cracks in the frame, and the door sagged. I decided to attack the frame first. I removed the body which is a big job, then found there were a number of places the frame was lightly cracked and out of shape. I took it into a welding shop. They fish plated the frame in a number of places to strengthen it up and straighten it out. Last weekened I put the body back on and be darned if my door isn't hanging straight now. I suggest here that in some cases your doors may be sagging due to a bent or cracked frame as mine was. I'm glad I didn't attempt to try rehanging the door before I had the frame looked at. By the way I Rhino coated the frame after it was welded up. It should last forever now. $2000 later. May I suggest that this doesn't necessarily mean you need to remove your fiberglass bodies entirely. If your frames are in decent shape, you may only need to add a shim or 2 below your doors to raise the body up a bit to make the door fit square.. Use UHMV or puckboard for this.



Quote:
I can understand frustratations using Search. The moderating team works hard to make certain topic titles are meaningful. There probably isn't anyone who uses Search more than I. It really is pretty easy. But, then again.... I've read every single post on FiberglassRV... at least once! So, I know what to look for and who posted. For instance, searching for this door problem. I searched for: +Scamp +fix* +warp and only in the All About Our Unique Little Molded Fiberglass Trailers Subforums topics (certainly didn't need General Chat, Rallies or For Sale). I also set the search to display as posts... so I could see what was posted. This is the one I was looking for: Warped Scamp Door, How to repair

It's a training issue and the more you use Search the better you'll get.

Hope this helps.
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