Karin's Campster Renovation - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-03-2016, 08:00 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Bobbie Mayer View Post
I didn't save my poptop fabric and then regretted it- if you end up with measurements or a pattern on paper please let me know. I made a top (also after a trip to Seattle Fabrics) but am not yet good with it. If I end up starting all over I'll do it with a pattern.

Are you going to replicate the interior or change things around?
I will be making a pattern to share as a CAD drawing as a .pdf file with all the measurements then also some photo sewing instructions and a materials list. I will likely put it into my Etsy store as a digital download.

As to my renovation plans. There is only so much one can do in that square footage so the basic floor plan of kitchen by the door and sleeping/dinette in the front will be the same. However I will not be having any tall upright cabinets. In the kitchen area I will have countertops on both sides, cabinets below, small cubby cabiinet up above for quick access to little stuff with some LED tape task lighting under the cubby cabinets. A new sink will go in the original location. I am not going to have a built in stove. Instead I am going to have a quick disconnect propane fitting on each side. That way I can use a r portable burner on either side I choose to and when needed the countertop can also be a place to put a portable propane block heater to keep it up off the floor. When I want the countertop for working on other projects I won't have a stove taking up space on it. Porta potty will be housed in a cabinet below the countertop that has a bit of ventilation to the outside air.

I will be creating a small cabinet across the front that spans between the two seating areas with the top of the cabinet forming a support for the table when dropped down for use as a bed base. It will have a removable front and also a hinged top on that cabinet. In that cabinet I will put the converter and it can also house other things such as controllers for solar etc. Ventilation in it of course. By having the front removable it will make it easy to work on the electrical wiring components. Of course it will also be vented and open on both sides to the large seat base cabinets to keep those electronics cool.

For structural framing of the lower cabinets I will be using aluminum angles. While it does cost more than using wood the build goes faster and it is lighter and stronger too. The aluminum flexes well with the movement of an RV without falling apart versus wood cabinets that are screwed and stapled together. I have used that type of framing in my Sunrader remodel. Fortunately the company Online Metals is located right in my neighborhood so I can get the materials at a reasonable price with no shipping charges. I will be covering details on how I put it together later in this thread but a sneak preview of the framing system never hurts There will be differences of course but it is the same basic technique of framing. Here are a few of the in progress photos of what that framing looks like in my Sunrader.


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Old 06-03-2016, 08:08 PM   #16
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Oh, that looks like a great idea. I like the quick disconnect with propane stove, too. Having the pattern available for sale is a great idea as people are always needing to replace the canvas. (Mine was okay except for all the seams and a few tears in the screens- I should probably have just resewn them all!)
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Old 06-03-2016, 11:40 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Bobbie Mayer View Post
Oh, that looks like a great idea. I like the quick disconnect with propane stove, too. Having the pattern available for sale is a great idea as people are always needing to replace the canvas. (Mine was okay except for all the seams and a few tears in the screens- I should probably have just resewn them all!)
The Phifer company who also make the woven Phifertex vinyl coated materials for sunshades and outdoor furniture also make an insect screening product. It will outlast any of the other soft insect screen materials. It is vinyl coated, UV resistant and can take the folding up and down. Having discussed fabric options for the main part of the project with Seattle Fabrics I will be going with the coated Sur-last fabric. It is a little lighter in weight than Sunbrella so it will fold easier but it is just a strong and its life span is rated equal. The colors are resistant to UV fading. They do have a gold color that is a good match to the original color used on the Campsters but I think I will opt for the scarlet color to go with my new paint job, that and the black screening will look very smart together.
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Old 06-04-2016, 03:41 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by k corbin View Post
We all realize there is more than one way to do things and this thread is a history of how I am doing things. This is not my first fiberglass RV renovation.

I thought I would document my fixer upper Campster renovation here since I bought it from one of the forum members and other members have asked me to post my restoration progress. The project will be ongoing for a little while. I bought my Campster knowing it needed a lot of work but fortunately I do have the skills and knowledge needed to bring it happily into the 21st century. I am a former aircraft mechanic and have worked with fiberglass as well as metals and all kinds of adhesives and materials. I am also a wood worker and have done metal fabrication too. Plus I can do wiring, plumbing and even upholstery. I have also renovated several houses over the years.

Lets start with some before photos.

Above is the before photo of the right side. I will be painting the exterior to coordinate with my Honda Element tow vehicle which is red with the black lower trim colors on the bumper and plastic panels. Fortunately Epifanes marine enamel paint has a great color match to the red and Rustoleum bumper and trim paint matches the black. The car and trailer will look like they were made for each other! The Epifanes primer will go on first. But there is a lot of prep work to be done before painting.

Where to start with the major prep work? I have some minor fiberglass work to do here and there. We always have epoxy resin and fiberglass cloth on hand because working on boats and other objects is part of our life style. So I will briefly be showing some of those repairs in this thread.

Remember I am not asking anyone how to repair the problems. I already have done these types of thing before on another RV I own.

The first of the bigger repairs I need to make before I get onto the painting is to repair some damage in the plywood floor that occurred near the doorway. I need to remove the door and frame to do this task and since I have to remove those to paint this is where I will begin the renovation.

Over the years the door frame at the bottom has pulled down leaving gaps at the corners where the sides meet the bottom. It is going to need some shimming and some new L brackets as well as new butyl tape under the framing. For some reason a previous owner drilled a few holes in the upright flange of the lower threshold. This appears to be one source of the water coming that occurred in combination with new door gasket material needed and a gap at the top corner of the door. Getting doors to line up square with frames with even gaps was never my favorite task but at least I know I can make it happen...after some blue words of course.

But now it is raining again so I am going to fill the dumpster with old interior materials having already taken the before photos of the inside. I discovered I have enough of a special marine closed cell foam liner material for the ceiling that I rescued out of that same dumpster last year. I am located in a building that has marine related businesses in it. That dumpster is a great free materials resource, I love it when the sail lofts and marine interior businesses clean house and get rid of their leftovers
You certainly have some SKILLS K.Corbin and this is fascinating...I'm in awe! Thank you for sharing. Its so very good of you to share this wonderful tutorial for so many to learn from. Looking forward to watching it evolve...amazing!
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Old 06-04-2016, 05:33 AM   #19
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Refrigerator?
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Old 06-04-2016, 09:42 AM   #20
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Refrigerator?
Because I will often travel solo I just need a small fridge and can make do with one of the little portable 12 volt units with an AC adapter. I do plan on having a solar panel on the roof and I will travel with a Honda 1000i generator mounted in a tongue box so a 12 volt fridge/freezer will work out fine for my needs.

I am going to have vinyl coated mesh fabric as the door panels and side panels on most of my cabinets. This means there is air circulation inside of my cabinets. Therefore I can put the portable fridge on a slide out shelf inside of the kitchen cabinet as long as I pay attention to the recommended clearances for the unit. Likely it will go on the side opposite the water tanks to keep the weight balanced. Or of course I could mount it on the countertop but I prefer to conserve countertop space for projects as the trailer does double duty as a work space.

If I ever change my mind and want a propane fridge then I can build one in by adding the needed vents and utilities. It could go in above the countertop in a surround or under it. The aluminum framing system I use makes it easy to quickly add in a new upper cabinet area.
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Old 06-04-2016, 12:17 PM   #21
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Aluminum framing, tell us more?

Quote:
Originally Posted by k corbin View Post
The aluminum framing system I use makes it easy to quickly add in a new upper cabinet area.
KC, I'm fascinated by your aluminum "framing system." While you're sharing about your reno, would you include a few details about how you fabricate this system? What material do you begin with, what tools needed?

Would love to know more... (the "closet" in my Lil Bigfoot was completely gone when I got it... I've installed a temporary shelving and plastic drawer system which is temporary and needs a better solution).
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Old 06-04-2016, 02:19 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Ellpea in CA View Post
KC, I'm fascinated by your aluminum "framing system." While you're sharing about your reno, would you include a few details about how you fabricate this system? What material do you begin with, what tools needed?

Would love to know more... (the "closet" in my Lil Bigfoot was completely gone when I got it... I've installed a temporary shelving and plastic drawer system which is temporary and needs a better solution).
I use 6061-T6 aluminum angle, that is the type that is considered to be structural aluminum. I use aluminum pull rivets to put it together. Two at each intersection put on a diagonal. Because that type of angle has a rounded inside corner the piece that comes up to meet it on the inside of the angle needs to have the end rounded over to match that radius profile. By getting that end right up against the surface of the piece you are joining it to you increase the strength of the join since it can't rock sideways out of square as the movement is constrained. So rivets on the diagonal and a tight butt joint make for a strong structure that will remain square without a lot of extra diagonal bracing.

You can cut the angle to length with a power miter saw if you have a carbide blade in it. You will also need a metal file for smoothing off any burrs on the cut edges. But really it is only a few tools you need. The saw, a drill motor, a square, measuring tape, some clamps, a file and a rivet puller. Helps to have a disc sander too if you don't want to spend a lot of time hand filing to round over those edges

I pre-fabricate on a flat floor surface sections such as the front face of a cabinet run. Then using a square bracket as a brace I stand it up in place and measure and cut to length the pieces which go back towards the wall. I do it that way because the wall of the fiberglass RVs tend to be wavy with variations in the distance to the front face of the cabinet plus of course those walls are not square to the floor since they have to be fabricated at an angle to get the shell structure to release from the molds they are layed up in.

When I get started building cabinet frames I will create a photo tutorial with more photos of making the joins. But really it is very simple to do even for a beginner as long as you have the tools for it.

In the Sunrader i do have a closet for which I did some wood framing and added a drawer system. My drawers are food service tray pans which were designed to slide into tracks or be put into recesses for things such as salad bars. Here are some photos of that closet.


The runners are made from some PVC pieces that are for supporting PVC lattice fencing around the edges. They are mounted to upright 1 x 2 boards which are solidly glued to thin plywood sides. It is important that you have very good glue coverage between the 1 x 2 and the plywood. The uprights and plywood form a lightweight structure that is part of the class of structural types called "stress skin panel". A stress skin panel is actually quite strong for carrying a lot of weight, it will hold up to some flexing movement without fracturing apart. The individual pieces in this type of building system do not have to be large as by means of that complete surface adhesive bonding they share the load as one large unit. Monocoupe constructions such as an Airstream trailer or airplane incorporate the stress skin panel theories.

My closet walls were then attached to the floor and to the ceiling. There are three wood shelves, top, bottom and middle which control the distance of the sides to each other. You will see a small block of wood under each of the rails on those upright 1 x 2 boards. Those blocks keep the plastic drawer runners from rotating down under the weight of the contents of the drawers which is why I could get away with using that light weight plastic. They are essential to the project in terms of strength and longevity of use. So the drawers slide smoothly, they weigh very little and they don't rattle.

It looks a bit patchy on the inside because I had to splice one of the plywood sides not having a full piece long enough as I made that side out of 1/4" Baltic Birch which is only 5' long. Come to think of it the other side, the on the left in the photo below was only 1/8 thick plywood underlay since it was next to the shell of the fiberglass bathroom. The load is primarily carried by the 1 x 2 's not the plywood It is amazing how light weight you can build when you put the principals of stress skin panel construction to use Most people over build RV cabinets thinking that they have to be done like kitchen cabinets from a house. What you really need is a light weight structure than can take movement without falling apart.
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Old 06-04-2016, 06:16 PM   #23
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Awesome info

Thank you so much for the details on your aluminum framing. I really look forward to more details. The closet with shelves looks *really* we'll done, and I like the American ingenuity of using something made for one thing in a new and different way!
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Old 06-04-2016, 06:25 PM   #24
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table brackets for bed side support conversion

Instead of having wood support cleats the whole length of the dinette side benches I will use 4 pairs of these. There will still be a support to the floor in the center and at the foot of the bed as well as the center board resting on a cabinet at the far end under the window.

These are removable table brackets in stainless steel sold by Sea-Dog through marine supply stores. They will bolt to the face of the benches and under the table top. Much lighter than having two 75" long pieces of wood that also take up width in that narrow area. I don't anticipate putting the table down into the bed position very often but I do want to have the option to do so. These are also a great option if you just want to add a few extra inches of space at the end of a counter top or for mounting a little removable shelf and of course you can hang one end of a table off the wall with them. Being stainless steel they could even be used on the exterior if you put a backing block on the interior for screws to grip into. Adjustable table leg(s) at the other end of course.
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Old 06-06-2016, 09:18 AM   #25
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Progress, the old interior has gone into the dumpster. Of all the stuff in it there was only one original light fixture with an intact curved shade that was worth salvaging. Well that is not totally accurate I have hung onto the poptop fabric for now as I need to measure it and make a pattern from it.

It think going to Seattle Fabrics tomorrow and getting some red fabric to remake the popup will be my reward for my completing this first phase of the renovation .

Of course even when I am not physically working on the project I am still working on it gathering supplies and brainstorming how I am going to reconstruct it.

One chore I am not looking forward to is replacing all the bolts that go from the interior and through the frame. They are ALL badly rusted as are the brackets that were used for anchoring the cabinet fronts in place. We did purchase a nut splitter which will help with some them. The framing that is just on each side of the door that the kitchen cabinets tied into and supported the cabinet shelves was a real bear to remove as the bolts had to be severed from inside the interior. Thank goodness for Dremel cut off disc,they have gotten me out of tough spots more times than I can count. They could not be budge with an impact driver except for one bolt that sheared off just under the head from that effort. Too much moisture in that area by the door for too many years so that even soaking with a rusty bolt removal solution for several days did not yield any results.

I used a HF cutoff tool to remove my rusted bolts. It's an inexpensive and useful tool. It did the job easily. I put some red locktite on the bolts.


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Old 06-06-2016, 02:52 PM   #26
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We all realize there is more than one way to do things and this thread is a history of how I am doing things. This is not my first fiberglass RV renovation or the first time I have used tools.

Today's rusted bolt removal job is on the trailer tongue. The new tongue jack I am installing is the type that bolts into three holes and installs through the hole in tongue upper plate. However a PO seems to have had a problem in the past and could not get the old mounting bolts out so they cut them off flush with the upper surface of the tongue. Then they welded on a second plate over the top but did not get it perfectly aligned. That misalignment meant I could not use an Easy Out screw removal type of tool to get the old bolt remnants out. While I was able to drill out majority of the bolts shaft some of is still trapped because of that welded on second top plate. So I will have to reach up through the hole in the bottom of the tongue and grind off the remaining shaft sides of the old bolts that the drill did not take out. I will need to install the new jack with through bolts so I need a flush surface for the nut to pull against.

My hand is small enough to reach up into the lower hole to reach inside to the bottom of the upper surface but of course a large grinder or cut off tool would not work to grasp onto and control in such tight quarters. So out of the tool box comes something I bought years ago. A Harbor Freight Micro Die Grinder. The shaft is only 5/8" in diameter but it will run at fairly high speeds; I won't need to run it at maximum speed for this job. You need an air compressor to run it but I do have one of those, a nice portable workshop sized Dewalt.
.
Fortunately being a major tool junky for all of my life and sharing workshop space with another major tool junky I do have a lot of options on hand for cut off tools and grinders both large and small. I am also good at accurately drilling the heads off bolts and rivets as that skill was needed in my job as an aircraft fabricator and mechanic. I simply had no choice but to be able to accurately drill the head off a screw or rivet without enlarging the hole it went through. I learned to do that nearly 40 years ago and it is certainly a great skill to have for renovating older fiberglass RVs.

The tongue is strong and functional enough but it sure is ugly looking. The lumpy surface rust was painted over with Rustoleum or some such product. So while I am working on the tongue I am also cleaning up that lumpy paint job, smoothing it out, treating the rust, adding some steel epoxy filler to level the surface and giving it a new paint job. Soon I will be able to check that tongue off my list of needed repairs But right now it is too hot out there to work on the tarmac so I will get in air conditioned car and go see if I can find replacement trim parts for the windows.
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Old 06-07-2016, 11:41 PM   #27
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Uh OH
When I removed the bolt inside the door that went through the steel framing tube that runs front to back underneath where the floor rot was what happened was a slightly wider diameter of the tube came out along with the nut, the rust got to it. Rust is mother nature's version of Locktite, you will only have to wait a few years for it to stick stuff together.

Guess I will have take the shell off sometime this next year and get a new tube section welded in to replace that one. In the meantime I will move the bolt to a solid section and reinforce that damaged area. This was a localized issue related to the water coming in from the improperly installed door frame that was leaking for years. That bolt hole was acting as the drain outlet for the water coming in. I will be replacing all the bolts that tie the shell to the trailer, hopefully I won't see this problem on any of the others. I dream of someday having an aluminum trailer frame built for it but being a poor peasant will settle for steel no doubt.

When frustrated go shopping to cheer one's self up. So I went to Seattle Fabrics and got the fabric, zippers and screening for the popup canvas section. Tomorrow is another day
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Old 06-08-2016, 07:29 AM   #28
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Karin----I have neither the need or desire to completely reno my trailer.....but I am really enjoying reading all about yours.

Thanks for documenting your step-by-step. It's not only greatly educational, but entertaining, too.

I look forward to seeing the finished product.
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