Karin's Campster Renovation - Page 5 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-15-2016, 07:25 PM   #57
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Name: K C
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My philosophy is not to do anything that renders the trailer useless if I can't finish it. At least, not in June. But it is good to see how to do it. I may tackle it in the fall.
My Campster has most likely not been useable in a very long time other than as a damp, leaky storage unit. Maybe a racoon would have liked it as a camper.
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Old 06-15-2016, 09:44 PM   #58
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Window pane pain..

The windows were easy enough to take out, now the issue of replacing the felt in the track is in progress and I am sad to announce that it is not going smoothly.


Look at those photos of what I have to deal with. That old style felt is made with knitted steel wire with flocked fabric over it. The years have had their way with it, all rusted, and in the lower channel there is no metal left, that section is just rust and rotted fabric. That is not dirt in the photo that is powdered rust, all that was left of the metal in the lower half of the track. I could not even budge the glass to move it at all. Fortunately I was smart not to have even tried very hard at sliding the glass pane open. The loose pieces shown pulled out of the channel are from the half of the window the sliding pane moves into.

So that means my only choice to repair the window was to take the rivets out of the frame joint and then try to remove the glass by spreading the frame apart. You have to be careful not to damage the frame when you pry the frame open at the joint but a pair of 24" spreader clamps can help you do that successfully.

So I got the rivets out, spread the frame gently apart to release the glass and then only one side of the glass, the upper part, would come out of the felt channel. The lower area has a firm grip on the glass and it won't budge. Running a knife along did not work. Gentle tugs did not work, etc. So time for a chemical weapon attack! I have sprayed some rust busting solution used to loosen bolts into the lower channel and let that sit for a while, now I am letting it soak overnight with some shower cleaner & soap scum remover that will also dissolve hard water spots. It might be helping!!! Morning will tell.

Fellow Campster owners, be forewarned if you are having trouble opening your windows, this really is a pane pain in the...neck. I was not expecting the felt replacement to be this much trouble....oh well one just has to keep moving forward to get to the end of it. But just remember this is only one of the two sliding side windows so I still have another one to go.
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Old 06-16-2016, 08:47 AM   #59
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That probably explains why, although I had mine sliding fairly easily, after a winter outside near the water they froze up again. I haven't tried very hard to free them since then but I'll bet that they rusted up.
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Old 06-16-2016, 09:40 AM   #60
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Hooray, the soaking with the shower cleaner overnight worked its magic. The window glass was freed up this morning and slid slickly along the felt.

If you need to try it the product I used is "Method Daily Shower Cleaner" I think it is likely fairly easy to find in grocery stores, or in stores such as Target, etc. I have seen the "Method" line of cleaning products in quite a few stores. It did occur to me that rusted iron plus years of rain equaled an extreme case of "hard water spots" along of course with your basic grime from being outside for all those years.

I am going out to spray the shower cleaner in the lower half of the other window that I have not yet removed to see if it will help free up that sliding window before I start working on it. It certainly is not going to hurt anything in an already dysfunctional window located in a trailer with a non existent interior Just remember the cleaner is not a fix for the felt, it will need to be replaced with a modern material upgrade that has no steel in it to get rusted.

This is one of those situations where if you knew all the steps needed and had the tools and supplies on hand it would take less than a day to remove both of the sliding windows put in new felts and seals and then reinstall the windows. A pro could likely do the job in under 3 hours. Of course I am just fumbling along as I don't have an exact road map to follow for this project, only bits and pieces of knowledge gathered here and there plus some experimentation for things such as using shower cleaner to free the glass up so it moves.

The most useful tip I gathered was to use spreader bar clamps to safely open the window frame wide enough to remove the glass pane that slides without distorting the aluminum frame. I got a pair of 24 inch bar clamps that can have the ends reversed to either pull in or push out. This is the pair I purchased. https://www.doitbest.com/products/do-it-clamp-spreader It is easy to turn the clamps around to make them spread things open. Just turn the knob on the small head to take it off. Then slide off the larger head that has the hand sqeeze function, reverse the heads and slide them back onto the bar. I will need to reverse the heads back the other way to hold the frame together while I install new rivets in the end of the frame. They were very affordable as far as bar clamps go. The Do-It-Best chain of hardware stores is my all time favorite of the name brand stores.

I have other bar clamps around but they were not suitable for reversing the heads on.
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Old 06-16-2016, 10:25 AM   #61
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I have another kind- I'll try that this morning. Great idea! I hope it works on your other window, too.
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Old 06-16-2016, 03:19 PM   #62
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I have another kind- I'll try that this morning. Great idea! I hope it works on your other window, too.
Bobbie, the cleaner is not going to be a fix for your stuck window to keep it functioning through the season. Of course you can try it but I was not suggesting that it would make a sliding window work again. I could not remove the felt without using that as well as a thick knife blade. Running the knife blade along the hardened felt does further destruction of the felt. I needed to further destroy the felt material in order to get it removed.

You can't just pick out one thing in a list of things in a process and consider that to be a cure. There is no cure other than rebuilding the window with modern versions of materials. You can't restore rusted away steel and rotted fabric or even make it functional again.

What if you got the window open and then could not close it again? You will be much worse off than you are now with a window stuck in the closed position. Please don't try to force it open when there is no guarantee you can get it closed again. You did state that this summer you don't want to start something you might not be able to finish.
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Old 06-16-2016, 04:27 PM   #63
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It isn't opening- but it was recently, so it was worth a try. It is much easier to close than to open because you can push on the edge of the window so that doesn't worry me. When I first got the trailer I cleaned them out really good and washed the felt and got them working fairly well, but I think now they are stuck for good (until I take them out or find someone to do it).
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Old 06-16-2016, 09:07 PM   #64
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patching a hole in fiberglass

We all realize there is more than one way to do things and this thread is a history of how I am doing things on my 1971 Campster renovation project. This is not my first fiberglass RV renovation.

Once upon a time there was a leaky and corroded, ancient electrical inlet

and now there is a hole that needs to be filled

I saved some patching material when I took out the old kitchen counter
Just tape it in place and trace the outline of the hole onto the patching

I cut around the outline using a bimetal blade on a bandsaw

After a little test fitting and minor adjustments it fit just right.
Next on the outside of the trailer I sanded a bevel on the edges of the opening and I also sanded a bevel on the edges of the patch. This helps to widen the surface area and the depth of the epoxy adhesive which helps to prevent cracks developing along those edges.

I used duct tape on the inside to hold the patch in place making sure the tape spanned over all the gaps. That tape is now acting as a backer to keep the filler materials from pushing all the way on through the gap as I work. The outside surface of the patch should be level to the surface of the exterior wall or slightly higher. The wall was not perfectly flat but that did not matter as long as the patch was not below that surface level. Sanding to level is better than adding filler to bring it up level. I start securing the patch in place using an Epoxy Putty stick for the adhesive/gap filler. Begin in two corners, let it harden then do the other two corners. That way it is fixed in position but if you did need to adjust the height you only have a little bit of epoxy to remove to break the patch free.

Now finish filling all around the edges of the patch with the epoxy putty. It will stick to itself so you can add more, sand some after it cures and add more again if needed. Then do a final surface level sanding. I use a random orbital sander for this work. Coarser grit first then 220 for the final.

My patch might look not very even in this photo but when you run your hand over the surface and look at it in a sideways glancing light you will find no difference in the surface of the materials. It is now ready for cleaning, priming and paint.

You can see how the sander took off some the the surface on the patch where it had been higher than the surface of the wall.

If this was a patch for a much larger area I would have added a layer of cloth over the outside of the wall to strengthen the joined edges. But that is not necessary for a hole this size that is not going to have a lot of force or stress applied to it. Filling in a window opening would have required that extra layer of fiberglass.

There will be fiberglass cloth and resin applied over patch on the inside of the wall to reinforce it. A couple of layers of cloth with resin will be enough. I don't need to show you a standard fiberglass cloth and resin patch on the inside of a rough fiberglass interior wall as there is nothing special about doing that.

I would never use Bondo for leveling fiberglass as it is a hygrosopic material meaning that it absorbs moisture even after it cures. I you do need to use a surface filler that is easy to sand you can mix micro balloons into thick viscoscity epoxy resin. That is how it is done in boat yards. The epoxy makes a strong bond to the fiberglass gel coat.

I use the epoxy putty stick material to fill in all small holes, dings and chips in the gel coat. It is quick to cure, easy to mix and apply and it bonds well to the gel coat and any uncoated fiberglass. The epoxy putty stick I am using here is PC Lumber, it does not matter that the label say lumber it also works great on fiberglass. I like that the color is a light beige and also this formula has a very smooth, creamy texture that sands out nicely.

I have time tested this patching method, I used it 5 years ago on renovating my fiberglass Sunrader motorhome and there has been no failure of the work.
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Old 06-18-2016, 01:23 AM   #65
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Feeling very discouraged with the results of trying to find any close matches for replacements to the exterior seals that trim out the windows. Repairing fiberglass is a whole lot easier than repairing windows you can't find seals for. Funny how that works, sometimes it is the very small parts that mess up the big stuff such as glass and aluminum framing.

I have not given up just yet but I do think I will take a trip to the RV boneyard and see what I can find in the way of windows that are of more recent vintage which would work as replacements.
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Old 06-18-2016, 01:55 AM   #66
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Feeling very discouraged with the results of trying to find any close matches for replacements to the exterior seals that trim out the windows. Repairing fiberglass is a whole lot easier than repairing windows you can't find seals for. Funny how that works, sometimes it is the very small parts that mess up the big stuff such as glass and aluminum framing.
I have not given up just yet but I do think I will take a trip to the RV boneyard and see what I can find in the way of windows that are of more recent vintage which would work as replacements.
Just a thought before looking for different windows. Being the side glass thickness on cars has been reduced over the years, maybe look into an auto glass seal source instead of an RV supplier. I have had luck with dealers sending samples for testing, fit and color, even free . None of what I asked for was RV related but it can't hurt to ask.
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Old 06-18-2016, 03:58 AM   #67
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Just a thought before looking for different windows. Being the side glass thickness on cars has been reduced over the years, maybe look into an auto glass seal source instead of an RV supplier. I have had luck with dealers sending samples for testing, fit and color, even free . None of what I asked for was RV related but it can't hurt to ask.
It does not matter if I order it from J.C Whitney or from Vintage Trailer or from Ebay sellers or any other source as they are all sipping from the same well for the automotive window glass run channel. It never was exclusively for RVs, they just "borrowed" it. The material I got is identical from J. C. Whittney and on Vintage Trailer except for a 20 cent price difference.

The glass in my Campster side windows is 3/16" thick. I am pretty handy with my Mitutoyo calipers, they are always in my tool box when I work on projects.

Actually I am pretty good at sourcing materials and I even get hired for that work. But sometimes things don't exist. Unfortunately the windows on my Campster have a total of 8 different seals that were used on them and it appears that only the window run channel and the fuzzy felt strip used on one divider and the screen spline are still available. Also possibly one of the outer seals might be a close match to one that still exist from Hehr but I don't yet have a sample of that seal to verify that. So that leaves 5 seals, possibly 4 that are so far unobtainable. One of them is similar to the looks of a triple fin windshield wiper blade that I remember from a couple of decades ago but it did not match in size for fitting into the 1/32" deep T slot groove in the extrusion with any of the currently made materials. We will see what tomorrow turns up on my visit to the auto parts store, perhaps I can modify a newer wiper blade for use as that wiper seal by cutting it apart. I have a few more samples I ordered that will get here in a week or so that have some potential as substitutes.

But as the repair guy at my local RV repair shop who has a room full of window seals hung from the ceiling said....they don't make windows like that any more, they changed the way the frames are made for the sliders.

My entry door seal no longer exist but that is not an issue as I can stack up two modern gaskets and make it work OK.

Desktop fillament extruders are around now because of people turning plastic pellets into 3D printing fillament but they are not yet capable of doing the kind of shapes I need to make in the pliable plastics.
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Old 06-18-2016, 05:17 AM   #68
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It does not matter if I order it from J.C Whitney or from Vintage Trailer or from Ebay sellers or any other source as they are all sipping from the same well for the automotive window glass run channel. It never was exclusively for RVs, they just "borrowed" it. The material I got is identical from J. C. Whittney and on Vintage Trailer except for a 20 cent price difference.
The glass in my Campster side windows is 3/16" thick. I am pretty handy with my Mitutoyo calipers, they are always in my tool box when I work on projects.
Actually I am pretty good at sourcing materials and I even get hired for that work. But sometimes things don't exist. Unfortunately the windows on my Campster have a total of 8 different seals that were used on them and it appears that only the window run channel and the fuzzy felt strip used on one divider and the screen spline are still available. Also possibly one of the outer seals might be a close match to one that still exist from Hehr but I don't yet have a sample of that seal to verify that. So that leaves 5 seals, possibly 4 that are so far unobtainable. One of them is similar to the looks of a triple fin windshield wiper blade that I remember from a couple of decades ago but it did not match in size for fitting into the 1/32" deep T slot groove in the extrusion with any of the currently made materials. We will see what tomorrow turns up on my visit to the auto parts store, perhaps I can modify a newer wiper blade for use as that wiper seal by cutting it apart. I have a few more samples I ordered that will get here in a week or so that have some potential as substitutes.
But as the repair guy at my local RV repair shop who has a room full of window seals hung from the ceiling said....they don't make windows like that any more, they changed the way the frames are made for the sliders.
My entry door seal no longer exist but that is not an issue as I can stack up two modern gaskets and make it work OK.
Desktop fillament extruders are around now because of people turning plastic pellets into 3D printing fillament but they are not yet capable of doing the kind of shapes I need to make in the pliable plastics.

MMMM, guess I was expecting a response more like others say, "thanks, I'll look into that" for the free info offered for a possible fix from you or none at all. Everyone has knowledge that may help others from many sources. Some times it's the forest for the trees thing that lights the light for the fix. Think this is the 3rd time I've offered info to you as a suggestion and got a....well, kind of slap down reply so I'll step back. I know you'll do fine on your reno without info from the rest of us.
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Old 06-18-2016, 12:25 PM   #69
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MMMM, guess I was expecting a response more like others say, "thanks, I'll look into that" for the free info offered for a possible fix from you or none at all. Everyone has knowledge that may help others from many sources. Some times it's the forest for the trees thing that lights the light for the fix. Think this is the 3rd time I've offered info to you as a suggestion and got a....well, kind of slap down reply so I'll step back. I know you'll do fine on your reno without info from the rest of us.
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 keep reposting the sentence above that I started the thread with in the hope that you will understand what it says. I am sorry that you still don't understand. Thank you for offering to step back, I do appreciate that.
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Old 06-18-2016, 02:17 PM   #70
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Messaged you b...Dave.
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