My Broken Back 16ft. Casita - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-23-2017, 12:27 PM   #1
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Name: Michael
Trailer: Casita 16ft.
California
Posts: 49
My Broken Back 16ft. Casita

Hello All,

I just posted my new member introduction last evening. Two days ago I bought a 1986, 16 ft. Casita for $300. All of the appliances are there. They look to be in good shape. It is missing what I think might be two closet structures of the interior. The chassis is good. However the body of the trailer is on life support. The roof is sagging. Correspondingly, the walls are pooched outward and the fender wells are tilted downward on the outside. The original floor, which I assume was plywood, has partially been replaced with 1/2" OSB.

The trailer was not roadworthy when I bought it. I was leary of trying to tow it the 45 miles from the previous owner's house to my home. To make her strong enough to move, I temporarily braced the interior, floor to ceiling,
with a 2X4 framework.

Originally I thought the sagging was solely due to the missing closet walls which would serve as bulkheads to retain the designed shape of the body. However now I have come to the determination that the floor is 80% of the problem. The OSB does not go edge to edge, but rather it has a seam in the center. There is a large section of the floor missing so the wall is only supported the thin fiberglass on the underside of the body. My first order of business is to get the floor replaced before moving on to jacking up the ceiling which will bring my walls back in place.

I am sorry that I have not provided photos. I will add them in a posting in the near future.

Happy Thanksgiving,
Mike
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Old 11-23-2017, 01:54 PM   #2
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Name: bob
Trailer: Was A-Liner now 13f Scamp
Missouri
Posts: 1,361
well

mike I think you secured yourself a bargain. a little jacking some new cabinenets to help in support and you are on your way.


good luck and happy thanksgiving

bob
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Old 11-23-2017, 08:44 PM   #3
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Name: Steve
Trailer: Scamp 13
California
Posts: 1,418
On good thing with a large restructuring project like this is you get a chance to build in some support to add an airconditioner on top.
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Old 11-23-2017, 09:07 PM   #4
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Name: Eric
Trailer: 1987 Casita 16
Illinois
Posts: 300
When you redo the floor, you might want to stiffen the FG as well. That is what I did. There are lots of threads here on rebuilds, and what you can do. I read a lot of them before I started mine. You can work out the sag, just jack it up an inch or so, then a week later jack it up again, etc. until you have it where you want it. If you have the parts, that is is the big deal, but a lot of the cabs aren't that hard to build, just don't expect anything to be "square and plumb." And enjoy it! you got a super great deal! You might want to take it off the frame in the early stage and inspect the frame, also if it is 25-30 years old you most likely will want to replace the axle while doing all the rebuild stuff, they often only last about that long. Since it is in the 80's, they often have undersized axles.
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Old 11-23-2017, 10:23 PM   #5
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Name: Michael
Trailer: Casita 16ft.
California
Posts: 49
Thanks all for the comments. I have been looking over yours and others threads and am learning quite a lot.

This morning I went out and jacked up the corners of the floors at the fender wells and propped them up with short wooden posts. I am hoping that the weight of the trailer on them will eventually push them back into place. One question I have for you is was the original wood bonded to the fiberglass bottom? If so, what carried the weight of the walls? Is it the wood bond to the fiberglass? I can see that if I simply put new wood back in still wouldn't cut it. The wall load still would be held up on the thin fiberglass bottom. My thought is that I could glass in some wooden cleats to the wall that lapped over the wood floor. The cleats would pick up the load of the wall and transfer it to the wood floor.

Mike
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Old 11-23-2017, 11:51 PM   #6
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Name: Eric
Trailer: 1987 Casita 16
Illinois
Posts: 300
The wood was bonded to the bottom, but only in the places that the screws were in the floor. There are about 18 screws throughout the floor, usually on the cross members, that hold the shell to the frame. What holds the roof up is the cabinets, and supports inside the camper. I decided to make two supports over the wheel wells and FG them to the walls for support.

When I took the floor out, I found that only in a few places was it actually tight, so I was able to lift it pretty easy. Where it was bonded, I found either a sharp wood chisel or my electric planner worked well to get the wood off. I wanted to get back to the fiberglass, so that I could seal it well, and that would make it stronger, and would keep the wood from ever rotting again.

I tried a few things some that worked, like power washing the glue on the walls. But take the windows out first, it will be easier. I found it also loosened up the glass strands a little, and if I was doing it again, I would sand everything after the powerwash to make the bond better. I used about 4 gals of epoxy on the bottom and about that on the top.
Also used a whole roll of the mat and ordered a second one that I am well over half through with. That was a bit of a surprise for me, that I went through that much, but I really feel like I have a good floor, and by glassing all the things to the walls, it is a very solid camper now.
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Old 11-23-2017, 11:57 PM   #7
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Name: Eric
Trailer: 1987 Casita 16
Illinois
Posts: 300
If you put in cabinets, that will be enough to hold the walls. I did put a little fiberglass around the outside to strengthen it, mostly because I noticed some places where the bouncing had cracked the shell right at the frame. Now that I have put the shower back in, the cabinets back in, and have the supports in, there is little movement to it, and I think it is solid. Also I am not putting the A/C on the roof. I am putting it in the cabinet by the door, and using a little cheap one that was with the camper, I think they got at Walmart or Home Depot. But I checked it out, and it works good. That way I can take it out in the fall and only put it back in as the spring starts to get hot.
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Old 11-24-2017, 12:57 AM   #8
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Name: Michael
Trailer: Casita 16ft.
California
Posts: 49
Thanks for your reply Eric. I had just been looking over your rebuild thread.

I will have to look and see if there are any screws in my floor. I don't think that I have. It must be attached somehow because of the jacking and blocking up of the walls on both sides of the fender well, the weight of that side of the trailer is currently being supported by outer corner of the FG wall. I hope it will slowly pull back itself back into line. According to the PO, the trailer has been sitting for 8 years in that sagging condition so I think the fiberglass might have taken on memory of that shape. It is going to take a lot of force to pull it up on the outside edge.

I am very surprised that there was no way that the side of the cab was not locked onto wood floor in some way. I like the rib that you added to yours. If did something similar and they were glassed into the walls, they could provide that anchoring of the wall to the floor I think.

Was the original flooring structure wood OSB? I can't tell if the OSB in my floor is original or was replaced. I do know that the curbside half of the structural flooring is MIA from the rear edge of the fender well forward to the door.
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Old 11-24-2017, 07:37 AM   #9
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Name: bob
Trailer: Was A-Liner now 13f Scamp
Missouri
Posts: 1,361
mr Eric

I have a question for you how do they secure the 2 halves of the trailer together? I am thinking not much as I see a lot of rivits on the belly band?

am I correct?

bob
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Old 11-24-2017, 07:38 AM   #10
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Name: bob
Trailer: Was A-Liner now 13f Scamp
Missouri
Posts: 1,361
broken back

I have to ask this is your trailer frame in good shape or has it cracked allowing the thing to bend?

bob
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Old 11-24-2017, 09:07 AM   #11
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Name: Michael
Trailer: Casita 16ft.
California
Posts: 49
Good morning Bob,

As to your first question regarding how the two halves are joined, I don't know because I have not gotten that far yet. The exterior trim piece on the belly band is still installed so I haven't seen rivets as of yet. I would think that the two halves would be bonded with some type of but...... perhaps some else has a definitive answer as a lot of my assumptions have been proven not accurate.

As to the second question, the frame looks perfectly fine based on my several peek unders from the side, visual inspections. I have not as of yet crawled underneath with a microscope however.

Mike
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Old 11-24-2017, 06:06 PM   #12
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Name: Michael
Trailer: Casita 16ft.
California
Posts: 49
First Photo Attempt

This is my first attempt at posting from my new Post Image photo server account. I dropped my old account when they changed policy by after ten years of free service, they demanding $199 a year to host images to forums. This is my first attempt at the new service. Here goes:

This first shot shows how far out of kilter the wheel arches are. This si the left side



Here is the right side


This is the first of two T braces added to support the ceiling,


Here is an exterior view of the LH side. It shows the deformity cosed by the kiltered fenderbox.


Here is the RH side. It is much better after spending the night with the outside corners of the fender box jacked up by a wooden post over night. You can see that the door still is a long way off from the body. After I get the botdy jacked back up where it should be perhaps a rearching of the door will be in order.
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Old 11-24-2017, 06:17 PM   #13
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Name: Michael
Trailer: Li'l Hauley
Oklahoma
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The halves are joined with fiberglass resin to "glue" the lips together, then the joint is fiberglassed across. That joint is the strongest and most rigid part of the shell.
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Old 11-24-2017, 06:21 PM   #14
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Name: Michael
Trailer: Casita 16ft.
California
Posts: 49
Well it looks like my pictures came out OK. So now I thought I would describe my objectives.

1) First is that I was really looking for a 13 ft. trailer when this one came up. For $300 the price made it OK to take a risk. The reason for the smaller trailer is that I hope to pull it with my Subaru Forester. Hence the smaller size. I figured the 16 ft builder would allow me to put it back together stripped down to 13 ft. decorum. When I get the cab totally in shape and supported, I will take a test pull with my Subaru to see if that is even possible. Based on that drive, I will decide how much to put back in. I hope to have a dedicated bed in the back, the kitchen section, a closet on each side (to support the cab) and a two person dinette across the front of the cab. That is it.

2) I am not planning a frame off restoration or even a totally stripped bare caban restore as some of you folks have done. At least not for now. In the near term, I simply want to make repairs and get her stable enough to be useable. We will then take her on a few trips to get a feel for how we would like to appoint her interior. Think simple and you will get the idea.
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