New 1978 Beachcomber - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-20-2008, 09:57 PM   #1
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Trailer: Beachcomber B15
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We bought a 1978 Beachcomber in Manitoba last summer. The price was good ($1150), but when we first saw it, we knew it would need a loving, "ground up" reno. The floor was soft under multiple layers of vinyl, the dark wood paneling was water stained and rotten, and it generally stunk of mildew.

So far, we've gutted it, removed all the cabinets, the rotted particle board floor (vacuumed out in a crumbled mess of disintegrated P, fixed fiberglass damage, scraped, primed, painted, and rebuilt into a recognizable trailer. It has 3 brand new windows, a new roof vent, new tires & wheels, painted frame, and we're just getting started.

I don't know if we'll actually get out camping this summer, but I'm having more fun than camping any day!!

If anyone is interested in hard to find hardware for these trailers, I just found a large box of the exact hinges originally used on this trailer entry door at the Canada One RV center in Winnipeg in a clearance bin. I never thought I'd find a match, but these are perfect.

Hope you like the photos

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Old 05-20-2008, 10:24 PM   #2
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[quote]Hope you like the photos


Attachment 13357

Yes! Great photos.

I had heard of a frame off restoration, But you are the 1st to post photos of separating the 2 halves of the shell.
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Old 05-20-2008, 11:02 PM   #3
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Yes! Great photos.

I had heard of a frame off restoration, But you are the 1st to post photos of separating the 2 halves of the shell.

As you could see in one of the photos, the two halves were joined by a wood strip that had rotted away in many places. I replaced that with a new composite material (some sort of sawdust and plastic resin material) designed for house trim, so it should never rot again. I then filled any gaps around this material with expanding spray in foam to ensure that it never leaks again.

I'll add some more up to date photos over the next few days. I've actually progressed a bit since these were shot.
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Old 05-21-2008, 09:05 AM   #4
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You have taken on a seriously big project! It should be nice when done. I'll follow your work with interest!

Kevin
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Old 05-21-2008, 09:17 PM   #5
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If anyone is interested, here are the photos of the entry door hinges I found. They are an exact match for the original hinges from my 1978 Beachcomber. I don't know what other trailers they might fit. The RV dealer I bought them from had about 30 or 40 pairs of these in a clearance box. I paid a buck a pair.

As you can see from the photo, they are tapered to fit the angles of the upper and lower angles of the trailer shell halves.


In any case, I'm not in the business of selling these, but if anyone needs these particular ones, I can point you in the right direction or try to help arrange to get them to you. Just send me a private email

Best of luck in your restorations


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Old 06-06-2008, 09:33 PM   #6
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Hi!

We are following your restoration with great interest! We too just bought a 75 beachcomber! It needs work and we really have no experience with this kind of thing. We'd like to start with the outside. What did you do to repair the fiberglass and then how did you go about prepping it for painting and what type of paint? Any advice would be awesome! Our windows also are going to need to be replaced at some point as they are cracked and pretty ugly...did you do your own?

Thanks!!
Jason
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Old 06-08-2008, 09:50 AM   #7
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Hi!

We are following your restoration with great interest! We too just bought a 75 beachcomber! It needs work and we really have no experience with this kind of thing. We'd like to start with the outside. What did you do to repair the fiberglass and then how did you go about prepping it for painting and what type of paint? Any advice would be awesome! Our windows also are going to need to be replaced at some point as they are cracked and pretty ugly...did you do your own?

Thanks!!
Jason
Good to hear from you.
We started by scraping all the old decals off, removing windows and trim, and sanding the fiberglass with a random orbit sander (80 grit, then 120, 180 etc). We had some cracks in the roof that someone previous had attempted to repair by spreading some sort of paintable rubber over the top. It too had to all be scraped off. Then we ground away the damaged area and laid in new fiberglass mat and resin from both inside and outside.

In our trailer, we decided that we didn't need the old furnace, as we camp in summer, mostly in serviced campgrounds and figured we could use the space better for storage and get a little ceramic heater if we really needed it. Consequently, we fiberglassed in the opening where the furnace vent used to be as well.

We used an automotive acrylic primer and paint from Dupont (Nason I believe was the name). I applied it with an HVLP sprayer.

On the inside we pulled out all the paneling and insulation and noticed that most of the 1 X 2 spruce framing that had been fiberglass bonded to the outer shell had let go over the years. We pulled it all out, scraped off as much as possible of the old resin from the shell and glued in new framing using polyurethane construction adhesive. (you can get this at Home depot or Rona)

For windows, we kept the front and back ones, but replaced all the side windows with new ones from SunView Industries in Summerland BC. http://www.sunviewindustries.ca/ You have to stipulate the wall thickness when you order (ours is 1") We ordered the windows just a hair oversized and trimmed out the existing openings to get a tighter fit than the original. The windows are bedded in a butyl rubber tape available from any RV dealer.

Our trailer also came with a "low pressure" (30 psi) automotive style 14" tires and brake drums that no longer worked. We figured that with an original weight of only 1450 lbs, we didn't need the brakes so we replaced them with standard hubs , and put on new 13" trailer tires with a 50 psi inflation recommendation. That saved another estimated 80 lbs of weight, and lost us only about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of ground clearance. Given the easier rolling and lighter weight it should make towing even easier.

We are also reconfiguring the interior from its "pretence" of being a 4 person camper by eliminating the upper bunk, reshaping the dinette into a U-shape, and extending the counter area right to the front. This leaves only a smaller sitting area to the right of the door, and turns the trailer into a true, 2 person camper. I'll post some more phots shortly.

Best of luck with your project

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Old 06-10-2008, 10:44 AM   #8
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Wil,
It's quite the project you have there. I am just starting on a 1977 Beachcomber that is in about the same shape as the unit you started with. (ie. - Floor is rotten in places from leaking at the seam)

How difficult was it to separate the top half of the trailer from the bottom? I have completely gutted the interior of the trailer as all of the support wood was peeling off the fiberglass, or rotten if it was on the bottom half of the trailer. I had thought about fiberglassing the two halves of the trailer together to permanently seal up the problem, but I'm waiting for some better weather out here on the WET coast to get started.

I also sent you a PM regarding the hinges

Devan
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Old 06-10-2008, 10:44 AM   #9
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Wil,
One more thing - was the roof of your trailer sagging at all?
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Old 06-10-2008, 06:54 PM   #10
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Wil,
One more thing - was the roof of your trailer sagging at all?

Hi Devan
I guess it's time for some more photos. I'll try and do that tonight.

In response to your questions.
Separating the two halves is not dificult at all. the only place the fiberglass is actually joined is about an inch either side of the door. I cut that apart with a dremel tool and reglassed them together after the repaint. (note: I chose to completely separate the halves so it would be easier to take them into my garage and repair and paint. If you are ok doing that work outdoors, or if you're not going that far, you can save some work by not cutting them apart. Just be careful the two halves stay aligned by screwing in some temporary blocks or doing a remove/replace of the wood strip in one area at a time) Beyond that, just remove the outside molding (take out the rubber or plastic screw covers and remove all the screws. They didn't use stainless so they will probably all be rusted off. The remains of the wood strip that held the halves together will fall out. Then, I suggest going to Rona or HOme Depot and looking for a composite material they have in the hardwood section. Its made of sawdust and plastic resin and comes in standard 1 x 4 or 1 x 6 (actual 3/4 x 51/2). I cut it just wide enough so it fits comfortably inside the molded flange, and slightly beveled the edges to match the flange. Then bond it in with a generous amount of polyurethane adhesive and replace all the screws with new 1" x #6 stainless. That should make it nice and secure. In the corners where you can't bend the wood, a reglassed the halves together to seal them using poly resin and glass mat.

I noted in an earlier post that most of the interior framing had fallen off where it had rotted or delaminated from the outer glass skin. That include the roof, so when I brought the trailer home, it had a seriously sagging roof. (probably about 3 inches below flat. I built new roof ribs by laminating 1/4" thick strips of ash over a curved form. I just used standard hardware store Titebond III waterproof glue. Now the roof has about a 3" arch gaining me about 6 inches of headroom in the middle.
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Old 06-10-2008, 07:37 PM   #11
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There's been some interest in my "project" so I thought I'd add some new photos to bring you up to date. Here they are.

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New front seating area

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These are the new laminated ceiling ribs

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New "U" shaped seating area

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This is the composite joining strip with exanding foan to complete the waterproofing

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I decided to get fancy with the front seating area and radius'd the corner

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We felt that the old closet made the trailer feel too small, so we added a new lower cabinet that will create more surface counter area, We still have to build a support beam from the cabinet top to the ceiling to keep the wall from bowing out, and to hold the door latch

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This is the new replacement window we were able to get from Sunview industries
Wil
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Old 05-07-2009, 09:30 PM   #12
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nice work! ive got some great ideas.thanks,just started to refurbish ours.
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Old 05-19-2009, 08:28 PM   #13
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I have a 1978. the door does not fit properly do you have any Ideas. All the hardware that was inside the door fell down and I do not know how to seperate the door. I would even consider a new door. please email at my secure address lambo94[at]shaw.ca

Thanks
Bob
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Old 05-29-2009, 01:43 AM   #14
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Nice work, Wil. I thoight of using PL Polyurethane adhesive for attaching supports to the fiberglass, and am glad to hear you did.

Like your idea of a lower cabinet only to replace the closet. I thought of that too for the same reasons.

Beautiful woodworking here. Keep posting your progress. The top off photo was a first- Wow!

Francene
74 Compact II, previously rotty and musty, now stripped out and clean
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