Rebuild Back on Track - Fiberglass RV

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Old 04-12-2008, 10:49 AM   #1
Rob S.'s Avatar
Name: Rob
Trailer: 1980 Bolar 1700
Posts: 92
We'll I am back on track in the rebuild of my 1980 Boler 1700.

First I took the frame off the shell and completely stripped, blasted and painted the frame. All welds have were cleaned, checked and rewelded as needed. Installed all new running gear -- Converted from a 4" drop axle to a brand new straight which gave me four more inches of ground clearance. New hubs, brakes, springs, hangers; the works.

The Shell. When I originally got the trailer all it needed was a little TLC and a couple of soft spots in the floor routed out and patched. Or so I thought. Newbies: heed the helps here on the forum about what to look for. So I began to tackle the floor one day, and as I tore up the vinyl flooring discovered that the entire floor was very wet and rotting all over the place. My shell has the fiberglass pan, on which the plywood rests and is glassed in around the edges. In order to get the floor out, all of the base cabinets had to come out. As I took them out they were stuck fast to the foam insulation (if you want to call it that) and tore it off all over the place. So I took out the upper cabinets too. You see where I am going with this? At this point it became a sell it or restore it moment. So out came all of the insulation, all of the windows, electrics, plumbing and the shower unit, everything. With a completely empty gutted shell I began the long process of putting it back together, hopefully improving it along the way. I am now in it up to my ears.

First the floor. The problem with the design was there was no way for any water that might get in between the vinyl flooring and the shell pan to get out. There is a 3"w x4"d channel in the shell pan that runs around the entire perimeter of the trailer that adds structure and provides a place for water to go. However, once water is in, there is no way for it to get out - providing a permanent moist environment for the plywood. First thing was remove the old plywood, a grinder with a cutting wheel set the edges free and out it came. The screws and bolts holding the shell onto the frame were so rusted, it's a wonder that it stayed on the frame. Next, I drilled some drain holes in the fiberglass channels large enough to use boat drain plugs in from the outside. In the off chance I can open these up and let it breathe. Next " exterior ply which I contact cemented " foil bubble insulation to the bottom side which provides a little bit of radiant heat gain and provide a water proof barrier between the ply and glass pan. Glassed it in place with 8 wide heavy matting and sanded it out smooth. Next I wanted a light weight and very durable flooring but didn't want to increase the floor height any more. I ended up using the 2-part epoxy floor paint with blue and white chips. Made a nice water tight floor. I had a leak in the tent over the shell one time and got water inside. There was a nice little pond in the back and it didn't faze it a bit.

Insulation time. Here is where I lost my way, because I was trying to come up with the perfect solution and wasted a year trying to make a decision that wouldn't break the bank - and be light weight, look great, and insulate well. I ended up using " polyethylene foam sheets used to insulate AC ducts from McMaster Carr. It's the same stuff that the black foam pipe insulation that you get from home store, only in 3x4 foot sheets. I also wanted a safe flame rating which this stuff has. Contact cement holds it on the shell and I used lifetime caulk in the joints to smooth them out. Next I sprayed on four coats of Kool Seal Elastomeric Roof Coating. This provides a nice white rubberized finished wall that stretches with the foam.

Now onto the cabinets. Unlike many of you who have molded fiberglass cabinets, all of the 1980 Boler 1700 cabinets are constructed of wood. Due to the moist environment and many other factors, many of the cabinets were rotting on the edges where they contacted the shell or the floor. Also many of the corrugated staples had rusted and worked loose. I also just didnt like the 80's dark paneling color. So I have set out to construct all new cabinets that will meet my visual aesthetic and be stronger and lighter than the original.

As you can see from the pictures I have created aluminum frames with " skins and " ends of birch plywood and the cabinet doors are " Gatorboard (a foam filled rigid board for signs) skinned with aluminum flashing and edged with aluminum channel. Everything gets a coat of clear for protection. The doors also have " plywood blocks glued in where screws are needed. I also went with a look that is supper clean and gave me much more access than the original tiny door openings. As for weight, the upper cabinet in the pictures weighs 10.5 lbs and the original weighs 17.5 lbs. So 7 lbs off one cabinet!

When the weather is good I work on prepping the exterior for paint. Drilling out and filling all of the stress cracks. Before the insulation I reinforced the glass inside where the cracks were. As soon as it warms up it gets a new coat of white, and I can begin installing the windows and cabinets.

Its a long story but that is where I am to date.

Attached Thumbnails
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KitchenBase_open.jpg   InsideKitchenBase.jpg  

InsideKitchenUpper.jpg   SandingtheShell1.jpg  


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Old 04-12-2008, 11:37 AM   #2
Gina D.'s Avatar
Name: Gina D.
Trailer: '77 Leocraft 17 & Former Burro owner and fan!
West Coast USA
Posts: 9,016
Rob, your cabinet idea is very elegant and nicely done.

And if you are married, you have an angel of a wife for letting you build it in your living room :-P

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Old 04-12-2008, 12:10 PM   #3
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Name: Normand
Trailer: Trillium 5500 1980
Posts: 121
You are doing a terrific job!!!!

We need a regular progress report!
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Old 04-12-2008, 01:28 PM   #4
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Name: Michael
Trailer: Amerigo & Trailmanor (popupish)
Posts: 459
Wow - judging from the interior shots, that's the roomiest egg I've ever seen!

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Old 04-12-2008, 03:02 PM   #5
Rob S.'s Avatar
Name: Rob
Trailer: 1980 Bolar 1700
Posts: 92
Thanks gang. Yes, my wife is a very patient woman. She is pretty much letting me do whatever whereever as long as there is forward progress and I have it ready enough to roll for a two week vacation starting the last week of June. Were heading to visit family in Chicago and Indiana, making stops at friends in upstate NY and visiting Niagra Falls.

My goal is to have the shell painted and all of the windows installed. The utility wall (shower, plumbing, heat, fridge, etc.) and the kitchen and all of its related stuff. If time I will move ahead on other cabinets but we'll use blowup matresses on the floor. I pretty much spend anywhere from 1-4 hours a night on it and as much time as I can spare on the weekends. Once the lawn wakes up and the kid's soccer starts next weekend weekends are going to get more challenging.

Wish me luck...I'm going to need it.

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Old 04-12-2008, 10:13 PM   #6
Frederick L. Simson's Avatar
Name: Frederick
Trailer: Fiber Stream
Posts: 8,153
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I have long suspected that my Fiber Stream is in need of similar treatment.
I have been just too scared to peer into the abyss of down time and work. I salute your tenacity.

Those cabinets! I am speechless! Bravo!
Frederick - The Scaleman
1978 Fiber Stream 16 named "Eggstasy" & 1971 Compact Jr. named "Boomerang"
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Old 04-13-2008, 11:12 AM   #7
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Name: james
Trailer: Boler 1984
Posts: 2,938
Those are looking real good. I like your thinking re weight. Waiting to see the final result.
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Old 04-13-2008, 01:42 PM   #8
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Donna D.'s Avatar
Name: Donna D
Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA, 2014
Posts: 24,540
I'm not your wife, but if I could get cabinets as nice as those I'd let you build them in my living room.
Donna D.
Ten Forward - 2014 Escape 5.0 TA
Double Yolk - 1988 16' Scamp Deluxe
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Old 04-13-2008, 02:36 PM   #9
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Name: Camilla
Trailer: 73 Playpac
Posts: 428
Holey MOLEY!!!!!!!!!!!! What a great job. I'd love to see photos of your interior walls after the roof coating treatment. I still don't know what I'm going to do with my walls.

I'm going to have to gut my Playpac also and am really enjoying your descriptions. You can't get too detailed!

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Old 04-14-2008, 06:21 AM   #10
Rob S.'s Avatar
Name: Rob
Trailer: 1980 Bolar 1700
Posts: 92
I'm not your wife, but if I could get cabinets as nice as those I'd let you build them in my living room.
If you promise not to nag at me, I might take you up on that.
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Old 04-14-2008, 07:14 AM   #11
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Trailer: 1989 Casita Spirit Deluxe
Posts: 2,055
All of the work you are doing is great, but, like others, I am totally impressed and inspired by your cabinet work. Stable, lightweight, and very good looking.
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Old 04-15-2008, 12:38 PM   #12
Rob S.'s Avatar
Name: Rob
Trailer: 1980 Bolar 1700
Posts: 92
Just found some of the original pictures I took when I was beginning the insulation.

As I mentioned previously the Insulation came from McMaster Carr - Flexible Low-Temperature Polyethylene Foam Rubber Insulation 1/2" thick. It's $13.75 for a 36" x 48" piece. The Cat #93265K46. They sell ARMAFLEX 520 ADHESIVE as the compatible adhesive for it. I went with this particular product because it is designed specifically for insulating large diam. heating ducts, the sheets are of a manageable size, very light weight and is meets ASTM E84 ratings for flame and smoke (not that I ever want to find out). I just butt jointed the seams and tried to minimize my cuts in the corners. I used paper chipboard templates to figure out the corners. In one picture you see a white panel in the center above the window. That was my paint test sheet. I filled the seams with lifetime polyurethane door and window caulk sticking the nose in between the seams and injecting enough until a bit squeezed out. Then use a putty knife to smooth it out hiding the seam.

Painting the insulation. Since the insulation is black I tried Kilz latex spray paint on a test piece. Without a thick enough film and some elasticity it just cracked and flaked off. I eventually came up with the Kool Seal Premium Elastomeric Coating. It is designed to paint over rubber and aluminum roofs to seal and reflect the suns UV rays. It tolerates a 300% elongation, is water-based and doesn't off gas when dry. I got a 5 gal pail and probably used 3/4 of it. It also comes in 1 gal. I got mine from the local TrueValue hardware but now the two big boxes are carrying it. My first coat was rolled on and didn't cover as well as I had hoped but, I think had I stuck with it and used a thicker nap roller it would have built up quickly. Since I have an air compressor and a cheap gun I thinned it a little with water and shot it with the gun wide open. I put three heavy coats on. The great thing is now if I have a tear or puncture I can be repaired with a new piece of foam and more coating to blend. Because the foam has a bit of texture to it and the coating models that texture I would imagine that you could get a pretty good result with a Wagner spray gun as well. Just make sure that you have the floor covered because this stuff is a rubber base it does not sand well and you wouldn't want to glue your flooring to it.

Also pictured is the new running gear. Because I didn't want to spend the nearly double $$ on a custom length axle the stock axles available at the proper length put the mounts outside of the acceptable range. Dexter sales person actually recommended buying a 5K axle bar and welding 3.5K spindles on it! So I gave my mechanical engineer brother and gave him the specs. I was one inch outside the recommended mount range on each side, so he designed and created 4 of these nifty brackets out of plate steel that extend the mounting points out 2. We welded them on and it now gets me within the mount range of the axle and has the added benefit of moving suspension stance a little wider adding more stability.

Well that's about it for this update.

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IMG_0595.jpg   IMG_0599.jpg  

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Old 04-21-2008, 05:24 PM   #13
Rob S.'s Avatar
Name: Rob
Trailer: 1980 Bolar 1700
Posts: 92
More updates. After 2 weeks of prep, crack filling and sanding, I finally was able to shoot a new coat of paint on my Boler. I went round and round on what to use based on all of the different experienced folks have posted. So I went with Duplicolor Paintshop Pro. It's a three part single stage lacquer. Not the cheapest thing out there by any means but I wanted a good finish and it comes all premixed and thinned. I shot it with just a regular spray gun and compresser and it is very forgiving. I begin buffing once it has had a chance to cure and we'll see if I got it even enough. Hopefully I won't have to do any more since I am not sure how much more my neighbors are going to put up with the fumes.


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FreshPaint1.jpg   FreshPaint2.jpg  

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Old 04-21-2008, 08:07 PM   #14
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Name: Phil
Trailer: Bigfoot 21ft (25B21RB)
Posts: 647
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excellent craftsmanship .. please keep the progress report coming

Phil & Denise Underwood
1997 Bigfoot 21 RB
2002 F-250
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