Rookie vs. 1990 Casita (Project Thread) - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-03-2016, 06:13 PM   #1
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Name: Jonathan
Trailer: 1991 16' Casita
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Rookie vs. 1990 Casita (Project Thread)

As I posted in my introduction, I had been searching for a small fiberglass camper that I could tow behind my 25 year old ISUZU Trooper and had just about reached the point where I thought I'd have to abandon my search until I had saved twice as much money when I lucked into finding and purchasing this 1990 16' Casita that was on Craigslist at a really low price:



At face value the camper seemed like it wouldn't take me too long to get it cleaned up and out into the wild, here are a few of the pictures the seller texted to me:





Just remove some of the funky metal stuff, shower the surfaces with Simple Green, air it out and I'd be ready to go! But wait... it smells pretty rank in here... and was that a roach I just saw?!

OK, so truth be told I bought a camper that needed a complete restoration which is where the adventure began.
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Old 06-03-2016, 06:31 PM   #2
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On day one I was still on my new camper high (ignorance is bliss!). I got a pile of junk cleaned out and removed all of the funky metal plating:





Power washed all of the crud like this off:



Got new wheels/tires on it (with bullet holes to match my Trooper nonetheless):



Then removed said wheels in order to get it stuffed into my garage (a better solution is in the works!):



That's when my state of bliss began to unwind. As I inspected things closer I found things the hole in the floor where the table leg goes::



Alarming electrical connections like this - ground that was grounded to nothing and lamp wire:



And some explanation as to why the floor was so soft and squishy:



Completely freaked out I called it a day!
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Old 06-03-2016, 06:47 PM   #3
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By day two I had embraced the fact that I'd have to redo... well... basically everything, so I began the process of removing... well, basically everything! I started pulling out the remaining structural pieces, then tore out the existing electrical and plumbing in the main living area:



Then it was time to attack the carpet which was infused with all sorts of mold, mildew and other various science projects:



The floor was equally as scary, the section near the door had BOTH white and black mold and was obviously still drenched:





Dealing with the rest of the floor would be next, but by the end of day two (or maybe it was three) I at least had the majority of the stinky carpet removed in the main living area:



I'm out of time for the moment, but will catch up on the remaining progress shortly.

Jonathan
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Old 06-03-2016, 11:13 PM   #4
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Phew! Good amount of demo done...what are your plans for rebuilding the inside?
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Old 06-04-2016, 06:11 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zennifer View Post
Phew! Good amount of demo done...what are your plans for rebuilding the inside?
My very immediate goal is to simply get the camper clean, dry and operational so I can start using it instead of the DIY popup camper I build and have been using the past couple of years which in essence is a trailer with a large tent on top.

Longer range my plan is to slowly return the interior back to the originally designed configuration and add back the various amenities - a process that realistically may take me a year or more as I don't have endless time or money to spend on this project.

Mid-term will be things like the walls and floors, neither of which I've completely decided on yet. My wife likes the idea of just painting the interior walls so it feels fresh and clean so that's the loose plan for now, for the floor I've ruled out doing carpet but that's as far as I've gotten. Obviously a lot of decisions to be made!
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Old 06-04-2016, 06:37 AM   #6
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Over the past couple of days after work I spent time removing the parts of the floor I could suck up with a Shop Vac and got a start on removing the foam that was underneath the carpet. This actually turned out to be easier than I expected, in 45 minutes I got about a quarter of the main living area done so another few sessions and I should have most of it gone:



Yesterday I decided to shift my focus back to demo, first to go was the air conditioner that I discovered had been pretty haphazardly installed in the storage area just to the right of the front door:





There was no drainage so sure enough there was more floor for me to Shop Vac:



Last task for the day was removing the toilet in anticipation of removing the shower stall to the point where I can reach the walls and floor, both of which I'm sure will need attending to:



That's where things stand currently, I'm off to try and figure out how to remove the shower stall!

Jonathan
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Old 06-04-2016, 10:41 AM   #7
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Johnathan.
That's amazing progress in such a short time.
The "haphazard" AC installation looks like factory standard. LOL.
Your '90 trailer likely did not have a grey tank. You might want to think about adding one when you redo the plumbing. There's plenty of space for it.
And a vinyl floor is a nice upgrade. Easy too.
Keep up the good work.

Walt
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Old 06-04-2016, 10:54 AM   #8
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I have a question for all you Casita experts/historians. I had understood that Casita encases the wood floor between fiberglass both above and below. This unit did not seem to have any fiberglass above.

Did I misunderstand about Casita floor construction, or is it something that depends on the year or model?

Jonathan, I am impressed with your energy and progress as well!
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Old 06-04-2016, 11:54 AM   #9
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Thanks for the kind words and encouragement!

I'm afraid I don't have a definitive answer on the floor question, although I do recall reading a post or two on the subject - if memory serves the general consensus was/is to not encase the wood with fiberglass so it can breath more?

This morning I made pretty good progress on the shower stall. In order to have a completely free space to work with inside I decided to dismantle it completely which will simply mean a little more reassembly down the road.

Going...



... going...



... gone!



My decision to remove the shower stall was a good one, the floor was completely disintegrated!



Carpet removal is up next, then foam removal probably for the remainder of the day until I get worn out.

Stay tuned!

Jonathan
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Old 06-04-2016, 12:38 PM   #10
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Wow, you really did get yourself a project. The pace at which you dismantled everything is impressive. I hope the re-assembly goes as well.
I think the recommended floor replacement is marine grade plywood, maybe with some added layers of marine grade epoxy, but maybe some others have more or better experience there.

And to Jon: Nope, no fiberglass on top of the wood floor, just the carpet.

Walt
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Old 06-04-2016, 01:16 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WaltP View Post
...And to Jon: Nope, no fiberglass on top of the wood floor, just the carpet.
Thanks, Walt. I guess I misunderstood someone's description of the floor.
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Old 06-04-2016, 05:12 PM   #12
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I had planned on spending the afternoon removing carpet and foam, but decided to change direction and get the remaining floor pulled out as this was where the majority of the moldy stench was still emanating from. There were only two large pieces left so it didn't take too terribly long, I've put temporary pieces of new plywood down to protect the fiberglass for the time being:



There are all sorts of different fasteners remaining that I'll need to make heads or tails of, in this picture you can only really see a few of the larger rivets but there are a bunch of smaller rivets and screws (both facing up and down) scatted throughout the floor area:



Part of me realizes that I should really take the opportunity to separate the shell from the frame in order to overhaul it (the frame that is), although the other part is anxious just to get it sealed up and take it on a trip even in it's current shell shape. What I may end up doing is meet somewhere in the middle and not lay down any final floor covering over the sub-floor for a while, this theoretically would allow me to replace the fasteners that hold the shell to the frame with stainless steel machine screws and nuts that I could easily undo when I'm ready to tackle the frame restoration.

More updates as I make further progress!

Jonathan
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Old 06-05-2016, 04:01 PM   #13
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plywood floor decisions...to fiberglass, epoxy or not to do either?

Reasons for making a decision to put fiberglass cloth and resin on both sides of plywood flooring. You would do this if your make of trailer is known to have a problem with sagging floors. The fiberglass cloth and resign will considerably stiffen the plywood. If your trailer make is not know for this problem there is no real reason to go to that added expense, labor and additional weight increase.

Area under a bathroom, I would add a layer of fiberglass and resin to the upper plywood surface and be sure sure to use epoxy on the cut edges of any holes cut through the plywood for drains from sink, toilet or shower. Then also be sure that when you install the plywood you have a lot of the underneath flooring adhesive in at least an inch wide solid band right around those holes so water from drain leaks can't run back underneath the plywood.

ALWAYS coat the edges of the plywood to seal them. You can do it with epoxy or by rubbing a no voids coating of a good quality lifetime caulk along the edges. The cut edges have a lot of end grain wood in them and that end grain is how trees transfer moisture within their structure. So it makes logical sense that those natural fibers on end grain will still readily take up water that is next to them and transfer it deeper into the plywood layers. This is why the edges of plywood will quickly rot and delaminate. The drilled through the plywood bolt holes are also to be considered a cut edge that should be sealed before installing a bolt. So ALWAYS seal the cut edges before you install plywood flooring. As a remedial measure on existing plywood flooring put some caulking along any exposed cut edges creating a nice radius fillet that goes right onto the fiberglass shell surface as well.

Putting in new plywood flooring. There will be voids and channels in your mastic used to lay down your new floor. When you have a leak from windows doors, plumbing or even just spills water can move to the edges of the plywood flooring and then run under the floor. There is no way for it to evaporate which means it will wick up into the bottom surface of the plywood. So do run a bead of polyurethane caulking along all the edges of the plywood after installation. Polyurethane will stick nicely to the fiberglass shell. Tool the caulking with a fillet radius to direct the water away from the plywood edge. Use a lifetime rated caulking, one labeled for marine purposes is going to be known to stick well to fiberglass.

I just purchased some Locktite Marine Polyurethane adhesive caulking at Home Depot for a reasonable price versus some of the other choices typically marketed to the marine supply stores. Stay away from silicone caulking.

I do coat the upper surface of the plywood with epoxy in any areas that are known to have a likely potential standing water issue such as in a compartment with an outside door or in a compartment with a lot of water hose connections such as where fresh water tanks and pumps are located or where a water heater is located. Or if you have an electrical cord in one of the push through a hole types of hatches then I would coat the floor in that area. Or in the area under a sink cabinet. Better to have the water easy to wipe up and/or run off to a more visible place than have it sit there hidden and soaking into the bare plywood for a very long time.

Be the water and think "where can I go and what will happen when I get there?". Then find an easy to implement plywood rot preventative measures which pretty much amounts to caulk and or surface coatings along with a few tiny weep hole drain escapes to the outside. Gravity can work for you too

Of course no water leaks equals no rot.
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Old 06-07-2016, 06:22 PM   #14
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Trailer: 1991 16' Casita
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First, thanks to KC for the great information, for a camper newbie, it's extremely helpful!

The past couple of days I've only had a few hours to spend on the Casita, it's mostly been spent scraping off the foam on the interior - I've got all but center ceiling portion done:





I also tore the carpet off the interior of the door and scraped it down:



I was a little surprised to find sketchy wet dirt in the hole for the door handle when I removed it:



But even more surprised when I flipped the door upside down and saw a small stream of water pouring out:



Yeah, I sure picked a good one!

Jonathan
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