Separating Fiberglass Shell from the Frame - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-07-2016, 07:14 PM   #1
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Name: Jennifer
Trailer: Trillium Jubilee
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Separating Fiberglass Shell from the Frame

Hello!

I'm looking for some specific advice on how to take a fibreglass shell off it's trailer. I'm new to all this, so the more detailed the better. My trailer is a Trillium Jubilee gut, right now it's an empty shell with damage to the fibreglass floor on a rusty frame.

This is what I *think* I need to do. Grind off the rusty bolts connecting the two. Raise the shell up (can I use jack stands or do I need to use axle stands?) then roll out the frame. Once I have the fibreglass on the floor fixed and the frame cleaned up, connect them again.

Is this right? Part of it right? Am I totally out to lunch? What am I missing?

Any feedback would be very much appreciated!
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Old 09-07-2016, 10:01 PM   #2
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Trailer: 1972 boler American and 1979 Trillium 4500
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I'm thinking jack up the whole thing by the frame. Support your body. Cut the bolts / screws and slowly lower the frame. Leaving the body supported up in the air.

That way you know your body is supported properly and you can see if anything is hanging up the separation. If something is wrong you raise the frame back up.
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Old 09-08-2016, 08:07 AM   #3
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Name: Talia
Trailer: Hunter Compact Jr.
USA
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I just took the body off a 1972 Compact Jr, so it's not the same trailer as yours, but it should be the same general process to get your body off the frame as mine was.

Very important: BLOCK YOUR WHEELS front and back on both sides while you're doing this, so they cannot roll either way! Be sure you're in the spot where you want the body to sit while the frame is gone.

Working with the trailer parked on a level surface, I located and removed all the bolts holding the body to the frame. Then I placed jackstands under the rear two corners of the body, using small scraps of plywood to protect the fiberglass. Then I slowly cranked the tongue jack to raise the hitch of the trailer.

As I did this, the back end of the frame dropped away from the fiberglass body, which was temporarily supported on the jackstands. When I had a sufficient gap between the body and the frame, I slid a 2x4 into the gap. Then I cranked the tongue jack to drop the hitch back to a level position, which raised the back end of the trailer off the temporary jacks. This left me with the rear of the body resting on the 2x4, which was sitting across the frame. I removed the temporary jacks, and did the same for the front of the body, placing the jacks under the corners, dropping the hitch (instead of raising it), sliding in the 2x4, then raising the hitch to level and remove the temporary jackstands. This left me with the body of the trailer sitting on two 2x4s, which in turn were sitting on the frame of the trailer.

Now comes the fun part. I rounded up some cinder blocks I had, but you can use whatever sturdy objects you want to support the body of your trailer. First drop the front of the trailer by several inches (which raises the back of the trailer) and place the cinder blocks underneath the protruding ends of the rear 2x4. You need to place them wide enough to make sure that the frame will clear the blocks when you pull it out from under the body. Then raise the front end of the trailer until you can place the cinder blocks under the front 2x4 as well. Watch the rear of the body while you do raise the front, and make sure its 2x4 settles solidy onto the cinder blocks back there. Now lower the front of the trailer so its 2x4 settles onto the blocks.

What you should end up with at this point is the body of the trailer supported on 2x4 cross-members which are resting on cinder blocks. The body should be sitting a couple inches or more above the top of the frame when the frame is level. Give the whole thing a good walk-around and make sure it's firmly seated on whatever type of blocking you put under it. You will put more support under it after you've removed the frame.

Next, loosen the lug nuts on your wheels, and jack one side of the axle up just enough to remove the wheel. Be careful not to jack it up so far that you hit the body and move it. You only want to lift the frame a small bit to clear the wheel off the lug bolts. Now you want to cut two circles of 3/4" plywood to serve as temporary wheels. You will need to measure to see what the smallest circle you can use that will prevent your axle from dragging on the ground. Drill holes in the appropriate spots for the lug bolts to pass through, and bolt the plywood 'wheel' to your hub. Do the same for the other side.

This should leave you with the frame sitting low enough under the fiberglass body that you can carefully pull it out, rolling on its tiny, temporary plywood wheels. Once you have the frame out from under the body, place more support under it using wood blocking and cinder blocks, or whatever you have that will help support the body. What I did is put a 2x4 along the length of the body on both sides, and put jacks under each end of it to support the long sides.

Replace the tires/wheels on your trailer frame, and voila...you're done. I'm a small person, only about 125# and I managed this job on my own, so it's something I think most people can do by themselves if they need to. It would have been nice to have a spotter at times, so I didn't have to walk back and forth around the trailer checking things all the time, but it wasn't necessary by any means. It took me about 2 hrs to go from removing the bolts, to pulling out of my driveway with the frame to take it to the welder.

Good luck, you can do it.
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Old 09-08-2016, 11:35 AM   #4
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My response is basically the same as Talia's - although I can't believe anyone would try to support the basic trailer body with a only two 2 X 4's.

We did much the same routine, but used two 10 foot long 6 by 6 beams, one at each end of the raised fibreglass shell. Ten foot long, to allow for four cinder block supports, one at each end of the two beams, thus providing enough width, to be able to simply roll out the 'frame' from under the shell.

We then had the trailer frame sand-blasted, painted, and reinforced (welding), installed our new axle with brakes, and put her back together again.
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Old 09-08-2016, 11:53 AM   #5
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Name: Talia
Trailer: Hunter Compact Jr.
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Originally Posted by bullfrogeh View Post
My response is basically the same as Julia's - although I can't believe anyone would try to support the basic trailer body with a only two 2 X 4's.

We did much the same routine, but used two 10 foot long 6 by 6 beams, one at each end of the raised fibreglass shell. Ten foot long, to allow for four cinder block supports, one at each end of the two beams, thus providing enough width, to be able to simply roll out the 'frame' from under the shell.

We then had the trailer frame sand-blasted, painted, and reinforced (welding), installed our new axle with brakes, and put her back together again.

A 10 foot long 2x4 carrying a uniform load of 40 pounds per foot (400 lbs total load) will have a maximum bending moment at the center of the span of 1000 ft-lbs. The same 10 foot long 2x4 with a point load of 400 lbs at the center will experience a maximum bending moment of 500 ft-lbs.

Either way, two 2x4's spanning the 6' width of my trailer body are actually PLENTY strong to hold up the small empty fiberglass shell of my Compact Jr. And, if you notice, I did suggest adding more blocking and crossbeams after the frame is pulled out.

If you're using 6x6's on a 10'x6' empty fiberglass body, you're seriously overkilling it.
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Old 09-08-2016, 12:58 PM   #6
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Trailer: Boler
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I used 4 scissor jacks and 4x4s to lift my Boler off the frame. I cranked it up evenly as I went until I had enough room to get the 4x4s between the frame and the trailer. Then I put the jacks under the 4x4s and lifted until I could roll the frame out from under it. I then lowered the body back down so the 4x4s rested on jack stands. In my case I bought a new frame made specifically for Bolers. Installation was basically the reverse process.
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Old 09-08-2016, 01:03 PM   #7
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Name: Talia
Trailer: Hunter Compact Jr.
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Originally Posted by Dave W. View Post
I used 4 scissor jacks and 4x4s to lift my Boler off the frame. I cranked it up evenly as I went until I had enough room to get the 4x4s between the frame and the trailer. Then I put the jacks under the 4x4s and lifted until I could roll the frame out from under it. I then lowered the body back down so the 4x4s rested on jack stands. In my case I bought a new frame made specifically for Bolers. Installation was basically the reverse process.
That's a more efficient solution than mine, if you have enough scissor jacks to do it. All I had was jackstands, and a low profile hydraulic jack that doesn't have the height I needed to get the body up far enough. Using the hitch-crank jack to tilt the body was the alternative I came up with, and it worked quite well. Probably took longer than your method, though.
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Old 09-08-2016, 02:18 PM   #8
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Actually Talia, I thought your method was rather clever......And cheaper!
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Old 09-08-2016, 04:22 PM   #9
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1980 18' Sunrader Motorhome and 1971 Trails West CampMite Campster
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A possible alternative. Not saying it is a better solution, just an alternative one.

If you had a deck around the property of similar height you could slide it off the frame and onto the deck then reverse the procedure. Would work best with the lightweight gutted renovations. I could manage it that way single handed with my Campster, straps and a pulley. But I usually can find friends or neighbors who are willing to do a quick assist task as they know they can call on me for the same.
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Old 09-08-2016, 06:13 PM   #10
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I LOVE THIS FORUM!

Seriously. There is so much amazing information and ingenuity in the membership! Okay, I am feeling less frustrated and overwhelmed. I'm thinking I might just be able to do this.

Talia - I cannot thank you enough! I was game to spring for a couple of sets of jack stands, (I'll probably need them anyway) but I really didn't want to buy anything more expensive that I might never use again. You solved my dilemma! And you included all the intense detail that a newbie like me needs. Amazing. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Karin - The trailer is in my driveway, there is about two feet of clearance between the door side and and side of my house. The other side of the trailer is about 6 inches away from the side of my neighbour's house. Your idea is a great one if I had *any* wiggle room!

Thanks to you all for weighing in. I need to find myself a grinder and some time to get this done!
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Old 09-08-2016, 08:02 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Dave W. View Post
Actually Talia, I thought your method was rather clever...
Agree whole heartily.
Great explanation as well.
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Old 09-09-2016, 02:02 AM   #12
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Jennifer, I presume you have tried soaking the bolts in liquid wrench or some such thing to see if the would move?...It's always worth a try before resorting to the grinder. Depending on how big the bolts are they might even just break off if you use a long handled wrench or ratchet for some leverage.
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Old 09-09-2016, 02:58 PM   #13
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1980 18' Sunrader Motorhome and 1971 Trails West CampMite Campster
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Talia View Post
A 10 foot long 2x4 carrying a uniform load of 40 pounds per foot (400 lbs total load) will have a maximum bending moment at the center of the span of 1000 ft-lbs. The same 10 foot long 2x4 with a point load of 400 lbs at the center will experience a maximum bending moment of 500 ft-lbs.

Either way, two 2x4's spanning the 6' width of my trailer body are actually PLENTY strong to hold up the small empty fiberglass shell of my Compact Jr. And, if you notice, I did suggest adding more blocking and crossbeams after the frame is pulled out.

If you're using 6x6's on a 10'x6' empty fiberglass body, you're seriously overkilling it.
Joist and beams are calculated using the larger dimension in the vertical position.
It is very easy to look at load bearing numbers on a chart and then not realize that it refers to the lumber being used in a specific orientation. In this case the 2x4 must be in position where the load is resting on its narrow edge. Resting on the flat the board does not have nearly the same load bearing ability which is why some of the forum posters were cautioning to use a larger board.

Placing a 2x4 on its narrow edge would be too unstable for use in the position unless you were to put some doubler plates at the ends where it sat on the support and towards the center where the shell rest against it and the support underneath.

So anyone who wishes to use 2x4's do realize that when using it in the vertical position where it has the strength to maximize the function as a support beam then you have to find a way give the boards a wider foot print to keep them from rolling over like dominoes. It is easy enough to do that with some short lengths of 2x4 secured to your beam with a few nails or screws, just realize that it needs to be done.
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Old 09-09-2016, 03:01 PM   #14
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Dave - I tried WD-40, is that similar to liquid wrench? I'll try prying them off, before grinding, good idea!


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