the story of Rucio - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-27-2011, 01:25 PM   #1
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the story of Rucio

I've finally gotten myself coordinated enough to start sharing some photos of my Burro. I decided to call it Rucio after Sancho Panza's donkey, kind of an inside joke since at the time I decided to get myself a fiberglass camper I'd been having fun referring to my cross-PA adventure hike pack horse as Rocinante (although his real name is Geronimo - pictured in my avatar).

Anyway.

I found Rucio on cragislist back in November - a 1980 13 footer for what seemed like a great price (a price that made me assume I'd have to put some additional money into it, but whatever, I'm one of those people with just slightly more money than sense). I phoned the seller, made a deal, and overnighted a money order.

The challenge: I live in Philadelphia, and Rucio was in Minneapolis, about 1200 miles away. No matter; I told my dad in Pittsburgh what was up, and being an intrepid sort my dad offered to loan himself and his truck for the trip to go and pick up the camper. We rolled up to Minneapolis and back over a weekend in early December 2010, in a bit of snow, but it all went more or less smoothly.

When we arrived to pick it up, we discovered that the wiring was kind of funky. Mainly, the brake lights were stuck on, and went off when you hit the tow vehicle brakes, a perverse situation to be sure. We tinkered in the seller's driveway for a while in 15-degree cold before deciding that we'd just take off and wait till a little later in the morning to mess around further with the wiring. It really was too cold, and we needed to be heading back.

By lunchtime in Wisconsin the temps had gone up to a balmy 25ish, girl scouts were selling cookies, and we were able to sort out a temporary solution that involved a vise grip and wires running through the trailer door, but it was good enough to have safe light function back to Pittsburgh. I never underestimate the value of a handy dad: he'd brought a tool kit along, as he'd had a hunch we'd need to do some tinkering along the way, so apart from having to shop for a length of automotive electrical wire we had everything we needed to do the work on the fly.

My plan was to drop it off at a trailer place near my parents' house to get a new axle with brakes put on and to get the wiring for the lights sorted out, which has since gotten done.

Photos attached here are a view of the snowy drive to MN, the glorious moment when I first met Rucio in the seller's snowy driveway, and a break on the way back to Pennsylvania when it seemed like a good idea to go shopping for cheese.
Attached Thumbnails
20101203 snowy st cloud burro pick-up trip small.jpg   20101204 bob's driveway burro small.jpg  

20101204 humbird cheese wisconsin burro small.jpg  
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Old 03-27-2011, 01:31 PM   #2
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Here are some photos of the interior when I got it. All of this is in the process of being updated.

It had the original cabinet doors, a Montgomery Ward fridge (collectors item probably!), and what I assume were the original cushion covers.

The rear dinette table was not original - it was an Ikea kitchen tabletop cut down to size.

It also came with one of those Porta-Potti things. I have no RV experience whatsoever, and have never dealt with one before. I'm up in the air as to whether I'll use it. I guess it depends on what sort of travel I end up doing, but I'm kind of scared of it.

It also came with some leaky windows. Made a note to self.
Attached Thumbnails
20101204 interior 1 burro small.jpg   20101204 interior 2 burro small.jpg  

20101204 interior 5 burro small.jpg   20101204 interior 3 burro small.jpg  

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Old 03-27-2011, 01:51 PM   #3
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Because I live in a rowhouse right near center city Philadelphia, I don't have a good place to work on something like an RV, even a small one. So I've left lil' Rucio in the Pittsburgh area for the winter. Some friends with lots of space let me park it at their place, and so far I've made one trip out back in February to putter with it.

That trip was a sort of journey of discovery. I took out all the cabinet doors, which are pretty ratty looking at this point. My dad, who is semi-retired but does part time construction work, has made new cabinet doors from some pine, to keep things lightweight.

I unscrewed all the random stuff that was (cosmetically) screwed into the interior. There are a lot of holes to patch. I also ripped out the old vinyl flooring. It is a stone-look vinyl sheet. Apart from the fact that I hate vinyl generally, I could not reconcile myself to the idea of having a stone(like) floor in a fiberglass trailer. It was kind of ratty too, anyway.

I also ripped out the headliner, which was a very thin, dark grey felt, very grotty looking and dark and depressing.

Out came the molded bench cubbyhole covers, which were not original as far as I can tell, as they did not fit flush with the molds. Plus, they were made of particle board that was about as dense and heavy as a neutron star. New thinner lighter plywood boards on the way.
Attached Thumbnails
20110226 burro interior work 1 small.jpg   20110226 burro interior work 2 small.jpg  

20110226 burro interior work 3 small.jpg   20110226 burro interior work 4 old floor small.jpg  

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Old 03-27-2011, 02:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jen b View Post
I've finally gotten myself coordinated enough to start sharing some photos of my Burro. I decided to call it Rucio after Sancho Panza's donkey, kind of an inside joke since at the time I decided to get myself a fiberglass camper I'd been having fun referring to my cross-PA adventure hike pack horse as Rocinante (although his real name is Geronimo - pictured in my avatar).

Anyway.

I found Rucio on cragislist back in November - a 1980 13 footer for what seemed like a great price (a price that made me assume I'd have to put some additional money into it, but whatever, I'm one of those people with just slightly more money than sense). I phoned the seller, made a deal, and overnighted a money order.

The challenge: I live in Philadelphia, and Rucio was in Minneapolis, about 1200 miles away. No matter; I told my dad in Pittsburgh what was up, and being an intrepid sort my dad offered to loan himself and his truck for the trip to go and pick up the camper. We rolled up to Minneapolis and back over a weekend in early December 2010, in a bit of snow, but it all went more or less smoothly.

When we arrived to pick it up, we discovered that the wiring was kind of funky. Mainly, the brake lights were stuck on, and went off when you hit the tow vehicle brakes, a perverse situation to be sure. We tinkered in the seller's driveway for a while in 15-degree cold before deciding that we'd just take off and wait till a little later in the morning to mess around further with the wiring. It really was too cold, and we needed to be heading back.

By lunchtime in Wisconsin the temps had gone up to a balmy 25ish, girl scouts were selling cookies, and we were able to sort out a temporary solution that involved a vise grip and wires running through the trailer door, but it was good enough to have safe light function back to Pittsburgh. I never underestimate the value of a handy dad: he'd brought a tool kit along, as he'd had a hunch we'd need to do some tinkering along the way, so apart from having to shop for a length of automotive electrical wire we had everything we needed to do the work on the fly.

My plan was to drop it off at a trailer place near my parents' house to get a new axle with brakes put on and to get the wiring for the lights sorted out, which has since gotten done.

Photos attached here are a view of the snowy drive to MN, the glorious moment when I first met Rucio in the seller's snowy driveway, and a break on the way back to Pennsylvania when it seemed like a good idea to go shopping for cheese.
Wow, look at all that snow. We had a lot last year but little this year but I'm sure you are glad that trip is over. Keep posting, it is like reading a book!
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Old 03-27-2011, 02:07 PM   #5
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When not in Pittsburgh, I've been doing a bunch of sewing work, making new cushion covers and curtains.

Because high density foam is, I've learned, REALLY expensive, I was lucky that while the original foam cushions had bit of a smell of the ages to them, a thin plastic covering underneath the old covers had protected them from the worst of the window leakage. They freshened up okay after having a spa day in my bathtub, soaking in bleach water and getting a followup spritz with Fresh Wave. In the cushion-wash process I learned that the smaller cushions would do okay in the dryer, but that a bigger cushion was inclined to get lodged and have a small chunk chewed out of it by the rotating dryer drum. Whoops.

As noted in another thread, for the new covers I used an outdoor fabric that is allegedly mildew-resistant. I am not a champion sewer, but I did okay. I left out the seam piping because that's beyond my capacity. Would look nice, but maybe in another lifetime.

The first round of sewing resulted in covers for all of the rear dinette cushions.

I also picked up a handful of $3 pillows from Goodwill and made new covers for them from some coordinating cotton fabric, with zipper closures to make them easy to remove and wash.

Photos here show:
the first finished cover - I was pretty stunned to have sewn in 3 dimensions and to have gotten very good results.

my faintly disapproving sewing supervisor

finished dinette cushion set

pillows - the color on my iphone camera make the yellow seem a lot more yellow than it really is.
Attached Thumbnails
20110228  cushions1 burro small.jpg   20110228 cushions assistance burro small.jpg  

02222011 finished cushions burro small.jpg   02222011 pillow covers burro small.jpg  

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Old 03-27-2011, 02:15 PM   #6
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Here are the curtains. As noted above, two fabric shower curtains was sufficient to make the curtains for all the windows.

I did them in the grommet style, using a 3-inch drapery header tape to stiffen up the top where the grommets go, along with Dritz plastic snap-on grommets in the 1-inch inner diameter size. Those folks at Dritz get a thumbs-up from me - these grommets are super easy to use, no hammers required.

The curtains will go on some simple rods I got from Target to replace the super rickety ones that came with the camper.

Don't ask me why, but I ended up with a 50-yard roll of the drapery header tape. I have about 45 yards left. If anybody here wants it....?
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20110327 rucio curtains burro small.jpg  
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Old 03-27-2011, 02:23 PM   #7
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Jen, the portapotty is safe to use... except... when you sit at midnight, a scaly green monster with long fangs pops out and bites your... no, not really!!! Seriously, don't let that gadget frighten you. It works very easily, it's convenient, and it probably won't gross you out either. When I first used one I had some trepidation about emptying the lower holding unit out, but it really was't as bad as I thought: turn the spout, unscrew the cap, tip and let 'er pour into the toilet.
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Old 03-27-2011, 02:59 PM   #8
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Mike, I will try to believe you! Like I said, this whole thing, a journey of discovery.

Here's more sewing! Since Rucio's top bunk cushion was not present upon purchase, only the skinner lower cushion, I didn't have any foam that was going to work for doing up a front dinette.

The too-skinny cushion is now living a new life as two cat beds in my house.

I got new 4-inch foam at Jo-Ann Fabric, and was lucky to be standing in line for the cashier with a nice woman who had an extra coupon for 40% off. Seriously that took about $50 off the cost of the foam.

Since Jo-Ann doesn't cut it to size for you, I was going to do that myself, and I don't own an electric knife. I used a pattern that I'd made from laying a sheet of newspaper on the front bench molds, and then traced that on the foam, and then attacked the foam with a freshly sharpened kitchen knife.

The results were lumpy but adequate, I would say. The lumps will be hidden by fabric, so who cares! Although I plan to mainly use the front dinette as a 2-seat dinette, I also made a middle cushion and cover for those times I might have a guest who won't be sharing the rear bed area with me, and I want to break that back down into one long bench.
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20110327 front dinette cushion covers burro small.jpg  
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Old 03-27-2011, 03:20 PM   #9
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Now, currently, Rucio is in RV hospital getting a double floor and window-seal transplant, and I'll be picking it up this week on Friday.

You may recall I was having a dithering debate back in February about the floor. When I ripped the old vinyl sheet floor covering out, I found that the floor near the door was all spongy and wet. "Spongy" meaning when I squeezed gently, water streamed out. I understand that this area in many Burros is not very well protected and that water gets thrown right up into some sensitive areas from the wheel well, or something like that.

There was some debate over whether there was plywood in my floor at all, but it turned out there was, and it was wet and damaged at the door, and between the front bench molds, and over there, and kind of a bit over in that other spot too.

I finally decided that it was really more than my dad and I could reasonably handle on our own with no experience, so I managed to find an RV place really close by to my parents who were actually enthusiastic about the chance to work on a fiberglass egg. Every other RV place I'd called in the area back when I was looking for somebody to do my brakes and wiring were not interested in the work, which I thought was a little weird.

I forget how I stumbled across these guys - Miley's - but my family sort of knew of the truck rental side of the business for some time and knew they were good eggs (so to speak). So Dave there is giving me a new floor with a Rhino Liner under-coating, with some re-engineering around the door to prevent further wetness incursion. I am not really sure what that is going to look like - it mainly is important to me to know we'll be protected from wet now.

Miley's is installing new window seals all around for me, too. I had bought a bunch of butyl tape figuring that was something my dad and I could do in a day but in the end, since it was at the RV place anyway, I just added it to Dave's list of stuff to do in order to save my dad and I the time we could use to work on other stuff that we're better at doing.

Miley's will likewise give me new LED tail lights and rear marker lights that will better fit the round spaces in the mold that originally housed the 7-inch wedding cake lights. The seller had replaced those lights (one of the pair was badly cracked) as well as the rear marker lights with some random little square things that look kind of terrible - you can see one of them in one of the photos in the first post of this thread.

Dave is also planning to give me a leaky-place inventory - he went and sat in Rucio during a rainstorm and made a note of all the potential leak spots that my dad and I will be easily able to fix with some sealant. The idea of having a non-leaky ship sounds good to me.

The final thing on the list there is, since the body has been off the frame, to clean up and sandblast and repaint the frame. And voila! When taking a closer look at the frame, Dave discovered an old crack that had some kind of reinforcement welded on in kind of a half-assed fashion. So he's fixing that up right for me, too.

I asked to have the frame repainted brown instead of black. Dave was totally confused by that but was being a good sport and sort of rolling with what he admitted sounded like a wacky request. I pointed out that the Burro graphics are brown. "It's matching the shoes and the belt, Dave." He still didn't get it so I told him I'm a girl and it matters and he accepted that as an explanation.

Well, I don't currently have photos for this phase - Dave promised he'd take some when he took the body off the frame, though, so I'm hoping he'll email those to me at some point.
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Old 03-27-2011, 04:25 PM   #10
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Back to some of the interior updates.

I decided to do the front bench area as a dinette so I can leave the rear dinette down as a bed most of the time. Not being satisfied with a simple square-with-corner-cut-out, my dad and I cooked up a drop-leaf scheme in order to create the space needed for an actual-size person to get in and out of the seat nearest the kitchenette, where there's not a lot of clearance. I figured the drop leaf could stay down a lot of the time.

Whether this is going to pan out in reality, I have no idea, but it was fun to design.

Back in February we first did a cardboard mockup to figure out the dimensions we needed, and then came up with the rounded end of the table with a crude protractor made of some scrap cardboard, a pen, and a nail that we had laying around.

I can't remember whether we've gotten the hinges we need to drop the leaf; all my cabinet and table hardware is in a pile in my parents' garage in Pittsburgh. It's possible we'll use a piano type hinge.

I used my dad's belt sander and palm sander to smooth up the tabletop pieces that we cut, and brought those home to Philadelphia for painting. Although my basic color scheme seems to be blue and brown, I get a little twitchy when things get too overwhelmingly matchy, so I threw in some green paint for the tables, with a brown edge strip.
Attached Thumbnails
20110226 burro interior work 5 table mockup small.jpg   20110327 front dinette top burro small.jpg  

20110327 front dinette table edge burro small.jpg   20110228  front dinette drop leaf table burro small.jpg  

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Old 03-27-2011, 04:43 PM   #11
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Isn't it ironic how we love to throw ourselves into these projects and devote countless hours to remake our eggs into our home away from home as well as personify them!
I am amazed at all the effort we put into these.
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Old 03-27-2011, 04:46 PM   #12
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I'm almost done with today's photo dump, lol.

Considering the table size for the rear dinette, I kept in mind I would, probably, mostly not be using that for dinette purposes, leaving it down as a bed most of the time. But I still wanted to have some flexibility in the matter, so I decided to fashion a table surface for that area, too.

But, since I got annoyed ramming my leg into the corners of the old Ikea tabletop that the camper had come with, every time I tried to sit in the dinette area, I decided that a downsized table would be the thing for this. I didn't imagine using it as a dinette/eating zone frequently enough for the table size to be a crucial issue. So, to cover the gap between the molded benches in order to create the bed platform, I would make it in two parts - one piece that would get the table hardware, smaller than a full-size tabletop would be and therefore less inclined to give me bruises, plus an additional gap-filler. Does that make sense? Photos attached for illustration.

The downsized table got the same paint job as the front dinette table.

So in the first photo, you see the two pieces. The slightly larger bit on the left has a nicer finish with a couple of coats of polyurethane and whatnot. It will do duty as a tabletop when needed. When jammed together with the other, narrower piece, on the right, they cover the space needed to make the dinette into a bed. The other photo shows the raw versions in situ.

Hopefully they won't slide all over the place during travel. If that happens, I can rig something up with industrial velcro.
Attached Thumbnails
20110327 rear dinette tabletop burro small.jpg   20110228  new cubbyhole covers & rear dinette table burro small.jpg  

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Old 03-27-2011, 04:51 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Isn't it ironic how we love to throw ourselves into these projects and devote countless hours to remake our eggs into our home away from home as well as personify them!
I am amazed at all the effort we put into these.
Ha! I will declare to anybody who's listening that this is my clubhouse and as such requires a lot of time and attention. I'm having such a ball putting it all together. If camping is half as much fun it will all be a success.
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Old 03-27-2011, 05:03 PM   #14
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All right, last one for today... these are the cabinet doors, painted but as yet without hardware. Like with sewing, I am not a superstar woodworker, so this is basic pine with a coat of paint and a couple of squirts of spray polyurethane. They'll get some simple brushed nickel hardware when I head out this coming weekend to start putting this all back together.
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20110327 cabinet doors painted burro small.jpg  
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