Just bought a 1971 Trillium 1300 in dire need of TLC - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-12-2011, 11:48 AM   #1
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Thumbs up Just bought a 1971 Trillium 1300 in dire need of TLC

Greetings,
After drooling over many fibreglass 13 footers on the road, we finally found a trailer in our price range. Of course our low budget necessitated finding a trailer that needs plenty of work. Our yet-to-be-named trillium came with registration as a 1971 and it appears to be an accurate date based on the few early 70's photos I could find. The telltale signs seem to be the sealed oval windows on the front and the rear.

We purchased it from someone who had plans to restore it but did not get around to it. Fortunately, they did a few important things already which made it easy to pull home. The wheels, tires and bearings are new and it included a new spare tire. The lights are fully functional. The frame looks like it's in good shape and the front dolly wheel looks like a recent replacement.

The rest of the trailer looks like it has been through quite a life however. The exterior has been painted - probably a spray-bomb job. A bit of the original gelcoat is peeking out in places. There are a few fibreglass repairs (and a few places that will need further minor repairs) however, so bringing it back to original gelcoat is not in the cards for this little guy. The front window has been spray painted too

The rear jacks are included but I haven't pulled them out to look at them. One thing I noticed is that the trailer has jack points at the front as well as the back - and the fibreglass around the front curbside jack point is cracked. We don't plan to use the front jack points but I'll have to fix that for water tightness. It seems like a bad design decision for them to have mounted the jack points to the body instead of the frame. I may have to have the rear ones reinforced just to be sure the same thing doesn't happen. We plan to level it with two rear jack points and a single on the tongue.

Inside - well - it has been basically gutted. There is an ugly aftermarket countertop and no appliances. Cupboard doors all look like aftermarket afterthoughts. The dinette table is missing and there are no cushions. Most original wood looks like it was replaced with plywood roughly cut to shape. The entire driver's side wall has had its covering removed.

The windows and top hatch appear to work but who knows if they'll keep water out. We have not had rain yet, but this week's forecast says we should find out how leaky it is soon!

This trailer will not likely ever be brought back to factory original. The bright side is that we are working with a blank canvas for modification. We just picked this up yesterday so we are still early in the brainstorming phase, but so far we are thinking about the following:

Exterior: Sand and paint, probably two-tone (maybe dark red bottom and mustard top ). I think we will roll on thinned tremclad gloss as spray is out of the budget. Info about this process can be found here: How to paint your car for $50 - beyond.ca car forums community for automotive enthusiasts - The goal will be a durable and presentable finish. We aren't gunning for showroom-smooth.

Interior: We will probably get creative here. When we were eyeing these up on the road, we always had in mind a small sleeper trailer with a couple of seats. We don't plan to cook inside the trailer. I think we will modify the dinette to be a permanent bed. To compensate for the loss of seating, I thought it would be interesting to modify the front bench into either a mini dinette (2 person dinette) or to add a fold down table. I'm not too sure about the kitchen counter - I'm inclined to remove the entire assembly so that we can customize the layout even further, but not too sure where to take it. I just don't see us cooking inside at all and there's not enough space to justify wasting it on unused countertop.

The interior walls - well - I'm not sure how to handle them but have been searching around here for ideas. I have a bunch of reclaimed reflective bubble wrap that could be an insulating layer. My friend suggested cork as an interior wall material and I really like that idea. I suppose I'll be on and off here bouncing ideas around for the duration of the renovations.

I have no idea how I'm going to fit all of this work into an already busy life, but somehow it will come together.

Hopefully you enjoy these preliminary pictures - if you have any ideas or comments, please share :-)






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Old 10-12-2011, 12:01 PM   #2
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Congratulations! It looks like you have something good to work with-lots of potential!
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Old 10-12-2011, 12:02 PM   #3
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Check the bolts which hold the body to the frame.
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Old 10-12-2011, 01:19 PM   #4
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Good project!

Is the rear bed area big enough to be a comfortable bed? If so I think your plan for the lay out is simple and good. If the bed is not big enough now is the time to make it bigger. You do need to know that the interior closet and kitchen assembly are part of the structural support for the trailer and if you plan on removing them some kind of support will needed.

First thing I would do is clean the heck out of what is there to get rid of any nastiness and in the process get to know more about what you have.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you do!
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Old 10-12-2011, 02:39 PM   #5
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Thanks!

I thought about making the bed bigger but it would involve cutting down the kitchen counter.

I'm wondering how the kitchenette is structural since it only comes halfway up the wall. If I cut it down to bench height, where would I need to reinforce the body?

The fiberglass seems to be kind of "floppy" in places so I may end up glassing in a few ribs here and there regardless. For one thing, the ceiling has a dip in it that I can pop out by pushing up. I am brainstorming ways to improve that structure without sacrificing headroom.
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Old 10-12-2011, 04:02 PM   #6
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Cutting down the counter would be easy, just cut a section out of the middle and rejoin. The same for the closet. I really like having the kitchen counter. I do simple cooking and make coffee indoors sometimes. It's nice to have that option when the weather is bad.

There have been several people who have reinforced the walls, doorways, and ceilings in trailers. They usually glass some kind of support to the existing glass, it doesn't take much.

Here are some ideas
Re Arching a Roof?
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Old 10-12-2011, 07:03 PM   #7
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Hello CCC,

I have a '71 Trillium also. Just got it last week

Like yours, mine will be getting a paint job. Unsure as to what, could be 'Awlgrip;/Brightside/Tremclad. The article you posted about is great for the roll-on Tremclad.

I am planning on the rear being a 'permanent' bed area. I will be converting the front bench into a two person dinette with removable table. I am planning to keep the stove. I will be installing a 'gravity' style heater and probably a fridge. I am hoping to put one removable countertop over the sink/stove. I usually cook outside, but, in really bad weather it is nice to make coffee indoors.

Mine has a few bits of damaged fibreglass, which I will be repairing over the winter. The roof on mine is definitely flexible. I am planning to install a larger vent (with extra ribs), plus a ceiling storage cupboard (over the rear bed). Hopefully this will beef up the roof a bit.

My biggest concern right now is the door not sealing properly.

Good luck with your project, there are not many of the "more senior" Trilliums around.

Min
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Old 10-12-2011, 09:11 PM   #8
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Hey Min, where did you find your trailer number?
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Old 10-28-2011, 08:36 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coalminecanary View Post
Hey Min, where did you find your trailer number?
I have the number from a stamping, on the frame, just to the rear of the portion where the 'hitch' is welded to the frame.

This number matches the two copies of registration that I have. One set from the guy that I purchased it from, and, one set from another previous owner (about 10 yrs ago IIRC)

Yours looks just like mine. Basically sound, with lots of potential, and lots of work.
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Old 10-28-2011, 08:28 PM   #10
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Talking Structure

I would be careful removing interior. The fiberglass parts form part of the structure, is my understanding and removing them will weaken your egg.

Congratulations on your new rig. Have fun fixing it the way you like it.
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Old 10-28-2011, 08:50 PM   #11
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Roger has an idea worth considering. Any cabinetry that goes from floor to ceiling (closet) should be put back in.... it may be part of the structure that keeps the roof up! There's been plenty of owners of older trailers that speak to problems with roofs dipping in....

Congrats Larry, we'll be watching the build and enjoying your mods along the way
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Old 10-29-2011, 06:15 PM   #12
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Exclamation Dont damage your structural integrity

I asked the authority, Tom Young, about the structure and here is his answer:

Yes......
The inside furniture section:
Floor, 4 seats, bottom of closet, rear table attachment piece..... (all 1 piece).....
All are fiberglassed together to provide a rigid floor, and side wall around the indent lip. (Lower half of body.)
The closet & kitchen provide structural support for the 2 side walls and the roof - All fiberglassed together,
Also, to a lessor extent, the wood around the windows provides additional rigidity even though it's not fiberglassed.
All together, this provides for a very strong body - making it last for a minimum of 40 years (today's oldest Trilliums) and who knows how much longer they will go - with a little care.
10-20-30-40 ????
(The big benefit of NOT using screws & rivets to hold it all together.)

Remove the closet & kitchen and that body is sure to fail.
Some things could be removed, but something has to be in it's place to provide the structural integrity.


I think you have already found out that you should not jack on the body, jack on the frame only!

We have discovered that the rear dinette/bed works well as a bed only. The front dinette bed we kept at it was and do change back and forth. Two persons sleeping in a 3/4 size bed may work, but there is a problem with using the loo at night. The rear person has to crawl over the front and this disturbs them both. So we found that sleeping one on each end works fine. Then when we need to stay inside to play cribbage, etc, we can set up the front dinette and use that.

Cooking inside may not seem like a good idea at first, but if you run into a mosquito/fly infested campsite, you may like to be able to. Plus it is warmer inside, and we found the gas stove is ever so handy.

Has your Trill had the frame strengthening done to it? How to do it is contained somewhere in this blog. If I had an older model, I would be sure that it is done.

Also it looks like your front and rear windows were replaced with non opening types. Opening windows on all four sides is and has been a Trillium selling point.
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Old 10-30-2011, 09:12 AM   #13
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After looking at several paint jobs, some professional and some using brightside, we opted to paint ours with Tremclad RVWhite (matches the original pretty well) using high density rollers from Home Hardware. After bondo-in a couple of small screw holes, we applied to light coats and it has stood up to outside storage etc now for 3 years and still looks good. And it was affordable.
We turned our dinette into a permanent bed and turned the front bunks into a 3-way dinette for 2, couch or original bunk beds. Added a screen door and awnings over our slider windows and were good to go.
Our interior is lined with boat carpet! I'd send a picture but dont know how to do that. Anyway enjoy and I am sure it will be wonderful.
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Old 10-30-2011, 07:35 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vivian Layne-Parkin View Post
...Our interior is lined with boat carpet! I'd send a picture but dont know how to do that. Anyway enjoy and I am sure it will be wonderful.
Bizzian
I wanna see!! Try this link, wait for the page to load: Picture posting help by Donna D.
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