Sagging Boler 17 Roof - Fiberglass RV
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Old 08-24-2020, 08:34 AM   #1
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Sagging Boler 17 Roof

This is a familiar topic. The body or shell of most (or all) molded fiberglass trailers is made by coating a mold with gelcoat and then using a chopper gun to spray in a layer of chopped fiberglass strands. The shell pieces are then assembled, insulated and stiffened from inside using floor-to-ceiling cabinets, panels, posts, etc. Chopped fiberglass strands form a layer that is not extremely strong, and eventually sags, bulges, and so on.

The Boler 17 (I have looked at photos of many of them), after 40 years develops a sagging roof in the center only, between the forward and aft roof vents. The roof vents sag down noticeably toward each other. My Boler 17 has this common sagging roof trait.

There is some good news. On my rear gaucho model, the road side roof area is held up by the floor to ceiling cabinets and bathroom. The curb side roof area is held up by two wrought iron kitchen cabinet supports. These areas of the roof are fine. Also the roof areas in front of the forward roof vent and behind the rear roof vent are fine. So only the center of the roof is sagging.

I have been considering the following options to correct the sagging roof. All of these methods require first jacking up the sagging roof area to its original form, then applying new material to the sagging area as well as the stable, supported side areas.

- Add a sturdy aluminum or steel roof rack with carefully located, spaced attached points. I'm not sure exactly how to execute this. It would increase wind resistance.
- Add wood or metal support, e.g., ribs below the roof. I have seen examples of this method. It would reduce ceiling clearance.
- Grind down existing gelcoat, then apply deck core material followed by fiberglass layers and finally gelcoat. Strong material such as biaxial fiberglass cloth could be used.
- Grind down existing gelcoat, then apply fiberglass layers, then gelcoat, i.e., skip the deck core material layer.

I like the last two options best, that is, beefing up the fiberglass shell. Its not clear whether a deck core material would be needed, or if that's overkill. Strong material such as biaxial fiberglass cloth could be used, and that would be far stronger and stiffer than the original chopped strand material.

Here's an example on youtube where two layers of biaxial fiberglass cloth were added to stiffen a too soft and bouncy boat deck that had been originally built using a chopper gun. This fixed the problem.



So what do you think? What would you do?
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Old 08-24-2020, 02:51 PM   #2
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I took a piece of 1/2 plywood and cut it to fit the center section of the roof and secured it with construction adhesive bracing it in place with 2x4s to until I had the bathroom frame on the street side and a head board/partition on the curb side. Then I ground down the gel coat and laid a heavy layer of glass matting down on the top. It is holding its shape now plus my 250 lbs. [IMG]20191019_121806_resized by Eric Frye, on Flickr[/IMG]
[IMG]20191027_154450_resized by Eric Frye, on Flickr[/IMG]
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Old 08-24-2020, 03:09 PM   #3
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Interesting Eric. Did you use chopped strand mat or woven material? Are your roof vents now level? Thanks.
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Old 08-24-2020, 03:24 PM   #4
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Eric, judging from your photos here and your additional photos on flickr, looks like you were able to get the roof in "great shape". Your roof now has a nice positive curve, both front to back and also side to side.
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Old 08-24-2020, 06:06 PM   #5
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John, I used chopped strand matte. I ordered it from a commercial supplier so it is a little heavier than the stuff from the auto parts stores. Also it came in a roll and didnít have any creases which brake the fibers.
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Old 07-14-2023, 12:33 AM   #6
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My Boler 1700 roof drops about 1 1/4 " between the two vents.
I'm considering the exterior fibreglass reinforcement.

Can I prop up the ceiling with ceiling jacks without having to remove the interior insulation?
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Old 07-21-2023, 08:19 AM   #7
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Yes, I did the same. But I used a piece of plywood, cut to fit, between the jack and ceiling. This distributed the load over a wider area and maintained the original curve of the roof.
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Old 07-21-2023, 07:05 PM   #8
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Thanks for the quick reply. When you did your repair did you remove the interior insulation?

I'd prefer not to damage the insulation, It's a soft skin, open cell foam backed material.
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Old 07-21-2023, 09:07 PM   #9
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I did not remove the ensolite.

I also ground down the gelcoat outside and epoxied on 1/8"x2" aluminum strips. I also had to fill in the rough edges around the strips with epoxy and, later, a filler material.

I am hoping this will work but I realize that I should always store my camper with the post and plywood in place.

I wanted to avoid the screw heads or nuts on the inside. You may want to just rivet them through the aluminum strips and fiberglass.

I also considered binder posts.
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Old 07-22-2023, 01:07 AM   #10
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Very good. This web site is a blessing for RV owners.

Is your interior insulation the firm ensolite or the softer open cell material?

The exterior of my roof, the raised section the vents rest on, drops about 1/8" on the left (closet) side and about 1/2" on the right door side. The middle of the elevated section, between the vents, dips about 1 1/4" from side to side. Water collects in the hollow after a rain.

Did you lay the strips the length of your camper, alongside the raised roof section, or did you lay them across the roof to raise a side to side depression?

Also, did you consider laying epoxied fiberglass over the external aluminum strips Instead of using rivets?

By the way, what are binder posts?
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Old 07-22-2023, 09:09 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DJWRMW View Post
Is your interior insulation the firm ensolite or the softer open cell material
Ensolite

Quote:
Originally Posted by DJWRMW View Post

Did you lay the strips the length of your camper, alongside the raised roof section, or did you lay them across the roof to raise a side to side depression?
Front to back

Quote:
Originally Posted by DJWRMW View Post
Also, did you consider laying epoxied fiberglass over the external aluminum strips Instead of using rivets?
I did not feel the need to epoxy over the aluminum. I did not use rivets.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DJWRMW View Post
By the way, what are binder posts?
Google is your friend.


You might just use the aluminum strips with flat head screws on the inside and acorn nuts on the outside. No one will see, or care about, the nuts on top your roof.
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Old 07-22-2023, 02:38 PM   #12
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Okay.


I can see how binder posts with butyl, fender washers and lock washers could be useful for a great many things. Thanks.
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Old 07-24-2023, 05:03 AM   #13
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Okay.


I can see how binder posts with butyl, fender washers and lock washers could be useful for a great many things. Thanks.
But they are made from aluminum and probably would not hold. They would tear out rather easily.
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