Working on a Trillium 5500 - Page 5 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-22-2016, 10:41 AM   #81
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I wanted to reseal all of them last fall but I ran out of time. I still had the front window te reseal, and the front rock guard to fix. Weather was nice over the last few days, good time to do that 7th and last window.

As you may guess, after 35 years the rock guard was in poor condition. It's still working fine, the aluminium frame is good shape, nothing broken, but the 3 FG panels were in poor shape. They had tiny holes, corners and edges broken off, and one large crack poorly repaired by a previous owner using I don't know what.








So I went first with the rock guard, then the window.
The rock guard is screwed to the trailer just like a window, from the outside into a wood frame inside the trailer. The same wood frame also holds the window and the shelf just above it inside the trailer. As my other windows, the wood frame was badly rotten and let water in.

First thing I did was removing the FG panel off the rock guard. They were wedged into the frame with foam backer rod and lots of silicone. So here I am at war again with silicone!



Now with the panels off, what to do with them? Fix them or replace them? Fix them with what? Replace them with what?

I decided to try to fix them first. If I'm not satisfied with the repair, or the repair doesn't hold, then I'll look for some sort of replacement.



I've read that some owners have simply flipped their panels over, since the interior side is often like new. Since mine have cracks and missing corners and edges, my repairs will probably show through, I will need to paint the panels, so just flipping them over wouldn't help.

Here are the panels, showing the exposed weathered side and the still shiny interior side.



(Continued next post)
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Old 05-22-2016, 10:45 AM   #82
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Back side of a repair made by a previous owner:



Small holes:



Most of the damage was on the edges of the panels. My plan was to fix them using fiberglass, sand and paint. Fiberglass cloth is too flexible, just like fabric. I needed something more stiff, that would follow the shape of the panels. At my hardware store I found some FG tape normally used for drywall. It's cheap, comes in 2" wide roll, it's like a thin mesh and it's auto-adhesive. Exactly what I needed. I simply stuck 2 or 3 layers of that FG tape then spread some resin over it (2 coats). Trimmed off the excess once the resin was hard, then some sanding, and it was done.

First a little bit of hand sanding on the panel surface to smooth them out.



Three layers or FG tape on the edges.




FG tape to fix that broken corner



First coat of resin



To make sure there wasn't any air bubbles and that the tape stayed in place while the resin cured, I layered some grocery plastic bag on top of it, so I was able to press down on the tape. The bags don't stick to the resin so once it's cured you just pull them off.

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Old 05-22-2016, 10:48 AM   #83
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First coat of resin is hard.



After the 2nd coat



New corner.



New corner, excess FG trimmed off.



Sanding the excess and drips to a smooth finish.



Big chunk was missing, now repaired.



Once the edges were trimmed clean, I did a bit of sanding, then painted them using Krylon's Ivory spray paint, 3 - 4 coats. That color matches the trailer pretty good.

The center panel had the orange Trillium logo on it. It was half erased. I removed what was left using some solvent. We'll have a new one made eventually.
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Old 05-22-2016, 10:54 AM   #84
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While the resin was curing and the paint was drying, I worked on the aluminium frame of the rock guard. It is screwed on the front just outside the window frame.



It wasn't pretty once I took it off.



It deserved a good cleaning and polishing.




Then I went on with the front window itself. Like my other windows, it was a battle with silicone. But it went pretty well, I started at 8h30 in the morning and at 3h30 pm it was back in place. Pictures:

Screws removed, ready take it off:



Screws I removed. Gives an idea of the condition of the wood frame. No surprises here...



Top of the window. Yuck.



Three type of sealants: white, gray, and clear. Water still got in.

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Old 05-22-2016, 10:59 AM   #85
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Silicone party!



Rotten wood frame:



Screws UNDER the window frame. I just don't get this.




Old rotten wood coming out.



Frame cleaned:




New cedar wood frame:

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Old 05-22-2016, 11:02 AM   #86
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Silicone mess:



These screws were holding the shelf inside the trailer!



I used butyl tape for the window, and for the rock guard as well. Stainless steel screws all over.
Once back in place, with the newly painted panels, here's how it looks. My repairs are not perfect, they still show in some places, but overall I'm satisfied with the look.






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Old 05-22-2016, 11:04 AM   #87
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Couple more photos:





Window cleaned, like new:

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Old 05-22-2016, 01:35 PM   #88
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Gosh that looks amazing. Great job.
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Old 05-22-2016, 04:19 PM   #89
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Du vrai travail de pro. Félicitations! Si vos travaux sont terminés, j'espère qu'on vous verra au Bolerama de l'automne au camping de la Roche d'or en Beauce. Bolerama 2016 - Le coin du campeur
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Old 05-22-2016, 04:43 PM   #90
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Originally Posted by LucilleL View Post
Du vrai travail de pro. Félicitations! Si vos travaux sont terminés, j'espère qu'on vous verra au Bolerama de l'automne au camping de la Roche d'or en Beauce. Bolerama 2016 - Le coin du campeur
Quote:
Real working pro. Congratulations! If your work is completed, I hope to see you at Bolerama fall camping of the Golden Rock in Beauce.
Great job Carl

Looks like all that silicone kept the moisture out... NOT
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Old 05-22-2016, 04:52 PM   #91
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LucilleL View Post
j'espère qu'on vous verra au Bolerama de l'automne au camping de la Roche d'or en Beauce.
J'y serai comme visiteur, sans la roulotte c'est certain.
Je vais être chanceux si elle est prête pour la rencontre de 2017!!

(I'll show up as a visitor, not with the trailer for sure.
I'll be lucky if it's ready for the 2017 rally!)

Thanks all for the comments!

More stuff will come up later, but we're also starting a huge reno project in our house (new kitchen cabinets, new floor all over, and new doors/windows). So unfortunately the trailer will have to go on the back burner for while.
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Old 05-22-2016, 07:23 PM   #92
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(I'll show up as a visitor, not with the trailer for sure.
I'll be lucky if it's ready for the 2017 rally!)
Nice work Carl.

I suggest you just go to the rally, finished or not.

If I waited for my trailer to be finished before going to a rally I would have missed out on a decade of rallies. My first bolerama and trip out east to the PEI rally back in 2006 would not have happened. That was done with duck tape patching the hole in the roof. Who knows when I'm going to be finished.

Donna D got me to thinking that way. Sorry if I misquote her but it went something like this ... "Just think of your trailer as a hard tent on wheels".
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Old 05-22-2016, 08:18 PM   #93
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Carl,
I was wondering what you used to polish the window frames.. I've used Eagle One Mag wheel cleaner (more or less a acid base cleaner) to clean mine and I've tried Brasso and also a can of cotton with some kind of polishing liquid in it I got from Lowe's that the salesman recommended but both of these are not doing what I want and is very very labor intensive .. It's also a real pain to get into those tight corners but it looks like you was able too.. So what's your secret if you don't mine me asking. Because yours looks great.. I noticed that after cleaning mine with the Eagle One that black streaks form down the sides of my camper below the sides of my windows, so I know they need polishing to prevent this just need to know what...
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Old 05-22-2016, 08:35 PM   #94
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Well even if we had to, I don't even think we'd be able to live in that trailer as of right now.
I post my works on this thread once they are done. I looks like I start on a new job, finish it all the way, then post the results here. In fact, I have multiple jobs going on simultaneously. Like right now, I'm working on my galley, the oven is out (there are some issues with it), there is no countertop, the "hutch" above it is in pieces, so the gas lines are disconnected (fridge & heater can't work), I've removed the sink and faucet so no water either, the electrical system is a total mess and there's definitely no usable 120V or 12V system right now, although I've worked on electrical schematics and already bought most of what I'll need (I'm starting over, totally new electrical system, Ac & DC). There is no flooring, just a dirty plywood (new flooring was bought last week), and there are still many issues that would have to be fixed before we could think about going camping.

While we're redoing our house kitchen and floors, we'll probably have to "camp" in our driveway for a few days. We still have our trusty Coleman popup camper, that's probably where we'll be living for some time this summer, and if we can go out camping for a weekend it will be with the popup.

We've been to 2 FG rallies as guests, both were near Quebec City, and we were specifically targeting our visits to the few 5500s. We've met some 5500 owners, we've seen up close about about 10 of them so far and met very nice people. Especially last year, as we were not "shopping around" for a 5500 anymore, we just had bought our own.

So yes, we will show up at the next rally, hopefully as visitors for the last time. Our target is to have the camper useable enough for the 2017 rally.
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Old 05-22-2016, 09:12 PM   #95
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Quote:
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Carl,
I was wondering what you used to polish the window frames..
Hi Randy

For the windows, I've simply used a wire wheel brush on my drill. I've only used it on the outer frame, where the screws are, not and the pane frames.
I went with a small hand brush for the tight corners where the wheel wouldn't go.
I have not had the black streaks issue.
Going with polishers and chemical stuff would have taken forever. Also, there was a lot of sealant residue (silicone and what else) that was much easier to remove mechanically (wire wheel) that chemically (silicone remover - a slow process).

It sure looks good, especially in photos, in reality they are not perfect. Also, my understanding is that a thin layer or oxydation normally occurs on aluminium, which further protects it from oxydation. Now that wire wheel sure took that oxydation layer off, and I don't know how how that "bare" aluminium will be after some time. Hopefully not as bad as it initially was.

I did the same with the rock guard frame. It may have been anodized aluminium, where that oxydation layer is made thicker by electrochemical process, and again, the metal brush may have removed that protective layer, I don't know.

To make it shinier, I tried some Nevr Dull polish. My fingers got dirty black, and the rock guard frame too. It got very hard to clean, and I ended up using acetone and lots of rags to clean that black stuff off. First experience with Nevr Dull, I didn't like it.

Then I decided to try the metal polishing kit I bought on sale at Canadian Tire last fall. It consists of 3 different size buffing wheels for your drill, and 3 different polishing compounds (they look like big crayons). That worked much better, and with the "cutting compound" I did get a shiny finish. But again I had to clean the black residue with acetone and / or brake cleaner and used a lot of rags that quickly got dirty black (however not as bad as with NeverDull). The final result is what you see in the pictures. How long that shine will last, I don't know!

Once my front window was back in place, I was able to glue back the ensolite inside and below that window, and reinstall the dinette table. Now that table is attached to the front wall with an aluminium bracket that looked pretty rough, with scratches and black marks typical of aluminium parts rubbing together. I still had the buffing wheel on my drill, so I decided to try to clean and buff that bracket a bit. To my surprise, after a few minutes, it got virtually like chrome. Most of the scratches were gone, and i had a nice mirror finish.

Another thing I tried this afternoon: I was emptying the dishwasher and came up on a spoon we have in our cutlery set. Some time ago that spoon was forgotten in the blender, and although the spoon won the battle (spoon survived, blender died) it got serious war wounds as you can imagine. I brought the spoon in my shop and used the polishing wheel and compound, and after a few minutes that spoon came out shinier than new (wife wouldn't believe it was the same spoon). It still shows a few scratches but nothing like before. So that polishing wheel and compound really work!
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Old 05-24-2016, 04:17 PM   #96
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It is my understanding that aluminum is in fact quite reactive and prone to oxidation. In fact, it is that oxidation that protects it from corrosion. Any attempt to remove this oxidation is just going to promote corrosion.

I have seen airplanes that were polished aluminum, but I think that they were clear coated.
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Old 05-25-2016, 07:24 AM   #97
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Hi Dave

Before I started, my rock guard frame really looked bad, with oxydation, dirt, grime, mould, sealant residue, etc. I just wanted to take that off, and I could never do it with, lets say, a hand brush and some cleaner, and hope to keep that "protective" oxydation layer at the same time.
Now if the frame starts to tarnish in the future, at least I think I'll be able to keep it clean, and my goal is not to keep it super shiny, as long as it looks clean I'm fine.
But we'll see. May be I'll regret that hard brushing, but I doubt it'll ever corrode and get as tarnished and dirty as it was. I don't think "dull looking" necessarily means damaging corrosion.
My window frames got the same brushing last year. They still look pretty good.

Aircrafts on aluminium usually don't have a clear coat. Older airstream trailers are on bare aluminium too (newer models are clear coated from the factory, not the Airstream factory, but straight from Alcoa).
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Old 05-31-2016, 09:28 AM   #98
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I am sure that the oxidation layer will reform quickly. Aluminum is quite reactive. But I am surprised that aircraft don't use clear coat. I wonder how they keep that mirror like finish? Most seem painted today.
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Old 05-31-2016, 10:18 AM   #99
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I wonder how they keep that mirror like finish?
They have to polish them.

The idea was to save weight, so applying a clear coat would defeat this.
American Airlines used to have their planes mostly on bare aluminium. Their opinion it they were saving money on weight and repainting jobs, and those savings outweighed the increased maintenance cost of the bare aluminium skin.
See:
http://infohouse.p2ric.org/ref/28/27906.pdf

Now I must say that quite often I found AA planes looked shabby. Didn't look shiny at all. Maintaining a mirror finish on bare aluminium requires regular polishing, and I don't think their planes got that polishing job too often.

Most other airlines figured that the weight saving wasn't worth the extra maintenance cost and had their planes painted.

Many newer aircrafts having composite parts that can't be polished, AA had those parts painted gray. An Airbus half-painted and half-aluminium sure don't look as nice as an old 707 on shiny aluminium. Eventually AA abandoned the bare skin and went for a full body paint on their newer livery. May be they figured the bare skin was not as cost effective as they first said.
Here's what Boeing says about this:
Painting versus Polishing of Airplane Exterior Surfaces

A friend of mine built his own aircraft, a Van's RV-7, a single engine two-seater with a full aluminium body. He didn't paint it but decided to polish it. No clear coat, just polished aluminium. Man did he spent hours and hours on this project. But the aircraft was a beauty, the skin was like a mirror. Just like the older Airstream trailers.

Me, I'm flying "Ice Blue" painted planes and nobody really likes it!
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Old 06-19-2016, 08:05 AM   #100
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As previously, mainly a repost from my restoration blog.

Range

Despite all the reno work in my house, I managed to find some time to work on the trailer. My next job on the Trillium is to replace the counter top. It has already been replaced in the past by a previous owner, 6-7 years ago. He used a length of Formica/Arborite type laminate from a hardware store.

It's not super nice, but the worst is when the gas range was put back in, it wasn't properly installed, and as a result the laminate is now damaged, and worst of all, so is the range...

Here's the old counter top:




Damage is visible to the right of the range. Other side has similar cracks.

Not sure if I can explain that right as my english isn't perfect, but if you look closely you will notice that the metal trims on each side of the range actually rest on top of the counter. The range itself is supposed to rest in the bottom of the cabinet, where it has "legs" to support its weight, but when this range was put back in, the whole weight of the unit was resting on these metal edges, especially at the front of the unit. The edges are mainly decorative and are not designed to support the entire weight of the range, and the metal had actually started to tear at the corners.



The opposite corner, torn metal trim.



So I need to replace the countertop, then somehow fix those sharp and dangerous edges on the range.
First step was to get the range out of the cabinet. It wasn't held in there by much, 3 or 4 loose screws. I had to take the oven door apart because one hinge wasn't working properly. The bolts inside had loosen over time and fell inside. This wasn't hard to fix. So here's the range on its side with the dismantled oven door:



I did test the range last fall, and I know for sure it's working right, all 3 top burners and the oven as well. Speaking of the oven, the interior looks like it has never been used, it's like new. But the top sure needed some cleaning. See:



Close up shots of the damaged edges. Try cooking without cutting your wrists open!


https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-z...0/IMG_2348.JPG

I wasn't sure what to do with this. This range model dates back from the 70's, so there's is now way I can get new replacement parts for this. I checked at the local hardware stores if I could find some sort of metal trim or extrusion that I could use to cap these edges with and hide the damaged parts, but I never really find anything suitable.

Then I had this idea of keeping this simple. I didn't know if it would work, but I decided to try it. I thought of simply cover the damaged trim with a small aluminium L bracket.

I already had a piece of 1" X 2", 1/8" thick aluminium angle in my shop. I got my L brackets by cutting a strip, about 3/4" wide, out of it.



(Continued..)
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