Belly Band - Lil Bigfoot - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-06-2010, 01:02 PM   #1
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Has anyone replaced or resealed the belly band on a Lil Bigfoot. I am in the midst of a complete renovation and am concerned about leaks. I don't want all of the interior work (new floor and wall coverings) that I am about to install compromised by leaks. I know what I need to do regarding windows, but the belly band is a mystery to me. I cannot tell exactly how it seals. Is what I am looking at from the outside simply a decorative overlay or is it the seal itself?

Thanks,
Carl

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Old 06-06-2010, 01:49 PM   #2
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Can you post photos of the belly band? The outside, and whatever you can see of the inside?
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Old 06-07-2010, 07:05 AM   #3
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Here's a picture of the "Batmobile".
The Lil Bigfoot is a Boler clone.
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Old 06-07-2010, 08:57 AM   #4
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Yes but I don't know exactly how Bigfoot did the belly band, and since I do know that there are some other differences from the Boler (full floor pan, different door, etc.), I figured the belly band might not be the same either, and I didn't want to assume and thereby steer Carl wrong.

I've always thought they were nice looking li'l 13-ers

Raya
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Old 06-07-2010, 09:43 AM   #5
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If the little bigfoot is indeed a version of the boler...my scamp which is a knockoff of the boler I have photos of whats underneath the rat fur/ensolite. I had some serious mystery leaks so I pulled back the ensolite and found this..
I cleaned off the fiberglass /scrubbed etc etc. and then prepped the surface and then re-fiberglassed over that area to ensure no leaks would pop up. That side was somehow compromised at one point and time so water wicked its way in, hope that at least gives you a visual

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Old 06-07-2010, 07:10 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone. I'll try to get some pictures to you in the next few days. It didn't occur to me to fiberglass the interior joint. I guess that would certainly do the job. And since I'm about to install the new floor and glass it in, I could certainly run a 5" of 6" band around the belly seal. I'm recovering the walls as well, so the current covering is coming off anyway.

Do you think this will do the job well long term.

Thanks,
Carl
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Old 06-07-2010, 07:50 PM   #7
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Hi Carl,

Bolers, Scamps, Trilliums, Burros, and U-hauls (the last two being vertical and not horizontal) are all sealed at the middle by fiberglass on the inside. If you do a tidy job it will not only seal against leaks, but also would (if it had to) hold the two halves of the shell together (this is presuming the shells work that way - I'm still not certain how the Bigfoot is joined).

You'll get a better secondary bond with epoxy resin vs. polyester, and it won't smell strongly like polyester does (although for simple water leak prevention you could use polyester - I would use epoxy myself).

So... let's see some photos



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Old 06-08-2010, 02:10 PM   #8
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I found the job to be quite easy, it was a little like paper mache. I believe it was **Raya ** who wisely suggested taping off any areas I didn't want mucky resin. I just had plastic and duct tape, so the area below I didn't have to be overly tidy. When the job was done I peeled away the tape and viola instant clean up. It didn't take long to dry and after the next rain, to prove it was sea worthy, I just covered it back up. I bought the smaller container of resin so if your going to do the whole inside I would suggest the gallon size.

Also a wise suggestion was to wear multiple gloves so as the mess occurred I could just peel away and not have to stop mid task. I did this during the winter and as of yet have not had any problems since.



Quote:
Thanks everyone. I'll try to get some pictures to you in the next few days. It didn't occur to me to fiberglass the interior joint. I guess that would certainly do the job. And since I'm about to install the new floor and glass it in, I could certainly run a 5" of 6" band around the belly seal. I'm recovering the walls as well, so the current covering is coming off anyway.

Do you think this will do the job well long term.

Thanks,
Carl
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Old 06-08-2010, 06:29 PM   #9
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Thank you. I noticed that epoxy resin comes with different catalysts. Is there a recommendation for this application? Also, what about the ratio of catalyst to resin?

Also, the resin appears to be quite hard to find locally in gallon size. Is there a good supplier online.

Thanks,
Carl
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Old 06-08-2010, 09:24 PM   #10
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Hi Carl,

If you are using epoxy, then you are actually using resin and hardener (vs. resin and catalyst). I'm just clarifying, not trying to nitpick. So, the main reason for different hardeners is the "speed" at which they will "kick off." Typically you choose one based on the air temperature you will be working in --- say "slow" hardener in summer and "fast" hardener in winter --- but there are sometimes other reasons to choose one over another. For example "slow" if you need a very long open time for some purpose.

There are also "very slow" (WEST calls theirs "tropical") and special clear (for bright finished work), but you probably would do find sticking with "slow" (I see you are in Texas).

You may still want to use a few techniques to slow down the "kicking" so that it does not happen before you are ready for it to. One tip is to get it spread out quickly. It will kick much faster in a deep narrow container than it will once you wet out your cloth (then it is shallow and wide). Another is that you can keep the container of mixed resin in an ice bucket while you are working with it (but the first one will probably be enough).

Most of the brands of epoxy are roughly equivalent, although some are easier to "hand measure" than others.

WEST System is very popular, has been around a loong time, and is available at any West Marine (no relation), one of which might be near you. One potential minus is that it mixes at a 1:5 ratio, which is a little harder to do with cups (but they sell special calibrated pumps).

Other well-known brands that you can order include RAKA, MAS, and System Three. I think all of these mix in a 2:3 ratio, or maybe 1:2, so they are relatively simple to mix with cups - I make up a master set of clear beer cups with lines for "small," "medium," and "large" batches. Off the top of my head: RAKA can be ordered directly and I think they are in Florida. System Three can also be ordered - check them out online. Fiberglass selling places will have cloth, tools, and resins. Try RAKA, fiberglasscoatings, Jamestown distributors, or B and B Yacht design (very friendly mom and pop boat builders who sell resin and supplies out of North Carolina). Shipping is typically not a problem.

For quick small stuff, WEST System has some refill packs for their repair kit (the kit I don't find useful as it has a bunch of stiff like a little spatula and etc.), which are like twin packs of ketchup (small foil type packets) and are perfect for small jobs. The refill kits have about ten twin packs, IIRC.

Happy glassing And just pipe in as you have more questions.

Raya
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Old 06-08-2010, 09:55 PM   #11
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Raya has the best advice!!!!
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Old 06-08-2010, 10:55 PM   #12
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Hi Carl - just found this thread while looking for some window install advice.

I came across this too while gutting my Lil Bigfoot. As you likely know by now, the top half of the trailer sits over top of the bottom. The belly band on the BF is really more decorative than anything. I removed mine to paint the trailer, and it's still sitting in my garage (2 pieces - one long one, one shorter).

I caution you, as I found out the hard way, when removing the screws, take 6-8 out at a time, beginning at the end of the band. Then pull the band away from the trailer (it has some flex) and replace your screws. Continue this way until your done. I took all of my screws out in one shot and even though the top half has a lip about 3.5" high so it will seat on the bottom half, it still shifted slightly. It was a pain (lots of prying with nails etc) to get the holes to line back up.

If you haven't discovered this yet, behind the fabric etc. there is a strip of plywood about 1" wide that is glued to the inside of the fiberglass. This is what the screws bite into. On mine, many spots had delaminated, especially around the curves. I stripped mine all out and replaced it as some of it was rotten as well.

It really just came down to ripping strips on a table saw, and then using a chop saw, cutting grooves every couple of inches almost completely through (this allows you to get the flex around the four corners). I then just contact cemented the wood to the walls and used wood clamps to hold things in place until set, taking advantage of the window openings for the clamp placement.

I then just covered this 'protrusion' with the bubble wrap and ratfur - looks like a nice finished area now.

When I go to replace the belly band, I'm going to force silicon into each hole as I'm screwing thing tight...this should prevent any moisture from going in. I guess a person could put some butyl in behind as well....not sure if that would work.

I know the same 'trough' is used for the canopy track, and mine was butyl-ed.

Long story short, the track that runs around the trailer is just for aesthetics. I suppose with the trim plastic replaced, water should run right off of it.

Hope that helps,
Mike
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Old 06-09-2010, 09:19 AM   #13
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Mike,

Great insight into the Bigfoot belly band construction - I was wondering how it was set up.

I would, however, beseech you not to put silicone in each (or any!) holes as you re-install the belly band. I can't see the set-up exactly, but if any sealant is called for I would strongly recommend anything but silicone. The problem is that it does not seal all that well, in the long run, but, OTOH, the silicone and its oily residue will be with you virtually forever. When you have to dig it out to re-seal, and/or if you - or anyone - ever want to paint the trailer, you will be fighting silicone and fish-eyes for a LONG time

Again, I'm not sure if it needs a sealant or not, but if it does, I would suggest butyl, or if you would like to use a caulk, then something like Sika 291 or perhaps 3M 4200, or the like.

Raya

(Okay, anyone else want to use silicone? )
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Old 06-09-2010, 06:56 PM   #14
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Thank you for the insight! So, if I understand correctly, the top shell fits over the bottom, resulting in no possiblity of water leak from the seal itself (except if the fiberglass were damaged)? And, the only possibility of a leak is from the screws with which the band is attached to the trailer? If that is right, you just made my day. I was planning on having to glass the entire seal on the inside, which would mean extra money and time.

Thanks,
Carl
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Old 06-09-2010, 06:57 PM   #15
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One more think Mike,

Where do you plan on finding a replacement belly band?

Thanks,
Carl
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Old 06-13-2010, 09:28 PM   #16
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Raya,

Thanks for the tips RE silicon. I've read enough posts on this forum to know better than to even utter the 'other' s-word.

I spent about 40 hours of prep work, sanding, filling (ad nauseam) and finally put my second coat of paint on last weekend. I've used butyl only so far on my refurbished windows and roof vent. I'll take your advice here and only use butyl on the belly band as well Thanks for the reminder. I thought that maybe a syringe and a steady hand would just fill up the holes on the wood 'inner' for the screws to seat. Again, I'm sure butyl will be enough. Cheers .

Carl,

For the belly band, I hadn't planned on replacing it. I don't even know where a person would go, but I think that 'U' trim (aluminum) is common to the RV industry. The trick, however, would be getting it bent to fit our egg.

I've got mine hanging up right now with plans to just sand with 200 grit, and tremclad white gloss. If they made marine enamel in a spray can I'd use that, but I just don't want to get the gun out again for a small bit of trim.

To answer your other question:

"...the top shell fits over the bottom, resulting in no possiblity of water leak from the seal itself (except if the fiberglass were damaged)? And, the only possibility of a leak is from the screws with which the band is attached to the trailer? If that is right, you just made my day."

On my trailer the top shell does sit over the bottom. In fact, from the outside you can see an extruded 'band' about 3" high. This extrusion is to accommodate the bottom half of the trailer. I would agree with you - the only way for water to get in would be through the screw holes or damaged glass. As Raya mentioned, a fresh run of butyl behind the band should suffice.

Glad you didn't go to the extra work....I don't know about you, but resin and glass aren't my idea of a good time. I had to redo the floor and re-tab all of my cabinet 'mounts' - that was enough for me .

Does your trailer have the same 'U' band being used for your awning? I haven't decided if I'm going to put that back or buy a roll-out unit.

Oh - another thing I did (personal choice of course) was drill out the rivits on the bumper and remove it. I was never crazy about the rear molded bumper on the Bigfoot. I'm still a Boler lover deep down. I was hesitant to take it off, thinking there may be a nasty steel apparatus below it serving as the support, but the box on the back is really just a faux bumper. When I did my body work, I filled all of the holes and I'm going to keep it nice and clean. I may have a tubular steel one fabricated and powder coated down the road. To me the organic shape of the unit was hampered by this big rectangular box. I've got some 7" LED bus lights from 'Autolumination' that will look pretty slick on the back (compliments to Robert Johans at TEP - he's done some amazing work).

Mike
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Old 06-14-2010, 02:19 AM   #17
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Quote:
I thought that maybe a syringe and a steady hand would just fill up the holes on the wood 'inner' for the screws to seat.
Mike,

Okay, glad you haven't picked up the silicone cartridge

I don't have time to read back through the thread now, but I'm wondering about that bit I quoted above. I think you had asked about sealing, including a belly band, but I don't remember a part about filling holes in wood. I am still not totally clear on how the Bigfoot belly band works. Also, are you talking about removing it and putting sealant behind it? Or ?

If you are filling holes in wood, then thickened epoxy might be the way to go --- I just can't say for sure because I can't visualize exactly what you are doing.

I just don't want to steer you wrong (which is why I was asking questions earlier). Butyl is great, and is what I would recommend to bed things like vents and windows, but I'm still not clear on the belly band situation (except I know you don't want to use silicone )

Raya
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Old 06-14-2010, 01:02 PM   #18
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Hi Raya,

I'll try to make this one short - I can get a little long-winded.

The top half of the Lil BF sits over the bottom and 'caps' it by about 3". The belly band on our trailer is a 'U' or 'C' -shaped band that is screwed through the 2 fiberglass halves which overlap, and into a wood strip inside the trailer.

All of the screws that go through the belly band are then covered by a cosmetic strip that tucks into the band.

In my mind, running butyl behind the belly band (between it and the trailer exterior), and putting the cosmetic strip back in, should prevent any water from getting inside.

Here's a detail of the LBF belly band area:


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Old 06-14-2010, 08:04 PM   #19
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Ah so! Now I see what you mean - thanks.

Not that this is directly applicable, but I wonder if the upper and lower halves are also fiberglassed together on the inside, perhaps behind the wood (I would think so).

So okay, I agree that butyl tape or a good caulk behind the band is a good plan.

If the holes into the wood were a bit wallowed out - but not really rotten - then I think I would fill them with thickened epoxy and then re-pre-drill before putting the screws back in.

One could even then potentially drill and tap for machine screws (not all the way through; just into the epoxy), but that is probably overkill.

Thanks again for the explanation and sketch.

Raya
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Old 06-14-2010, 08:53 PM   #20
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Mike,

Yes, I have he same U band for the awning and haven't quite decided what I am going to do. I'll have the decide fairly soon because as soon as I have the floor installed, I'll be moving to exterior prep work for painting. I plan on asking around boat shops in the area to see if I can find someone that is willing to allow me to do the prep and have them paint. I really want the prep done correctly, and I want to save money as well. And, of course, I want to find someone who is experienced with working with 2 part Interlux.

Please tell me how you tabbed for your cabinet mounts. A detached cabinet over the sink is what sent me down the road to an entire renovation. From what I could tell, this cabinet was secured to a piece of wood that was simply glued to the fiberglass. Did you tab-in the wood to the fiberglass? I'm sure that is the way to go, but would love some tips on doing this kind of work on the inside roof. I'm thinking that gravity makes this a bit interesting. I have these visions of attempting to keep the wood in place and keeping the glass cloth in place while resin is dripping all over the place.

Thanks,
Carl
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