Casita Floor Troubles - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-05-2019, 10:10 PM   #1
Junior Member
 
Name: David
Trailer: Casita
Arkansas
Posts: 15
Casita Floor Troubles

Rob (or whoever may see this and offer advice), I purchased a 17' 2003 Casita a few months ago that had some "mysterious" damage to the shell directly over the tongue channel, both sides. See the attached pic. At the time I had no idea what the deal was and asked here for someone to explain.

After reading your opening post and getting into the demo here, it sounds like I may be dealing with the same thing that you're describing. First of all, there has obviously been some floor repair and partial replacement on this one before I got it, and very amateurish at that. But from what I'm finding, I have an OSB floor that's coming apart, attached ONLY to the trailer frame. No attachment to the exterior wall or anywhere else. It seems pretty apparent that the weight of the shell has caused the outer edges of the FG floor to fall away from the OSB floor at any point not supported by the trailer frame. Bouncing down the road in this shape did the rest.

My intention is to go back with marine grade plywood flooring. but I'm wondering if the frame you built and pictured earlier in the thread was to remedy the same sagging shell edges that I'm facing? Is fiberglassing the ply flooring to the wall (once raised back into place) something that should be done, and if so, is that all I should have to do? I'm also concerned that the glass shell may have been in this shape long enough that trying to push it back up into place may damage it. Did you experience trouble bringing the shell back to shape?

There's not much that could happen that hasn't been covered here at one time or another, so sorry if I'm cluttering things up here.

I'm including a pic I just took of the door threshold area that kinda shows how the wall weight seems to have pushed the FG floor down and away from the ply floor.
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Casita1.jpg   Casita2.jpg  

Casita3.jpg  
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Old 01-06-2019, 06:01 PM   #2
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Name: David
Trailer: Casita
Arkansas
Posts: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Borrego Dave View Post
David, sure does sound like a Mickey Mouse fix but the shell does have to be tabbed on to the top of the floor to keep the shell from dropping like yours has. Curious if you've checked out the rear floor to see if it has been "repaired". If the rear is still good to go the fix may not be to difficult. FG can be moved back to the normal shape. Many roofs have been brought back to normal with inside braces/jacks a little at a time although warm weather really helps. A cradle like Rob built should allow you to lift the shell enough for the correct height to reshape/glass the shells lower front lip. Then replace the floor and glass in the tabbing. Without that tabbing it wouldn't make any difference if it's OSB or Marine ply from dropping again.
Dave, I think the elevated flooring in the rear is fine. The part I'll be worrying with is the lower floor. Looked under the trailer today and there's no sign of wall sag from the raised dinette area, back. From there as you move forward it gets worse and worse.

The more I tear into, the more issues I see. Almost every rivet hole has spider cracks in the gel coat. Somebody couldn't get things back right when they re-assembled it before, so they just drilled another hole and siliconed the first. This happened more than once. Some people should be forever barred from owning a tube of silicone. I'll be cleaning that stuff for a long time.

I was not really wanting to tear the carpeting off the walls, but I'm beginning to wonder if I can avoid it. Not sure I can do a proper job with the rivet hole patching without it.

But the thing that really worries me is getting everything wired back and plumbed again!

Rob, if you had rather I not junk your thread up, PM me or something. Let me know!!
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20190106_154200.jpg   20190106_154541.jpg  

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Old 01-08-2019, 07:12 PM   #3
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Name: David
Trailer: Casita
Arkansas
Posts: 15
Thanks to Janet who got me set up here and out of an uncomfortable situation (that I got myself into) with another extremely understanding community member. I'll start again and try to do better this time.

Lots of stuff rolling around in my head at this point. Some of it is straightforward, like removing the sink/cooktop cabinet and exposing the last of the lower level OSB flooring. But, even though I believe the raised area to be fine, I think I'm too deep in to not check it out as well. Not only will this give me peace of mind, but it should allow access to the frame bolts to free the frame from the shell. The frame is in desperate need of cleaning and painting, plus I'd like to get additional bracing done on it. Oh, did I mention the axle is kaput? The replacement is scheduled to be here tomorrow.

Still leaning right and left about replacing the through-the-shell rivets with more rivets or SS bolts with nuts. Re-install the original toilet, or port-a-potty, Re-fit the A/C in the closet up front, or go with a portable unit, and on and on.

Dave you asked about the tall closet up front, yes, it's there. It's the area shown in the first pic in my last post with a big ole A/C hole in the wall. Lots to do, and it's got me a bit overwhelmed.
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Old 01-09-2019, 11:10 AM   #4
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Name: Stephen
Trailer: Casita
Tennessee
Posts: 167
Exclamation Shell Damage Problems

The shell damage problem you describe is caused by the frame flexing which is inadequate for your use. No amount of shell repair will fix the flexing frame which is overstressing and damaging the entire shell structure. Nearly all stock small trailer frames are not strong enough for boondocking operations. They are barely adequate for lumbering down a paved highway. Additionally, dufus owners routinely overload them which overstresses everything even more. Yours has obviously been overloaded which is very easy to do if you don't weigh your trailer and contents. WHEN YOU DO YOU'LL BE AMAZED AT HOW HEAVY IT IS. The solution is to repair the shell and mount the existing frame on a stronger frame then upgrade the axle, brakes, rims and tires. I recommend sealed axle bearings which will more than pay for themselves in reduced maintenance costs and inconvenience. Here is an example of a boondock Casita conversion:
https://youtu.be/zkfaMf4JCUg

Stephen
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Old 01-09-2019, 11:50 AM   #5
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Name: bill
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19; 1977 Trillium 1300
The Mountains of North Carolina
Posts: 3,083
Registry
Relatively easy to inspect the rear floor. Just take a look inside the dinette benches and probe the condition of the OSB there. If its really soft, then its rotted and you need to replace.

I'd like to see a picture of the entire trailer. +10 None of the molded FG trailers are made for off road service. Sure, a smooth dirt road, no problem. But its not jeep material. Axles and frames are on the light duty side. I don't know the number, but Casita had quite a few through bolts holding the body to the frame. Kind of hard to fathom this is a 2003 model. Looks like its had a tough life. Usually everything is fixable to someone with the time/tools/aptitude/patience/covered work space.

Every few years, Casita has improved their floor design. Its a weakness IMHO. The trailer is designed like a bathtub (fiberglass bottom). So any water that reaches the bottom is trapped inside, doing its thing on the OSB. Some comment that the Casita floor is encased in fiberglass, but the top side is just fiberglass resin, and every penetration is a chance for water to reach the OSB (think plumbing, gas lines, electrical, body bolts).
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Old 01-09-2019, 12:07 PM   #6
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Name: David
Trailer: Casita
Arkansas
Posts: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by thrifty bill View Post
Kind of hard to fathom this is a 2003 model. Looks like its had a tough life.
Yeah, well Bill, you're very perceptive. The original registration (not the 2nd sales receipt I looked at) says it's a 1981 model. Shoot, I was only 22 years off. I've got pics from the day I bought it. When I get home, I'll find and post them. I guess, when you know ALL the facts, it's really in pretty good shape for it's age. What, 38YEARS?!
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Old 01-09-2019, 03:31 PM   #7
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Name: David
Trailer: Casita
Arkansas
Posts: 15
This is what I've got. It looks better from a distance...
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Old 01-10-2019, 07:57 PM   #8
Junior Member
 
Name: David
Trailer: Casita
Arkansas
Posts: 15
Okay, at the risk of sounding like an imbecile, I have to correct my previous post concerning the age of my Casita. I can't tell you how, though maybe someone else has an opinion , but I looked at vehicle registrations (2 of them) and read 1981 when they both clearly say 1991.

THIS LOOKS BAD, I know, But I promise, folks, I am not an escapee from an institution! I do, however, intend to see my optometrist at my earliest opportunity. Does sorry count?
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Old 01-10-2019, 09:01 PM   #9
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Name: bill
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19; 1977 Trillium 1300
The Mountains of North Carolina
Posts: 3,083
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1991 floor design much different than the current Casitas. A call to Casita to discuss floor repair options would be a good use of a few minutes. Then there is a dedicated Casita forum. Lots of floor repair threads there too.

Be careful removing vertical walls, they supply a lot of the structural support for the roof. Sides will tend to bow out, door won't fit, etc.
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Old 04-21-2019, 01:21 PM   #10
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Name: David
Trailer: Casita
Arkansas
Posts: 15
Here it is, a little better that 3 months after my last post, but I'm only just now getting to something worth posting.

In this pic, can anyone tell me what the trapezoidal looking cut out is under the a/c compartment? It had an 8" x 8" metal vent cover with one corner cut off over it. Do I need to leave that cut out open? Does the a/c need that for air flow?


Just beginning the process of glassing damaged areas and screw holes. Second picture is one of two examples that must be dealt with. Pics and a description of the patching process will be coming along shortly...
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