Fiberglass damage and dry rot - Fiberglass RV

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Old 02-03-2007, 10:38 PM   #1
Andrea in Oregon's Avatar
Trailer: 1990 Bigfoot
Posts: 34
Hi, and thanks in advance for reading this post and hopefully responding with some advice!

I brought home my new Bigfoot three days ago, knowing there was a little fiberglass work to do. Didn't realize the extent of the damage until I crawled underneath, and then began tearing out the wall board. It looks as though the trailer had a small mishap, hitting something on the front passenger side, which jarred the awning enough to strip out all of the bolt holes on the top and bottom that were holding it on. The awning was still on, but not very securely. Here are pictures...

Exterior passenger side underneath trailer (where it hit something)

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Bottom stripped out bolt holes

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Bottom interior water damage

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Top Exterior stripped out bolt holes

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Top interior water damage

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Any advice?? I had a fiberglass guy come out - he will have no trouble fixing the fiberglass as long as he can get to it - that is why I started demoing out the wall board and lino. the subfloor is bad, and so is the plywood behind the wallboard.

I am so overwhelmed - i didn't think that it was this bad or that I would have to take out the upper cabinet - but it looks like I may have to pull everything in that corner out!!! What do you guys think???? This is my first trailer - I don't know how much this is going to cost me if I have to have an RV place put it back together for me - any ideas??

Thanks again!!!!

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Old 02-03-2007, 11:12 PM   #2
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[quote]Top Exterior stripped out bolt holes

Attachment 6307

Andrea: Isn't this really photo of that face on Mars?

Seriously, though, I, too, have lots of fiberglass work in my future and I keep on thinking how great the trailer will look when I am finished. Today I will start taking things off and pulling things out and discovering what's what. I can't offer any advice about costs but I know from my sailing days a lot of people do their own fiberglass repair and Ill give it a try. Luckily, these are small trailers. Good luck!

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Old 02-04-2007, 06:34 AM   #3
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Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA, 2014
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Take a deep breath. This is fixable. You could even do most of it. While fiberglass work isn't necessarily easy, it's not that hard least repairs. Get to the library and see if you can check out a book on fiberglass...maybe boat building. Read. West Marine has everything you need....even Bi-Mart has small fiberglass repair kits.

If you chose to have someone else take care of it, try a boat repair place in your area. RV repair places MAY be more expensive. Boat repair places are having their downtime right now and you may find someone who can fix the fiberglass right now!

Bill G. lives in Eugene, maybe he can give you some assistance in finding someone that can fix it. Send Bill an e-mail: Bill and Jacquie G.
Donna D.
Ten Forward - 2014 Escape 5.0 TA
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Old 02-04-2007, 08:44 AM   #4
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Bummer, Andrea. You've started down the path to making it better. Fibreglass work is messy and the sanding can be a drag, but it isn't difficult and the finished product is 100% as good as new. West Systems has a lot of info at Consider diagnosing the extent of the dry rot with an awl; you may be able to do this without removing everything. It may be worth having someone with some trailer/boat experience assess it. As Donna says, stay calm, deep breaths, and a logical path will appear.
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Old 02-04-2007, 10:17 AM   #5
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Not the end of the world, Andrea! Should be repairable. If you want someone to take it off your hands...
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Old 02-04-2007, 10:38 AM   #6
Andrea in Oregon's Avatar
Trailer: 1990 Bigfoot
Posts: 34
Thank you guys for the advice - you have made me feel better already

Sorry Bob, I am nowhere near ready to give up my new bigfoot! When I have finished getting this one back up to snuff and used it a little I will put it up for sale here. I really want to give it a go before I call it quits!

Thanks again - I will keep you all updated on my progress!
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Old 02-04-2007, 11:12 AM   #7
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ďAnyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength.Ē
You can do this! I have found that any help you may need usually comes around when you are ready to receive it. It's a "Zen" thing...

You have found a Gumption Trap:
"Throughout the process of fixing the machine things always come up, low quality things, from a dusted knuckle to an accidentally ruined 'irreplaceable' assembly. These drain off gumption, destroy enthusiasm and leave you so discouraged you want to forget the whole business."
Frederick - The Scaleman
1978 Fiber Stream 16 named "Eggstasy" & 1971 Compact Jr. named "Boomerang"
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Old 02-04-2007, 12:37 PM   #8
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My trailer had a huge hole in the fiberglass in one of the wheelwells, along with a hole in the plywood in that area (probably a tire-blowout), and I patched it all with some plywood and with fiberglass patch and the strips that hold the patch together, and it wasn't hard. My only complaint is that the fiberglass patch material stinks to high-heaven (you'll need a gas-mask). I didn't have to sand the fiberglass or make the patch look really pretty, because it's in a hidden space, but I'd imagine with an electric sander, that wouldn't be too difficult. I think if you get a book on fiberglass boat repair, that would answer any questions you encounter as you go. You could save yourself a huge chunk of change by doing the work yourself, and it's kind of fun if you have time for it. The people on this forum can also give you some great pointers if you get stuck.

Good luck!
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Old 02-04-2007, 05:20 PM   #9
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Andrea, the really good thing about fiberglass is that you can try and do the repairs yourself, decide it's a bad job, rip it out and do it over, decide it's better but not good enough and still have a choice to do it again or take it to a pro!

That's a bit different with the inside stuf, at least the parts that may only be accessible through the fiberglass.
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Old 02-04-2007, 05:34 PM   #10
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You do have some work ahead of you and the use of old fashioned elbow grease as we say in TN. Overall, there are two types of products on the market, available at auto parts stores or wallyworld. One is the famous Bondo. It is a putty with a hardening agent, you mix, then have about 10 mins. to get it spread. With it, you need a backer of some sort. As one post mentioned a wheel well hole and using plywood. If it is a spot that wood or some other item can be used behind it, bondo is good. Another item is the fiberglass cloth and resin. The resin is probably the item mentioned as smelly. It does have strong vapour and is dangerous to inhale in large amount, so read the label and yeah, get a mask that will block vapour. You will need a power sander if you are doing a large spot. It will help to conserve the elbow grease. Body shops ususally do some hand sanding with water too.

I have used bondo and the cloth over the years for various jobs, I am not perfect, but practice does get you closer. Practice on a piece of plywood maybe, drill a few holes then fill them, sand and spray some paint. It will kinda let you know how it all works. The cloth and resin is the fav method for me. It like bondo has some time limits on exposure to air. Once it is dry, it is hard and there to stay. You basically can work a small area, with a cheap paint brush, which will be a throw away, spread a thin layer of resin, then lay on the cloth, then brush on more resin to get a full coverage. work from the center toward the edges. Good luck.
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Old 02-04-2007, 07:46 PM   #11
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Hi, Andrea and congrats on your new-to-you Bigfoot! We'll add our encouragement to what others have said ... just remember, "one can eat an elephant ... just one bite at a time!". We were fortunate our pre-loved Scamp was in great condition when it came to us, but we really admire those on this terrific forum who have rehab-ed or modified Eggs to put their unique 'stamp' on their rigs. Go for it! Good luck & happy travels. Looking forward to seeing you & "the Egg formerly known as Betsy" at the Oregon Gathering. L 'n D
ďImagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions.Ē A. Einstein
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Old 02-05-2007, 02:46 AM   #12
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Andrea, I have found a reliable trailer repairman in our local area if you decide you need help beyond the forum. You can e-mail me through the forum. Good luck. Are you coming to the northern gathering?
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Old 02-05-2007, 04:36 AM   #13
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I completely gutted my Love Bug due to a rotten floor. After laying down a new wood floor I began the task of learning to work with fiberglass. It is fun once you get started. If the damage around the wood isn't too bad you may consider using a product called wood flour mixed with the resin. You mix it to the consistency of peanut butter and then use a bondo spatula to spread it on. It's not as messy as having to work with the fiberglass cloth and I am told that once dried the stuff is stronger than the actual wood. I used bondo on the trailer exterior, which is easy to work with. Like you I was a little overwelmed at the damage to my trailer when I bought it, but have enjoyed working on it and learning new things along the way. Good luck with your project.--Lisa
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Old 02-05-2007, 09:24 AM   #14
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Andrea, I learned fiberglass work in a no win situation! I was on the road! It wasn't that big a crisis, just messy.

The door on my 13 broke away from it's hinges. With the help of a friend, I had to cut into the body of the burro, replace the wood mounts for the door and then cover it all up again.

It's better than new now and I got to see a little about how these are constructed.
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Old 02-10-2007, 01:39 PM   #15
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Hi! I haven't been active here the last little while, but the job you have ahead of you is going to be very gratifying when it's done. One comment, the top and bottom exterior stripped bolt holes remind me of a broken away awning. If you are not going to put back what was there before, just glass over it. However, if you want to mount something (such as an awning), I recommend the following.

Fiberglass in a piece of good quality 3/4" plywood on the inside, at least twice as wide and twice as tall as the external item bracket. By good quality I mean essentially void free, such as baltic birch.

Re-drill the bolt holes.

Install a t-nut on the back of the plywood for secure support.

Don't worry, we've all been there at one time or another!

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Old 02-11-2007, 09:24 PM   #16
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Wear a mask, goggles, and long sleeves! There is a ton of fiberglass repair info on the internet.
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Old 02-12-2007, 02:00 PM   #17
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Trailer: 1994 20 ft Bigfoot 5th Wheel / Toyota Tacoma SR5
Posts: 229
I've just recently had to replace the awning on our foot. I did as was previously mentioned, put a peice of baltic birch plywood on the inside of the trailer and I also used a standoff bracket on the outside to spread the load over a slightly larger area. When the awning was attached, the bolts were long enough to go through the awning holes, the brackets, the double walls of the trailer and the baltic birch ply as well as a large fender washer that was put on before the lock washer and nut.

I'll go out and take a couple of pics and post them shortly,

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Old 02-15-2007, 12:50 AM   #18
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Trailer: 1990 Bigfoot
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Thanks guys!!

Paul- can't wait to see your pictures!

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