Help! Interior cracks in fiberglass - Fiberglass RV
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:08 PM   #1
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Name: Kortney
Trailer: Trillium
Ontario
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Help! Interior cracks in fiberglass

Hi Everyone- hoping someone can help me! Spent the last summer finding and putting an extreme amount of hours into redoing the interior and exterior of a 13ft 73í Trillium. Just uncovered it for the spring time and went in to do a cleanup and found two big 3-4inch cracks in the fiberglass between the dinette benches and the ďsinkĒ cupboard and tall cupboard(basically along the seems headed downward on both sides of each bench). It terrifies me because I automatically think ďis the trailer cracking in half!? Because these cracks are on a seam am I able to do a fiberglass fix? Or will the cracks just continue to grow anyway?! I stick my head in the cupboard under the sink and see light through...and it looks as if it might of been patched from the inside before as thereís left over fiberglass thatís come loose...or so it appears and at the back of the sink as well at same spot. I never seen these gigantic cracks before on the visable side. Looked in backside of tall cupboard but canít really see corner as box panel is there. If anyone has some insight it would be greatly appreciated.
Iíve attached a pic (not of my camper because I forgot to take some but can attach some tomorrow!) but just shows where the big cracks are forming on each side of the benches.
Thank you everyone in advance!
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Old 05-14-2019, 08:28 PM   #2
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Name: bill
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19; 1977 Trillium 1300
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I recognize that picture because its my camper. On Trilliums, the dinette benches and the sink cabinet are fiberglass pieces that are NOT the shell of the camper. They are molded fiberglass pieces attached to the shell. So if one of these interior cabinets has a crack in the fiberglass, you need to fix it like any fiberglass crack. Either read up on doing your own fiberglass repairs, or hire a boat repair person to do it for you.
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Old 05-14-2019, 09:11 PM   #3
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Name: Kortney
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thrifty bill View Post
I recognize that picture because its my camper. On Trilliums, the dinette benches and the sink cabinet are fiberglass pieces that are NOT the shell of the camper. They are molded fiberglass pieces attached to the shell. So if one of these interior cabinets has a crack in the fiberglass, you need to fix it like any fiberglass crack. Either read up on doing your own fiberglass repairs, or hire a boat repair person to do it for you.
Thank you Thrifty Bill- and thank you for letting me use your picture I guess! Lol looks like you know what youíre doing. So I suppose then just patching the crack with fiberglass will be fine and the crack will not continue to grow? I will attach a picture OF MY OWN camper tomorrow so will show size and degree of how it is cracking. Wondering why this happened so suddenly and what would cause it on both sides. Thanks again!
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Old 05-14-2019, 11:34 PM   #4
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Name: Kelly
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Go under the trailer and do an inspection to see if anything is happening to the frame or the structure. It looks to be right where the level of the flooring changes in height. I would say that there is obviously some underlying shift happening in the structure of the trailer if you are seeing new cracks suddenly developing on both sides of that same area.
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Old 05-15-2019, 07:14 AM   #5
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Okay! Thank you K Corbin. I will see if we get it up to get a good look under it. Hoping it’s nothing on the exterior shell.
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Old 05-15-2019, 07:37 AM   #6
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Good point. Its not really the cracks, its all about what caused them. What have you done to the trailer so far? Body to frame bolts? Frame itself? Axle? Floor integrity?

Are cracks a new thing, or just something you recently noticed? The dinette side to side is one piece of fiberglass, that connects to the lower kitchen cabinet on one side and the closet on the other. If it is a recent problem, its almost like the rear of the trailer is flexing up and down. If so, a fiberglass repair will only be temporary.

How is the flooring inside the dinette benches? I've seen some Trilliums with serious floor rot in that area.
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Old 05-15-2019, 07:50 AM   #7
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Yes good point. A weakness in the Trillium frame design is that the frame rails are NOT one piece. There is a splice in the frame rail in the same location where the axle is welded to the frame rail.

When my Trillium 45000 axle was replaced, the mechanic did two things:

1. Added the Dexter adapter plate so that the new axle could be bolted on instead of welded on.
2. Added a large, sturdy custom machined steel plate to reinforce the frame rail splice on both sides of the trailer frame.
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Old 05-15-2019, 07:51 AM   #8
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Are we talking about an actual crack in the fiberglass, or is there a gap opening up between the dinette benches and the adjacent components? I believe they are separate pieces in the Trillium.

Either way, though , I agree a very careful look at the metal frame is warranted. The most common failure point is further forward where it curves upward, but youíll want to look at everything. A failure in one place can transfer stresses to another.
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Old 05-15-2019, 07:55 AM   #9
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Actually Jon, I believe that on the Trillium 1300, the bench and kitchenette are one piece. Trillium 1300 owners can confirm. On the Trillium 4500, the bench and kitchenette are separate pieces.
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Old 05-15-2019, 07:59 AM   #10
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Interesting. Learned something new- thanks, John.
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Old 05-15-2019, 08:35 AM   #11
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Name: Kortney
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Pictures!

Thanks everyone for looking into this- itís very concerning Here are a couple pictures of the cracks. And on the inside of the cupboard as well. I think it is all one unit: the bench and the kitchen or so it looks to be. We have a Tril 1300. The floor was in good shape so I thought! I will attach some pictures of it in the redo mode as well. Before the hardwood floor. And underneath the camper. We did not do anything to the axle or undercarriage besides some black tremclad- weíre fairly new to this game and all looked fairly decent under there but opinions on anything alarming would be appreciated!
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Old 05-15-2019, 08:50 AM   #12
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More pics...

Looking underneath along where the floor height changes...Iím not seeing any cracks or anything even where it meets the axel... hereís some pics of both sides by wheels
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:16 AM   #13
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Pics Before redo...and after

So Iím trying to look back and of course cannot find a pic of area where cracks are- but I would think I would of noticed them painting and whatnot....so maybe they were very tiny and grew over this last winter? Very hot hot summer last year here in Ontario and a fairly cold winter (as usually lol)- would hot and cold be a factor if stored covered outside?
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:23 AM   #14
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Thanks John- so basically there’s a spice where we are seeing the cracks located? Am I catching that right? Underneath I’m not seeing any cracks to the shell. Our axle is a bit rusty but not sure how to know if it needs replacing or if there’s a bad shift where you say this splice is? How can I tell?
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:34 AM   #15
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There's an obvious crack on your first old picture. Looks like it is getting worse.

You will need to find the source of the flex/stress first, then repair the fiberglass.


As far as pieces, it sure looks to me on my 1300 that the kitchen is one piece: lower cabinet/back splash/upper cabinet. The front gaucho is one piece. The dinette is one piece: both benches, floor between the benches including the sloped area by the rear window. It may well include the lower section of the closet as well, as the closet is two pieces. Then the top section of the closet is the last single piece.

I guess theoretically they could have molded the entire interior, dropped it in the bottom section, and then put the top half of the body over it. Wow, that would have been a tough job. But certainly each cabinet is connected to the next. And the lower kitchen has a large opening the connects to the drive side bench.

My guess is something is flexing at that point, which is directly above where the frame steps up. Again, I'd check the body to frame bolts first. They can look OK from the outside, as they tend to rot away in the middle, where they go through the floor. Imagine if your rear bolts are broken. Then the back section of the trailer could bounce on the frame. As it flexes, something will have to give. The first place would be inside where your cracks are appearing.

So is this the problem? I do not have the skill to diagnose over the internet. But those bolts are always a problem, and once you have replacement bolts in hand, its a 30 minute job. I would replace them regardless. 30 minute job, $5 in bolts (probably less than that). Save the flat square washers inside the trailer and reuse them, as they are unique. Paint them with rust converter paint if you want.

This is one of my front bolts, that went through tabs in the frame. The rear bolts that went through the frame looked just like this, although they were longer of course. Interesting to me, they all rusted out in the plywood on the floor.
fullsizeoutput_f2e by wrk101, on Flickr
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:25 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kortney M. View Post
Thanks John- so basically thereís a spice where we are seeing the cracks located? Am I catching that right? Underneath Iím not seeing any cracks to the shell. Our axle is a bit rusty but not sure how to know if it needs replacing or if thereís a bad shift where you say this splice is? How can I tell?
Kortney, yes I am saying that there's a splice in the frame directly below where the floor steps up to the dinette area. From your frame photos, I don't see a problem with the frame splice, then again I don't see the frame splice in your photos. The frame splice is located immediately forward of the axle bracket.

If you rule out a separation in the frame splice, other possibilities:

1. Damp or rotting plywood in the subfloor directly below the cracking fiberglass as previously mentioned. This would cause expansion when freezing.
2. Too much weight at the rear of the camper causing excessive flexing.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:26 AM   #17
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Exclamation Frame deterioration

Popping rivets and fiberglass cracks are almost always caused by flexing of the frame which transmits stress to the structure it was not built to withstand, both internally and externally. Factory small trailer frames are not strong enough for boondocking when they are new and deteriorate as they rust from the inside out.

No cosmetic patching will fix this. A new frame is essential for a permanent fix, but only if you don't overstress it by keeping it on road. If you anticipate boondocking, then an additional frame like this one should be considered:
https://youtu.be/zkfaMf4JCUg
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:32 AM   #18
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Kortney, from your frame pics, I don't see a frame splice. Possible your Trillium 1300 does not have a frame splice.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:53 AM   #19
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Huge thanks Bill! We will try and get it jacked up and check those bolts out hopefully before the weekend. We haven’t put too much distance on the camper and have kept it all to roads so far. Wanted to go out in it this long weekend! And now a little worried of course.
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Old 05-15-2019, 11:00 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Kortney M. View Post
Huge thanks Bill! We will try and get it jacked up and check those bolts out hopefully before the weekend. We havenít put too much distance on the camper and have kept it all to roads so far. Wanted to go out in it this long weekend! And now a little worried of course.
I strongly agree with this concern. I replaced my body/frame mounting bolts with stainless steel. I used nylock nuts to avoid squashing the fiberglass body. Also used UNISTRUT square washers.
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