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Old 07-25-2019, 09:10 PM   #1
Name: Amanda
Trailer: 1977 Boler '13
Posts: 36
Overwhelmed - order of repairs?

My beloved 77 Boler is in need of some work, and its time for me to buckle down. However, I am feeling overwhelmed about what to do when. All with the caveat that I do not have a garage, so need to be mindful of starting something that would be bad to leave mid-project if not within full cover. I am consider myself of above-average handiness and very high "I can figure it out"-ness but aside from the overwhelm I find the search function here hard to navigate so any links to relevant threads are very welcome! Feels like drinking from a fire hose.

Here is what is needed, any input on what MUST be done in what order or any considerations to timing giving my cover issues is much appreciated! I wish I had a local expert or resource, I would certainly pay for some of this to be done quickly/right but being in TN I have never even seen another Boler, only 1 new Scamp sighting over the past few years. I would also pay someone to advise or instruct remotely, is that a thing? I love my girl and want to do right by her but dang if it doesn't feel like I am ill equipped to get her where she needs to be on my own.

Trailer stuff:
-checking for overall integrity issues. I've looked and dont know of anything but am paranoid.

-new bearings (?) axels (?) (I don't know a lot about this stuff, clearly, should some be replaced or maintenanced regularly?

-Repaint/finish to clean up and prevent rust.

-new jack and possibly coupler

Camper stuff, I have done a ton of interior work, and am in pretty good shape there. This included a decent amount of fiberglass cabinet repair, paint, updating hinges and new flooring.

Exterior, she needs:
-A window A/C unit removed (I would like to do an under-bench unit if I can figure out how), and then a new full window put in the rear. This is urgent as the unit is damaged and the caulk used to seal parts between the unit and the middle of window has shrunk and therefore there are little gaps. If I am replacing the back window should I mess with the front or just tape off when I paint (see below)?

-New vent (fan?) is needed as the plastic is cracked and the screen is broken. -There are a few places in the body that could use some love Hairline cracks and questionably sealed rivets that may be fine I just dont know. Some larger holes that arent being used as propane is disconnected but not sure if I want to tackle those or not.

-Spare tire removed. Maybe replaced? The current one is not useable for sure.

-new glass for tiny window above kitchen cabinet. The current one is cracked.

-Awning hardware removed.

-Porch light fixed (NO CLUE how to tackle this but its broken, and its a unique model that was only used on certain trim levels of maybe 1-2 years so hard to find examples of good replacements.)

-New tail lights. Square ones are NOT a good look I know nothing about wiring, would a boat place or RV place be a better bet?

-PAINT. Her paint is in bad shape and there is no gelcoat to speak of. After pricing at a local boat shop ($3k), I am prepping to do myself. I have researched that a fair amount and feel fairly confident in my skill, its the timing and safe stopping points I am unsure of. Example - am I ok to tarp after window removal during sanding process? If it has to wait a few days or a week due to weather or work, is that ok?

I have 2 kids and am a recently single full-time working mom. I love DIY projects and LOVE my camper but I need to get to where this is doable and she is road-ready!

Any advice is much appreciated! I have some good Instagram accounts I follow that are so kind with answering questions, and I have read and watched a lot of blogs and videos. I've done enough (some fiberglass repair, new hinges and new door lock/handle) that I am pretty familiar with some basics but again, input on how and when to approach this list would go a long way in helping me feel better about caring for her well.
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Old 07-25-2019, 09:54 PM   #2
Senior Member
Name: bill
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19; 1977 Trillium 1300
The Mountains of North Carolina
Posts: 3,509
Fix exterior integrity issues first: leaking windows, leaking vents. Leaks left unaddressed will lead to a lot of damage.

Frame second.

Forget AC for a while, its a serious project, and can wait. Removal of current AC is a priority as part of a window fix.

Survey the floor carefully and look for soft spots. Pretty common, and with window and vent leaks, more common.

Do cosmetic stuff like paint LAST. Ugly is OK, leaking is not. Really, I would totally, completely take painting the exterior off the table for now. If/when you have everything else DONE, research how others have painted their exteriors, it does not have to be a $3,000 job. But regardless, it should be last. And if you lose motivation somewhere along the way, you will be glad you didn't put the time and expense into paint.

You may well be too busy for an undertaking like this. It may be time to do a reality check. You have plenty on your plate already.

Even a temporary carport like the ones sold at Harbor Freight can help. My neighbor has had his Sprinter van under one for over a year, and the HF carport is still doing well.

Think of all of the things that come before paint and cosmetics: frame, axle, leaks, floor repairs, electrical in and out, door sag, I could go on and on. Spending time on cosmetics when you have basic integrity issues is a big mistake.

Plenty of Scamps and other brands have been for sale in the general TN area in the last year, probably not in your town, but within a one day's drive or less. How do I know? I live near the TN border, and keep an eye out for FG campers for sale in TN. Vintage units tend to have fewer amenities. So if you want more amenities, a newer model can be a good move.

Bolers can be relatively easily turned into cash. Realize that sometimes others are better suited for projects, they could be retired, they could have a nice garage, maybe they have restored a few trailers already. Single, full time working mom with two kids, that's a lot!

I've put 10 to 20 hours a week into my Trillium project, for almost six months. And it was in pretty good shape when I started. I still have more to do, but its now camp ready.

Full disclosure on the HF carport: I have two permanent carports for my two trailers as I really like keeping my campers under cover when not in use.
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Old 07-26-2019, 06:06 AM   #3
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Name: John
Trailer: 1978 Trillium 4500, 1979 Boler 1700
Posts: 1,711
We are working on our third molded FG trailer now. Got it Almost 3 years ago. Its a Boler 17 and it started with many problems. It still has a ways to go. So I started by creating a priority list, and I keep going back and updating that list as we make progress, or find more problems. I use a spreadsheet. Here is how it works:

- Tow-able & Watertight Priority 1 items
- Camp-able Priority 1 items
- Tow-able & Watertight Priority 2 items
- Camp-able Priority 2 items
- Cosmetic items (priority 3)

Examples of tow-able priority 1 items would be having the frame, tires, bearings, axle, door, towing lights, etc in a condition that the trailer can be towed!

Watertight priority 1 items are self explanatory.

Camp-able priority 1 items would be having the basic amenities that you "must have" to go camping, whatever those are for you. For example, sleeping surfaces, a countertop, curtains, water, cooking, lighting, etc. Its easy to see that some items in this category can be pushed down to priority 2 if you really want to go camping this year.

Priority 2 items are those that can wait.

Cosmetic (priority 3) items would be paint on inside and outside surfaces, repairing holes, scratches and cracks that don't affect tow-ability or camp-ability, painting the frame, etc.
Trillium 4500 Journal
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Old 07-26-2019, 06:16 AM   #4
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Name: John
Trailer: 1978 Trillium 4500, 1979 Boler 1700
Posts: 1,711
And yes, all the body to frame bolts were shot. That is definitely a tow-able priority 1 item. To start putting in new frame bolts, had to first patch rotted out floor around the rear floor bolts. Then put in some much larger 3/8" bolts with nylock nuts using 3"x3" square washers...

EDIT: And of course the floor rot was caused by water leaks, primarily from the windows. One of the first things we did was to remove and re-seal ALL of the windows. Again this was a priority 1 item.
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Old 07-26-2019, 07:10 AM   #5
Senior Member
Name: bill
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19; 1977 Trillium 1300
The Mountains of North Carolina
Posts: 3,509
Spreadsheet or a hand written list is a good idea. Looking at a list can make the decision easier. Do I have the patience, time, and resources to complete the list? The more you have someone else to do, the less it makes sense.

I have at least 200 hours into my project, probably more. And I am not done. If I paid someone to do this work, shops around here are between $75 to $100 an hour. Lets assume they are more efficient than me. It would still be more than possible for me to have spent $10,000 on labor alone.

These projects often don't make sense financially. I just like working on stuff. But if my time was already wrapped up with a J O B and a family with two children, and a single parent, no way I could possibly carve out the time for such an undertaking.

Meanwhile, experienced rebuilders, like Randy Bishop, sell his finished projects for less than the labor quote above.

Personally, I would sell the Boler and get something from Randy. The net cost would be LESS than what you will spend on the Boler. People really like Bolers, you should do well selling it in project condition to the right person.

And while you are working on the Boler, you are not camping, not working, and not tending to family responsibilities. Thats a lot to squeeze in. This is how people end up with half finished projects. They incur much of the expense, and reap none of the benefits. I have restored four vintage homes over the years. I can't imagine doing it as a single parent of two.

Here's a simple question, do you have 15 hours a week of "spare" time? And do you have $100 per week in spare money? Any camper is a luxury item. Restoring a vintage trailer can be rewarding but typically takes much more time than people think, and more $$. Surprises tend to all be bad news time and $$ wise. I've done enough projects that I am a little better at estimating time and cost.

My early home restorations my estimates were typically off by a factor of TEN. It would take TEN times as long, and cost more (but not always ten times more). Afternoon jobs turned into weeks. I took paneling down once (way out of place in a 1906 house). Figured it would take an afternoon or two to finish. Well, when I took the paneling down, there was no finished wall behind it. Someone had pieced together ceiling tiles, cardboard, whatever they had laying around. Once I took that crap down, I found extensive carpenter ant damage and ROT. Project took me over a month. I had ass-u-me'd there was going to be a plaster wall behind it. Figured I would have some cracks to repair. Ouch!
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Old 07-26-2019, 07:13 AM   #6
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Name: Gordon
Trailer: 2015 Scamp (16 Std Layout 4) with '15 Toyota Sienna LE Tug
North Carolina
Posts: 4,582
One has to ask what one wants out of the trailer.

If you like working on projects then keeping it might well be the thing to do.
If you like to go camping (or RVing) then perhaps keeping it is not the thing to do.

Originally Posted by thrifty bill View Post
Even a temporary carport like the ones sold at Harbor Freight can help. My neighbor has had his Sprinter van under one for over a year, and the HF carport is still doing well.
Ditto.. mine is two years old but was not up over the winter (it will not tolerate a snow load). But I reinforced it a lot, including:
  • Adding a self-tapping screw to keep each section of pipe connected (except for the vertical leg sections).
  • Using better ground anchors.
  • Adding guy line and ground anchors to the middle section.
  • Using rope from the front and rear roof peaks which is tied to the frame of the camper.
If this fails it will cost me under $150 to replace (including the extra stuff). That is unless it damages the camper when it sails away.. that is my primary concern and why I will still likely get a $2200 carport when I can.
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Old 07-26-2019, 03:38 PM   #7
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Name: Kathleen (Kai: ai as in wait)
Trailer: Amerigo FG-16 1973 "Peanut"
Greater Seattle Metropolitan Area, Washington
Posts: 2,566
Too, too familiar. Paul worked for nine months, seven days a week, up to ten hours a day to fix Peanut. We stripped it back, took it off frame, and started from scratch. Frame went to a machine/weld shop for testing and repairs and painting. Shell got stripped to the fiberglass inside and out. All holes patched thoroughly. All windows taken out. Complete sand job outside. New paneling inside after all new wiring.

ALL the fixings.

Good luck to you; it's a good time to "make it your own" and to finally know exactly what is where and why in there. Enjoy the process as much as you possibly can. You're going to be so proud of yourself and the work!



Peanut, the project:
Attached Thumbnails
1A 11 What's left of the original flooring spread out on garage floor.jpg   1A 12 Rot washed with bleach, hose-rinsed, and drying in the days before lift-off.jpg  

Peanut 10 2015 to 6 2016 020.jpg   Peanut 10 2015 to 6 2016 027.JPG  

Semper ubi sub ubi.
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Old 07-26-2019, 05:20 PM   #8
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Name: Donna D
Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA, 2014
Posts: 25,239
I look at restoring an all-molded towable kinda like what I would do for a sticks 'n bricks home. It STARTS with the foundation. No point in putting on a new roof, if the foundation is crumbling.

1) The frame. If it's broken, cracked... it's not going anywhere AND that includes the coupler.
2) Bearings! Then tires. Brakes? If the bearings are seized.... What is the 'Born On Date' of the tires?
3) ALL exterior lights work, especially the brake lights. You are sharing the road with the rest of us.
4) NO leaks. (This is the 'roof'.) Windows, lights, vents, rivets and snap caps.
5) Now the interior. CLEAN. No mold (you don't want to breathe THAT). YOUR dirt is cleaner than THEIR dirt.
6) Theme or decorations. These are just 'nice.' And are individual. Curtains/upholstery/throw rugs/pillows, etc.

In the end, if the trailer is safe to go down the road and there's no electrics/propane/foam cushions inside... just treat it like a HARD-SIDED TENT. (air matress/sleeping bags, etc.)

I can pretty much guarantee, you'll have more fun than anyone in a canvas tent.

Make memories!
Donna D.
Ten Forward - 2014 Escape 5.0 TA
Double Yolk - 1988 16' Scamp Deluxe
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Old 07-29-2019, 06:46 PM   #9
Senior Member
Name: Duane
Trailer: 1976 Trillium 1300
New Brunswick
Posts: 153
Overwhelmed-Orderof repairs

Hi, most of the replies have a list of things to do. I suggest you do make a list of what you need to accomplish and prioritize the jobs then. This will give you something to cross off each time you finish an item. Consider the weather may factor in as well on some things. Good luck with your repairs in any case ! You can do it I'm sure. Duane
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Old 07-31-2019, 10:17 AM   #10
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Name: George
Trailer: Trillium
Posts: 196
With that list of repairs and a single working mom: 1) get a boyfriend or girlfriend that is handy or has a lot of money in the bank else 2) get your kids to take it to school and get the shop teacher to fix it as part of shop class.
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Old 07-31-2019, 01:12 PM   #11
Junior Member
Name: James
Trailer: 1976 Boler Voyager 13'
Posts: 16
G'day: All of previous posts have good suggestions. I would add a couple of caveats. First and foremost is the condition of the frame--that should be inspected by a qualified trailer shop or equivalent to determine that the frame is still serviceable.

If the frame is not good, you are looking at having a replacement built. The Scamp 13 footer was originally virtually the same as the Boler. I believe Scamp was originally based on the Boler molds and possibly the new scamp frame might be interchangeable. Some of the other Scamp parts are.

If going for a new frame, it is possible to have extra body mounting plates installed on the frame to bolt the body down. The original Boler used only 4 mounting plates and bolts, supplemented by 13 or 14 sheet metal screws through the floor into the top surface of the frame--these are useless--continually working loose and providing virtually no holding power.

If frame is good, axle is the next question. If original, the axle is toast at this age. Fortunately these axles are relatively cheap and easy to acquire. If change is necessary, consider going with electric brakes as well, not a lot more expense.

If frame and axle are good, and/or within your budget, then the balance of the work is within your abilities.
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Old 07-31-2019, 01:50 PM   #12
Name: Alan
Trailer: 1983 Casita & 1972 home-built
Posts: 58
Wow, great advice all! Projects like this have a way of expanding until they eat all your time and money. Fifteen hours a week may be an optimistic take. With the internet you can learn how to be good at almost anything, but that learning takes a lot of time in itself. I watched at least 60 hours of standing seam metal roofing installation videos on YouTube before I felt like I had a useful overview of what I wanted to do. (Familiar story: I am a multi-skilled builder and my home remodel is 22 years in progress.)

Some people eat dessert first. Some people can wait until after dinner. With projects like this dessert may be years away and you have to chase it down. But it is a wonderful dessert when you finally catch it. Are you a roadrunner or a wile e coyote?

Costco sells a very well-made 10x20 car tent with side windows and doors at each end for $230, a great bargain. Only sold in stores May-August, though, until they run out. I ball-tie a cheap sacrificial tarp over the top of mine to be eaten by the sun so the more expensive valance tarp underneath will last many years instead of about 2. Mine will handle some snow, but I take a broom and knock it off after it snows. I added a couple of rope purlins on both sides near the bottom of the rafters to limit the amount of sagging by the top cover under the snow. Be sure to stake it down with something a foot long or more.
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