1975 Ventura Restomod - Fiberglass RV
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Old 01-12-2024, 12:17 PM   #1
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Trailer: 2002 Bigfoot
Posts: 28
1975 Ventura Restomod

It's hard to believe that I have been a member of this site for almost 15 years and this is my first post!

When I joined this site I was looking for a good used trailer after buying a conventional stick-build and finding that it had a good amount of water damage. I discovered fiberglass and ever since then I was hooked.

I can't remember the order but since then I have owned a newer Bigfoot, I want to say late nineties or early 2000's, that I quickly sold because I thought it was too expensive for the amount of camping we did. I regret it now seeing the prices! I also bought an '80's fixer upper Bigfoot somewhere along the line that I had good intentions of restoring, but is still not. And I also owned another 1975 Ventura.

The 75 Ventura is the camper we actually used. It was in pretty good shape and I didn't do much to it because of that. I had a few mods from the previous owner but was in very original shape and good condition. So while I thought it would be nice to have some updates, I am also a sucker for originality and did not want to ruin that. I sold that trailer a few years ago because it had been sitting unused for several years. It seemed it was time to let someone else enjoy it.

Well, I just couldn't stop looking. I would occasionally check out Kijiji for Ventura's or other fiberglass RV's just to see what was out there and one day while looking I came across another 1975 Ventura in need of a lot of love. It was just what I was looking for - a blank canvas that I wouldn't feel guilty painting all over!

This is what I found. It was fairly gutted when I got it. Most of the upper wall paneling had been removed and replaced and the wardrobe cabinet removed, which may or may not have added to the roof problem. The trailer lights were replaced but not working. Holes had been cut in the floor for ice-fishing and then covered over again. Holes for outside speakers cut in. Front window was probably broken at one pint so it was covered with old road signs. The list just goes on and on.


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Old 01-12-2024, 12:17 PM   #2
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Trailer: 2002 Bigfoot
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More Pictures

Here are more pictures.

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Old 01-12-2024, 12:18 PM   #3
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Trailer: 2002 Bigfoot
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Getting it into the garage

Over the Christmas break I got "permission" to put it in the garage and work on it. The first step was to get it into the garage. Like most people, I'm sure, I have a garage with 7 foot door. I took some measurements and was pretty sure I could get it in, but I was also sure it would be without the wheels attached. The first step was to remove the vent cover because it was a no brainer that that had to go. It's a hard area to reach when you can't get on the roof. Luckily I have access to a zoom boom so I used it to get me up there so I could get the vent cover off.

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The vent had been sealed over so many times that the screws had filled in with goop. It looks like I might be drilling out the screws, but actually I'm just using the drill bit to clean out enough goop to get the minimum grip on the screw so I could remove it. It worked pretty well. Thankfully these trailers were built in Canada so they have Robertson head screws!

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After getting the vent off it was time to get it into the garage. I made sure to push the roof up as high as I could before I tried to get it into the garage. Why? some of you might ask. Well, I wanted to make sure that once I repaired the roof and put the curve back in it that I would have enough room to get the trailer out again! There could be nothing worse than going through all the trouble to fix the roof only to find out you fixed it so well that it is now too high to get out!

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I took off the wheels and put the hubs on dollies and the front part of the trailer did go into the garage ... until I reached the lip in the concrete. My outside pad is a little over an inch lower than my garage floor - I didn't have an inch to spare! So, I jacked it up and put the dollies under the frame. That lowered it just enough to get it into the garage. The drums were only an inch or less off the floor.

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Old 01-12-2024, 12:19 PM   #4
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Trailer: 2002 Bigfoot
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Stripping it Down

Once in the garage I started to strip it down. By this time I had already removed the dinette benches and all the upper paneling and some of the lower paneling. The ceiling had already been removed by the previous owner.

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I removed the rest of the paneling and cabinets and then moved onto the floor. Many people ask how to remove the floor as some parts can be quite stubborn. Well here is how I did it. I had the advantage of already having holes cut in the floor but I suggest you don't do that. However, you do need a starting point and that was mine. First of all, you have to be able to cut the floor into manageable sections. To do that you have to determine the thickness of your floor and set your circular saw to just under that thickness. It can be difficult to get it exact, but start shallow and slowly go deeper until you reach the right depth. I ended up slicing a bit too deep in a couple of areas, but for me it was not a big deal as I had a lot o fiberglass repair to do on the floor anyway. I would suspect that if anyone else is removing their floor that they would also have repairs to make so don't worry too much about doing a little damage. Even if you don't repair it with fiberglass you could always use some construction adhesive to both glue down your new floor and fill the hole you cut in.

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After slicing the floor in a few areas to create manageable squares, then it is time to pry. As I said some areas can be quite stubborn so try to start in an area that does not seem too well attached. I used some chisels to pry with they can give some good leverage and also cut the fiberglass strands as you "tap" them in. I needed several chisels because where the floor was stubborn, I would have to tap one chisel in and then tap another one in a couple of inches away and then another a couple of more inches away. I say "tap" because you want to go slow because as you slowly tap them in you will hear the slow cracking of the bond between the plywood and the fiberglass. At first you might think you are applying too much pressure, but believe me, that fiberlgass can take a lot of force, and if you spread it out with more chisels it's better.

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Old 01-12-2024, 12:19 PM   #5
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Trailer: 2002 Bigfoot
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Fiberglass Repair

Well, I guess it's inevitable. You have an old fiberglass trailer, you're going to have to do fiberglass repair. Well this one had quite a bit. I was not and still am not, 100% sure of where all of the equipment is going to go so I decided to just patch all the holes and go from there. I was intending to keep the two ice fishing holes in the dinette, but I have decided that I am going to put the water tank under the floor in that area so they had to be filled. I also know that the furnace is going to be upgraded to a forced air direct ignition type and it is not going in the original location either.

Now I'm not expert in fiberglass repair, but I know enough to be dangerous and as I told the guy at the boat place when I got my supplies - "It's a good thing I'm not building a boat" Anyway, since these are just the filling of holes that were already there and since I am going to paint the exterior anyway, perfection is not required. I wasn't planning on filling two of the large holes in the floor so I didn't really think about how much that would take. I tried to find a cheap/old/broken fiberlgass tub or shower to cut into patches for the big holes but couldn't find anything cheap enough in my limited timeframe so had to fix the holes with fresh fiberglass. What a pain because the trailer was so low to the ground and I had to get something under there to hold up this patch. I used a piece of plywood covered with a plastic bag so that the new fiberglass wouldn't stick and it worked well. I will tell you this, if you have the opportunity, do your fixes from the inside. Fixing from the inside allows you to overlap as much as you want and you don't have to worry about getting the edges flush. All in all I just think it is a lot simpler so that is what I did for all of my repairs.

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And check out the light shining through the spider cracks! Cool, but not cool!

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Old 01-12-2024, 12:20 PM   #6
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Trailer: 2002 Bigfoot
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Insulation

So my plan to rebuild the structure of this trailer is probably very different from most. Most rebuilds I have seen are just that - they rebuild and strengthen what was already there. I believe that there is no point leaving the structure that has failed and I want to insulate the crap out of this thing anyway so I have chosen to use rigid Styrofoam as my building block. Once the trailer was stripped to the shell it was time to insulate and build structure. I don't think I really need the wood wall framing, but it was holding on pretty well so I have left it.

I decided I wanted 1.5 inches of insulation on the walls and ceiling. Since the walls still had the 3/4" framing I needed to do my insulation in two layers of 3/4" which I also think is better because I will get a good overlap between the two layers. The insulation is meant to not only add warmth to the trailer, but I also want it to add rigidity and so I am gluing the insulation to the fiberglass and the two layers of insulation together. For that I am using spray foam subfloor adhesive. The intent here is to get a good bond with the uneven fiberglass. So far I only have one layer of insulation on the walls as I am going to cut in my holes for utilities and strengthen them before I put on the second layer. I used a spray foam subfloor adhesive as my glue. My hope is that it will expand a bit and fill in the any voids between the Styrofoam and the fiberglass. I put a lot of adhesive back there to make sure that happened.

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In the photo below the insulation was pushed out a bit by the foam adhesive. I would like my walls as straight as possible so I took a grinder with a flapper disc to it and ground some of it down and it was really not that difficult. As you can see, it's not that pretty, but it will be hidden with another layer or insulation anyway and I'm sure the coarseness of the sanding will make the glue adhere even better. As I learned I started to screw blocks into places I thought might be pressured out by the foam adhesive.

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When I do my second layer I'm going to use spay foam insulation in any gaps and then screw the second layer of rigid foam to the frame with some washers made for holding insulation.

The roof framing on the other hand was falling down and was not doing anything and so it had to go. For the ceiling I put both layers on at the same time. I completely removed any wood structure that was there and the rigid insulation now becomes the structure.

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I figure the original 3/4" wood framing was not really holding a lot of load even when new so by spreading the load evenly across the whole of the roof with the insulation, even though it seems weaker, is probably stronger (Note: I am not an engineer) and so far it seems that way. I fit each end of the styrofoam insulation to the ceiling. The way to fit it is to put one side up against the wall and jam the sheet up to the ceiling so that it is where you want it and tight against that one wall. The other wall does not matter at this point.

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Then scribe that side to the angle of the wall. Scribing is when you take a compass or some other sort of spacer and trace from the wall on to the foam. Cut to the line, re-test and perfect the fit until you are happy and then do the same to the other side. At this point you don't really have to worry about the length (so long as it's longer) you just want to get each side fit will. Once you have each side fit then take a measurement of the distance between walls and then cut one side of the panel about 1" longer than that measurement following the same line that you fit. Continue to cut the panel down to size until you get a nice tight fit. I'm not sure if it is really necessary to get a tight fit because you can always fill any gaps with spray foam, but I just thought it might be better. You will only have to fit the front couple of pieces anyway as the back is pretty much straight and a little easier.

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As you can see from the picture, I overlapped the layers by 6 inches. This pretty much left me with a full piece on the second layer at the back of the trailer. I fit everything but those last two pieces, because things could change once you actually glue in the pieces so I wanted to be able to fit those two once all the others were permanently in place.
To hold up the new ceiling I bought some cull lumber from Home Depot and "jammed" them against my new ceiling. I made sure to put one piece on the ceiling from side to side to spread the load. Unfortunately I was in a rush to get this out of my garage and did not take any photos of the ceiling without the supports, but I will get the later.

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Now there is no sag!!!

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When Spring rolls around I will scrape off all of these old layers and apply some new fiberglass. As you have probably see from all of the pictures the roof is in really bad condition. At one point I had decided that I would cut it out and just replace it, but in the end it seemed like scraping it down would still be the better option.

The insulation I am using is not the stuff you buy from the hardware store. Quite accidently, and luckily, I found that the concrete supply store was cheaper than the big box stores AND had different densities of foam. I didn't know this, but since they are pouring concrete on this stuff it has to hold a lot of weight. I mention this because for the floor I bought a very dense version of the styrofoam. I believe it was Foamular 6000. What I used for the walls was Foamular 3000, half the density. Now if you think that the foam will not be hard enough, think again. It is super hard. Not that it can't be dented, but you can certainly walk on it easily enough and I will either put 1/4 inch ply over it or just go straight to laminate flooring.

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Now about the insulation. If you remember I want to have 1.5 inches of insulation but need two layers of 3/4" to make that. However, I could not find 3/4"; it was either 1/2" or 1" or 1.5" so I decided to see if I could cut down 1.5" into two 3/4" thick pieces. And guess what? It works really, really well. It's a slow cut, but it is also very consistent. I found out how to make a how to hot wire knife and created a version attached to a table top that allowed me to slice the 1.5" into two pieces and my floor from 2" thick to 1" thick. You can see the two pieces I made from one and they are leaning against my "saw". The cut side is facing the camera.

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Here is my knife/saw. It's a wire that is 3/4" above the table top. I used the two white pieces of metal as my spaces and pulled the wire tight over them. Put 5 amps of 12v electricity to it and cut away.

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Old 01-12-2024, 12:20 PM   #7
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Trailer: 2002 Bigfoot
Posts: 28
Wiring

Before I put in all of the insulation I also did some wiring. Wiring of the running lights and I also ran a 120v supply line.

For the running lights I have put some "plastic" backer board behind the areas where they will be mounted. I wanted to do this because lights always seem to be a point of water infiltration. I am really trying to use materials that will not rot with water. I happened to have these pieces lying around so thought I would use them. Looks like they were from some old sign.

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As you can see in the cross section it is quite dense.

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I made sure to really rough up the backside of the block so that they would adhere well. I also used a lot of construction adhesive as well.

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For the connections I wanted to make sure that they would last because they would be behind the insulation and paneling eventually and so I decided I would solder them. Some of the wires (mostly tail lights) had to run in 4 directions and I found it easy to make an "X" out of the wires and twist and solder them together.

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For the 120v I pretty much ran a line all around the belly band on the top. I plan to put a plug on the back wall just above the table, on the side wall of the "closet" and on the wall to the right of the door, in the bunk area as well as plugs in the "kitchen". Each plug will contain 120v, 12v and USB ports. There is just enough space there to run an armored cable so I think it will be protected enough and I thing that it is an area where no one will want to put a screw either as it sits just above the belly band.

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For the 12v lines I will run them once my second layer of insulation is on. I thought about running the lines in between the layers but just didn't see any benefit for all of the hassle it was going to be.

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Old 01-12-2024, 02:32 PM   #8
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Name: Paul
Trailer: Escape
British Columbia
Posts: 53
Thanks for posting this Larry
I also want to restore an older fibreglass trailer if and when I find one. I restored a stick build a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I'll be following you in your progress so keep posting and keep the pictures coming.

Paul
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Old 02-12-2024, 10:56 PM   #9
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Trailer: 2002 Bigfoot
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Frame Off

So, it's difficult to get too much work done in the winter when you have to work outside, but this weekend I was able to remove the Cabin (body) from the frame. I had to repair a floor support that was cut out to make room for one of the ice fishing holes and I also wanted to check out the frame and give it a coat of paint. I am also planning to put a new water tank under the frame.

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I had a hard time trying to figure out how I was going to lift the cabin off.
I finally decided I would jack it off the frame a bit and slide in a couple of 2x4's. It worked well enough.

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I had to weigh down the front of the frame with some old wheels.

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Frameless!

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A couple of small stress cracks.

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These are, or should I say "were" the two attachment points at the front.

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Close up. It's hard to see, but the metal has completely torn away.

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Another crack left of the door.

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Right side of the door.

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Stress crack probably caused by cutting out the floor support for the ice fishing hole.

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This is where I plan to put my new water tank. It's under the table area. I'll probably move that support back over the mounting points.

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I said I wasn't going to do it, but since I have the trailer split it's now or never. On this design the front bench area is a large waste of space. There is a 6" air gap under the bench to accommodate this frame. On the newer design, this section jogs in towards the front to make the center space much more usable. I am going to cut out that one support and move it forward and box it in like the newer design and then redo the fiberglass to match.

Like this one: https://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/...6&d=1408201624

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Old 02-12-2024, 11:03 PM   #10
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Trailer: 2002 Bigfoot
Posts: 28
Roof Scraping

I was also pretty nice on Sunday and since I don't really want to strip rust/paint from the frame unless I can paint it right away I figured I might as well start to strip the layers of "waterproofing" off of the roof.

I worked for about 4 hours and I got about 1/4 to 1/3 done. It is quite time consuming but looks pretty good once removed. Once it is all gone I will sand it down and lay down a couple of layers of fiberglass to seal it back up again.

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Here are a few picture of the inside of the roof since I forgot to take pictures earlier without all of the supports.

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Old 02-19-2024, 11:07 AM   #11
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Trailer: 2002 Bigfoot
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Frame Mods

This weekend again was not too bad weather wise so I was able to get my frame mod done.

Here is the finished product.
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I had to make some new pieces for the sides of the new area and basically they are just bent 16 gauge metal. I have a small sheetmetal brake that a buddy gave me a while ago and has been quite handy.
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For this 16 guage however it was just not quite big enough. At first I thought that I would have to get a shop to make this for me but then I decide to see if I could make a shallow groove along my bend line with a cutoff wheel. If you look at the picture closely you can see the bight line and that is where I scored the metal. I did not go too deep and it still took a lot of strength to make the bend, but it worked.
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The result is a perfect match to the original. 1 1/2 lip on top, 1 1/4 lip on the bottom and 6" deep.
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Measure twice and cut once! Well, I probably measured 3 or 4 times and still had to cut twice! I am not 100% sure of the dimensions of the factory frames like this so I had to just figure it out on my own. I'm sure I made is wider than the factory, judging by pictures I have found, but I thought I would make it as wide as I can and I can make the bench sizes smaller if I have to. My opening ended up being 32". At this point I think I will split the length of the bench into 3 24" sections, 2 24" deep seats and a 24" table if anyone wants that setup. So with my 32" minus my 1" of insulation on each side, I will have 30", 3" extra on each side. That may not sound like much but I think I can use that for wiring and switches etc. and have easy access. We'll see.
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The depth I decided would be 21" because I believe that is what the depth of the bench seat will be. I think it will be close enough. 21" puts me jut forward of the original support and that makes sense since that support was completely under the shell. If I'm off by a half inch or so I don't think it will matter too much. Again, time will tell.
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The center section that I cut out became the new center sections and the two pieces I made became the sides. My brake can only do up to 30" so I would not have been able to make that section. The 3 clamps on top are holding my square. I tried to square it up as best I could but the original piece already had a curve to it. I just tacked it up on the bench.
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After tacking it I tried it out for fit and it was bang on. The sides were left longer so I could mark them and cut them to the right length.
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And after I had it completely welded in I added the floor bracing. the original is similar to the other pieces in that it is just bent up 16 gauge material bent into a channel. It is 1" thick and 2" wide, I believe. After bending the frame pieces I didn't see the value in trying to bend these channels so I just used some scrap square tubing that I had lying around.
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And finally, I moved the back support over the shell attachment points. I don't see any huge issue in doing this because this area is the dining/sleeping area so I do not believe there will be a lot of walking around here. Most people will either be sitting down or lying down. Also the ceiling height is not as high so it is even hard to walk up there. My floor is also stiffer than the original.
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Old 03-18-2024, 08:22 PM   #12
Junior Member
 
Trailer: 2002 Bigfoot
Posts: 28
Scraping the Roof

I didn't get much of anything done last weekend, but this weekend was pretty nice so I decided I would continue to scrape the coating(s) off of the roof. It took a couple of good afternoons but I finally got it done and I hope no one else has to do this, because it is not very fun.

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This picture shows it all done. I will still have to go over it with some acetone to remove any residual rubber coating and any silicone.

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This is the repair done by a previous owner or probably more than one previous owner. It may be hard to tell but it is humped up pretty good.

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So let's see what's under this hump! As I ground through it, it did seem like it was some sort of resin and there is some sort of matting in there, but whoever did the repair just went over the previous silicone repair and the matting didn't seem like it was actually doing much. It seemed like it was more of a layer in the resin than actually saturated by the resin.

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Here is the big blob of silicone I pulled out of the crack. Also note that whoever put the resin on did not even wipe off the dirt.

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At one end of the crack it looks like someone used a butyl product or plumbers putty because it was still very soft and gummy.

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Here is the crack all cleaned up. As you can see it is still higher than the rest of the roof so I think I will just sand it down flush and fill in the crack with body filler. After that I will clean the whole roof sand it down and lay down a couple layers of fiberglass to seal it all up again.

I also think that the roof was painted at one time before all of these repairs were done because as I was rubbing off the silicone with some mineral spirits I could see the paint layer come off and the fiberglass underneath. So all told there were 6 things used to try to repair the roof. 1. Paint, 2. Silicone, 3. Putty, 4. Resin, 5. Rubber Roofing, 6. Black Tar Substance. Crazy!
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And here is a pic of one of my cats that surprised my by climbing up the ladder I was standing on and jump onto the roof to hang out.
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Old 03-28-2024, 07:51 PM   #13
Junior Member
 
Trailer: 2002 Bigfoot
Posts: 28
Got a bit of work done last weekend; not really much but lifted the shell back onto the frame to see how it fit.


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As expected, there is a small gap at the front. I noticed this is how it was on the other frames I have seen so it should work out.

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Now I will have to cut this center section out and remake it to fit the frame.

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The floor is much more sturdier now that I have put back the supports.


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It looks like the cross support has bowed a little over the years because it was missing the lengthwise support for so long. I will see if I can bend it back. I might have to add some reinforcement to keep it straight.
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Old 03-28-2024, 09:31 PM   #14
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Sunrisetrucker's Avatar
 
Name: Paul
Trailer: Escape
British Columbia
Posts: 53
I'm a little surprised that you didn't paint the frame first.
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Old 03-29-2024, 06:56 AM   #15
Junior Member
 
Trailer: 2002 Bigfoot
Posts: 28
HI Paul, I will be painting the frame. This is just set on there to see where it aligns with the shell and mark it out. The frame will be painted, maybe sandblasted first if it's not too expensive, and I'm in the process of ordering a new axle as well.

I'm sure the shell will be on and off the frame several times before it is finally bolted on for good.

Thanks for the comment. It was getting pretty quiet in here.
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Old 04-06-2024, 08:41 PM   #16
Junior Member
 
Name: Michael
Trailer: 1976 Ventura
Saskatchewan
Posts: 1
Hello Larry,


I used POR15 on my frame and coated any frame that was exposed to the sun. I also painted a rubberized asphalt undercoating on the underbelly of the trailer. I am not sure if you have had any experience with POR15?
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Old 04-07-2024, 08:43 PM   #17
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Trailer: 2002 Bigfoot
Posts: 28
I have heard of POR15 but have never used it. From what I have read some people really like it and some people find it finicky and don't really think it's worth the money.

I painted a rusty trailer several years ago with Tremclad rust paint and it has held up pretty well. If I don't sandblast the frame then I will probably just use a rust paint. If I do sandblast it I think I will spray it with Epoxy primer and paint.
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Old 04-09-2024, 07:33 PM   #18
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Trailer: 2002 Bigfoot
Posts: 28
Weighing & More Roof

Not a whole lot going on this weekend. I've been working on getting a new axle and was debating on what weight I should get. The current axle is 1,650 lbs. I know that I will be adding weight with batteries and new appliances and a larger water tank, but 1,650lbs is how much weight the axle can carry and not how heavy the trailer is so it's hard to determine what the weight of the trailer is and how much of that 1,650 lbs is left for cargo. So, I decided I would weigh it now so I could get a better idea.

I once heard where a zoo weighed an elephant using bathroom scales: one under each foot. I also saw a episode of some car show where they also weighed a Honda Civic using bathroom scales. So that's what I did.

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I wend to my local Good will store and picked up 3 scales for under $20 as you can see from the tags still attached. All they needed was new batteries.


I decided to see how much the frame alone weighed and here are the results.

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Add it all up and you get 409.6 lbs. For good measure let's assume that each side weighs 180lbs so 360 plus the 60 for the tongue weight = 420lbs




Next I put the gutted shell back on and weighed it again. At this point the only thing in the shell right now is the insulation.


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Adding this all up it's 643.2 lbs.



So the frame weighs in at 420lbs and the shell another 250lbs, to be generous, for a total of 670lbs.

I'm not sure how accurate this was because the weight seems rather low to me. I can't imagine what I took out weighs more than 100lbs, but we'll see. The reason I decided to try this method is so that I can weigh the trailer during the process and see how things are adding up.

The electronic scales were also hard to work with because they only turn on when you "tap" them and then are not supposed to put weight on until they zero themselves so it was sometimes difficult to time that. The older style scales would have worked much better, but harder to find. I also think you only need one scale as I had to weigh each point separately anyway.

I did order a new axle. It's the Flexiride and it is 2,500lbs. It is actually a de-rated 3,500lb axle. I'm sure that a 2,00lb axle would be sufficient, and cheaper, but the 3,500lb axle has bigger brakes so I went with it. I hope the ride is not too rough.


In the afternoon I worked on the roof some more. There is still a lot of residue left up there and I set to cleaning it off with acetone. The acetone does dissolve the rubber membrane pretty well, but it is still a lot of scrubbing. I think I must have about 12 hours into stripping this roof and probably another 4. Man it's a lot of work, but looks pretty good when all clean.


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