1976 Triple E Surfside Project.... It has begun! - Fiberglass RV
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Old 10-18-2022, 04:45 PM   #1
Junior Member
 
Name: Tyler
Trailer: Triple E Surfside
British Columbia
Posts: 8
1976 Triple E Surfside Project.... It has begun!

Hello,

I wanted to start documenting this process here. This site and its members have already been invaluable to me and I have learned a lot. I wanted to share my project with you as its progresses and I hope to help others who want to do something similar. I also am hoping that our "local" experts here chime in and offer their wisdom and help me too

So here's the start........

About 3 years ago my in-laws came across (kinda by fluke) a guy who was selling the surfside. They have also been interested in Fiberglass RV's and have owned a boler and now 3 or 4 different bigfoots. We all pretty much spend most of our summers camping as we enjoy being outside. My father-in-law and I have worked on vehicles and home Renos together often and thought that "restoring" a fiberglass trailer would be a really fun little project.
So we bought it with the intention of having a neat little project to work on. It was basically just a shell. It had a makeshift bed out of plywood and a bad paint job... but to me, it was a great blank slate.

At home after picking it up
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Now not long after we bought it and drove it home, my wife and I had our baby boy. Finding some extra time to devote to the trailer become a challenge so progress was a bit slow at first.

One of the first things we did was an inspection of the frame and axle. It was fairly apparent to me that the torsion axle was the original and was completely shot. It had almost no suspension travel at all in it, and as I would be towing this with my new baby on board, safety is paramount.

We pulled the fiberglass tub off of the frame, found a good deal on a leaf spring axle with brakes, bought some 3500lb leaf springs, and remove all of the surface rust from the frame. I thought it would be a good idea to reinforce the frame toward the front where the "kink" is as I read that was a weak point. I made some "fish eye" plates and welded them to the frame in the appropriate spot. We also had a spare fresh water tank laying around, not sure of the size but it was too big, and I thought this would be the best time to incorporate it into the frame. I got some angle and flat stock and welded some supports right behind the axle to accommodate the fresh water tank.

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We put the tub back on the frame and secured it with new lag bolts. also decided one day to pull out the jalousie windows. The cranks were not allowing the windows to close fully, and the screens were not in good shape.
I bought new cranks from a vintage trailer supply and began replacing them, the screens, and polishing the frame to make them shine.

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New on the left - Old on the right. Not a huge improvement but looks better close up.


Now at this point, life got in the way.... I know it happens. There was always a reason to not work on the trailer. It sat outside in a carport at my in-laws, and in my downtime, I would do things like plan out the electrical system, even draw schematics and source supplies I would want and use. Mostly the weather and crazy temperatures we were experiencing made it difficult. We also had a summer that was plagued with mosquitoes and made being outside for 5 minutes unbearable. (Fort Langly BC, by the way. We are very close to the Fraser River)

About 2 weeks ago, a friend asked me how the project was coming and I felt bad that there had been very little progress. I think this motivated me. I am not usually the type to leave projects incomplete. I have had enough and decided to bring the trailer home, so I can get it done!

I live in a townhome with a tandem garage. The garage door is almost 7' tall. I read online that if you get some dollies or smaller wheels, this trailer will fit. I knew that since we put in a leaf spring axle it was sitting taller and that the freshwater tank below also made it have lower clearance than normal.

One night I towed it home and I was determined. My plan was to remove the axle and drop the trailer down onto some appliance dollies. Once I was as low as I thought I could make it I began to slowly move it into the garage. I got about 2 feet in then realized that it wasn't going to happen. The dollies were on the water tank and that was making it still too tall. Thankfully due to my bracket design, removing the tank was not that hard. This brought the trailer down another 3 inches or so which was exactly what I needed.

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Now I could not stand to look at the condition of the interior walls. The PO had painted some of the ensolite and removed large sections as well. It was also very stained and looked to have some surface mold growing as well. I thought about ripping it all out and replacing it but after much research, it seemed better to try and save what I could. Most of the missing pieces would be hidden in the closet or cabinets. I found a "closed cell foam" from amazon and used some 3M spray adhesive to attach it to the walls. Scrubbing the old black residue from the fiberglass was a huge pain. A lot of time and patience.

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Once all of the ensolite and amazon foam was in place, I went about trying to find a good seam tape. Seemed like some people just use chalk. I actually like the look of having the seam visible so I decided against it. I read that someone had some success with a "linen tape" from Lee valley. So off I went and gave it a try. I used some spare ensolite to test adhesion. I tried a hot glue gun but found it did not stick all that well. I then tried more of the 3M spray adhesive and it worked great! I taped off the areas of the wall that i did not want glue on and off I went.

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This is updated to date now as of writing this. 10/18/22. I am looking forward to some rapid progress on the trailer now that it is in my garage. I can work right beside all of my tools in a temperature-controlled environment.

The next step will be painting the interior walls!
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Old 11-24-2022, 11:58 AM   #2
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Name: Zbigniev
Trailer: Triple E
British Columbia
Posts: 9
Registry
Cant wait for more updates on this project, it's definitely a great blank slate to make something cool. My parents passed down their very original and very tired Surfside to me two years ago and I will be going down the same path as you in the coming years.
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Old 12-03-2022, 07:35 PM   #3
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Name: Rob
Trailer: 1975 Triple E Surfside
Alberta
Posts: 194
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Hi there... I too have restored a Surfside trailer. I do have post on here about the work.. and you can find even more details on my blog.. https://www.robeye.ca and you see see how I did things. Very familiar with seven foot doors and trailers fitting through. All my work was when I lived in BC. Now I live in Alberta.. And I'm going to look at a project Surfside trailer tomorrow..
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Old 12-04-2022, 05:20 PM   #4
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Name: Tyler
Trailer: Triple E Surfside
British Columbia
Posts: 8
Hey Robeye,

Yes I have seen all your high quality work and have taken alot of what you have done and shared into my own project. I will try to post an update soon as rather than finishing the inside walls, I suddenly switched gears and have begun the tedious work to the exterior of the shell. I got so sick of looking at the horrible grey rattle can paint job. Haha. However that pint was very difficult to remove and then I discovered a few major cracks and a millions “pitting” spots in the gel coat. All of this must be repaired!
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Old 12-04-2022, 08:32 PM   #5
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Name: Rob
Trailer: 1975 Triple E Surfside
Alberta
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Hi Tyler.. Like most things the more you do them the better they get. Once again I get to do better. Today I brought home a 1975 Surfside. Made the 200 km trip without a hitch. It's in very good condition.. mostly the interior that needs love.
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Getting rid of old paint is a lot of work..
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Old 12-12-2022, 02:29 PM   #6
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Name: Tyler
Trailer: Triple E Surfside
British Columbia
Posts: 8
O very nice! it looks like someone has shown that trailer some love over the years and kept it stored nicely. The outside looks to be in great shape. Would you like to trade? hahaha.

I am struggling a bit as I prepare for primer. Mostly with how tedious the exterior shell repairs are becoming. After sanding the whole trailer with 60 grit to remove the old stubborn paint, it is becoming apparent how bad the gel coat is.

There are so many "pits" and "cracks" all over the place. Many of the cracks have sanded out but still, alot remains and I know that these need to be addressed before priming.

As I will not be refreshing the Gel coat but instead painting, what do you recommend I use to fill the "pits" in the gel coat? Is a product like Bondo glass ok here? It states to be good for pinholes smaller than a dime and its waterproof. I have tried some small areas with moderate success, however, I am finding that each spot requires two applications of the bondo glass as it needs to "build up". I am using my dremel to make a crater for the glass to sit in but it still needs two applications. I am using one of those pink plastic putty scrapers to apply, maybe I should try something else?

Some of the surface scratches I can see, but not feel with my nail. I am hoping a high-build primer will be able to make these disappear. I plan on using interlux products. I have attached a picture of the gel coat pitting.

I am curious on your thoughts or experiences with a gel coat in this condition.
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Old 12-12-2022, 02:39 PM   #7
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Name: Dave W
Trailer: Trillium 4500 - 1976, 1978, 1979, 1300 - 1977, and a 1973
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I have had good luck with just regular Bondo for small defects, and my belly band:
https://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/...ead-59580.html

It is easy to sand.
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Old 12-12-2022, 07:33 PM   #8
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Name: Rob
Trailer: 1975 Triple E Surfside
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I agree.. just good ol bondo works fine. I use my orbital sander hooked up to the shop vac. Two coats of the interlux "pre coat" will hide those spider hair line cracks. Tomorrow I'm off to Calgary to get my paint. I do the exterior first before the interior. But second to the frame.. That's out from under the trailer now and the new axle is ordered.

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Old 01-08-2023, 04:13 PM   #9
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Name: Rob
Trailer: 1975 Triple E Surfside
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Hey it's been a bit, how's the trailer coming along ? Yesterday I got the frame back under the trailer. And today I removed all the cabinets. I have to remove some of the Ensolite interior finish so I can cut hatches and repair big holes I don't want. There's work to do for sure.

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I'm keeping my post on this forum current.
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Old 01-29-2023, 08:23 AM   #10
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Name: Rob
Trailer: 1975 Triple E Surfside
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Hi Tyler: I hope you are finding a bit of time to work on your trailer. I had the same pitting happening. Mostly on the roof but could be found all over the trailer. After the first coat of primer I could still find more. I use auto body spot filler in a tube to deal with these. And yes two coats of the pre-coat primer hides a lot of stuff. The whole new paint job will be WAY thicker than the gel coat the factory used. The results have always pleased me.

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Those triple taillights are my signature now. You should join the facebook group for Surfside trailer if you haven't
https://www.facebook.com/groups/296137311860299

It's a good safe community.
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Old 01-30-2023, 10:47 AM   #11
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Name: Tyler
Trailer: Triple E Surfside
British Columbia
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So many hours of prep later. We have some amazing results. I did 3 coats of intermix pre kote primer, sanding in between each coat with 150grit. Then a final sanding with 220 grit to make it as smooth as possible. This was very dusty, shop vac and palm sander are a must. Then on went the brightside. Instead of the usual “roll and tip” I used two ultra fine foam rollers. One to apply and one to release air bubbles and it worked out very well in my option. Very tedious and a lot of labour. I washed my garage multiple times to reduce dust, I also hoses down the ground right before painting to reduce any chance of dust kicking up while painting. I really hope this paint job will last many years. I am letting it dry in my heated garage for the next 3 days now.
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Old 01-30-2023, 10:57 AM   #12
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Name: Tyler
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A couple more pics
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Old 01-30-2023, 01:21 PM   #13
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Name: Rob
Trailer: 1975 Triple E Surfside
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That's a fine looking paint job ! I do like the two tone look.. But I opted out this time. We are working almost simultaneously on our trailers.
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Old 02-27-2023, 10:54 AM   #14
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Name: Tyler
Trailer: Triple E Surfside
British Columbia
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Been about a month or so. Progress has continued. It's some of the small and tedious stuff getting done. Installed tail and marker lights. Wired them up to a 7-pin junction box. Just need to clean it up a bit. Got the ensolite painted and looking good. Painted the rock guard and polished some of the old aluminum to bring it back to life. Anything that is not new or cleaned and polished really well just won't match this new fantastic paint job.

Put on a new door seal on the body side, should do well. Found it at princess auto. I have got my hinges from etrailer but I am waiting until I have an extra hand before I attempt to reinstall the door as I want to make sure it sits perfectly and seals properly.

I also got some stabilizer rear jacks that I will need to weld a bracket to the rear frame/bumper to incorporate. Also got a spar tire carrier from amazon that I will weld to the rear bumper at the same time. If I was better at planning I would have done all of this before putting the body back on or painting the egg but o well.... what can you do? I will just be sure to protect everything really well.

I will upload more photos soon!
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Old 02-27-2023, 08:38 PM   #15
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Trailer: 1975 Triple E Surfside
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Super great to hear that works continues. I'm slowly picking away on the windows.. Had to wait for gaskets to show up.. I have two of the four windows ready to install. Yes all those little jobs ! I'm in no hurry .. don't plan on kicking the trailer outside till end of April.
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Old 05-01-2023, 04:24 PM   #16
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Name: Tyler
Trailer: Triple E Surfside
British Columbia
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Slow but steady.......

The weather is getting very nice and helps to motivate me to want to go camping. We also have a big trip planned this summer with our in-laws. We will be going up to the Yukon for about a week. We leave in August so we must have a trailer in working order by then!


Recent progress:

Windows back in. All are sealed nicely with butyl tape and stainless hardware. Biscuit-jointed windows frames on the inside.

Axle-back under the trailer. All taillamps and side markers were replaced with LEDs and wired up.

LED porch light installed.

Re-painted rock guard

Installed MAXX air fan - with a reversible switch so it can intake and exhaust!

Vinyl sheet floor installed.

And a bunch more....
I will try and get some pictures soon. We are really focused now on framing out the interior and getting our layout perfect. More updates soon!!!
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Old 05-01-2023, 04:42 PM   #17
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Name: Tyler
Trailer: Triple E Surfside
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I cannot edit the photos to be the right way up.... sorry
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Old 05-02-2023, 08:56 AM   #18
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I just wondered about door sagging. When you took it apart how did you get to the wood in the fiberglass by the door? Do you have a photo? People talk about this, but I’ve yet to see a photo.
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