1978 Trillium 1300 restoration - Fiberglass RV
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Old 01-20-2023, 05:19 PM   #1
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1978 Trillium 1300 restoration

We purchased this 1978 Trillium 1300 a year ago as a long-term restoration project. Believe it or not, the snowy photo was taken in Alabama before I towed it home to Indiana.
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Old 01-20-2023, 05:27 PM   #2
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We started demolition by removing the dorm fridge, window air conditioner, and front bed.
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Old 01-20-2023, 05:37 PM   #3
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I was not surprised to find that the floor is in poor condition and dry rot is rampant. The chopped up fiberglass in the front gaucho area was strangely appealing, as we want to modify the front into a small dinette. I would not enjoy cutting into an intact gaucho.
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Old 01-20-2023, 05:45 PM   #4
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Our first project was to remove the fold-up TV antenna and patch the roof.
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Old 01-20-2023, 05:56 PM   #5
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I knew the floor was spongy and planned to open the floor in order to replace the rotted plywood. I decided to first lift the body off the running gear and temporarily place 3/4 plywood under the body to provide continuous support of the thin outer fiberglass floor during the repair.
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Old 01-20-2023, 06:07 PM   #6
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Time to dig into the rot under the front gaucho. I did not realize that Trillium 1300s do not have plywood flooring under the front gaucho, just a 4 x 48 inch piece of plywood across the front where the mounting bolts come through.
That's all gone now. I plan to run plywood all the way to the front and cover the pontoons.
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Old 01-20-2023, 06:10 PM   #7
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My first cut into the fiberglass. Should not have been traumatic, but for some reason it was.
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Old 01-20-2023, 06:22 PM   #8
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I cut the fiberglass floor out in one piece. The plywood had turned into dust for the most part. Even the top fiberglass had partially delaminated. It seemed that there was a layer of fiberglass mat placed over the plywood when the fiberglass floor was installed, but there must have been air pockets. Tough work, but I was able to separate those layers and hope to replace the top fiberglass piece,
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Old 01-20-2023, 06:31 PM   #9
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This is where I am today.
First section of 1/2 inch marine plywood in place with chopped strand mat underneath to help bond to the lower fiberglass shell. Jack post to assist.
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Old 01-21-2023, 04:26 PM   #10
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Today's project is to dry-fit the last two pieces of 1/2 inch marine plywood in the front floor. The original plywood did not extend under the gaucho, but I am covering the entire level surface and over the pontoons.
I roughly measured and cut each piece, then roughly installed and scribed the ends to fit. It took a couple tries, but I'm pleased with the fit.
I ordered more chopped mat to put under the plywood, so I'll proceed when it comes.
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Old 01-25-2023, 12:10 PM   #11
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fiberglass

We have received 4-5 inches of snow so far this morning, so a good day for inside projects.
Laid down chopped fiberglass mat first, then laid the 1/2 marine plywood. pushed more fiberglass mat under the existing fiberglass and against the trailer walls.
Used the jack post to compress the plywood onto the lower fiberglass shell. I added more weights to the doorway area as well.
I turned the heater up to 70F and closed the trailer up for the day. Hoping that I can install the remaining section yet this week.
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Old 01-25-2023, 03:57 PM   #12
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Name: Scott
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Hi Steve,

Wow, that's a BIG job, but you seem to have know what you were getting into.
I'm loving the number photos and your descriptions. I know what you mean about cutting into the goucho. Mine is still factory intact, but my plan is to create a dinette as well. I intend to glass the wood framing to the existing fiberglass that'll remain with the thought that it'll restore any structural strength lost from cutting into it. Fortunately the wood under the goucho is still very solid and the main floor seems relatively good..........I don't want as big a project as yours.

I'm looking forward to seeing your progress.

Cheers,
Scott
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Old 01-25-2023, 04:16 PM   #13
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Fun to watch!

Hi Steve,
I appreciate the detailed explanations and photos. Bring lots of wine to Algonac, as I intend to exchange significant dialog with you on the project.
Dale
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Old 01-25-2023, 04:56 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by 2morebeer View Post
Hi Steve,

Wow, that's a BIG job, but you seem to have know what you were getting into.
I'm loving the number photos and your descriptions. I know what you mean about cutting into the goucho. Mine is still factory intact, but my plan is to create a dinette as well. I intend to glass the wood framing to the existing fiberglass that'll remain with the thought that it'll restore any structural strength lost fro the projectm cutting into it. Fortunately the wood under the goucho is still very solid and the main floor seems relatively good..........I don't want as big a project as yours.

I'm looking forward to seeing your progress.

Cheers,
Scott
Scott,

Happy to hear that you have a relatively solid 1300. Our 4500 was pretty solid too, but we still had to replace all of the plywood pieces around the windows, floor under a rear bunk, and do the belly band.

This 1300 project is more about the process than the product, although the more we get into the project, the more I think about actually using it.

I'm glad to hear that you are enjoying the pictures. Its a great way for me to document our progress, and look forward to hearing comments and suggestions.

Steve
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Old 01-25-2023, 05:04 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Patricia Baxter View Post
Hi Steve,
I appreciate the detailed explanations and photos. Bring lots of wine to Algonac, as I intend to exchange significant dialog with you on the project.
Dale
Dale,
I'll bring lots of wine to Algonac and look forward to discussing our progress. It was a great year in the vineyard and hoping for the same regarding the 1300 project.
Steve
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Old 01-26-2023, 04:24 PM   #16
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I repeated the process on the third, and last section of the main floor. I wetted some additional strips of chopped strand mat and stuffed them into the gaps where the plywood met the trailer wall or wheel well.

Next step is to add some Bondo Hair into the remaining gaps around the plywood and form it into a cove for strength and a cleaner finish. I also plan to add plywood to the front wall and fiberglass it in as was done for the floor. I plan to clean up the fiberglass floor section that I cut out and reinstall it at some point.
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Old 01-26-2023, 05:07 PM   #17
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Steve, While I have never done this job, (I never found a trailer that needed it). Though, I have put some thought into it.

I assumed that the existing plywood would be only partially destroyed. This would have required the floor to be removed with a grinder and replaced with new fibreglass. It is good that you were able to save much of the original floor.

I think that the front wall of the trailer, inside the gaucho, was actually fibreglass encased balsa wood, so that it would conform to the curve at the bottom. I always thought that was a bad idea, since it would rot very easily. Do you think it was plywood, or balsa?

It is also a theory of mine that front curb side sag is the result of rotted plywood in the floor. Did your trailer seem to sag in front of the door? Other symptoms of this include:
The floor drooping towards the door
Compression cracks on the bottom front and top rear of the door frame.
Related to the compression cracks, a rip in the top front of the door frame.
The closet forming a high point on the flat section of the roof above it.
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Old 01-26-2023, 05:30 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by David Tilston View Post
Steve, While I have never done this job, (I never found a trailer that needed it). Though, I have put some thought into it.

I assumed that the existing plywood would be only partially destroyed. This would have required the floor to be removed with a grinder and replaced with new fibreglass. It is good that you were able to save much of the original floor.

I think that the front wall of the trailer, inside the gaucho, was actually fibreglass encased balsa wood, so that it would conform to the curve at the bottom. I always thought that was a bad idea, since it would rot very easily. Do you think it was plywood, or balsa?

It is also a theory of mine that front curb side sag is the result of rotted plywood in the floor. Did your trailer seem to sag in front of the door? Other symptoms of this include:
The floor drooping towards the door
Compression cracks on the bottom front and top rear of the door frame.
Related to the compression cracks, a rip in the top front of the door frame.
The closet forming a high point on the flat section of the roof above it.
David,
The floor was sagging, particularly near the front of the door frame. I was able to adjust this sag by jacking under the lower door hinge to allow the new plywood to be inserted.
You are spot-on regarding the cracks around the door frame, but they seem rather superficial and fortunately no rip in the top front of the door frame.
I don't notice the high point of the roof over the closet, certainly not like I found with our 4500. I am planning to reinforce the roof when installing a MaxxFan, so I will address any sag at that time.
Thank you for your informed comments and encouragement.
Steve
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Old 01-26-2023, 05:50 PM   #19
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David,
The floor was sagging, particularly near the front of the door frame. I was able to adjust this sag by jacking under the lower door hinge to allow the new plywood to be inserted.
You are spot-on regarding the cracks around the door frame, but they seem rather superficial and fortunately no rip in the top front of the door frame.
I don't notice the high point of the roof over the closet, certainly not like I found with our 4500. I am planning to reinforce the roof when installing a MaxxFan, so I will address any sag at that time.
Thank you for your informed comments and encouragement.
Steve
And yes there was balsa wood laminated on the front wall. Much of it was rotted away, and what remained did not seem to impart much strength to the wall. I'm hoping that replacing the balsa with 3/4 inch marine plywood will provide strength and a potential mounting surface for the front dinette table.
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Old 01-27-2023, 10:59 AM   #20
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If I had to guess, when you jacked up the hinge side of the door, you also fixed the closet high point, since they are all part of the same problem.

I thank you for posting this repair. I really like your idea of putting plywood on the frame for a flat support, (with a step). I will use that.
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