3rd Incarnation, Middle Age Remodel - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-18-2009, 08:44 PM   #1
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Trailer: 1971 Astro (ie. Campster/Hunter I)
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Welcome to Kenna and Crazy Harry's 1971 Astro modifications thread 2009.



Thank you F.B.R.V.

Our family trailer is in the molded fiberglass family tree of the Campster/Hunter/Compact/K-Line- ishy trailers.


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We will be posting modifications here using posts and pics relating to project objectives and discoveries we make along the way.

When we restore or remodel any of our fiberglass projects it rarely runs start to complete finish in a progressive order like we would like to see it done to present it.

We thought we would give it a go this time doing the whole remodel from start to finish first, then with a few good edits all the topics could be presented in a precise order, all from start to completion when posted, alas we are giving up on that idea as insane obsessional thinking.

The nature of the remodel beastie is fickle to the fiberglass molded nutter, Our resin cure times have been changing greatly with 40 degree temp swings here, the humidity has not been helpful either, nor the dust storms as of this posting.

Waiting forever to post anything trying to finish everything per topic within any of our single posting categories in the "never ending remodel" is not working for us at all, we have re-acquired no patience for this strategy.

We have now decided to post per topic by modification any modifications structurally which have gone well to its near structural completion, but not necessarily to the cosmetic finish...the final finish work will be wrapped up on the trailer as a whole near the end of our sojourn into remodel Nirvana.

We have not yet epoxied coated the Astro's hull/shell so we are not really all the way thru to the finish line here to date 10/2009 as of this post.

Presently we are sanding our hearts out, the trailer shell is actually upside down off of the rebuilt frame on milk crates for support, its various body damage/modifications are repaired.

Cargo hatches forward are cut in and reinforced now, the front window is gone completely eliminated, the side windows are reinforced around their boarders to twice the original hull thickness, the shell/hull is on the second go round of sanding (moving to 200 grit) really focusing below the belly band first (remember its upside down like a turtle)...we'll flip it on the newly reworked frame bolting it down after the final epoxy top coating sets, We will be re-installing the oak interior a few weeks after the top is done being flipped back again right side up...

Our opportunity of temperature and humidity window is now seasonally...its ready for the application of the 1<sup>st</sup> coat of Primecoat ™ on the bottom half now…that's the trailers reality as of 10/09.

Over the many years living with this egg we have learned from it a few design concept guide line rules we will try to incorporate into our design strategy for the 2009 project, below are the big ones this go round.

Rule One. "thou shalt not penetrate the hull with sharp objects" where the roof is concerned we think we can do this 100% including attaching the pop top box frame with scissors assembly differently. No nails, screws or bolts in the roof.

Exceptions were made to this rule were months latter...

Side windows including the cargo hatches were eventually handled differently regarding this #1 rule...We would have to re-order windows, find hatches using a "sandwich in design" to their installation method or locate "rubber seal/grommet methods" of installing these; We did not even try these ideas because of our limited expenses, also we prefer the side windows we currently have in our desert environment (aluminum loves the sun, however the sun destroys rubber parts mercilessly) anyway vertical surfaces have never been the problem for us over the years like the roof has been.

Rule Two. " Its 2009; Its the age of new epoxies! Think adhesives or bonds first before screws and bolts" [/b]If supersonic aircraft, or commuter planes can be built of composites and bonds so can our camp trailer where the application of that technology is correct, we will look for opportunities for these applications which were not available in 1971, this rule does tie into #1.

Rule Three. "distribute weights over the axle and main frame rails...not to the sides of the trailer off the frame rails or ahead of the wheel wells on the rib extensions off of the frame rails, try to be mindful of placing weights to the 2x2 square steel frame itself, not to the fiberglass pan thru the wood bottom to areas un-reinforced, think about how weight is distributed across the frame".

Rule Four. "Think U.V.A. and U.V.B." our new coatings will be generations better than 1971.

Rule Five. "So we thought we would camp forever when 25? Design smarter for older ages now"

In our 20s thru are 40s we could throw a lot of energy towards our camping strategies tolerating the calisthenics of youthful motion making up for inefficient designs forcing awkward movement or positions, then in younger years we could meet any issue with a surplus of effort and agility...not anymore guys!

We have some experience to bring into this project these years camping with this little trailer, now its time to apply the knowledge being held hostage by molded fiberglass has taught us.

Kenna and I have a few miles to go...We haven't seen it all yet!

Did I mention its going to cost a bunch for us?

Game Plan Outline, (the small list)
  1. Eliminate all screw penetrations in the roof particularly.
  2. 1st epoxy the refrigerator top exhaust vent system into the trailer roof over its refrigerator compartment from within the shell/hull, then mount a second identical twin vent over the outside of the first vent epoxied into place permanently earlier, this outside identical vent fits snugly "like a glove" one over the other prior epoxied in place.

    Locking the "cover or top vent" in place for travel is done by using two screws placed into the sides of both these vents, holding the top one in place for travel, the screw heads face towards the outside for easy access.

    (The advantage to this) is as the outer vent top cover deteriorates over time, the one underneath or the "bottom seal vent" remains epoxied in forever, covered by the easily replaceable "outer vent top" the underneath vent remains in pristine shape because its covered, also remember this bottom vent by virtue of being epoxied into the roof provides no opportunity for leaks ever, even in driving rain this system needs no sealants to be maintained or screws penetrating the roof to hold it, the outside vent assembly replacement is a snap with two screws, just like changing hats.
  3. We must re-size the access door hatch for the rear of the refrigerator compartment to a size that fits within the new bulkhead locations. This is a smaller size requiring a few tricks to pull off.
  4. Because the ducted power range exhaust/light over the stove exits exactly where the curve/arc of the roof/wall area is in the shell/hull, we will mold in a seamless epoxy adaptation (transition) into the hull here, this will make an integrated hull hot air exit with no curve for the flat stove exhaust vent outer cover to deal with, the hull/shell transition being molded into the hull is absolutely water proof.
  5. The wood square frame that secures the pop top tent to the roof of the trailer hull/shell with screws presently will not be used, we want no contact with the horizontal plane of the new roof design on either the trailer or its pop top roof surfaces...We will fashion a different system to eliminate all screws involving attachments thru the top of the trailer shell/hull, only side screws may be used thru the vertical 2" lip of the molded oval pop top hatch on the trailer.
  6. Add the12v fantastic fan into the fiberglass pop top roof, its trim shall be epoxied it in...then it must have an adaptation for thickness epoxied in, it must be serviceable and removable.
  7. Invent a different way of attaching the pop top tent material top and bottom so as to shed water efficiently, we want to sandwich the material between two hard wood flat frames in a even "pinch," it must integrate with project (3), also eliminate the need for the too many staples in the pop top tent materials present design.
  8. Remove the front window entirely, its a flawed idea anyway...Its insane to face any trailer window towards the leading edge of every hurricane your ever going to drive thru putting a window right there? "unless its a cockpit window" We create with modern hi speed travel on our roadways wind speeds that match hurricane conditions on the bow/nose of this trailer.

    Its just itching for a leak to persist placing a window here,We will get away with this nostalgic idea. We will side step this issue entirely creating a nose/ bow for the trailer which is seamless by eliminating the front window entirely. "anyway we did not like the draft on our heads"...Remember this area is the permanent bunk now.
  9. Redo the light duty frame where needed, replace the leaf springs to 1500 lbs capacity. Then rework the leaf spring attachments, rework all suspension supports, elongate the tongue to accommodate a utility box to also too include the two deep cycle batteries, add a trailer jack I need for a bum arm, then add ribbed extensions in key areas as needed under the fiberglass bottom pan, include gussets into corners of the frame box joints.
  10. Throw out my modern suburban furnace electronic start furnace installing an older "passive" one which will work above 8,500 feet without re-jetting it or failing that sounding like the "1812 Overture" in higher altitudes when it ignites and I have not re-jetted it from low altitude camping.
  11. Install tail lights into the frame bumper, not the trailer, we will not install signal lighting into the fiberglass hull anymore. We will try to eliminate our hull penetrations to necessary ones only. We will not run the R.V. signal lighting harness interior to the hull, rather we will run it along the frame outside the hull.
  12. Add lockable insulated cargo space, installing insulated hatches across from each other creating access from one side to the other under the now to be permanent bed, this permanent bed which has an insulated bottom to it eliminates constant worry about lockable stowage space.
  13. Install center console with 12v accoutrements over head in the bunk section of the trailer, the console placed dead center over the large permanent bed includes the A/C venting distribution system from the central A/C.
  14. Add central A/C...This will be installed without the A/C placed thru any wall or window... it will sit in the cargo bay area...the cargo door will be closeable while it runs...it can operate at full efficiency without getting this sealed insulated compartment hot at all.
  15. Add a 45 gallon polypropylene water tank over the axle.
  16. Replace the complete interior 12v system, locate the charger/12v converter in the cargo bay next to the inverter 115v supply close to the fuse panels.
  17. Install exterior lighting, we install one light on all 4 compass points outside our trailer, the switch is in the fixture itself operated from outside, they are the non bug alluring type.
  18. Relocate 6 gal suburban hot water heater to the very rear of the trailer next to the door on the refrigerator side, re-size old cut out smaller to accept the new cargo door on the port bow side where old cut out was, re-plumb gas and water.
  19. Replace rear door with a new one, this door has a second aluminum screen door built into it, to save cost we will re-size a salvage yard R.V. door, this will save allot.
  20. Repair all hull blemishes, sand all old finish off, replacing old finish with epoxy U.V. stabilized products.
  21. Modernize the lighting system to L.E.D. lamps to reduce battery draw.
  22. Install rain lips over the two side windows.
  23. Completely replace the galley, Kenna wants DuPont™ Corian® Solid Surface counters and a deep well sink with a flexible hand faucet, the sink must have a cutting board that fits smartly in it...(What the wife wants she gets!)
  24. Cabinets to be replaced with visible storage using wire drawers.
  25. Replace curved bulk head walls with stronger ¾ ply oak ones, re-cut to tighter tolerances supporting the trailer contours better.
  26. Reinforce the two remaining side window sockets to double hull thickness.
  27. Re-install gas light (we love it) but add fire proof reflective material behind it and above it against the ceiling.
  28. Add insulation to the walls, this will be an underlain layer of silver bubble wrap, it will be held in place with an interlocking overlay of snap-in cut to fit F.R.P. (fiber glass reinforced panel) panels which will interlock with assistance from the window oak trims also utilizing the oak center console in the ceiling to pre-tension the f.r.p. Into the curved spaces of the roof to wall areas.
We do want to stay small, we really have enjoyed our tiny fully contained people pod, its been just right to explore in, camp in , or go on a dig in, it works very well to hold up in being just ourselves...although we must allow time for visitors who always come up to us wanting to peek into it.
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Old 10-18-2009, 09:01 PM   #2
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The full Monty...The Bare Frame Painted.

The frame after welding needed to be sanded down to the bare metal, prime coated, and painted.

To remove the old finish I used my 4 ½ inch grinder, using an abrasive metal wheel, I followed the process up with a metal brush on the same tool. Kenna was moral support because her hands was not strong enough to take the hours of holding onto a grinder that wanted to take off in any direction without much warning. The time required for this process was two days.

After researching Por-15, which is a very good product, we decided it was not the product we were going to use, we decided it was overkill for our climate conditions, also it is not U.V. stabilized. "another U.V. coating which was stabilized would need to be put over it for that protection."

The second issue for us using was Por-15 was it is expensive comparatively, in no rust issue applications too expensive, if we were in a rust belt zone we would definitely use it.

We opted to be more conservative in the paint/coating tech on the frame, the money saved we threw at the epoxy outer coatings on the fiberglass shell latter on, this seemed to be the issue we needed to deal with anyway here, our gel-coat was suffering from sun damage powdering off greatly in the last 5 years.

We did use primer with an enamel black paint both by [i]Rust-Oleum over the metal surfaces changing the frame color from white to black, we did do two coats of each product, the drying time of the primer curing was almost 6 weeks until it was hard enough to use? The black enamel paint was not an issue, it dries well, cured to a hard surface,the primer was a whole other matter.

I did go to Ace Hardware with my concerns about the primer cure times, with the primer in hand and they ran a few tests on the primer themselves, it did not dry any faster or harder for them in their tests than for us, the factory was called by them with no help from them for any of my problems.

I do not recommend Ace brand primer. (made by Rust-Oleum)

Finally we decided to wait letting the Arizona sun bake it to death...I went on to other modifications while solar cooking our painted frame.

If we were to do it again, we would spray paint the primer with an can or airbrushed automobile primer, then use the Rust-Oleum enamel paint by brush over that, it would save 6 weeks of dry time in the sun at 101 degrees.



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When the frame came back from the certified trailer frame welder it had the modifications we wanted, added to the old frame was the length needed to place the utility box on the frame itself where before up in the air. "there was a crude frame holding the bow in the air over the tongue just under the front window." We could move to a larger box as well. Within this box are the batteries used for the trailer, We like them here because when parked the tow can be brought up to the front of the trailer in most cases parking it with the vehicle battery inches from the trailer batteries. This is helpful in the boondocks's, We can charge them if needed jumping these batteries in any needed situation.


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A heavier tongue jack was installed, This was sorely needed for a bad shoulder, its capacity is over sized to get a better gear reduction for me employing less effort to crank, instead of being a "top spinner" the jack is a "side spinner" being far more manageable for myself and Kenna, its placed into a standard configuration into the frame so a 12v one might be added latter as needed.


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The areas where the shackles were attached to the too thin frame originally were reworked, the thickness of the original Astro frame was insufficient to off road camping, a 2x2 square tube of correct length was welded to the original frames square tubing, this was a thicker walled square 2X2 tube as well caped on the ends closed against possible water corrosion being welded closed.

The shackle lengths were adjusted to accommodate the correct clearance of the frame to ground distance factoring the space taken up by the 2X2 tube adaptations. The Leaf springs are 1500 lbs each increasing the capacity by 50% over the original leaf springs.

The original leaf springs installed at the factory were attached in a trailing arm style using the leaf spring itself as the trailing arm, the leading edge of the spring was bolted directly to the 2X2 frame with the rear of the leaf spring hung on an 8" shackle. We did not like this system, the trailer was too low, the springs did not support the trailer well in roadway washboards or speed bumps. The springs were installed in a conventional manner distributing the weight on equal length shackles.


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I can weld, having the equipment to do so, we chose a certified frame welder with the insurance to do this work A.D.O.T. "Arizona Dept. of Transportation" has a few rarely enforced regulations in this area of trailer modifications, since the manufacturer is long gone, the liability for a accident because of a frame failure would be mine, even with my insurance from their point of view, the liability would be a shared nightmare to settle in court with a home done frame modification, did I fail to mention my insurance takes a dim view of covering home modifications? Another layer of liability insurance is also placed into the accident equation and is in this state worth the cost.

Arizona's court system establishes degrees of responsibility...I could be 50% responsible because I built it, the insurance would cop out on paying a claim by that amount due to my home built frame failure or worse...This is a simple explanation being of course more complicated than this always...But you get the picture.

Added to the rear of the frame is a class two receiver, this receiver will be used in the future as a removable step for the rear door.

Gussets were added to the frame in the corners see http://www.synthx.com/articles/trailer-strength.html for more information.


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Old 10-18-2009, 09:08 PM   #3
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The Astro frame unlike some of its other boxy cousins has ribbed extensions welded outwards off both sides of the primary side frame rails, these rib extensions placed in eight places support the four corners of the lower fiberglass body, they are located before and after each of the fiberglass wheel wells too, these ribbed extensions off the side frame rails prevent stress cracks in the lower molded fiberglass pan due to over hang stress points incurred here, these stresses are the galley and refrigerator accumulated weights bearing down in areas off the frame and off the wood reinforced floor.[


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Examples of problem areas over side frame rails when ribbed supports are absent over the years and begin to flex breaking the glass strands in this molded body making these areas droop over their respective frame rails, can be seen in a picture of a Campster frame and then its body showing the frame used in the Campster manufacturer of this very similar trailer which has an identical molded fiberglass body bellow the belly band, another pic shows the issues that no frame ribs can cause.


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The Astro manufacturing company apparently learning from these earlier trailers using this molded body design incorporated ribs into its frame design.

I often suspect that as this body moved on thru the various attempts to keep it manufacture whether or not key people involved in its development moved with it improving the product as key personnel to the development of the changes I see when these are compared one to the other.

A post and band propane tank mount was added to the tongue ahead of the battery box, since the battery box is now moved behind the tank rather than mounted on top of it using a home built mount welded to the frame the tank can be taller now being easily removed to fill.


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Old 10-18-2009, 09:13 PM   #4
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This is the receiver hitch welded to the rear center column of the frame, its there so we can use the receiver to slide in a step...when traveling its put away.

Harry & Kenna


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Old 10-18-2009, 09:21 PM   #5
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Wow, this is going to be a great thread!

I've had some thoughts similar to you - whenever my Boler gets to the point where I have a rivet leak (they're all fine now), I plan to tab the "furniture" in on the inside with epoxy and fiberglass tape - more like a boat hull.

I have a couple of question/comments (well, actually, about 400, but I'll limit it to a few )

The wood square frame that secures the pop top tent to the roof of the trailer hull/shell with screws presently will not be used, we want no contact with the horizontal plane of the new roof design on either the trailer or its pop top roof surfaces...We will fashion a different system

I can't exactly visualize all of this, but I just wanted to mention something that might come in handy, which is pre-made fiberglass "angle iron." For example, one could bond a piece of this to the underside of the roof panel, and then attach fasteners to the "hanging down" part of the angle.

Again, this might not work for what you have, but I'm just mentioning it as a possibility.

Repair all hull blemishes, sand all old finish off, replacing old finish with epoxy U.V. stabilized products.

When you mention "epoxy products," are you talking about for an exterior coating? In my experience, even UV stabilized epoxy is not an ideal outside coating, especially in a place with strong UV. I wonder if you might want to consider something like a two-part, linear polyurethane (examples of brands are AwlGrip, Alexseal, Sterling, etc.). These are products we use for painting fiberglass boat hulls, and they can still look very good - and shiny - after ten or more years. My own boat was painted with Awgrip in 1985 and still looks quite good.

Replace curved bulk head walls with stronger ¾ ply oak ones, re-cut to tighter tolerances supporting the trailer contours better.

Couple of thoughts here, again coming from the fiberglass boat angle.

First of all, you might want to consider something that will be lighter than 3/4" oak, but still strong. Even in a highly stressed boat, that would be a really big, heavy bulkhead. As an alternative, there are some good foam-cored materials that make very light, stiff bulkheads. Also if you are going to attach any other furniture to the bulkhead partway up (say, the kitchen counter) that will help to stiffen it (without bulk).

Also, if you fit the bulkheads really tightly and perfectly to the shell, you risk some print through and a stress riser. In boats we purposely keep the bulkhead 1/4" to 1/2" or so away from the shell (hull) - spacing it out with closed cell foam. Then we fillet the corners (using thickened epoxy you basically make a 45º angle of the corner) and use fiberglass tape to "tab" the bulkhead to the shell. That way, the bulkhead doesn't touch the hull, so no imprint or stress riser, and the tabbing spreads the load out over a wide area.

Okay, I'll stop now

Can't wait to see the progress updates!

Raya

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Old 10-21-2009, 05:30 PM   #6
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Interesting ideas, Harry. Thanks for sharing them here. Lots of creative thinking going on.

Your input is much appreciated, especially by those who have similar trailers. Keep the pictures coming; they greatly help in visualizing your work.

Raya's boat experience is quite relevant, as these craft share fiberglass hulls, 12v systems, tight spacial considerations, etc. I agree that 3/4" ply is unneccesarily heavy and that there are thinner, lighter, yet effective alternatives.

Great, detailed coverage here; keep it coming, Harry!

Fran
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Old 10-22-2009, 06:28 PM   #7
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[quote]
Wow, this is going to be a great thread! 53.gif

Quoted by Raya
The wood square frame that secures the pop top tent to the roof of the trailer hull/shell with screws presently will not be used, we want no contact with the horizontal plane of the new roof design on either the trailer or its pop top roof surfaces...We will fashion a different system


Raya,
I can't exactly visualize all of this, but I just wanted to mention something that might come in handy, which is pre-made fiberglass "angle iron." For example, one could bond a piece of this to the underside of the roof panel, and then attach fasteners to the "hanging down" part of the angle.

Reply Harry & Kenna
That's a very elegant way to do it...I had not thought of that.

Harry & Kenna
What I fabricated as a "test run" fabricating the pattern pieces out of pine that worked well for us was a solid square with rounded corners that fits on to of the pop top hatch fiberglass lip, "like a wood cap on the fiberglass raised lip of the hatch"

I then in the test model took my router and cut a 1" deep groove 5/16th wide into the center of it so it would fit smartly over the hatch raised lip with the lip of the fiberglass body inside the cut grove of the wood frame. This formed a wooden cap over the fiberglass lip itself draped on both sides of the fiberglass lip was wood.

I could then can attach my hardware to the wood & its fiberglass center...The wood cap or wood ring is locked onto the fiberglass hatch lip with 4 recessed stainless steel bolts going thru the sides of the wood oval oak cap locking the wood cap onto the fiber glass lip. Hence no penetrations to the horizontal plane of the trailer roof.

We liked the warm look of the wood ring ( or mantle) we could envision when the pine is duplicated in honey oak.

PLEASE SEND ME ANY SOURCE YOU HAVE FOR THE FIBERGLASS ANGLE.

Quoted by Raya
Repair all hull blemishes, sand all old finish off, replacing old finish with epoxy U.V. stabilized products.

Raya,
When you mention "epoxy products," are you talking about for an exterior coating? In my experience, even UV stabilized epoxy is not an ideal outside coating, especially in a place with strong UV. I wonder if you might want to consider something like a two-part, linear polyurethane (examples of brands are AwlGrip, Alexseal, Sterling, etc.). These are products we use for painting fiberglass boat hulls, and they can still look very good - and shiny - after ten or more years. My own boat was painted with Awgrip in 1985 and still looks quite good.

Reply Harry
I come obviously from the same cloth as you originally, learning fiber glassing boat repairs on Kodiak Island in the 70s, those are really good product names with ALOT of research behind them, We considered these as well including the newer single part epoxies and all the urethane's looking briefly at the silicone's as top coatings too...

Since I was not going to "officially" shoot another gelcoat BUT was going to sand one 39 years old near off the trailer which was going to powder anyway Raya (and you know powder if you do boats) we decided to stay in the epoxy range of coatings.

We settled for Interlux Perfection as a top coat and went with Interlux Prime Coat as the bottom coatings 2 x 2 coatings. I did use a fairing compound on some of the contours needed but do not want to elaborate here as this will be another posting subject. I wanted a 2 part epoxy really to replace the gel I was going to sand off.

Quoted by Raya
Replace curved bulk head walls with stronger ¾ ply oak ones, re-cut to tighter tolerances supporting the trailer contours better.

Raya
Couple of thoughts here, again coming from the fiberglass boat angle.

First of all, you might want to consider something that will be lighter than 3/4" oak, but still strong. Even in a highly stressed boat, that would be a really big, heavy bulkhead. As an alternative, there are some good foam-cored materials that make very light, stiff bulkheads. Also if you are going to attach any other furniture to the bulkhead partway up (say, the kitchen counter) that will help to stiffen it (without bulk).

Also, if you fit the bulkheads really tightly and perfectly to the shell, you risk some print through and a stress riser. In boats we purposely keep the bulkhead 1/4" to 1/2" or so away from the shell (hull) - spacing it out with closed cell foam. Then we fillet the corners (using thickened epoxy you basically make a 45º angle of the corner) and use fiberglass tape to "tab" the bulkhead to the shell. That way, the bulkhead doesn't touch the hull, so no imprint or stress riser, and the tabbing spreads the load out over a wide area.

Reply Harry & Kenna

Your really very right in all of this Raya, the gaps we had were way more than the ones you suggested for good reasons, The bulk head with the refrigerator was a problem for us in the past, we actually got a draft through it from the refrigerator compartment giving Kenna cold feet...

The bulk head part is done now and it turned out really well, I did address the issue you so well out lined out by keeping to the lessor gap without getting to close and placing a silicone cap on the bulk head mating surface as a crown already cured on it when I snugged the bulk head into the spot.

The reason I strengthened the bulkhead too was the bed is now a permanent one using the bulkhead as the sole vertical support to the floor on that end. When my rear end is sitting on the end or the wife's rear end is there its got well...substantial weight on it...added to the bulk head weight load is the partial weight of the gas/electric refrigerator, this honestly shares its weight with the wheel well it also rests on...It seemed prudent to increase the bulk head weight load integrity a bit.

I will be placing the pop top modifications and the Fantastic fan install into next posting to this thread.


Thanks for the ideas.

Harry & Kenna
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Old 10-23-2009, 04:56 AM   #8
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Wow (me too) Harry, this is a great thread and will be very useful for me and many others I am sure. You are taking so much time to type this all up, now if we could get you to post many more pictures some where......
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Old 10-23-2009, 09:10 AM   #9
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Quote:
I come obviously from the same cloth as you originally, learning fiber glassing boat repairs on Kodiak Island in the 70s...
Hi Harry,

"Cloth" ha ha Sounds like you know what you're doing around a pice of fiberglass!

Boatbuilding in Kodiak in the 70's must have been a pretty neat experience. I spent a bit of time boating in BC, and I just love the older, wooden fishboats. If money were no object, I would be tooling around in one of those

PLEASE SEND ME ANY SOURCE YOU HAVE FOR THE FIBERGLASS ANGLE.


You can get the fiberglass angle (and they have square tubing, by the way) at McMaster Carr. They'll talk to you on the phone, and they also have the best, easiest to use, online catalog I have ever seen. Here is a link to a page that will get you there:

By the way, I also use their fiberglass sheet quite often, for things like backing blocks and etc. For general use, the basic, dark green is fine. If I'm going to be tapping it, I use the red, "electrical-grade" GP03. If necessary, there is also one made with epoxy, and then there is the "linen" type one (often referred to as Garolite; looks like the old Tufnol blocks if you are familiar with those from your boating days).

Here is the page with the basic FRP (dark green) angles. If you simply put "fiberglass" in the search box, you'll get back to the main page with the sheets, bars, tubes (very useful!), and etc.

http://www.mcmaster.com/#fiberglass-...angles/=46ot8n

We settled for Interlux Perfection as a top coat and went with Interlux Prime Coat as the bottom coatings 2 x 2 coatings.

Interlux Perfection is a LPU (Linear Polyurethane, such as I was recommending) and not an epoxy. So we're on the same page there It's basically the same as Awlgrip, etc., but is made with rolling and tipping in mind (brushing) vs. spraying. I'm not sure how or if they actually modify it for that, but it is definitely an LPU.
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Old 10-23-2009, 02:40 PM   #10
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Raya,

You are correct again kinda I think, I have had this product sold to me by the wholesale rep as a 2 part urethaneish product?...I think the Rep is on drugs and this time the common wisdom is wrong in favor of its chemistry.

The curious thing I scratch my now bald head over on is in the labeling of Perfection TM. because if you look up the c.a.s. numbers you find its 1st primary ingredient is billed as proprietary polyester resin?

While I know and you know reps of chemical products are wonderful sometimes I think the sales department on this one is not conferring with the lab end of the business.

THANKS for the lead and the fiberglass sources!!!

As you will find out in future posts I have been using common F.R.P. as a backing because I cannot find the green board here... Its worked well as long as I stay in ester based bonds,(like loctite) with a broader chemistry to handle multiple plastic chemistry.

If I go to the straight ester resins only to save cash with Chinese made F.R.P. I get into trouble...the bonding is weak.

While the cas #s in the f.r.p. from China I tried does not state any blend of s.m.c. plastics in the product, I suspect they threw in the kitchen sink when they blended the plastic? Some of the F.R.P. did bond like it has s.m.c scrap pellets in it?

This only happened when I was using the F.R.P. out of China ?

When I switched to the California made stuff out of Stockton the issue goes away totally, have you heard of anything regarding the difference between the two sources regarding their plastic chemistry?

Am I crazy?

Happy Camping Safe Trails.

Harry




Interlux Perfection is a LPU (Linear Polyurethane, such as I was recommending) and not an epoxy. So we're on the same page there It's basically the same as Awlgrip, etc., but is made with rolling and tipping in mind (brushing) vs. spraying. I'm not sure how or if they actually modify it for that, but it is definitely an LPU.
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Old 10-23-2009, 07:26 PM   #11
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Ok, sorry but all the science speake threw me. is the interlux a good coating to use on the shell of an FGRV? I ha vew a compact Jr that needs to be shal we say, brightend up. My wife want's it white but I am not sure yet. Can you get this product in colors? and where do you get it?
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Old 10-23-2009, 08:42 PM   #12
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Heath,

There are several members on F.B.R.V. that have used Interlux Perfection, although I do not remember any specific parties I have read their posts...My brain does not remember names well, I could be wrong, I do not remember anyone that used it with Interlux Prime Coat as we did. The Prime coat smooths the imperfections, improves adhesion, fills in micro fractures.

It can be shot (sprayed) with the correct solvent to thin it or rolled and brushed, (with another solvent) its a topside finish that holds up very well to the U.V. light spectrum.

It rolls well with special rollers, brushes well with the right brushes and when it activates and sets to a rock hard plastic shell, We chose this over the other coatings because we wanted to stay in the epoxy family of coatings.

Here is link to answer your questions.

http://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userp...rt+Polyurethane

It is stated as a polyurethane, but its principle ingredient is a epoxy...What this is to me is a little confusing. What I know is it works great, please watch this thread, I will post the coating process and you can judge for yourself.

I am allowed 5 pictures per post so I am going to have to do subjects by chapters.

Others have used some other methods with other products, I have used this one before and feel more comfortable with it so we went with what we knew.

Any questions feel free to P.M. me.

Happy Camping, Safe Trails.

Harry


Quote:
Ok, sorry but all the science speake threw me. is the interlux a good coating to use on the shell of an FGRV? I ha vew a compact Jr that needs to be shal we say, brightend up. My wife want's it white but I am not sure yet. Can you get this product in colors? and where do you get it?
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Old 10-26-2009, 03:42 PM   #13
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Addition of Fan-Tastic Vent model X-8000 to pop top of Astro.


On the hull roof of the Astro model 8-T there are strategically placed corrugations on the pop top to strengthen it, these corrugations occur on a larger scale also on the main trailer roof.



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This caused issues with this project regarding placement of the Fan-Tastic fan.

Kenna and I wanted a 12v fan, it seemed logical to place this 12v power exhaust fan in the trailer pop top roof because it was the farthest point from the bed for noise control, also being on the pop top roof, not the main roof, we would make sure leaks if any, were away from the bed, the water would harmlessly be manageable on the open floor space in front of the rear facing trailer door.

We did not want a fan that would blow on us, the bunk occupies the whole front of the trailer as a permanent sleeping space, it has the two sliding windows occurring at near mattress bed level, we liked the idea of just opening the windows and letting the 12v fan gently draw in the cooler air exhausting it out the top. By doing this we would have a nice breeze for naps.

The corrugations in the pop top roof itself were spaced by the factory so that no 14X14 space was available for fan placement, other issues present were with the fan design itself, it also needed the customary 1" hull thickness regarding the main outer vent lid section and the thin inner trim with the inset screw retainers, also a roof seal would need to be part of the plan.


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Increasing the weight on this roof might require heftier helper springs on the scissor mechanism but posed no great obstacle to us. We really did not want to gasket or butyl tape the vent into the roof as a seal only then having to run a bunch of screws trying to keep up with leaks as it aged.

We decided to remove the center corrugation entirely, this would mean fiber glassing two repairs to the pop top roof on both sides of the fan install, inside the roof we would add an additional thickness of F.R.P. (fiber glass reinforced board) as a backing plate to the removed corrugations adding to the strength of fan install in general, this would help the repair process of the fiberglass. "cutouts"


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We decided to epoxy the inner plastic retaining collar into and onto the pop top roof bonding them as one piece, this wound create a secondary seamless seal, on the outside of the pop top roof we created a oak wooden square for the 1" thickness the outer fan section with lid would need, this oak square was also epoxied to the pop top roof bonding it, this creating the primary water seal, the wooden square was made to a slightly larger size making a needed gap so the fan body would slide over the epoxied in place collar, without interfering with the wood square, then rest snugly on top of the oak square where it would be secured.


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See next post for more.
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Old 10-26-2009, 04:01 PM   #14
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Chapter 2 (pop top Fan-tastic fan.

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When the cut out was made all scrap was saved, this provided the stock pieces of fiberglass that would be needed for a nice repair. Please Note. Safety is always present in our minds, this includes respiratory safety...Our sanding equipment is attached to a vacuum recovery system (shop vac) we bought our third one from Lowes Hardware, the vacuum used a primary large disposable filter bag and then a pleated H.E.P.A. Filter so there are two stages of protection. All sanding tools were attached to the vacuum.


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Please...When working with fiberglass consider no less, we also use ear protection, a face shield and a nose and mouth organic cartridge respirator, these items were not expensive and when working with these materials are absolutely necessary.

Do not consider this kind of work with out safety protections in place.

The material is easy to work with... I would not be afraid of it...But as with all things in life a little knowledge goes along way.

Its good stewardship regarding our lives to always ask the question : "What do I need to protect myself and others?" when working with fiberglass materials.

Lastly we can only post 5 pictures per topic new entry as we add to this thread, since these are the boundaries we must post within, we will do it in chapters within the topic subject as chapters as necessary, some information just needs more than 5 pictures. If when following the posts and it seems to run out of pics on a topic like "Installing Fans" just go to the next chapter of it..

If its not there we are most likely be writing it to post it.

This Fan-Tastic fan was fun!!!!

Harry & Kenna

See next post for more pics... these next posts will show pics with short explanations in rapid secession





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Old 10-26-2009, 04:34 PM   #15
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Chapter three... step by step Fan_Tastic fan pop top install.

In the pop top roof flipped upside down draw cut out for vent, note the wings in our cut out will be cut latter, this latter cut is to remove whats left of the corrugation entirely after the square for the main hole is drawn out. Removing the last of the corrugation allows us to blend in the final contours of the roof for the fan install in that spot.


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I cut fiberglass with a 4" grinder with a metal blade to cut straight lines, the cuts are smooth this way, remember I am using a face shield and a respirator, in an open area, I have Kenna holding the vacuum nozzle just ahead of the cut sucking the dust up as the blade does its work. In this pic you can see the drawn outline of the next step to remove now the last of what is left of the center corrugation after the square hole is cut out for the vent.


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Then we measure and draw out the backing piece out of F.R.P. (fiberglass reinforced board), We will cut only the square for the vent in this piece because the wing cut outs are to be backed by the F.R.P. board, not left open like the center.

The F.R.P is acting as a back stop for the flat pieces of stock to be inserted latter to fill in the depression left where these wing like cut outs are...when the backing gets bonded in place.

The stock from the square center cut for the vent will become the stock to cut the repair filler pieces from.


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Old 10-26-2009, 10:36 PM   #16
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Chapter 4 Fan-Tastic fan install.

Before bonding the F.R.P. backing to the inside of the pop top with the now large hole in it, you must insert the retaining collar into the large hole for it, then bond this square collar to the fiberglass. This is where a good bond product comes in handy, if this were styrene or s.m.c. plastic "sheet molding compound" that was used to mold this part a straight resin would not work so well. A bonding product is made to do this job.

Stop for a moment and read...

Tip...The dimensions of the hole in the fiberglass pop top roof will always be perfect, if when measureing the hole to cut you always use this piece to draw the hole needed in the top to cut out.

Explanation of terms: There is differences in bonds, glues, fillers, and plastic welds in the plastics industry, when WE say "bonds" I mean a substance that bonds "two" dissimilar plastics together through its own chemical properties, acting as mediator...<span style="color:#0000ff">"a bond is a go between"...it lends its linking molecules like a chemical bridge, to other materials, linking them by attaching its molecules to dissimilar plastics in a flexible manner.</span>

Other terms, like "glue" use different mechanics in the way they work.

Going on with the project...

Place the epoxy bond on the collar and 1/2 along the edge of the fiberglass hole, place a board on top and press flat into the hole until set up., flip it around and use another batch of bond around the edges until flush filling any gaps you may have level with the top of the roof surface.

See pic bellow to show a fill operation using bond of a collar gap.

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Next step is to reinforce the area and close up the hole left at the sides when removing the corrugations to make the area flat, an F.R.P. panel with a square hole in it bonded directly to the fiberglass roof will serve this purpose.


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F.R.P. panel before cut outs.

Measure the square cut out for the F.R.P. panel to go over the square flared pre-installed bonded to the fiberglass roof collar, when bonded in place the F.R.P. panel should be flush with the collar not over covering it.


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Pattern to be cut note cut and no cut areas.

We use Loctite as a general bond allot, it has a broad range of applications...not just plastic...After using a vacuum attached belt sander to rough up the glossy textured side of the ready to place F.R.P. pattern.


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Tip... The roughing up of the fiberglass is best explained this way....Take the sander and sant the tops of the orange peel texture flat...just the tops of that texture...get that far and your done.

We clean that sanded side with Acetone.

Then mix Loctite up, we apply the chemical bond to the cleaned fiberglass on the roughed up side and inside the pop top contact area, place F.R.P. panel into roof, bond in place, using a liberal amount of bond, a trowel made of scrap F.R.P. with teeth at 1/8 spacing apart spreads the bond so when pressed together it will not ooze out.

Press evenly and firmly until set.


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F.R.P. reinforcement, backing in place, inside view and bonded.

Tip*** Make sure no excess bond is where flat stock needs to be put as filler, if there is, it will increase the thickness of the filled area requiring more sanding.

To be continued chapter 5.

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Old 10-27-2009, 09:38 AM   #17
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Chapter 5, How to repair those holes left from the Fan-Tastic fan install?

Now that the fan install collar is bonded into the roof, and the F.R.P. reinforcement/backing panel that slips over the collar "without touching it" is bonded into place turn the roof over to the topside.

When done the next thing appears, will be two depressions "puddles" where the cut outs were for the removed corrugations. To my knowledge Astro manufacturing were the only ones of these trailers that did this, I have not seen it on the other variations to this body design. If you have another brand like a Campster this step is not needed but you might like to see how its done, its a basic hole repair also how I re-size hatches in technique.

Since we have the original pieces of cut corrugation were going to use this as a pattern, using the flat square cut out as stock draw the pattern and cut out the two flat plugs...When cut out they should fit smartly into their parent holes, if not I use the bench sander as a grinder on its side with the vacuum running and sand tiny bits off until the right fit occurs.


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Old removed corrugations used a patterns
for needed flat plugs to fill depressions.


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After trimming, flat plug fits smartly in place.

Once we have the plugs made to fit then sand the contact side flat, "non gel-coat side" smooth, with no texture on it, when done the plug is ready to bond.

Stop a moment and please read below...

The Metal Tape Trick

Tip...We like to build a simple press where clamps cannot be used...Also I need to explain a trick that always works. I always have a roll of Metal Duct Repair Tape around, the Nashua brand tape is a good brand 3" wide. When you peel the paper strip off the metal tape keep it, the paper is useful for repairs...While the metal tape part is useful for holding small projects in place while setting, it molds well holding firmly any shape.

The paper peeled strip of this tape has a waxy side that never sticks to the metal tape very well and is the side that touches the adhesive, the other side of the paper strip is not waxy, if it touches the adhesive it sticks permanently.

We use the waxy side allot, facing it towards the work, while being pressed firmly results in making the epoxy bond over run that oozes out of a pressed piece smooched flat, when it sets in 10 min (for 5 min epoxy) the tape can be pulled back easily with little to no sticking to the work itself. The now bonded piece with its flattened unified surface is now easily sand-able in a day.

The Simple Screw Press "where high force is needed"

We do have many clamps of all kinds, but on a repairs where you are behind a flat fiberglass wall where C clamps will not really work and you are doing a plug, or "fill" or a fiberglass repair needing pressure or extreme pressure on your project this works well.

Take two scrap flat wood pieces "I like ply" then put them on both sides of the work to be done running drywall screws thru the wood, thru the hull into the wood on the other side...This makes a fiberglass sandwich, make sure under the wood there is a non stick surface like the "paper tape idea" outlined above on both sides next to the work...wax paper works too, only not as well...also will butcher paper using the wax side. (yes I know they sell the plastic)
"The small hole left by the screw on a larger repair is easily handled."

Magnetic press "where low force is needed"

The other favorite press is two welders project magnets, and two scrap ply pieces with the no stick paper under it."or the plastic available from supply stores"
Pop a magnet on both sides holding the wood in place using the magnets force as the press.

[color=#000000]Now on with it...Using the screw press method.

Place the perfectly shaped plug into the hole with the epoxy in place there too...Next place the wood pieces to both side of the work, placing waxy paper next to the work waxy side facing the liquid bond on both sides of the work.

Run needed screws thru the top wood into the fiberglass work and thru the other side into the other bottom piece of wood drawing the two wood pieces together making a vise.

Using the 5 min epoxy wait 10 minuets. Then disassemble...


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Equal amounts then mixed together inside the depression
to receive the plug piece.


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Note screw holes, note overrun smooched flat?
This is now ready to sand.


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Ready for belt planning and orbital sanding.
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Old 10-27-2009, 11:41 AM   #18
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Harry, You are the professor!

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Old 10-27-2009, 09:37 PM   #19
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Chapter 6...Spiffing it up and adding the wood square spacer?

O.K. the roof is now reinforced, the mating adapting collar is now epoxied in, and the corrugations that were cut out leaving gaps where we did not want them are gone...Whats next.

Filling a hole is one thing, making it blend in and look nice on a large surface quite another.

Look closely where we did our repair to the corrugation gaps by using a backing and plug technique, on close inspection you will see that the plug is about 1/16th of an inch higher than the rest of the surface, this is caused my the layer of bond adhering the plug to the backing...This is a problem as it will require allot of bondo or fairing compound to bring the larger surface flush again with these repairs...


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On close inspection you will see that the plug is about 1/16th of an inch higher than the rest of the surface.

So bringing the two smaller sections down to the correct height with the rest of the roof seems to be the way to go...

Its easy. Wait 24 hours.

Bonding products do not sand well sooner.

We plane the uneven surface with our belt sander using 80 grit belts, the suction from the running vacuum attached to the belt sander pulls all the fiberglass dust in, when sanding move evenly and deliberately back and forth at about 50% belt speed so as to not heat up the work...The repair plugs will sand off their excess heights gel-coats first down to the surface of the rest of the roof exposing resin and fiberglass.


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After belt sander removes excess on plug making
the area level with the rest of the surface.
__________________________________________________ _____________
Note***"Latter, in the finishing process, we resin coat the exposed fibers, sand, fill, prime and top coat this area, when done no trace will remain of this repair."
__________________________________________________ ______________
Excess "loctite bond" smooched out also goes away with this sanding, what is left after sanding is a uniform flush surface with no gaps.

Next a oak wood square ring is made, this square collar makes up the needed 1" gap so the Fan-Tastic fan rests on it as designed when installed in a double hull trailer.

This oak wood spacer will serve as another way to strengthen the roof because we will bond it to the roof with epoxy, it provides another water barrier with its epoxy seal which we call the primary water barrier because any water entering must bridge this barrier first.

This solid oak square spacer functions as a seat for the fans weight to settle on or nest on. Into this ring, "not into the roof" are stainless steel screws, under the lip of the mating surface of the plastic fan body is butyl sealant or a rubber gasket which poses no problem for rain water because it is a raised deck.

If the primary water seal failed the next barrier in line to water penetration into the trailer would be the inside plastic collar we epoxied in place earlier, its raised edges facing the weather will stop water penetration there, this seal we call the secondary water seal.

We could have a go at the numerous ways to build a wood square, myself I do not like butt joints, what we did was take four 1/4" thick correctly wide and long wood planks and alternating at the corners over laid them so they interconnected there.

We used Gorilla Glue which is a water proof urethane glue, set up the pieces and using wood clamps set it all up under pressure, in 24 hours we sanded all the ooz off.

Then we placed the square into position, we made sure the fan mounted the collar with room on the inside side square for the whole works to settle in tight and precise.

****DO THIS***We then drew an outside square to mark the precise placement of this wood ring...

We then took the fan out, placed loctite bond on the wood ring mating surface of the wood ring clamping it all around in place using the square we drew to place the ring exactly where it was before.

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Wood ring bonding being clamped in place.
"Note appropriate gaps in the interior dimensions
for the collar to function with the fan top."

This last picture shows the wood ring bonded to the roof with the fan placed in it, there is no sag, now the real work begins to make this look good too.

For the curious I want to address the looks of a wood ring...The trick is we will coat the hard wood with an epoxy resin, then prime coat it, then top coat it, the fact its a hard wood will not be known when all is done...Kenna and myself will cover this in the body work chapters and the coatings chapters that will come under "body work" as another topic.

This concludes the section on Fan-Tastic fan modification.

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Modification complete.

Happy Camping Safe Trails.

Harry & Kenna
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Old 10-28-2009, 06:00 PM   #20
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Vent Modification...Adding a side range hood vent flat cover to a curved hull.

This is chapter 1 the introduction to our side vent modification discussion.

Synopsis...
The project featured is to add a flat side vent cover outside for the power exhaust range hood over the galley stove, the exit for the vent is exactly where we do not want it, it exits right on the arc or curve of the trailer hull, the point transitioning the main roof horizontal plane to the vertical plane of the outside side supporting trailer wall.

This discussion is about eliminating the curved hull issue by molding in a structured platform for the vent cover to rest on while not looking awful doing it.

Our problem...
We have had a power vent fan for years over our stove, the correct outside flat vent cover would stick out at the very top, its straight vent face thrusting straight up as the curved surface of the trailer hull behind it gently departed backwards away from the cover creating a greater and greater gap looking really tacky...It took allot of silicone goop to fill that space...
We did mean tacky.


What you will get by reading this...
Following this modification within this "Astro Middle Age Re-model" topic you will share what we do when faced with the issue regarding the topic of molding another feature to an existing curved hull to create a functional flat plane on it while still being symmetrical in looks...We used this construction technique to create flat platforms on top of curved roofs for R.V. A/C systems, or adding cargo doors, or placing windows onto slightly curved surfaces in our business too.

This to us has been an important skill learned for working with curved fiberglass surfaces.

Below is a teaser pic of what we are discussing...

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This is the sculpted, resin fiber reinforced adaption to
our curved hull that is featured step by step in this Vent Modification
thread.


The issues faced...
Adapting anything to a curved surface can be difficult enough, but on a 39 year old trailer that is currently using a sculpted silicon rubber seal that intermittently leaked every 5 years or so was going to be fun!!! The gel-coat was powdering heavily from years of the desert sun, we were definitely going to the resin layer before we were done. We braced ourselves mentally to modify this Astro the 3rd time...

While it has been our 17+ year companion, the lure and siren call of a fiberglass 5th wheel had our ears this year, then the economy hit...

Our lite Astro trailer, full of squat troll like personality would be our boxy orphan companion camper another decade. Again it will with fancy sleek behemoths next to it on both sides get another life to confuse and confound successful retirees 10 years ahead of us wanting to know "What the ---- is it?"

We wanted to share with the so many boxy cousins now found on F.B.R.V. our Astros story declaring it was going to be new again. The money saved for the down payment of the dream 5th wheel would rebuild with no money owed to any banker this Astro. Not to mention save me from extreme boredom while I got fixed too, I needed a surgery.

In the very beginning of this Astro modification thread we stated our intentions to eliminate screws penetrating the hull which might lead to leaks in the future.

Using a reinforced resin molded block that screws could use too "bite into it" but never penetrate the hull itself seemed the right plan for us regarding this vent issue, the project idea stayed within the strategy of making an attractive molded extension of the hull eliminating any seam in common with the roof behind the future flat vent cover. This would guard against any pathway for water to shed from the roof to inside the vent system or allow screw threads to penetrate the interior hull.

This introduction page is the beginning of this modification topic, chapters will be used as we are allowed 5 pictures per posting...Writing fast as we can you may see this topic stop while the rest of it is composed.

Just follow the chapter numbers until it ends.

Happy Camping, Safe Trails.

Kenna & Harry
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