Baja Burrito Resto Mod - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-20-2016, 06:47 PM   #1
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Name: Cory
Trailer: Burro
Tennessee
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Baja Burrito Resto Mod

Hi, I'm new to this forum. I bought an 82' Burro a couple of years back. It needs a little work, and I'm just getting around to it. I thought I would make a few posts as I work on it.

I used to own one of these (and a U-Haul at one time). Somehow everyone called it the "Burrito". The name kind of stuck. I'm thinking about lifting the trailer a little and adding bigger tires ... thus the name "Baja Burrito".

The old saying goes ... "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." I told a friend this one time and he said the trick is how do you eat it all before it spoils! So let's see how this project goes.
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Old 09-20-2016, 07:04 PM   #2
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Tennessee
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Trailer Tongue Replacement

My original intentions were to fix a few minor things on the camper, use if for a couple of years then do a complete body off restoration. The first thing I wanted to fix was the trailer tongue. It was an old 1 7/8" and it did not latch properly. I did this, but soon realized the floor was in much worse shape than I had expected and I am not into a complete floor replacement, but I will get to that later.

Tried to cut/grind the old tongue off with a side grinder. I nearly destroyed the tongue frame getting it off. They did some serious good welding at the factory that day. I had to weld on some angle iron to repair the damage I had done. Don't claim to be that good of a stick welder. All I know is Gorilla Welding = ugly but strong. Bought a trailer tongue from Northern and bolted it on.
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Old 09-21-2016, 03:52 PM   #3
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"...The old saying goes ... "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." I told a friend this one time and he said the trick is how do you eat it all before it spoils!..."


I hear you! I called our rehab of a 1973 amerigo our "toothpick" restoration...Paul would spend a whole day out there and when I'd ask to see what he'd gotten done, he'd show me something the size of a toothpick. Hyperbole, of course, but it often seemed that slow.


There were many times when I was afraid I'd be so sock of the whole thing that I'd never want to go camping in it--it was a real worry sometimes.


Then one day we were done. All the toothpicks lined up--the elephant entirely eaten bite by bite. We're heading out on our 5th trip--since July 4th--next weekend...each one is getting better as we get used to our little house on the roadway.
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Old 09-21-2016, 07:10 PM   #4
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The floor is a "little soft"

Thanks for the words of encouragement Kai. I appreciate it. As you will see, I need it.

I started gutting the Burro. I knew the floor was a little soft in the corners, but it was kind of hard to tell how bad since the bottom is covered in fiberglass. The floor was really solid, but I realized someone added foor on top of the original floor. I pulled up a small section to check the floor underneath. I should have never done that.

The floor underneath was beyond rotten. The screws in the top floor looked good, and the screws coming through the frame crossmembers looked good, but that was misleading (see pic). They all were completely rusted through in the middle.

So now I'm in the middle of a frame off restoration (pictures to follow). Let's skip eating a baby Asian elephant and jump straight to the full grown, granddaddy African elephant.
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Old 09-21-2016, 09:35 PM   #5
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I feel your pain. It took me about two months of playing weekend warrior to get my Burro's floor out, back in and finally back on the frame.
An oscillating multi tool and sharp 3/8 chisel helped a lot in getting the plywood and gray goop out of the slot around bottom.
You may need to block the door opening to the correct width to keep it from spreading while the floor is out.
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Old 09-22-2016, 10:45 AM   #6
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At least it is not an area as big as a house
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Old 09-22-2016, 10:59 AM   #7
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Thanks for the info Jeanne. You are correct. I wish I had known this about 2 weeks ago. I am actually a little behind on my posts. I'm trying to get caught up some each night. I thought I would post step-by step in case it would better help someone else at some point in time.

I already have the frame pulled and just about finished removing the old floor. I went through 4 spiral bits on my rotary tool. It did not work. A sawzall does not work, because you will cut the lower fiberglass lip. A circular saw and jig saw do not work. The oscillating tool is the only way to go. It is actually pretty easy with it. I got mine at Harbor Freight for $5 with a coupon (normally $20). Best $5 I could have ever spent.

Also, I did not brace the door and it did just as you said. I was planning to add that brace tonight.

I have tried to read as many threads as possible, but I did not see one mention the oscillating tool. I welcome any other comments that would help. Thanks for the help.

My email is scoboatn56@gmail.com if anyone wants to provide comments or discuss without having to add to this forum. Thanks.
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Old 09-22-2016, 06:21 PM   #8
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Frame Removal

I removed the frame pretty much like described in all the other threads. I stripped down the interior. I started trying to loosen the bolts in the floor, but the ones I tried broke in half. I later determined that the floor was so rotten, I did not have to cut or remove any bolts. Pretty scary.

I added braces to the front and back seat. I just used wood screws and screwed them into the fiberglass. I have a fair amount of glass work to do, so I will just fill the holes in later. I later figured out I should have also added a brace at the front door. This is mentioned by another member in the thread.

I jacked up the four corners one at a time using a little floor jack and inserted pieces of 2X4's on stacked cement block as I went. I then slid two 8ft 4x4's under the camper. This took very little work.

I added two extra blocks on the front (one each side), pulled the trailer out, then removed the two extra blocks.

Trailer and frame separated! Whoooo Hoooo!
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Old 09-22-2016, 06:41 PM   #9
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Burro Brochure - Shutterfly Book

I wanted to print a copy of the Burro Brochure, then I got a Shutterfly coupon for a free 8x8 book. You can find this coupon all over the web. I converted the brochure pdf found on this forum to 12 Jpeg's and made a book. The book has to be 20 pages long, so I added a few other items and some pictures an old Burro I used to have and the one I am working on now. It cost me a little under $9 for shipping and tax.

Feel free to use as you like. I think you can use the link to view and order if you like. You should also be able to modify it (remove my camper pictures and add yours or something else).

I thought this might be a neat thing to keep with the camper.

https://share.shutterfly.com/action/...g&cid=SM-PBAPP
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Old 09-23-2016, 10:14 PM   #10
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Removal of Inner fiberglass floor

The wooden floor was so rotted, it pretty much fell out. The fiberglass liner above the floor was left intact. I started cutting out the large chunks with a sawzall and used an oscillating took to cut around the edges.

I just finished removing all the fiberglass floor tonight. I will post completed pictures tomorrow. Here are some of the progress ....
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Old 09-23-2016, 10:33 PM   #11
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Trailer: Burro
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Quote for Replacement Windows

I would like to rebuild the existing windows myself, but I'm not sure how hard it will be to find the parts and do the job good enough so there are no leaks. As a backup, I got a quote on ordering some new windows... $1,900. That is pretty high, but I'm glad I at least found someone who could do this. They indicated they have done windows for several Burros. They sent me a picture of one they had done, and it looked really good.

Boat Windows, Rv Windows | Motionwindows.Com

Below is a picture of the window seals I am trying to run down..
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Old 09-24-2016, 06:00 AM   #12
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Name: Gary
Trailer: UHaul CT13
Iowa
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Cory,
Thanks for your thorough posts on what you're doing!... with the clear pics... and specific tool references... window quote specifications, etc.
Good job!
I have a U-Haul CT13, so similar construction of the basic floor & body, as best I know. [kinda hoping I never have to tackle the floor...]
Several members on the U-Haul Facebook page have gotten info from Motion Windows... they seem to be highly regarded, too.
Keep up the good work,
Gary
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Old 09-24-2016, 12:43 PM   #13
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Torsion Axle Information

After some research, I have decided to switch my Burro over to a leaf spring (I will comment later on). Here is some information I found on the Torsion axle ...

Most Burro torsion axles are leading arm axle's. All the new ones today are trailing arm axles. You will most likely have to weld new bracket plates to the frame if you install a new one. The Burro axle is not a standard size. You can't go to Northern Tool and get one. A 2,000 lbs axle is pretty standard even though the 13' burros weigh less than this. I attached an order I found on this forum for a Dexter axle. I think you need a 2,000 axle, 63.5" hubface, 49.5" outside bracket, 48" frame center. You can choose 0, 10 or 22.5 degree down. I think my original was about 0 deg. I think 22.5 degree will add about 2.5" of lift. I think 10 degree will give good ride and a till lift.

I called a local vendor and he quoted about $350 for a custom Dexter Torsion Axle + tax + $120 freight = approx $420.
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Old 09-24-2016, 12:57 PM   #14
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Tennessee
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Changing Tire Size and Axle Length

My burro had 175/70 R13 tires. I really wanted some bigger tires, I wanted to lift it a little, and increase the tire stance. The Frame is 3” tall, the Fender well is 28” wide, 12” deep, 15” tall, and the tire is 22” tall X 6” Wide.

I think a leaf spring will raise camper about 3". I set the camper to about that height and tried several tire sizes. I liked the 180-185-R13 look. I set the tire where I thought it looked good and measured the hub-hub face. I got 68".

I ordered an axle, parts and tire from eastern marine. I went with 185/80-R13 with a 68" hubface axle. I went 5 lug on 4.5" instead of the original 4 on 4. I will let you know how it goes once I get this installed. May go well, may not. I just order parts last night. Maybe several weeks before I get this done?

Trailer Parts Superstore® - Shopping Index
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Old 10-01-2016, 03:34 PM   #15
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Frame Weakness Discussion

I've seen several posts discussing the weakness of the Burry frame. I am currently in the middle of a frame off restoration, and I can attest to how the frame seems pretty weak (see my tongue replacement post).

I'm no expert, but I suspect that the frame may not be the only issue. If you have every done any wood framing, you know the strength comes from the sidewalls. The Burro's are notorious for rotten floors. So you take a 30 yr old camper that has a weak floor. The frame is less stiff now, and can flex. Add to this 30 yrs of use, maybe a little rust here or there, maybe the camper has been backed into something once or twice, maybe the 30 yr old torsion axle is not working like it used to and the frame now has to absorb some of the road impacts. Add it all up and it is not hard to imagine a damaged frame. I suspect the weak floor maybe one of the real culprits.

I'm in the middle of converting my axle to a leaf spring. I am debating beefing up the frame. It maybe cheap insurance, but you can do damage welding to the frame. When adding metal to a frame you can cause warping and stress. Also the extra metal can cause places for rust to go unchecked between the two metals.

Unless I discover some major frame damage, I am leaning towards not doing anything. I'd love to hear other opinions on this. I'd hate to do all this work and wish I had added extra support. Thanks.
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Old 10-02-2016, 02:52 PM   #16
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Your objections to beefing up the existing one sound valid, but not necessarily inevitable.


Still,
some here on other rebuilds (including ours) have suggested going to a metal fab shop and having a whole new frame built from new materials.


I assume it's costly (we got lucky with our 1973 brown amerigo frame)
--but then you'd KNOW it was fine.
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Old 10-02-2016, 05:20 PM   #17
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Trailer: 2 - Uhaul VT-16 Vacationer's & 1977 Argosy 6.0 Minuet
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All you have to do is look at the pictures of your frame to see that most light weight JON boat trailers are built better than your Burro frame. Just look at the wide end of the V where the V starts the taper to the hitch. Light weight steel square steel tubing with a machine bend. Not strong at all and a place where you see many a Burro and many other fiberglass trailers from all the other manufacturer's from that time period with a patch scabbed on the side of the frame to support the broken or cracked frame rail. There's your weak point!

The frame is the foundation of your trailer. You are this far into the restoration of your Burro so why not upgrade your chassis?

I suggest you consider 1/8 inch or better yet 3/16 inch plate steel welded down the length of each frame rail hitch to tailight for added torsional rigidity and support. That's probably twice as thick as the original square tubing frame rail wall thickness originally used to construct this frame. I would look at reinforcement on the cross-members also. I would probably do the same thing to the inside of the frame rails. A little triangulation would be a good think IF the underside of the fiberglass shell will allow that with no tanks or other obstructions. After-all the Burro shell sits on top of the frame rails so this should not be a big deal. Take a flashlight and look INSIDE the square tube frame rails to see how rusty and crusty they might be on the inside as they generally rust from the inside out.

Overkill?

Maybe!

However rest assured IF this trailer chassis where designed and manufactured today there is no way the manufacturer would use this flimsy a frame design and construction with such primitive and inferior frame rail materials. As noted in one of your earlier posts you can't even buy a direct replacement axle for this frame so that alone should tell you the technology & parts used to construct this frame is badly outdated.

As far as the worry about rust between the additional metal added to the frame and the original frame rails you can prep the metal with weld through primer and chassis paint to stop/slow that issue before welding on the additional bracing. You also repaint the frame with a product like POR 15 to stop any future rust issues.

I would not worry about the "warping" the frame. Chances are already GREAT your frame is not square anyway and is already warped in some form or fashion after 40 years and who knows how many miles and potholes. With the above being said ANY frame upgrades you make to this frame will far outlive your lifetime so I'd say you would have "No Worries Mate". That crappy original frame somehow made it through almost 40 years!

No way "I" would stick that stock frame back under your beautifully restored Burro fiberglass shell without some serious upgrades. You frame already needs to have fab work completed to install your new modern axle to the frame so it really is time finish the job and properly upgrade your trailer's chassis!
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Old 10-03-2016, 10:08 AM   #18
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Burro Frame

Daguum it, Mike I think you are right. Back to the drawing board. I think I was trying to talk myself out of the extra work.

I just finished up the axle install yesterday. I should have run angle all the way down the bottom side of the frame and THEN mounted the leaf spring brackets to the new angle. I will have to look it over and decide the best fix. Worried now about damaging the frame by cutting out the new brackets I installed. I'll figure something out.

Thanks for the advice.
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Old 10-03-2016, 06:07 PM   #19
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Leaf Spring Install & Spare Tire Holder

Good news...
I got the leaf spring and axle installed. I drilled and tapped the frame to bolt the brackets to the frame. I don't think there was enough metal there, so I also tack welded the nuts to the brackets and welded the brackets to the frame.

I may have a little more lift than I expect. I may end up putting bigger tires on. I will wait and see what it looks like when I get it on the frame.

Since the frame is lifted a little bit, I installed a spare tire hanger under the frame in the front. I kept this off an old camper I had before I sold it. I thought it would look a little better, allow less weather on the spare tire, and allow me to get the utility tray (I am going to make) to be installed closer to the camper.

Bad News...
I think I have been talked into beefing up the frame. I should have welded 2" angle on the inside bottom of the frame, then added the leaf spring brackets on top of that. As it is now, I'm afraid I'd do more damage to the frame cutting the leaf spring brackets back out. I will have to come up with something else.
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Old 11-05-2016, 07:14 PM   #20
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Frame Mods

This frame work has been a lot more work than I thought, but I'm glad I've done it. I think it is pretty heavy duty now. I had to cut off the leaf spring brackets I added originally. Here is what I have done ...
1) Reinforced the frame with 3/16 2" X 3" angle. I decided to add the angle on the inside of the frame. This way I could tie the existing cross angle into the new angle. I cut the angle to length and cut notches to slip over the cross angle. This provides a lot of places to tie everything together with welding.
2) Reinforced the weak spot where there is a bend in the frame (going to the tongue), by welding in gussets and grinding them to match the radius.
3) Added a spare tire holder. I cut out the old 3 small pieces of angle that held the propane tank and added one piece of 2"x2" angle.
4) Added a trailer hitch. It should be pretty stiff since it is supported in two places.
5) Added two extra 2"x2" cross members (new are 3/16" and original are 1/8"). I did this for stiffness and to support the floor. I am going to put the floor in in three pieces and I wanted a full 2" to attach each end of the floor.
6) Added mounts for scissor jacks. I don't care of the original drop down jacks. I would have added them directly to the frame, but they stuck down to0 far and it looked funny.
7) Added mounts for leaf spring axle. Drilled and tapped the frame. Bolted the brackets to the frame, then also welded ends of brackets to frame.

I have some finish welding to do, a little priming and then paint. Getting closer.

I figured I probably added about 100# of metal. Don't like the extra weight, but the frame was just too flimsy for me.
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