My 1978 Trillium 4500 Build Log - Fiberglass RV
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Old 12-19-2021, 05:14 PM   #1
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My 1978 Trillium 4500 Build Log

Hi All!

I will be documenting my progress on my 1978 Trillium 4500 here!

For our list of repairs and upgrades, we only have a couple items... haha
  • Repack and/or replace bearings
  • Finish wiring and install new trailer plug
  • Install and inspect propane system
  • Install new battery + tongue box
  • Install and check all plumbing, sinks, toilet, tanks, inlet
  • Fix all roof leaks (a couple small areas need some new butyl and hardware)
  • Check status of brakes and replace if necessary
  • Replace all cabinet doors
  • Install flooring
  • Install shelving, storage, shoe bags, etc
  • Roof fan or AC unit
  • Reseal all ensolite seams
Plus a few other things we are kicking around like painting the shell and completely gutting the interior to replace all the ensolite. You know, small things.

Here it is after we gave it a good scrubbing!
Attached Thumbnails
front_view.jpg   rear_view.jpg  

interior_1.jpg   interior_2.jpg  

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Old 12-19-2021, 05:20 PM   #2
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So the first thing we noticed after we had a chance to get in it and inspect was there were a few roof leaks. One of them I figured must be coming from the awning track as there were several rusty and missing screws and rivets.

I knocked off the rivets and gave it a good cleaning underneath. Then I laid down three rows of 1/8" caulking rod (the messy stuff) and replaced the hardware with stainless #10-24 3/8" machine screws. A few of the holes were a bit wide so I used #12-1/2" self tapping screws for them.
Unfortunately I ran out of screws since I mis-guessed the number I needed and discovered some more water in the trailer this morning. So we will have to wait and see for next rain if that was the issue or maybe my lack of butyl tape (Ace didn't carry the stuff unfortunately). Oh well, easy repair at least.

There's some kind of vent over the bath area with a pretty rough looking patch around it that seems to be leaking quite a bit, so I just tried taping it up with duct tape for the time being. Will have to come back another day to address it.
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Old 12-19-2021, 06:25 PM   #3
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First thing I'd do is replace that ankle breaker step.
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Old 12-25-2021, 02:17 PM   #4
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So much fun in store for you!
I have a 1979 4500. So far have redone the wiring on the tongue, but lots more to do, too.
Windows and belly band next and might need to look at the floor after all the years(?) of leaks.
So worth it though! Looking forward to seeing your progress.
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Old 01-10-2022, 07:51 PM   #5
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Spent the last couple weeks reading FGRV nonstop basically. After several deliveries from the mailman, I had everything ready for the electrical upgrades. The original transformer was fine I'm sure, but I wanted to be able to charge the 12v battery with shore power, and also add solar down the line.

Here is the stock location for the panel. Randy replaced the shore power cord with a 30a 120VAC plug in the same location which is a great idea.

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The area behind the transformer had quite a bit of space for a new converter.

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Most people swap in a PD4045 but I wanted something that fit in the existing cutout for the transformer. The PD4600 is supposed to be a drop-in replacement for these kinds of things, but I wasn't a fan of how the breakers/fuses were set up on it. I think you'd have to pull it out every time to reach them. So I decided on the PD5000 distribution panel paired with a PD9245 for conversion. Yeah, not the most cost effective solution, but $60-$80 more in the scheme of things didn't seem that bad.

Mixed in with this decision was an obsessive amount of measuring and checking clearances. I wanted to be super sure everything would fit and I'd avoid any crazy workarounds. Once I felt good enough to order everything, the next step was to start hacking away at the fiberglass.

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I estimate I saved about 1.0-2.0 oz in weight with the fiberglass I removed. So that's good. My ultralight backpacking days are paying off.

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I epoxied some wood strips behind the cutout to screw into. I suspect they weighed more than 2 oz. Oops.

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Happy to say the panel fits just fine. And the crushing realization that the furnace cover might get in the way gave me a small heart attack. Luckily that's not the case and there's plenty of room.

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Old 01-10-2022, 08:16 PM   #6
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The PD9245 was a little trickier to install. Triple checking the location told me yes it would fit... barely.. but it would fit. I also needed to make sure all the wiring will be able to reach. Kind of important.

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Luckily the decision for the mount is only as permanent as the 3600psi epoxy I'm using.. So permanent. With all my clamps taken with the dist panel cutout I had to get creative.

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Decided I wanted the prettiest mount around for my converter. I have a couple studs ready for wires. More on that later

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I spent probably way too much time trying to come up with a way to avoid any wire splices or anything kinda sketchy that might burn down the trailer later. Sadly the distribution blocks I had on hand were only rated for 25A, so not gonna cut it with a 45A converter. I also really wanted to avoid forking over another $25 for a pair of distribution blocks. But I probably will. The existing 8AWG chassis ground wire is "enough" but I will be upgrading it to 4AWG whenever I feel like ruining one of my drill bits to get a new frame ground.

But here is the final setup. Haven't checked the circuits yet, so hoping I don't have to pull it back out.

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Clearance is... well.. there's clearance. This trillium did not have any doors so its up to me what I want to do here. I also managed to destroy the small round vent under this panel at some point sadly. I'm thinking either a panel with giant mesh cutout or just complete mesh cover. Maybe something with magnets... Anyway I have plenty of time before I get to cabinet doors.

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Old 01-11-2022, 09:36 AM   #7
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So... No more storage by the door then. I like that spot for a small garbage container that's accessable from inside and outside the trailer. Are you going to put a door over the hole?
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Old 01-11-2022, 10:13 AM   #8
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Nice work Alex. I also replaced the original converter with a PD9000 distribution panel. In my Trillium 4500, the opening to the left of the entry door where you installed the new converter had a tilt out hamper. I left that in place. Instead of installing a new converter, I installed a smart charger in the cord port area. Also replaced the cord port with a 30 amp inlet.
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Old 01-13-2022, 09:00 PM   #9
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Ah.. well being new to the Trillium I guess I am still learning new things. I might look at moving the converter where John mentioned, but I would need to run new battery and ground cables since they wouldn't reach. I also could tuck it back in the wheel well but I didn't like how little airflow it would get there.

As for what to do with the hole, I was thinking of putting a vented door over it with a couple of voltmeters to measure the load on the system if and when I get some solar panels. Pretty cheap little displays and some clever wiring and you can have a pretty impressive little display. Figure the door there would be a good place for it.
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Old 01-14-2022, 07:51 AM   #10
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Alex, I installed my AGM battery in the driver's side rear bench. Ran the battery cables just under the dinette floor all the way forward.

I installed the PD9000 in the same location as your PD9000 installation.
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Old 02-05-2022, 12:10 PM   #11
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Thanks for the suggestion John. I might revisit my converter location when I get to ordering the AGM battery. Might have an issue fitting a battery tongue box on my trailer with the current setup. Will just have to see, but the rear bench does sound appealing.

And David, I haven't decided what exactly I'll do with that door when it comes time. I was thinking of adding some screens there to measure battery usage. Didn't realize that's where a tip-out bin went. Whoops

Couple things I've worked on. One was redoing the 7-way wiring coming into the camper. It was a birds nest and I wanted to check everything anyway. Turns out there were two inline fuses buried in the mix. One of the holders wasn't in great shape so still not sure what I'll do there. Still a little confused on all the wiring from the 7-way. But anyway here is the box I installed and where I mounted it.

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Might be a little overkill but I wasn't a fan of the twist caps. Don't want to take any chances of vibration kicking out my brake lights. I mounted it on the wood surround under the front sink. Think it worked pretty well.

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Old 02-05-2022, 07:54 PM   #12
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Few other things I've worked on

Replaced the roof vent for the plumbing. Nothing is actually connected to it. I'm considering replacing the toilet with a cassette toilet or similar, so it won't need a vent. Not really sure what else I'd need it for. But the part was $6 and the current one was leaking. Sorry, no before pictures. You can see where the paint changes. It looks like a PO painted the roof but didn't remove the vent, so you get this. All the more reason to consider painting.
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Also painted the rear bumper. It was pretty rusty (check the photos in the first post). Just spray paint. Wont last but at least it will look good for a minute
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The next project was a roof fan. I debated the Fantastic Fan vs the MaxxFan and decided on the MaxxFan 4401K because of reviews. The slim Fantastic Fan pancake motor got some bad reviews (sound) and this one was cheaper.

The base model doesn't have a reversible motor, but reading some reviews I realized you could add that pretty easily with a DPDT throw switch to reverse polarity wired between the control board and the motor. So this $140 fan is now worth $260 with a $5 part.

Shot of the wiring
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Finished product

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Old 02-05-2022, 08:11 PM   #13
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Having some time to assess the state of the roof, I realized I still had leaks coming from the awning track. I decided the random couple of holes in the rear was not a great situation, and wanted to replace everything with rivets anyway. So I removed the awning strip and added some body fiberglass to the couple holes.
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Replacing with some proper butyl tape and rivets felt much better overall. I didn't like screwing into the fiberglass and this felt better. Plus, I learned that drilling out rivets wasn't as big of a deal as I thought. Win-win. You may notice the roof vent hole.. foreshadowing
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Moving on.. I decided the weather was right for me to replace the roof vent with a fan. So the big fist step was to remove the vent. Turned out pretty tricky but I managed to unscrew the cover from the hinge and remove the horizontal track to get to this point
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I dont have much in the way of ladders or scaffolding, so it was difficult to say the least. But I could drill out the rivets pretty easily from here. No shame
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Here is the opening with all the butyl, silicone and whatever else was caked on there removed. Mineral spirits and alcohol (the isopropyl, not ethyl kind) helped here.

Next was fabricating a bracket for the new fan. I'm 6'0" and the existing roof just barely clears my head. So dropping a new fan below roof height was a definite NO. I decided to fabricate a PVC spacer using PVC trim found at your local hardware store. It was cheap. PVC cement is pretty permanent. What could go wrong?
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I roughly measured what it would take to avoid any headbangers and came out at 3". So two sets of 1.5" square molding it was.

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In reality this new bracket was less than stellar. I was less than impressed with it, and after test fitting it on the roof, I was thoroughly disgusted. No.
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Old 02-06-2022, 05:29 PM   #14
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So after trying the PVC route for a spacer, I decided to do it right and simply fiberglass in a plywood spacer. Wasn't thrilled with the prospect of fiberglass resin and all that comes with it, but I guess there's a first for everything.

Made a cardboard template and cut two sheets of 11/16" BC sheathing that I had on hand. I would recommend using a better plywood for this due to core voids and thickness variation in the sheathing that I had to deal with

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Epoxying them together was pretty simple and gave me a chance to learn how to use the resin. I didn't want to introduce any holes in the bracket so decided to clamp it. Probably a mistake because I couldn't coat the whole thing with resin unless I wanted to lose a couple of clamps in the process.

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Next step was to sand down the gel coat on the roof to get a good bond with the new bracket. This part sucked.

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Up to this point I was doing everything by standing in the hole for the fan. I knew this day would come but I was going to have to climb on the roof of the trailer. Not fun. Supporting the roof was pretty simple though

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Working with the fiberglass resin was nerve racking. Almost spilled it everywhere once. Had to mix multiple batches to keep the volume down so lots of maneuvering on the roof with all my supplies. I didn't learn my lesson the first time with the clamps so I had to wait for the first layer to dry completely before I could go over the top with mesh.

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Second round of resin was not great. Had a couple bubbles in the mesh that wouldn't go away. Pretty sure I was supposed to use chopped strand instead of the weave but its what I had. After this dries I'll have a lot of cleanup to do. But at least its on the roof where no one can see it.

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Still have a massive hole in my camper's roof but the weather forecast is treating me well. Still have to go over it with body filler and then paint. So hopefully I'll have everything sealed up and ready before the rain comes back.
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Old 06-11-2022, 07:04 AM   #15
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So 3rd tries the charm I guess. I realized I used the wrong fiberglass mat when I could peel up most of what I just put down. Turns out the mesh is for simple curves and filling voids. The chopped strand is what I should have used... so again we climb back up on the roof and get to work.

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Don't have much in-progress shots there but I basically peeled off everything I just did, resanded, and reapplied the mat with resin. Had to build up the corners especially since the bracket was slightly wider than the flat part on the opening. Combination of fiberglass and bondo body filler and we arrive here.

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Finished it up with some auto primer and fiberglass spray paint. Happy to say the fan fits like a glove and sits nice and flush on the inside! I drilled holes through the bracket and ran bolts with nuts up against the inside of the shell. Hoping the butyl tape I put down does the job keeping water out. So far so good on that part.

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For wiring, I tried my hardest to get the wire snaked under the ensolite and over to the closet. I bought a tiny snake, used coat hangars, everything. Eventually gave up on that and just cut a slit to run it in. The t-mold on the rest of the ensolite all came out and I planned on running caulking for the seams anyway, so it sat nicely in those channels. Thickness-wise, I think the 12/2AWG sat pretty close to flush. Shouldn't even notice it when its finished.

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Turned out pretty nice!
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Old 06-11-2022, 07:25 AM   #16
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So now that I have this fiberglass resin kit.. more things started cropping up that I needed to deal with.

The belly band uh.. well it just kinda came off one day. Never had much of a hold on the back part and I see why. So out comes the resin and mat.

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This part is still a work in progress. Have a ton of body filler to smooth the curve out, and I purchased some color match paint that hopefully will work for the rest of the belly band as well. Based on some posts here, the paint people have used is

Omni AE acrylic enamel, Isuzu Parthenon Ivory #91110
91 Isuzu Rodeo Parthenon Ivory 809

We'll see how it does.

I noticed the panel for the bath next to the door was a little loose. Pulled the floor up and saw another opportunity to break out the resin..

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Plan to replace the floor soon, so might as well keep going.

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You can see where this is going.

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Old 06-11-2022, 07:37 AM   #17
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Things have escalated slightly..

Well you see. it started with the ensolite t-molding. I was missing a few sections. And then it just kinda came off one day. Kinda like the belly band. So I decided why not caulk all the ensolite seams? And you have to choose a color caulking right? White is popular. Well, I figured I made it this far, why not keep going?

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You can see where we're headed.

This is the process I followed for paint prep
  1. Remove all t-molding, including the track.
  2. Repair sagging ensolite with contact cement (3M Super 90 did not hold for me)
  3. Scrape and remove any residual adhesive from the ensolite near the t-molding seams
  4. Caulk all the seams with Dynaflex 230. Had to do it in multiple rounds to build up the thickness. First pass was gap filling, second was levelling, and third if needed for smoothing.
  5. Wash ensolite and fiberglass with soap and water.
  6. Wash ensolite and fiberglass with TSP and water solution.
  7. Read on fiberglassrv.com that washing with TSP leaves residue which can cause paint adhesion failures
  8. Wash ensolite and fiberglass with 50/50 ammonia 10% and water solution
  9. Mask all areas with tape
  10. Cover windows with paper (should have used plastic.. it gets very dark
So here we are today. I decided to go with a separate primer and paint setup after discovering the Zinsser Permawhite paint I bought does not include primer. So I bought Zinsser 1-2-3 paint prep as well as a Wagner HVLP spray gun. Of all the things I suggest using for this... its a spray gun. I went over a few areas I missed with the spray gun with a roller and paint brush. I don't care what "roll and tip" technique you used, I could never get brush marks out.


If everything goes well this weekend I'll have some nice after pics of the paint.
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Old 06-19-2022, 08:58 AM   #18
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Few small updates

Belly band progress. Painted with the color matched paint. Sadly 1 can wasn't quite enough to make it around the whole trailer. Masked and primed with sandable auto primer then blended as best as I could with the final basecoat. Not too concerned with the finished product since I plan to repaint the whole trailer down the line anyway.

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Here's the after for the interior painting

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Some thoughts after going through the process..

Masking the windows with paper... probably not a great idea. It blocks more light than plastic and it gets pretty dark inside once paint starts covering it up. On top of that.. it cuts down on the air circulation quite a bit and causes the paint take longer to dry. Not really sure what a solution would be if you're planning on spraying.

I did 2 coats of Zinsser 1-2-3 primer and 2 coats of Zinsser Perma-white in satin. Probably would go with Semi-gloss if I would do it again. I underestimated how flat the satin would look. On top of that, I had a lot of paint mist that settled on the surfaces after I finished painting, making the surface quite rough. I went back over it with an ultra-fine scotch brite pad and that knocked things down pretty well.

I'm debating finishing the smooth fiberglass sections with polycrylic to get a silkier shine, but I'm also kinda ready to move on. The good news is the ensolite painted up beautifully and it looks brand new again.

I ended up installing a distribution block into the electrical cabinet for the positive and the ground because I didn't feel so hot about having an exposed positive post. Turned out great. Still thinking I might relocate it later, but that would involve more cable runs that I don't feel like dealing with at the moment.

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I have no idea what the front bathrooms look like normally in the 4500s (if anyone has photos please share!) but I am replacing the toilet anyway, so I plan to refashion something

Cardboard template

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Mockup with wood. Planning to install a drawer in the space if possible.

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Old 10-03-2022, 11:09 PM   #19
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Amazing Help. Can't wait to see it all done up.

Thank you for all this. I am sure that we will be doing some of these changes to our new to us 1977 Trillium 4500. We are already struggling to find a drop in stove top of any quality. The one that was deemed quality is no longer being made since Dometic bought Attwood- pretty frustrating since a crappy one is all that fits in the current cutout- Fiberglass work is in our future. It was nice to read about your oops's as well.

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Originally Posted by AlexTN View Post
Few small updates

Belly band progress. Painted with the color matched paint. Sadly 1 can wasn't quite enough to make it around the whole trailer. Masked and primed with sandable auto primer then blended as best as I could with the final basecoat. Not too concerned with the finished product since I plan to repaint the whole trailer down the line anyway.

Attachment 146288
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Here's the after for the interior painting

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Some thoughts after going through the process..

Masking the windows with paper... probably not a great idea. It blocks more light than plastic and it gets pretty dark inside once paint starts covering it up. On top of that.. it cuts down on the air circulation quite a bit and causes the paint take longer to dry. Not really sure what a solution would be if you're planning on spraying.

I did 2 coats of Zinsser 1-2-3 primer and 2 coats of Zinsser Perma-white in satin. Probably would go with Semi-gloss if I would do it again. I underestimated how flat the satin would look. On top of that, I had a lot of paint mist that settled on the surfaces after I finished painting, making the surface quite rough. I went back over it with an ultra-fine scotch brite pad and that knocked things down pretty well.

I'm debating finishing the smooth fiberglass sections with polycrylic to get a silkier shine, but I'm also kinda ready to move on. The good news is the ensolite painted up beautifully and it looks brand new again.

I ended up installing a distribution block into the electrical cabinet for the positive and the ground because I didn't feel so hot about having an exposed positive post. Turned out great. Still thinking I might relocate it later, but that would involve more cable runs that I don't feel like dealing with at the moment.

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I have no idea what the front bathrooms look like normally in the 4500s (if anyone has photos please share!) but I am replacing the toilet anyway, so I plan to refashion something

Cardboard template

Attachment 146293

Mockup with wood. Planning to install a drawer in the space if possible.

Attachment 146294
Shangie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-17-2022, 03:14 PM   #20
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Name: Alex
Trailer: Trillium 4500
Tennessee
Posts: 33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shangie View Post
Thank you for all this. I am sure that we will be doing some of these changes to our new to us 1977 Trillium 4500. We are already struggling to find a drop in stove top of any quality. The one that was deemed quality is no longer being made since Dometic bought Attwood- pretty frustrating since a crappy one is all that fits in the current cutout- Fiberglass work is in our future. It was nice to read about your oops's as well.
Glad to hear that its helping a fellow FGRV'er! I love reading through people's build threads so I'm happy to give back to the community that has helped me so much already.

My take on the stovetop is that the existing stove is way wayyy too big. 3 burners? We don't even use all that at home! There are a lot of smaller 2-burner stoves available, so if I were you, I'd find a way to fill in the opening and claim some more counterspace. Totalboat has a lot of great fiberglassing videos on youtube.
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