Stage two - Fiberglass RV

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Old 04-20-2003, 07:10 PM   #1
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Stage two

Originally posted by Lanny Webb

Stage two: Remove Shell, Paint Frame, Install sub-floor
This is a continuation of my previous post “ In the beginning”

OK, Who said flattery would get you nowhere... Thanks for the kudos. This is forcing me to finally finish my log of the process.

For future referance you will note as I go I tend to redo most stuff instead of buying new, i.e. the rock tumbler, but being a teacher, funds are limited and sweat is good for the soul. This process would have gone much faster if I wasn’t trying to be so cheap.

At this stage, I had spent a total of $611.49. The $11.48 was for the cement blocks and landscape timbers I was about to use to hold the shell while I sanded the frame.

After the shell was completely stripped and with thanks to the encouragement of Tom Stern, who was ahead of me in a similar redo, I took the shell off the frame. I really wasn’t looking forward to this but I knew I would always wish I had done it when I had the chance. My frame was pretty covered with rust. Notice I was missing a few parts as well.

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This too went much easier than I had expected. When I removed the rotten floor, the screws holding the shell on the frame were easily exposed. Most came free with liquid wrench and vice grips. A couple broke off and required a quick clip with a hammer and chisel. Spray the screws with liquid wrench and go make coffee or have lunch or something.

I built cement block pedestals on either side of the trailer. Using another stack of blocks as a fulcrum and a landscape timber as the lever, there cheap and strong and I could use them later in my yard. I lifted the front of the shell off the frame, once again easier than expected. My brother, Jim, then slid another landscape timber under the shell on top of the two front block pedestals. When we tried to lift the front high enough in one step, the shell tended to slide off the back of the trailer because of the exaggerated slant. For that reason, we raised it a little in the front, then back, then front etc..

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I know this picture doesn’t look like the shell was stable but at the time we THOUGHT it was! Starting around 9:00 this took us until lunch including the trip to Lowe’s to get the blocks and stuff.

Now, the next stage was work, no way around it. We used both an air grinder and a wire brush drill combo. We went a little beyond loose rust but not to bright metal. The wire brush was the best by far.

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The frame was then coated with Rust Mort, a product I can’t live without.

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Its an automotive rust stop that works better than anything else I used. It takes over night or around 12 hours to dry but turns the rust to a hard black surface which takes paint really well. It brushes on but don’t let it puddle or it stays sticky. If it does, wash it off and let it dry thoroughly. This was a hard afternoon with both of us working pretty much non stop. We finished the Rust Mort about dark, had a well deserved libation and grinned at our accomplishment.

Sunday was Rustolium primer brushed on. I used glossy black Rustolium for the top coat. A note here, the top coat has started wearing off in a few sections, rear bumper and next to the hitch. I haven’t figures out why as of yet. It has been about eight months.

I was concerned I wouldn’t get the shell back on in the same place but thanks to the dirt on the bottom of the shell it gave me a pattern to align to. The shell is light enough for two people to slide around pretty easily. Make sure the trailer is chocked well.

Next the sub floor. I used 1/2 ” treated plywood. It took two 4'x8' pieces but lots left over for other uses. I cut a rectangular piece, measuring the width and length of the widest points, to fit the floor. (under where the table/bed was to go)

I made a template of the corners by using cardboard from large boxes. I would cut a rectangle with the corners cut off and then space out small pieces of cardboard in a fan pattern to gauge the curve.

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I traced the template onto the plywood and cut the corners. I followed this process for the rest of the floor. I used Liquid Nails liberally to glue down the sub floor. You might need thin shims where your pieces meet as they really need to be pretty close to the same height or the difference will form an edge. This edge will eventually cut your carpet from uneven wear. ( you can get a pack of door shims from Lowe’s for around $1.50, and no I don’t have stock in Lowe’s, Home Depot will work just as well) Before gluing the piece or pieces that go under the shower/ toilet, crawl under the shell and mark the holes for both the shower drain and the toilet. Take that piece of flooring back out and cut the holes. If I had to do it again, Id make sure the sub floor under the shower bed pan tilted slightly toward the shower drain hole. It would only take a few small pieces of the door shims to make that adjustment if necessary. I didn’t think of it at the time. Of course don’t forget to make sure the trailer is level before you go to this trouble.

Once the floor is in, off set the shell and crawl under the frame so you can see on the bottom of the shell where the frame will be when properly aligned. Drill pilot holes up through the shell and sub floor. (I got this tip from Tom Stern)You only need a couple for each frame support if they are spaced 3 or 4 feet apart. These can be used as a guide to know where to put in the self tapping screws that hold the shell to the frame. (If you’re really anal, clean the bottom of the shell where the frame will go) Now, move the shell back in place. Once back inside the shell, use these holes to draw a line from one side of the floor to the other. Use this line to put back in the self tapping screws through the floor into the frame. I used 1/4 -14 x 2” self tapping screws. They come 25 to the box and I used two and a half boxes.

Another slight modification was to use some of the left over plywood to square off the rounded edge of the shell next to the wheel wells. This made it a lot easier to put the carpet in.

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The final step here was to patch the uneven places and edges of the plywood. I used Armstrong 194, Patch underlayment & embossing leveller. Its the gray stuff on the plywood. This would really be necessary if you were planning to put down vinyl.

I may be out of pocket for a week or so, so if I don't respond to comments, don't take it personally
Next step, carpet..,,


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Old 04-20-2003, 08:54 PM   #2
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Old 04-21-2003, 06:13 AM   #3
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Very good. So are you doing Jims trailer next month. :) Nice brother you have there. enjoy your two week *rest up* before the next installment. :lol

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Old 04-23-2003, 06:28 PM   #4
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Jana, Yes, I'm fortunate, he is the nicest guy I know and I know a lot of nice guys.
He knows it's really his. I'm only the maintenance man.

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