Category Archives: Fiberglass Camper Reno

Up and off: chassis welding and powdercoating

For the next stage, we had to separate the chassis and the egg.  Six bolts through the 1″ plywood of the floor and the fiberglass into the frame were all that held them together.  However, bolts attacked for years by road salts don’t have threads any more.  They were just little chunks of rust.  We got under the jacked up camper with a sawzall and cut them off.

Once the egg was free, it was so light that H.W. could lift one side of it at a time.  The frame and the egg have a step in them, and the form of the egg sits between the wheels.  Even with the wheel off, the egg still has to lift over the hub, and we weren’t thrilled about just dragging all the weight of the fragile fiberglass across the hub.  H.W. lifted, and I jammed in bits of lumber, and we levered and pushed and adjusted, and eventually slid the egg over the hub,  off the frame, and to its resting place on some pallets and plywood without incident.

There they are, apart.

The chassis looked awfully flimsy without the egg, and it sure bounced around on the highway, squeaking and crashing around behind us.  We drove it all over looking for advice and somebody to do some welding for us.   We wanted a bike rack made, some improvements to the frame, and possibly to have the axle replaced, before having it painted.

This stage of research was characterized by a lot of driving, wild goose chases, and a whole parade of idiots telling us what to do, punctuated by the occasional bright spot of clear and good advice.  Like, the guy getting into his truck next to us at yet another sandblasting place, after yet another exorbitant quote from someone else who wouldn’t be able to bring it in for “another couple weeks at least”, who said “Have you considered powdercoating it?  You should talk to this guy, just up the road, I’m on my way there right now, you should follow me over.”  We let go of painting the chassis then, and turned to powdercoating.

We stood in parking lots in the rain asking RV repair people and trailer people and welding people and painting people about what we needed done, and they threw out numbers I recognized as “I don’t want to touch this job with a long stick but if you’re stupid enough to pay me this much I guess I’ll do it” quotes.  Continue reading Up and off: chassis welding and powdercoating

Camper gets cozy: spray foam insulation

Spray foam day!  Over a year after initially inquiring about the qualities of this soy-based spray-on insulation typically used for sealing basement walls, I finally had the guy over to spray my camper.

The contractor came with a big self-contained work trailer with his compressor/engine/miles of hose and drums of product.  He fired it up- it was very noisy, sounded diesel, and took some time to prepare.  I was too tired to get nosy but I gathered that there was compressed air, then the liquid product that must be pumped or pressurized somehow, delivered in two hoses and mixed at the gun as it’s sprayed on the walls.

The very beginning

A third hose is supplied air to his breathing apparatus.  He suited up and got into his breathing mask, dragged all the hoses from the trailer to the camper, and began.  He knelt on the floor and did systematic side to side passes with the gun, occasionally doing a depth check by stabbing it with a screwdriver.  He sprayed over the walls and wheel wells and ceiling until it was all one puffy peach coloured surface.  It didn’t take very long.  It had no smell, inert as soon as it dried (almost instantly).  Continue reading Camper gets cozy: spray foam insulation

Camper reno: adventures in fiberglass

Before the camper could be insulated, there was some work to be done.

First, it needed to be dug out of the snow.  I almost got my truck stuck in the axle deep mud hiding under the dense old snow. (This was March), the shoulder season of melt water almost flowing underneath heavy snow .  Plus it rained mid-mission, so it was absolutely the worst timing for excavating the camper.

The original  interior surface layer was a sort of textured beige vinyl with a quarter inch of foam backing glued on to the fiberglass surface.  A whole quarter inch of “insulation”, wow!  Either time or the heat or the original glue had that layer so stubbornly adhered to the fiberglass that when I was tearing it off originally, only the vinyl came off like wallpaper, leaving the meat of the foam behind, which is black.

So I had to finish scraping out the vestiges of black foam with a drywall knife.  Sometimes it would come away in satisfying chunks, sometimes only in crumbs (which had a great knack for finding cuffs and collars.  At any rate, it was tedious, slow, and tiring.  A never ending task.  Naturally, the overhead stuff was the most difficult, probably baked on by 40 years of sun.

Mostly done chipping away

Next, the fiberglass repair.  This was my first experience with fiberglass resin, and I have to say it put me over the edge.  I used to think Acoustiseal was bad, and wire fencing worse.  Now, what I wish on my worst enemies is that they will someday have to do overhead fiberglass resin repairs.

Officially, the most diabolical product EVer.  Continue reading Camper reno: adventures in fiberglass