Here’s a workaround for a broken lock mechanism on a SurfSide TM-14.
In which, H.W. learns to weld, the camper gets its eyes back, and many sticks are thrown for the dog.
H.W. learned to weld real quick to install a system for the motorcycle to travel on the trailer.
His talented friend generously encouraged H.W. to visit and learn, and H.W. made some very nice welds welding on the arch that protects the egg, and that the bike ties off to, and some tiedown points.
This whole motorcycle mount project was a bit long and involved, as we were pretty much making up the design in the store based on what sizes of steel angle iron and flat stock they had.
I cut up the aluminum with a ‘cip saw and the pro did the more exacting aluminum welding to make the laddered channel. We bolted that onto the frame with U-bolts. In theory, that way it can be swapped out for a toolbox, etc, if the bike doesn’t need to be transported.
While the chassis was gone on its welding and powdercoating improvement journey, the egg was “up on blocks”, and its time for the body work.
We went out to get our supplies, and learning from the last stage, to do preliminary research on the cost of painting the egg after it was all prepared. Insert parade of idiots and outrageous quotes here, and cut to a couple beneficent guys standing in stores with us giving us crucial instructions, and one angel of a guy at a body shop who broke down every stage of what we needed to do.
We had to clean it all with a scotchbrite pad and comet. Giving it this “mechanical scratch” is enough for the paint to bond. For our repair patches, we had to build up the bondo and sand it down, sanding and refining with a primer/filler, arriving at a grit of 4-600! That sounded insanely fine to me, coming from woodworking, but for automotive finishes, 400 grit is not fine enough.
Fiberglass is an unusual animal, and it turns out it’s not very well liked in the automotive world. Too finicky. It shrinks and holds paint differently, and it doesn’t bond with bondo (automotive filler) that same way. Over the fiber, there’s a gel coat that ages with exposure and gets dull, like old boats do. He suggested that we could dispense with painting it and just restore the original surface by buffing out the gel coat. “To preserve the original colours because they were so nice?” I asked. No way was I doing all that work for 1970’s orange.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
Started in on the camper.
Tearing it all apart and starting over is definitely the right decision. The worst crevices of nasty growths were the ones you can’t see. Mould blooming everywhere- hideous!