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Author Topic: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare  (Read 7067 times)

Gods Country

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Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« on: May 24, 2016, 05:22:03 PM »
Greetings another happy Trail Cruiser owner. ::)

So I'm the not so proud owner of a 2003 21ft Trail Cruiser.  The trailer all in all is good shape except for nuisance items like the rotten floor. ::)  I've had this trailer a couple years now and have been preparing myself to tear this thing apart for the past year.  We took our spring trip and now it will be down until further notice, hopefully not past July.

I have everything on the inside removed except anything that comes up through the floor, ie, wiring, plumbing, and propane lines.

I have 1/2 the floor out as of this post.

I am at a point where I need to start coming up with some plans to take a poor floor design and turn it into something that will last another 10 years, provided nothing else horrific crops up.

Any help suggestions along the way will be great.  Words of encouragement, crazy distant stares welcome. ;D

My current concerns are flooring material, membrane, and tape/sealant, and of course finding the source of any leaks.

At some point I will upload some pics.

Thanks for reading.



regval

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2016, 06:35:58 PM »
First let me wish you good luck. I have a 2005 Forest River TT that I had to repair the front flooring which was about 1/3 of the total flooring. First and foremost, find and correct all water leaks or you'll be just wasting time and money. Your flooring construction may be completely different than mine but here is what I did to mine.
My flooring was the basic sandwich of 1/4" luan-2" styrofoam- 1/4" luan. The factory flooring was 4x8 sheets, applied across the width of the trailer. Flooring was supported by 2" aluminum channel "joists" on 16" centers. These joists ran the width of the trailer. The Luan plywood edges were joined at the joists, so the long edge of the plywood shared a joist with the next sheet, just as is done on a normal stick frame house. The 4ft edge of the plywood is supported by the trailer frame. During original construction, the flooring is installed and the side walls are set down on top of the flooring and secured.
I removed the bad sheets by cutting them at the inside side walls and prying, chiseling, etc until the top Luan sheets were removed. The trailer frame was exposed at the sidewall so that the plywood sheet would have support. No damage was seen on the bottom exterior under trailer. Where the styrofoam was damaged during plywood removal, I applied some "great stuff" can sealant and cut and sanded it until flush. I used 1/4" plywood from HD, cut to fit from wall to wall. The original plywood was stapled to the aluminum joists. I chose to screw mine down using flat head 1" screws, spaced 6" apart, insuring they were slightly countersunk. Just pre drill the holes in the wood and joists with a small metal drill bit before running the screw in. After cleaning the floor VERY GOOD, even used a tack cloth, the floor was covered with self stick vinyl tiles (wood grain design). I weigh over 250 and floor is solid, no sag. Tiles are still tight, no separation after 3 years. Total repair cost in material was less than $200.
Again, good luck. It's

Reggie
2005 Forest River TT 27BHSS and 2009 Heartland Sundance 2998RB 5vr
2007 Chev Silverado 2500HD WT crew cab, LB, 6.6L, Allison 6sp, B&W Companion Hitch
Retired Biomedical Engineer
Lawrenceville, GA

"Some come to the fountain of knowledge to drink, others just gargle."

Gods Country

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2016, 06:56:40 PM »
Thanks for the reply Reggie.  The floor design sounds pretty much the same.  I'm still not sure where the water is coming from.  I have been watching it very closely the past two years and have never seen a single drop of water inside the actual camper, so I am assuming for the moment that the windows and perhaps bottom edging around the periphery are suspect.  But I will figure it out.....it's paramount.

I am hoping to find marine plywood, but my area is very rural.
 

regval

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2016, 07:08:39 PM »
My leak was frustrating to find too. It ultimately was from the shower drain P-trap (pipe became loose). The water would travel along the wall from the rear of the trailer, under the kitchen sink, cabinets and accumulate in the front under bed and front storage compartment. I always leveled trailer slightly nose downand. Water is sneaky!
2005 Forest River TT 27BHSS and 2009 Heartland Sundance 2998RB 5vr
2007 Chev Silverado 2500HD WT crew cab, LB, 6.6L, Allison 6sp, B&W Companion Hitch
Retired Biomedical Engineer
Lawrenceville, GA

"Some come to the fountain of knowledge to drink, others just gargle."

Gods Country

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2016, 07:18:44 PM »
So your issue originated from inside?

regval

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2016, 08:38:08 PM »
Yep. Thought it was leaking at the slide out while towing in rain. Replaced slide out seals. Nope. Maybe front compartment, since it was wet, replaced both left and right door seals. Nope. Then when I started the repair I found the vinyl flooring was trapping water and allowed a path under it all the way from rear shower drain. Maybe the vinyl lineolym wasn't properly glued, but when I inspected the shower drain and p-trap, floor was damp and mouldy under shower. Did a wet test by blocking shower drain till shower pan was half full, removed drain block so trap would be full with some pressure and out came the water from p-trap. Watched a small, and I mean small, stream of water run right down the edge of the wall and then disappear under the lineolym. All I had to do was tighten the p-trap couplings. I've read where p-traps have cracked due to poor shower pan support. Be sure to check all window, door, ceiling and external surfaces. Basically, any place something is attached outside can be a source of water intrusion. Inside, most likely plumbing. I towed the TT from Georgia to Yellowstone and back after repair and no more wet areas. It's now permanently parked on a camping lot and still doing OK. I tow a fifth wheel camper now.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2016, 08:42:25 PM by regval »
2005 Forest River TT 27BHSS and 2009 Heartland Sundance 2998RB 5vr
2007 Chev Silverado 2500HD WT crew cab, LB, 6.6L, Allison 6sp, B&W Companion Hitch
Retired Biomedical Engineer
Lawrenceville, GA

"Some come to the fountain of knowledge to drink, others just gargle."

Gods Country

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2016, 07:17:08 AM »
A few pictures of the current "progress"

The top two are the contents removed.

The bottom showing half the floor removed.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2016, 07:18:49 AM by Gods Country »

Gods Country

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2016, 09:17:34 PM »
Minor update.

Thus far the biggest PITA has been the seemingly minor details of removing the sub-floor from the outside edges between the aluminum supports and the 3" screws that hold the former underbelly flooring through the sub floor into the lower and upper aluminum sill plating (for lack of a better term)

Picture shows the two supports/sill plates with remnant flooring held together with the cursed 3" screws seemingly installed by gorillas with no concept of perpendicularity because bending over is hard. ::)

« Last Edit: June 02, 2016, 09:19:37 PM by Gods Country »

regval

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2016, 11:43:42 PM »
Yep, agree with the PITA. I chose to cut the flooring wood perpendicular to the aluminum beam. That left about 3/4 to 1" of exposed aluminum beam on which I layed the new plywood.
I pre drilled holes in the plywood with a bit slightly smaller than the wood screw I used, going thru the wood and into the aluminum beam as I wasn't sure if the wood screw would drill into the aluminum.
I screwed the plywood down onto the beam every 6 inches, fastening the plywood with wood screws with enough force to counter sink the screw head a little.
 Biggest challenge was trying to keep the drill vertical and not put screws in at an angle. Lay a bead of liquid nails under the edge of the plywood to reinforce the attachment.
That was my method. You may need to chose another method.
Reggie
2005 Forest River TT 27BHSS and 2009 Heartland Sundance 2998RB 5vr
2007 Chev Silverado 2500HD WT crew cab, LB, 6.6L, Allison 6sp, B&W Companion Hitch
Retired Biomedical Engineer
Lawrenceville, GA

"Some come to the fountain of knowledge to drink, others just gargle."

Gods Country

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2016, 06:41:42 AM »
What type of plywood did you use Reggie?

regval

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2016, 11:18:35 AM »
I used 1/4"x 4'x 8' plywood from Home Depot.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Sande-Plywood-Common-1-4-in-x-4-ft-x-8-ft-Actual-0-205-in-x-48-in-x-96-in-479023/100073744

By the way, I only replaced the top layer of the flooring and not the entire "sandwich". The flooring on bottom of the trailer was in good shape, so I didn't have to disturb it or the bottom membrane covering.

I thought about using something thicker, but then I'd have a mismatch at the seam between the old and new since this was a partial floor repair. If I were doing an entire floor, then I think I would go with 1/2".
Also, painting the plywood with a good outdoor quality paint is a lot cheaper than trying to find thin marine grade plywood in my opinion. It's not like it will be exposed to water all the time.

The original plywood was stapled down to the aluminum joists using standard 1" steel staples. I screwed the replacement down using wood screws, spaced about 1 foot, along the long edge of the plywood. I'm a fat guy, 280 lbls, and no floor sag when I walk on the replacement flooring. Good enough for me.

I removed all of the old vinyl in the trailer, up to the edges of cabinets and where I could reach under places like the slideout floor. My travel trailer has one slideout, typically called a super slideout, that has the kitchen and sofa mounted on it. It is an above the floor slide out, so there is about 18" clearance between the actual trailer floor and the bottom of the slideout. I replaced the vinyl flooring with vinyl tiles.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/12-in-x-12-in-Chaucer-Resilient-Vinyl-Tile-Flooring-45-sq-ft-case-5683C/206394140

Pretty inexpensive tiles. If you choose something like this, then be sure the super clean the floor surfaces before applying tiles. It's been 2 years since I've put them down and not one has come up. I've got an extra box of tiles just in case.

Sorry for the long post. I know you asked only about the plywood but I included other info just in case.
Good luck with the repair.
Reggie
« Last Edit: June 03, 2016, 11:26:21 AM by regval »
2005 Forest River TT 27BHSS and 2009 Heartland Sundance 2998RB 5vr
2007 Chev Silverado 2500HD WT crew cab, LB, 6.6L, Allison 6sp, B&W Companion Hitch
Retired Biomedical Engineer
Lawrenceville, GA

"Some come to the fountain of knowledge to drink, others just gargle."

Gods Country

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2016, 07:02:51 PM »
Not much to report, sadly.

Work has been very busy, and the next stretch requires multiple days to replace the floor, since the entire remaining shell will be compromised by with no attachments to the main frame.

The underbelly membrane has been a serious hassle to find.  Everyone that clams to have it really doesn't, and wants me to wait up to three weeks to receive it.  Pretty soon I'm going to say to hell with it and coat the underbelly with something and forget the membrane, which in reality would probably be the better way to go.

I did scrape and paint the frame since it was exposed and the best time to do it.  Didn't really need it, but what the heck.....it's only money. ::)


ETA:

I do think any leaks from the passenger side were coming from the door.  The seal looked good and nothing looked disturbed, but since I removed it and sealed it over with plastic i have not seen any water issues from rain or tests.

The drivers side remains a mystery.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2016, 07:06:01 PM by Gods Country »

regval

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2016, 12:42:47 AM »
Thanks for the update. Don't get discouraged and keep us updated on the progress. Photos are good too.
Reggie
2005 Forest River TT 27BHSS and 2009 Heartland Sundance 2998RB 5vr
2007 Chev Silverado 2500HD WT crew cab, LB, 6.6L, Allison 6sp, B&W Companion Hitch
Retired Biomedical Engineer
Lawrenceville, GA

"Some come to the fountain of knowledge to drink, others just gargle."

Gods Country

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2016, 11:35:25 AM »
Need some advice.

The original floor design had the top floor laminate between the lower and upper aluminum frame (driver and passenger side only).  The entire mess was then attached by 3" screws from the bottom board through both frame members securing the camper shell to the lower frame.

See attached sketch.

From a practical stand point I would think the only reason this was done was for ease of manufacturing.
Attaching a new floor between the two aluminum beams is proving to be a real complicated problem with no current realistic solution.  Keep in mind the lower floor and foam insulation would have to be in place at this point making lifting/jacking/shimming the shell to allow the floor to be placed difficult to impossible.  Not to mention the fiberglass wall is lower than any of it, which makes sliding it in from the outside difficult at best.

The original sections between the beams were removed because much of it was no good, so I wanted anything rotten gone. 

My hopeful plan is to attached the aluminum together, and add treated strips along the perimeter to attached the upper floor. 

My primary concern is whether i am changing the "engineering" by removing a buffer or cushion between the beams.  Personally I would think it would be stronger.
Secondarily the ceiling would be about 5/16 lower relative to the floor, which will cause some issues
« Last Edit: June 28, 2016, 12:23:27 PM by Gods Country »

tc tom

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2016, 08:52:27 PM »
I agree with you, I think you will make it stronger. Are the ledger strips going to attach to both the upper and lower frames? Do you need supports going from one side to the other?

Gods Country

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2016, 09:28:42 PM »
I agree with you, I think you will make it stronger. Are the ledger strips going to attach to both the upper and lower frames? Do you need supports going from one side to the other?

I am concerned that the original design added some strength from side to side shifting.  Fastening them as you suggest would probably squash that concern.  The ledger strips could only connect to the lower frame.  The final floor would rest roughly flush to the lower frame and about 3/8 above the upper frame.

I have been considering screwing the supports or ledger strips from the lower frame into the wood from the outside.  One concern i have is the amount of holes through relatively thin walled extruded aluminum.
There will already be about 15 per side coming up from the bottom board through both frames to tie the shell to the lower frame, which is how it was originally fastened......shockingly.  Adding additional screws perpendicular has me a bit concerned.  Perhaps it shouldn't.  If it were all wood I wouldn't give it a moments thought.

In all probability if I use this method the inside perimeter would have treated 2x4 fastened to the bottom board.
I am already installing additional 2x4's running along the plywood seams for additional strength (perpendicular to the proposed ledger strips, and perhaps a few boxed in cross members creating a grid.

If that were all fastened together, to include the lower frame I would like to think that should tie everything pretty solid.

Good thing I'm removing a bunk and closet.  That should offset most of the added weight.


Lou Schneider

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2016, 05:03:52 AM »
My guess is the original construction laid the floor over the lower frame, then the upper frame and wall was placed on top.  Like you said, mostly manufacturing convenience.  But there may be some advantage to having a buffer instead of a long stretch of direct contact between the two frames.

tc tom

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #17 on: June 29, 2016, 07:59:35 PM »
I had similar concerns when I rebuilt my trailer. It was more work but I through bolted a lot of areas. Where I did not have a backer or stiffener, like your ledger I used a fender washer that was the width of the thin gauge aluminum tube helping to keep it from collapsing  when the bolt was tightened.

Tom

Gods Country

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #18 on: June 30, 2016, 07:05:10 PM »
After scratching my head a bit more I feel the shell can be jacked up and the floor replaced to the original design.
One 4x4 through the wheel wells and one 2x4 through the front appears to be doable.

I did a test run today and although a bit dicey, it seems to be plausible.

Hopefully by tomorrow the floor will be largely finished.

Then I can curse over installing the membrane.

tc tom

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #19 on: June 30, 2016, 08:08:02 PM »
Sounds like the best solution. You'll probably sleep better knowing you went all the way with the repair. There are still times when I'm towing and think back how I could have done something different during my rebuild. Then glance in the mirror just to be sure the walls are still attached to the frame. So far the whole trailer seems to be staying together.

Happy camping, Tom
« Last Edit: June 30, 2016, 08:10:31 PM by tc tom »

stevem

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #20 on: July 03, 2016, 05:51:36 AM »
lifting the body off the frame sounds intriguing, be sure to post some pics of that!!

ive done major floor repairs on two tt's, about a third of the tt in one case.  I used 3/8 construction grade ply instead of the 1/4 luane

I added 1/8 material everywhere else to make it flat.

places where I had to join sheets together that weren't over framing, I added strips of sheet metal under the plywood to join them together.  the strip were also fastened to the framing where ever possible

2004 Gulfstream 22ft
2008 Dodge Dakota

Gods Country

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #21 on: July 03, 2016, 06:35:07 PM »
Well the floor is mostly finished.
I didn't think to take any pictures of the jacked up frame from the outside.  everything was moving quickly (well not quickly but frantic) and never crossed my mind.  Besides I don't like tempting fate too much.

Still need to add the membrane which will require jacking the camper off the frame one last time...hopefully only about 1/4 inch instead of 2-3 inches.  Afterwards I still need to button the camper up, and re-secure everything to the trailer.  I want to add some butyl tape around the wheel wells, the door and threshold and anywhere else I can place some. Still quite a bit of work before I can begin adding the innards.  Hopefully by the end of the first week in July that process can begin.

The first image from below and showing the new paint job.  The runs were from the original paint. ;)

The second was the bottom board phase (1/2" treated ply).  The entire frame/shell was jacked to allow sliding the planks in from the side.  Note the bottle jack in the rear corner.

The third shows some of the addition supports added and the foam being placed.  Treated 2x4's were secured from below except where the tanks required screwing from the top.  Not ideal, but still additional support.

The fourth is the inner floor phase (3/8" sanded ply).  Just the shell is jacked up to allow inserting the planks in the same fashion.
Very dicey and not for the faint of heart.  The 4x4 in the pic was one of two jack points (four jacks).  This one was through the wheel wells.  the camper was currently down and placed on shims to keep the shell sitting flat when down.

The fifth is more of the same.  The 2x4 running through the front  was the second jack point.

The final pic shows the final board to be placed.  The 4x4 (not shown) was moved through the two storage panel doors to allow access to the front for the final plank.  That one took a while to figure out and be confident of the out outcome. 

All in all it appears to have worked out well, but turned out to be VERY time consuming.  About 43 hours in all to replace the floor in its current condition, which is still technically incomplete.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2016, 06:54:03 PM by Gods Country »

tc tom

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #22 on: July 03, 2016, 08:13:42 PM »
Great looking job!

Tom

regval

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #23 on: July 03, 2016, 09:43:15 PM »
Looking good. Glad to see the progress. Good luck on the rest of the project!
Reggie
2005 Forest River TT 27BHSS and 2009 Heartland Sundance 2998RB 5vr
2007 Chev Silverado 2500HD WT crew cab, LB, 6.6L, Allison 6sp, B&W Companion Hitch
Retired Biomedical Engineer
Lawrenceville, GA

"Some come to the fountain of knowledge to drink, others just gargle."

Gods Country

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #24 on: July 06, 2016, 01:08:29 PM »
Yesterday was layout the membrane day.
Or as I called it @$!$$@@ day. ::)

This morning was stretch the membrane day, which went far better.

The redneck method pictured below. ;D




tc tom

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #25 on: July 06, 2016, 08:53:14 PM »
Unbelievable your your going back with that type of membrane. My patience would have run out at the mention of membrane.
great job!

Gods Country

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #26 on: July 06, 2016, 09:24:08 PM »
Unbelievable your your going back with that type of membrane. My patience would have run out at the mention of membrane.
great job!

Curious, why you say unbelievable?
TBH I didn't want to go the membrane route, but the weight of other products concerned me. I am already adding more weight to the floor than the original design.   The corrugated stuff was appealing, but the trailer design just didn't work.  So alas it was the membrane.  I managed to find a heavy duty commercial type tarp remnant used for flat beds for $90, so I grabbed it.  Hopefully it will do the job. 

Gods Country

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #27 on: July 14, 2016, 04:33:12 PM »
Nothing too interesting to report.  The wheel wells were a real pain.  The outside is about 85% closed up.  Still need to come up with a plan for some type of "skirt" for around the lower edge of the trailer.  This is an extra that i want to  add to shed as much water as possible from the bottom corners/edges. 

Tomorrow I need to get the holding tanks back in, seal all around where the bottom membrane meets the edging, possibly get the fender flares back on.

At that point I may get the rough plumbing back in, and start getting the inside back together, and wait on the skirt.  Some time away from it may yield a better plan.



Gods Country

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #28 on: July 21, 2016, 06:46:23 AM »
Sort of an observation update.

I noticed when I was gutting the inside some minor water marks under the tub support, and some staining along the rear wall.  Nothing much really.  Now that I am placing everything back inside and paying closer attention, it appears to me that someone may have over flowed the tub.  Just above the lip of the tub there is a sizable gap in the wall and frame.  Probably about a 1/2" where an aluminum cross member runs along the back and where the camper wall makes a bend.  It eventually becomes part of the support system for the bed, and is hidden when everything is in place.  So basically an aluminum runner where water can run along an eventually down the wall.
At the floor there is another gap where a significant amount of water could easily finds its way under the floor to the bottom board.  The damage in that portion of the camper was minimal and almost not worth worrying about if it were not for the trashed bottom board.  So it appears that if the tub was overfilled (forgotten) trapped water could easily have damaged the bottom board.   Hoping that was a significant cause of the damage.

Hope springs eternal.  ;)

Gods Country

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Re: Gutting my TT or Welcome To My Nightmare
« Reply #29 on: July 26, 2016, 10:21:36 PM »
So, all in all things are  proceeding.  Eventually I will update with some pictures.  The inside is mostly together.
I remain hopeful that by weeks end I will be taking the TT for a test pull.  Lots of small issues need addressing, but the major items are complete, and i'm just trying to get everything functioning for a pull for an hour or so I can see if there are any major issues or if something isn't functioning afterwards.

Don't give up on me....I'm almost there 8)

 

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