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Author Topic: I need a lot of help and advice...  (Read 3211 times)

JimTheSoundman

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I need a lot of help and advice...
« on: October 07, 2016, 10:26:29 AM »
I've have purchased a 1991 Sportscoach Pathfinder and am in the process of gutting it and turning it into an office on wheels.  This is the first RV I've ever owned or worked on, so although I have a lot of HomeDepot skills, I don't have any background in using them on RV's.

There is a lot of water damage on the sides, but the roof looks intact and leak free except for a small spot above where the driver sits. 

So water has gotten behind all the side panels, and damaged everything. 

Looks like the wall panels were originally 1.25" Styrofoam with paneling glued to both the inside and outside of it, to make a rigid sandwich wall board about 1.5" thick.   There is some aluminum framing materials, but it looks like those are only on either side of the windows, and not spaced at any regular intervals, like I was expecting.

On the outside, under the fiberglass skin, the water has rotted away the wood almost completely, so although it was very thin wood, maybe 1/8", it was still providing a lot of rigidity and protecting the Styrofoam from damage.   So now I'm faced with a tough decision, do I strip off all the fiberglass panels, and glue on new thin wood panels to the Styrofoam and then try to reattach these long strips of fiberglass siding?   The panels are long, like 25 feet, so trying to get them realigned will be super difficult. 

I also don't know if I need to reattach paneling at all, maybe I should just put mastic or liquid nails on the Styrofoam, glue the fiberglass directly to that, caulk all the seams, and call it a day.  That would be the easiest, but the aluminum trim that covered the seams was screwed into that paneling, which is no longer there, so I'd be gluing that trim in place since I wouldn't be able to screw directly into Styrofoam.  Not really a good thing to do, and probably would spring leaks quickly.  So it's a tough call.   

I don't want this rehab to take six months or a year, I'm working on it eight hours a day, seven days a week,  and I want to pound it out and be done with it.  But, I also don't want to have to redo it in six months because I cut corners now.   I also don't want the fiberglass siding falling off as I'm driving down the road.   So what to do?

Any advice is appreciated.  Sorry if the backstory is a bit verbose.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2016, 10:51:23 AM by JimTheSoundman »

SeilerBird

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2016, 10:41:26 AM »
I would recommend giving it away and buying an RV without obvious water damage. Hidden damage from water in an RV can get really expensive really quick. It is just not worth putting a lot of time and money into an RV with water damage.
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JimTheSoundman

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2016, 10:46:04 AM »
I knew there was going to be water damage when I bought it.   It was virtually free.   

I was planning on gutting it and rebuilding it from the start, so I knew what I was getting myself into.   

I am not worried about the amount of labor, and I'm am planning on doing 100% of the rehab myself.   

I'm not worried about the cost of materials. 

The only thing I am worried about is that I just don't want to have to do it twice.   

« Last Edit: October 07, 2016, 10:48:19 AM by JimTheSoundman »

Ernie Ekberg

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2016, 06:48:11 AM »
not the answer you want. since you are working so many hours and you said you didn't want this to take 6 months to complete, I don't believe this project can be completed in your time frame.
Ernie Ekberg, Weatherford, Tx
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JimTheSoundman

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2016, 07:14:01 AM »
not the answer you want. since you are working so many hours and you said you didn't want this to take 6 months to complete, I don't believe this project can be completed in your time frame.
Ernie, I think you misread me.  I'm devoting 60 hours a week to working ON THE RV.   

Rene T

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2016, 07:27:01 AM »
I'm not worried about the cost of materials. 

If I wasn't worried about what the cost of material would be, then I would spend that money on something else. But that's me. It wouldn't be worth it for me to spend all that money and possibly have the siding blow off going down the road because I did something wrong and maybe hurting someone.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2016, 09:30:05 PM by Rene T »
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JimTheSoundman

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2016, 08:42:41 AM »
If I wasn't worried about what the cost of material would be, then I would spend that money on something else. But that's me. It wouldn't be worth it for me to spend all that money and have the siding blow off going down the road and maybe hurting someone.

Well, I have already committed to this project.   I came here asking for advice from this community on how to complete it in an efficient, competent, and cost-effective manner.   Instead all I'm getting is a bunch of pushback saying I shouldn't do it.   I've already started, I'm a week and a half into it.  I'm going to see it through to the end.  If there is anyone here who would like to contribute something constructive to the conversation, I'd appreciate it.  If not, I'll delete my account and forge ahead alone. 

But at the end, I will complete the project, with, or without you guys.

SargeW

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2016, 08:51:28 AM »
The reason that you are having an issue trying to figure out the replacement is because of the way the walls are manufactured. For a long time now many RV walls are built as a unit.  The framing, Styrofoam, luan panels and siding is all laid out flat on a jig, then glued and pressed together.  The result is a wall panel that is stood up in one piece and screwed onto the the frame and roof.  That is also why you didn't find regular stud spacing in the walls. 

Stripping everything off and starting over is like pulling the ends off of a 55 gallon drum. The structure is still there, it just has no integrity.  Probably the safest way to attack the problem would be to completely cover the existing walls with new wood or fiberglass panels.  Without knowing the extent of the damage you are looking at, the amount of work to cover it may be excessive.  It's your call.
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SargeW

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2016, 09:06:06 AM »
The reason you are not getting a lot of great advice Jim is that what you are attempting is rarely ever attempted by most users of the forum.  Not that it is impossible, but you have seen for yourself that the way many RV's are constructed is nothing like a stick and brick house.  I am willing to try to fix almost anything, but given the scope of your project it would give me pause.  I still might try it, but I would need a whole bunch of time and patience.  It sounds like you have the patience, but the time may be an issue. 
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JimTheSoundman

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2016, 09:32:51 AM »
Well then, I shall forge on alone, into the wilderness, like Admiral Perry, willing to eat my sled dogs if needed to achieve my objective, lol.

Wish me luck, gentlemen, and I shall see you upon my return!

SargeW

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2016, 10:52:14 AM »
Well, let us know how it turns out Jim. Your project isn't a lost cause, but it will have some challenges. I will be interested to know how you go about tackling the problems.  Good luck!
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JoeFatz

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2016, 02:05:11 PM »
very doable project, time consuming and expensive.
Before attempting to glue anything up, be sure that the glue does not eat the foam panels, I 99% sure the drywall adhesive is foam safe.
The walls are not just foam, there are aluminum studs, attaching to them at the top/bottom and middle with some zaps will make life a whole lot easier and make the job faster, put the bottom screw close enough to the floor that shoe molding will hide it, the top gets a 3" faux crown molding so that one will get covered, the middle one will need to be covered with a piece of chair rail, be sure to mark your stud locations as the chair rail will be attached by wood glue and pin nails into each stud.
If you already have the walls stripped and have it ready to put the walls back up it shouldn't take more than a few hours to do it.
Home Depot has some 16th inch luan that would work really well.
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regval

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2016, 07:49:38 PM »
I've repaired two travel trailers with water damage to the floor and walls from water intrusion. Material cost isn't outrageous and the labor time is solely dependant on your skills and knowledge.  Don't let others discourage you. A composite wall as you have is difficult to restore. I found that demolishing in sections and building new wall sections is a reasonable approach.  A wide range of optons are available and planning is important to maintain structual integrity. If your plan is have it look like it did from the factory, good luck. Frame off rebuild is about the only way. Otherwise, reframe the walls using wood or metal studs, layer on rigid foam and finiish inside with 1/4 luan or similar. Ouside can be covred in fiberglass panels or metal,  i've built a 30 ft hunter cabin using the frame of a discarded TT,  materials from the big box stores, and had it ready for furnishing in a week.  Share photos of your progress. I'd love to see 'em.
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Pugapooh

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2016, 09:08:16 PM »
No advice to offer but I'm rooting for you.
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tc tom

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2016, 09:17:09 PM »
Take a big breath, hang in there it is very doable. My wife and I bought a TT that was headed for salvage. Our plan was to rebuild from the steel frame up. We knew the floor, walls and roof was structural foam construction. Hence once the plywood gets rotted on the sides of the foam there is no structural integrity. Trying to repair a lot of that type of damage, to me just wasnít worth it. In two days my son and I salvage every thing we wanted to save and demoed the entire trailer. The new floor is solid aluminum, the walls and roof are framed with aluminum. All the openings in the walls, floor and ceiling have framing around them. The only wood in the entire trailer is the cabinet face frames, cabinet doors and drawers. There were a lot of advantages to rebuilding the entire trailer. I could build it so it would not leak. Its my opinion that most RVís leak from day one, you just donít know it until itís to late and structural damage is done. The TT we bought was only 7 years old.
All the things that are a pain to work on in an RV are now easily accessible. I do not have to tear apart a cabinet to get to pipes, wiring, water pump, batteries etc. Things are accessible behind a hinged door or a removable drawer. We also gained an impressive amount of storage space because I could install, wiring, plumbing and gas lines in a logical manner. I also gained 12 inches in floor length. This allowed us to have two standard size beds, on on each side of the trailer. This made for easy bed making and easy accessible storage under the beds. I also rebuilt it keeping in mind that every time something goes wrong I donít have to loose a lot of time and get ripped off at the RV service centers. I added a second 90 amp hr. battery and sill was 300 lbs. under the original trailer weight. Yes it was a lot of work, trying at times but the outcome was more than worth it! This worked for us. My vote is to rebuild.

Good luck with your project, Tom
« Last Edit: October 09, 2016, 09:19:59 PM by tc tom »

Gods Country

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #15 on: October 13, 2016, 08:51:12 AM »
Never worked on an RV, and frankly never want to.

Having recently completed gutting a TT I would be very cautious given your time frame.  Without even looking at it I'm going to say it's going to take much longer than you anticipate.  These things are a giant jigsaw puzzle/jenga puzzle in one.  Every screw is attached to something else that was placed before being obstructed by another puzzle piece.  Taking it apart in reverse is twice the work.

I did not have to deal with walls.  Just a little rot at the bottom.  If you are talking about replacing the inside and removing the outside walls I'm going to suggest you try and do one corner or area you think you can get too, and see if this is something you want to tackle.  If this is going to be a complete demo down to the aluminum framing I would suspect the roof will need to come off as well.  Maybe not, but I would plan on it.  Like I said everything is tied together, and the rigidity of the unit comes from a sealed buttoned up unit....for the most part.
Rebuilding/laminating the walls is going to be a difficult.  Not sure where you live, but if you have a large garage or barn to do this it will help tremendously.  I wish I did.

With all of that said I wish you all the luck, and please keep us updated.  Pics would be cool.
This is something I would like to see.

« Last Edit: October 14, 2016, 08:12:00 AM by Gods Country »

tc tom

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #16 on: October 13, 2016, 08:36:10 PM »
If the walls a structural foam probably the only framing will be just on the perimeter of the walls with a stud on each side of the door. In the roof there will probably be a perimeter frame and a roof rafter on each side of where the roof air comes through. In the floor there will probably be a perimeter frame and depending on the length of the RV some floor joists. My trailer floor was 16 ft. and there were 2 floor joists a little over 5 ft. center to center. This trailer was advertised as ''Aluminum Framed''. Yes there was some aluminum framing around the perimeters of the ceiling, walls and floor. When one reads the ads you get the picture that there is actual framing in the walls, maybe 16'' or 24'' on center, but that's not the case. Buyer beware. Lucky for us we figured this out so we knew what to expect.

Let us know how your project works out.

Tom

Old_Crow

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2017, 10:27:50 AM »
Heh, does nobody read the ads at the top of each forum page?

http://www.delamrepair.com/

Yeah, I know this post is a couple of months old, but if it's as bad as the OP said, he's not done yet.  8)
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BoonDocker Bob

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #18 on: February 04, 2017, 08:55:20 PM »
He probably did not reply back , because as he said ... he posted asking for help , and all he got was cut down . Folks need to realize , sometimes people DO do things to make themselves have a sense and feeling of WORTH .....
Life is NOT always about how much monies you have and how you can spend it .  Sometimes its about the challenge and the feeling of   " hey ... I DID that ! "   , rather than ... yeah , I "paid" for that .....
I kinda hope he DOES come back and let us know how he made out ...  not because I am gutting mine , or have any future intentions of doing so , but just to hear him say .....  " I did it "

Read what TC TOM wrote ....  hence the meaning of self satisfaction ...
Kudos to you .....   If you get a chance ....  could you post some pictures ?   I know it would be a GREAT incentive to those wanting to tackle the same type of project .
« Last Edit: February 04, 2017, 09:00:13 PM by BoonDocker Bob »

DandE

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2017, 05:25:24 PM »
Well, I have already committed to this project.   I came here asking for advice from this community on how to complete it in an efficient, competent, and cost-effective manner.   Instead all I'm getting is a bunch of pushback saying I shouldn't do it.   I've already started, I'm a week and a half into it.  I'm going to see it through to the end.  If there is anyone here who would like to contribute something constructive to the conversation, I'd appreciate it.  If not, I'll delete my account and forge ahead alone. 

But at the end, I will complete the project, with, or without you guys.
I had Fema trailer that I thought was a little water damage that turned out to be A LOT! Be sure you take time to find ALL of it. Use and a fine Awl or scribe and find the soft spots. Work on small sections at a time. I learned that the hard way! My Trailer turned out to be all electric with no holding tanks. I had to replace 75% of one wall, The whole floor in the slide out, and about a 2' wide section 12 feet long in the trailer floor. It was all household appliances and a residential toilet. Take the tank lid off when towing!! Another hard lesson. I also added a small on demand water heater for the sink. Plan your electrical. I tied the on demand into the stove with a junction box but couldn't use them at the same time. You are limited with 50 amps. All the water damage was from a hole the size of a pencil! I don't know how you plan to power but there are several options! I hope this helps!
 

tc tom

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2017, 09:17:30 PM »
Boondocker,

Sorry to take so long, but here are some pictures of our rebuild. So far everything is still holding together and has remained ridged. We have had 4 extended trips and so far we only made one change. I moved the furnace thermostat so I could reach it from the comfort of my bed. No more running to the other end of the trailer to get the heat going.

Tom
« Last Edit: February 23, 2017, 09:19:44 PM by tc tom »

BoonDocker Bob

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #21 on: February 25, 2017, 12:24:49 PM »
Well , now theres NO body that can say that you do NOT  know how that was built ... LOL ....  Good work .. keep it up and make sure to keep us updated  ( and don't forget the inside pics when you get to them . )

Katammers

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #22 on: March 05, 2017, 08:11:17 PM »
I'm currently working on re-doing the flooring in my first trailer project due to water damage and just....blech. I've stripped up all of the linoleum and thin flaky wood and replacing it with 1/2 inch treated plywood. This might be a solution for you as well. It's thick, sturdy, and won't rot.

That's the only thing I'm able to relate to for your project as I'm still very new at this. Mine still might turn out like this so take this advice for what it is.
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denmarc

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Re: I need a lot of help and advice...
« Reply #23 on: March 05, 2017, 09:40:23 PM »
I'm currently working on re-doing the flooring in my first trailer project due to water damage and just....blech. I've stripped up all of the linoleum and thin flaky wood and replacing it with 1/2 inch treated plywood. This might be a solution for you as well. It's thick, sturdy, and won't rot.

First and foremost...
Thank you for your service!

Secondly, keep us informed on how well things are going for you. Many on this forum have had to dive into scary issues in their RVs. Just like you. It sounds like you have the intestinal fortitude to do it.
Just keep in mind that help may only be a keystroke away.
Mark

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