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Replacement of the rusty steel water (hose) reel base with an aluminum panel

Replacement of the rusty steel water (hose) reel base with an aluminum panel


 

Courtesy of janeandjohn.org

 

The base plate our electric hose reel sits on is painted steel and it rusted after maybe only a year of owning the Horizon. Winnebago factory service pulled it out and made it look better, but it was a rusty mess a year or so after that 'fix.' The only way to permanently mitigate rust is to use an abrasive blaster (sandblast) to blow off every speck of rust and then immediately prime and paint. I didn't see any point in going to that amount of effort (even though I have a blaster) - it was far easier and actually a better idea to replace the steel with aluminum.

Materials, tools needed for the fix:

  • 12" by 24" aluminum plate of about .070 thickness. I used a "diamond tread" pattern plate I found at Lowe's for about $25. Didn't need the diamond pattern, but it was the only piece of aluminum that was the right thickness - everything else was way too thin
  • Aluminum pop rivets - minimum diameter of 3/16" by 5/8" grip. 1/4" rivets would be better. Suggest you use backup washers as well
  • Saber/jig/circular saw with a metal cutting blade (or a shear!)
  • Drill and bit to drill out the existing rivets (7/32" bit is about right size - might need to go slightly up or down)
  • Electrical tools - side cutters, splice connectors, crimper (need to cut the 12V wires to the motor)
  • Ordinary pliers to remove the plumbing connection on the side of the reel

Let's get started with a before picture:

Before we start

YUK! Nasty-looking! The white substance you see on the bay bottom are leftover glass beads from my abrasive blasting of the compartment frame (the metal under the bay door gasket) to remove the rust that had started there as well

Removing the reel assembly

There are about six or seven pop (or blind) rivets to drill out. They are a little hard to spot on the underside of the bay floor. About a 7/32" bit worked well for me. Cut the wires (yellow and white with yellow being positive - immediately tape the end of the yellow wire to prevent shorts) to the motor (I didn't have a lot of wire slack to work with, so I cut the wire in the splice itself), unscrew the one plumbing connection to the reel side, and rock the reel back and forth to break the rivets loose you just (mostly) drilled out. You might need a large screwdriver to pry the plate up, but you shouldn't need much force. If it doesn't pop free with easy prying, then you missed a rivet, or you need to go up a bit size. Don't drill through the gray electric cable you see on the front bottom of the picture - it is very close to a rivet!

Rear rivet

One rivet at the back

Bottom view

Bottom or underside view

Rust stains in the bay

Never a better time to get the bay cleaned up!

Preparing to mark holes in the new panel

Trim the aluminum plate length to 23" and round off the corners (the 12" width is fine as-is.) File where you cut. Place the old plate on the new plate as I have shown and mark the holes to be drilled (you only need to mark the holes where you drilled out a rivet, of course.) I used some spray paint to mark the holes - quick and extremely accurate! You could also use the non-tread side of the plate - not a thing wrong with that idea

Marking the holes

Holes are marked

Holes are now marked with spray paint

Now get a punch and punch a dimple in the center. Note: it is very difficult to drill on the edge of one of the little 'bumps' - be advised! Drill your holes the necessary size for your rivets

Trial fit of the new plate

Trial fit in the bay - make sure your holes line up!

Completed project

With the new plate in position, slide the reel in the bay and line up the holes - you can poke a rivet, nail, or drill bit up for alignment purposes. When aligned, put the rivet in the gun, poke up, place a washer on the blind end and operate the gun (it's not 100% necessary to use a backing washer, but it helped my 3/16" diameter rivets 'grab' into the reel base)

Reconnect your wires, hook up the plumbing, and test for proper operation and leaks

Good Job!

-End-

 


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