Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Some Pictures

More pictures, this time of the ID markings of my Boler.
Hmm. I wonder if I can polish this up at all.
It's difficult to read at this angle, but the date on the plate is 7, 72.  The grill on the left is an oversize one for the fridge, and the grill on the right was for a furnace vent, although the hole had been patched over with a metal plate.

Likely, I'll make a photocopy of this and either keep it in a file onboard or affix the replica somewhere inside the cupboards once they're done.  The original will have to stay attached to the old door, which I'll keep somewhere at home.

And this ugly thing... I don't think it needs preservation.
Yeah, I know this posting isn't much of a blog entry.  I just thought I'd add it to the mix.


It's time now to talk about design features for the Boler.  This post is about awning choices.  I've seen three basic types so far.  One kind seems to be a basic tarp extending from the awning rail out to a couple of corner poles, with guy ropes pegged to the ground.
This is the awning track on my Boler.  It's  about 7 feet long.
I don't like the way this type of awning sags in the middle, and how they require the guy lines.

Another kind I've seen provides support for the middle and sides of the awning as it extends from the trailer.  There are support rails that run back to the wall of the trailer.
These pictures show the support rails.  I like how this Scamp awning looks flat on top, and the side supports look like they detach for storage.  The 17-foot Boler here has side supports that do not detach, meaning they must catch a certain amount of wind while travelling.

This is my old trailer.  It was great for our family because we have 4 kids.
The Boler is our "just the two of us" version trailer travel.
I think I want something a little more compact.  My former trailer, a Coleman tent trailer, had a conventional "bag awning."  It had 3 rails that extended outward to support the awning fabric and keep the far end rail in position.  Because there was an end rail, you always had a nice straight edge.  There were two support poles that went straight to the ground, and they didn't necessarily need guy lines -- so long as there was no strong wind, everything stayed in place.

Here is a page from a standard online RV parts supplier.  It's probably the route I'll take.  It's just that the colours they offer don't match the classic Boler scheme that I want to maintain -- olive green and a creamy white.  The narrowest awning on this page is 8.5 feet, which is too wide for the Boler.  I'm looking for a 7-foot awning.  I'm wondering if I'd be able to make the support poles work -- I like the idea of them mounting down low on the wall of the trailer, although poles running straight down to the ground would be fine too.  If anyone reading this blog knows of another source that could furnish something like this in a better choice of colours, please let me know.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Portable Shelter

Gimme Shelter!
Here is my Boler's new shelter for the winter:
72 Boler in its winter den
I had some sheets of 9/16" Aspenite, full and part sheets or scraps, that I put down on the ground, over top of a polypropylene tarp.  This has given me a pretty nice floor for the inside of the shelter.  I've done this once before with a previous shelter and it kept the level of moisture down considerably through the winter.  I also ran power out to the shelter, and now I have a duplex outlet, light switch and light.  I have absolutely no idea how many jobs I'll be able to get to over the winter, but I'm hopeful!
72 Boler on axle jacks
I've taken some of the load off the new suspension -- I cranked the tongue jack down to the bottom, put axle jacks below the back end, and then jacked the front up 'til the trailer was level again.  Maybe it should be up a little higher, but I'm sure that taking even a little of the load off will help.  If I have to move the trailer inside the shelter at any point, I can do it easily.  In the photo you can see that I've also got the original trailer jacks under the "bumper" section, too.
Original Boler jack
Here's a shot of the original Boler jack, taken before I did the work on the frame.  At first I thought I would install modern crank-down stabilizer jacks like you would find on a new tent trailer -- like the kind I had on my '03 Coleman tent trailer.  But then I got thinking about which parts of the Boler could or should be kept original and which parts might be updated.  They would have cost a little over a hundred dollars to buy a complete set, and then they would have had to be welded to the frame.  I wasn't sure how to go about positioning them because the bottom edge of the fiberglass wall extends past the steel frame.  My former tent trailer's frame was below the side wall, and access to the crank /screw was easy.  So, I decided to keep the old jacks. They have character even though they don't provide any lateral stability.  I'll clean them up and repaint them.  They'll go on my winter list of jobs that can be done indoors where it's warm.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Photos of things to change

Okay, I'm back at it! I'll start this posting with a couple of pictures taken before I began my restoration work. This one was from just over a year ago:
The picture below was taken this past spring:

I moved my Boler into a brand new "portable" garage/shelter today. It's one of those cheap ones from Crappy Tire, but I think it will allow me to get a few jobs done over the winter. My list of jobs this year includes making a new counter top and matching table, making new door fronts, refinishing the jalousie windows, and repairing the ensolite seams. I also want to check out my options for water and electrical fittings for the sidewalls, and for power converters and interior lights.

Here is the original water inlet and the 110 volt power outlet. Both need to be replaced. I'm pretty sure I'm going to go with an inlet that has a screw cap. Yes, it would be a more authentic restoration if I continued to use this one, but I'm not crazy about that lid thing.
Below is the 110 Volt connection. I'll see if I can get a new unit of the same design. The Coleman tent trailer that I owned until last year had a power cable that pulled out of a port in the side wall -- the cable was always connected to the power converter.

I don't suppose I'll have any trouble finding a standard hose connector.  I'm not sure if there's anything wrong with this old one, but it's not like it's a distinctive design that has to be preserved.
And here are the sink taps. The one on the left is connected to the hose inlet. In the seven years that I had the Coleman tent trailer, never once did I use the "city water" faucet. I always used water from the tank.  The hand pump faucet here was made by Coleman. I'll probably replace it, and install a pressure-activated 12-volt electric water pump.

So, where will I go with the blog this fall? In addition to documenting the "research" that I've been doing regarding replacement parts and design ideas, I will provide detailed coverage of the repair work as I get to it. I think the first job I'll tackle will be the table mounting cleat:
The plywood has swelled and de-laminated. The metal strip should be fine, though. I'll have to see if the fiberglass work can be done in cool temperatures. Hmm. Maybe I'll have to rig up a heater inside my new Crappy Tire shelter.

Monday, 17 September 2012


It's been several weeks since I have posted anything new on this blog.  The summer holidays are over, and I have just a few more things to do to the Boler before winter.  I know that I won't be able to do any major work on it until next spring or summer when I have saved enough money.
At present my Boler body is sitting on the newly rebuilt frame, but I haven't yet fastened it.  I'm thinking about inserting a half-inch pressure treated plywood sheet between the old floor and the frame.  While this would add a bit of weight to the trailer, it would give a little strength to it, too.  The original plywood floor isn't in really bad shape, but it seems like the spruce plies are really dry and they've de-laminated in places. It will be tricky lifting the body and sliding the new plywood into place because, unlike the first time I lifted the body, I won't be able to push up on the old floor -- the supports would be in the way.  You might be wondering why I wouldn't just replace the whole floor rather than adding to it.  The answer is that the original plywood floor is laminated right into the fiberglass wall, and I don't think I'd be able to extract it and then attach a new plywood floor in its place.  If I'm able to get the subfloor job done this fall, I'll post pictures.
I've also been thinking about what would be the best sequence of big jobs next year.  My original plan was to get everything updated on the inside and then at the very last, get the exterior painted and install new windows and ceiling vent. I was going to replace the old rivets with new ones and then paint over them, just like the originals.  But I have a new plan now.  I'm going to deal with the exterior and windows before making the necessary upgrades to the interior, and here's why -- I've decided to replace the rivets that fasten the cupboards and closet with stainless steel bolts, and I've heard that paint doesn't adhere well to stainless steel.  Which means that for the neatest finish, I'll want to have the body stripped completely bare for the painting.  The interior cupboards will be removed for the body work and painting.  The new front and rear windows will get new gaskets, as will the new ceiling vent, the door, and the old jalousie windows.  This will make for clean lines and transitions -- no paint running onto the gaskets. Once the exterior is painted, and the new windows and vent are installed, I'll use stainless steel bolts to reinstall the interior pieces, and the bolt heads will simply be shiny metal bumps on the outside of the trailer.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Boler frame is painted

After grinding some of the welds smoother, I painted on the POR-15.  It's pretty interesting stuff; it dries quite quickly, and it doesn't clean up with Varsol unless it hasn't dried at all.  My small can went two and a half times over the frame.  I did two full coats on all surfaces, and a third coat just on areas that I figured might need an extra layer of protection.  Here are some pictures:

I'm pleased with how it turned out.  This frame should be good for another forty years.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Back from the welding shop

Here is my old frame, just back from the welder's this morning. He added steel to the outside of both tongue channels, from the coupling right back to the dropped floor.  The sandblasting made it easier to weld, and it revealed all the possible points of weakness.
Here is a view of the driver's side axle mount, with reinforcement.
This view is of the curb side.
Here you can see the rust perforation in the sheet steel.  This area is just below the closet when the trailer is put together.  It seems to me that moisture and debris get trapped in the C-channel frame because it is closed in by the sheet steel.  You don't see this part when the trailer is together because the fiberglass closet face comes right to the floor.  However in this Boler you do see the steel on two other surfaces -- the rise up to the dinette floor, and the "toe-kick" beneath the lower kitchen cupboards.  I'm not sure if I'll be able to cover them neatly and effectively, or if I'll just leave them exposed like they were originally.
This photo shows the slight curve in the frame.  I'm not sure why it's there -- there's no evidence of any sort of collision from the side, and everything seemed to line up properly beneath the kitchen area.

The curb side has a slight outward bow to match the driver's side curve.  One of the reasons why I chose not to have a completely new frame made up was that I wouldn't know if these deviations were necessary for the body to fit the frame.

 And here are more shots of the welding details.  You can see the rust perforations in the bottom of the C-channel, just ahead of the drop floor.  The frame is upside down here.
Before painting, I took some time to grind the welds smooth in places that would be exposed, and where the excess bead was not essential for strength.

Next job: apply POR-15.  I had to buy it at an automotive supply store, and it cost a fortune.  It was $75 plus tax for one quart, and the instructions called for the use of "Marine Clean" and then another metal primer.  I bought the spray bottle of Marine Clean at $30, but took a chance on not doing the metal prep.  The instructions did say that if old metal had just been sandblasted, then you could just blow the dust off and apply the POR-15 directly.  As I was spraying on the Marine Clean, it smelled just like the BBQ degreaser that I used a month ago.  I'm wondering if a spray bottle of that stuff, or EZ-Off oven cleaner would achieve the same results more cheaply.  Well, considering how much money I've spent so far on buying and shipping the new axle, and then on sandblasting, welding and painting, I can't be accused of being cheap!

This is the first blog I've ever done, and I'm really quite enjoying it.  I'm curious about the statistics and the comments: Blogger shows that as of tonight I've had 211 page views, most of which are from the US, but there have been a few from Russia.  I'm wondering what those Russians might have been looking for and why.  But I haven't had any comments yet. Hmmm.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Getting to the Welding

My old frame is at a professional welding shop.  Last week I loaded it onto my utility trailer and took it to a few local people to get opinions and price estimates.  The consensus was that the old frame was still pretty strong, and should be just fine for another 40 years if a couple of reinforcements are made.  One of the people I consulted manufactures and line of utility trailers, and he said he could make a new frame possibly for around a thousand dollars.  I was tempted to go that route -- some of the patches made to the tongue of the old frame weren't done very neatly, and the clean lines of a new steel frame would be really nice to have.  One concern I had was that the guy didn't think he could achieve the same rounded line of the original's rear bumper.  And there might be some problems with getting an exact fit when putting the trailer body back on. Also, most of the ugly old frame is out of sight once the body is attached. Another concern was that he couldn't guarantee the price before starting the work.  So I chose to go with fixing up the old frame.
I had already bought my new axle from Paul Neumeister earlier in the summer, and I was eager to get started. So I went ahead and got the old frame sandblasted.  Removing the surface rust revealed a couple of minor perforations, and made it easy to see where reinforcements would be needed.  The welder will probably have my frame ready in a couple of days, and then I'll be able to paint it.
I had read other people's renovation postings and seen what kind of paint they chose.  Some used Tremclad and others used POR-15.  All the locals have advised me to use POR-15 and steer clear of Tremclad.  They say it's well worth the high price charged.
In my next posting I should have pictures of the fixed-up frame, before and after painting.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Separating the frame from the body - phase two

Having removed the three benches, the water tank and the laminate flooring, it was time to unfasten the bolts and screws that held the body to the frame.  A couple of the flat-head #10 Robertson stove bolts came off without a great deal of trouble.  A couple of the plain screws unscrewed easily.  But most had to be cut off from below.  Of those, I cut off with my grinder -- a 4 1/2" Crappy Tire Special.  And some I was able to break off just by clamping on with a ViseGrip and wiggling back and forth.  I did just about all of this work while the trailer was still on the ground, just to maintain stability if I had to apply substantial force.

Next, I had to jack up the body and get some supports underneath it. There were two things to consider in doing this part: the supports couldn't interfere with the frame dropping to the ground and then being pulled out from under the body; and the body had to be supported in such a way that there would be a solid connection from the front deck (below the bunk) and the back deck (below the dinette).  What I ended up doing is temporarily supporting the floor to drop the frame and then making a permanent well-braced structure afterward.

First,  I dropped the tongue to the ground.  Then, I placed a sturdy saw horse beneath the rear, fitting it between the two sides of the frame.
Then I jacked up the front end and placed my temporary blocks below the two front corners.

I found that there were some plywood-and-fiberglass inserts inside the wheel wells that had to come off before the frame would release.

These pieces came off easily with a chisel.  The one in this photo is just below the closet floor.  This part gave me a better idea of how they built these early Bolers.  I wonder if the ones with fiberglass floors are much different.

These pictures show the trailer up on its sturdy, long-term supports. At the back I made a saw horse using an eight-foot 4 x 4 and placed it just ahead of the temporary saw horse.  I chose this over resting the 4 x 4 on cinder blocks because I figured the legs would prevent any rocking or tipping.  At the front, the 4 x 4 is resting on blocks.  In both cases, there is enough room for the frame to slide out.  Then, I made a rectangular structure out of 2 x 4's -- like making a stud wall -- to sit roughly where the steel frame would have been.  This took the weight of the plywood floors evenly, and allowed me to keep the bottom "skirt" of the fiberglass walls away from the 4 x 4's. The distance from the plywood floor to the bottom edge of the fiberglass is approximately 3 1/2", so I had to insert some cedar shims between the 4 x 4's and 2 x 4's.  All the while, I tried to ensure that the front and the back were aligned and level.

The last stage of the process was to remove the wheels and drag the frame out. Time for a quick inspection to assess its condition.  Not a pretty sight, but stronger overall than I had imagined.

There!  The frame has been separated from the body.  Next: get the new axle and find someone to do the installation for me.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Separating the frame from the body - phase one

Here are some views of the underside of the trailer. Note that the floor is plywood. Note also the places where someone has reinforced the frame by "scabbing" on thicker pieces of steel.
I had read in other peoples' web-postings that there were specific places to locate the bolts that fastened the body to the frame.  On my Boler, things were a little different -- I found that some of the bolts were actually screws that went through the thin sheet steel. In other places it was evident that extra bolts with nuts were added long after the trailer was built.
Job number one in the frame separation was to remove the laminate flooring.  This stuff came up really easily because it was held in by four small finishing nails and a lot of friction. Next, the two dinette benches and the front bunk bench had to be removed. These were just screwed from the top into a strip of plywood that is set into the fiberglass wall.

The plywood support strip in the front wall had begun to de-laminate. I think it will be strong enough if I use wood glue to mend it.  Otherwise, I may end up glassing-in some new wood.

Here's a picture of my water tank.  It looks like it holds about ten gallons, and it might still be a fine tank.  I'm not sure if I'll keep it or if I'll install a new one.  Of course, I don't have to decide on that right now.

The chromed steel rod that reinforces the door hinges had to be loosened so that the front bench could be lifted out.

Once the front bench was out, I got a better view of the plywood decking and the frame, and an answer to the question of why my doorway is wider at the bottom than at the top.  I appears that front decking had shifted forward and then it was re-fastened to the frame.  At the top of the frame near where my tape measure is, you can see that the edge of the plywood is about 5/8" back from the vertical line of the frame nearest the door -- at the other side, it is flush.  The fact that the deck and the front wall shifted at all has made me think that the body must be pretty flimsy once the frame is gone. I'll have to think further about how to hold everything together while the frame is coming off.
That's all the time I have for today -- stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

About my Boler

My Boler was built in the summer of 1972 in Earlton, Ontario.  On the outside it is olive and white.  On the inside, it is very Seventies: harvest gold upholstery and avocado green sink and stove.  I found some of the original vinyl flooring beneath the crappy laminate that a previous owner  had installed -- also avocado green.
Not much updating had been done to this Boler.  The original 2-way fridge had failed, and had been replaced by a cheap 120-volt bar fridge.  New curtains had been sewn, and the same material was used to reupholster the upper bunk / back of couch.  The cupboard doors had been painted black, and a cheap lamp had been screwed to the side of the closet.
As for the condition of this trailer, it is probably sound enough to be used as is, but there are many things that aren't ideal. The seam tape on the Ensolite has come off in places, the ceiling vent is cracked, the enamel on the sink is chipped, and there is a strange stickiness to the Ensolite surface.  The front and rear windows are hazy and crackled, but the side jalousie windows seem fine enough.  The frame seems strong enough, but it has had reinforcements welded onto it more than a couple of times.
I bought the trailer nearly two years ago and it has sat in my yard ever since.  I towed it only once, on the day that I bought it.  Its "Rub-R-Ride" suspension worked fine that day, but it was a little noisy.  I have decided to replace the old axle with a new Dexter Torflex axle, with electric brakes.  I just got started with this restoration, and have successfully removed the old frame in order to assess its strength, and to install the new axle.  My next posting will cover the details of the frame separation.