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!