Monday, 27 May 2013

Reinforcing the floor

This weekend I finally tackled the job of adding a new layer of plywood below the original sub-floor.  This was not an easy task, and I changed my mind many times about whether or not to do the job at all.

The first step was to lift the body up and off of the frame using a pair of scissor-jacks.  Knowing that they would be pushing up against the existing plywood floor, and that this force had to be transferred to the fiberglass walls without fracturing any part of the floor or the walls, I had to be picky about the location of the jacks.  This is the part that had me changing my mind about the job -- it wasn't a matter of cost or effort, but technique, because I didn't know how I would suspend the body without interfering with the insertion of the new plywood.  I settled on locating the two jacks against the very back wall where it curves below the sub-floor about 3 inches.
Two scissor jacks located right against the back wall. The frame is held up by a chunk of 6X6.
At the front, two axle stands were used to maintain a little left-right balance.
The next step was to cut a piece of plywood to fit beneath the rear deck of the trailer, below the dinette. The plan was to slide the plywood into position from inside the trailer.  A few things were in the way, though; the wheels, the mudflaps, and the scissor jacks.  The wheels, I simply took them off.
This shows the amount of gap I allowed for inserting the new plywood floor.
I got impatient with the mudflaps because the screws that held them on were completely corroded and wouldn't unscrew, so I just pulled the mudflaps up and out of the way.  The jacks couldn't be moved, so I cut small notches in the new plywood to avoid them.
A piece of 3/4" pressure-treated plywood, cut for the rear deck area.
 The new plywood was cut so that the leading edge (at the step-down from the dinette to the main floor) was exactly flush with the original floor.  The wheel-well edges were flush along the sides but extended to the rear about 3 inches to allow for the bump where the mud-flaps were fastened.  On my Boler, this part is coated in fiberglass.  The curved back edge was cut so that the new plywood comes to about 2 inches from the fiberglass wall/skirt on the underside.  I figured this set-back was still close enough to the wall edge to transfer stresses and loads effectively between the walls and the frame.  I used construction adhesive and wood screws to fasten and bond the new plywood to the old.

Next, I cut plywood for the front deck, and for the kitchen cupboard area.  I used basically the same approach as the rear deck for lifting up the body, inserting the plywood, and fastening it. The old sub-floor for the main floor area seemed to be in good shape, but it was made of two pieces of plywood, held together by corrugated staples and fiberglass.  I cut a single new replacement piece.  The net effect is that I gain an extra 3/4 of an inch of headroom, since the body and ceiling are that much higher but the main floor isn't.

The very last thing I did was insert 2" x 2" pieces of new plywood into the gaps where the frame emerges from the bottom edge of the wall.  The gaps were because my new decking didn't go right to the very edge of the wall.  I figured that much of the load transfer between the wall and the frame happens right at this point.  I wanted to ensure that the fiberglass wall met the frame solidly rather than its load getting transferred back through 2 inches of old plywood.  I'm just guessing that it matters.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Window and Door Removal

Window and Door Removal

I removed the two jalousie windows.  They came out without too much trouble; the trickiest part was dealing with the rivets that still had a bit of the driver pin stuck inside, as I had described in the last post.  First I drilled out the rivets that held the inside aluminum trim in place.  Then I removed the black plastic trim strip that covered all four sides of the exterior window frame.
Left side jalousie window, as rivets are drilled out.  Notice the  sloppy caulking job.
Most of this bead of silicone caulk peeled off fairly easily.
After drilling out the rivets holding the frame to the fiberglass body, I peeled off all the silicone caulking that someone had chosen to use to seal it all up. (Silicone isn't a good choice for this kind of application.  I agree with Kevin Johnston, who has produced an excellent collection of videos on his Boler restorations, that silicone is to be avoided.  I watched this video of his before I did my work: )  Unlike Kevin Johnston's 13-foot Boler, I had no screws to remove -- just rivets.  Having removed both jalousie windows, I now have quite some work ahead of me cleaning all the remaining butyl caulking, repairing the crank mechanism, and replacing the rubber gaskets which surround each individual glass pane.  I will see if the instructions on repairing the window crank, found at , work out.  But I'm unsure about sources for this kind of window gasket.
Removing the tiny window in the door was easy, too.  There were aluminum trim strips fastened to the inside with rivets.  The rivets holding the window frame to the door were hidden beneath the flexible rubber gasket.

Now that these components have been removed, I'll do some research about the best ways to clean and polish them.  It would be nice if I could achieve a bright shine and then treat them with something that would preserve the shine.  Even though the original door window is only 6 inches tall and doesn't let as much light in as the larger windows found in 1980s Bolers, I think it looks cool.
Removing the chromed steel bar that stiffens the hinge side of the door frame.
Removing the door was no big deal.  The nuts on the hinge bolts had rusted and so I had to cut them with the grinder.  I'll have to determine if they'll just need a "door hinge repair kit" from Paul Neumeister, or if I should buy complete replacements from Scamp.  Somewhere on the 'net I saw that someone had managed to give their hinges a really good polish.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Resuming work after a long winter

It's the May Two-Four Weekend, and I'm back!

I didn't get anything done on the Boler over the winter, but I'm eager to make progress now that the warm weather has arrived. Yesterday I removed the old seam tape, cupboard doors, and the water and power inlets on the left sidewall.
In some places the Ensolite was covering up a lot of mildew.
Most of these parts were quite corroded. Notice how much the original olive colour has faded.
The upper and lower cupboards weren't much trouble to remove.  The biggest difficulty was drilling out the rivets that had the steel driver-pins still inside them; the drill bit preferred to slip off to the side instead of going through the center, since the steel pin protruded just a bit and was harder than the aluminum rivet.  In some cases, I had to use my angle grinder on them.
Pretty crappy door latch strike plate. Not sure what I'll replace it with. 
The closet was a little tricky to remove because underneath the gasket/trim that goes around the edge of the doorway I found that really heavy staples had been used to connect the closet wall to the wall of the body.
These staples had to be ground off from the outside, and then  the wire bits could be pulled from the inside.
And this is what the inside looks like with all cupboards and the main floor removed.
I also tried to figure out how I might lift the body off the frame once more in order to insert some new plywood between the old floor and the frame.  My concern is that the old plywood has suffered a bit of dry-rot, and the only way the body has been fastened to the frame is by bolts going through this old plywood.  I've been thinking that some pressure-treated plywood would help.  A complete replacement of the floor is next to impossible because the original plywood is bonded to the sidewall, embedded in the fibreglass, and so it can't be removed.  The difficult thing about inserting new plywood below the old floor is that I don't think I can lift the body in any other way than by pushing up on the old floor, which of course means that I would need some other way of holding the body up other than placing supports under the floor.  Stay tuned, I guess.

Post Script: Are there any American readers out there who know the significance of May Two-Four?