My 5X8 camper purchase that turned into a total rebuild...

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My 5X8 camper purchase that turned into a total rebuild...

Postby cfiiman » Sun Jun 17, 2018 4:29 pm

Hi, i'm new to the board and thought I'd introduce myself and my project. This forum has been invaluable for me as I navigate through my first build. I've always wanted a small camper and thought, "someday I'll get one", well this year I decided to do it. My younger brother passed away unexpectedly at 37 this year and it made me think a lot about what I put off. I was excited to move back to my home state soon and camp with him so building this has been some therapy for me as well. Anyway, I purchased a small 5X8 professional built camper from an estate sale. I saw it advertised on CL and even though it was fairly ugly (compared to the beautiful teardrops I"ve seen on here) I thought it was a good time to go for it. They were asking a few thousand dollars for it and I decided to go see it. When I got there I kind of fell in love with the idea of having it so the negotiation stared. The first thing I noticed was water damage. Being a woodworker my whole life I know what that looks like even though the seller said it was just "smoke soot from cooking inside it" :roll: I tried to explain that it was water damage but after they insisted I took my key and put it through the wood, enough said. When I did that they dropped the price to 500 bucks so I bought it (the door/windows/trailer were worth much more than that to me). I was hoping to get away with just some repair work but when I started digging into it I realized I had a total loss/redo on my hands. I used it as an opportunity to build the teardrop I had in my mind :) Here is a photographic timeline of the last couple months, I feel like I can see the light at the end of tunnel now but still a lot to do! So without further delay, here are the pics:

The day I brought her home and started "poking around" lol:

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The moment I realized I had a much bigger problem then a bit of water damage haha:

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Inside behind some shelves hiding this damage:

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Feeling the "total loss" feeling building inside me:

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Now I know total loss as there was not one panel that did not look this way:

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Even when down to the bare floor this much mold/damage, yuck:

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So I started work on my new and improved designed that I dreamed up in my head and worked out on my computer:

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And this is where I am at today, I rolled it out to flush trim the outer skin:

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I'm ordering the aluminum this week and my plans are to get the mill finish and then polish it like an Airstream as I've seen some of you do on here. I think that looks amazing.
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Re: My 5X8 camper purchase that turned into a total rebuild.

Postby tony.latham » Sun Jun 17, 2018 5:07 pm

Nite and day. Your new build is looking great.

:thumbsup:

Did the water intrusion on the so-called "professionally built" camper come through the seam below the AC? Was any getting through the wall/roof seam?

:thinking:

Are you going to slather some sealant on the ply while it's naked? :frightened:

:beer:

Tony
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Re: My 5X8 camper purchase that turned into a total rebuild.

Postby cfiiman » Sun Jun 17, 2018 5:50 pm

tony.latham wrote:Nite and day. Your new build is looking great.

:thumbsup:

Did the water intrusion on the so-called "professionally built" camper come through the seam below the AC? Was any getting through the wall/roof seam?

:thinking:

Are you going to slather some sealant on the ply while it's naked? :frightened:

:beer:

Tony


Thanks Tony,

Yes a lot came in through the AC. I can't believe how badly designed where they put the ac was, plus it was permanent! I spent a lot of time designing mine so in 1 minute the ac unit can be removed and can accommodate any size window ac unit. There was also a lot of intrusion around the windows and doors and I think I know why. It appears there is a rubber seal built into the window and doors. I'm assuming this means you shouldn't use butyl tape in addtion, but whoever built it did. I think basically putting butyl tape over the other rubber seal caused a condition that was the exact opposite of sealing well. I'm guessing maybe the rubber gave more. This is just a guess and I need to figure it out. Should I just use the rubber seal already attached to the door, or tear it off and use the butyl tape? I'm not comfortable using both the way the old camper had it done.

And yes, to answer your other question, I am going to sand everything and spar varnish the entire camper. After that I am going to cover every seam with aluminum tape. My goal is to never have water intrusion again after having to totally demolish the other one. To me, I see so many videos on even high dollar RV's that after a few years are junk. I've always been a quality over quantity guy. Even though the aluminum will make mine watertight, I think doing a few extra steps will help me not worry as much when I'm driving down the road at 70mph in a blinding rain with my teardrop in tow. :)
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Re: My 5X8 camper purchase that turned into a total rebuild.

Postby irgod32 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:36 pm

Howdy!
I'm going on my forth build and I have had some learning experiences. One of which is the bare plywood both under the trailer and under the aluminum siding. I've also tried a marine varnish to try and seal the bare plywood and found after time, the marine varnish needs to be redone. This becomes hard to do once the siding is installed. The heat and cold will cause the varnish to dry and crack and expose the wood grain. This will allow the weather to allow damage again unless the wood is retreated with varnish.
What I am using now on bare plywood is a low VOC FRP glue made by Titebond. This is my process, I will coat the under side of the base plywood and bare sides and roof with the FRP glue then paint it with "oops" paint from home depot (oops paint is inexpensive paint ppl don't want). No one can see the plywood under the aluminum or the underside of the trailer anyway so the color doesn't matter. The reason I use the FRP glue is because it's kind of a rubbery glue that sticks to just about everything plus it's flexible. Then I paint the glue while it's still tacky. The glue and paint combination has worked the best for me so far. I've made a test strip with the glue and paint and left it in a metal bucket and some water for a year. I let the bucket sit in the sun in 100+ degree weather and let the water evaporate. I'd put more water after a while. In the winter at 38 degree the water would not evaporate as quickly. After one year the coated wood showed no signs of penetration or wood rot.
Now, I can't say how long this treatment will last but I know it worked well on my last build. Until I learn a better treatment for bare plywood, I will continue treating the exposed wood this way. This is just my experience and my opinion but I hope it gives you Good for thought.
Peace out my fellow builder!
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Re: My 5X8 camper purchase that turned into a total rebuild.

Postby Swan » Mon Jun 18, 2018 7:28 am

love the rebuild , you did a fantastic job and it will be better then what was original. oh and by the way nice garage to work it
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Re: My 5X8 camper purchase that turned into a total rebuild.

Postby tony.latham » Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:44 am

Should I just use the rubber seal already attached to the door, or tear it off and use the butyl tape?


I've installed three sets of those doors and no leaks. With no butyl tape of course.

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Re: My 5X8 camper purchase that turned into a total rebuild.

Postby cfiiman » Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:32 am

tony.latham wrote:
Should I just use the rubber seal already attached to the door, or tear it off and use the butyl tape?


I've installed three sets of those doors and no leaks. With no butyl tape of course.

Tony


Then my assumption was right, thanks. After tightening the doors/windows down do you caulk around them as well? I just mean a small bead around the outside perimeter to deflect water so it never even gets as far as the rubber seal?
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Re: My 5X8 camper purchase that turned into a total rebuild.

Postby Carl01234 » Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:55 am

I have used both the door and window. My door never leaked a drop. The window leaked like a seave. I eventually caulked all the way around with clear silicone and it stopped the leak. I dont know if I had a bad window, or a bad install. the seal on the window does not come out very far from the frame like the door does.
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Re: My 5X8 camper purchase that turned into a total rebuild.

Postby KCStudly » Fri Jun 22, 2018 9:59 am

Didn't help that the OEM used panels with extremely thin veneer and cheap particle board core. Yeck!
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Re: My 5X8 camper purchase that turned into a total rebuild.

Postby dmdc411 » Wed Jul 04, 2018 11:09 am

Build looks great. I was going to use butyl tape when I assembled mine. Then the thought of how it attacks dirt hit me. So I threw it out, and went with a decent grade of clear polyurethane sealants. So far so good! No leaks. I've only been rained on twice, and towed in a downpour last summer. Only leaks were the window and door drains. I now cover them in tow if it's raining.

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Re: My 5X8 camper purchase that turned into a total rebuild.

Postby tony.latham » Wed Jul 04, 2018 11:37 am

After tightening the doors/windows down do you caulk around them as well? I just mean a small bead around the outside perimeter to deflect water so it never even gets as far as the rubber seal?


I have not, but it surely wouldn't hurt.

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Re: My 5X8 camper purchase that turned into a total rebuild.

Postby cfiiman » Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:13 pm

Hi guys,

So after a few weeks off I finally got around to pushing to get this done. I started by caulking every gap where the trailer meets the wood. After letting it dry for several days I went after the spar varnish plan. Here it is with two coats. It really made it look nice, I can see why some of you leave them wood! But for me, aluminum is the way to go for the look I want, this step was just one of many "layers" of protection for me to hopefully make this thing last.

I do have a question though about the aluminum:

1. I need the "straight" molding that binds the bottom of the aluminum to the bottom of the walls at the trailer, can anyone tell me what that molding is called? The original camper didn't have a molding there, just the aluminum contact cemented on at the bottom. I have the other moldings for attaching the aluminum at the top corners, I was just going to reuse what was on the camper previously unless there is a reason I should get it new? If so please tell me and I will.

2. Also can anyone show me a close up of how the bottom edge molding, meets the corners where the other molding starts up the sides at the front and back? Just not sure how that is supposed to look, hopefully I explained it right.

3. The way the original camper was built the fenders were screwed into the frame as well as all the way up the fender lip which would mean into the side of the wall. Is there anyway around this? Not sure how I could attach them but don't like the idea of driving 6 or so screws into the side of the wall, but I guess it isn't a big deal to do it like it was originally if that is the best way, I imagine I would just need to caulk the screw holes. I was thinking maybe a way to weld a support on the front an back or something?

Anyway here is pics of todays progress with the spar varnish, next step is to aluminum tape every joint and staple in prep for the aluminum next week:

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Re: My 5X8 camper purchase that turned into a total rebuild.

Postby cfiiman » Mon Aug 20, 2018 3:51 pm

Another update...I covered every seam/staple/screw with aluminum tape in preparation for the aluminum skin. I did this as yet another back up against water inturstion and also to separate dissimilar metals. It has been slow going but I finally got around to skinning my teardrop with aluminum. I spent some time and money getting a one piece top and moldings so it all be seamless. The trim I finally decided on was very thick, custom moldings from a local custom trailer shop. Here are some pics of working through it. It was a slow process b/c the moldings needed to be "massaged" do to their "stout" nature, but in the end I think the look was far worth the work and expense.

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Last edited by cfiiman on Tue Aug 21, 2018 8:56 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: My 5X8 camper purchase that turned into a total rebuild.

Postby crpngdth2001 » Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:20 pm

Looks amazing. Great work!


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Re: My 5X8 camper purchase that turned into a total rebuild.

Postby ojgrsoi » Tue Aug 21, 2018 9:20 pm

crpngdth2001 wrote:Looks amazing. Great work!


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X2 :thumbsup:
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