Pop-up foamie for Cross-Canada trip

Canvas covered foamies (Thrifty Alternatives...)

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Pop-up foamie for Cross-Canada trip

Postby dancam » Tue Aug 09, 2016 10:22 pm

This is the build thread for my foamie. Ill try to keep this just to the build itself and keep all my questions to the thread I already started which is here:
viewtopic.php?f=55&t=66244
viewtopic.php?p=1173267#p1173267
If you want to see plans i made they are in that thread above, just skim though for the pictures, heres 2 quick drawings from it.


I started out with plans for a plywood trailer early this spring, read about foamies late spring and changed my plans to that. But I am in a big rush and need to have this done this summer. I spent quite a bit of time reading on this forum but it became obvious when I started building that it wasn't enough. I need to do a lot more reading before starting the top half.
The foam was super expensive at $23/sheet at lowes so I found a guy selling very damaged used foam for $5/sheet and drove 4 or 5 hours and picked the best 27... It had been taken out of a hockey arena when it was demolished.


I couldnt find a good trailer in the timeline I needed to and ended up buying this one on sale at lowes for $1300. Way too much money, but it was hard to find a 5x10 like I want.

So I bought it and measured it all and based my plans off it. Then when I went to take the wood deck off I simply could not get it off! The treated 2x6's were nailed through center angle iron in 2 spots. prybars broke the wood, but not by the nails. Tried a sawzall with a brand new metal blade and The entire length of the blade had no teeth by the time i made it half way through one nail. cut one off underneath with a grinder and tried to use a punch to punch it out but it just flattened the punch. Put a jack under one board and jumped on the trailer and snapped a board but not by the nails... so we lifted the trailer up with a forklift and my employer pulled on one end of a board while I hit the boards as hard as i could with a large mallet- probably a 5 or 8 pound. I had to hit them a ton to get each off as the nails all pulled through the wood rather than coming out. I was exhausted after 3 boards. So i grabbed a full size sledgehammer and used it. that was a ton of work. The nails are super hard and shot in with a gun through the wood and metal. They obviously have to be harder than the steel to go through the angle iron without even having the points deform...


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Re: Pop-up foamie for Cross-Canada trip

Postby dancam » Tue Aug 09, 2016 10:23 pm

Then I took an angle grinder and cut off all the sides and tubing and whatever I didn't need. Have a bit more to take off yet now that my plans are more concrete. It took 6 1/2 thin cut off wheels, then I ground everything flat and sprayed tremclad over it so it wouldn't rust.
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Then I built a sample piece to see how it would go doing this. The sample piece wasn't bad to construct, but the way I canvassed it was super hard and had me pretty discouraged. I figured the trailer would be super hard to canvass, but it ended up being far easier than the sample piece I made. I tried one part with no boarder and gorilla glue on everything, the other part with a 2x2 boarder and pl premium. The strips in the middle were practice for what I will be attaching all my dividers to inside my trailer. I did 2 1/4in thick and one 3/8in thick. I ended up really liking the pl premium.
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The problem was I used the wrong paint. I accidentally got 5 gallons of acrylic latex enamel and one gallon of alkyed enamel. Of course I used the alkyed on the sample and it melted the foam like this:
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That paint melted the foam and also softened the titebond glue, so my sample was very squishy and I was kinda sad until i figured that out.
But I tested it anyway. First i grabbed each opposite end and pulled them toward each other to see how far it would bend before breaking. It went from 90 degrees at the start to about 45 degrees before breaking where there was no wood perimeter. Keep in mind my paint problem. See that 3/4in piece of plywood on the floor with the screw in it? I screwed that into the wood strips, stood on the far ends of the sample just to keep them on the floor and pulled. Im not incredibly strong, but not wimpy either and I almost couldnt pull it through. The guy watching said that the short piece of 3/4in plywood was bending pretty good while I was pulling. it took an incredible amount of force and the wood did not delaminate from the foam, the screw pulled through. I did not notice any difference between the 1/4in and 3/8 so I went with 1/4in on the trailer.
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Then I took a 3 pound deadblow hammer to it. Hit it as hard as i possibly could. The side here with no wood boarder broke where the 2 pieces of foam were joined with gg, but the canvass didnt break of course, and I had to hit it right on that joint.
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I whacked the side with the woood boarder as hard as I could and nothing delaminated or split. I was impressed especially because of the bad paint. Of course this is a small sample so the wood boarder does a lot here.
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Then I bought 2 pieces of 1/2in baltic birch 5ftx5ft. It was cut very out of square, so I squared it up
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Then I cut a 1/4in deep and 6in wide pocket and glued in 1/4in plywood with pl premium to join them together.
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My trailer was built terribly, nothing was square so I had to make my floor quite a bit narrower and shorter to fit. I also had to cut deep notches in the bottom of the floor for how they welded the tongue on real stupid.
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Canvassed the floor by myself with an 8x12 sheet. Did it in 3 sections with a 15mm roller, went alright, but the glue dried so incredibly fast! I had it thinned 5%
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Re: Pop-up foamie for Cross-Canada trip

Postby dancam » Tue Aug 09, 2016 10:25 pm

Then I rolled thinned glue onto the canvass, Thinned 60/40 I think (60 glue).
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put some canvass in the pockets and used lots of glue on it after it dried.
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Then I put 2 coats of porch and floor paint on the bottom, im planning to roll rockgaurd on that after.
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I was building this where I work. I have no garage at home and my employer was nice enough to let me use one bay of our shop. But I realized That with some work coming up I was going to have to have my trailer outside right away. So with a long weekend coming up I made some fast plans, bought everything and we started. Got someone to watch our one kid but had to have the younger one with us. I spent 47 hours on it in 2 days and an evening and my wife 44. We prewashed all the canvass but my wife was home by herself and had a hard time folding them neatly again. We need to figure that out as there were a lot of fold lines and wrinkles we couldn't smooth out. Even ironing didnt get everything out.
So I quit work early at 4pm on the friday and we started. Got the trailer leveled with jackstands and put the plywood on it and glued and screwed the perimeter 2x2's on with pl premium. Then I started cutting foam and we started on the first wall!
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We drilled holes in the foam to fill with pl premium. The first wall we didn't think of doing that on the foam to foam joints for some reason. Also from the front to the upright is 6ft, from the upright to the back is 4ft and on the 6ft length on the front there we had a hard time getting everything together in the working time of the glue. I forgot I needed to push the top down, so its bowed up in the middle about 1/4in. With the rest we secured the top beam level though so the glue couldn't push it up.The top half of my trailer wont be resting on it so its fine.
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We were done this first length at 20 past midnight. My wife had had to go get some brackets for the upright 2x2's and had a hard time finding them plus it took a while to set up the tools and level the trailer. I used a router by hand to cut the slots for the 1/4in strips and that wasn't quick either.
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We kept going and had these 3 walls done and were ready to leave at 3:45am. Julie got really tired and messed up which way some of the foam went, I forgot to put the 1/4in strip on the end wall and we were just too tired. Its an hour drive home from my work and she couldnt make coherent sentences anymore so I drove us home. I had been planning to sleep at work but I was soaked with sweat and needed a shower. We got to bed at 5am.
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We got up at 8:30 Saturday morning, bought some more supplies and were back at it by 11:30am, a lot later than I had hoped. This is the walls with all my clamps off.
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I sanded the foam on the trailer with 120 grit on my orbital air sander trying to get rid of the dents. Julie started filling dents after i sanded with that super light filler on the still super incredibly dented foam... pl prem Didnt sand well with the soft pad on my sander because the glue is a lot harder. Then i cut a strip out of the foam on the rear where I forgot it yesterday and glued in 1/4in wood with gorilla glue. didnt start building second side until 4pm. Sanding took forever.
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Tried to keep everything level and square but it wasn't easy. Think I got it though.
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We finished the other 2 walls at 9:15pm and braced the one corner because it wanted to bow in.
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Then I raced over to home depot and got a can of sprayfoam. We had filled the dents in the foam on the first side with filler but I didnt want to use it in the deeper gaps along seams as it might not dry all the way through. I figured sprayfoam would work great. filled all the seams on the side I already had sanded with it and then filled every gap and dent I could with it on the side we just built where the clamps werent in the way. I smashed it all down with a putty knife like what was suggested on here. This was my second biggest mistake. It was fine on the second side, but on the first side that I had already sanded I had to sand it a lot farther down the next day to get rid of the sprayfoam and took the blue foam down too far. I used pl premium and spacking to fill the rest. I finished at 45 minutes after midnight and then had an hour drive home and had to shower yet... Julie had left around 10:30.
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Re: Pop-up foamie for Cross-Canada trip

Postby dancam » Tue Aug 09, 2016 10:25 pm

We had sunday off, Then we got up at 6:30am monday, I bought fast drying spacking and was there by 8, Julie got there with our kid around 9:30. I sanded the first side again which took forever to get that sprayfoam down. Then I took the clamps off the second side.

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My biggest mistake was bringing more sprayfoam from home. I brought the window and door filler. sprayed it everywhere that i couldn't get before when my clamps were on. The Problem was this stuff dries soft Image
So we used some big fans, got the spacking dry and then poked holes with the drywall removal tool and sanded again.
We didnt start canvassing until after 4pm, which sucked.
I tried the Wide fibreglass tape on the 4 inside corners but I dont think it helped there at all because I already had the 2x2's. I should have used it over the foam to foam seams but didnt think of it. :/
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Did the inside walls first.
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Inside walls canvassed. The inside corners were brutal. I hadn't read up on how to do them, still have to do that. I ended up nailing coving into the corners to keep it tight but where we rolled glue overtop of canvass to overlap seams the canvass bubbled off the foam later. I got most of it glued back down the next week, but not all of it, that was terrible. Learned a fair bit on how to apply the canvass on the inside, the straight streches are easy! lol. I think I need 4x15 on the inside on the top rather than 4x12 so we don't have to overlap right on the inside corner.
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So while that was drying we got the outside walls canvassed. I had bought 4x15ft canvass but after it was washed it didnt get folded nicely and was quite wrinkly so we had to iron them there first. That took quite some time and not all the folds came out. They were still noticeable no matter how tight we stretched or smoothed it while applying. An interesting thing was I bought all my canvass from Canadian tire. 4x12 mostly, but 8x10's for the floor. I had to get a different brand for the outside walls to get the 4x15 size at lowes. The canvass I used for the sample piece had a huge seam in it, but not a single other canvass had a seam! I couldnt believe it! So happy :) The canadian tire canvass had a diagonal weave but the lowes stuff was parallel to the length :p dunno if that matters. I got the 15ft length for the outside so we could come right around to the front and have the seam in the middle of the front wall. I'm building an aerodynamic storage front that will hide that.
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Because I sanded the first side down too far when we streched the canvass on it pulled away in a couple spots, so i clamped it on.
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The results were poor however. The weave flattened and it made a sharp crease. It stuck well to the foam though, no issue with that. I just wish I had had time to fill those spots before canvassing it in the first place.
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Then we cut the edge seams out of the floor canvass and glued it down. That didnt go so well either. Gluing it to the wood was no problem, it was gluing it to the sides and getting it to stick. Then I had heard how much this stuff shrinks as you apply it so We didn't precut anything to size. Cutting it after without pulling it away from the other canvass or the first canvass off the foam was quite difficult, we didn't get it cut straight at all.
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We finished canvassing at 1am, Julie went home then and i cleaned up for another 2 hours. I wasnt done cleaning up but I realized i was only going to get 2hrs of sleep before having to get up to go to work so I just went home.
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later i re-glued the seams and used push pins to hold it tight as it wouldn't stick on its own. There was a couple spots i had to re-glue and clamp or put weights on.
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So during the week I trimmed the canvass, re-glued stuff, researched paint and bought some. Then the friday I got up at 4am, went to work, painted the first coat inside and out with the porch and floor paint thinned 10% and a 15mm roller. It dried fast so I sanded the outside and gave it another coat not thinned. Then at noon I sanded the inside and painted it with non diluted porch paint, but left the outside. The porch and floor paint has an 8hr recoat time and I had added water... Then when I was done work at 5pm I sanded the outside again with 120grit on my orbital. I painted it with the Sherwin williams all surface enamel extra white gloss and a 10mm roller. This photo is with that one coat of that out in the sun after it had dried a bit. You can really see everything when the sun shines on it right. Thats the side I sanded down too far because of the sprayfoam.
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Then at 9pm I painted the 3rd coat on the inside with the porch and floor paint. Finished it at 10 and painted the second coat of all surface enamel on the outside and went home.
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Re: Pop-up foamie for Cross-Canada trip

Postby dancam » Tue Aug 09, 2016 10:26 pm

So here are some photos of it outside all painted:
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This is some wrinkles that we couldn't get out and the overlap on the very front of the trailer. They will get covered eventually but would be quite noticeable if on the side, and this was after ironing... :/
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spots where the canvass had pulled away from the foam so I re-glued... :(
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This ones really bad, I clamped it too hard and used too much glue.
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seams on the inside. Thinking of caulking them.
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So, I was a bit disappointed with the expensive sherwin williams paint. The porch and floor is a satin finish and inside is not very bright. I wanted gloss so I got the sw stuff. However the porch paint outside is very bright, almost blinding but not quite. It does make you want to look away when the sun is pretty bright but you can still look at it if you want. The sw paint inside is noticeably glossier inside, but when you bring it out into the sun it sure isn't bright at all, doesn't even really look glossy. as you can see in this photo even the inside with the porch paint is much brighter than the outside gloss paint.
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However I am consoling myself by saying I don't want it that bright anyway and the gloss will maybe be easier to clean... :p I also did not put on enough paint. The porch paint was building up fast, so I figured 2 more coats for the outside with the gloss would be perfect. However the gloss paint went on super thin and did not provide much build or fill at all. You can still see the weave in spots and it feels slightly rough. The very top of the 2x2's I painted while doing the inside and outside every time and it feels nice. Its got enough paint to be waterproof for sure, but I wish I had more. However the outside of this will be all covered when travelling and we wont be near the walls on the inside with the way Im building the storage. When I do the top half I plan to use a coat of primer, 3, maybe 4 coats of floor paint and then the gloss. Thats the plan now anyway, I need to do a lot more reading before I start on it.
So far I have discovered that this is very light, but not simple, not easy, not cheap, not quick and not pretty on your first go-round. I should be able to have the outside looking much better with what I learned but I have to figure out how to do it at home or something so im not so rushed.
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Re: Pop-up foamie for Cross-Canada trip

Postby S. Heisley » Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:36 pm

It's your first foamie and I think you're doing great. :thumbsup:

We're watching! :SG
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Re: Pop-up foamie for Cross-Canada trip

Postby GPW » Thu Aug 11, 2016 4:42 am

Actually it is cheap when you consider how long it will last as compared to a “store bought“ Trailer ... :thumbsup: ;)

Its looking good , and remember a snappy paint job makes it look really good and hides many sins ... 8)
There’s no place like Foam !
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Re: Pop-up foamie for Cross-Canada trip

Postby dancam » Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:03 pm

S. Heisley wrote:It's your first foamie and I think you're doing great. :thumbsup:

We're watching! :SG


Thanks :)
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Re: Pop-up foamie for Cross-Canada trip

Postby dancam » Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:09 pm

GPW wrote:Actually it is cheap when you consider how long it will last as compared to a “store bought“ Trailer ... :thumbsup: ;)

Its looking good , and remember a snappy paint job makes it look really good and hides many sins ... 8)


Yes, I have repaired commercially built RV's and would never willingly buy one that wasn't insanely cheap. Its absolutely unreal how poorly their built. I was comparing cheapness to myself building a plywood trailer, but that's not a possibility because it would be too heavy so I should stop :p
Thanks, yes I will do a much better job on the outside and use more paint. Seeing if I can convince anyone to pay me to put their company logos on the side like a sponsorship deal. :) I am going a long ways with it and I could use the money, lol.
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Re: Pop-up foamie for Cross-Canada trip

Postby GPW » Fri Aug 12, 2016 5:52 am

Personally I think you’re doing GREAT !!! :thumbsup: 8) :D
Sponsorship , what a cool idea !!! :thinking: They might even paint it for you ... Brewery advert ?? :beer:

" Its absolutely unreal how poorly their built” ... unreal unreal ... should be Criminal to cheat people in such a way ... :twisted:
There’s no place like Foam !
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Re: Pop-up foamie for Cross-Canada trip

Postby SamIAm » Tue Aug 16, 2016 11:59 am

Looking very nice Dan!
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Re: Pop-up foamie for Cross-Canada trip

Postby dancam » Tue Aug 23, 2016 10:42 pm

I am working on the plans for the top half still, but I got gravel guard on the bottom of the trailer and weighed it. Undercoating took a long time. First I bought some roof tar that was on sale but realized rocks would chip it off straight away so I returned it. Next I bought rubberized undercoating. Spread some on a sample piece and it didn't really dry and wouldn't be hard to chip off. So then I bought Gravel guard in cans for a shutz gun I had. http://dominionsureseal.com/index.php/component/djcatalog2/item/7-body-products-a-coatings-/57-gravel-guard-3-oem-approved-rocker-panel-coating-Never used the gun before and it didn't work-it was defective. I spent 20 minutes trying to get it to work, then it shot gravel guard at 120psi out the vents into my face, hit the ceiling 20 feet up and coated our shop. That made me mad and took forever to clean up. By then it was kinda spraying so I sprayed the 2 cans on but it didn't really work. I had to buy another 2 cans and roll it on with a paint roller. So now there is plywood, tb2, canvass, tb2, 2 coats of porch and floor paint and beige gravel guard. I hope the light color soaks up less heat from the road.
Anyway, weighed it today, same as the last pictures. It started at 607 pounds when I bought it, after I took the grinder to it it was 270 pounds. Plywood was 86 pounds. Its 460 pounds total now. So what I built was only 190 pounds. and not including the plywood floor-just the sides and the paint&canvass on the floor its 105 pounds. So not bad :)
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Re: Pop-up foamie for Cross-Canada trip

Postby GPW » Wed Aug 24, 2016 6:35 am

Nice and Light !!! :applause:
There’s no place like Foam !
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Re: Pop-up foamie for Cross-Canada trip

Postby dancam » Wed Aug 24, 2016 10:18 pm

Thanks. :)
I picked up the new axle today! Pretty happy about that. I will try to install it tomorrow, then i can plan things better once i know how much room i have. Searching for latches to hold the top half down and for anchors for the tarp shed i will stick up to work on this.
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Re: Pop-up foamie for Cross-Canada trip

Postby Camp4Life » Thu Aug 25, 2016 8:57 am

Looks good so far! :thumbsup:

Do the walls flex when you lean on them a bit? This foam construction amazes me at how strong it can be... Don't sweat the seams being visible, you can always bondo that later, or finish the whole thing in bedliner and that should hide it. I'm following this build :D
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