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I recently repaired the floor in my 85 Sunrader, but the plywood pieces I added do not line up flush and the floor is not flat. Does anyone have a recommendation on how to level and flatten the floor? So far my ideas are to glue and screw down more wood, build up the low spots and then plane it back down to flush and flat, but that seems like a lot of work. My other idea is to use a epoxy fairing compound to build up the low spots and then sand flat and level but am concerned about the vibration and movement from driving down the road. I'm trying to flatten this surface as opposed to adding another layer of ply to even it out because head room is a scarce commodity! I want to just lay peel and stick tile on top of this surface. Any advice or suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

Thanks, Jay

 

 

 

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Fairing compound is only slightly flexible when cured. Might not be enough to prevent cracking. They make floor fillers that are made to flex with the expansion and contraction of the plywood. Like this

https://www.idealtruevalue.com/store/p/116786-Gallon-Ready-To-Use-Flexible-Floor-Levelor.aspx?feed=Froogle&gclid=CjwKCAiA35rxBRAWEiwADqB378jiYi9NXF3Qibe2EH347o8He1yipPC4jsqsqG7c9CBVqAr1UY5KfBoCn2EQAvD_BwE

 

Linda S

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Just a friendly suggestion: I’ve done a lot of peel-n-stick floors, with many good results, but I would never do it again for an RV: wide temp changes cause that stuff to lift, buckle, and spread apart. Vinyl sheet or click-lock plank would be my preference, in hindsight. 

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51 minutes ago, Ctgriffi said:

Just a friendly suggestion: I’ve done a lot of peel-n-stick floors, with many good results, but I would never do it again for an RV: wide temp changes cause that stuff to lift, buckle, and spread apart. Vinyl sheet or click-lock plank would be my preference, in hindsight. 

 

Agreed, I just ordered a one piece marmoleum sheet for my project. It ships 79" inches wide and whatever length you need. 

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Thanks Linda that's awesome! I had a feeling there was a simple solution but I couldn't come up with it, I appreciate the help and all the work you saved me!

 

And good advice on the floor, I have peel and stick in my current camper and it's done the same and not held up well at all. I guess I'll make the sacrifice with head room for the solid floor, after all this work I'd better continue to do it right.

 

The good news is now I can keep and repair the bamboo floor that was already in there which I really like.

 

This site is a godsend of resources, thanks to all who participate.

Jay

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Jay, I used some floor levelling compound. Make sure you find the one that remains pliable once dry... I used a DAP one.
Also, something to think about during your rebuild you may want to consider natural materials as opposed to plastics and other.
There is a lot of information out there about off gassing in small spaces. Not to mention where all of this material is going to end up once we are done with it.
Rick

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Good advice, thanks Rick. Are there specific things your referring to or just in general? Like is the leveling compound a potential issue?

Jay

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Jay. Not anything specific. The levelling compound is what it is, it works, and I have no idea of the VOC once it's down.
And I am only mentioning the natural building materials out of interest because so much of what goes into these units in rebuilding them is harmful to humans, especially in small spaces.
The insulation, paint, and other materials are not all good for us or the overall environment. I am simply saying take it into consideration on the rebuild.
Green is not for everyone, I get it. And although I have read quite a bit about it, it is difficult for most people, including myself to afford to do things in a new way.
For example, I would love to insulate with natural wool, but it's going to be nearly three times the cost.
Rick

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Gotcha. Your right those fumes really do get to you in small spaces quickly, thanks for the reminder to be mindful!

 

I've finally (almost) finished the floor, new 3/4" top layer all the way around and i've planed it down, sanded and levelled it as best I could. Still some drop in the back corners but nothing I can do there, the whole shell has sunk and taken the floor with it. I've added in supports underneath, glued and screwed all the layers together and will finish with a topcoat.

 

Does anyone have any recommendations for sealing the floor? I was going to just use some thompsons deck sealer or whatever but seeing another floor recently that was epoxied over looked really good and seemed like a great idea, although maybe a bit expensive.

 

Once those last tasks are done it's on to the ceiling! Which I've started bracing up and looks like I'll get a couple inches or more of lift from it.

 

 

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Jay. I used the 123 primer to seal the floor. Not too expensive and by all accounts is perfect for the job.
Not sure what you are going to use for ceiling beams, but be careful with aluminum if you are planning to use that and glassing them in. Google aluminum/ epoxy etc.
Otherwise, looks great. Onward, upward.
Rick

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Oh yeah good call! That stuff rocks, I used it to prime the slide in camper I built a few years ago and it's been holding up great, and is very reasonably priced.

 

Right now I'm planning on using 3/4" square tube steel beams. I can't weld aluminium but got some friends who can weld steel and are willing to show me how. Seems like attaching steel and fiberglass should be ok? Sunrader glassed in steel beams under the back windows for the seatbelt mounts.

 

Are you going to build vertical beams into your walls for support Rick? I'm thinking of doing a few for stability and material to connect walls and whatnot to but I also don't want to add too much weight with framing etc. Trying to strike a balance and not quite sure where I feel like that is yet

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Size for size, steel beams will deflect ~ a third compared to an aluminum beam. Not really what you want for a roof repair. 3x the weight, but you're hopefully not using that much. :)

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Jay.
On the weekend I glassed in two steel studs sandwiched together to make one sidewall stud to enhance stability now that the entire house is empty.
I was concerned about the epoxy not sticking to the zinc plated sheet steel. But checking up on it today it is all good.
The steel studs you can buy at any hardware store are very light and quite strong when doubled up.
Rick
 

Edited by canadasunrader
spellcheck

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Whoa that's a lot bigger difference between the two than I thought! I would've actually guessed the steel was stronger...  my main sticking point is that I can weld steel but not aluminium. Giving it some more thought do I really need to weld the beam to a face plate? What about making a wooden cleat to hold the beam in place that's fiberglassed to the wall? Then I don't have to do any welding and it'll actually make installation a touch easier I think as I can put the beams in and then build the cleat around it so to speak. Any thoughts on this approach? 

 

If an aluminium face plate is the ideal option could I potentially epoxy or JB weld the beam to the face plate or would that not be strong enough? 

 

It would definitely be nice to have a lighter, stronger roof in the end, although if need be I'm not overly concerned about the steel option.

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Jay.
I am not an engineer, but common sense would say I think you are correct in asking why you would need the cleat to be welded.

As long as the beam itself is the right shape and strong enough to do the work I think glassing it in to a piece of wood at the roof line makes sense.
Especially if it is made in conjunction with a few vertical studs on the walls.

 

Rick

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The original Sunrader beams were bolted in from the outside. Mind you there was only 1 on the 18 footer and 2 on the bigger ones.

Linda S

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Thanks for the info Linda! Do you know if they just put a bolt through the roof to hold it in place or was there a beam on the top to hold the inside beam sucked up to it?

 

Rick: I agree, I can't come up with any reason the cleat can't be wood and glassed to the beam and the walls to connect everything, even though I've been trying to come up with reasons in my head. I guess after looking at ToyoGuy's roof for some reason it was just stuck in my mind that it all needed to be welded together. Interesting how the mind works (or doesn't lol). So that gives me the ability to use aluminium beams instead of steel which of course is the preferable material so I'm syked about that.

 

As far as the floor I've finally got that shit finished! Seems like every weekend I thought I was done with it and then there was another final step to take, but I think it's done for the most part! Got two passes with the leveling compound, but man that stuff wasn't the easiest to work with. I can see why self-levelling is so attractive, too bad its not available for this application. Also you can see how much the floor and body have sagged over the framing that was there, the top of the fiberglass should be flush with the bottom of the plywood. Luckily the worst spots are where the cabinetry will go and the sloped parts of the floor with be storage areas. Still quite a bit of drop! Anyway I'm excited to move onwards and upwards to the roof!

 

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Beams were bent to hold the roof curve. They were bolted in at each side in that stepped up area , not on the roof. 

Linda S

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Great Jay. Looks so good.
Always a relief to move up from the floor.
Once your ceiling is in clear sailing.
Rick

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Ok cool thanks for the info Linda, good to know.

 

I'm settling in on 3/4" aluminium square tube for the ceiling braces with wooden beams on the sides holding them in all glassed to the shell.

 

Rick: Any advice on the fiberglassing process for the ceiling? I understand the process but was wondering if you had any tips for making the job easier or things you wish you'd know in hindsight? it'll be a few weeks before I begin to tackle this but i'm looking forward to completing the structure so I can start building out the interior!

 

Thanks again for all the help everyone,

Jay

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Jay.
No tips from me as the only thing I have done so far is glass in a post on one wall. Three more to go.

But I am waiting until I can afford another batch of epoxy. Soon.
I would look into a rectangular shape for those ceiling braces.
There is some good strong aluminum that comes in that shape and may afford you a smidge more headroom.

I am contemplating putting two of those in myself and will get to it.

Too many things to do all at once.....
For me I am striving to get out from under the tarp. We had a sunny day here after a lot of rain, and it was feeling awfully dark every day.
But I have all the windows in now. And I pulled out the old vents and cleaned everything up and put them back in.
Want new vents, but all in good time.
The cabover is nearly completed, but the front two plexi windows are next on my list so I can hopefully be so close to water tight.

Exciting times. Baby steps.
RC

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Hey Rick,

Do you mean something like 1/2" x 1 1/2" rectangle tube? Is there strength increase with rectangle vs square? Id definitely like to get every last smidge of height i can in the ceiling since i had to add 3/4" to the floor and will add another 1/4" with plank flooring.

 

Did you just pull the windows and reseal with butyl tape?

 

No kidding waaayyyy to many things to do at once!! Ive been lucky that i havent needed a tarp but it might be awhile until i can glass beams in seeing as im in colorado and it might not warm up for a bit now lol. I guess itll give me time to think and plan ahead as once the beams are done i can begin windows, vents and interior work.

 

Seems like patience and perseverance will ultimately win the day.

 

Baby steps out the elevator....

Jay

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11 hours ago, JaySam said:

Do you mean something like 1/2" x 1 1/2" rectangle tube? Is there strength increase with rectangle vs square?

 

It all depends how you install it. No different from a piece of wood. Bend it across your knee 'on flat' will work, try it the other way and you might break your knee. No magic.

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Hey Derek, Is there any strength increase 'on flat' on a rectangle beam vs a square beam? My intuition says the square will be stiffer because there is no 'flat' so no inherent weakness between which way the tube lays. I was wondering if a rectangle beam on flat would be stronger than a square beam of the same thickness, i.e is a 1/2" x 1 1/2" beam stronger on flat that just a square 1/2" tube, or would the strength be the same? I'm trying to use the thinnest beam possible for the ceiling for headroom and am debating on which thickness I should use, 1/2" or 3/4". Any advice or suggestions there?

 

Thanks for the help!

Edited by JaySam

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A rectangular tubing on edge is very stiff. Flat it is not much different than square tubing.

3/4" is about 4x stiffer than 1/2", 1" is about 12x stiffer.

Edited by WME

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Derek: I was originally going to use 3/4" square steel beams but I thought your post higher up suggested that I should use aluminum instead because it deflects less, did I misunderstand your post? Maybe I just mistook the ~ to mean less deflection instead of more?

 

With the beam size I'm looking at I don't think the weight will be that much of a difference - I know 3x the weight but with such low numbers I dunno if it matters - I would rather focus on the stiffness of the beam.

 

Maybe I'm misunderstanding deflection and how it would apply to roof beams and what your suggesting would be best? I thought you were recommending aluminum but now seems as if your recommending steel?

 

WME: Good to know that 3/4" is 4x stiffer, thanks for the info. I'll definitely use that dimension now.

 

Sorry for the confusion, I'm not very experienced at this stuff and usually just fly by the seat of my pants but am trying to become more knowledgable and thorough.

 

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Got it, thanks Derek! Steel it is, which means I can weld cleats together instead of fashioning out of wood

Edited by JaySam

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Same amount of weight, same wall thickness, same tubing size. Steel deflection .8", aluminum deflection 2.4"

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Thanks WME, I found a beam deflection calculator and ran some numbers and realized I had it backwards between steel and aluminium. And although steel is 3x heavier aluminium needs to be 3x thicker to account for the deflection difference so it seems to even out in the wash.

 

Thanks again to everyone for your help

Edited by JaySam

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Jay. I am even less knowledgable than you when it comes to all of this.
You are going with steel for your beams? What size will you use, and how will you get the prototype together to take to the manufacturer? Cardboard?
Like you, I am less concerned with weight and more with beams actually doing the job.

And, as far as the windows go, I pulled each one off at a time, thoroughly cleaned them and the hole, put fresh butyl on and reinstalled. Then I used some nice polyurethane caulking around the outside to finish. The gaskets were in pretty good shape - surprising - so I did not attempt to change them. Have to deal with some of the screens, but otherwise they feel good.
I did add a bit of caulk here and there where the gasket has shrunk.
Now I've finished them all. And only have the two dreaded plexi ones at the front to finish before I can comfortably remove the tarp for good.
I also changed the glass in the bathroom window to clear as I hate the frosted ones.
I am not putting the bathroom back in. No shower. Perhaps a composting toilet down the road, who knows.
Rick

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Hey Rick,

Yeah I've decided to go with steel for the beams. I'm going to use 3/4" square tube and will do 3 or 4 beams in the ceiling. As for manufacturing the curve and everything right now I'm thinking of just building them into place. I've propped  one up from the middle and it's taken a nice even curve across the roof and looks good. My plan is to prop all the beams into place and adjust until everything looks good and even, then weld face plates on and glass everything into place where it sits while propped up. Then I don't have to try to manufacture the beams and curve outside of the rig and then install, I can just build it all right there. I'm hoping that will save me a lot of work fussing over the curve and bending the beams outside the rig, I'll let the weight of the roof do it for me. I'm not sure this is the best approach but it's what I'm leaning towards right now unless I can think of a reason it wouldn't be a good idea or won't work. If anyone has any advice or suggestions I'd love to hear them.

 

Nice to hear you've gotten most of the windows done, sounds like its not too hard of a job other than those two fronts. Fingers crossed I don't think mine are leaking so I may have dodged a bullet there and will only have to do the other windows. I still need to do my roof vents as well but I'm waiting until I get the beams glassed in place.


What kind of insulation are you going to use for the roof?

 

 

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JaySam,

Have you ever seen a fiberglass fire?  I have, and as I understand your plan, it scares me to think that you are going to weld that close to the fiberglass shell.  I think that I would take a guess at the desired arc.  I once did something similar by finding two tree trunks growing only a few inches apart.  Put the 3/4" tube in and going slowly along the length, bend a little at a time until it looks right.  One of our fellow Sunraders will, no doubt, offer a more elegant solution.  

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Wouldn't be worried so much about the fiberglass I would be more worried about the sparks flying on the plexiglass windows they will stick and run them they will also run a front windshield they will melt into it I personally would do aluminum much lighter and for the space you're in it seems more logical just get aluminum Mig gun and hook it to your MIG welder with aluminum you can also rivet

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