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Giant in a Shoebox

'85 New Horizon renovation

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After a few months of searching, I finally found, and bought a New Horizon 21ft. motorhome that fit my budget and abilities. It was the only one I could find with a sound motor, working appliances, and repairs that I thought I could handle. A couple of people have asked for pics of the repairs, so I figured I'd write up this thread.

The roof was in pretty bad shape, after the weight of the AC made the roof sag about one and a half inches over time, which created a low spot on the roof for water to collect, which of course had leaked badly ruining the ceiling paneling. In addition to that, the vents had all leaked, and there was some rot in the overhang. Unlike others I had seen however, the overhang rot didn't go up into the curved portion of the paneling, which I wouldn't really want to tackle, nor were any of the walls terribly damaged, with the exception of the overhang. I'm sorry to say I didn't take any before pics, so mid-repair pics will have to suffice.

Here's the beast:

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I decided that due to my lacking a suitable shop, I'd repair the ceiling from the inside rather than by dissembling it from the exterior (AKA the right way). If I had it to do again, I'm not sure I'd make the same choice. Anyhow, this is how I went about it:

First, I removed all of the bad paneling. I did that with a razor knife, pry bar, and various other implements of destruction. Next, I measured a bunch of stuff, scratched my head for a few days, and came up with a plan. You see, the roof beams in this thing were a measly 3/4 of an inch tall at the walls, tapering up to just over 1 1/4 inch at the center. That provides for 1/2 inch of camber when the thing was new. It's no small wonder that after 25 years, the weight of the AC caused enough sagging to go past level and create a puddle, exacerbating the weight issue. Merely repairing with 1/2 inch of camber was unacceptable to me. I wanted an extra inch.

I accomplished this by building beams out of two pieces of 3/4 inch exterior grade plywood, and a piece of 1" square steel tube. The beams were cut into an arc measuring 3/4" high at the walls, and 2 1/4" across the center foot and a half where the AC sits level. The steel was ground down at the ends to fit between the top of the walls and the plywood that covers the beams. These beams were then "sistered" into place with the original beams screwed to them. There was only about 1/8" of lip on top of the wall for the new beams to sit on, so I braced them with a piece of 1/2" angle steel which will be covered by trim after installing new paneling.

Here's a pic, the old beams are painted white with Killz primer to deal with any residual mold smell:

J2azbh.jpg

The beams directly under the AC were dealt with differently. I couldn't get a piece fitted in there from wall to wall without removing the roof or the cabinets, both of which were built from the exterior, which I wanted to disturb as little as possible. I solved this one by making new beams that extended from one cabinet to the other, and then bracing the cabinets with a piece of oak, and a length of steel in order to make them strong load bearing structures. (Disclaimer: that may be a really bad idea, but it's what I did.)

It looks like this:

rkGpoh.jpg

To carry the same camber forward through the whole roof, I braced the stringer directly aft of the front roof vent with a piece of steel and a single piece of ply, and the two directly behind that one were propped up with a single piece of ply braced over the entry door, and on the bathroom wall. These weren't bearing much weight at all, so I didn't use steel except for bracing them over the door.

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The bathroom vent bracing was half rotten, so I cut out the bad sections and replaced them with new wood, blocked with a piece behind it to tie it in with the old beam. I did this while I had the opening free when I installed an exhaust fan vent.

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Then end result was exactly what I wanted; a well cambered roof. Here it is in all it's freshly sealed glory:

c7oEAh.jpg

Next was the overhang rot issues. It was pretty bad as water had run down the driver side wall, pooling on the floor of the overhang rotting away a good sized area. Water had also come in from the front clearance lights, soaking the beam directly above the front window. That piece was basically a disintegrated piece of mold with a little bit of wood attached at the ends.

I cut out the bad wood as far as I cared to, then sealed the barely-good stuff around the cutouts with epoxy. The beam over the window was cut back to good wood, then a piece of 1/4 was notched to replace the bad section, and fastened to it with metal T braces like so:

XIqQIh.jpg

After sealing a couple of pin-holes that had rusted through the metal exterior skin with epoxy and laquer, new plywood was put in to replace the rotten stuff, and then sanded to level in preparation for new paneling.

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Well, that's as far as I've got it today. If all goes as planned, I'll leak test the roof today, and get started hanging new insulation and paneling. Then I get to move on flooring and shower repair. Fun fun fun.

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No problem, Wilson.

I've got insulation done, and most of the paneling primered and hung. I'll add pics once I start getting it trimmed out.

I guess I'll use this space to mention some things I might do differently if I were to tackle this repair again. First, i'd seriously consider removing the roof from the outside and replacing the existing roof beams with steel re-enforced dimensional lumber. This could cut down on weight, and would solve the problem of repairing the beams that go over cabinets and walls. Another benefit would be the ability to remove the old interior paneling easily, and replace it in full sheets, rather than jig-saw pieces like I'm doing now. It would also be beneficial to replace the upper layer of plywood and the insulation. My method leaves the old plywood there, as well as the original insulation. It would be a more costly and in-depth repair, but much more thorough. Getting a good seal at the junction of roof and walls, and at all vents and rack attachment points would be of great importance when re-assembling.

The only thing I'd do differently with the method I chose is to use a piece of dimensional lumber in addition to the plywood and steel in the new beams. I'm having second thoughts about the ability of screws to hold the paneling on when attached to the cross section of a piece of plywood. I'd be much more comfortable if I were attaching to solid lumber rather than vertical veneers. Only time will tell how my repair will hold up.

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Thanks Again Giant,

The cabinets in mine are so nasty they will be taken out and cleaned inside and out, front and back.

The goal is to replace all the paneling and the insulation. I was thinking of taking out the old fiberglass style insulation and using this in its place.

Foam Insulating Sheathing

Any thoughts??

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I forgot which manufacturer your rig was, but if it's built like mine know that the cabinets are attached with screws from the outside. It's my understanding that the industry standard for building RV's of this era was to assemble them from the floor up, inside to out using pre-assembled panels for the walls and roof. In case that was unclear, what I'm saying is that your outer walls and roof sections are all probably screwed to your cabinets, bathroom walls, dinette framing, etc. with the interior paneling sandwiched between the framing.

What that means for you is that to remove all of the paneling and insulation without damaging the framing, you'll need to start from the exterior skin and work your way in. To replace it all is to essentially disassemble and re-build the coach. Hopefully someone more knowledgeable than myself will jump in here if any of that is wrong. Maybe there is another way to do it.

As for the foam insulation: Every product I saw at lowes or Home Depot was about 1/2 the R value of the same thickness of fiberglass batt. However the plus side of foam is that closed cell panels won't hold water if you have a leak, where fiberglass will. Look carefully at the foam you buy though, as some types were very porous, and would hold water like a sponge. If I were dismantling and rebuilding a rig, I'd seriously consider foam, but since I was leaving fiberglass in my rig, I just added more fiberglass to what was there. Oh, one more minus for foam is that you've got to route wiring through that roof panel, and that could be a PITA with foam.

Good luck.

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Well, it's time for an update. Progress has been slow, but I've got the new paneling pre-primed and hung, old wallpaper removed, trim installed, caulking done, moldy areas sanded and bleached, and it's now ready to primer and paint.

VDkARh.jpg

5PZSth.jpg

While I had things torn apart I added a 12v outlet above the driver's seat in the overshot. Now I've got a 12v outlet at both ends of the coach running off of the house battery system.

ihcb0h.jpg

The level of fit and finish isn't as nice as I'd like. However I find that constantly reminding myself that I'm fixing a 25yr old RV, not building a piano helps me ignore the flaws.

Here's the trim I used, it's all composite material of some sort:

yGXZUh.jpg

It's a small crown moulding called "bed trim" "bed bead" or something like that. I ripped it down so it would sit high enough to give the cabinet doors enough clearance to close, while still leaving just enough space behind the moulding to accommodate the 1/2" steel re-enforcement that was installed.

To get around the curves in the front overshot area I used 4 thin strips of moulding which looked kind of like this, except the flat pieces were ripped to about 2/3 of this width:

ZoYQ7h.jpg

It blends in OK when finished off with a bead of caulking.

IxmI5h.jpg

That's it for now. Time to go paint.

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Next up is flooring and bathroom walls.

The floor is spongy in places, but seems to have solid framing. I'm thinking that I can remove whatever sub-flooring I find, add to and re-enforce framing when necessary, and top with new sub-flooring. Is OSB an acceptable material, guys? Do I need a layer of plywood under that for additional structural support? I'd like to keep the thickness to a minimum as headroom is a precious commodity.

For bathroom wall covering, I'm leaning strongly towards FRP

http://www.lowes.com/pd_6891-293-FTSTF.12_0__?productId=3152519&Ntt=frp&pl=1&currentURL=%2Fpl__0__s%3FNtt%3Dfrp&facetInfo=

Does anyone have experience with this stuff? Any alternative suggestions?

Any advice would be appreciated.

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Nice renovation!,My floor framing was aluminum so unless pieces are broken no need to beef-up. Osb is crap especially for floor it will absorb moisture. i used 3/4 ply and primed all six sides.I used frp in bath and am happy with it. Although i just discovered i need to reglue a section. Its harder to work with and more flimsy than paneling. Had i braced frp probably would have stayed put. I cut Frp with a jigsaw with metal cutting blade,more teeth. I also used 3/4 inch blue ridgid insulation on walls.

Next up is flooring and bathroom walls.

The floor is spongy in places, but seems to have solid framing. I'm thinking that I can remove whatever sub-flooring I find, add to and re-enforce framing when necessary, and top with new sub-flooring. Is OSB an acceptable material, guys? Do I need a layer of plywood under that for additional structural support? I'd like to keep the thickness to a minimum as headroom is a precious commodity.

For bathroom wall covering, I'm leaning strongly towards FRP

http://www.lowes.com...Dfrp&facetInfo=

Does anyone have experience with this stuff? Any alternative suggestions?

Any advice would be appreciated.

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FRP works well, you can cut it with a finishing saw blade or even tin snips, if you can find an old fashioned pair. Use adhesive designed for moisture, and use the moulded strips for edges and corners. I filled the moulding with a bead of silicone and then inserted the FRP into it for a water tight edge. Once you get it installed its almost bullet proof.

WME

Next up is flooring and bathroom walls.

The floor is spongy in places, but seems to have solid framing. I'm thinking that I can remove whatever sub-flooring I find, add to and re-enforce framing when necessary, and top with new sub-flooring. Is OSB an acceptable material, guys? Do I need a layer of plywood under that for additional structural support? I'd like to keep the thickness to a minimum as headroom is a precious commodity.

For bathroom wall covering, I'm leaning strongly towards FRP

http://www.lowes.com/pd_6891-293-FTSTF.12_0__?productId=3152519&Ntt=frp&pl=1&currentURL=%2Fpl__0__s%3FNtt%3Dfrp&facetInfo=

Does anyone have experience with this stuff? Any alternative suggestions?

Any advice would be appreciated.

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Resto project looks good. The camber added to roof profile is especially nice. Gjob.

I think 1/2" plywood should be plenty for a floor if you have decent framework especially if you seal with a layer of fiberglass which would be a big help in terms of waterproofing and the strength benefits of a composite-like skin. I'd prime the plywood with a layer of resin and let it cure before adding fiberglass. This seems to help a lot in terms of glass bonding to plywood as I've learned by past work delaminating. You'll need to scratch up this new new coat of resin of course.

FRP is great as WME and 85Mirage have stated. The great thing about FRP is that fiberglass will bond to it meaning you can 100% fuse seams and corners together if you so desired such an environment. The smooth "back" surface of FRP can make for a really nice smooth gel coat like surface if you happen to need that application. Good stuff for the price. You can even ADD layers of glass if you need a beefier/thicker panel. My entire roof is actually made of FRP. ~3 layers of glass were added to the textured side to beef up the thickness (grinded/roughed up first of course) and used in this reverse fashion.

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The previous owner of my Toy put milkhouse liner right over the existing interior paneling, everywhere except inside cabinets and the ceiling. My wife and I both like it. It is easily washed and the white color really brightens up our coach. It also holds screws well if you need to mount curtains. (And thanks to the folks who came to the 2011 Midwest Toyota rally for telling us what this strange paneling was. We didn't know.)

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Thanks for the advice, Gents. I'm sold on FRP now. The only other material I could think of was formica, so I'll be more than happy to save a hundred bucks and have a more flexible material.

As for flooring, I've hit a minor snag. After pulling up the carpet and pad I found nothing more than a fiberglass sheet/pan/whatever screwed to steel framing under my feet. I was expecting to find something more substantial that could be replaced. I'm pretty sure plywood will be solid enough over the existing framing, but it will be laying on top of a very uneven surface. I can screw the plywood to the framing, and maybe screw the fiberglass up into the plywood as well, but when it comes to a bedding/adhesive, I'm clueless here. What I don't want is a gap between the fiberglass and the subfloor. I'm not quite sure why, but it just sounds bad. If it weren't for the foamy mess I'd use Gorilla glue, if it weren't for the cost, the mess, and the hassle I'd use epoxy. Will liquid nails, or PL Premium be up to the task? Is there another product I should consider?

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How much gap between the plywood and the fiberglass are you talking about? If its just the general uneveness of a fiberglass sheet, you could try laying down a very thin layer of closed cell foam. It comes in a sheet or roll and would help to silence road noise and provide a little insulation. Be sure and use CLOSED CELL FOAM because it doesn't absorb water. Also put a good coat of paint on the underside of the plywood before laying it down on the foam. Using foam means, of course, that you'll have to fasten the ply down to something underneath. That way you compress the foam slightly, filling any gaps or air spaces.

There are a number of bedding compounds that are often used in the marine industry. Some come in quart or gallon sizes and are put down with a putty knife. Forget the caulk tube stuff, its too expensive.

John

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The gap almost everywhere is about 1/8 inch in the spaces between the steel supports where the fiberglass sags. There is one small area next to the bathroom wall, which sits on unsupported fiberglass, where the gap is almost 3/8.

Marine products are out. I don't have a supplier, and don't want to wait for materials. I'm limited to lumberyard and big-box store products. Buying a case of tubes doesn't seem unreasonably prohibitive. We're only talking about bedding a sheet and a half of plywood here.

Foam is a good suggestion, but thickness rules it out, because I want whatever I lay down to sit low enough to allow sliding the fridge out if it needs replaced someday. I've got room for 1/2 inch of plywood, and a sheet of vinyl, and that's pushing it. I'd like an adhesive between the FG and plywood to add strength, and eliminate movement, thus wear points. I could probably live with fasteners alone, but as I said, thickness alone pretty much rules out any additional layers of non-glue/caulk stuff.

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Very cool and answers a lot of my questions. I love FRP. I used to be in commercial construction and we lined the bathrooms with it. Inexpensive, attractive and once it is installed, it is fire-and-forget. These were industrial sites where they'd clean the bathrooms with high pressure hoses and it stood up to everything we threw at it. My Widget will have a lot of it installed before I am done.

Terri

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Update time:

I took the forum's advice and glued almond colored FRP, and the appropriate FRP trim pieces to the existing bathroom walls after bleaching them for mold control. It looks good.

For the flooring I glued 1/2" AC grade exterior plywood over the fiberglass floor with trowel-on Liquid Nails adhesive, and drilled, countersunk, and screwed it to the steel framing while the adhesive was still wet. The floor is rock solid now, and I've got a guy coming to lay vinyl flooring this week.

The last repair that I was sweating was my shower pan. I couldn't get a replacement, and sending it out for a re-build was way too expensive, so I had to play with fiberglass. I'd never used the stuff before, and it was just as messy and frustrating as I'd feared. Thankfully you can grind and sand the stuff, then paint over it. The shower will definitely be the most amateurish looking repair on the whole rig, but it's better than a cracked shower pan.

Now I've reached the fun stage of the project where the painting is done, and stuff starts going back together instead of coming apart. It feels good. I'll be on the road for Labor Day.

Pics tomorrow.

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Your project is awesome, and it's obvious that you take pride in the work you do. Thanks for the continuing updates, and continued successes!

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Thanks for the kind words. Sorry for the delay with pics, sometimes when I say "pics tomorrow" what I mean is "pics in a month or so."

Here's the plywood floor installed:

0q3gA.jpg

Like everything with this job, the cut sheet looked like detailed instructions for replicating a specific jigsaw puzzle piece. Straight lines and 90 degree angles were rare, pretty much every cut tapered off on one end if not both.

DCojl.jpg

New vinyl installed:

CV0ED.jpg

Ceiling painted:

mrWnA.jpg

Overhang finished, with the exception of the other two new curtains which have been installed since taking this photo:

nGVAF.jpg

Here's a look at the previous bathroom wall covering. The whole thing looked this bad:

FY0bs.jpg

New bathroom walls, and repaired shower pan. The shower's edge, and the plumbing behind the toilet will be boxed in with some nicely grained hickory I've got in the shop.

0IBFs.jpg

Thankfuly my co-pilot approved the repairs in time for Labor Day:

oJkaV.jpg

One more camping pic, this one from last weekend:

ZWyDj.jpg

Final update to this thread will be a finished bathroom complete with a mirror, medicine cabinet, and custom wood trim.

Thank you all for reading, responding, and sharing your experience. It's been good. I'd encourage all of you to post threads about any similar repairs you make, as I couldn't really find any usefull posts anywhere on the webs about tackling this type of project. The best I found was one text-only account about the right way to re-build from the outside in. I found little to nothing about just making things work an easier way. That is the reason this thread is here. Hopefully people will find it useful.

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Looks great, and your work looks professional. Great job, and thanks for sharing!

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Holy crap those look like some tight seams on that subfloor! Impressive.

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I understand that this thread is 6 years old at this point, but I'm about to tackle the same project in my New Horizon. I'm thinking of working this project in the same way Giant in a Shoebox did, but my question is, how has this held up over time? I will begin a new thread with my project as my New Horizon has a different layout, with bath/kitchen in the rear, thus different challenges to overcome.

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