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Sunrader Floor Repair, Gut and Rebuild

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Jay, looks like a nice clean slate.
I glued the headers in and they aren't going anywhere. I wouldn't drill more holes into the shell unless necessary... :)

And I used steel beams because they are easy to find, very light, and actually quite strong, especially when glassed in.


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Thanks Rick, it only took two months! ha!


what kind of glue did you use? I agree drilling more holes in the shell isn't ideal. I'm thinking of maybe going the epoxy/fiberglass route but temps need to be right for it all to cure and I'm not sure when I'll get a weather window. Part of the idea of bolts is it allows me to move forward without relying on good temps to finish the roof.


I might just liquid nails it to the wall and then fiberglass over with resin instead of epoxy to save some time and money. Once again to many options and in the end I'm probably over thinking it.


what size beam did you use for the vertical studs?

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Jay. If you can afford it you should use 3m adhesive.
5200 if it absolutely has to hold forever and will never be able to be removed.

4200 has good hold as well, but in a pinch can be taken out.

I went with Sika polyurathane....
But you can also use an epoxy that comes in a tube.... but it is the most expensive option.

The steel studs I used are just the regular sized ones you find at any hardware store.
They come as eight footers and I cut them down.
Also, I doubled them up. Two together make for a nice tight rectangle of light but strong steel.
As for fiberglassing, if you heat up the space inside and mix the epoxy properly.... it should cure fine.

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You may want to call liquid nails and tell them what your doing.  I was working on a Travel Trailer a few years ago, in cooler weather.  I had planned to use liquid nails to bond some wood together, but I was unsure of the what the cooler temps would do.   Imagine my surprise when they told me they do not recommend liquid nails in any travel trailer for any reason.   It scared me so much I called all the glue people I was using, Gorilla, Titebond, and loctite.   They were all really nice but all but loctite told me the temps I was working would weaken the bond and they would likely fail down the road.    Loctite ,at the time, had just come out with their grabber 8x.  They let me talk to the lab and let me know it would work and it the temps got too low it would slow the curing but it would continue to cure and when temps got over 50 it would finish curing and would be as strong.. So I have been using loctite products every since.  I should say except when gluing wood together. I use titebond III. It is amazing stuff.


Also, this is what my beams look like in the inside.  You can see they welded angle iron to the end and ran carriage  bolts through the top.  I took my beams down sanded and repainted them with rustoleum and re-installed them with 3/8x1 ss carriage  bolts. The heads on the outside are covered with a 2x6 piece of eterna bod tape. I was able to get 5/4 deck boards to put between mine and the fiberglass. My goal is 1 inch spray foam ceiling, R-7  I hope this helps.  I have been working 3 months on the outside and underneath of mine. Getting ready to start the inside.  Yours looks like it is going to solid.


Edited by jetalkington
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Ok well I've decided to go with Total Boat epoxy for the headers and face plates that will attach to the sidewall. I'll probably glass over as well down the road with resin but for now am going to go with just epoxy. I need to build square face plates for the beams as they're pushing in to the sides too much, once a snow load is on top it'll be much worse. So I'm going to attempt to build face plates and get everything epoxied in this weekend as the weather window looks decent right now. Hopefully by next week I'll actually have something accomplished on this roof and can maybe start moving on with life. 

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Ok I've got everything up in place and it seems to be holding well. There's still a few more spots I want to glass over the header but overall everything went well and seems to be working great.

I added 3x6 steel plates to the end of the rafter beams to prevent to much pressure into the sidewall and JB welded them together.

Then I put epoxy on the shell and the back side of the header and slide that into place and wedged it in.

I glassed over the header to the shell at the back beam and the front beam, and I plan on doing the middle beam and ends when I get to glassing in the rafters over the cab area.

I used 2 heaters running most of the day and kept the temps at 80 or above for 10 hours so I feel pretty good about the cure.

I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, and won't be so concerned moving forward about all of this.

Thanks again to everyone for the advice and help with everything, it's been an awesome resource and I appreciate the help.






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It looks really solid.  I am really interested in watching your build out.  I am closing in the rear battery hole in mine today. Then I start the interior. It will  interesting to compare notes on the build outs.  Mine is a rear bath so I do not have the third beam.  I am working on sealing off my old battery compartment now. Here is what mine looked like before I started to fiberglass the battery hole.

20200128_135922 (Small).jpg

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Thanks, its nice having others go through the same process to bounce ideas off and compare notes and whatnot. Rick (canadasunrader) has also gutted his and is rebuilding it very nicely as well, he has a few threads on various different aspects of his build going that have been helpful.


Next step is to build the beams and headers for the bed area and get it glassed in as well. Vertical supports in the coach, close in some appliance holes and I might be able to start working on the interior.


What did you use to frame the windows in? 3/4" plywood?


How did glassing in the battery hole go? What kind of mat are you using to fill in holes?

Edited by JaySam
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I am using 1x2 poplar for my window frames. I wanted the stiffness and resistance to moisture  Poplar is better than pine for water.  Plus it is stiffer than plywood and draws the widow in nice and snug.  I can build them at home and take them to the motorhome.

The battery hole is going ok.  I think I made a mistake in I put my backer board on the outside thinking I would work from both sides.  In hind site that was not a good idea. This is my first attempt at filling a hole this big.  I have done barrier coating before but not large hole filling.  I would start with the backer on the inside and cut the fiberglass the fit the hole and build from there. I was thinking i would do a practice layup on the inside, where it wouldn't show. 

Anyway, the back of the camper is not flat and as a result I had a small space between the backer and the camper shell. This caused the fiberglass to bow out a bit until it laid against the backer.  Meaning I have to do more sanding to get it flat enough to put the fiberglass sheets on the outside and not have a slight raise on the back.  Not a real big deal but more work that could have been prevented. Are you planning to close your battery hole or reuse it?


 I used 1.5 oz chopped strand matting as the inner 2 layers and then I put 1708 biaxial on  final layer inside.  I bought them both off Amazon as they were least expensive.  it  is strong and looks fine on the inside. I will use the same method on the outside layers.  My goal is to make it so I can build a vanity and use the space taken up by the old battery box.  Plus to reduce cold air coming in.

20200320_134314 (Small).jpg

20200320_135835 (Small).jpg

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Hmmmm. With all due respect, the easiest way to fill those large holes in the fiberglass shell is:

1. Cut a piece of plywood that is about three inches bigger all around than the hole. And put a good layer of packing tape on one side.

2. Screw the ply to the outside tightly covering the hole, making sure packing tape side is inside.

3. Grind off the screw tips inside as close to the fiberglass shell as possible.

4. Gather your epoxy, or resin, materials together. Fibreglass mat is best for this use as it is much stronger than cloth.

Cut several pieces of mat beginning smaller than the hole gradually getting bigger until you have about 4 or 5 layers ending with one that is two or three inches bigger than the hole.

Use the roller to roll to the outside all of the extra epoxy.
When completely dry, remove the plywood and begin the process of finishing the outside.





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That is exactly what I did.  I used 1/4 plywood with a 5 mill drop cloth and taped to the board.

 I am hoping to get to the outside next week.  I am running low on epoxy resin and was afraid to start the outside and run out.  The new gallon will be here Sunday.  However, I am in Illinois and they just issued a stay at home order.    I am going to still drive to the garage I have my Sunrader but I am not sure how all that will go. 

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I used fiberglass resin on the inside, but switched to epoxy on the outside.
There is no need to use much mat on the outside. Just a few small bits here and there where the screws went in.
I used a grinder and ground out space where the screw holes were and used epoxy and small pieces of mat to fill.
Filling the void from the inside is the easy part. It's the fairing outside and the sanding and more sanding and more fairing that is less fun.
Good luck.... :)

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Ok I've managed to make some progress with the time off which has been nice.

I've got the beams glassed in over the bed and in place curing now. A few things I've learned from the first round to the second round of fiberglassing:

           I cut bevel edges on the headers and sanded them down so the glass wouldn't have to make 90 degree turns and it was much easier to lay down.

           I soaked the upper end of the sheet of glass in the resin before I put it up which helped with wet-out and holding in place while I worked from the top down.

Other than improving my skills by getting more experience these two things made glassing in the front header beams much easier and cleaner than my first round of glass.

I also glassed in a patch under the middle of the 3 beams in the coach area for re-enforcement.


I built frames for all the windows and got them primed as well.


I pulled all the screws around the trim, at least the ones that would come out, and have replacements for them to be installed. As for the rusty ones I can't get out I'm thinking of a dab of silicone over the head and move on.


Next I need to build vertical support beams to go behind the wheel wells which I'll glass to the sidewall.


Then it's pull all the windows and re-seal/re-install. Does anyone know what kind of gasket goes on the outside of the window? Most of mine are in pretty bad shape








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I build large scale Radio control airplanes. We use a lot of fiberglass and carbon fiber. This is a source of all kinds of cloth, tubes, resin and some really cool composite panels. I don't know if you need something this exotic, but here is a source.


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Looks really great Jay.
Nice work.
Which gasket are you talking about on your windows?
There are hundreds of posts in here to look through with windows as the subject. I'm sure all your answers are there.
Let me know if you need any specific help.
For me, I am just finishing the ceiling and attempting to get my wiring diagram together....
Can't afford to get the batteries etc just yet, but planning.
Also built all the upper cabinets and they are now in. And have moved to building my safe and a lower cabinet etc.
Take care in this crazy time.

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Thanks Rick.

I'm looking for the outer gasket on the window, I think it's the vinyl glazing piece?

I figured out what it's called so I think finding it on amazon should be easy from there. I searched the forums but didn't find anything specific to the outer glaze, just mostly links to the 2 piece locking gasket for the curved windows up front. Maybe my search skills just aren't up to par.

Did you build new cabinet designs or did you rebuild the original cabinets? I'm thinking of using the old cabinets as templates and rebuilding what was already there

What size wire are you going to wire your coach with?

I pulled the braces and the ceiling is holding up nicely. Can finally start working on other projects




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Jay. Maybe post a picture of the window/windows you are looking to fix?
Yes, there is a plethora of info on those front plexi windows here.

I am not building out my home specifically as an RV. More on that later. Rather, it will be mixed use for me, with a little business and a little pleasure.
So, I will have no bathroom/shower. And no built-in stove.

I want a fridge, counters, storage, lights, seating.


As to your question on wiring: the led lights require very light wiring... search that. They require specific dimmers, if using.
Otherwise, the wire I am using is pretty basic and not heavy duty at all. Just needs good, solid ground.


Overall, I am doing this unconventionally with little to no expertise or talent - like a lot of newbies here :)
I'm making it all up as I go along, with lots of help here and on other forums and sites.

Here's a photo.
I put cedar tongue and groove on the ceiling. It smells great, is very light and looks like we actually know what we are doing.
Also it's easy to find here in the PNW and relatively cheap.


I did not have any of the original cabinets when I bought this Sunrader. So I just made some up from scratch.
I have limited tools here so it was a challenge. But I made some out of cardboard and trimmed here and there until I had something I can live with, then made them out of plywood, screws, glue, bondo and paint. I'm excited to be able to use a couple of excellent B+W speakers I had in my kitchen a while back, and they will sit in the middle rectangles.
These upper cabinets will have doors at some point, and a colour - who knows on that?


Also, on the drivers' side wall over the wheel well I am building a large safe out of steel. The door will be two feet square.
 ibuilt one of these in my van and it has saved us a lot of headaches.... and does not cost that much to build.
It works with a simple Master lock and key. And is very difficult to break into.
I hate how easy these RVs are to get into and I don't want to have to worry about what little expensive stuff I have when I want to go hiking etc.
Anyway.... I'm just making all of this up as I go along and appreciate the sounding board here.
I love the fact that it's taking way longer to do all of this than anticipated, as it has allowed the project to evolve and change with new ideas.


On a positive note: we went to Mexico a few weeks ago [made it back just under the deadline] and dropped the Sunrader off with a mechanic. We were very worried as we had no idea what condition he is in mechanically and we wanted to just get a good baseline reading on everything. Good news, motor, trans, clutch etc all in "excellent condition." His words.
And now we can spend that money that we didn't have on getting new airbags, shocks etc underneath, and making sure everything is mechanically as sound as we can afford to make it. Yay!! Onward now and upward on the inside as we slowly moved towards.... well, somewhere. Who knows what we will end up with.


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Damn Rick that's looking really really good! I love the cedar ceiling, how thick is the planking for that? I'd love to see some more pics of the interior, looks like you've made some good progress.


Glad to hear that your rig checked out mechanically, that's always a sigh of relief. I'm interested in the safe your building as well, would you share some pics of that as you build it? I'm building mine out to live in actually and this seems like a great idea.


Here's a pic of the piece I'm trying to replace, I think it's the window glazing?






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The cedar is nice because it is bug and rot resistant.
Usually it comes as 1x but some mills will plane it down thinner.
I thought about putting panels into the ceiling and then painting them, but it was too tempting to do something different.


As far as the windows go....
Take one out to give one a go.
Lay it front side down and take all of the butyl/putty/tape/glazing out. I lightly used a heat gun to soften it up.
Use a wire brush and clean it all up as good as you can. Then wash and let dry.
Clean and sand the window hole inside and out.
Get fresh butyl tape and retape the flat outside area in the back of the window. Put the window back in.
Some of the butyl tape will squish out. Trim that off.
I finished all the windows with some really good polyurethane caulking along the top.


I'm not sure what that is in the photo you posted.
Someone else will have to chime in on that. Looks like the part that holds the window into the frame.
Is it all one piece? Or is it putty that has been put in there and is chipping out?

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It looks really good Rick, nice work.

I can get some 3/8" cedar planking that I've been thinking about using for the roof, but the headroom issue is making it tough to decide. a 1/16th" frp panel would be my other choice. Not as pretty but more functional.


Yeah I think that piece is what holds the glass into the window frame. Looking at it closer I don't think it's something I want to replace unless they're leaking, which for now it seems like they're not. I'm going to proceed with just re-installing the windows and see where that lands me.


I'm slowly closing in on this thing being structurally sound and water tight, once that happens I think things will pick up a bit and start moving along.


I did get new rear clearance lights in and sealed, really cleaned up the look from the outside.



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Jay. I know it's hard to give up headroom after working so hard to get more space.

I struggled with it, but I wanted something up there that was a little more than just white panel.

Did you buy the rear lights online?

I cleaned mine - probably the originals - up and repaired what I could and they seem good for now.

And, yes, it will be a big step getting it water tight and moving on.
I am still struggling with one of the plex windows in the front that has a very small leak that I can't seem to figure out. Frustrating.


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Hey Rick

Yeah it's a constant game of give an inch take an inch, just depends where you want that inch I suppose. For now I don't wanna think about it lol

I got the lights from amazon, it was $35 for 10 of them. The light itself is waterproof and you can just snap in a replacement if one goes bad. Also they're just a touch smaller than the originals which I thought gave it a little bit better look. I tried cleaning and fixing first but it was a lost cause, mine had lived in California and then Oregon for a bit so there was a lot of corrosion.

I've still got holes to fill but I've finally sealed up most of it, all that's left are the old appliance holes that I have to decide about and closing in around the gas tank fill neck area which has been super fun. Sunrader just loaded a oooo ton of butyl around there, another one of their brilliant construction ideas. At least at this point I know to expect very little from the original design and that most everything needs to be rebuilt and upgraded.

I guess one area I have lucked out on (touch wood) is that my wraparound windows don't seem to leak at all. The rubber on the gasket seems ok, and even though the windows have bowed and aren't straight anymore I haven't had a drop of water come through them yet.

Looks like weather is improving so I'll be able to glass in the final things this week hopefully and move onto some actual interior building and design

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Got around to glassing in my old battery hole. Came out good Now just need to paint it.  I have tried all the recommended colors but none seem to match.  I have tried the Ford Wimbledon and Canvas white.  They are both just a shade too creamy.  I am going to check out the color of the cab and see if that is a better match. Side by side they look pretty close.  Once it is painted I will re-install my ladder and rear box.   

I also managed to replace all my clearance lights, new LED tail lights and added a set of high brake lights.  I still have to mount my rear backup camera and that is it for the outside.  Then on to the inside.

20200331_135207 (Small).jpg

20200331_134137 (Small).jpg

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Nice work that's looking good, I like the addition of the high brake lights. The fiberglass job looks excellent, although I don't envy how much sanding you probably had to do. Sanding fiberglass has become my least favorite activity so far, although I'm not holding my breath.


I've gotten a few more project done with the downtime. The windows have been pulled, cleaned and re-installed with butyl tape and new inside frames. I got the rest of the fiberglass leaks patched up and some new glass covering them as well.

Finished installing new screws around the exterior where I could pull the old ones and got new vinyl trim installed. I like the black quite a bit more than the white. An installation note for anyone looking to do this in the future; when installing the vinyl trim wait for it to warm up into the 50s, I spent an two hours wrestling the first half ( 1 hour was the first 5 ft lol ) and finished the second half in about 20 minutes. Your thumbs will thank you to wait for some warmer temps.

I also closed off the gas tank fill neck area and rebuilt the front step


Anyway this thing is finally starting to feel like a solid, sea-worthy rig. Looking forward to finishing up the exterior and moving onto building a home out of it.





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Ok finishing up the exterior bits. I just need to seal up the rear brake lights, and am waiting on new roof vents to be installed.

I decided to just build frames around all the appliance holes so I can re-use the vent or door it came with and then seal it off with plywood. This gives me the option of re-using the hole later for my new appliances or just sealing it off without having to do a lot of fiberglassing work. Ended up working out pretty well and I like the modular ability to change and re-arrange things without having to do more glass work. It also preserves the original look of the rig which I like as well.

I'm going to build a new battery box over the driver wheel well and move the stove to that side so I'll re-use the fridge vents for those two applications. Batteries over the wheels on one side, water on the other. The fridge will go between the wheel well and drivers seat, with the propane in it's original position. Still deciding on the furnace. I'm trying to distribute the weight over the rear axle better, as opposed to loading up the rear wings of the coach with all the heavy stuff.

Also finished all the clearance lights around the coach.






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On 3/31/2020 at 3:52 PM, jetalkington said:

Got around to glassing in my old battery hole. Came out good Now just need to paint it.  I have tried all the recommended colors but none seem to match.  I have tried the Ford Wimbledon and Canvas white.  They are both just a shade too creamy.  I am going to check out the color of the cab and see if that is a better match. Side by side they look pretty close.  Once it is painted I will re-install my ladder and rear box.   

I al

so managed to replace all my clearance lights, new LED tail lights and added a set of high brake lights.  I still have to mount my rear backup camera and that is it for the outside.  Then on to the inside.



So like how bad ($$$) do you want to match the color??


You can rent a gel coat color chip chart. I cant imagine that Leisure use a super custom color on their gel-coat.

The whites are on page 4 of the online colors

Edited by WME
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Well I did say $$$, but it is available in Qts for around $70 and will cover 10-20 sq ft. Once you use the chip chart to find the color there are rattle cans in matching colors

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Interesting way to deal with the vents, Jay.
I just fiberglassed everything up because I am not planning on having too much in the way of appliances - except a fridge, which doesn't need the large vent in the original Sunrader. Also, those older doors, locks and boxes are often rusty old toast and if I'm going to have an outside access compartment I want to get one built or order something new.
My only suggestion as you move forward planning your interior - be flex, and leave yourself some room to change and for your new ideas to filter in. In architecture we talk about livability studies, and light tracking. Spend some quiet time inside meditating on how the flow will go once you are living there. Too often, motorhomes get jam packed with every bell and whistle known to man, every nook and cranny crammed with stuff. Especially in these crazy times it's nice to think about all the things we don't need, as opposed to everything we believe we do.
Just my two cents....

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33 minutes ago, Derek up North said:

Rattle cans of Gelcoat? Can't say I've ever heard of that.


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