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Old 09-13-2015, 10:25 PM   #1
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Rebuilding my 1996 Solaris

Well I started the rebuild of my Solaris. It's a work in progress but I thought I would document it so maybe others won't make the mistakes I make and also see that its possible. I've uploaded a video of a walk around including the damage that needs to be repaired. So far I am tearing the front wall apart to assess the water damage and get it ready for a new roof. I have been looking at a Dicor 40mil roof but I also found a 60 mil EPDM product from http://http://www.bestmaterials.com . I think I like the 60 mil as its got a 20 year warranty as opposed to the Dicor 12 year warranty. Anybody use a 60 mil roof? Once the roof is on I'll begin the work on the inside and the chassis. I'll be ordering the roof this week and I'd like some opinions on the 2 possible routes. Any suggestions will certainly be welcome. I've never tackled a TT but have always wanted one. Our plans are great and we'll cover them as we go.
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Old 09-14-2015, 05:19 AM   #2
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Best wishes on your repairs. Having done this work on my 92, (see my photobucket pics which should be accessible from my signature) I can tell you to expect some structural member replacement. I pulled everything from the front of my trailer except the siding as I was able to replace the structural wood from inside. You'll notice that those cabinets were screwed into the walls from the outside, so if you don't remove the siding, you'll be yanking the cabinets out. The screws are most likely all rusted and would be hard to unscrew anyway. You're going to have to improvise in some areas due to the fact that you aren't assembling in the same way the factory did, but if you know cabinet work as you said in your video, you shouldn't have a problem.
The walls were assembled with the wallpaper manufactured as a sheet layered with the vinyl covering. You can buy this from some lumber stores, but finding a match will be just about impossible. I bought commercial grade, 54" wide wallcovering on the roll from a wallcovering shop (hard to find those around these days) and glued it to 1/4" luan. The factory used 1/8" for weight savings. I did the entire camper (minus the bath which was different anyway) with this wallpaper so matching wasn't an issue.
Any questions, just ask, others on this site have been down this road as well-water damage is a common issue.
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Old 09-14-2015, 05:26 AM   #3
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Well it wasn't in my signature after all, so click this link:
Camping Pictures by Rich Tice | Photobucket

Here's one pic:
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Old 09-14-2015, 05:52 PM   #4
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Thanks, Rich. Everyone on this board is so helpful and the wealth of knowledge is a great resource.
By the way I think I'll go with 40 mil roof. I checked the a/c and it looks like there is a pad under the roof. Did Sunline put a pad under the roof. I'll be getting to this later this week when I pull the roof....
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Old 09-14-2015, 06:59 PM   #5
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Sunline used a thin cardboard under it's rubber roof campers. The board was stapled down to the rafters and the edges of the roof and then the rubber was contact cemented to the board. Unfortunately, the board is not waterproof and any water seepage will quickly turn it to mush. What I've seen others do when they've replaced the rubber is to replace the board with thin plywood. I would think 3/8" thick would work well and would give more support if you need to get up on the roof.
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Old 09-14-2015, 08:41 PM   #6
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Thanks I'll be pulling it later this week so I'll let you know and get some good pics. I would imagine that the wood roof is going to be a mess but we'll see.
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Old 09-20-2015, 10:59 PM   #7
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I was able to do some more demo on the Solaris and have had to get into her a bit. It seems the roof was installed with an angled cut to the front corner. I'm not too sure about that. Also has anyone installed a vapor barrier? I guess it would be a good idea until a water leak formed, then it would just accelerate any damage. Any one have thoughts on that? I shot this quick video this morning before todays work. I'll shoot an update tomorrow so everyone can see the extent of damage I have.
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Old 09-21-2015, 05:27 AM   #8
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The videos are a great idea as we are able to see details you might not have even asked about. I would definitely pull out any insulation you can get to as it might have absorbed something that could give off a mildew odor later on. What type? Probably foam board for a better R value, plus it won't absorb moisture as fiberglass does.
Interestingly, I have noticed, since I did the work on our 92 and I left a small opening to the insulation inside a cabinet, that when we camp on a cold day (with the heat on and us in the camper) the insulation gets wet. Concerned me the first time, but I realized that it is from condensation and it does dry out through the spaces between the siding once the sun comes out.
Replace any wood that has rotted or gotten water stained. You will be happy not to smell any more mildew odor when you first walk in after it's been closed up. For any wood that is stained and cannot be replaced, buy a rotted wood coating. I used an Elmer's product called "Rotted wood stabilizer" to seal the wood that remained.
I like the tone of your voice in the video, it tells me that this project doesn't have you overwhelmed. It's a big job, but your going into it "whole hog" so to speak and taking care of everything. It will be nice when your finished!
keep us posted,
Rich
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Old 09-21-2015, 07:26 AM   #9
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Thanks Rich!! Its great to have folks watching and making suggestions and guiding from their experience. I hadn't considered the possibility of the musty smell returning from the wet wood. As I opened the side wall I could see where the water damage stopped. Its a great idea to replace all the soaked wood that is now on its way to becoming dry. I guess a vapor barrier is a mistake as the condensate from living in it would be trapped between the outside of the wall and the aluminum skin. Talk about mildew!! I noticed that the original timbers are non-treated lumber. Do you think treated stock is the way to go? The integrity of all but a few pieces is good. I was going to selectively replace damages pieces, but I guess I have two ways to go. Treat the stained lumber as you have noted or replace all the stained members with new treated material. Since I don't want to have to open this thing again and I don't foresee us selling it anytime in the near future, it may just behoove us to replace all the stained timbers with new and be done with it.
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Old 09-26-2015, 09:10 PM   #10
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Hi Phil,

I see you are "into it!" Your doing good, keep it up. I see Rich found this post too. Good.

In your first video, you asked about the "Atwood" switch by the stove. Do you know if your hot water heater has electronic ignition or is it a all gas pilot unit? If you do not know, take some pics of the outside of the unit with the cover down. Odds are high that switch is to start the hot water heater on gas assuming it is electronic ignition.

The bath switch, that has come up before and someone may chime in on that one. I "think" it might be to the bath room light. When the bath light is on, the red light is on reminding you it's on as there is a door that can be closed.

On the wood and any wet, as Rich stated, treat that wood after it is dried out if you are going to leave it. It may have a fungus infected in it to later become dry rot.

I used a product called Rot Dr. on my water repair. Wood preservation, rot repair, and restoration using epoxy resin on boats and homes.

It will kill any fungus and can stiffen weak wood. However if you can replace the wood, that works too. Heads up, if you use the Rot Dr, you have to use a respirator. After about 3 days the smell will disappear but it can get real bad on day one during application. They sell the correct respirator on the site.

On the insulation, I would go with the foam board and as you said, spray foam seal it in. It will be tighter and better R value.

The vapor barrier, I do not know which side you are thinking of. Trapped moisture is a concern. On some brands who make 4 season campers they actually have attic vents to let the moisture trapped in the attic get out as the rubber is not letting much out. We do cold weather camp and you really have to deal with the excess moisture or the walls will be soaking wet inside. Campers are small spaces and just 2 people staying in the camper exhale a lot of water over night. I our case we vent, use a dehumidifier and put the clear shrink wrap on the inside windows. Most Sunline TT's are warmer weather campers.

In the case of Sunline, they glue the luan wall board to the studs as a manufacturing method. In this case they cannot use the vapor barrier on the inside like a house does. More research into 4 season campers is needed on how they handle the moisture in the walls before doing the vapor barrier. I think it may be doable, but again have to deal with the moisture that has to get out. The aluminum skin is pretty air tight.

Treat lumber verses non, well yes the treated will hold up longer, but even with treated lumber water in a wall is bad news. The best way is prevention of never getting water in the wall. I myself would put that money into a better sealing system between the roof and walls and corners/windows/doors to siding and any penetration in the roof or the walls.

The gutter rail is a design issue and the roof sealants in the RV world over time. The gutter rail screws rust behind that vinyl strip, then they wick water into the roof line once the screw is rusted out and after that, the attic starts taking on moisture through the rotted screw hole. The roof sealants can crack and split and if you are not after it all the time, water can get in the seams. After you get rebuilt and resealed, if you want to keep the camper a long time, Eternabonding the seams is a method to help stop future caulking cracking. Doing a better sealing job may be better use of the funds then the treated lumber. More on Eternabond if you want to consider this I have a long post with pics on it I did.

That rubber angle cut you have is not right. That is bad news. Someone made a goof or the rubber shrunk real bad or both. And the corner seals in the siding, they can be bad news too over time. When you rebuild, using the best sealing tape is key. They do make butyl rubber sealing tape that has to be used on the roof due to the EPDM. I also use it on all sealing surfaces verses the standard putty tape. The next is what brand kind of butyl? More on this later.

The good news is, your attitude which is very positive and wood tools background. These campers are totally rebuildable if you are wood tool friendly. Doing the work yourself is the only practical cost wise way to do a reconstruction like you are doing. The materials are not that bad, the time to do it, these campers are a labor of love...

Keep up the good work, and the pics. Those pics help us see what you are up against and helps others yet to come doing their water repairs.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 09-27-2015, 06:24 AM   #11
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I sure do appreciate all the wisdom and help guys. I have never owned one of these trailers so it's a learning experience for me. Nothing like jumping into the deep end to learn to swim. The work itself is rather enjoyable, I just want to be sure to get it right the first time. I picked up the 3/8 decking for the roof yesterday and will get some of that in today. I also have another video to get up here. Plus I'll shoot one of today's work. Thanks again guys for the advice.
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Old 09-27-2015, 09:32 AM   #12
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Hi Phil,

Learn from this rebuild. The key to making the camper repair last a good long time is to learn and understand the ways RV's are built and how they fail. Once you learn the majority of the failures you can make and take measures to avoid the pit falls of the design and the lack of owner/prior owner maintenance.

The life of a camper is hard application, it has to survive all the elements a stick built house does and travel down the road where it flexes constantly and goes through extremes in temp swings from below zero to 100F baking in the sun.

And then there is cost. The good about the Sunline was it was in the high end of being built better. Meaning they took a little more time to use the same materials as many of the other brands and created a better product. They also used the better products that are out there. But... it is still an RV and as such has to be built at a cost people will pay for. This is where the problems come. If they offered a "heavy duty" package so to speak that cost say, $1,000 more a camper, some may buy it and many may not. I for one would buy it after learning the hard way how the industry does this. However the next owner being new to RV'ing thinks they buy a car or a home that can last a real good long time, this is not so in the RV world and most of the time they have no idea about how to do the proper maintenance on a camper to stop the water infiltration problems.

You mentioned you liked doing the work. Yes, many of us get into this too. It is very therapeutic making custom mods to our campers or fixing them. The best part is using the camper. I caution you now... this is a very addicting hobby. A few times of having fun and your hooked!!! this is what it is all about.

Good luck and we look forward to your progress and handy work. We all learn something from these reconstruction projects...

This post may help some. This is one of my water repair posts.
Slide Floor Water Damage

And this is "Frank"'s camper project. He literally built the camper from the ground up. Homemade Travel Trailer Project

We have a lot of others repairs that can help with pics. When you get to an are you want more info on, post away, We have repairs on most all things Sunline you can pick up tips on.

Here is our Sunline Club custom search through Google. It works much better then the site search engine. Give it a try. Use the search box below the Sunline Club header https://cse.google.com/cse/home?cx=0...95:95x3m3w6lto

Happy Building

John
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Old 09-27-2015, 08:53 PM   #13
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Thanks for the encouragement John its nice to hear. You and Rich have given me such great advice. I will be replacing the damaged wood with new. Its just as easy and I won't have to deal with it again. As far as cost goes, I'm not too concern about that. It seems to be minor stuff after the roof and wall repair. Considering what a 24 foot travel trailer with the amenities that I have would cost, its not too much at all. If I add everything I want it will be under $5000.00 in parts. I do all my own work as it seems nobody will take the time to do it right.
You're right about Sunline's quality when they were building. I have a large fridge, a great heater, ducted A/C and pretty good quality furnishings. Once the structure is repaired the rest will be the easy/fun part. Besides once the structure is sound and the running gear checks, I can take it for my first ever camping trip in a TT. My wife has told me she wants to head to the Smokys first then to Arizona or New Mexico. She has been looking for material for reupholstering the couch and the dinette.
I've included my latest video. I think I'm nearing the end of the demo. In fact I was able to get my first sheet of 3/8 decking on the back. I'm going to deck my way to the front so I can work from the roof. It will be easier then working from ladders and makeshift scaffolding. I've had to cover it as we have had a few drizzles the past couple of days. I think I'm going to pull the entire front wall and build new on the garage floor so its straight and square. One question I have is about the decking. In the video I note the damaged floor in the front. How is the floor built? It looks like the OSB is bolted to the frame. If thats the case I'll replace an entire 4x8ft width in a single go. If there are floor joists, are they on 16in centers across the frame members or in some other orientation.
Thanks.
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Old 09-28-2015, 05:40 AM   #14
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Looks good Phil, you're at the point where you can replace every suspect piece of wood and know you've got a new start on a dry camper.
Probably, you should take some diagonal measurements before diassembly so that you can be sure the siding will fall back into place when your ready for that.
I agree with you on the cardboard, but it was probably one of those trade-offs between strength and weight saving at the Sunline factory.
I used masonite. 1/4" luan would be good to save weight over 3/8 ply, but 3/8" would give a better walk-on surface. Maybe adding some strips of wood lengthwise over the roof rafters before putting 1/4" luan would be the way to go.
Whatever you go with, it will stand higher than the cardboard, so round the edges so the new rubber roof layer will have an easy transition going down over the siding.
Dicor sells the contact adhesive in gallon cans.

You asked about the floor. My 92 had more like 24" centers, but they were not all evenly spaced. Add a 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" floor joist under the seam where you join in the new wood to eliminate any flex and use floor leveler to make a smooth surface that will not be seen through the new vinyl flooring (unless you'll be using carpet).
The factory used carriage bolts around the perimeter that went through the subfloor, wood framing and into holes in the steel frame.
One last thing, make sure, with all this work that you are evenly supporting the frame to keep it level and straight since all of your new pieces will conform to the frame.
Keep up the good work and the postings.
Rich
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