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Old 01-06-2020, 06:02 AM   #1
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Repairs and Reno

Hello -- I was following some of the restoration threads and came across a couple points that had me concerned for when we start our upgrade process. We have a 1981 RB-16 (inside is about 13'x7.5') that is in the inspection process right now. There was a failure (brakes) which the auto shop is looking at replacements and running into issues with sizing, I believe they are the original Kelsey-Hayes.

Anyways, our plan was to start with the inside of the trailer and take out the existing appliances, electric, some plumbing, the ceiling/flooring, and replace/repair sub-flooring (where necessary) and seal it (per recommendation on some of the threads).

One point I noticed in at least one of the threads was a concern about replacement of paneling/paint and the structure of the trailer itself. We had planned to pull the paneling off on the inside, insulate, and use some form of soffit/paneling on the inside or shiplap. Are these viable replacements for the original paneling or is it not advisable? Are there any recommendations for maintaining structural integrity when we replace the interior walls?

Once the inside is complete, our plan was to replace the roof with one of the rubberized style rooftops (which we got some pointers on previously from the forums, thank you!).

Thanks for any suggestion you may have in advance!


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Old 01-06-2020, 08:40 AM   #2
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Hi Ryan,

On the brakes, can you post a few pics of the brakes with the drum off? And measure the drum ID and the brake shoe width? This helps us know better which vintage you have.

"Depending" on what vintage you have, you may be able to replace the entire brake plate, shoes, plate, magnets and all, as on the late 70's early 80's "some" axle had bolt on brake plates. BUT, others had welded on brake plates and depending on what the issues are, the members ended up buying a whole new brake axle. And not to fear, a whole new axle with current brakes while it does cost, it may not be as bad as you think compared to scaping the entire camper. Also, pending what is wrong, the brakes and be cleaned up and get them working. We need more about what's wrong to know that.

On the rebuild, it sounds like you are going to do close to a total restore. It is all doable, it will just take a good amount of time. It can be very rewarding and therapeutic if you like woodworking.

You did not mention taking the siding off the camper, it sounded like you were going to do the rebuild from the inside out, verses the outside in. The only thing I would recommend you consider, is the approach on how you do the rebuild. I suggest you remove the siding first so you can repair the camper structurally better then doing it all from the inside. Let me explain some of why.

You stated you want to replace the flooring. I'm assuming this is the wood subfloor (all or part of it) and the vinyl tile on top? And you wanted to remove the wallboard, insulate and put new wall board of sorts on. You did not mention the cabinets, but with a rebuild as large are your talking about, I'm assuming some cabinets will come out.

These campers are built from the outside in. To remove and replace cabinets, they screw them in from the outside and from the ceiling down if they are top cabinets. Those screws are only accessible from the outside. If you are trashing the wall board and the cabinets, then it will not matter if you damage the cabinets. But if you want to reuse them, there are high odds you will damage them yanking them off the walls and ceiling.

Next is the reality of rebuilding an old camper. There are high odds water damage is going to be in the walls, floor and possibly the ceiling. You need to replace the wood studs, floor joists etc. associated with the rot. The siding is stapled to the studs, the floor system holds up the walls. If you take out walls studs, floor joists, outer band board floor supports, there is no way to reattach the siding to the wall studs you took out. That is a structural problem.

Taking the siding off, either 1 wall at a time, or all 4 walls is not that hard of a job. It is even easier to put back on. I know this may be your first time, a rear or front wall can take 4 to 6 hours to get the siding off each wall. The side walls, since there are more windows and doors in them, may take longer. Call it, 1 day per side. Then the entire walls and the outer lower floor system is exposed where you can see it, and more easy repair it. In this process, yes the wall board may come off, and the subfloor may need to be replaced/repaired, but it will be easier and a better repair.

And you mentioned replacing the roof. To do that you will have to take the corner moldings, the roof to siding side walls molding/gutter rail off anyway. All those same moldings come off to take the siding off. You will already have the roof line molding off doing the roof.

The other advantage is, all the windows, doors, cargo doors, power outlets, etc will be resealed to the siding making it watertite. All those siding penetrations are leak potential sites. On and 80's camper, odds are the old putty tape sealants will be in need of replacing or caulked over on the outside if you are leaving one or 2 of them intact. Doing the rebuild you want on the inside and not resealing all those leak potential sites, can cause water re-infection to your new work by the old deteriorated seals.

Next topic, you mentioned the paneling inside being removed. The siding on the outside and the paneling on the inside does add structural support to the camper. The large inside paneling sheets were glued and stapled to the wall studs. Even with it being thin paneling, that large sheet added stiffness to the walls. Also the thin siding all being stapled to the studs add stiffness. And the cabinets act as bracing. The camper total stiffness comes from all those areas, not just one.

You can replace the paneling with something else, but it ideally spans many studs and is bonded to the studs recreating the structure that was once there. Glue, construction adhesive, and tiny staples really help. You mentioned soffit board, it that a wood product or a cardboard product? You need something that has pull apart strength. The cabinets in some form need to go back in and be screwed in well. From the outside is best, as you can get more attachment from the wall system. You can tell once you take the siding off and the wallboard off, there is not much support left. The walls will wiggle real well.

We are here to help, however you decide to go. There are a lot of pictures and posts on how to do just about anything on the camper. Just ask for help, we are glad to give it.

Hope this helps and looking forward to seeing your restore.

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