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Saggy Fiberglass big Foot Pickup Camper.

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  • Saggy Fiberglass big Foot Pickup Camper.

    Well I bought a Pickup Truck Camper. Was hoping to take a Trip to Bonneville and stay in it. Unfortunately upon closer examination (meaning complete disassembly of the front overhanging Bed section AFTER I had bought it naturally ) It is sagging and the wood strips in it were all rotten as well as being delaminated from the Fiberglass . . Now being Fiberglass Unit I was trying to come up with ideas to stiffen the sides of this Camper. Currently I have it supported on some alloy sawhorses I made and the front saggy section is supported by a series of acme threaded posts that are holding a 6x6 beams of wood which have a 1 inch thick Plywood 4 ft by 8 ft Wood Sheet up against the Camper. I have it straightened out not too badly. The thing is (my question) How do I stiffen up the Overhanging section securely?) The original Big Foot wooden Bracing consisted of 1 inch square wood strips that weren't even adhered to the Fiberglass structure. Also the Body itself devoid of any wooden strips is so darn flimsy its actually ridiculous that new it was 80,000 dollars. Shame on them. My dilemma consists of How to stiffen the front Overhanging Bed Section as well as strengthening the Bed section also. Any Ideas would be greatly appreciated Gentlemen. Thankyou

  • #2
    Yikes. Can of worms is how a job like that has been described to me. I got myself into that to help out a friend, and now I find that it's a never ending job. I wish I'd never said yes. But as far as advice- if anything is rotted, or weathered- even if dry- get it out of there. Fiberglass resin doesn't like to stick to it. It might for a while, but you'll just be encapsulating something that is going to rot later. If the material has to hold screws, it better be pretty solid or you're just wasting time and materials. I've seen a few jobs done half way- and that's why I saw them for sale.

    The part that I've worked on so far is the overhanging section. There is essentially nothing left holding it together except the exterior panels. Somebody used a whole roll of that red box tape to hold the exterior panels together- and that's all that holding anything together. The cab is supporting part of it- without that the kids would have fallen right through. To do this one right, I'd have to remove the exterior panels and build a whole new framework to have anything to attach the panels to.

    I hope you have lots of time- and wear a bloody respirator, especially for the removal of all that rotten material. That stuff is toxic, even if it's not black molded.
    I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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    • #3
      To stiffen the overhang you could cut some birch/marine ply gussets and then fiberglass them in. You'll have to carefully measure the available clearance you have and give yourself some room over the cab. If you're really concerned about it I'd make the gussets bigger, and space the camper up off the truck bed with some dimensional lumber spacers. Like Darryl said, make sure every bit of wood you try to encapsulate with glass is dry.

      The more important question is....what are you taking to Bonneville? Are you going to run something, or just spectate. That place has been on my bucket list for a long time.
      Last edited by Dan Dubeau; 12-15-2021, 08:35 AM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Dan Dubeau View Post
        To stiffen the overhang you could cut some birch/marine ply gussets and then fiberglass them in. ...
        They could be internal anti-gussets, the female version of the normal male version. Fiberglassed to the inside surfaces of the side panels.

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        • #5
          Anything RV is a... well, it's seldom overbuilt, let's say that.
          I find that 1" aluminum tube isn't that much heavier than wood, and far stronger. More expensive, too!
          But bonding to existing fibreglass is very effective, if done right. Messy, tho.

          t
          rusting in Seattle

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          • #6
            The Aluminum is interesting. Wood if it ended up screwed in place would need to have the screw holes enlarged and refilled with chopped glass, then when cured and re sanded drill through the fiber glassed Hole so NO entry to wood is possible. The Aluminumn is Intriguing!! Perhaps a 3/8 plate on each side glassed into Place but how to glue it to the Fiberglass securely? That was also the issue with Plywood how to fasten it to the Fiberglass walls. Bonneville we (my Buddy and I ) wanted to run a big air cooled Suzuki GS a 1640 size.

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            • #7
              Pictures would help greatly to see what you have going on.
              http://pauleschoen.com/pix/PM08_P76_P54.png
              Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
              USA Maryland 21030

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              • #8
                There are some amazingly strong industrial adhesives available today that would very likely do what you need to bond.
                I'm no application expert but the last time I needed a product like this I talked to a local auto body shop supply dealer, since these types of products are used so much in that industry.
                I'm sure there are other industries served by these products as well but they were my easiest source here. These adhesives, although very good, are not cheap so heads up.
                Also should mention, surface prep is key to their success.

                A quick video demonstrating their capability.


                Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
                Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

                Location: British Columbia

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by PStechPaul View Post
                  Pictures would help greatly to see what you have going on.
                  This.

                  Have you figured out where the water was coming from that caused the rot in the first place.

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                  • #10
                    Oxford Yes the front Window. At Highway speeds the Window was pressed hard against the rubber seals, opening a minute fissure and water would come in through the windows, then through capillary action traverse downwards to the wooden Bed section. I removed all of it, sanded it all wiped with Acetone and am awaiting final decision on Procedure to Repair it . It IS a Entirely Fiberglass camper one of the Reason I bought it after my last 6 were rotten Boxes , all junk did so much repair work on each one ridiculous thought Fiberglass was the Way ...well its better but still sucks...

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                    • #11
                      No need for screws. Bond in a wooden framework using WEST epoxy. This is something you can do, yourself, at very reasonable cost. But you must do a careful structural analysis and put the framing where it will do the most good.
                      12" x 35" Logan 2557V lathe
                      Index "Super 55" mill
                      18" Vectrax vertical bandsaw
                      7" x 10" Vectrax mitering bandsaw
                      24" State disc sander

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                      • #12
                        Thanx for the Helpful Ideas. This west Epoxy can I substitute the Polyester Resin? I have some of that from My Canoe project.?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mike the mechanic View Post
                          Thanx for the Helpful Ideas. This west Epoxy can I substitute the Polyester Resin? I have some of that from My Canoe project.?
                          No.
                          Epoxy resin is much stronger than polyester resin and forms stronger bonds with metal or wood. It will cost more but you only want to do this once.
                          Last edited by Willy; 12-22-2021, 03:13 PM.
                          Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
                          Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

                          Location: British Columbia

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                          • #14
                            the aluminum plates could be bonded to the fiberglass by hole sawing or drilling a series of holes to let the epoxy resin ooze through the plate and then glass over the whole gusset with mat. You could probably use an expanded metal reinforcement instead. The West system is good stuff. Jim

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mike the mechanic View Post
                              ...This west Epoxy can I substitute the Polyester Resin?...
                              No! Get the WEST System epoxy.
                              12" x 35" Logan 2557V lathe
                              Index "Super 55" mill
                              18" Vectrax vertical bandsaw
                              7" x 10" Vectrax mitering bandsaw
                              24" State disc sander

                              Comment

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