Starcraft Starmaster XL 1906 rebuild in the UK

Discussion in 'Camper Restoration Projects' started by revmarkp, May 7, 2012.

  1. revmarkp

    revmarkp New Member

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    After a warm welcome to the forum (photos of the Starmaster here: http://www.popupportal.com/index.php?action=post;topic=58179.0;last_msg=485663) I'm encouraged to post some progress piccys of how my restore is going. Also give a me a chance to ask some of my long list of questions!

    Are the roof posts really only held on with four single bolts?? (looks like from other posters). No wonder it sways around so!
    [​IMG]

    I'm trying to keep the project as original as possible so all the roof fittings will be reused. I'm assuming the gap where this roof extrusion joins is simply there because of the water swelling the structure underneath:
    [​IMG]
    The rubber seal attached to the underside of this aluminum is missing (one of thew few missing items). Still possible to get that anyone know?
     
  2. revmarkp

    revmarkp New Member

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    hmmm, still at the stage of going backwards not forwards.
    DW wonders if I've "taken on more than I can chew"

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]

    although the leak in the roof didn't look extensive it had totally rotten out all the backend framewwork. Not a large amount of floor is rotten though which is something, although I shall replace two areas about foot square underneath each roof support post.

    Hoping to soon start going forward instead of back, but then again I haven't taken the roof to pieces yet!

    What's the suggestion for dealing with the centre seam running down the two part ali sheet of the roof covering? I'm sure that's partly where the water is ingressing, but it is sagged and unsupported in the middle at present...
     
  3. Thom

    Thom New Member

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    Looks familiar! Stay strong. You can do it. This is one of the worst times on the project (psychologically speaking).
     
  4. Dubbya

    Dubbya Wherever you go, there you are...

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    Hah! True story!

    My DW and several friends were shaking their heads and*tsk, tsk-ing* for the first few weeks on my rebuild too. I expected that though. I knew I had the tools and skills to get it done, so I just kept going. It's great to see them all gaining confidence now that it's starting to come together.

    As Thom said, hang it there revmarkp! Keep at it! Just keep doing something, anything you can as you have the time. Like anything else worth doing, it'll take time, money and dedication but you'll get there!
     
  5. revmarkp

    revmarkp New Member

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    Not a good evening on the restore this evening. Like an idiot I was fiddling with the roof latches and left one closed. then I tried to lift the roof and TWANG, of course I bust a cable. DUHHH! What a moron I felt. The dang cables were one of the few things on this thing that looked reasonable. Are they always stainless? Mine are, so now have to sort a replacement, job for a boat chandlers I guess...

    Still appreciate comments on how I ensure the roof centre seam doesn't continue to leak after the roof rebuild. Started hacking away at the polystyrene this evening. Never realised it could act like a sponge so. It was very sodden - had lot a rain here last few weeks. (that'll be because they declared a hose pipe ban then!). On the back 3rd of the roof it had sagged into the middle, so I can see that the centre seam would leak when it had water standing and pooling above it. It's only a simple folded seam using a cover strip after all. I assume the theory is that the roof will always be allowing that water to run off, using the slope in the roof front to back. Can't believe there are no wooden supports for the aluminium going across the roof apart from at the very front and very back. Definitely gonna add some.

    For the benefit of an UK folks thinking of buying a starcraft camper. DON'T DO IT unless the brakes and hitch have already been converted to UK spec (hydraulic brakes not allowed and the 2" hitch 'not recommended'). A blog somewhere says that proper UK import starcraft trailers came without a chassis and were placed on one that was suitable when over here. Don't know if that is true. I have already seen another spec'd like mine on ebay. I assume the owners/users of these are either ignorant of trailer rules or don't care. Not a stance I'm wanting to take in this contiguous day and age.

    I cannot afford to simply throw £100s at the trailer on new axle/brakes/ wheels and hitch. Even if I wanted to there would still be issues aligning the hitch head's breaking machanism alongside the roof winder winch. They're both wanting to use the same space.

    The solution is looking like using the A frame from an old (scrap) caravan chassis and welding it in place of the original A part of the frame. Sure it won't be simple, with the winch an all. Also most caravan axles don't have leaf spring suspension, so that'll be another head scratcher! More to the point this is definitely going to mean pulling the floor off the chassis, something I really didn't want to get into. Oh well at least I'll be able to send the chassis to my shotblasting friends whilst I'm at it and ensure a 'proper job' is done. Trying to do that without flattening all the remaining walls. Possible?

    More piccys of roof demolition coming!
     
  6. Dubbya

    Dubbya Wherever you go, there you are...

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    Just thinking here but, since you're already well into tearing the roof completely apart, I'd think you could quite easily replace the original roof bracing (trusses) to force the outer skin to bend up just a hair before you insulate it and put your new ceiling in.

    Even just a few mm would be more than enough to prevent water from pooling up there and wouldn't affect the overall appearance either.

    My pup doesn't have brakes and they're not required as it's just a hair under 960 KG's (2100 Lb's). It's legal here but the brakes on the truck sure do get a workout!

    You can order a smaller a frame coupler, remove the old one (if it's the wrong size) and have the new one welded onto the existing hitch. That alone would be tons easier and much less problematic than replacing the entire hitch.

    If your axles have square backing plates behind the wheels, you shouldn't have too much trouble locating a reasonably priced brake controller and brake kit that bolts onto them. Then all you have to do is run your blue (positive) and white (negative) power leads, replace your wiring connectors on the trailer and TV and you're good to go.
     
  7. revmarkp

    revmarkp New Member

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    Thanks for your thoughts Dubbya... You comments about just doing 'something' whenever possible are keeping me going!

    Trailer weight for brakes is 750Kg in UK.

    Although electric brakes have (more recently) been allowed our laws state that the operating device/controller for them has to be onboard the trailer (c/w break away failsafe switch I think), so presumably that means an inertia type controller.

    IF I could find electric brakes to fit in my 7" brake drums the advantage of that route would be no complications fitting a mechanical braking system in around the roof winder. I'd still need to address the 2" hitch ball though; heard tales of people using 2" hitch on 50mm ball having them come off yesterday!



    are only permissible
     
  8. revmarkp

    revmarkp New Member

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    yea Dubbya I had wondered about putting a small 'bow' in the roof in the additional cross braces going side to side. Only slight issue there is that it's trying to get the aly to bend in two directions, but i guess if we're just talking a 2-3mm drop off to the side it'd bed down OK.

    Front half of the roof is dry. thinking there's little point in digging all that polystyrene off at front just to replace it again right. Pig of a job. will dig it out where I want to put in extra cross braces though...
     
  9. nomoretent

    nomoretent Member

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    The renovation looks great so far - what fun!

    Others have thought of creating a bend in the roof but feared the top aluminum sheet wouldn't reach to the ends once that was done.

    Ours also had sag issues (sigh, don't we all...) and while renovating we discovered an absence of cross-members in the roof structure. The roof is supposed to be light weight, so everyone told me. Even after we were done water pools at the front and back ends, just sitting on that center seam. But we put butyl tape under all the screws and used 3M 5200 marine caulk along the seams, so I'm not worried about water leaking in. In a heavy rain we just crank down the tongue so water runs off. Haven't had any leak problems yet.

    You can see what I did here:http://www.popupportal.com/index.php?topic=47950.0
     
  10. Dubbya

    Dubbya Wherever you go, there you are...

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    Judging by what I've read thus far, it would appear that what you need to meet the UK towing regulations is a surge brake actuator that will accommodate a 50mm hitch ball. Your pup also would require an actuator that mounts to an A-Frame.

    That's a tough nut to crack! I found a hydraulic surge brake actuator that accommodates the 50mm hitch ball required in the UK. Unfortunately, they don't appear to make an electric surge brake actuator that mounts to an A-frame though. You could contact a few manufacturers or local parts suppliers via email and see what they recommend.

    Titan A-frame hydraulic (not what you want) brake actuator for 1-7/8", 2" or 50mm hitch ball
    http://www.etrailer.com/Trailer-Coupler/Titan/T2492800.html

    [​IMG]

    You can find 7" electric drum brakes and kits on eBay at:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/290363381794#ht_5321wt_960

    The vendor (http://stores.ebay.com/R-and-P-Carriages-Trailer-Sales) has been well recommended by a few members here and it appears they'll have almost everything you need..
     
  11. revmarkp

    revmarkp New Member

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    That's a great job nomoretent! Encouraging.

    If I did put a bow in the additional roof cross supports I'm only talking a few mm (1/4" to you guys!) from centre to outside.

    dubbya, really appreciate your research re: the brakes and hitch. I am now clear about what I'm doing:
    getting a scrap caravan axle and adapting it to be the chassis of the pup. this will mainly involve fitting the winch and lift post cables and their pulleys to the new chassis.

    As you will see from one of the piccys below (my USA tractor!), I'm very keen on keeping things original whenever possible and I was loathed to junk the starcraft chassis, BUT there are too many grey areas of legality to try and adapt it. My research revealed:
    1. hydraulic surge brakes are definitely not allowed in UK (how stupid)
    2. I can use electric brakes (a new UK/European law changed this a few years ago), but those brakes would also need to have a park brake option (brits tend to call them handbrakes). I think I have 7 x 1/4" dexter axle, and I did find electric units to fit, but the ones that had the park option were over $120 each and only in the USA.
    3. Control of electric brakes in the UK has to be done with an inertia controller fitted in the trailer, more hassle, plus the fail safe break away switch etc. I would also have to make the park brake lever have a break away tether to the car as well.
    4. Even when I done all this I still have the 2" hitch, which would need changing.
    5. My chassis is pretty rusty, especially in the channel where the winding cable comes up.

    So the challenges with fitting the caravan chassis are i think:
    1. getting the pup off the old frame without stripping down the three remaining good walls
    2. getting a chassis that is going to have the axle etc in the right place. I can weld etc so not too worried about that.
    3. fitting the roof windup gear onto the new chassis. might have to move the winch off centre coz that's where all the brake rods etc are on UK chassis.
    4. defiantly wanna fit the starcraft bumper (fender right?!) on the new chassis! it is cool. NO caravans have fenders over here!

    Piccys of my rotten roof:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here's a previous USA project!: (I also am working on a 44H plow to go with it)
    [​IMG]
    this was a nut and bolt restoration...
     
  12. Dubbya

    Dubbya Wherever you go, there you are...

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    Now ^THIS I totally love!

    Fantastic job on your JD "A" Series! Is that a '47?

    Back to the topic at hand, after doing the little bit of research I did on the towing/braking specs, I was thinking you'd have your work cut out for you but it certainly appears that you've got the talent and ability to do what needs to be done!

    Keep us posted, will ya?
     
  13. revmarkp

    revmarkp New Member

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    THX dubbya. That's a 1950 (late styled) A. electric start/lights and power trol, with a rol-a-matic front axle. It was a (relatively) recent US import (about 7 years ago perhaps). I bought it 5 years ago and have had it finished about 3 years now. Did everything, including painting - with the exception of the bonnet!

    Although I don't really mind changing the chassis on the Starmaster if I have to I won't unless it's the only option to get legal. I've had more thoughts since my last 'definate decision' about what I'm doing though!

    After a more careful reading of the laws:
    1. Maybe surge hydraulic brakes are not always outlawed; ie they might be allowable on pre 1982 trailers - found the date on mine now - April 1980.
    2. If I can keep the surge brakes I am assuming I can restore them. Indications on this forum are that I can get rebuild kits for the master cylinder and hub cylinders.
    3. If I keep the surge brakes, I want to use the original hitch (my preference anyway). Found this online today: http://www.devon4x4.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=37539&category_id=10089&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=14 which is a genuine Land Rover bracket to adapt my original towbar's swan neck hitch into one that has a 2" square receiver (you don't see the receiver idea much over here). That would be ideal. I could have two hitches, one with a 50mm ball on another with a 2" ball. Perfect.

    Got all the pesky polystyrene off the roof this afternoon and had a good sweep up. I can now fully seek the construction of the roof. Can you guys still buy the vinyl covering that is lining both the sides and the ceiling of the roof?? the onbly thing I've ever seen close to that here is vinyl wall paper...
     
  14. Dubbya

    Dubbya Wherever you go, there you are...

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    If the ceiling panel has a wood veneer backing, it's called "luan wall panelling".

    We just to trip all over the stuff back in the day. Everyone sold it for finishing basements when I was a kid. These days, it's almost non-existent and few of the building center staffers around here have any idea what it is. There are a few local suppliers but it seems they really don't have much of a selection at all.

    From what I've read about it, it's an environmental issue since it's often made of young saplings by "less than scrupulous" manufacturers. Coupled with the impact of recent hurricanes overseas, it's an increasingly rare commodity. It seems that the majority of North American manufacturers have moved on to providing HDF (high density fiberboard) now.

    I much prefer the luan as it doesn't sag nearly as badly when exposed to moisture and it's a little more rigid than HDF panels.
     
  15. revmarkp

    revmarkp New Member

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    The lining of my roof seems to be cardboard based? fairly think grey cardboard about 1/4" thick. Glued all over to the styrene insulation. The card is covered in a very thin vinyl, they've used the same matching vinyl, but not on the card backing, for the roof side panels. Don't think I can get anything like it. Nearest we have is what I would call a 'white finished hardboard' (8x4 sheets). hardboard is maybe what you guys call high density fibreboard...

    Roof all ready for reconstruction now. Got a woodworking friends over to advise later :)
     
  16. Island Ranger

    Island Ranger New Member

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    Wow got some job there.
    I forked out some £2000 to get my coleman legal when I had it.
    Got my sq beam axle & braked hubs & new hitch off of Peak trailers (UK).
    The draw back was the new hitch weight made it heavier than the original, Around 95kg.
    Most 4x4s can only take that kind of hitch weight in the UK (I had a Pajero at the time)
    I personally knowing what I know now would have gone for a caravan chasis it already
    has a hitch brakes etc & just cut off the old A frame & sat it on top of the new chasis.
    You can see some pics on my webshots albums by clicking on the little camera thingy.
    Good luck with the rebuild, this is the place for advice & comfort when you are down
    as you will have a few moments of this during your rebuild [{:)]
     
  17. revmarkp

    revmarkp New Member

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    thanks for the encouragement Island Ranger, sure I'm gonna need it!
    £2000 for your hitch and axles?!! Ouch!! That must have made you think twice about doing the conversion? That kinda money would have taken you a fair ways towards a UK camper. What made you carry on? Was this something you imported yourself?
     
  18. revmarkp

    revmarkp New Member

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    I've sent an email off to VOSA (Dept of Transport) after carefully reading the PDF available about making a USA trailer and brakes legal in the UK. Here's the question I have posed:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    My enquiry follows reading the pdf document here:http://assets.dft.gov.uk/publications/dft-information-sheets/american-caravan-trailer-brakes-and-coupling.pdf

    I have recently purchased an American (pop-up) camper trailer and am investigating what I must do to ensure it is road legal for the UK. As you can see from the manufacturers label:

    [​IMG]

    the trailer was manufactured April 1980.

    My understanding from the info read on the VOSA website is that trailers made after 1982 must adhere to certain legislation (which I have read), but what is not clear is what that implies for pre-1982 trailers? Is the corollary that pre '82 trailers don't have to conform to the same standard?

    I am interested as, if it is legal, I would like to continue using the vehicle in its original state (for reasons of authenticity). It is fitted with surge hydraulic brakes, which are servicable. It also has a working handbrake which can be tethered to come on in the event on an unplanned unhitching, as per the 1982 legislation. It is a vehicle over 750Kg.

    I wonder if you can help clarify or direct me accordingly.




    I followed this up with a phonecall end of the week to be sure the email address was up to date etc. The polite person confirmed I had sent the email correctly; that they don't do phone enquiries anyway; that I should expect to wait up to 20 working days for a response. So I must be patient.

    In the meantime I've been researching the idea of restoring the Bendix Surge brakes, should the answer to the above Q be that my trailer would be legal as is. Still might not be the way to go though as I shall need to change the hitch on the P38 to 2" receiver type, that will cost at least £100 - £50 for the receiver adaptor, £25 for the 2 x drop down hitch post, (1 for 50mm ball one for 2" ball).

    Think I'll start a new thread under 'brakes etc' to tell what I've found out about the parts available for the 7" Bendix Surge Act III system, see here: http://www.popupportal.com/index.php?topic=58842.0
     
  19. Dubbya

    Dubbya Wherever you go, there you are...

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    Great idea! Might as well make use of all your hard work and perhaps help someone else at the same time.

    Good on ya!
     
  20. revmarkp

    revmarkp New Member

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    Well I bet you thought I'd given up eh? no posts from me since late in May... After all it was looking like this beginning of May:

    [​IMG]

    Amazingly I've been camping in the pup!!

    [​IMG]

    Here's my blog with how I got from scrap to camp in 3 months:

    http://pengelly-info.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/blog-post.html

    Particular thanks to wise words from dubbya who said that when you didn't know what to do next 'just do something'. I had several moments like that, but took his wise words to heart!
     

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