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Discussion in 'Camper Restoration Projects' started by arkangel, Jun 19, 2013.
Here is the view of the front of the camper with the bedroom fully stowed. This is one of the final parts of the project. I have decided to build a large door or hatch hinged at the top that will allow for a good weather barrier while shut and, incidentally, a watershed for the bedroom while open.
The hard part is building the door. I have a sheet of melamine that I bought for this purpose but melamine is extremely heavy. The 5' x 10' sheet has to weigh at least 100 lbs! So I am second guessing my decision. I can't really come up with another material that would be about 5/8" thick, waterproof, and lightweight. The standard formula for making compartment doors is styrofoam sandwiched between either fiberglass sheeting (Filon) or aluminum sheeting. This is contained by an extruded aluminum frame which is then set into an outer frame which attaches to the camper wall. The trouble is that making these door assemblies requires sophisticated bending and swaging tools that myself and most other folks just do not have. I did however get a hold of a length of the essential sealed extruded aluminum hinge, which I will show later on. It was actually really hard to come by without going directly to the RV manufacturer.
Here is the opening up close. The sides have a good tolerance but the top is fairly open. I will need a very large blade seal to weatherize that gap. The front hatch will also hopefully help keep the weather out, as the back half of the roof including the opening will theoretically never see the light of day.
What about some kind of hollow core plastic board like Duraplast? They use it in the display industry.
After a very productive Labor Day I think we are only a few days away from exterior completion. I am also almost up to current with my photo journal here. Soon the photos I post will be current photos from the process and you will all be up to date on my progress. Once again I appreciate all the positive feedback. I'm guessing that my photos and descriptions thus far have been very descriptive because I have noticed a definite lack of questions on this thread. If anyone would like to know more about any aspect of this project please feel free to ask. I am open to suggestions or even criticism. The more creative minds contribute to an idea, the better it becomes. So here we go...
The door which will cover the opening for the sliding bedroom when it is stowed needs a flange to mate with when it is closed. This will provide a stop for the door as well as a surface to attach a seal to. I did a lot of searching and found a type of extruded aluminum that will not only make a nice corner but also has a leg with a barb to attach a seal to (I will call this the sealing edge).
The dimensions on this are 1.625" x 1.25" total, with the distance from the corner to the sealing edge being .625" which will accommodate a 5/8" thick exterior door (5/8 = .625). I screwed it into the framing on the inside of the camper and will seal the outer edge with silicone.
And here I am in a somewhat unflattering image as I attach said flange trim...
The bottom of the flange trim needed to be cut back to allow for the bedroom tracks to pass by. It turned out that all I needed to do was lop off the barbed end of the sealing edge and file it back some. Here you can also see how nice this piece will make the corner look.
The tracks can now slide freely past the flange. Here you can also see the approximate distance of the gap between the flange and the sidewall of the bedroom box. The whole idea is to attach a seal to the sealing edge that will not only act as a blade seal between the flange and the sidewall but also as a boot seal between the flange and the exterior door.
And such a seal just happens to exist.
Man... you do solid work. Seriously impressive! I look forward to seeing the fully finished product.
It's sure coming together, isn't it! Hang in there, you're on the home stretch now!
Sorry if I missed the reading but did you lose the entry door access with bed slid in?
Hanne: The more I think about it the more I feel like the Melamine I have will not be the best choice for the material to use for my hatch. Not only is it ungodly heavy but I am beginning to doubt it's water resistance. I don't think it is intended for 24/7 exposure to the elements. I have a feeling that the plasticized coating will still allow moisture to leach into the core. At this point your suggestion is the best lead I have. Where can I find such material?
Backwoodz: The entry door will open once the bedroom is stowed for travel, but the only access is from below the bedroom, an opening about one and a half feet tall. I'm not too upset by this as I was more concerned about the bed tracks clearing the door while in it's upright position. I'm not sure whether to thank the engineers at Coleman or pure fate, but the bed tracks actually pass right by the door allowing you to store the beds with the pop up, popped up. That is really the only way I was able to use the original door. Otherwise it would have been another custom fabrication job.
An official update: Today the GF and I put the rubber down on the bedroom and after she went to work I installed the trim on its front face. I have only a handful of backlogged photos left, then I will be updating this thread in real time. It seems strangely fitting that I will be completing the exterior of the camper at about the same time as I finish telling the back story. I hope everyone is enjoying this as much as I am!
Holy cow, joining this thread late in the game but what a project!
Nice job btw.....If you had used the rear bunk rails for your bedroom you would have easier access and probably been an easier seal from elements when towing. I do like it and it has gave me some good ideas if I ever have to do any hardwall conversions to a pup. I am jealous at your ability to have access to such good resources from your work. I always wanted to work at a automotive salvage yard. Man i could build some cool stuff. Anyway Happy Camping.....
Wow, this has been an interesting read. Thank you for all the pics and sharing this with us. I cant wait to see the finished product!
Well I know everyone has been dying to see some photos of the inside, and while I don't really have much to show yet because I've been so focused on the exterior I thought I would share a little teaser with everyone.
I have the A/C ceiling assembly temporarily installed to hold the A/C in place. The ceiling rafters are still exposed, and the walls are covered in luan plywood. I screwed a 12V dome light into one of the rafters so I would have more light to work. The 12V supply and the 120V for the A/C are visible hanging from the rear wall. I made sure to run the wiring before assembling the walls because there's no chance of getting into that area now that the exterior siding has been installed. The chair you see in the photo was installed before the framing was complete so I'm thinking that if I want to remove it I'll probably have to take it apart!
Cool - I've been dying to see an inside view! This is such a fascinating thread, so thanks for tanking the time to post such good photos and informative descriptions.
Regarding Duraplast, we used it at my prior employer to create some complex trade show displays, which were created by a local display company. So I would check around locally for a place like that. Here's one I found online: http://www.awsubstrates.com/products-FOAM%20BOARDS.html. They may deal business to business.
Before we could lay the EPDM rubber roof down on the bedroom the Filon sheeting needed to be cut to fit and installed. This was one of the most daunting tasks in this whole process because it is something I have never done. It is also a fairly technical process and requires extremely good timing to work effectively. The sheets themselves are cut from a roll that runs 9' wide. To effectively cut this material one needs a reciprocating airsaw with a fine blade or in my case a utility knife with a special straight edge jig that I screw directly through the material into a baseboard.
Once the jig is screwed down I score the Filon with the utility knife over and over until I can see that I have made a nice deep cut into it. This action is very hard on knife blades so have plenty of extras!
Once this is done you can simply remove the jig and bend the material backwards from the scored side and it will separate easily.
And now for the fun part...
No fireplace? Seriously, I am digging camper.
So here is the key to the entire process of attaching Filon fiberglass sheeting to Luan plywood. The first step is to clean the surfaces to me mated. The fiberglass needs to be free of grease and dirt so I used a two step process of 3M General Purpose Adhesive Cleaner and rubbing alcohol to prepare my pre-cut sheets. The Luan can simply be wiped with a dry clean cloth.
I used leftover cans of contact adhesive that were fairly old so a good stirring was required.
This stuff is difficult to work with because it tacks up quick and has a noxious odor. I had to keep working the roller back and forth in the adhesive every 30 seconds or so to keep it from hardening in the tray. This is why most of the time it is more efficient to use a spray gun to apply this adhesive. I of course didn't have that luxury.
And here we go. This process had to be quick and precise so it was hard to stop and take some of the crucial pictures, but you'll get the idea.