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Old 06-22-2013, 04:05 PM   #1
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replacing subfloor in a classic motorhome

Hi all

Some of you have already seen the water and dry rot damage in my rear convertible lounge in my "Mistress" thread/blog. If not here they are again just to give reference as to the damage I faced.

The first two photos are right beside the Genny cover, and yes the black areas were soaking wet and mushy. What wasn't readily apparent was the rot and water logged plywood was all the way to the spare tire carrier. Although the top of the plywood felt dry and strong it was all an illusion and once I cut through the first 1/16th or so, the Fein saw went right down to the aluminum. The plywood was all black and wet underneath.

The other side was completely dry rotted under the potable water tank with again water damage right down to the spare tire carrier.
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Old 06-22-2013, 04:12 PM   #2
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So here's my take on how I fix my floor............

The first thing you need to do is to go out and get a swear/cuss jar and put 10 bucks into it as you have already cussed under your breath at least 10 times already. Trust me by the time you finish this job the jar will be full and your gas money covered for your next trip.

This job is hard, uncomfortable and brutal on the knees so your next purchase is a set of Happy Knees.

Before I removed all the furniture I made as many measurements as possible and also screwed a long straight piece of plywood down in the center of the room and transfered measurements along its length as to couch placement and C channel measurements, so if I removed a bolt on the wall and it moved, or moved as I hammered a new piece of flooring into place, I would know by how much things moved.

Then remove all furniture, decorative wall covers, window moulding/curtains and as much of the aluminum sheeting on the walls in the affected area so you can see all electrical wires,pipes and obstructions like bolts and screws in the C channel.

The tools you need to remove the sub floor are a Skill saw set to an 1/16th of an inch less than the plywood or OSB. A Fein saw with some masking tape around the blade to set the depth of the subfloor. You will know when you get through the plywood if you're inbetween frames as the aluminum sags a bit, but if you're on a frame the tape will tell you when to stop. I used an assortment of pry bars and a grinder with a cut off wheel. I also had a 1/2" drill bit in my drill with a piece of tape around the drill bit at the depth of the C channel to aid in removing wood in the channel.

As you can see in the pics I cut the sub floor into sections with the Skill saw, used the Fein saw to finish up the cut and then pried up the plywood. The plywood is held into the C channel with 1/2" phillips screws and bolts that travel through the frame below.

Removing the rotten water soaked plywood was the hardest as it had swollen into the channel and welded itself to the aluminum. It had to be picked out in pieces. One tip.....the curved section of C channel running below the curved back windows does NOT have the lower part of the channel holding the plywood so you will see a series of three non carriage 3/8" regular bolts on steel 3" plates. If you cut these bolts the floor sags down aiding plywood removal.
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Old 06-22-2013, 04:44 PM   #3
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Getting the plywood out of the C channel was an epic job in itself. The cuss jar was filling up fast.

Once all the plywood was out of the channel, the plywood subfloor was removed except for the center strip with the board with measurements on it was left and all frame bolts and screws in the channel were removed; it was finally time to start assembly. To get to this point took me almost 4 days. (It took me almost an hour just to get on of the heads of the frame carriage bolts out!!! The cuss jar was almost full)

I had decided to use Coosa Bluewater 20 3/4" composite board for under the couches as this is what they had in stock. I wasn't worried about the thickness difference as having the board 1/8" taller than the C channel would mean less water intrusion into the coach as water doesn't go up stream. I went with #1088 Meranti 11 ply marine board for the subflooring in the middle as it would be the same thickness as the other stock sub flooring and cheaper than the Coosa, but not by much.

I needed to find a frame of reference though. I had the measurements on the board telling me how far away the base for the couches started but it wouldn't give me an accurate picture for getting things exactly in the middle and square. I decided to go under the coach and drill a 1/8" hole through the aluminum flooring at the inside corner of the very last frame on both ends. I also drilled a 1/8" hole in the center of that last frame rail in front of the spare tire carrier. I then connected the holes inside the coach with a straight edge and measured to the C channel on both sides of the spare tire carrier box. I found it to be the same on both sides so I drew a line connecting the holes. The hole I had drilled in the center of the frame below proved to be 1/2" off center to the spare tire carrier box, so I discounted it and went with center of the box as you can see in pic three. This also gave me an accurate measurement to the center of the frame for screwing the floor down later as the frame is 1" wide.

I then measured and found the center between the wheel wells and placed a mark. Getting a laser I placed the laser on both marks and then measured off my center board with the couch measurements on it for what was square to my back baseline. The Genny side couch was very square to the back baseline but the potable water tank couch was 1" off from one end to the other. I decide to cheat it and crept it in 1/2" on one and out the same on the other end so my middle piece of plywood would be the same measurement from one end to the other. This would aid in finish flooring in the future.
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Old 06-22-2013, 05:20 PM   #4
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I had now both side Coosa section measurements which turned out to be 30 3/4", leaving an 1/8" of play and a middle section of 30 1/2".

It was time for the cardboard. The first piece I kept trimming along the channel until it went all the way under the channel and was a 1/4" back of my baseline and exactly on my couch line. The reason I was keeping the board a 1/4" back of the baseline was that I decided to 1/2" overlap my joints. The board beside it would overlap that piece by 1/2" so as I screwd the boards down I could use less screws and the first board would support the next on the joint. Machining this is very easy by router or table saw as the top lap and bottom lap are the very same. You can see the lap joint in further pics.

Once the cardboard template was under the C channel, spare tire carrier and where I wanted it according to my lines I then drew the inside of the C channel on the cardboard and the flanges of the spare tire carrier. I then measured under the flanges how far under the spare tire carrier the plywood went.

NOTE!!! The plywood sub floor under the spare tire carrier is held by screws that are only accessed by removing the spare tire, removing the insulation tape in the bottom of the spare tire area. A few more bucks to the cuss jar.

I then transfered these measurements onto the cardboard template along with wiring placements onto the tab that was under the C channel. One part of my template hit a portion of the spare tire carrier and so needed to be marked and transfered to the Coosa board BEFORE cutting off the tab.
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Old 06-22-2013, 05:42 PM   #5
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Once I had transferred as much info as needed onto the Coosa then I would cut off the tab.

Cutting a block to the dimension I wanted to have under the C channel I ran the block along the inside C channel line giving me my outer cut line.

I did take a picture showing the final lines on the Coosa but it somehow got lost on the camera. Another few bucks to the cuss jar.

After all the templates were cut and Coosa board cut into shape I made the profile seen below on the Coosa board. I decided to have the board have a 1/2" flat spot on the inside of the C channel and then bevel down to aid insertion into the channel. The reason I did this was that bolts inserted by Airstream and tightened down deformed the channel down making it very hard to get 15mm into the channel.

The last pic shows the Coosa installed and the half lap joint running the full length on both sides to help support in place the marine ply middle. I had removed the plywood measuring strip by now as I had all my baselines down. The 1/2" joint would be exactly along the base of the couches. You can also see the I only had to use a single line of Tek screws to attach two boards to the framework of the motorhome along the lap joint.

NOTE! The framework thickness is so thin that it will not support Tek screws all the time. When the Teks stripped I would remove and replace with galvinized coarse thread lag bolts.
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Old 06-22-2013, 06:00 PM   #6
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Once the outer areas of Coosa were in the C channel and attached by Tek or lag bolts to the framework below it was time to replace the outer frame 5/16" carriage bolts and 3/8" curve section bolts. It took a bit od doing to get the section of wall just behind the Genny lined up as it was easily moved and the Genny cover had come un attached from the outer wall, (it's just Vulcumed on). I used a hook clamp to clamp the wall to the Genny cover and then another clamp from the old plywood center (now you know why I didn't pull all the floor) to pull the wall back into place. That section was held by a 5/16" frame bolt and also a factory galvanized lag bolt through the C channel into the frame below.

Once all the bolts were back in place I could remove the inner section of old flooring and guess what I found. A PO had gone fishing for the fuel sending unit. I found metal framework around this area that would support a trap door so I very carefully made the hole bigger to have access to the hoses. I then made a trap door using the same 1/2" lap joint and a notch for a screwdriver. The top of the tank was just covered in dry leaves and a bit of demo debris but was very clean with no rust.
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Old 06-22-2013, 06:10 PM   #7
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The middle piece needed some fancy notching for under the spare tire carrier so I used a block of wood to get both depths and lengths of notches and then transfer onto the middle piece of plywood. I had taken the measurement from the flange of the spare tire carrier to the end of the run up near the wheel wells to have a starting point for the cut outs.

Once cut out I then siliconed with a good waterproof silicone all the PO's 1/4 plywood subfloor nails that had punctured the aluminum. Siliconed all down the length of the 1/2 lap joint and around the trap down and laid the middle piece down.
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Old 06-22-2013, 06:15 PM   #8
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Finished, other than getting some Vulcum and sealing things off. The plumbing pipes locations I drilled from down below as all the original holes were still in the aluminum floor.

I swear it took me longer to demo than to replace the floor. The damp musty smell is gone and my wife and girls can rest easy knowing that it's clean with no mold, (I bleached the aluminum floor and C channel the night before replacing the floor).

This is a big job and I hope this thread helps others especially since I could not find any info on how to do this on the web or this site. This job can be done by anyone using the technics I have used. If you're not sure about your woodworking skills, at least get the floor pulled, the C channel cleared and templates made. Then approach any woodworker with the templates and they would be only too happy to transfer the info to whatever substrate you wish to use.

Goodluck and just remember that cuss jar as you now have enough gas money to do a coast to coast ride.
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Old 06-23-2013, 01:15 AM   #9
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I've already got the cuss jar started just following this thread! GREAT presentation(and one helluva job...)thanks!
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Old 06-23-2013, 06:44 PM   #10
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oh wow...i wanna hit the thanks button on every one of the posts
i was so intimidated to even start this job and i already have a few jars full.

thanks a billion
now i want a trap door too
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Old 06-23-2013, 06:58 PM   #11
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ha! love the cuss jar idea. adorable.
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Old 06-30-2013, 05:53 AM   #12
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Thanks for the great pictures and explanation! I have the same project ahead of me so really appreciate your knowledge. Jim
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Old 10-16-2013, 05:08 PM   #13
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Ere wee go ageen

So Thanksgiving is over and it just so happened the shop was slow, so I decided to remove the linoleum and 1/4" sub-flooring that it was adhered to. I wanted to check out the condition of the 5/8" main flooring.

So far so good. The main floor in the middle of the coach is in great condition, once I got the subfloor up from the bizillion nails some sadist plowed into it (see bathroom pic).
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Old 10-16-2013, 05:19 PM   #14
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I made it out to the end of the sink cabinet and decided that more than a few sparks were getting close to the front sofa. So wanting to try and find the seatbelt anchors under all the extra flooring added under the couch, I removed the sofa, frame work and center carpet piece........and this is what I found.

On top of the main floor 5/8" they added 1/4" luan sub floor, 3/8" pink foam, 1/16" black rubber, another sheet of 1/4" Luan sub floor, a 1/4" black foam and then the carpet.
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