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Old 09-27-2012, 04:28 PM   #1
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1973 31' Sovereign
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Planning a Custom Shower Pan

When we purchased our '73 Airstream Sovereign the original shower pan was in horrible shape, with large holes in the pan. The PO had done some very poor work trying to patch the holes. It was a mess. We ended up removing it and discarding it, which I am worried was a mistake. Especially after reading about how much is involved in building a custom pan.

I have been researching the best method for making a custom pan and wanted to run my plans past the Airstream community.

Our shower pan has a bench seat to accommodate the wheel well that is approximately 17" high.

What seems to me to be this biggest issue in building a custom shower pan is getting the pan to slope towards the drain for proper drainage. I read a previous post on the forum about creating a custom fiberglass shower pan using a foam mold and have done some research online about the process, although most tutorials are for custom made car body parts. I also read a post from Bart about the shower pan he and his wife created for their AS The Tin Pickle using epoxy resin.

My current idea for the shower pan is to combine the two methods. I would carve out a slab of about 4" thick foam to create a mold which slopes to the drain hole. Then, use epoxy resin and fiberglass cloth to create a basic, shallow shower pan from the foam mold. I would then build up the sides of the pan and create the curb from plywood. I would join the pan and plywood surround and cover with another sheet of fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin. Then, I would finish the whole thing with tinted epoxy. When the shower pan was complete I would cut the foam slab to form a sloped base for the shower pan to sit on once installed and glue it to the bottom of the pan.

I only plan to make the tub out of fiberglass and epoxy and would use a slab of quality wood finished with Waterlox for the bench seat and then also for the bathroom countertop.

Any advice? Does anyone foresee any problems with this idea?

Thanks!
Mindy
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Old 09-30-2012, 11:00 PM   #2
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We did a lot of careful planning for the shower slope, got surprise results when the gorilla glue expanded far beyond our expectations, and then ended up sanding the floor to the desired slope.

I would seriously consider laminating together a couple of pieces of plywood, putting on some good hearing protectors and just contouring the wood to the desired slope with some 60 grit sandpaper. That would take less time and give you a sturdier result, with minimal extra weight, than trying to shape a mold and then shape a base support for the resulting fiberglass.

Once you have the shower pan sloped to your satisfaction, use glass cloth and epoxy on the surface for a completely waterproof interior. Be sure to use thickener in the epoxy when applying it to vertical sides otherwise you will have runs and streaks that are very difficult to sand out.
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Old 10-01-2012, 11:26 AM   #3
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Barbie,

Thank you very much for your response. Since you have experience with this I will follow your advice.

One more question. You and Bart used tinted epoxy for the final coat, correct? I saw that the person who made the custom fiberglass pan finished his pan with a white gelcoat. Were you pleased with the result that you got from the epoxy, or would you, in hindsight, use gelcoat?

Thanks!
Mindy
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Old 10-01-2012, 01:39 PM   #4
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I've never used gelcoat and this shower pan was my first foray into epoxy (nothing like jumping in with both feet). I'd use epoxy again. I know that it gives an impervious surface. I like the way it came out. I'm used to how it works and I don't have to learn how a new material responds. There's no reason to try something different, for me anyway.
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Old 10-01-2012, 02:14 PM   #5
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Thank you for the quick response! I am glad that you are pleased with the pigmented epoxy in your shower pan. If the epoxy works well for the finish coat then that leaves one less thing to buy and learn how to work with, right?!

This will be our first foray into epoxy as well, although my husband will have to do the work since I am pregnant right now. We have both worked as professional painters in the past, so hopefully it won't prove to be too difficult. Your blog post and advice will prove to be quite helpful I'm sure.

We will be giving it a go either this upcoming weekend or the weekend after. I will be sure to document and post the process.
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Old 10-01-2012, 06:10 PM   #6
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Wear gloves, wear gloves, wear gloves. Repeated exposure can lead to lifetime sensitivity.

Also, mix small batches and use the flattest container you can. The closer together the fluid epoxy is, the faster it will kick. At one point I was using a plastic cup (small batches) and when I went to tip the brush in, it went klunk instead of gloop. The whole cup had kicked and was as hard as rock, just in between brushings.
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Old 10-01-2012, 07:27 PM   #7
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I am doing a bath relocate, built mine from a pan that was close and chopped and channeled it, then used Marine TEx to rebond it.



Sam 1642 Sm - Got my shower framed and copper Laminate on. Photo Gallery

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Old 10-02-2012, 04:07 PM   #8
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Barbie,

How much epoxy do you think I will need to buy?

Bermshot,

Looks good! Unfortunately, my shower pan is a little more complicated, since it has a bench to go over the wheel well.
All of the options that I have found out there are too expensive, or would need to be raised off the floor which is not an option for my husband and I since we are both quite tall.
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Old 10-02-2012, 11:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bolasonboard View Post
Barbie,

How much epoxy do you think I will need to buy?
The shower pan was a while ago and it was my first epoxy project, so I don't feel experienced enough to make an estimate. I would look at the manufacturer's listed coverage and calculate your approximate surface area and and a bit on for good measure.

Best of luck.
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Old 11-16-2012, 11:31 AM   #10
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There are plenty of pan options available at RV Parts and Motorhome Parts Online Outlet or call Airstream for a pan.

Me, I just ordered a wet bath for a 17' Casita that will go together in the street side rear corner of our '69 Trade Wind. The beauty of this is has the black water tank molded in to the pan and the toilet mounts to it.

Why did I go this way ? The black tank is leaking. I hate the AS bathroom layout and whats with the short shower curtain? Sit in the tub to take a shower ! What !!!!
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Old 04-27-2014, 10:43 AM   #11
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Looking forward to seeing updates... this is on my to do list for a totally custom bathroom.
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