Floor Patchin' Triumph Finally
First off: We probably should have listened to everyone who advised us to drop the bellypan and do the whole rear floor.
Instead, we opted to patch only the rotted area where a gasket had failed on the curbside storage door and thoroughly soaked and rotted about two foot of floor alongside and toward the back. We were just unwilling to drop the belly pan since we're so new to this.
That said, there may not be a tougher job in the trailer than what we had to do to replace a portion of floor without taking the pan down. I was afraid for a while it was going to prove impossible.
First day, we had a nicely dried out trailer since The Trailer Store had so graciously kept our AS safely inside their heated shop while the last snowstorm raged. Of course, I ranted about trailer repair shops just when ours proved to be very helpful.
We cut out the rotted floor on Saturday and cleaned the channel - some places with our fingers since there was nothing but crumbly sawdust left. Other places Mr. B used our new multimaster to coax out stubborn pieces.
Bought the wood, assembled the tools. Measured the c channel depth and height and Mr. B created a pattern. I started feeling dread when I realized part of the C channel had already collapsed a smidgen and was shorter than it should be from top to bottom in random places. NOW I know why there's that funny line on the ceiling where the inner seam appears to have moved slightly toward the back. That, ladies and gents, is from the movement of the back of our traylah into the C channel. This would be a good thing to look for in older trailers before buying, signs of settling into C channels. As wood softened and compressed, the weight of the back of the AS could (and did, but only ever so slightly) smash down on the more or less empty C channel. Luckily, I don't think the trailer was used much in that condition, and the damage may have occured when we towed it home unaware of the soaking wet rotten area.
Sunday after church: Cut wood according to pattern thinking we'd slide it in. How naive. Wouldn't go in the C channel - not even close.
Planed wood, used a sort of gap gauge approach to adjust it to fit in channel. It was anything but uniform. We wanted to keep as much wood in the channel as tightly as possible to help alleviate the stress on the channel and the outer skin.
After numerous times coming in the trailer awkwardly carrying the patch wood, fitting it in, finding it still didn't fit, then taking it back out to chisel, sand, plane, etc., Mr. B. was getting frustrated. At about 7 p.m., tired of trying to tailor wood by flashlight, we went home unhappy.
Monday, we decided to give it a rest and didn't even go to the trailer. I did, however, fix the hole I gouged in one of the bathroom sinks at the house.
Tuesday (oh, that was yesterday, eh?) we went to the trailer with new resolve. Going to get that patch in the floor today, we assured each other.
We didn't. One side would go in, but not the other. Or it would rock on a high spot in the curve... Mr. B would check measurements, mark, adjust, and repeat...and repeat.
Optimistically, I had put the insulation in. I opted to use some styrofoam in the bottom of the belly pan in hopes that future leaks possibly won't wick up into the pink nightmare, frame- rotting fiberglass so easily. And here again, I wished we had done the whole bedroom. I know it would be cozy with new insulation.
The wood still wouldn't fit late yesterday and Mr. B and his helper were pretty much at their collective wit's end. So, last night, again, we left the trailer with the patch not in. Making a pattern for a piece of wood to go in the C channel and then cutting the wood to fit is very difficult, especially when there are variances caused by void spaces. Good thing Mr. B is a patient man.
This morning, we ran some errands and held off working on the *x*!x# floor patch for a while. We dreaded wrestling with it again.
But, miracle of miracles, after some additional sanding and chisel work and Mr. B fitting and pushing while I guaged how far we were from starting into the channel, and then some more sanding and slight adjustment - the floor finally slid tightly and properly into the c channel, would you believe, with the aid of a sideways jack to leverage and ease the sanded and smoothed edges fully into the channel. Now there is support, and a non-ruptured C channel opened pretty much to its rightful shape.
We're ready to start putting our bed frame back together. First I want to close holes around the electrical and water pipes to prohibit any mouse, snake, spiders, etc., from coming to bed with us. I really don't want any varmints, but especially not around or under our bed!
We've decided that there will be no carpet or floor covering attached under the bed until we are sure the leaks have stopped. Even then, we may opt for carpeting or covering which is not adhered, but can be pulled up to check for leaks.
I think we found the biggest leak offender when I was outside after dark and Mr. B was inside working on the hateful floor patch. I noticed light shining around the curbside storage door. Added new gasket and that is solved. We think the storage door with the failed gasket may have been the true source of the worst leaking judging by the rotted areas. Ironically, it looks like the PO used about five pounds of sealer trying to stop leaks around the awning arm, endcap seam, etc., but may have never found the main leak was the storage door.
Next big head-banging project will be to address the bumper storage issues (which helped corrode our back frame and led to a separate rot area in the rear all by itself) and finally, fixing the damage from a blow out and restoring our stripes and finish.
Lots to be done. But it won't all get done at once. I know there is some floor rot going on under the sofa because of a never-fixed separation of rub rail and old accident site on the street side. We've fixed it and resealed, but there's undoubtedly damage to the floor. If there's no hole, I'll use Git Rot and surface patch so we can use it this spring. (Just making sure there are no sneaky snake holes!) After we have fun camping in 'er for a little while, we'll fix the front floor properly. I may shim any areas which seem to be causing the C channel to fail to prevent further damage.
Mr. B has been hiding skills from me and turns out to be handy with more than a computer. All these years, he never let me know! His patience is the only reason we have a whole floor in the back of our trailer now. I probably would have given up, or torn up something in a wildwoman mad fit.
I haven't downloaded pictures of the floor patching process but I'll get them up later so other newbies can see what NOT to do!