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Old 08-26-2017, 12:28 AM   #1
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1968 17' Caravel
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Ideas for 68 Caravel Bathroom cupboard

After a recent trip, I went to get our little rubbermaid container of toiletries out of the vanity where we keep it, and discovered the weight of the container bouncing on the shelf had apparently caused a complete collapse. The shelf is delaminated and just busted into splinters.

The 68 Caravel vanity is part of the bathroom fiberglass insert, which is pretty much one HUGE piece with the wet bath/shower floor and toilet base and lower wall all molded into one piece. It's not coming out without the entire kitchen/gaucho coming out first.

But the real problem is access, because the only access into that rather large space, which could otherwise be useful in a tiny trailer where storage is precious, is a tiny approx 14 inch square hole where the cupboard door is. Has anyone come up with any brilliant ideas for dealing with this cupboard - modifications, etc?
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Old 08-26-2017, 12:58 AM   #2
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Well this fix will not be all that pretty, but given the various constraints, might let you end up with a functional shelf hidden inside the vanity. It will take a few steps, over a few days, using liquid epoxy to solidify the shelf as a cast-in-place fabrication. Forgive all the details, it is the only way to make sense [hopefully] of the suggestions, which are from my background in construction and boat building. Similar solutions using different materials might work also.

Are the pieces of the existing shelf all pretty much there, just in disarray? I would add a support "shelf" under your shelf, made out of cardboard on the flat [with a layer of wax paper on top of it], supported by as much temporary vertical support as you can squeeze under it. Small cardboard boxes of exactly the right size would be great, as they have some rigidity on their own, without having to be taped in place. [edit -- the support shelf could be something like 1/4' plywood, but not sure if you could get a piece up under the shelf, given that black drain pipe. The suggestion for a cardboard support shelf "form" will let you use multiple pieces of cardboard, while sitting on the floor, scissors in hand, and using duct tape to hold it all together. The top piece of wax paper is important as a "mold release" so you can get the entire support structure out later]

Once you have created this flat cardboard shelf "form work" [as if you were going to cast a concrete shelf in place above it], you will need to make the splintered shelf as flat and cohesive as it used to be, by pushing the splinters into place. Small pieces of duct tape can be used to hold the splinters down and in place.

When you have got the thing as pretty as possible, I would mix up a small batch of WEST System epoxy [resin plus the SLOW hardener], and brush a light layer onto the existing shelf, letting excess flow down into the cracks and voids of what remains of the shelf. This first coat of epoxy is just to stabilize the entire shelf, not to fill voids etc.. Careful not to get a thick build-up of resin pooling in the low spots, as it can get too hot and create a risk of fire. [edit -- you can stay away from the duct tape stabilizing patches for now, so that they can be removed after this first "wetting out" coat of epoxy hardens up]

After this all hardens, sand all the surfaces enough to remove the surface "blush" and to prep the plywood for more layers of resin, which can be applied to get the top surface more uniform as a flat-ish shelf. At this point a layer of Fiberglas cloth could be added for strength, but you probably will not need it because the epoxy has quite a bit of strength on its own.

I will stop here, because this suggestion is something that would be first nature from my background, but may seem off-the-wall to you. If you want to hear more details, or learn about sources for the materials, please advise. You will need to create some ventilation for the space, use safety gloves and a respirator.

The virtue of this approach is that you don't have to take anything apart IMO. It should give you a structurally sound shelf, which [unhappily] won't be that pretty to look at!

Feel free to ask questions or apply the brakes . . . as I said, similar techniques using other materials might also permit a fix-in-place solution.

Good luck, and have a good weekend.

Peter

PS -- Another approach might involve cutting the sink drain out of the way temporarily, and fabricating a new shelf, perhaps in pieces, for installation. This would be much simpler in some respects, and not require the boat building epoxy skills needed for the first solution. Running out of edit time, but I like this second solution better.
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Old 08-26-2017, 08:43 AM   #3
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The '65 thru '68 rear wet-bath is one of Airstream's more remarkable achievements. It was in all Caravels and only the '65/'66 GTs. I've never had one to investigate, but the '67/'68 dry-bath has a similar cabinet under the sink, with no shelf, just open storage. So the first question, is the shelf necessary? Can you simply remove the damage and cross support, or is there something under the shelf that needs protection? Can you protect whatever, and leave shelf out?

AS always built cheapest way in out of sight areas, you don't have to replicate it.

Would it be possible to leave the ledger/supports in place, and replace the sheet of failed luan with some sturdier 1”x 2” sticks of teak, redwood… a shelf made of slats?
The slats can be edge joined(T&G cedar closet kit?) if it needs to be a solid surface, or spaced apart for a ventilated look, build with removable sections for access?

It will be a challenge to fabricate something in there when you only have a one arm at a time, head-hole to work through, so I'm thinking the redwood slats, fastened to the existing ledgers will be the least painful. Have you ever built a ship in a bottle??

Is there space to design full extension drawer glides in there?

I used lidded IKEA tubs of varying depths, designed to glide in a 1/2” dado. For the dado, 1/2” aluminum channel. They work great, tubs easily remove or function as drawers..


Pictures are examples of “slat-work”, and IKEA drawer tubs


Lucky you, another project!


Best...
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Old 08-26-2017, 10:09 AM   #4
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Looking again at your photos, I notice the dark closet latches and what appears to be walnut interior. I have the beige latches with ash wood. Interesting historical detail.

Is your Caravel an International trim? Is it possible that the Land Yacht trim does not have that shelf? Is the shelf unique to later models? I don't recall seeing that cross brace across the "door-hole" in every rear '65-'68 wet-bath.
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Old 08-26-2017, 12:01 PM   #5
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Yikes! First thing to do is make sure that the edge of the hole in the cabinet is perfectly smooth, otherwise you might saw off your shoulder!

Having just spent the last two days making the Shelf From Hell, you have my deepest condolences. I like ALUMINUMINUM's idea, as trying to use toxic chemicals in the small space, while blocking your only air source, doesn't sound like much fun. You can order teak slats from marine supply places, probably 1/4" or 3/8" will do. Order up some 3/4" X 3/4" teak for the wall cleats while you're at it. You should epoxy and screw the cleats on to the walls, but you can probably get by with just epoxy to attach the slats. For this to work properly, you'd want to attach cleats all around the interior of the cabinet.

Measuring will be tough. I would rig up a sliding affair out of scrap (or cheap wood) that could be adjusted with one hand. Does that make sense? That, and collect cardboard for templates.
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Old 08-26-2017, 06:59 PM   #6
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I think I like the slats idea best, and making a sliding jig to determine length of the slats sounds useful too. My first thought at making slats was that it would be an absolute nightmare because the front of the cabinet is the only straight line to deal with, but I guess if you're doing one at a time it would not be so bad.

ALUMUNUMINUM, I do indeed have the dark interior. Mine has the Land Yacht trim, but I don't know what that means for the Caravel, since everything in the owners manual says 'all except Caravel', so it seemed to have been the exception to everything. I included a couple interior pics for your enjoyment.
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Old 08-30-2017, 04:42 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts View Post
I think I like the slats idea best . . .
. . .
If the final "look" is the priority, I agree.

If getting this fixed ASAP is a priority, however, I can promise you that the in-place epoxy fix in Post #2 will be the quickest by far, if you are comfortable with the materials and techniques -- which, I grant you, most people are not that familiar with.

Not sure how good your back, knees and limbs are, but making all those patterns, jigs and slats way under that vanity counter, in that small bathroom, might cripple this old body.



Good luck!

Peter
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Old 08-30-2017, 10:38 PM   #8
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I'm lucky to be among the younger Airstreamers in this group - which just means I haven't wrecked my back and knees YET Luckily I have plenty of time, since this damage only requires relocating our little tupperware of toiletries. Could be a much more useful area when I'm done if I do it right.
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Old 08-31-2017, 01:59 AM   #9
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Sounds good!

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Old 08-31-2017, 07:15 AM   #10
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I recently completed the restoration of my '67 Caravel and decided to remove the patch work shelf in the aforementioned void and leave it out. I mounted wire wall cubbies (not sure their proper name) to the aft wall for cleaners, TP, what nots and use the remaining large space for duffle bags, case of water bottles, etc. Secondary access is through the closet/pantry door. Not having the shelf bisect the small opening makes getting larger items in out out of the small opening easier. I also mounted the TP holder to the back side of the door.
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Old 11-18-2017, 10:24 PM   #11
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Hi, this may be a little off topic but I have a 67 safari and I was just wondering if any of you all could show or tell me where the original toilet paper holder is mounted? Thanks
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Old 10-12-2021, 06:24 PM   #12
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Caravel Bathroom vanity area

This retro-fit is not for everyone - but after over 10 years of never using that tiny fiberglass sink in the bath - and with square footage being so valuable - I had the center of the vanity cut out - a platform built - some plumbing re-routed - and had a small Panda washing machine installed in that space

As for the toilet paper original position question - mine is mounted to the right of the potty on the solid wall of the adjacent wardrobe
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