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dhbinkley 03-17-2018 03:50 PM

Our 1976 28' Argosy (Gussy) renovation
4 Attachment(s)
Like others before me I'm posting my progress on Gussy. I'm hoping along the way others on the forum that have been through this will help the new guy.
In Aug 2017 we bought her from nicest couple (Josh and Emily) in Bitely MI who were starting to build a house and didn't have the time to work on her.
Because we live in NC we had Vince Dwyer (another nice person) tow her from MI to NC for a very reasonable price. I had some quotes on UShip and they were higher AND didn't seem to know much about transporting a vintage camper.
I have given myself a deadline of getting her done in 2 years starting 9/1/17, we'll see how close I come:) the plan is for a shell off restore...being anal I don't think I could do it any other way.
Attachment 306506
Attachment 306507
In the beginning...
I started the demo in October and have pretty much completed the teardown and removed all of the interior and the exterior trim and lights etc. So far so good I haven't really had any surprises yet, but I'm sure there will be some. The good part I'm going in with the intent of a complete redo so I don't have any thoughts of what I can keep and what I will replace...I'll just play it by ear.
Attachment 306508
My first issue that I'm not sure about is that the end caps are very rusted and there are a few small holes in them. I'm thinking I need to remove them and take to a body shop and have them cut out some of the rusted areas and weld some new steel. With them out I can get as much rust off and treat with POR15 to stop the rust. I'm worried that if I leave them in the seams will not get treated and the rust will continue....please let me know of any cons of removing them. Thanks in advance!
Attachment 306523

dbj216 03-17-2018 07:37 PM

Welcome from Colorado and welcome to Air Forums. You will likely have others who have done similar renovations of vintage Argosy trailers. The body off overhaul will produce the best possible result as you can have the frame like new, and a new strong subfloor, and new body attach hardware.

I'd like to follow your progress and offer likely worthless advice along the way.


rugjenkins 03-17-2018 10:05 PM

Welcome, I have a 75 28 ft argosy. I look forward to following your thread also. My argosy has fiberglass endcaps instead of galvanized. I talked to gentleman the other day who has an argosy like your and he sprayed his with a rust converter but I don't recall the product name. Maybe this could be an option. Then coat the holes with jb weld?

dhbinkley 03-20-2018 07:37 PM

Thanks for the warm welcome!!

No warnings about removing the end caps, so next week that's what I will start on...after I haul off all the old insulation, AC unit, hot water heater and other garbage that I've pulled out of Gussy. Ordering a Buck riveting kit from vintage trailer supply.
I'm getting excited about a new tool and learning a new skill. :D
No work this weekend, taking the wife to the NC mountains for our anniversary:)

rugjenkins 03-20-2018 07:44 PM

Removing the endcap is a big deal but can be done. I saw that vintage trailer supply had alumi-weld rods that can repair aluminum to galvanized metal. Plus they are inexpensive, $15 so they maybe worth a try. Buck riveting is fun. It may be the what I've enjoyed the most

dhbinkley 03-25-2018 06:29 PM

Removing End Caps
2 Attachment(s)
thanks...rugjenkins...I'll check out the alumi-weld rods, that would be a great do it yourself way to get it fixed. I'm looking forward to the riveting, I can't wait.

Well the mountain trip didn't turn out as expected...long story...
I finally hauled off some junk to clean up my work area, old insulation, AC, water heater, plumbing, wires etc...
I built a workbench to try and get organized and not lose any tools:)
Then my wife and I removed the front endcap...I really hope they go back in without too much of an issue!
Next step is to remove the rear windows and endcap, then clean up both endcaps and figure out how to repair and preserve them.

Lesson learned....Also the #30 drill bits remove the exterior rivets much better than the 1/8"

dbj216 03-25-2018 07:05 PM

Egads, your Argosy is naked! You are going to rebuild this old girl back to her as new condition. I wish there was a way to do that with us humans. Maybe someday there will be.

That is the first time I've seen an end cap removed, and all the exterior skins too. Wow. It's going to be a fun project.


rugjenkins 03-25-2018 07:26 PM

Wow! Endcap removed! I'm impressed. Since they are off, spot weld pinholes and add new strip of metal if it's real thin. Grind the front smooth but leave a good weld on the back. This is the best solution, the weld rods may or may not work.

dhbinkley 03-29-2018 07:46 PM

dbj216...all done with mirrors...the exterior skin is still attached...I just took the caps off.

matthewsx 03-31-2018 11:59 PM

Just be aware that zinc poisoning is a real thing. Wear a very good respirator if welding galvanized steel. I would have probably left them and treated with POR15 but she's your baby....

Good luck

dhbinkley 04-07-2018 09:30 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Thanks, I'll definitely wear a respirator!
I took out the rear windows and removed the rear end cap today. Next thing is getting them cleaned up and get the hole fixed in the rear end cap....then POR-15 both of them.
[ATTACH]Attachment 308150[/ATTACH]

Need some advise on the best way to remove the calking/vulkem on the inside
of the exterior skin?

rugjenkins 04-08-2018 06:41 AM

The caulking has to be mechanically removed: chisel, scraper, wire wheel on a grinder.

my3sonsdad 04-15-2018 05:08 PM

Great that you have an interior workspace. Looking forward to your thread. Are you planning any floor plan changes?

Hattagirl 04-18-2018 06:36 PM


Originally Posted by rugjenkins (Post 2086293)
The caulking has to be mechanically removed: chisel, scraper, wire wheel on a grinder.

So I was wondering about this, too... if you have the interior skins off, you should remove the vulkem? Mine doesn't look bad (it's not dry and cracking) and is still pliable, so I was thinking it was all good! Is the gold standard to remove and re-vulkem?

And... dude! You are so brave to remove the end caps! I was having a coronary removing the interior ones. Thankfully I have no rust nor holes except for where the antenna was. Now I'm wondering exactly how to plug it up and the screw holes.

I like your approach. I want to do it right, too :D And, I would love to figure out a bunk solution.

dhbinkley 05-07-2018 07:16 PM

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I wish mine didn't have any rust....or better yet were fiberglass.
My brother came in town from IL and we got the shell lifted off, went pretty well may have braced it a little better, but it worked. (Thanks Bruce)

The only reason I want to remove the Vulkem is there is some mildew on it and I just want to make sure the Seams are sealed good. I'm doing this once and don't want a...wish I would have...although I'm sure there will be quite a few of those:) out for the hidden rivets, mine were on the 4 corners buried in the vulkem where the ribs meet the flooring U channel. Other than those 4 we got em all!
Next step, remove the rest of the belly pan and plywood flooring. Get the Chassis media blasted welded up and then POR-15.
Has anyone used this plywood before?[/URL]

dbj216 05-07-2018 07:59 PM

Hey, your at the end of the disassembly process. Now the renovations can begin, like blasting and painting the frame.

I can't advise on the subfloor material. Folks sing the praises of the Coosa board, but likewise cuss the cost. For me, I would just use exterior grade plywood and seal it with a couple of coats of polyurethane. I think it would last 40 years if a guy pays attention to rain water leaks, and that is longer than I will last. It is certainly a better material than the OSB chipboard in our 86 Limited. The plywood subfloor in my 75 Overlander is still going. A foot of the rear end was mush, but the rest of it ain't too bad. That's 43 years of life so far.


skyguyscott 05-07-2018 08:55 PM

I'll put in a word for Coosa Board.

Since you are already this deep into it, replacing the plywood with a waterproof composite material like Coosa Board that is lighter than plywood but just as strong and easy to work with might seem worth the couple extra hundred bucks just for the satisfaction of knowing that it will never rot, never get soft, never suffer from insect infestation, and all this hard work you are doing will never ever have to be done again when water inevitably gets to the floor whether by leaks, condensation, hidden cracks, left-open vents/windows/doors, failed seals, defrosting fridge, plumbing issues, spills, etc.

Perhaps 10x the price, yes, but calculate the value and the savings from the 30% weight reduction, plus the cost and labor of replacing sections of floor later on (under the shower, around the toilet, door, wheel wells) and see if the numbers make sense for you.

dbj216 05-08-2018 06:59 PM

That's a strong testimonial for why Coosa. It's good stuff. David

dhbinkley 05-19-2018 04:38 PM

3 Attachment(s)
I looked at the Coosa board and its about 3x the cost of marine plywood, so will probably stick with the plywood...I'll probably be long gone by the time it rots out this time.
So today I got all the decking and most of the belly pan off:) the good news is most of the frame looks pretty good, bad news is it is separated on the non-curb side:(

Attachment 311408
Frame separation
Attachment 311411
It looks like the front flooring had been replaced at some point and the seams were not lined up on the frame so that's why some of the floor was sagging.
I was surprised that the grey covered the entire area between the wheels over top of the axles...not sure if that was factory...thoughts.
By best friends on this part have been my angle grinder, oscillating tool and well as my impact driver.
Attachment 311409
Grey tank

Sunday will try to get the tanks out and remaining belly pan.

dbj216 05-19-2018 06:30 PM

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Bare bones. It exposes the ravages of years in a wet environment. You will need to inspect that frame and repair all the cracks and replace the rusted out parts. It's straightforward welding and fabrication work. Mobile welders can come to your shop and do the work. It isn't cheap. My welder charged $85 an hour. He was done with my project in 4 hours.


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