Van Go

The last time I slept on the ground was 10 years ago at the 150th Chickamauga re-enactment, hips and back don't like it.

Same here, also the last time I slept on the ground, I woke up with a scorpion sharing my sleeping bag! :yikes: I guess it could‘ve been worse, coulda been a rattlesnake, Arizona don’t you know! :cautious:
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Same here, also the last time I slept on the ground, I woke up with a scorpion sharing my sleeping bag! :yikes: I guess it could‘ve been worse, coulda been a rattlesnake, Arizona don’t you know! :cautious:
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Yeah, here in the South, we have at least 3 types of rattlers, Eastern Diamondback, Timber and Pygmy, Cottonmouths, several varieties of Coral snakes and away from the coast you can add Copperheads. Oh yeah, scorpions too, got stung about 20 years ago, like a red hot ember, ouch!
 
My dad and I had an old Rockwood class "C" which we used while racing and it was worth it for that. The wife and I thought about getting another beater M/H, but unless you can store it in an almost airtight facility, you will inherit critters of all kinds that like to live in comfort too. Plus, unless you are using it on a regular basis, every trip requires days of little fixes to the varied systems, especially on older units. The last time I slept on the ground was 10 years ago at the 150th Chickamauga re-enactment, hips and back don't like it.
We have a cottage or more a cabin where we spend days away from home. Nothing fancy but comfortable in 3 seasons. We talked about selling it and maybe trying the motor home thing (not a big a$$ one, but more the size of a van or a bit bigger). We talked ourselves out of it for now and decided if we wanted to try it, we’d rent one. Parking, maintenance, insurance make rental an attractive short term option for us.
 
So..."tabbing in." It's a term used more in the boating world, but the actual practice is used in aviation and other fields, including vans. It just means joining something to the main fiberglass part, such as a plywood bulkhead to the hull of a sailboat.... or van top in this case.
The first thing you need to do is add a filet to the corner where the parts meet. Fiberglass cloth will not bend into a 90° corner, it refuses to. It wants a gentle curved corner. I'm using "flox" to make the filet... mainly 'cause I have a metric crapload left over from my airplane days.

Flox is short for flocked cotton. It's cotton that's been chopped up into very fine fibers. Makes for a very strong joint.


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You mix your epoxy and hardener in a cup just as you normally would, then you start adding flox until you have the consistency of peanut butter. You then work that into the corner and round it off into a nice filet. I use a large popsicle stick to shape it.


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Let that cure up for a day or so and sand off any rough edges, then apply several layers of fiberglass cloth over the joint. My TLAR engineering calculations said to use 5-6 layers of 6 oz cloth cut into 5-6" wide strips.

Here's a little trick for y'all that makes working with fiberglass much less messy. Take some plastic sheeting... 3mil in this case and cut out 2 sheets slightly larger than the glass cloth you need to wet out. Lay one out flat and lay your cloth on that...


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Mix up enough resin to wet the cloth out and pour it down the middle of the cloth. Lay the second layer of plastic over that, then use a squeegee (Bondo applicator in this case) to move the resin around to saturate the cloth enough so that the weave disappears.


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Industry standards for epoxy resin say that a 60/40 mix is ideal. That is, 60% cloth to 40% resin by weight... 50/50 being acceptable. Here's an easy way to ball park it.... Use the squeegee to move as much resin "out" of the cloth until you start seeing the white weave again. Make a mental note of what it took and squeegee the resin back over the cloth until the weave just disappears again. That will get you between your 40 and 50% ratio. Work the entire wetout in that fashion until you're happy with it.

Now you can use a pair of scissors or a razor blade to cut the cloth into the desired strips.


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Up until now my hands were completely free of resin. I put some latex gloves on at this point, so using the camera was out of the question...
You take your strips and separate the plastic. The cloth will always have a tendency to favor one side of the plastic. Peel the other away from it and press it into the corner joint. Once it starts to stick, start peeling the other layer of plastic away from it and use a stippling brush to force the cloth into the joint.
To make a stippling brush, cut about half of the hairs off the brush. What's left is a fairly stiff brush... perfect for forcing the cloth into the joint.


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Add one layer at a time until the layup contains the number of layers you need. Let that cure overnight, sand the high spots off and Bob's your uncle. A joint that's as strong as the plywood you joined to the top (in this case).

I'm using West Epoxy with a slow hardener, so it will need to set up overnight before I can sand it.


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Unfortunately, I didn't have enough epoxy to do both sides of both sheets of plywood. I'll finish it when more arrives.
 
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To make a stippling brush, cut about half of the hairs off the brush. What's left is a fairly stiff brush... perfect for forcing the cloth into the joint.
For smaller jobs a dirt cheap stippling brush can be made from a piece of rope, single doubled or tripled as needed. Wrap a handle-sized length of it with insulation tape, then cut an end clean across about an inch from the end of the wrapped portion. Tease it out a bit and get it working.
I stumbled on this by necessity when I needed a stippling brush on a Sunday and nowhere was open or was miles away.
 
So, nobody makes a shower base pan to fit an odd size... one that also has sheet metal from the gas tank filler protruding into it.... imagine that... :cautious:

I found the drain location by looking under the van to make sure it wasn't trying to go through a crossmember. Framed around the perimeter with 1-1/2" pieces and cut some 1/2" ply for the floor. Cut it in 4 pieces so it slopes toward the drain.



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Actually, I didn't have 4 pieces big enough, so I glued and screwed multiple pieces for the base together, along with multiple filler pieces to get rid of any flex. Then took some glass strand reinforced Evercote filler and filled in any gaps from my piss poor cutting. Also used the filler to add a filet all the way around the base. Sanded all that down....



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Cut 4 layers of 6oz cloth and glassed the entire base in...



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I'll let all that cure up for a couple of days, sand it down and see where we're at. The plan at this point is to get some white gel coat and paint it with that. 'Course, that gives me 48hrs to change my mind at least that many times. Stay tuned.
 
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If you're not too careful Jim, you'll have people lined up asking for you to retro their van into a custom RV. I've been pricing small class B's and prices are insane. Nice work as always!
 
So..."tabbing in." It's a term used more in the boating world, but the actual practice is used in aviation and other fields, including vans. It just means joining something to the main fiberglass part, such as a plywood bulkhead to the hull of a sailboat.... or van top in this case.
The first thing you need to do is add a filet to the corner where the parts meet. Fiberglass cloth will not bend into a 90° corner, it refuses to. It wants a gentle curved corner. I'm using "flox" to make the filet... mainly 'cause I have a metric crapload left over from my airplane days.

Flox is short for flocked cotton. It's cotton that's been chopped up into very fine fibers. Makes for a very strong joint.


View attachment 251200


You mix your epoxy and hardener in a cup just as you normally would, then you start adding flox until you have the consistency of peanut butter. You then work that into the corner and round it off into a nice filet. I use a large popsicle stick to shape it.


View attachment 251179

View attachment 251180

Let that cure up for a day or so and sand off any rough edges, then apply several layers of fiberglass cloth over the joint. My TLAR engineering calculations said to use 5-6 layers of 6 oz cloth cut into 5-6" wide strips.

Here's a little trick for y'all that makes working with fiberglass much less messy. Take some plastic sheeting... 3mil in this case and cut out 2 sheets slightly larger than the glass cloth you need to wet out. Lay one out flat and lay your cloth on that...


View attachment 251181


Mix up enough resin to wet the cloth out and pour it down the middle of the cloth. Lay the second layer of plastic over that, then use a squeegee (Bondo applicator in this case) to move the resin around to saturate the cloth enough so that the weave disappears.


View attachment 251182

View attachment 251183


Industry standards for epoxy resin say that a 60/40 mix is ideal. That is, 60% cloth to 40% resin by weight... 50/50 being acceptable. Here's an easy way to ball park it.... Use the squeegee to move as much resin "out" of the cloth until you start seeing the white weave again. Make a mental note of what it took and squeegee the resin back over the cloth until the weave just disappears again. That will get you between your 40 and 50% ratio. Work the entire wetout in that fashion until you're happy with it.

Now you can use a pair of scissors or a razor blade to cut the cloth into the desired strips.


View attachment 251184


Up until now my hands were completely free of resin. I put some latex gloves on at this point, so using the camera was out of the question...
You take your strips and separate the plastic. The cloth will always have a tendency to favor one side of the plastic. Peel the other away from it and press it into the corner joint. Once it starts to stick, start peeling the other layer of plastic away from it and use a stippling brush to force the cloth into the joint.
To make a stippling brush, cut about half of the hairs off the brush. What's left is a fairly stiff brush... perfect for forcing the cloth into the joint.


View attachment 251186


Add one layer at a time until the layup contains the number of layers you need. Let that cure overnight, sand the high spots off and Bob's your uncle. A joint that's as strong as the plywood you joined to the top (in this case).

I'm using West Epoxy with a slow hardener, so it will need to set up overnight before I can sand it.


View attachment 251187

View attachment 251188


Unfortunately, I didn't have enough epoxy to do both sides of both sheets of plywood. I'll finish it when more arrives.
Is the flocked cotton better than fiberglass powder?, I believe it's called cavasil or something like that, nasty stuff.
 
Is the flocked cotton better than fiberglass powder?, I believe it's called cavasil or something like that, nasty stuff.
Cabosil. Similar. Cabosil is a thickening agent. It's the opposite of paint "thinner." It thickens the resin so it doesn't slide off vertical surfaces.
Flox on the other hand, adds mass to the resin... a filler, if you will.
 
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