Is it the Curse of the Campshaws, or does everyone with a camper/trailer/RV have the same crappy luck we seem to have? In the (less than) three years we’ve owned our T@DA, we’ve replaced the batteries (twice), the converter which converts 110V to 12V, tires, refrigerator, and the arms which hold the windows open. We also managed to blow up our microwave (the Texas Enchilada Incident). Our license plate broke off, twice(!) on the road somewhere. Oh, and let’s not forget the brake/bearing fiasco which dogged us in Louisiana two years in a row. I dunno – seems like a lot to me. Maybe every camper has this stuff.
But, we love the Fireball. It becomes a bit of a hobby to check out other campers. Truthfully, we haven’t found anything that we would rather own, including the Airstreams that everyone covets. So, when we noticed that we have some spongy spots in the floor, we knew that we’d have to figure out a way to get things repaired. And, since I’ve lusted for a marmoleum floor since seeing on in a restored Spartanette a couple of years ago, it seemed like a good time to replace our dingy whitish floor as well.
How lucky is it that my brother-in law’s brother in law (are you following?) works part time for a gentleman who collects vintage Airstreams. And, he lives right here in Grand Rapids! Ken (the Collector) owns a huge service garage where he stores his collection of amazing trailers. He employs a couple of guys full time who do nothing but work on restorating these classic beauties. With a proper introduction, the guys investigated, and decided to take on the Fireball as a ‘side’ project.
Mike, the Head Repair Guy, crawled around beneath the Fireball, and felt that we had ‘floor fatigue’, as opposed to rot, causing the sag and squishy spots. The cure? Brace the floor from underneath in two spots. Photo shows new brace. On additional brace is barely visible.
About four hours after dropping the Fireball off, we got a call saying “you better come see this”. (Campshaw Curse running at full speed now). Removal of the old vinyl floor revealed a sodden plywood base. Not rotted, but thoroughly soaked. Scary, isn’t it?Mike and Jim removed all the interior fixtures – and found that the damage seemed to originate under the KoolCat, which is the electric heater/air conditioner. How often do we use the a/c? Oddly, that was a very easy question for us to answer…(one day two years ago in Death Valley, and two or three days on our most recent trip.) We discovered that the construction of the T@DA didn’t allow the water collected by the air conditioner to drain out. Instead, it ran from the drain hoses, back under the a/c unit, and directly into the floor. “It’s a good thing I’m seeing this trailer now, instead of a year from now,” was Mike’s comment. An additional area where water must have collected was under our side storage panel.
Now the plan is to dry out the interior with large blowers and heaters, of the type you might use if your basement is flooded. Everything gets dried out, but unfortunately, the soaking has caused the plywood to heave and splinter.The solution to this problem is to force glue into the plywood, reforming the bond. A new layer of underlayment was put over the top. With the bottom braced and the top smoothed out, we had a good surface for the new floor
Mike built a metal pan with about two inch sides to surround the KoolCat. It’s screwed and glued in place. The drain tubes now poke through the protective screen, and will drain out to the ground. We also have a shield over the screen to keep water and road dirt out of this area when we tow. See the drain tubes poking out on the lower left and lower right corners of the grille?Repairs are now complete, and the floor is installed. Looks great, doesn’t it?
Furniture is reinstalled, and it’s done. Finished!!
We’re fortunate to have found folks who had the technical expertise and the willingness to tackle this project for us, as it certainly was beyond our own do it yourself capabilities. The original $600 estimate ballooned to $1600, but we know that we’re roadworthy. Hoping that this is the end of the Curse….
One last modification that John accomplished was to install a new battery box with two 6V golf cart batteries to replace our two marine deep cycle Group 24 batteries. This should give us much more boondocking time off the grid. We’re excited about this.
We are ready to hit the road. Whew!