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Friday, September 2, 2011



First of all, walked 14 miles early on; moved SPIA to a wide spot along US 80 about 15 miles from SHREVEPORT, from where I did a second walk of 10 miles. Upon returning to SPIA, found a major structural failure in SPIAs Motor Home.

Over the driver's cab is a sleeping area. On the Driver's side, the seam joining the horizontal (bottom portion which sits atop the cab) and the vertical (the actual side of the motor home) had separated from the front edge to about 4 feet back.

"Separated" means the side had come apart from the bottom, leaving a 1-inch gap between them.

I drove directly to a Mobile Home repair shop only to be told the damage was so extensive that he would not attempt to estimate how - and if - it could be repaired...even then, it would be three weeks before he could even work SPIA into his schedule.

Not the information I was hoping to hear. Having invested a few thousand $$ already in SPIA, another major expense is simply not acceptable. So, I drove SPIA to LOWE's. I stripped everything from the overhead bunk area, down to the bare wood and aluminum skin.

From the inside, the gap was at least 2 inches wide...the side of the motor home literally hanging in free space.

I began cleaning out rotted wood from the separated area, finding that the original construction used two 1-inch square pieces of wood - probably mahogany - with self-tapping wood screws to hold the side and bottom together...THAT WAS ALL THERE WAS...NOTHING FOR TRANSITIONAL SUPPORT.

In addition, some "flashing" strip was screwed to finish off the outside. Problem was that the flashing did not shed rain was so constructed that water funneled into the interior directly onto the two 1-inch wood strips...BOTH WOOD STRIPS WERE ROTTED AWAY.

For a few minutes, all kinds of negative thoughts raced through my recently concussed head. I stood on the driver's seat studying what it would take to repair SPIA so that such a failure could NOT happen again.

I came up with a "fix" which uses four 1-inch wide x 12-inch flat per-drilled steel angles. The "floor" part of the sleeping area had to hold the sides in close. I "installed" one angle into position on the floor with the vertical positioned where I wanted the wall to end up.

"Installed" means drilling three holes (angle was pre-drilled) through the floor and thru bolting 5/16" steel bolts. Then I drilled two holes in the vertical portion (of the wall) and thru bolted them. It pulled the wall in nicely.

I purchased some pre-drilled steel flat bars. One of the bars I used as a guide for placing the next angle to the floor and to the vertical. Drilled the appropriate holes, and using the flat bars for vertical reinforcing on the outside of the wall, inserted the bolts. The wall came together nicely again up to the floor.

I installed a third vertical to floor and wall, complete with bolts. The Motor Home structure is once again stable, but with a gap between the floor and wall about 4 feet long.

Must install a fourth angle in the morning. Ran out of daylight today.

All nuts are "finger tight" for the moment. When I am satisfied that I have a stable and rigid structure, I will remove one bolt at a time, apply sealant and reset the bolt. Will repeat with each bolt until the entire assembly is sealed. Flat bars will be used as "backing plates" on the outside....this as the "insulation" if there is any insulation, would otherwise compress when the bolts are tightened. Each nut has a lock washer for security.

Then, I will apply silicon - from the inside - to fill the remaining gap and seal off the remaining wood between the aluminum sheets from any future water penetration.

With the inside complete, I will finish off the outside seam - between the floor and side - with Silicon. Over that I will add self-adhesive aluminum "tape". The tape will be applied the entire 4 feet of prior separation and wrap over the floor and the wall. To assist the tape, I will add an epoxy to the aluminum surface. The epoxy will bond with the aluminum and also to the aluminum tape...I have used this process to repair a number of "holes" in metal window screens.

Over the edges of the tape, I will apply silicon to make the seam water proof.

Two comments regarding the engineering of SPIAs Motor Home.

1. The seams are held together with wood strips using self-tapping screws.

Comment: For a structure subjected to years of exposure to the elements and the "washboard" roads such as US 80 has been for the past few hundred miles; wood is entirely inappropriate.

2. There is NO insulation at the corners / seams. It appears there MAY be a thin sheet between the aluminum walls, but I cannot be certain.

Comment: No wonder it is like a furnace inside in the Summer and COLD in the Winter.

Those who designed and built SPIAs Motor Home must have gone to school to eat their lunch...they certainly were not paying attention to engineering matters.

Will spend a good part of tomorrow finishing the a total cost of about $30.00.

Tonight, I am again very tired...physically and emotionally; but, I WILL sleep in the bunk over the cab...if only to snub my nose at the Mobil Home Repair Shop earlier response.

Yes, I am trying to prove a few things about the ability of Old folks to be productive and contributing members of our Nation. I am not pleased in the manner Old Timers tend to be shuttled off to the Upper 40; i.e., put out to pasture...not to be seen or heard from again.

Perhaps it is time we "Oldsters" take charge of our own destiny.


Anonymous said...

Bruce, Excellent job on the Retro construct of the Mini RV. As you noted, those things were built with "Quick and Dirty" methods. The idea was that owners would soon tire of that life and dump them anyway.
On a personal note: Please don't lump all we Seniors into the catagory of the discarded.There are those of us who are very happy with our status. I've never felt Rejected by society. I enjoyed, and do enjoy, the life dealt to me. I see no reason for me to feel any loss at all.
Here's a thought for you and others who feel they are being put out to pasture.
It's a good thing that we seniors are no longer in the main stream. After all..Where would the YOUNG go if we still stood in the way?. It's life's and most of the world's culture's way of Making Room for GROWTH.
So, to the Older Generation I say, "Relax, enjoy what you have. It's more than YOUR older folks had. Make room for those bright young wonderful kids that are standing behind you"..
Bruce, Enjoy your walk. Don't try to Fit it into any Sad commentary on life's injustices. Just enjoy the view before you..


Bob said...

Here Here!!