Saturday, August 26, 2017

Rebuilding “Ms. Merry”, the Amerigo–And The Mystery of the Trampoline Floor–Part 3

When we left off in Part 2, we’d just finished busting our Merry’s old rear floor.  

Now, we’re building in her new floor frame Smile

Because we wanted to try and eliminate as much floor sag as possible from Miss Merry’s rump and make it strong enough to support the new, larger holding tank, we beefed up alot of her floor with new 2x4s and 2x6s to take the strain. 

We also needed to beef up her floor frame to take the strain from her new three step folding staircase that was going in as well Smile

Sadly, we’ve apparently lost some of the photos, likely when Mr. Tabs had a bad case of the busted operating systems and had to undergo emergency overhauling to get him back into functional condition Sad smile.  


As part of our process to eliminate the rump sag, we put in some diagonal bracing at the bottom of wing wall on Miss Merry’s driver side and extended the 2x6 load bearing timber clear up to the main carrier beam at the top of the wall. 

You can see Mr. Pumps the bottle jack where he came to rest on the floor when our cribbing blocks gave way and popped me in the face with a 2x3 we’d been using to stretch the framing in the rear of the driver’s side wall back into shape and remove the bend in the lumber before we secured the new 2x6 in place to carry the load from one of the Atwood Jacks.  

Miss Merry’s temporary floor can also be seen that was used while we stretched the wall.  

From underneath, you can see the new front 2x5 (We had to cut off some in order for the beam to clear the bumper) that took the place of the original 2x6 that ran the width of the floor when Merry was first built and had been cut away by the last owner and replaced with a chunk of angle iron in order to fit Miss Merry on his much newer pickup. 

A second, full 2x6 was installed and through bolted through the base of Merry’s rear wall to help remove the side to side sag that the rear end was having.   The last bit of the sag won’t be completely gone until we reinstall the interior walls that helped support Merry’s rear weight, since these bolts are accessible even after completion, we can adjust their tightness over time to take up any slack that may form in the wood as Miss Merry flexes from traveling. 

The photos of this were sadly part of what was lost, so we’ll have to take new ones later one when we show the under side work for the new mixed waste tank and the enclosed compartment.  For now, you’ll just have to go by our description Sad smile

The rear wall 2x6 takes the place of the piece of 5/8” plywood that originally was part of the over hang skirt that goes around the underside of an Amerigo’s overhang.   We had to temporarily stretch Merry’s fiberglass rear skin back just enough to allow for us to drive twelve inch carriage bolts through the bottom of the rear wall frame, 5/8” of plywood and the 2x6” stiffening beam.   A total of ten of these bolts go through the frame and the beam, with 2x3s glued and anchored over their heads.  
Why didn’t we go through those 2x3s and well?   There was no way to get a straight on angle to drive the bolts in with the extra thickness, it was barely doable with the original beams and we wanted to be able to retighten these bolts later when the wood dries and shrinks (Causing the bolts to loosen), something that wouldn’t be possible if we flipped them over and put the nuts on the inside of the wall.   So, our compromise was going through the original beam and then laminating the two, bolt heads and all together.  


Before the finished floor was put in (all once piece of plywood, now), we temporarily fitted the new stairs in place so we could drill the holes through the frame, that way we could easily punch through the plywood later to make the counter sink holes for the nuts, unlike the wall, the floor in Miss Merry will be floating, so all we have to do to tighten those bolts is to remove a couple pieces of trim and lift up the vinyl flooring. 

Once that was done, we were able to cut the finish sheet of plywood and permanently install it in place Smile

Again, the photo after it was installed was lost, so we’re using one of the later photos to show you the new floor in place as best we can.  


Once the new floor was finished, we turned our energy towards installing the extra framing being added to help support the load from the much larger three-step folding steps that were taking the place of the original two step.  

To help accomodate this, an extra 2x4 was installed in the floor frame and then from underneath, a lamination of a notched 2x6 and a 2x4 were attached and then through bolted through the floor and clear through the beam.   A section of 5/8” plywood was cut to match and then laminated onto the front to give the beam coverage as a nice clean solid surface.  


In the shot below its still in its gray primer, the finished area with its spray skirting to protect the stiffening beam of the rear wall were given four coats of flat black oil based enamel paint to finish them once in place (missing some photos here as well, we’ll include some finished ones in “Miss Merry gets a Step up!”).   The stiffening beam was also painted before the skirting board was installed.   All screw heads were counter sunk slightly and the holes sealed over with black elastomeric caulk.  

The opposite side will receive a similar treatment but with a longer board made of 1/2” plywood to match the sides of the tank compartment, which hangs down to the bottom of the bumper. 

The reason the step compartment skirt is shorter is due to the lack of a similar piece near the bumper due to lack of space, the new step unit takes up all of the space available with its clearances needed to allow it to hinge in and out. 



That wraps up Part 3 of the Trampoline floor Mystery and brings the bouncy floor to its end.   Merry’s floor is now solid as a rock and durable enough to take regular long period use off the truck without failing or being spongy.  

Next up, we’re going start into some initial work for the plumbing for the new shower and bathroom, so that we can get all the holes cut in the floor Smile.  

See you soon!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Rebuilding “Ms. Merry”, the Amerigo–And The Mystery of the Trampoline Floor–Part 2

Once again, the Gang and I have had to change gears Sad smile.   We discovered that when we went up on the ladder that we couldn’t reach the entirity of the roof area that needed to be sanded and re-fiberglassed. 

So, that leaves us with the only other option at the moment since Ms. Merry can’t be dismounted from Red’s back until she’s fully put back together.  

Standing on a step ladder inside and doing it from the middle of the skylight opening.  

Yay Sad smile…….

In order to that, we will need to come back and finish one of Ms. Merry’s earlier work areas, the Trampoline Floor.  

Last year, we rebuilt the front portion of the floor as we explored to discover why Merry’s floor was so bouncy.  The rear portion of the floor was left undone do to the need to remove the bathroom, which we admit, we tried to put off as much as possible, because we knew what kind of nightmare it was going to become once we got that shower out and started tearing into the rear floor 

Unfortunately, with the need to basically stand in the middle of the toilet and the old shower pan, removing the shower could no longer be put off any longer. 

The upside is once its done, Ms. Merry’s floor will be fully enclosed at last and we’ll only be a short step away from hanging the rear section of ceiling in place so that the rear wall board can go in place Smile

The first challenge was getting out the old Aqua Magic Galaxy Toilet.  


Out of all of Thetford’s designs, this one seems to be the one designed to be the greatest pain in the rear to remove. 

Removal requires removing a plug in the top and using eighteen inches of extensions, a universal joint adapter and a deep well 1/2” socket in order to back off the rear flange bolt. 

Removing the front bolt requires keeping the foot pedal depressed so you can use a ratcheting box end wrench to back the front flange bolt out. 

This went okay until the johnny bolt in the rear broke loose in the closet flange and started spinning, making it impossible to finish backing the nut off. 

Mercifully, the front bolt came out without any problems. 

In the end, Big Joe had to come to the rescue and with a lot of swearing, Ms. Merry’s old water closet flange gave way and the toilet went airborne, flying up high enough to clear the shower walls before crashing back onto the floor. 

At last the stubborn old toilet was out!


Only to discover it was anchored to the floor with those damn blasted Security Screws from hell…… Crying face


Come on Big Joe, Five Pound, we’ve got more screws to pull out….. Sad smile

Once we had popped and pulled all of the tooth grinding screws out, we were blessed with a small mercy, the flange was threaded into the tank, a couple minutes with lil’ Joe and Five Pound, and we had the flange loose and we used the remaining johnny bolt to spin it out.


At last! 

Now, to get that drain out….. Dang it…. it’s inner cross piece broke off….. Where’s my big flat head screw driver…..

The shower drain, which I at one time thought of saving and reusing ended up having to be shattered with a flat head screw driver as the inner tree broke off when we tried to back it out.  Once it’s flange was out, I left the remaining thread in the pipe, as all of the remaining plumbing plus the old tank were on their way to the dumpster. 

At last, we were able to pull the old shower out and expose the last of the floor, untouched and unseen since Merry rolled off the assembly line in 1975.  

It was really…. really dirty……


That’s all road dirt that had blown up into Miss Merry’s undercarriage in all the years she’d traveled, coming up around the gap in the floor around the shower drain pipe that went straight through the floor and hung underneath, fully exposed to the elements and road spray.  


The debris is from the removal of the old shower, and the wood, ironically enough, has only surface discoloring, no dry rot was found.  

With the shower out, it was time to remove the last of the original wall paneling so that the old floor could at last be removed.

While preparing to remove the last of the old wall paneling, we found another time capsule from when Merry was originally built.  


Still afixed to the vent stack for the holding tank, was a piece of scotch tape with notes listing its use and its source.    Much like the “Ken Smith” written on the side of Merry’s fridge, we’ve found a number of notes left behind by the folks who built Merry forty-two years ago Smile.

If we can find a way, we may preserve a few of these tid bits in Merry’s table top when we get to that stage, so they can continue to travel on with Merry.  

With Merry’s new shower, the new vent stack will be painted and visible within it, and sadly, we won’t be able to reuse the original Bristol, Indiana made vent pipes as they’re too short to make the run from where the vent pipe elbow will be to reach the vent cap on the roof.  

Once we cut off the vent pipe, it took some work with Big Joe the crowbar to break Merry’s old holding tank loose from the floor.   We had to remove it in this fashion due to the use of those dang blasted crescent moon screws that were used in every facet of Merry’s construction, backing them out was not possible.  


As you can see in the photo, the original toilet flange was off center of the tank due to the bathroom being off center to accomodate for the vent pipe.   With the new tank and bathroom, the flange is now direct dead center on the deepest point of the tank.   We’ll go over this in a later chapter covering the cutting of the floor holes for the new plumbing and ducting for Merry’s heated tank compartment that will go under the floor.  

With the tank finally out, we were able to begin the demolition of the rear floor.

Sadly, one of the main members we had left in place broke at a large knot in the board as we were prying up the old 5/8” three section plywood that made up the original floor. 


You can see the flimsy door skin material that was used on the underside of Miss Merry, we simply punched through it with a few blows of our feet and Big Joe.  

Looks like we’ve got some clean up to do, so stay tuned, we’ll continue the floor rebuild in Part 3 Smile.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Rebuilding “Ms. Merry” the Amerigo–Merry Raises the Roof–Part 2

When we last left you off, we were just getting the new rear roof framing in place for Ms. Merry’s bathroom. 

We’re starting off in part 2, gluing in the five millimeter plywood cut to give the roof a crown around where the raised ceiling and vents are going to go.  We’ve also framed in the last vent opening, for where Old Mr. Kit’s fantastic fan is going to be installed, replacing the original rear roof vent of Ms. Merry’s Smile

Poor Mr. Dremel worked his heart out cutting out those openings, his little blades are all worn down to nubs, now Sad smile and my poor arms were jelly by the time we got done.  Mr. Dremel’s going to have to take a break soon until we make a run to Home Depot to get him some more!


Once the holes were all done, we started fastening the pieces of old fiberglass roof in to the odd shaped holes and Mr. Dremel struggled on a little more to cut them flush to the new openings. 

I think it came out pretty good, and once we clean and sand it, we’ll be putting some new fiberglass on to seal the roof all back up into once piece again Smile


Thanks to the new Park Manager, Mr. Willy, we were able to get a ladder tall enough to get up topside of Ms. Merry and start the cleaning.  For now, we just cleaned around the bathroom’s new vent opening so we could get it installed, there’s rain on the way and we need to get Ms. Merry battened down before it hits!

P1150702For Ms. Merry’s new bathroom vent, we went with a Ventline RV Roof Vent White w/ 12 Volt Fan.  

The Gang and I really like really liked this vent because it unlike most of the classic Elxir and Jensen vents, the screen doesn’t require you to remove the interior trim ring to remove the screen for cleaning. 

Just unclip and rinse, much easier than having to remove the knob, the anchor screws for the bezel, then the outer trim ring just to clean the screen!

We’re going to install a Camco vent cover over that vent later once the roof work is all done.  

Can you believe it?  We’re almost done with the roof!  

Here’s our remaining work list, and then we can close it in!

  • Pull the light wiring for the light above the dinette
  • Pull the light wiring for the interior entrace area light
  • Pull the speaker wire for the stereo speakers going on the underside of the dinette cabinet
  • Pull the wire for the TV Antenna
  • Pull the wire for the Radio Antenna (In theory we should be able to connect to the Winnegard antenna, but we’re not sure yet) 
    Pull the wiring for the bathroom light and bathroom fan
  • Pull the wiring for the Air Conditioner (First 110volt wire to be installed!)
  • Pull the wiring for the porch light

Still looks like alot to do, but its all small things, a number of which can be done in a single day Smile.  The slow one will be pull the TV wire, as we need to get some more parts to make more coax cables. 

In the interim, we’ve gotten the holes drilled out for pull the light wires.   Found the bit used for the Kreg Jig for the dimensional lumber is big and long enough to work great as an auger for drilling deep wire holes into bigger boards Smile.  

Drills Milwaukee was able to bore clean through a 2x2 and a 2x4 without any trouble!


Our last piece for this chapter, we’ve cleaned the roof above where the raised roof frame goes in and glued and screwed it into place.


Next up, fiberglassing the roof in Part 3 Smile