Backside Skin

We worked on this trailer nearly every weekend of the summer – which meant putting in 10 – 12 hour days at points, racing to finish whatever we were doing before we lost light or starved.  We were tired and dirty and covered with tiny cuts by the time Sunday evening rolled around.  We’d pack up, go back to work for the week, and before we knew it, it was Friday again, and the Shasta was waiting.  We’d done the front and curb side, so the next weekend we had we started on the back side.  As I said in the previous post, there was nothing to do but keep going.  Or give up and sell it on eBay.  But we weren’t at that point – yet!


Rear Skin

That thin layer of fiberglass is all the insulation you get.

The front and curb side had been in good condition, but we knew that the rear of the vehicle had some water damage because of what we could see on the inside of the trailer along the back wall, especially the back right interior side behind the table. As we removed the aluminum from the rear, we saw a lot of damage to the main board across the top of the window, the right side window frame, and the board below the access door. The small side board shouldn’t be too hard to replace – we’d already realized we’d need to replace the same board on the front of the trailer – but the board across the top of the window spanned the width of the vehicle and needed to be sturdy for overall support.  On the front of the trailer we thought it wasn’t bad enough to be removed entirely and could just use a little extra support, but the rear beam would need to be removed and replaced.


Damage to bottom rear board

The board at the bottom of the rear access panel needs to go.

Many small rotted plywood squares fell out as we removed the skin.  We couldn’t figure out what we were looking at.  They were about five inches across, with circles cut out of the centers, and we eventually realized they were what the running lights had been screwed into. They had been made out of plywood that had separated into thin individual layers due to moisture seeping into the frame.  We hadn’t noticed them in the front because they had remained in place when we took the skin off.   We would need to replace these before we reassembled the trailer – OK, we added them to our list of boards and pieces that would need to be cut.


Rotted board across the top of the rear.

That board across the top of the window is rotted on the curb side, and the right side of the window frame is even worse.

The trailer is made of several layers, and we dealt with all of them when trying to repair the water damage with minimal disturbance to the interior veneer.  This interior veneer is what you see on the inside walls of the trailer – in older trailers it’s actual wood, but by ’72 they were using a cheap faux wood paneling, about 1/8 inch thick.  This veneer was backed by thin plywood, which, in addition to the beams that make up the frame, took the brunt of the water damage.  This meant that there were places where all that remained undamaged was the veneer, and the plywood backing had flaked away.  There was significant damage to the plywood interior wall on the curbside rear corner, but the veneer was still mostly intact, thankfully. We knocked out what rotted plywood pieces we could – it literally looked like damp sawdust, and crumbled to the touch.


We were disappointed that there was damage to the large board across the back window, but it would all be replaceable. There was nothing we could really do about the damaged plywood, but since the veneer was still intact it wouldn’t present a cosmetic problem in the long run.  The plywood was so thin to begin with that it wouldn’t present a problem structurally, either.  We were confident that once we replaced the frame boards, the rear would be back to 1972 condition.  The street side of the trailer was next on the list, and we expected it to have the most water damage – however, since we got to put that off to another weekend, we’ll put that off to another post as well.

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