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1984 Skamper 072S


85_Ranger4x4

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On facebook a guy shared a writeup on how to fix this style of lift system (HECO) Somebody gave it to him so he didn't write it and nobody really knows where it came from. Sounds pretty plausible though:

To repair the rear backboard, leaving the roof mounted to the camper, the first thing to do is raise the roof and remove the tension of the torsion bars. The torsion lift system uses a rear “set” bracket to provide the twist to the torsion bars to help raise the roof. In the neutral position (off the camper) the set is usually about 7 degrees. This means the roof bar’s 2 drop legs will tilt out at 7 degrees if the roof was off and sat upside down.
When the roof is raised, place blocks under the sides of the roof for support to keep it up. You can either cut 2x4’s and jam them up off the lower body to the bulb seal or use full length boards off the ground.
Then the lift bars will need to be disconnected from the front rack crank mechanism and the rear pivot support. Remove the bolt from the pivot in the rear and then the one in the front lift bar. This will free the lower support “U” bar. That’s the you need to support the roof being up with 2x4 blocks.
The next step is to release the tension of the torsion bars in the upper part of the system. This usually takes 2 people. The front straight bar that is slid over the roof drop leg is bolted to the front rack at the foot of the bed, Remove the ¼ hex screw that sets the height of that bar to the drop leg because it will need to be pulled off. Once that screw is removed and the front lower bolt is removed from the front rack, a second person needs to grab the drop bar in the rear of the camper and use it as a lever to pull in enough to provide the angle to slide the long front bar off the upper drop leg. Once that long tube is slid off, the back bar can return to is neutral position. The bottom part of the leg with angle out towards the tent. Now all tension is off the rear corner set bracket in the back of the roof.
This must be done on both sides if the back board is so rotted the entire back needs to be replaced. If it is just one corner, the opposite side can be left as is.
Now, the deconstruction can begin to get to the rotted plywood. The canvas tent will need to be dropped in the corner. Some of the older campers stapled and screwed the tent to the interior of the roof, some used a plastic extrusion to clip the tent in with a tab sewn to the top of the tent. Once the tent is dropped to expose the interior corner, the rear steel set bracket can be removed. The cast corners on each side needs to be removed next. There may be a screw set straight up from the inside to hold the very top lip of the corner in place, some manufacturers only used the rivets in the exterior extrusion and silicone to hold the corners.
To remove the “h” extrusion, the bulb seal needs to be pulled out of the track and the screws holding it in place need to be removed. I have left the clearance light wires hold the extrusion while I repair the plywood, but it is much more convenient to get it out of the way by disconnecting the wires from the side markers. The R.O.L lights use a brass finger to hold the wire pushed in from the backside. If you pop the lens off, you can use a screwdriver to lift the brass finger holding the wires and pull it out of the back of the light.
There may be a small steel angle bracket in the corner also that will need to be removed too!
Now the entire back corner should be exposed. This is when I determine which repair method is needed.

If the plywood is dry and hard across the back except right in the very corner, you can just splice in new plywood. If the rot extends towards the center or if bother corners show rot, the entire back section needs to be replaced.
Replacing just the corner will involve cutting the back board where the rot stops to remove all the soft material. Then cut though one layer of the plywood back board about a foot from the end of the previous cut. This will give the replacement board support for slicing it back into place.
Once all the soft, rotted plywood is removed from the repair area, sand away as much of the epoxy left on the inside of the roof metal.
If the entire back plywood back board is going to be replaced, just get the metal as smooth as possible to hold the adhesive to the new back board.
The replacement wood needs to be 1” thick and it is usually 2 pieces of 1’2” plywood glued and fastened together. The replacement piece on the single corner fix will need to have 2 different length ½” boards. One the length of the original cut to the corner and the second, longer piece to reach the cut of the second one layer of plywood. That longer tongue provides the bonding area to keep the repair board straight and strong. Using high strength adhesive like Sika Flex , bond the new replacement piece to the existing back board and roof metal. Clamp in place until dry.
Screws can help hold the plywood splice also.
Now the roof can be reassembled in the reverse steps. The rear corner set bracket needs to be installed horizontal to the back wall. This will allow the torsion bar to provide the correct lift pressure. On some of the older campers, I noticed that only ¼” bolts where used to hold the bracket to the back wall. I replace those with 5/16” bolts.

There have been a couple roofs that had very little rot in the corners, but the mounting bolts were beginning to twist under pressure. With that little damage, I could use thin steel plate the width of the corner set bracket for the repair. I bent the plate at a 90-degree angle with legs long enough to bite into solid wood on both the side and rear. I used a multi hole pattern of 3/16” holes to mount the plate into place and used the corner bracket to mark the holes needed to mount that. That gave the rear corner enough reinforcement to hold for many years

And of course since nobody else has done it I hope to make a pictorial thing as I go on how I do it...

This is what I have going on (roof is up so you don't see as much of the bracket as you do when it is down)



This was my temporary solution to keep it dry until I got it inside. The whole roof needs resealed too, I goobered here and there with clear silicone where it was really bad, I didn't clean anything so it would be easier to remove when I actually resealed it.

 


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Uncle Gump

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The other corner didn't look bad... but until you drop the canvas...

I hope this goes smooth for you man.

Also... every time I see it... kinda makes me sad it's gone. But I believe it's in the right place...
 

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Ranger, do not ever ever ever use silicone on a rv roof. That stuff was never meant to be used outside, and unless absolutely positively removed, nothing will ever stick to that area again.
The best stuff to use on that roof is Eternabond Tape, and for caulk, an RV product called Dicor. It is what 95% of us rv owners use. The proper way to reseal that roof is to clean it using something like Tilex, which will remove any mold/mildew.
When dry, go over the area you wish to seal with some acetone, especially the area you put silicone on. Then apply the Eternabond.
That stuff if aplied right will last many years. I have areas on my rv that I sealed when we bought it in 2012, and its still as watertight as the day it was applied.
The Dicor is used when recaulking a seam like the area in your photo where the roof meets the metal railing. Clean it as mentioned, and just caulk as you would any other seam.
2 types of Dicor, self leveling for flat surfaces, and lap sealant for vertical seams.
You can get either at any rv store, but cheapest is via Amazon. I have a roll of Eternabond and a tube of Dicpor that stay in the motorhome when we travel..
 

85_Ranger4x4

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Ranger, do not ever ever ever use silicone on a rv roof. That stuff was never meant to be used outside, and unless absolutely positively removed, nothing will ever stick to that area again.
The best stuff to use on that roof is Eternabond Tape, and for caulk, an RV product called Dicor. It is what 95% of us rv owners use. The proper way to reseal that roof is to clean it using something like Tilex, which will remove any mold/mildew.
When dry, go over the area you wish to seal with some acetone, especially the area you put silicone on. Then apply the Eternabond.
That stuff if aplied right will last many years. I have areas on my rv that I sealed when we bought it in 2012, and its still as watertight as the day it was applied.
The Dicor is used when recaulking a seam like the area in your photo where the roof meets the metal railing. Clean it as mentioned, and just caulk as you would any other seam.
2 types of Dicor, self leveling for flat surfaces, and lap sealant for vertical seams.
You can get either at any rv store, but cheapest is via Amazon. I have a roll of Eternabond and a tube of Dicpor that stay in the motorhome when we travel..
I used it to seal it for a week until I got tires and a hitch put on my pickup box trailer so I could get it moved inside. Its inside now until I get time to work on it, probably this winter and when I get done fixing the structure I will pick off all the clear, clean everything and reseal it with the right stuff.

I did it over the mold and dirt purposely so it would be easier to remove, I cleaned nothing. Everything will be cleaned when I reseal it because I don't want anything between the camper and sealant. I just wanted it to keep water out and from my foil cake pan from blowing away.

I didn't see the point in doing it "right" for a week when I have to take it all apart yet anyway... and I didn't want the ceiling destroyed in the mean time because I knew it was going to get caught outside in a few showers (I sneaked it in the shop at work at night but it had to go out during the day)
 

85_Ranger4x4

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The other corner didn't look bad... but until you drop the canvas...

I hope this goes smooth for you man.

Also... every time I see it... kinda makes me sad it's gone. But I believe it's in the right place...
We will see how it goes, I am really tempted to pull a "while I am here" and at least do the rear and both sides. I don't know how far a sheet of plywood will take me but I think it would do at least that much. Its all the same age...
 

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Gotcha, and understand. Just wanted to give you a heads up about using silicone on an rv, if you weren't aware.
Many on an rv forum used that clear silicone to reseal seams and window frames, only to find out it will literally peel off. The residue it leaves behind is damn near impossible to remove.
Only an application of mineral spirits followed by several scrubbings with acetone will remove it.
After you patch that hole, slap some Eternabond over it as a patch. The tape, once you put it on, is on. You pretty much need a heat gun to remove it
RV's are notorius for leaking or developing leaks. When we got ours new, in 2012, I laid the Eternabon down over all the roof to body seams, and 8 years later the bond is still as good as new, and have never had a leak.
 

85_Ranger4x4

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I have done a little playing with it, found a copy of the manual for the heater online (attached if anybody else needs it or in case I lose it)











We won't be in my barn when we play with that...

Also changed the shore power cover hatch, I used new stainless screws too.









I broke the bottom out of one of the clearance lights, they are getting brittle. At 5 bucks a pop they are cheap "free Amazon shipping" fodder to replace them one at a time I guess. The amber ones are pretty faded.

 

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85_Ranger4x4

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Now for the porch light...



I have power



The switch feels like it is full of sand and doesn't click. Wire is really weak going to the socket which is full of rust. I found a new switch on Amazon and a new socket at the local parts store. I couldn't find one that clipped in the same so I got one the right size to swap the guts with.



So I bead blasted the socket and swapped guts



If anybody needs the handle or lens, the part number for the handle is Bargman 07-32-010



All ready to try



And let there be light!

 

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5 or so years ago I rebuilt an '74 vintage popup camper. Among many issues was the roof. I ended up having a local HVAC shop make me panels out of galvanized sheet metal for the roof skin and sealed them together with a product called Eternabond. It's pretty good stuff. That hole of yours could probably be fixed good enough for a season (or longer) with a small piece of metal stuck on for rigidity and covering it with the Eternabond tape. If you decide to use it, the stuff is amazingly tacky and will stick to everything on the way from the roll to your intended location. Keeping it in the freezer until you are ready to cut a piece and put it on helps a lot.

Also, for what it's worth the thinner Aluminum on mine had pinholes and very thin spots throughout. And if you use caulk to seal, make sure it's non-acidic. I think most silicone uses acetic acid to cure and can damage aluminum.

If any of this was said already, sorry I missed it.

Good luck with your camper project. It was a lot of work, but we are glad to have ours now. It's not a cookie cutter camper like all the others we see, and no loan payments!
 

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Current plan is this for the roof (mainly around the vent IIRC)


And this around everything else


I haven't heard of the acid thing, I will have to check into that.

The hole is almost a slash more than a proper "hole". Grumpa suggested using your tape stuff, I think that is going to be my plan of action. I will see what it looks like when I get it all apart though.

Also thinking about making aluminum plates to reinforce the bolt holes so they don't pull thru so easily in 20+ years when the roof needs redone again.
 

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I think Dicor is RV specific stuff so it should do the trick without having to worry about the acid cure.

I did a lot of reinforcing on mine. The popup is a Bethany, which used linkages with springs (like garage door extension springs) to take most of the roof weight while pushed up by hand instead of the crank-up type thing that was more common. The roof was polystyrene foam sandwiched between thin sheet metal on the inside and plywood covered with vinyl on the outside. I got a little carried away with beefing things up; between the sheet metal roof and the Aluminum cross bars I put into the roof assembly as well as reinforcing the corners it got pretty heavy and it's nearly a two man job to hoist the roof. My wife and I can manage ok, but it's getting to the point where it's tough to do by myself. Something to keep in mind when reinforcing as it's easy to get carried away.
 

85_Ranger4x4

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I think Dicor is RV specific stuff so it should do the trick without having to worry about the acid cure.

I did a lot of reinforcing on mine. The popup is a Bethany, which used linkages with springs (like garage door extension springs) to take most of the roof weight while pushed up by hand instead of the crank-up type thing that was more common. The roof was polystyrene foam sandwiched between thin sheet metal on the inside and plywood covered with vinyl on the outside. I got a little carried away with beefing things up; between the sheet metal roof and the Aluminum cross bars I put into the roof assembly as well as reinforcing the corners it got pretty heavy and it's nearly a two man job to hoist the roof. My wife and I can manage ok, but it's getting to the point where it's tough to do by myself. Something to keep in mind when reinforcing as it's easy to get carried away.
Mine is the HECO style with the crank and torsion springs. Roof is just an aluminum skin with structural foam poured on it for rigidity and 1x6"ish boards around the perimeter... the lift isn't made to lift much for weight.. I am just thinking a four aluminum plates a couple inches square, they won't be an issue for weight.
 

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Pulled the icebox out to check out the wiring behind it. Wiring to the right goes to the truck, toward the camera (swerves left out of frame) goes to the inverter and up goes up the wall of the camper.





Nothing outwardly wrong but I did notice two wires for the inverter were pinched from the factory:



I think the second green wire that comes down at the back passenger side of the camper is actually for the porch light, not a second running light circuit. It goes straight from the truck or inverter and has nothing to do with the running light circuit.

I pulled that bottom board out to make sure the wiring didn't get hurt (it looked fine) and to unpinch it... seems they were behind on their wire clamp quota so they just threw a couple extras in...



So I grabbed an old battery and marveled at the difference between the old and new lenses. Front clearance lights didn't heal themselves.



So crud, I followed the wiring around, it goes counter clockwise around the camper so it has to be a problem at the front outside amber light. They are all sort of daisy chained together kind of like the old christmas lights but rather than the bulbs it is dependent on the connections... and the wire looks like crap where it is pinched in the housings. I can see no injuries in the wiring between the front red clearance light and the farthest back amber light.



So I clipped power/ground to the outside drivers side clearance light (the last one in the string) and voila, all the front clearance lights work... but none of the rears. I didn't think until I got in the house I should have looked into it and seen if it was the power or ground it needed.



So the problem is for sure somewhere on the passenger side of the camper... and I am going to have all that off when I redo the sides so there isn't much point in pursuing it farther right now. I looked at the boards some more, the front board seems ok, I can almost pull the passenger side board off at the front without trying too hard (I don't really want to do that yet)... so it is rotten stem to stern at least on that side.

I went ahead and popped it up, kinda fun to play with it again.

 


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