In 2003 we got our little Boler 1300. It
is a 1979 manufactured by Vangaurd (Neonex) in Kelowna.
Two weeks after getting it we christened it with a 3000km road trip:
Vancouver, San Francisco, almost Yosemite (turned back by passes closed with
snow), Grand Canyon, Zion, Yellowstone and back to Vancouver.
Just as we had hoped, it pulled great behind our Suzuki XL-7, we hardly
noticed we had it back there most of the time.
However, our Boler was showing signs of age and haphazard alterations by
a previous owner so we decided to do some renovations.
||Originally, our boler had
all the woodwork done with “fake wood”, either plywood or particle
board with the vinyl on top to give the appearance of real wood. The previous owner had painted over this, but the paint doesn’t
stick to the vinyl and as a result anywhere you rub against it the paint
comes off. This cupboard was
constantly shedding bits of paint into our pots
previous owners had also modified the front bench seat to a dinette.
We liked the dinette, but didn’t like how it was done.
The original bench was just hacked, same with the table. I added some support rails for the summer so we could use it
as another bed, but it definitely needed some work. Also, the seat on the
right was just a bit too small to be comfortable, and the seat on the left
was a bit too long so that it made sitting down a bit of an acrobatic
major annoyance was the shelf overhead the front dinette. It
too had been hacked and then had some floor molding nailed to it.
Sharp corners left after they cut the shelf meant that if you weren’t
careful when you stood up you would end up seeing stars.
The picture below is after I “modified” the pointy sharp
corners they had left. The
plywood trim around the windows had also delaminated, either from
condensation or a leak around the window some time in the past.
| The vent in the ceiling was
good all summer, but come the heavy rains of fall it started to leak.
Further inspection revealed that there was about a pound of
silicone around the vent, but apparently not enough to stop the leaks.
Looking closer showed that all of the screws for the vent had
rusted out of the wood blocks inside the trailer.
The roof also had a small sag in it, probably because they
manufacturer mounted a flat vent in a round roof!
kitchen wasn’t too bad. The formica counter could use some
updating, there was some rust on the overhead stove vent, and some rust
on the stove itself.
rear table had been permanently converted to a bed; all the hardware for
the table had been removed and the tabletop had been replace by a bunch of
¾”x4” planks. This
worked for the summer, but we wanted the flexibility of using it as a
rear cupboard is a bit of a bizarre thing.
To start with the sliding doors don’t work very well in that they
don’t slide back far enough to give you good access to the far corners
of the cupboard. On top of
that, a previous haphazard installation of a car stereo meant that the
right sliding door could barely move over at all before it hit the radio.
The plywood around the rear window was also delaminated and
generally very sad looking.
The floor has old brittle vinyl with newer layer of vinyl laid on top of that.
The “popcorn” insulation on the inside of the trailer had been
painted with some kind of spraypaint in the past, but the painting was uneven
(some areas only partly covered), and it had been done long enough ago that
things were discolored a bit. Other
than that things weren’t too bad inside.
All of the lower cupboards were very dusty inside; we spent a fair bit of
time on logging roads last summer and the holes for electric and propane in the
bottom of the trailer hadn’t been sealed to keep dust out.
The door also had a bit of a gap that let dust in too.
Outside, the trailer didn’t look too bad.
It had been painted with a roller and brush, but they had done a pretty
good job. However, lots of silicone
had been gooped over old leaks and around the belly-band and windows and the
previous owners had just painted over this silicone.
The paint didn’t stick to the silicone, so anywhere there was silicone
the paint was coming off.
An Adventure Begins
it was time for and update. I
planned to move the Boler into the garage to do most of the work.
But before that I wanted to get the paint off the roof while it was
still outside and there was lots of room to work. I ended up using 3M safest stripper. It worked OK in that it didn’t attack the gelcoat of the
trailer, but it also didn’t exactly peel the paint off either. It just softens the paint enough that you can scrape it off
with a putty-knife and some serious elbow grease.
Unfortunately, we had unusually warm fall weather that made things
more difficult because it causes the stripper to dry out. In the end, after an 8hr day, I was able to get the roof
stripped, but that was it. Since
rain was in the forecast we decided the rest of the stripping could be
done in the garage later (roof vent still leaking).
After some careful measuring I figured we could get the boler into the garage
using smaller wheels. So, with a
pair of 8” wheels from Princess Auto mounted we went to move the trailer into
the garage and ……. It didn’t
budge. I neglected to account
for the fact that unlike most bolers ours doesn’t have a torsion axle but
instead has a conventional leaf-spring axle (a 3” drop axle to be exact).
Anyway, the bottom of the leaf springs were sitting about 1/8” below
the bottom of the wheels!!! Ok, get out some 1” boards and roll the wheels on that so
the leaf springs are off the ground, now push it into the garage and….. bump.
Even with the vent off things were close (I knew it would be, but the
trailer was supposed to be sitting about an inch lower!!).
Anyway, with the help of a come-a-long attached to the far end the garage
we managed to coax the boler in. It
really just brushed against the metal flashing around the garage door J No
damage to the boler or the garage.
up on the list was to get a look at the frame.
It had some rust but not too bad.
However, the only parts that looked to be painted were those that
you could easily see or paint. So,
off comes the egg. This wasn’t
too bad, a couple of bottle jacks, a grinder and 3 hours later the egg and
frame had been separated. Amazingly
the egg is only held to the frame by six bolts!!!!
All of which were very rusty, the worst of which was about 1/3
thinner than it should have been due to rusting away.
I then used a
grinder with a wire brush attached to clean all the old paint and rust off
the frame. About four or five
evenings work. The
frame looked pretty good, no major rust problems, no cracks in the welds,
and everything was still aligned properly.
The frame on our boler is a bit beefier than others I have
seen. I’m not sure whether
this is just ours, or if all of them made by Vangaurd in Kelowna are like
that. It also does not have
the sunken floor area in the middle of the trailer like most bolers do;
the floor is just flat without the dinettes at the front and back being
raised. The picture here is
the frame upside down with the axle removed in the background, everything
stripped and ready for painting.
evenings of painting later and things are looking a lot better.
I brushed on tremclad gloss black.
Hopefully it stands up OK. It’s
a lot less work than using automotive rust converter and then painting
again. I’ve also used some
blue stryrofoam to close up the open ends of the frame after spraying some
rust inhibitor inside.
of the more alarming discoveries so far was the condition of the
soft-copper propane lines under the trailer.
Here is a picture of one section.
The copper pipe was totally unprotected under the trailer and as a
result was constantly assaulted by a barrage of rocks.
It is a wonder we did not have any leaks!!
putting the frame back under the trailer I wanted to seal the plywood and
caulk closed any spaces between the plywood and the edges of the
fiberglass egg. The plywood
had been treated with something before, I’m not sure what exactly, it is
a bit soft and greasy when you scrape it.
I wasn’t sure what would stick to it, so I sanded it (while
wearing a respirator and vacuuming up all the dust) and then tried some
rubberized automotive undercoat on it.
It stuck, so that is what I used!
For caulking I used polyurethane caulk because it is supposed to
stick more aggressively than silicone.