Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Rot Repair 101, Continued

I can testify: Until you've done it, the idea of taking your vintage trailer apart for rot repair is daunting (use this link to go to Rot Repair 101, the earlier post on disassembly).

This is my 1965 Shasta compact, which sat under cover for 6 years until I learned the take-apart process with another trailer.

Thanks to my guinea-pig trailer, which turned out great, I lost my fear of removing pieces of a trailer, and also learned that the simple construction of a small vintage trailer makes it less complicated to fix than I'd feared.

Shastas have a reputation for rotting at the rear corners, and mine was no exception. Water had gotten in over time after the original seals got old and disintegrated. Because water always flows downhill, the moisture migrated to the 50-year-old rear corners, rotting them.

This is the right-rear corner. It was so soft from rot that I could pull it apart with a fingertip.

This is the same piece of the framing, higher up. The rot extended up about another foot, and went sideways into some horizontal framing pieces. The corresponding large frame piece on the other side was almost as bad. (Note the darker brown wood that's under the insulation--that's the backside of the interior paneling.)

The old frame pieces, before they were removed up to the point of healthy wood, were used as patterns to make new ones. Each one was custom-cut from a 1x6 piece of new lumber.

During the pattern process, places for wiring holes were marked and drilled. The pieces weren't fastened on until the holes were done.

Each new side piece was sprayed on its back side with a fast-set wood glue. Then it was butted up beneath what remained after the rotted section was removed.

Here's the curb-side section, set into place.

Next, the rotted 1x2 frame pieces were replaced. (They were removed before the side pieces went on.)

These pieces provide structural support, as well as surface area for nailing and connecting the side pieces.

Here is a completed rear corner. (You'll note some discolored old wood; it was allowed to remain as it wasn't rotten.)

And, here's the completed rear-end rot repair job, ready for new insulation to be added before the skin goes back on.

Cost: About $40 in lumber, and $20 for each 4x8 section of foam board insulation. As long as the skin was lifted, I went ahead and replaced as much old insulation as possible, all the way around.

We put the skins back on, then painted the trailer, and reinstalled the windows, door, vents, J-rail, and other trim with new butyl tape and edge sealant.

The finished product:


  1. Oh I have a feeling I will be referring back to this. Also the skirting board - nothing to keep it away from moisture so it's in 'that' kind of shape too.
    Thanks for sharing. Also, I like the idea of a guinea pig.

    1. The guinea-pig trailer was a great lesson in trailer anatomy--kind of like dissecting a frog. I also gained a new respect for keeping up the regular inspection and maintenance of the exterior seals. Time and weather take their toll, and it doesn't take much of a crack or break for water to find a way in.
      Thanks for reading the blog!

  2. Hi All, I am new to owning a vintage trailer - having just bought what we think to be either a 1957 or 56 Shasta. It had this dreaded rot but I was able to hire a fellow in Washington who does some old trailer repair to fix I think all of it. Now the rest of the trailer will need help- we decided first get the rot, then the rest. I was so sad to see the Shasta Vintage trailer forum was out of commission for new members. Looking to hook up with others who are into camping in these little units and would love to learn more about resources for my Shasta ... it has many original features I think, and I don't think has ever been repainted. Retirement for me is in 6 weeks, and I want to get her into camping shape. I don't do facebook - is there a forum for the camping girls? Looks like a great group to hook up with, enjoy and learn from! If there are any other Shasta owners who would be willing to look at pics of my little trailer and give suggestions on replacement parts, best ways of doing things, I would love to connect ...

    1. Unfortunately in your case, a great deal of Shasta discussion has moved to Facebook. Same thing is true for Girl Camping Girls--the group discussion format is on Facebook. You can find a lot of good Shasta repair info, and vintage trailer repair info in general, on youtube.

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