I made some pretty good progress on this project today, despite the lack of enthusiasm I have been feeling because of all the rust and rot in the storage compartment framing behind the rear wheels. I wasn't exactly sure how to tackle this, so I took a piece of the "hat channel" with me to Tractor Supply to see if I could come up with a way to extend it using readily available steel. I picked up about $75 worth of angle iron, flat stock, and a few cutoff wheels for my 4" angle grinder and headed back home.
As you can see from the pics below, I now have the storage compartment rebuilt.
My welding and fabrication skills are pretty amateurish, but everything seems solid. The piece of angle you see inside the hat channel runs all the way down to the bottom of the flat plate that I used as an extension to replace the rot that was cut off. I was able to get pretty good penetration on the thicker angle without burning holes in the thin "hat channel."
I ended up keeping the old rusty angle located at the back and bottom of the compartment... after getting all the scale knocked off of it, it seemed like it was still sturdy enough to do it's job, and since a new piece of angle long enough to replace it was $25, I figured I'd save a few bucks.
The original angle on the front was 2.5" tall... and of course neither TSN or Home Depot had any angle iron that size, so I improvised by using a 2" angle and welding a 1" wide piece of flat stock inside the angle so it sticks up 1/2". I even managed to get the little corner radius pieces made and welded in today.
The paint that I sprayed on to help cover up the welds may or may not hold up... but I'm not too concerned about it. Before I put the interior panels back in the compartment, I'm going to spray everything down with some Blaster "Corrosion Stop."
This stuff is amazing... it goes on kind of like a real thin spray grease, and then tacks up to the point you can't hardly wash it off. I use it inside the doors and on the hinges of my wrangler during winter, and it really seems to keep the rust at bay.
As far as the interior panels... the old ones were trash when I took them out. I believe they were made from the the same laminate that the exterior walls are made from... Luan and aluminum... and then they added 1/4" foam and some black plastic over the top for looks. I'll end up with 16" of exterior wall panel (32' long) that I'll need to cut off of the top panel after it's built, so I'll just use that for the storage compartment. The original stuff lasted 20 years, maybe these will too.
So I suppose that's all for now. I guess the next step is to remove the rest of the storage compartment doors and prep the framing to reinstall them, hopefully for the last time. I don't think I'll have any more framing to repair on this side, but I'll inspect everything to be sure. One of my storage compartment doors got kind of messed up last summer when I was trying to do body work on the original panels... it's got some overspray on it from some test patches I painted. I'd like to not have to paint all the storage doors, as they are still in decent shape, but if the door with overspray doesn't clean up, I might be painting them all anyways. We'll see.
Till next time...