Expertise needed - Chevy '86 Get-Away Van

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Expertise needed - Chevy '86 Get-Away Van

Postby dieschr » Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:25 pm

Hello Everybody!

I just bought a campervan for the very first time ever. Haha. Not sure I knew what I let myself in for...

Anyway, I was hoping you experts here could help me with a few questions I have.
So, first things first - it's a Chevrolet 1986 Get-Away Van conversion. This particular one was made in Canada, I bought it from the original owners and mechanically it's in good shape.

There are a few issues:

1. The roof is fibreglass and as you will be able to see from the images attached (it wouldn't let me add them into the post, sorry), the paint has come off some parts of the roof. I read in the Get-Away Owners manual that the paint is not actually sprayed on in the factory but impregnated to seal the fibreglass.

- Does the fibreglass loose any of its durability, etc. without the paint and if so, how and with what could I repaint it? Would I have to seal it first somehow? There seem to be several things you can do to it, wax, hardener, etc. - what is needed?

2. It leaks! A little.
Image 2 shows some of the water damage inside (to the left corner).
It rains a lot here in Whistler but even after a week of torrential rain I could only detect dampness with my hands.
So there is no full blown leak somewhere but it does damage over time. Some of the wooden panels have expanded etc.

In looking for the cause I came up with 2 potentials:

First - As you can see from image 3, there is a metal rack on top of the fibreglass roof. The screws for the rack are simply screwed through the roof, I can see them after I pulled away the fabric from inside and they are rusty - see image 5
Second - the window in the back has a water streak inside and I can see a previous attempt to fixing it on the outside - see image 4

Here's what I don't know:
- What material is best to seal the leak around the screws of the metal roof rack?
- Will I be able to unscrew and screw them back in without damaging the fibreglass and/or having to screw a new hole into it?
- Can I fix the leak around the window without taking the window out and putting it back in and if yes, again, what material is best to fix this?

3. If all the leaks are fixed, etc. how do I get the fabric stuck back onto the ceiling? It looks like it was glued on before - what kind of glue can I use that doesnt damage the foam/fabric? - see image 6

4. The previous owner fixed what I'm sure what a leak at the side window but it doesn't look a great job (lookswise, there is no leak there anymore...) - anything I can do to make it look better? I've no idea what sealant was used, it's white, can I paint it? see image 7

5. I haven't quite figured everything out on this van so was wondering what the metal opening is for? Any ideas? see image 8

I apologize if any of these questions seem a bit silly, I am a newbie (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it :-)

I have plenty of time to work on it, what I don't have plenty of is money. So, I could've taken it to an RV service, but there isn't really one in this town and the few ones there are are too far away... Plus, I'm much more interesting in learning about fixing it myself...

Sooo, I hope you have some ideas, comments, thoughts on this...

Thank you and ask away if you need more info on anything...

Image 5 - screws protruding threw fibreglass.JPG
Image 5 - screws protruding threw fibreglass.JPG (165.81 KiB) Viewed 1880 times
image 8 - metal opening.JPG
image 8 - metal opening.JPG (177.6 KiB) Viewed 1880 times
image 7 - sealed side window.JPG
image 7 - sealed side window.JPG (189.52 KiB) Viewed 1880 times
Image 6 - fibreglass roof inside with fabric hanging down.JPG
Image 6 - fibreglass roof inside with fabric hanging down.JPG (236.21 KiB) Viewed 1880 times
Image 4 - seal outside back window.JPG
Image 4 - seal outside back window.JPG (149.77 KiB) Viewed 1880 times
Image 3 - metal rack on roof.JPG
Image 3 - metal rack on roof.JPG (175.75 KiB) Viewed 1880 times
Image 2 - water damage inside.JPG
Image 2 - water damage inside.JPG (176.31 KiB) Viewed 1880 times
Image 1 - fibreglass roof with rack.JPG
Image 1 - fibreglass roof with rack.JPG (61 KiB) Viewed 1880 times
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Joined: Wed Sep 29, 2010 9:17 pm
Location: Whistler, BC
My RV: Chevrolet Get-Away Van 1986

Re: Expertise needed - Chevy '86 Get-Away Van

Postby Mike » Mon Oct 04, 2010 1:37 am

Looks like you've got quite a project there. I believe the chrome looking
"hole" in pic 8 is the exhaust port for a propane furnace or heater, but I don't see
an air intake (there's usually 2 holes vertically above each other for a furnace)
so it's hard to be sure. Is there a heater or furnace besides the engine heater?
I guess the honeycomb of small holes above "the hole" could be air intake, or vice
versa, but I can't be sure. It appears to be close to a water heater access panel, which
may be to shorten propane/gas lines to one area of the inside, to simplify the systems.

Do you know who converted the van, or where it was made, and if the conversion company
is still in business? Was the conversion company called Get-Away Vans? Could you find out
if the original owners know where it was made? IMO, the best place to start for your reno
is probably at the point of origin to get the structural answers you need, unless
someone else on here has one, or is familiar with them. You might also consult a local
bodyshop or custom fibreglass shop to get suggestions about the roof, the leaks, the
amount of damage, what to do to fix it, what sort of paint would work, and so on.
To repair a lot of the damage you may have to be creative and experiment with
different ways of covering or refinishing things, as it may not necessarily be possible
to easily return the fit and finish to it's original form (inexpensively).
The water damage may require some further investigation, before you spend any money
on cosmetic repairs. If it's caused any rusting behind the panels, it probably should be fixed
first. Fibreglass needs a specialist to assess what needs to be done.
Again, just my opinion, from looking at your pictures.
The forum members on here would really only be able to make generalized guesses or
suggestions in answer to most of your questions, like what I've suggested.
Good luck.
It's not a sprint(er) (unless you make it one), it's (hopefully) a marathon.
RV - 2002 Roadtrek 190 Popular (Chevy)
TV - 2009 F150 XLT SuperCrew / Toad - 2003 Chevy Cavalier
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Re: Expertise needed - Chevy '86 Get-Away Van

Postby g1g » Mon Oct 04, 2010 2:59 am

Let's see here I already forgot some of your questions but in reality I don't think I know the answer to all of them. So to get started the "paint peeling" was it painted before and that is what is pealing off? Fiberglass can be painted with most automotive paints just fine as long as the surface is prepared properly. If it was painted and that is what is pealing I would say to remove all paint down to the factory finish/gelcoat/ or just whatever it was when new. I hate paint remover so I would be doing a lot of sanding. If you plan on doing the job yourself go to an automotive paint store NAPA/Martin Senour or Dupont automotive paint dealer (there are others that are just as good but those come to mind). and ask them for advice and what you would need. They can take a look at it and know what to do. The other alternative is get an estimate at a body shop. As far as the screws, there should be some type of sealant all around them. The paint store can help out with that too. Also the photo of the pile of "culk". I would remove it, repaint everything then re caulk everything with what they reccomend. Unless they say to culk it first then paint it.
That is the best I can remember or answer your questions except possibly to find a leak you can have someone shoot a hose around everything while you watch inside for incoming water.
Good Luck
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