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Welcome to my RV Renovation Series! In my last step I removed the rest of the damaged wood. Now it’s time to replace the roof plywood and any other damaged wood in the roof area.

WARNING: This is really just a rough draft of the post, a collection of photos with captions. I’ll be on the road for a few months and won’t have time to complete these posts until after, but for those of you who’ve written wanting to see the rest of the project, hopefully this is better than nothing. Thanks for your patience until then!

Here’s the

Next I’ll be replacing the rear marker lights!

  1. I see some pretty bad rust on your supports even some holes did you not replace these damage supports? Also what thickness and type of sheets of plywood did you use on the roof?

    Why did you need to support the ceiling?

    1. Hi Chris. There is definitely rust on the steel frame, but they are still solid. The only holes in the steel frame are drilled holes from previous screws. Replacing steel framing was way more work than I was willing to get into and outside of my expertise. If the ceiling had wood framing (I wish) and those were rotten, I would have replaced the without hesitation. I used 1/8 inch plywood & luan (also basically 1/8 inch plywood). Check out my previous post https://halbrindley.com/rv-roof-repair-day-3-rv-awning-removal/ near the bottom where I talk about removing the roof decking. This explains why I needed to support the ceiling. In short, the roof loses all its strength when you remove the top ply because it was a laminated (glued together) sandwich of luan on top, foam in middle, and luan on bottom, with steel frame in the middle for rigidity. When you pull off the top layer, the whole thing sags! (Except the steel frame which stays in place of course.) In order to glue the top luan back to the foam I basically had to push the foam back up level with the steel frame.

      1. When I did my roof I also replaced 2 ceiling panels inside. The integrity issue when breaking the factory “sandwich” is the innards (foam) sag down. This can be overcome with support “T”‘s built from 2×4 placed inside the vehicle to support the ceiling. I used as many as I could fit and I used sand bags on the roof panels to exert a lot of weight from above. Must have been 400 to 500 lbs on top. This ends up with the T supports inside very tight against the ceiling keeping it firmly in place and with the weight on top bearing down on the new roof panels I injected Great Stuff Pro Construction adhesive and standard large gap foam in as many access spots I could find. Interesting note: when this expanding foam is secured between 2 surfaces that overpower the expansion it becomes quite dense and it seems the integrity returned. I also drilled small holes inside, just the size to fit the foam gun or injection tube into and pumped away, covering the holes with the top beam of the support T’s to both prevent it from expanding out and to hold everything up. The result is a very firm ceiling with no sags and the roof profile came out perfectly.

        1. Hey Michael,
          Great plan. I also 2×4 T’s inside to support the ceiling from inside while attaching the foam panels inside the ceiling in order to rebuild the ‘sandwich’.

  2. Thanks for all the great info in your posts. I’m dealing with an unexpected repair of roof and overcab rot in a 1999 Coachmen Class C, which includes a full roof replacement due to poor maintenance and a badly done repair of the existing water damage. Reading through your posts has been interesting and informative, despite the differences in design between your Fleetwood and my Coachmen.

    I’m wondering why you switched from the 3M contact adhesive (which is what I had finally settled on using) to the Loctite Foamboard adhesive. It appears you used the 3M for the first, full panel, and then the Loctite for the others. Also, were you using the strips underneath the panels after the adhesive was applied to keep the plywood detached from the adhesive until you had it exactly in place, so as not to end up trying to adjust the panel’s positioning after it was already adhering to the underlying roof structure?

    1. Hi Rollin,
      Yes I started with the 3M and had great luck on my first piece. But the second piece went haywire and I couldn’t quite figure out why (it just wouldn’t stick). So I decided to try out the foam board adhesive and it seemed to go pretty well. However, when I placed the second layer I used the contact adhesive again and all went well.
      Yes, I was laying strips of pex plumbing pipe (any thin strips will do) in order to position the piece before laying it down. There’s not much wiggle room once it’s set! This way I could get a corner in the perfect spot and then start pulling out strips one by one til it fell into place perfectly. That part was actually pretty easy.

    1. Hi Kerri, Maybe about 10 days working about 4-5 hrs a day? I spread out the work over a much longer period so it’s hard to say exactly. But if I did it all back to back that would be my guess.

  3. I dont know how I stumbled on to this but I’m soooo glad I did!!! we just overspent on a 1985 Fleetwood Tioga Arrow. It is our 1st RV purchase. we bought it from a friend of our family and were told he was meticulous with keeping the camper fixed. It is true for the most part but there is a lot of water damage he may or may not have known about. We also have a metal frame! I found this out after removing the AC. I believe most of our frame is in the same condition as yours (very rusty) but the AC framing is completely rusted through. There were no visible signs of any leaks near the AC but after running the ac all day, I looked into an old hole for an antenna and saw water inside. the condensation draining was getting there somehow. Anyways after tearing it apart and seeing all the damage, Im surprised the roof was still able to hold the AC. I have limited welding skills and will attempt to beef up the framing around the AC. I’m so tempted to replace the entire roof. Its scary seeing all this rust on the framing. Anyways, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU… a million times! for posting all of this. I would never have thought to support the ceiling from the inside. you might have saved my life.. If you have any plans to add on captions to this page or any other thoughts, I hope you are able to still at some point. Maybe make a reddit post linking this page and title it rv roof replacement with metal framing..? Ive been searching for info like crazy about my metal framing and it always shows results for the undercarriage frame. I cant tell you how happy I am to find this gem. Wish you all the best!

  4. Hi Hal,
    I have similar problem with damaged panels on Fleetwood Searcher. I was told that I had to replace sandwich board entirely which is cost prohiibtive to me. So I was going to glue another piece of luan to the one already there and go edge to edge of truck an screw to side rails giving a new flat surface to put rubber down. This was first diy showing taking up the whole top panel. Do you think I could also just add panels as i described going edge to edge? Would extra weight be detrimental?

    1. Sorry it took me so long to see your comment. Yes, I believe that would work fine, as long as the underlying luan wasn’t too damaged. Sure it would add extra weight at the worst possible spot (the highest point) but in my case I took off the AC unit which added far more weight than 4 sheets of luan!

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