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FWC Ranger II Frame Repair (and continued build thread maybe?)

Frame Tig welding Aluminum cracked welds rebuild remodel roof lifters build thread mods

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#1 WillTheThri11

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Posted 01 September 2020 - 09:59 PM

OK, I decided to start a new thread and this could just turn into a continued build thread depending on how this all goes.

 

I posted a bit ago about cracked welds in my frame that I discovered due to door misalignment and what I thought was pretty significant twisting during jacking and lowering of the camper.  thread: https://www.wanderth...jackingloading/

 

I reached out to FWC and they recommended against bracketing the frame connections and suggested welding the inside and outside wherever possible of the frame.  They also said that all of the rectangular door frames cracked so that's why they went to the curved top...until just typing that, I hadn't considered retrofitting a rounded top door, but at this point, maybe it's not the worst idea I've had.

 

Since then a lot has happened:

 

1. I realized that the front wall had been repaired with brackets and rivets in the past

2. I disassembled the rear wall of the camper down to the bare frame as well as a portion of the side walls to be able to get at the corner where the back wall ties in to the side walls to be able to add reinforcing welds to the inside of the frame connections from corner to corner.

3. I searched high and low for someone willing to do the welding and was surprised at how difficult it was to find anyone.  I could only find 2 people willing to do the job and they didn't provide the reassurance i felt I needed so what did I do????......

4. I bought a Tig welder, cause if an entire welding industry doesn't want to touch this thing then why would I think I couldn't do it myself and produce professional results???  haha let's see

     4a. I watched lots of videos on tig welding and about 15 years ago i mig welded two halves of a car together to make one care that i was comfortable with my family members driving on the freeway.  So maybe I'm not crazy....or maybe I am

     4b. I just found out through a friend that he knows someone who tig welds

5.  Welder arrived today, and I kinda wanna be really cocky and start practicing welding aluminum cans together, but I bought some practice stock too.

6.  I'll also be building a platform out of 2x1" rectangular tubing since my camper requires a booster chair and some extra support on the end hanging out the back of the truck.  Wondering if I should incorporate a ski drawer or table stowaway under there, but 2" ain't much

 

So buckle up and enjoy this thread to be and go read the other thread linked above for some more background if you care to.  

 

1. A couple questions I still have is, should I replace the wall insulation with higher R-Value stuff?  Can I do that after the back skin goes on or should it really be taped to the frame rails?

2. Anything I should do while the back wall is completely open and accessible before buttoning it back up? (backup cam, top brake light, steps to get to the roof, wiring for solar or vent fan, etc...)

3. oh and anybody in the southern california area wanna come over and just weld it for me so I don't destroy my camper and stand a chance of going camping sometime soon? (<-mostly...well partly kidding)

4. I was thinking about lopping off the taillights that the Ranger II and saving a couple pounds, but now I'm thinking of incorporating an outside storage box in that area where the camper overhangs the rear of the truck bed...thoughts?


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#2 Karlton

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Posted 01 September 2020 - 10:34 PM

Nice summary of your journey thus far; albeit one you didn't plan on taking. 

 

 

For this...6.  I'll also be building a platform out of 2x1" rectangular tubing since my camper requires a booster chair and some extra support on the end hanging out the back of the truck.  Wondering if I should incorporate a ski drawer or table stowaway under there, but 2" ain't much

 

I had to raise my camper 2" to accommodate the radius tailgate.  While hunting around for ideas for a platform, I came across a few that were designed to have drawers and looked pretty slick.  I'll search around again when I have a few and shoot you some links for ideas.  


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#3 WillTheThri11

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Posted 01 September 2020 - 11:01 PM

Nice summary of your journey thus far; albeit one you didn't plan on taking. 

 

 

For this...6.  I'll also be building a platform out of 2x1" rectangular tubing since my camper requires a booster chair and some extra support on the end hanging out the back of the truck.  Wondering if I should incorporate a ski drawer or table stowaway under there, but 2" ain't much

 

I had to raise my camper 2" to accommodate the radius tailgate.  While hunting around for ideas for a platform, I came across a few that were designed to have drawers and looked pretty slick.  I'll search around again when I have a few and shoot you some links for ideas.  

 

Thanks Karlton, with the WTW community and FWC support, I know I'll get this thing back on the road.


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#4 Vic Harder

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Posted 01 September 2020 - 11:02 PM

#2 - yes to higher R-value insulation and taping.  You want to create a much tighter sealed envelope than the factory version.


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Power considerations thread - https://www.wanderth...e-power-scotty/

Building out an electrical system - So, you want to setup a good electrical system in your camper? - Electrical, Charging, Solar, Batteries and Generators - Wander the West


#5 WillTheThri11

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Posted 02 September 2020 - 02:41 PM

#2 - yes to higher R-value insulation and taping.  You want to create a much tighter sealed envelope than the factory version.

 

Thanks, anything special to consider here?  The pink rigid boards from the big box stores?  Taped with that silver mylar tape?  Do you tape it on both sides or just the outside?  I guess you chisel out some grooves for wires, probably on the inside too?


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#6 Vic Harder

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Posted 02 September 2020 - 04:50 PM

Thanks, anything special to consider here?  The pink rigid boards from the big box stores?  Taped with that silver mylar tape?  Do you tape it on both sides or just the outside?  I guess you chisel out some grooves for wires, probably on the inside too?

I installed mine from the inside, and only taped the inside.  Like when you insulate a house, the vapor barrier goes on the inside.  Used 1" thick (R5 or R7 i believe) rigid pink board.  Cut some with the table saw, some with a knife.  Silver Duct tape.  Some smaller spaces I stuffed with the usual fiberglass batting.  Wires need spaces left for the them for sure.  

 

There are some pics in my PUMA build thread... link in my signature block.


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2015 Silverado 3500 crew cab 8' bed Diesel

2012 ATC Puma Shell build - https://www.wanderth...012-puma-build/

Power considerations thread - https://www.wanderth...e-power-scotty/

Building out an electrical system - So, you want to setup a good electrical system in your camper? - Electrical, Charging, Solar, Batteries and Generators - Wander the West


#7 WillTheThri11

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Posted 02 September 2020 - 06:25 PM

First few test welds...I’ve got my work cut out for me. May have to call up my welding instructor friend for some help.

Also had to add some steel cladding to my little workbench to keep it from burning.

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#8 HughDog

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Posted 02 September 2020 - 06:46 PM

For whatever its worth, the gauge on the original FWC aluminum frame will set your pace for the selected weld machine and approach.  Because the gauge of the older FWC's aluminum frame is so thin (18 or so) sometimes when permitted, you can take .063 sheet aluminum under the tubes you are joining, . . . hit the the sheet metal first, then bring the weld into the thinner stuff so you don't burn holes into it.  If you are tigging, life is a lot easier, but I have used a spoolgun for lots of this kind of repair.

 

I'm in socal and would be glad to connect on my experience welding onto those FWC frames....


Edited by HughDog, 02 September 2020 - 06:46 PM.

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#9 hebegebe

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Posted 02 September 2020 - 06:47 PM

First few test welds...I’ve got my work cut out for me. May have to call up my welding instructor friend for some help.

Also had to add some steel cladding to my little workbench to keep it from burning.

Surgical clean, slow down and make it look like dimes stacked upon each other. No substitute for patience and practice!
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#10 WillTheThri11

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Posted 02 September 2020 - 08:00 PM

For whatever its worth, the gauge on the original FWC aluminum frame will set your pace for the selected weld machine and approach.  Because the gauge of the older FWC's aluminum frame is so thin (18 or so) sometimes when permitted, you can take .063 sheet aluminum under the tubes you are joining, . . . hit the the sheet metal first, then bring the weld into the thinner stuff so you don't burn holes into it.  If you are tigging, life is a lot easier, but I have used a spoolgun for lots of this kind of repair.

 

I'm in socal and would be glad to connect on my experience welding onto those FWC frames

 

Wow, you've spool gunned on FWC frames?  That's impressive.  Wish I woulda come across you a couple weeks ago when I was planning this all out.  The tubing on my camper is "about" 18 gauge.  The wall thickness if fairly inconsistent unfortunately.  I need a good amount more practice before I'll feel comfortable on the camper.

 

I'm in Altadena, what part of SoCal are you in?


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