Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

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Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby rjgimp » Thu Sep 10, 2020 1:27 pm

trevize1138 wrote:one incredibly useful part of this brocure is the last page showing the entire lifting mechanism apparatus!


I figured so! :thumbsup:

I actually have the original manual from my Steury as my parents got it from the original owner. On earlier models like mine they had the big external spring loaded hinged lift arms. That site does have some really cool information. I enjoy reading some of the magazine reviews from the 550s and 60s.
-Rob


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just as soon as the steering committee gets around to scheduling one!
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Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby trevize1138 » Fri Sep 11, 2020 1:21 pm

rjgimp wrote:Yup. You have surge brakes! LOL I had no idea at first either until I looked into it. So the trailer will follow nicely behind the car and then when you stop the car the trailer will want to keep going. When that happens the tongue of the trailer has a built in slide mechanism which will cause the weight of the trailer to "surge" against a ram behind that hydraulic reservoir which will function exactly like your foot pushing the brake pedal in the car When they are taken care of they will function just fine and stop the trailer safely behind the car but one drawback is it can be a challenge backing uphill in bumpy terrain because the brakes might get activated when you don't want them to. Some systems have an override function to stop that from happening. You can convert it to a full electric or an electric-over-hydraulic system or just leave it the way it is.


I took a closer look at the tongue to see how it worked. Certainly looks like surge brakes based on what you say. To lock them out there's a little lever you can either swing back to allow the thing to compress and apply the brakes or lock it forward to prevent movement so the brakes don't activate. Looks like I had it locked out when I towed it home. I was able to back it down my driveway just fine so that makes sense that I wouldn't have gotten stopped. I can imagine how much confusion that might have caused me at the time being clueless about those brakes! I'd try to back up and get stuck every time, looking to see if something was blocking the wheels, getting angry and frustrated. Ah! Real RVing! Getting angry and frustrated at something that's mysteriously not working right! :)
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Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby trevize1138 » Mon Oct 05, 2020 12:08 pm

Started taking apart the roof this weekend:

https://imgur.com/a/uL7LFBP

The more I take this apart the less intimidating it gets, strangely enough. Once disassembled it'll be like I've got a "kit" for building a camper. Just buy the lumber, cut it to fit and then staple, nail and screw everything back in place. It's almost literally that simple. Just takes a damn long time. :)
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Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby trevize1138 » Mon Nov 30, 2020 7:39 am

Dismantling is complete! Frame is ready for sandblasting and painting. Going to have my mechanic check out the surge brakes, too:

https://i.imgur.com/y2XEQvd.jpeg
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Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby rjgimp » Mon Nov 30, 2020 1:21 pm

Wow. Plenty of water damage all over. Beautiful, substantial frame though! I really like the frames on these older popups.
:thumbsup:
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Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby trevize1138 » Tue Dec 01, 2020 2:00 pm

Oh man, that floor was gross! Yes, plenty of water damage but also the usual mice nests.

The water damage seemed to mostly come from the corners which I've read is typical of these Rolites. Something about a design flaw. I need to look more into that and figure out some smart ways to mitigate that as I rebuild.

In fact, while the rot was really bad in the corners and in the floor everywhere else the wood is in pristine shape. The previous owner had taped a section of tarp over the roof vent but when I peeled back the siding there I saw zero evidence of water getting in that way.
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Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby trevize1138 » Tue Jun 01, 2021 8:54 am

OK, I made a crucial decision over the weekend: I'm rebuilding this withOUT the ability to collapse! Hear me out:

If I had loads of time and resources I'm sure I could do it all. But I gotta be realistic: this is my frist ever resto. Never done anything like this before! Just cutting new boards and putting it all back together again is enough of a challenge much less fixing the three axles, chains, guides, motor and all the other complicated bits that make this thing collapse and pop up.

Even if I were to do that and do a perfect job of it I've read about how these had a critical design flaw that resulted in leaks on the corners. The severe rot I found on every corner was clear evidence of that. Therefore: I wouldn't just have to restore the thing to stock I would really want to find a way to fix a design flaw ... something an entire RV company couldn't figure out themselves!

Or ... I could just forget about that whole ability to collapse and just start slapping this thing together as a solid structure. That solves so very many issues. Not only do I not have to try to repair all those complicated lifting mechanisms but once done I can far more easily prevent leaks. I could also add things to the interior like actual, usable storage space like a tall cabinet because it doesn't have to collapse down.

In the end I'll get the vintage aesthetics my wife and I wanted. It just won't be as aerodynamic going down the highway. I'll also need to get a cover for that awesome front window. I'm thinking something made of stainless steel or aluminum for that to match the metal roof vent and overall look of the camper. This thing wasn't exactly designed to be driven popped up so I'll need to give a little thought to making sure it's sturdy enough for that.

Also, I'm not throwing away all the parts for the lifting mechanisms. It very well could be some day I'll decide I have it in me to do a full, proper restoration where I take this apart again and rebuild it to have the original functionality. I just know I have to be realistic here and bite off only what I can chew. A large carpentry project is a whole lot more feasible right now than that on top of a major engineering challenge.

From what I've seen of other types of hard-sided popups this one is especially over-built. I think it's because one selling point was a small propane furnace. So the retractable walls are wood framed and insulated. I'm replacing all the places where the top and bottom meet the retractable walls with tongue-and-groove pairs of 2x2s with single lengths of 2x4s. Once bolted together there should be more than enough structural stability for towing on the road.
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Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby QueticoBill » Tue Jun 01, 2021 11:07 am

While it would be fun to watch you restore the mechanism, I understand and applaud the work you are doing. A labor of love.

Are the jacks or lifters basically a stiff chain? Like links of a roller chain that roll one way but not both? I'm just curious about mechanism. I'd not seen it until maybe 1995 or 2000. Like this:
https://youtu.be/X9rHa59pXIA I used them on stages.
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Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby trevize1138 » Tue Jun 01, 2021 12:45 pm

QueticoBill wrote:Are the jacks or lifters basically a stiff chain? Like links of a roller chain that roll one way but not both? I'm just curious about mechanism. I'd not seen it until maybe 1995 or 2000. Like this:
https://youtu.be/X9rHa59pXIA I used them on stages.


Yup! They operate pretty much the same: flex one direction but not the other. Put one on each corner with the angles that bend toward each other and overall you get something that goes straight up. By themselves they're pretty flimsy and we had a panic moment when I took both front and rear walls out with the roof still lifted up. The roof started to shift to the right and we worried it would all topple over. My dad held it while I found something to put in as a diagonal brace between the roof and floor! For this camper they assume you'll have front and rear walls attached with that track along the roof providing extra stability.
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Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby trevize1138 » Mon Jun 07, 2021 7:27 am

I've got the floor framed out and foam board cut to size:

https://i.imgur.com/AfrTa5a.jpg

Next up: sammich it all together between plywood for the floor and filon (white roll of it in the background you can see) then attach the metal wheel arches.

I'm so very glad I decided to simplify this build. It was just too much trying to perfectly replicate the original function. The collapsible feature would have been really cool but I don't know if I'd ever get started much less finish had I tried to go that route.

My dad's helping me with the electrical as he's got experience there. I'm lucky enough to have been given a decent 30amp power supply from the guy who sold me this camper so I'll get an upgrade from the 15amp system it originally had. I'm also glad I don't have to deal with the confusing mess of wires around the lifter motor. The wires won't be channelled through the floor like originally, too, as they don't need to be. The floor can be one completely sealed unit and with the foam boards instead of fiberglass insulation that'll keep critters from trying to make homes and stink up the place as was the orignal source of the bad smells.
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Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby trevize1138 » Fri Jun 11, 2021 11:17 am

First section of plywood has been glued and fastened down:

https://i.imgur.com/PeMzOYL.jpg

I WFH so during the week I've been doing this little-by-little over my lunch breaks and any time in the evening I might manage to squeak by with. Next up is to cut out the space for the wheels on the 2nd sheet of plywood then put that down. Then the final piece after ripping it to be only about 3'5" wide. Then once everything's dry I flip this bad boy over and glue on the filon!

I "stupidly" ordered 15ft of 8.5' wide filon not realizing that a 15' trailer doesn't mean a 15' long floor plan. So rather than cutting away all the excess filon I'm going to wrap it up and around the front and sides under the aluminum skin for extra water protection while travelling through weather. Why not, right?
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Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby trevize1138 » Mon Jun 14, 2021 7:46 am

All the plywood flooring is now done:

https://i.imgur.com/SC6ZzXz.jpeg

You can see the wall sections laid out next to it. The top-left shows a wall section I rebuilt with new birch plywood way back in December. At that time I was under the delusion that I could rebuild all the collapsible wall sections over the winter then when the weather got warmer I'd rebuild the floor and base complete with lifter mechanisms, rebuild the roof, attach that then just reassemble it all together and have a fully-functioning collapsible camper. I still somewhat lament not rebuilding this with that ability but more and more I'm glad I bit that bullet. The project just wasn't even getting *started* because I was so damn intimidated.

I've taken Friday off and requested from my wife for a Father's Day gift that I have the whole three day weekend to work on this thing. Next up is to glue down the filon underlayment, re-install the wheel wells, clean up and re-paint the frame then bolt the floor onto the frame. I do need to put some thought into where to route the electrical coming in from the tow vehicle but I think that'll just go under the frame then straight up through the floor in the corner inside the passenger's side dinette bench and out throughout the walls from there. As much as I can I want to not bury the wiring behind the wall panels so I can have it servicable. So I'll be hiding the wiring behind cabinetry and tying it down with plastic fasteners. Then I need to get some propane piping and route that under to where it comes up to connect to the stove.

Having the frame and floor done and all put together will be a huge step forward. The walls, windows and ceiling is mostly just a lot of carpentry after that.
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Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby trevize1138 » Tue Jun 15, 2021 1:11 pm

Floor glued to filon layer now:

https://i.imgur.com/CqXmp3c.jpg
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Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby trevize1138 » Mon Jun 21, 2021 6:04 am

I had a very, very productive Father's Day weekend!

https://imgur.com/a/Wbto9LF

https://imgur.com/a/4yysyvA

The walls are just tacked into place to sort of daydream/plot the next steps and other ideas. Next up I need to put the birch plywood on the interior walls to get them ready for assembly. I'm also going to treat the frame with rust converter and paint it so I can bolt on the floor. Then I frame out the ceiling and side rails for the roof. Once all that's done I assemble! Put the walls and ceiling on with just the inside birch plywood wallboard and no exterior skin. It should all fit inside my storage unit to keep the weather off it and in there I can route wiring and plumbing. After that I glue the foamboard insulation into the spaces and then, *finally* attach the outer skin!

Lots of other little details, of course, and I'll still need to put back in the cabinets, dinette benches and other stuff. But my goal of getting in some real progress this weekend was more than satisfied.
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Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby aggie79 » Thu Jul 01, 2021 12:11 pm

Very nice! That is quick progress. :applause: :thumbsup: :applause:
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