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This section of the original entry shows previous efforts the patch and strengthen the rotting floor including the block of wood on the lower left and some kind of hardened putty material on the lower right.

The State of the Floor Address

Ladies and gentlemen, the floor of the truck camper is not pretty. After years of patches and general neglect, it is literally falling apart. Try jumping on it. The experience is not unlike that of a trampoline. The concern is for the day that it does not bounce.

So, we are taking out the floor and starting again from scratch. In conducting this renovation, I talk with a lot of other truck camper owners about their floors. Many describe their truck camper floors as being minimally structural and only 3/4″ thick.

This is in stark contrast to our camper floor. The floor is the foundation that binds the arching aluminum walls and ceiling to a single firm base. Observing the placement of screws, nails, and staples, it is clear that it was the first part of any Avion truck camper build. Everything was composed from that base. As such, it is 1 1/2″ thick with 1/4″ plywood sandwiching 1″ of insulation in a design quite similar the the truck camper wings which we have already replaced.

This section of the original entry shows previous efforts the patch and strengthen the rotting floor including the block of wood on the lower left and some kind of hardened putty material on the lower right.
This section of the original entry shows previous efforts the patch and strengthen the rotting floor including the block of wood on the lower left and some kind of hardened putty material on the lower right.

In case there was any question of the state of the truck camper floor, is is an example cross section of the original floor. You can see the two quarter-inch layers of plywood sandwiching in an inch wide layer of foam board. We will be roughly reproducing this design but, as with the wings earlier, we will be replacing all the plywood with fiberglas composite. This will avoid the rot that you can also observe in this sample.
In case there was any question of the state of the truck camper floor, is is an example cross section of the original floor. You can see the two quarter-inch layers of plywood sandwiching in an inch wide layer of foam board. We will be roughly reproducing this design but, as with the wings earlier, we will be replacing all the plywood with fiberglas composite. This will avoid the rot that you can also observe in this sample.

Building the Floor

It ss a hotly contested debate. Will we mirror the floor design but replace the plywood with our favorite material of choice: a fiberglass foam composite that maintained the structural strength of plywood while lighter and rot resistant? Or, will we double down like the truck camper wings and replace the 1/4″ plywood with 1/2″ composite for additional strength. One solution is lighter. The other solution is stronger. In the end, I capitulate: we use the 1/2″ material. We both agree, though: we overbuilt.

Design for and Avion Floor with a 1/2" board
Design for a 1/2″ board
Outlining the entry section of the truck camper's floor where the rounded corners add support and structure to the rounded aluminum walls.
Outlining the entry section of the truck camper’s floor where the rounded corners add support and structure to the rounded aluminum walls.

Gluing on the outside spacers for the center of the three layers that make the floor. These, along with other spacers will be alternated with foam board to minimize weight and maximize insulation.
Gluing on the outside spacers for the center of the three layers that make the floor. These, along with other spacers will be alternated with foam board to minimize weight and maximize insulation.
The central layer of fiberglas composite is complete, creating the skeleton which will now be filled with foam board and then covered with another layer of fiberglas composite.
The central layer of fiberglas composite is complete, creating the skeleton which will now be filled with foam board and then covered with another layer of fiberglas composite.
As I am using a simple box cutter to cut out the insulation board, there are imperfect gaps left between the board and the fiberglas skeleton. To fill in these gaps and optimize insulation, we are using Great Stuff Insulating Foam Sealant.
As I am using a simple box cutter to cut out the insulation board, there are imperfect gaps left between the board and the fiberglas skeleton. To fill in these gaps and optimize insulation, we are using Great Stuff Insulating Foam Sealant.

With the foam board in place and sealant dried, it's time to cut away any excess past the thickness of the fiberglas composite skeleton and then attach the final layer.
With the foam board in place and sealant dried, it’s time to cut away any excess past the thickness of the fiberglas composite skeleton and then attach the final layer.

Adding Rails

The floor may be flat on the section that we walk on. But the part that supports the camper in the bed of the truck is built on rails. This serves a dual purpose. The rails lift the body up, better allowing for water drainage of the truck bed and minimizing the risk of rot. Rails also focus the weight of the camper at given points that can dig into a friction mat and decrease the risk of the camper sliding in the truck bed.

For our truck camper, we are reproducing the original three rail design but with the fiber glass composite. Once built and attached to the floor, I add a final layer of gritty spay-on truck bed liner to increase strength and friction.

The floor is not flat. At least, not the floor that supports the camper in the bed of the truck. This is raised on rails that allow for drainage. We are reproducing the original wood rails in our customary fiberglass composite material.
The floor is not flat. At least, not the floor that supports the camper in the bed of the truck. This is raised on rails that allow for drainage. We are reproducing the original wood rails in our customary fiberglass composite material.

Truck Camper Rails in place.
Truck Camper Rails in place.
Spraying gritty bed-liner onto the truck camper floor rails.
Spraying gritty bed-liner onto the truck camper floor rails.
Avion Ultra Truck Camper Floor Rails Complete!
Rails completed!

Rails completed!

Finishing the Floor

Like the truck camper wing, we epoxy the fiberglass composite for added strength and…it looks pretty!

Taping up the edges in preparation to epoxy the complete floor.
Taping up the edges in preparation to epoxy the complete floor.

Halfway through epoxying the truck camper floor.
Halfway through epoxying the truck camper floor.

Installing the Floor

Removing the floor is one of the scariest parts of this build yet. We are uncertain what will happen when we remove the foundation of the camper. Will the Avion pull itself apart in an explosion of aluminum? Will it implode, with no way to place the new floor and return normalcy to the situation?

That scary moment looking into the Avion without any floor.
That scary moment looking into the Avion without any floor.

Ready to install the new floor!
Ready to install the new floor!

We buy a couple loooong clamps to hold structural portions of the camper in place while the floor is removed. Next, we remove all the nails, screws, and assorted materials that hold the floor in place. Once we are ready, we simply jack up the camper. The floor sits, alone, on the blocks. We then make quick work of replacing the old floor with the new and jack the body back into position. We use a winch to snuggly pull the body back together around the floor and screw the floor back into place.

The truck camper body jacked up from the floor.
The truck camper body jacked up from the floor.

Winching the truck camper body in tight with the floor to screw it back together!
Winching the truck camper body in tight with the floor to screw it back together!

As an added good measure, I slather the edges in epoxy to fully seal and strengthen the bond between the camper walls and floor. Odds are, if I spill a glass of water in here, I’ll have to mop it up because it will not be sinking into the floor anymore.

Floor, complete!

Lexi lives in a truck camper down by the river.

Comments:

  • tom caton

    April 6, 2019

    Wow!!! you guys are incredible…. Impressive !!! I threw a piece of plywood on the bed of truck befor mounting my Avion camper but you mentioned “friction mat”…. sounds like a great idea. could you please elaborate. I want one!!! Thanks! again incredible follow through with your project!!!!! TDC

    reply...
    • Lexi Goforth

      April 7, 2019

      Thank’s Tom! We used a rubber stall mat for both padding and friction in the camper bed. You can pick one up at your local Tractor Supply store or anywhere that services farms. We bought two 4 ft. x 6 ft. x 3/4 in. thick rubber stall mats and cut them to fit around the truck bed’s wheel wells. In hindsight, that may have been a little overkill. The 1/2-inch thick mat is cheaper, lighter, and likely to be just as effective.

      reply...
  • Arik

    April 19, 2019

    What is the composite material you used for the floor? How does it compare to working with the fiberglass you replaced the wings with?

    reply...
  • Leslie Smith

    May 22, 2019

    rebuilding my sons slide in . It has a 1.5 square tubing that covers the bottom. the flooring above it is rotted. trying to figure out how to take off the tubing. can’t find any bolts or screws where it connects. any suggestions.

    reply...
    • Lexi Goforth

      May 24, 2019

      Hm, I’m not sure I’m properly visualizing where this tubing is. Is it around the edges of the floor or possibly rails slightly elevating the base of the camper? (We didn’t have any square tubing original to the camper)

      reply...
  • Kody

    December 1, 2020

    Hey Lexi! I am planning on replacing an Avion T-28’s rotted flooring with Coosa. My original plan was to go with 3/4″ Bluewater 26 and to simply use a single layer (as opposed to the sandwich structure). After your experience with Coosa do you have any input on this direction? What will be sacrificed with a single layer vs. the sandwich? Thanks in advance! We love your website and all of your advice.

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    • admin

      December 1, 2020

      Hi Kody!

      I see some pluses and minuses in your plan. I have to admit, that after a couple of years with our floors, they have gotten a little creaky. I was a little lazy and made the insulated spaces between the Coosa supports too large. All the same, if I was to do it again, I’d still sandwich insulation between Coosa sheets. I’d just have more frequent supports for spacers. Coosa, while relatively lightweight, does get heavy and it’s R-value is still lower than sheet insulation.

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