In April 2006 we purchased a Conway Cardinal Folding Camper. What we did not realise was that the floor was rotten in many places. This page is presented to help others who may suffer a similar problem and may be able to use help.

This camper has had very little use and is in overall good condition, other than the floor - which has been adequately strengthened!

Floor construction

The floor of the trailer is on 12mm marine ply, covered inside by linoleum. Now lino is good at keeping damp off a floor - but conversely if damp gets under the lino it will soak into the wood and will never dry out because of the impermeability of the lino. In consequence, the floor will rot beneath the lino.

Therefore, if you do get your floor flooded and suspect penetration beneath the linoleum floor covering, cut out the lino - particularly inside the cupboards, where such cutting will not show anyway. This will give the wood beneath a chance to breathe and, if you do this soon enough, no further action may be needed!

How does water get in?

In our case, rotting was not particularly localised, but was in several places around the edge of the lino, so we really do not know how the water penetrated. Water splashing from the road wheels is a possibility. But this should not, we feel, penetrate through the wood and lie beneath the floor covering.

Another possibility is that it penetrated down the telescopic roof supports. These are supplied with canvas covers and, if these covers are not present, there is a possibility of water wicking down into the joints of the supports. From these, it would run onto the floor. In our case, these covers looked like they had never been used. But it is difficult to see how enough water could have penetrated via this route!

If the trailer roof was erected without the bed platforms being extended and the canvas being properly fitted, large amounts of water could enter here.

Or water could have penetrated via an open door.

Water could of course penetrate via the winch hole - which would cause localised rotting.

Water can also enter via the gas bottle compartment cover at the front of the trailer. With the cover removed, there is a lip around the hole, and this lip has two drainage holes at the bottom corners. Problem is that these drainage holes drain into the compartment, which is of course wood-bottomed. So rotting her is likely, bur is unlikely to spread into the body and certainly won't affect the winch which is at the far end.

We will probably never know how, but it seems fairly clear that the inside got somewhat flooded so that water seeped under the cupboards and through the screw holes in the floor covering. From there, it wicked into the wood floor and, not being able to dry out, the floor started to rot. Which is where we came in!

Design fault

Mounting a winch on a plywood sheet is not a good design, especially when the chassis is so near: all it would require is a steel plate welded in place to support the winch. Or even a few strategically placed drain holes in the floor!

Roof raising mechanism

The hard-top roof is raised by four 'plumbers bending springs' which are constrained within the four telescopic roof supports. Beneath each support is a quadrant 'guide' which guides the spring through a 90° so that it then runs within further guides on the floor. The springs are pulled through the guides by wire ropes - one rope for each guide - and, being constrained in channels, the springs cannot bend but instead the pulling action is transferred to the roof, which rises as a result. These guides all meet on a tensioning plate where they may be individually adjusted to make the roof rise level. The tensioning plate is pulled by a single cable attached to the winch.

Thus the whole weigh of the roof is in practise transferred through to the winch, which in turn is securely bolted to the 12mm plywood floor. So of the floor rots - the winch bolts are pulled straight through the floor. This is what had happened in our case.

Because the springs' guides are difficult to move (and this might interfere with the geometry) it is necessary to use two plates on top of the wood - though as these plates aren't bearing pressure (the winch is pulling, not pushing) they are really on;y keeping the bits of disintegrated plywood in place so may not be necessary.

Underneath, one angle is screwed to the trailer's chassis and a thick aluminium pate clamps the floor and the winch feet to the flat bits of the chassis, so winch tension is transferred directly to the chassis.

Accessing the winch

The winch is in the corner cupboard behind an easily-removable partition. To get at it, you need to raise the roof and prop it open with suitable lengths of timber. If I recall, the gap is exactly 4 feet, so you will need 4 lengths of suitable timber: 50mm x 25mm or thereabouts is suitable.

I was fortunate in being able to raise the roof using the winch, but you may have to raise it by hand. Is so you will probably need several sets of 4 pieces of timber so yo can raise it bit-by-bit. You will probably also want to strap the props to the upright while you raise the roof, to minimise the chance of a prop slipping.

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Page's Author: Richard Torrens
Page first published 5th June 2006
Document URI: electronics.torrens.org/HowTo/FC/index.html
© 2006 - 2017 Richard Torrens
Last modified: 2017