Hit low bridge


This page details the damage to our camper. The repairs start here bridgeb.htm(28 pics)

.... Well I never understood how folks could hit a low bridge...

After a much needed trip-spent the last week just Margaret & I relaxing, enjoying and being alone in our camper, trying to relieve and escape personal & family problems. To 'recharge' ourselves, embracing and letting that which is really important revive. Time in our Elkhorn, camping in the winter especially,gives us that opportunity. Glorious but quite cold, a bit of rain, everything starting to green. Deer, wild turkeys, a lone coyote and a fox-all parading past our dinette window-not another camper insight. A few short brisk hikes about to see what we could, a hand to hold. Back to the camper, a little lunch, a game to play, though mostly to sit across from each other-to laugh and talk.

The point being-its one of the reason we have a camper, we really enjoy it and what it allows us to do. The places where we've visited, what we've seen and done but mostly the time it allows us together. Many reasons....if your an RV'er you may understand, or you may have another means that allows you to do what you most enjoy you may understand.

Though just a wooden box in the back of our truck-our Elkhorn camper means a lot to us. All I'm trying to convey is how returning home, filled with wonder & warmth, in a brief moment- devastation. In that split second, our little world came to a stop....in that moment of complete bliss, oblivious of the weight of our lives and the world....I ran into a low bridge, literary wiping everything off the roof as the air conditioner the solar panel and everything tumbled and rolled, crushing the roof inward, splintering the ceiling as it caved in.

I took this pic just before we left out last camp site.interestingly it shows our roof apps?

I don't know why I turned down that street instead of our normal route, I have no clue why the really large warning signs didn't register to either of us, but mostly I cannot under stand why I didn't stop, A moment that will live with me forever. No matter how many times it replays..I just don't understand how it happened.

Past the really narrow bridge, I pulled over. I ran back and picked up our debris, mostly plastic from air conditione cover, so as not to cause anyone else problems. Then I returned to the camper, I still thought as I climbed the ladder the extent of damage was worst a totaled A/C. Utter horror as I reached the roof. It looked like everything that was mounted on the roof went thru a wood chipper and spat back out. I climbed down in disbelief, opened the camper door, in disbelief I turned and walked a few hundred feet over to the railroad tracks as the shock ran thru me.

Gathering ourselves, we picked up the loose stuff and put it inside. Decide to drive to a friends house nearby where we could try to figure out what to do. After getting there we cleaned off the roof so we could drive home. We briefly inspected the camper. Though debris crushed and broke thru in a couple places the roof OSB underlayment and broke the interior paneling in several places it appears the damage was limited to the stuff mounted on the roof and 1 OSB panel. The bath vent and rear railing and both plumbing vents survived intact. The force of stuff being ripped loose and rolling backwards flexed the roof structure inward enough to shear the interior ceiling paneling in several contact points with cabinetry but not actually breaking the rafters. Did pop the entire width of paneling section loose from rafters and its hanging down bout 2". When I had 1st opened door I had thought the entire roof was caved in. It appears the bridge caught the TV antenna- pushed it into the A/C before rolling both onto the solar panel, which v folded, then depositing all on top of center roof vent which was punched thru ceiling.

I'll contact our insurance-I don't know if they will help-is stupidity covered. Ill show pics of the damage with brief descriptions. I wont be abel to do anything for a few months, which Ill have to attempt the repairs, no way we can afford to have it done.

In fixing, it looks like after removing the EPDM rubber, Ill remove damaged OSB panel.Then I can see involved rafters, and have access to add bracing reattachment wood for interior ceiling panel. The interior ceiling paneling is going to be a problem. It was the 1st thing installed at the factory, interior cabinets walls etc butt to it. Matching let alone reinstalling would be painful if not impractical. However there's is only 1 split that would be visible if I reattached, I could do some trim work that would cover the other areas. As the ceiling panel was pushed down, where the cabinets are, acted like scissors and sheared the 1/8 paneling. So adding some strips along cabinet from exposed roof side will allow me to reattach. Might add some kind of small ceiling hung cabinet or something to cover split in center of panel over stove. It would also be feasible to just cover entire inside ceiling with carpet like some campers have but Id rather not. I have some left over wood grain paneling that matches, maybe just an insert over stove area, hmmm Details

Whether or not there's is any visible cracking (wood rafters) I'll jack ceiling up to insure its crowned as its supposed to be, face at least 2 rafters with plywood to reinforce before reinstalling OSB decking. Ill attempt to install new EPDM roofing myself. Replace 1 roof vent, install new TV antenna, reinstall the railing and plumbing vents. We probably wont replace the A/C due to cost, just replace with standard vent hatch, possibly one with a fan. The solar panel, is the biggest loss and most expensive item. It more than likely will not get replaced, at least for a while. It has become the most valued asset of our camper but the panel alone cost $700 and I'm seeing so far 800 to almost a grand just to fix roof/ceiling panels, re-roof and install new replacement appurtenances, that's doing it myself.

Ill add the bridge was 10'-8", our camper roof at high crown point is where it 1st contacted so camper is 10'-8" then tapers down to sides & rear, rear of camper is 4-6" shorter, bridge scuffed before hitting the antenna which was mounted just below that point but it stuck up bout 2", everything else was below that point, except A/C, and would have cleared, top of it I'm guessing was about 11'2" (NOW I know..). I usually get out at least 6 times when backing under a tree or anything that looks like I might hit, every kyosk, even tunnels I've got out to verify Ill clear. So paranoid of hitting a tree- I just don't understand....how do you hit a bridge?

------------------------The carnage-------------------------


Here standing on ladder was my 1st blow of the damage. I had already started cleaning before deciding I should take some photos. The pieces of the 'ground up" air conditioner, already thrown off, had been piled up on top of Kyocera 130 watt solar panel.


From front looking back. Ripped the A/C unit from its base before being shredded. Between the A/C base and panel the A/C compressor motor punched a large hole in underlayment before rolling across solar panel. The A/C compressor was rolled and went thru the roof vent, pushing vent inside dropping the compressor motor enough to clear. Fortunately, yes otherwise would have taken the railing or worse and probable stopped at railing, busted through the roof and actually might have crushed rear wall. 3 of the 4 panel mounts ripped loose when 'passing' the compressor motor, but for this the panel would have cleared like railing and the other vent. Where motor rolled across the panel is where roof flex downward and broke the ceiling paneling.


Looking down at the TV antenna and A/C...odd is that lil box at edge-that was the TV ant connection box.


First contact. The seam is high point of camper roof, you can see where it scuffed bridge. The tears at the outer edge I'm unsure, the radio antenna was untouched? You can see where the ant box from previous pic was mounted. The antenna, was pushed down before it broke loose. Now in 6 pieces I think it pulled the box loose via the cable verses box being hit.


Cleaning it up. Bizarre how everything just ground up into small pieces. There were no 2 pieces of the AC still together. I had to go inside & unbolt 1 remaining screw in A/C base. Un wire and unbolt solar panel. Where broom is, hard to see, where compressor punched OSB decking before rolling on top of panel then coming to rest in vent. Pretty sure this is only section of OSB to be replaced. Its also the where sheet flexed rafter inward popping the interior ceiling so I want to remove any way to inspect/ repair structure. I gather sheeting the entire roof with luan or thin ply is desirable before re roofing, probably a good idea, add some more structure-smooth out the bumps and for adhesion. That stuff Ill have to research....


A/C compressor & one of the coils in a wheel barrow, the stuff starting to pile. Ill add a warning about the solar panel glass DANGEROUS. I don't know what kind of glass but it powders and breaks into Extremely small pieces & glass dust.


Yet another view of couple thousand dollars...


This hurts, Ill frame pic and mount in camper



This is what I saw when I 1st opened door, I thought the whole roof had been demolished caved in but its only the paneling popped loose. Still bad but it is easily repairable.

This is the only damage to paneling that needs some thought. When rafter flexed the panel popped staples loose along entire width of rafter flexed, then got scissored around cabinet. Rafter that flexed runs inside cabinet. It pushed the face trim off but the solid corner scissored the panel and then it tore as it dropped. Though I can back up and reglue to make solid- as strong or stronger, re staple to rafters (after reinforcing them) appearance wise Ill have to do something. To remove this piece of cabinet, to replace entire section of ceiling just isn't feasible, its also over shower area. As its a solid vertical wall that everything is attached to would require oven & stove removal, most of plumbing, sink and top, virtually all of kitchen. This section of ceiling also partially is over shower. Replacing paneling outside cabinets wouldn't accomplish anything structurally (not that stapled 1/8 luan did much) but could be done if found some that matched. I don't thing its worth the effort. One puzzle is getting the panel back into seam trim plastic.


Removed interior AC shroud disconnect 110v and removed the ceiling mount. Hole looks like standard 14". The only thing Ill be doing in the short term is bracing up the sagging piece of paneling so it doesn't warp too bad until reinstalled. Clean up the mess and start pricing parts...

Documenting this has been helpful, possible give someone else pause at the low bridge-but haven't decided yet as too whether Ill add to our camper mods page or even link to the outside world. Maybe when she's all back together. Im seeing staying motivated to repair the largest obstacle, second saving the money to begin, just wasn't in our budget.

As bad, as expensive, time consuming as this is going to be, after looking at it, other than time and money-every thing I look at I realize how close it was to being completely demolished. As far as the camper structure. You see I really thought we lost our camper and the future trips-. there are trips yet to be made.

On to the repairs bridgeb.htm28 pics

Back to Ourelkhorn Camper Modifications page