How to remove rear body panel

PeteSr

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May 10, 2020
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I have been following the post about rear panel fastners and have succeeded in removing all of them from my 78.

Has anyone removed their rear panel? Looking at the inside of my Eleganza with rear settee, it appears the interior plastic probably needs to be removed or disconnected somehow. Are there other things that need to be done too?

Is there a link or resource anyone knows of to guide one on doing this?

I would like to open the rear for painting and interior renovation. Thanks.
 

6cuda6

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Oct 3, 2019
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I would fathom to guess the service manual would have a pretty good description on this plus you could try searching the GMC Motorhome Photo site to see if there are any photos.
 

Matt Colie

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Oct 25, 2019
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The Assembly Manual is one of many original documents that can be downloaded at GMCMI.com.

Please go over to GMCnet and ask this. It was discussed at some length a while back. That is about all I remember about it.

Matt
 

tmsnyder

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Oct 7, 2019
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Buffalo NY
I'm not asking for the assembly manual, I have it already. I was suggesting the OP might find what he is looking for in the assembly manual. The maintenance (service) manual; doubtful. I don't think removing the rear hatch is in there. I bought mine on ebay on a thumb drive. That and a whole bunch of other manuals and documents.
 

PeteSr

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May 10, 2020
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I appreciate the suggestions. I have the assembly manual and have reviewed it. It does not list what the steps are for removing the rear panel. That is what I am looking for. I rather doubt that it would be in any original GM documentation as that is probably not something they would ever envision needing to be done. But, perhaps I am wrong and it is somewhere. More likely I was hoping someone's restoration showed or listed what needs to be done to remove it.

BTW, I looked in the 1978 supplement to the Maintenance Manual (and the 1976 manual too). All it says is to remove the 32 Hi-Lo screws.

1978 Eleganza
 
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JBurt

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Oct 7, 2019
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Davidlive has a build thread of his trailer conversion on here.
He could probably give you some info on your question.
 

tmsnyder

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Oct 7, 2019
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Sorry that there's no documented 'official' procedure for this but yes the rear cap, corner panels, and panel under the window are screwed to it around the window opening (at least). There's also wiring to the license plate but there's a connector so it should come right off.

If you have the big exterior screws out then the only thing holding it in is 45 years of the seal pressed against hardened rubber / foam. It's probably just stuck. After you take the interior out of the rear you can try bumping around the edge or prying on it from the inside.



I appreciate the suggestions. I have the assembly manual and have reviewed it. It does not list what the steps are for removing the rear panel. That is what I am looking for. I rather doubt that it would be in any original GM documentation as that is probably not something they would ever envision needing to be done. But, perhaps I am wrong and it is somewhere. More likely I was hoping someone's restoration showed or listed what needs to be done to remove it.

BTW, I looked in the 1978 supplement to the Maintenance Manual (and the 1976 manual too). All it says is to remove the 32 Hi-Lo screws.

1978 Eleganza
 

PeteSr

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May 10, 2020
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So, here is the end of the story - I have succeeded in removing and re-attaching the rear panel so that it can be removed at the paint shop and the gap properly stripped and re-painted.

The most difficult part was removing the 32 Hi-Lo fasteners. After that one only needs to remove the plastic trim screws on the inside window edge so that the bottom rear plastic is loose. Also an upholstery piece that is attached to the rear plastic trim. The upper rear locking gun cabinet in my 1978 Eleganza II did not need to be removed as it is hung off of the back two side cabinets. You can put your hand up around the back of it. I did have to remove the rear mini-blinds (very 1980's). But, we purchased a complete set of new day-night blinds for the coach and will be installing them. So all the mini-blinds are going to be removed anyway. You also have to disconnect the rear license plate light. I cut the wires and soldered in a connector to facilitate future removals.

I am going to replace the Hi-Lo screws with threaded inserts and stainless fasteners when the coach returns from the paint shop. After paint, the interior is going to be refurbished by local craftsmen, so the rear panel is going to be removed anyway.

Pete P.
Tampa Bay, FL
1978 Eleganza II
 
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reishiramzi

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Aug 22, 2020
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Nazareth, PA
votiv.studio
So, here is the end of the story - I have succeeded in removing and re-attaching the rear panel so that it can be removed at the paint shop and the gap properly stripped and re-painted.

The most difficult part was removing the 32 Hi-Lo fasteners. After that one only needs to remove the plastic trim screws on the inside window edge so that the bottom rear plastic is loose. Also an upholstery piece that is attached to the rear plastic trim. The upper rear locking gun cabinet in my 1978 Eleganza II did not need to be removed as it is hung off of the back two side cabinets. You can put your hand up around the back of it. I did have to remove the rear mini-blinds (very 1980's). But, we purchased a complete set of new day-night blinds for the coach and will be installing them. So all the mini-blinds are going to be removed anyway. You also have to disconnect the rear license plate light. I cut the wires and soldered in a connector to facilitate future removals.

I am going to replace the Hi-Lo screws with threaded inserts and stainless fasteners when the coach returns from the paint shop. After paint, the interior is going to be refurbished by local craftsmen, so the rear panel is going to be removed anyway.

Pete P.
Tampa Bay, FL
1978 Eleganza II
Thanks for the update - I have to do this too (for paint as well as removing/refurbishing the wet bath) and it's encouraging to hear success stories.
Any tips on the removal? My coach is already gutted. I'm assuming you need one or even two extra sets of hands!
I had the same thought about using rivnuts and bolts to replace the fasteners.
 

PeteSr

New member
May 10, 2020
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It’s definitely a two person job to remove the panel. After removing screws and the lower plastic trim piece and disconnect the license plate light, also remove rear bumper. Then put pads over the bumper supports and gently start prying around the bottom. Have the other person available just in case it pops loose. Work your way around the perimeter and it will come loose. You can then set it on the bumper supports. Its a bit heavy and unwieldy, but two strong guys can handle it (not one strong guy and his petite wife)! ?
 
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PeteSr

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May 10, 2020
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Last question. The coach is almost ready for the return from the paint shop. Does anyone know what the size of the original Hi-Lo screws were? Looking online at the various fastener websites the largest size I have found is 5/16”. But, measuring one of the old ones it seems to be closer to 3/8”. Since its a proprietary thread, I cannot just look it up.
 

tmsnyder

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Oct 7, 2019
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Buffalo NY
You've lost your original screws?

I think I would consider installing a stainless heli-coil, install it with a little epoxy to hold it in the fiberglass. Choose the heli-coil based on the SS screw you want to end up using.
 

PeteSr

New member
May 10, 2020
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No, I have them. But about half had to be drilled for a screw extractor to remove them.

I had considered doing what you suggested. Either way I want new fasteners to put in. It would be nice if I knew what the original size was.
 

tmsnyder

Active member
Oct 7, 2019
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Buffalo NY
No, I have them. But about half had to be drilled for a screw extractor to remove them.

I had considered doing what you suggested. Either way I want new fasteners to put in. It would be nice if I knew what the original size was.
These look similar but only go up to 1/4"

 

PeteSr

New member
May 10, 2020
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Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I saw those, also checked all the usual suspects (i.e. McMaster-Carr, etc..) so far any screws for soft material (Hi-Lo type or more modern designs) seem to only be offered in 1/4". Our coaches use a larger size than that, 5/6,3/8 maybe even 7/16" That goofy proprietary thread design makes it difficult to determine the size. But I know it's bigger than 1/4".

I will probably bring the coach back from the paint shop with the old screws (have about half of them) and work on finding an alternative/replacement while we do the interior refurb. I also need to post some pictures of the new paint job. She's starting to look nice!

These look similar but only go up to 1/4"

 
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LARRYT

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Feb 9, 2020
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the OEM insert (aluminum) is from one of woodworking supply houses. traded my stash to Jim Bounds 10 years ago
 
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