How I Repaired, Remodeled, and Restored an Old RV Camper

Updated on December 12, 2017
Randy Godwin profile image

Randy is a lifelong lover of the outdoors and especially camping. This article is intended to help the RVer save money and time on repairs.

'86 Nissan Nicky Camper
'86 Nissan Nicky Camper | Source

Older RVs: Classics and Bargains

Many of us cannot afford those fancy motorhomes and luxurious travel trailers even though we do love to visit America’s great state and national parks. Fortunately for us DIY types, there are many used or classic travel trailers and other types of campers for sale that merely need a little fixing up and modernizing to make them comfortable and safe for our families to enjoy.

This article describes the renovation of an 86 Nissan Nicky mounted camper body that had only been used for a couple of camping trips. The engine and interior of the truck itself were in great shape, with only 38,000 miles on the odometer.

The camper body itself, however, was in very bad condition due to a roof leak which caused much deterioration to the interior. Damage from leaks is a very common problem in old RVs. As you can see by the photos, the ceiling and walls, as well as the sink and stove area, were all badly damaged. The structural integrity of the camper walls and ceiling were at risk also, as the wood used for support was badly rotted and would have to be replaced to restore stability to the RV itself.

But since the RV cost only $400, I considered it well worth repairing.

Getting a Materials List Together

We started off by giving the little unit a thorough examination in order to make our materials list.

The secret to doing a quick and reliable repair job on any travel trailer or motorhome is to plan ahead and save trips to the hardware store. At least when you remodel a motorhome instead of a house, you can buy your materials in smaller quantities: wood paneling, screws, nails, glue.

Upgrades Worth Considering When You Remodel an Old RV

Plumbing: Many older RVs may be updated by using the newer flexble tubing plumbing to replace old copper or PVC water lines. One advantage of flexible pipes is that they stand up to the vibration of a moving vehicle. As a rule, an old toilet is easier to replace than to fix.

Electrical system: A new breaker box (with more breakers) is also suggested for very old travel trailers, because microwave ovens and other new appliances may require more amps than the old breaker panels were designed for.

Adding extra 110-volt receptacles in the kitchen area is a good idea; it's better than having to run extension cords across the limited floor space in most RVs.

An old three-way evaporation refrigerator can be replaced by a new efficient 110-volt model (as described in this article on RV repair) for great savings.

Assessing Interior Water Damage in This Nissan Nicky Camper

The roof seams were bad and would first  have to be resealed and coated to prevent even  further interior damage before beginning the repairs.
The roof seams were bad and would first have to be resealed and coated to prevent even further interior damage before beginning the repairs.

Roof and Ceiling Damage

We began at the top, to see where the water that had caused so much trouble was coming from. We removed the ceiling assembly and hold-down bracket from the Coleman rooftop AC unit so we could better access the roof and ceiling damage. One of the bolts securing the rooftop AC to the hold-down bracket was loose and this may have been the cause of the leaking roof.

But the damage was so bad it was difficult to determine exactly where the leak originated on the roof. We did determine that the roof seams were bad as well, and that before we began other repairs we should reseal and coat the roof to prevent even further interior damage.

Damaged ceiling caused by the leaking roof.  The entire ceiling needs recovering and bracing up.
Damaged ceiling caused by the leaking roof. The entire ceiling needs recovering and bracing up.

This camping unit, like many made today, relied on Styrofoam panels for much of the roof and walls, with this particular model using wood panels glued to the Styrofoam to give structural support. The old roof was made of 4x¾' Styrofoam sheets with 2x2" wood rafters.

As we describe below, we used luan as a replacement. We decided that when we replaced the ceiling we would add four pieces of angle iron as rafters to add strength to the 4x¾” ceiling boards we replaced. This added support would keep the AC unit from bouncing and reopening the roof leaks.

Damage to Kitchen, Walls, and Counter Tops

The stove and sink area is in pretty bad shape.  They and the cabinet will be removed to get to the rotten corner braces on the rear of the RV trailer.
The stove and sink area is in pretty bad shape. They and the cabinet will be removed to get to the rotten corner braces on the rear of the RV trailer.
The walls and countertops also would need recovering or replacing in the little motorhome.
The walls and countertops also would need recovering or replacing in the little motorhome.

The water damaged the counters and other parts of the kitchen. What's more important, it damaged the wood corner supports, which were behind the kitchen cabinet and in the bathroom near the stove.

We needed to access and replace these rotten corner wood supports. Furthermore, we wanted to replace the floor with new plywood. So we removed the stove and sink from the cabinet, as well as the cabinet itself.

All wiring over the stove was detached until after the job was completed. This is recommended for all electrical wiring you may encounter during the repair process.

Damaged Wooden Corner Supports

The wood corner supports in the rear of the camper were damaged.  This is directly behind the stove and sink area.
The wood corner supports in the rear of the camper were damaged. This is directly behind the stove and sink area.

Water damaged the supports at the corner of the RV. After we removed the AC and stove/sink cabinet, we replaced the wooden corner braces.

Before: Getting Ready to Install the New Ceiling

With the AC ceiling assembly and hold-down bracket removed, the damaged ceiling is ready to be removed and replaced.
With the AC ceiling assembly and hold-down bracket removed, the damaged ceiling is ready to be removed and replaced.

After we removed the AC unit, we inserted the four pieces of angled steel into the ceiling, attached them to the replacement ¾ x 4” ceiling joists, and covered them with new luan paneling.

After: The New Ceiling

A view of the refurbished ceiling with the AC reinstalled.  Ready for painting.
A view of the refurbished ceiling with the AC reinstalled. Ready for painting.

Finishing the Roof

After the ceiling was repaired, the roof seams were covered by a strip of roof repair aluminum backed with a very sticky adhesive. It is sold as “Peel N’ Seal” in Lowes or Home Depot. This is a wonderful permanent or emergency repair roofing product which pays to have along on any camping trip.

We then coated the roof with a rubber-based roof sealant ("Kool Seal") to ensure against any possible new leaks.

Removing and Replacing Damaged Walls

We removed and discarded the original panels attached to the corner supports--thin styrofoam and luan—and replaced them with new 1/4" luan. Luan is a soft plywood made out of tropical deciduous trees. It can be stained or painted. Since it's thin it is great for bending into the curved shapes many RVs use for the interior ceilings and walls. It paints or stains great too.

You can use Liquid Nail or a similar adhesive liberally to connect luan to wood, and for other repairs on RVs and travel trailers.

As an alternative to luan, you can use thin sheets of paneling turned inside-out to display the wood-grain side. These sheets are occasionally offered at clearance prices at Home Depot or Lowe's building supply stores.

As you can tell from photos below, the new paneling did wonders for the badly damaged interior of the RV. We used 1” or 1 ¼” drywall screws to attach most of the paneling and hid the screws with molding strips.

In more visible places, we relied on finish nails and more Liquid Nail to ensure a tight, long-lasting seal between the luan and the wood supports.

A view of the new ceiling and rear wall during the restoration process.
A view of the new ceiling and rear wall during the restoration process.

Rebuilding the Bath and Kitchen

Replacing cabinets after rear wall and support braces were repaired.
Replacing cabinets after rear wall and support braces were repaired.
The sink and stove area before reinstalling the countertop.
The sink and stove area before reinstalling the countertop.

We checked the plumbing and electrical system in the sink/stove cabinet area and added a new 110-volt receptacle to replace the rusted unsafe outlet beneath the overhead cabinets.

We cleaned up the stove, sanded it, and painted it with high-temperature paint to resist the heat from the gas burners on the stove. We reattached the gas lines and sealed them properly during the reassembly.

New luan paneling was used above the shower surround in the small bathroom.  The new paneling will be finished with water resistant paint.
New luan paneling was used above the shower surround in the small bathroom. The new paneling will be finished with water resistant paint.

The small bathroom shower unit was fine, but we replaced the paneling above the surround with luan paneling, along with the ceiling and walls.

The paneling above the surround will be painted with a water-resistant paint, which should do fine for the occasional weekend trips planned for the small camping unit.

Reinforcing the Floor

Although the floor was not completely ruined, an extra layer of plywood was added to ensure a solid floor.
Although the floor was not completely ruined, an extra layer of plywood was added to ensure a solid floor.

We decided to add an extra 3/8” layer of plywood to the floor area for added strength, even though the floor was still in usable condition.

Often, a water-damaged floor will continue to deteriorate from foot traffic and will eventually give problems if not recovered or reinforced properly. If you have had serious water damage, you can completely replace the RV floor.

The Finished Product: A Little Beauty of an RV

Refurbished stove and kitchen area.  All plumbing and electrical lines reattached.
Refurbished stove and kitchen area. All plumbing and electrical lines reattached.
Renovated bath area, also ready for the paint finish.
Renovated bath area, also ready for the paint finish.
New plywood counter tops and wall paneling complete the renovation of the motorhome.
New plywood counter tops and wall paneling complete the renovation of the motorhome.

Through With This Guy! Road Ready at Last!

There’s nothing as satisfactory to a DIY guy than seeing the results of his own work. The roof and walls, along with the ceiling and bath repair, turned out great and should last for many years to come.

There are other small areas which need a little spit and polish, but this little camper is now ready for the road.

The owner decided to paint the interior himself and save a little more money, which was fine by us. He still came out smelling like a rose though he hired us to do the work for him. Besides, we hate to paint anyway.

The owner now has about $1400 in this neat little rig and could sell it for much more than he invested if he so chooses to do so.

Don't Be Afraid to Try It Yourself

The repair methods used in this article may be modified according to your own taste in design or the depth of your wallet. We chose the most economical materials while maintaining durability and safety as much as possible.

Don’t be afraid to take on one of these projects, as the labor is not too time-consuming nor the materials too expensive. Almost anything you do wrong can be repaired with no problems.

Good luck with your own project and thanks for reading my articles on RV repair.

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    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 3 days ago from Southern Georgia

      Unholyoke, it doesn't cost much to insulate the walls and it does indeed help.

      Randy

    • Unholyoke profile image

      Unholyoke 4 days ago

      Hi!

      Gutting and restoring a 69 Shasta. Question: is it worth it to insulate or are the windows so drafty that it's going to be cold no matter what. My gut tells me to insulate since I'm replacing the walls - but looking for expert advice.

      Thanks,

      Mary

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 8 days ago from Southern Georgia

      Rich, perhaps some fiberglass may work for you.

      Randy

    • profile image

      Richprior 8 days ago

      I have an old Aeorlite motorhome that I am working on , in fabulous mechanical condition but has delamination on the side wall(drivers side) I have repaired with epoxy but need a new trim piece that I am thinking of thru bolting through the wall, old one was just screwed on into typical laminated laun/foam/glass walls, bolts would be in cupboard and bathroom so could put on inside trim to cover , Any ideas what i could use instead of the 3/4" alum half round oval that was original to give it some strength?

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 9 days ago from Southern Georgia

      Hey Tiffany, if you're not going to move the RV you can use metal sheeting for a more permanent roof. In fact, Id recommend it. Good luck on your repairs.

      Randy

    • profile image

      Tiffany 10 days ago

      Trying to completely gut and remodel my 1980 cruise air Rv into a home while living in it. But the situation is the roof is badly water damaged how should I handle repairing it? Should I repair it in sections or have it ripped off and replaced same day? Also would like to replace the current roof with metal sheeting. Would metal sheeting be a bad idea.

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 5 weeks ago from Southern Georgia

      Jess, using a good sealant is always a good idea, but unless you want a clear finish any sealant will do.

      Also, any extra insulation or vapor barrier will only enhance the longevity of the repairs.

      Randy

    • profile image

      Jess 5 weeks ago

      Hi, just finishing framing and ready to install a wall. Would like to seal it first. Have seen Thompson's deck seal used on the plywood and framing material. Is this best practice? Also, have seen aluminum house wrapping used to insulate and create a water barrier. Is this recommended?

    • profile image

      Abel Postman 7 weeks ago

      Randy, I will hang a CO detector, not to worry.

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 7 weeks ago from Southern Georgia

      Jlol, feel free to ask me if you run into any problems with the repairs. :)Thanks for reading!

      Randy

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      Jlol 7 weeks ago

      Just got an RV for a steal at 200. It has some pretty extensive water damage, so I'm looking to repair it and use it next season. I have zero experience, and I'm sure it will be overwhelming, but I can't wait. I'm picking it up Monday (it's not drive-able yet). I appreciate your page :)

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 7 weeks ago from Southern Georgia

      Abel, check with a used building material company for a 100 amp breaker box with 4 or more breakers. You should be able to use it instead of an RV breaker panel.

      I dislike any kind of unvented gas heater, especially when the campsite electricity costs nothing extra.

    • profile image

      Abel Postman 7 weeks ago

      Randy, Electric heater (YEP). Kinda obvious I got (2) 20 amp breakers on a 30 amp shore. For now I just gotta deal with it. That said some time ago I bought a "Lil Buddy" portable LPG heater and the adapters to refill the 1LB bottles.

      Keeping fingers crossed the Generac (Impact 36 plus II) will fire on starting fluid spray.

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 7 weeks ago from Southern Georgia

      Look at Home Depot or Lowes, Abel. You really need at least four circuits if you upgrade the system, especially if you're going to use a microwave or electric heater

    • profile image

      Abel Postman 7 weeks ago

      Randy, I have to make this one work for now ($). Yes 20 amp.

      http://howdoinet.com/itasca440.jpg

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 7 weeks ago from Southern Georgia

      Abel, do you only have two 20 amp 110 volt breakers for the whole system? You might consider getting a bigger breaker box. Meaning one with more individual breakers.

      Randy

    • profile image

      Abel Postman 7 weeks ago

      Randy,

      I am trying to figure out how to throw pics easily. 30 amp

      http://howdoinet.com/win/prgscon1.JPG

      http://howdoinet.com/win/prgscon2.JPG

      http://howdoinet.com/win/prgscon3.JPG

      I think the "pigtail" is actually the line to the GFCI in the bath. I was trying to re-assemble the fixture and it broke so now I am left to my own devices to upgrade to 2017.

      ... more pics coming

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 7 weeks ago from Southern Georgia

      Hey Abel, what amp shore power does the camper use, 30 or 50 amps? Is that the pigtail end at the top? And does the other wire go to the distribution panel?

      Randy

    • profile image

      Abel Postman 7 weeks ago

    • profile image

      Abel Postman 8 weeks ago

      Great let me get some pics!

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 8 weeks ago from Southern Georgia

      I've also converted a few cabinets to fit a microwave, Abel. Especially the older models and I'll be glad to help.

      Randy

    • profile image

      Abel Postman 8 weeks ago

      Hey Randy,

      I've been trying to find anything, schematics to brochures. Found brochures on ebay, not much else. Ripped into an overhead cabinet bottom to find a 120vac to outlets. They only gain was I disconnect the 120vac input to the converter. placed a wall plug on it and tested. There was no open ground, I guess next is the genny and inverter. Most prominent suspect is the automatic transfer switch.

      So I will be back at you for help on rebuilding that cabinet bottom. I am considering converting the cabinet to house a mircrowave,

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 2 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Tonya, there's usually a metal plate affixed to the camper somewhere. Usually near the main door. If there's not one, then your guess is as good as mine. Sorry! :)

      Randy

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      Tonya kay 2 months ago

      Just wondering, how can I find the make/ model or vin # on an old camper that I bought?

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 2 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Abel, sometimes researching the problem is the most difficult part of the process. I'm continually getting questions from those who have RV problems I've never encountered. When you think you've seen everything.....

      Randy

    • profile image

      Abel Postman 2 months ago

      Hey Randy,

      Well I am over on another forum, looking for another Winnie like mine. No Joy. Had to order a new battery terminal clamp it was military specs. Still haven't found the open neutral but the genny has a breaker that "Off" so I will rule that out next. I am spending so much time online researching hadnt got much done.

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 2 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Don't know about the "compressor" switch unless it has to do with the air levelers, Abel.

    • profile image

      Abel Postman 2 months ago

      Randy, yep I found that ground, got pics will post when I can, finding stuff that works, (a switch that says Compressor)???

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 2 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Abel, if you can't find a schematic online then you're outta luck. Be sure to check the battery ground where it attaches to the steel frame as it's prone to corrode badly and cause all sorts of weird problems.

    • profile image

      Abel Postman 2 months ago

      Hi Randy, you got a clue where I would look for an electrical schematic. When working on the batteries the skin gave me a little tingle. I had 30a service connect, so I stopped immediately and unplugged. I was running a fan inside. I got a tester out and found an open neutral. I checked my supply I installed. I was lucky I caught it. Batteries* WAY UGLY!

    • profile image

      Abel Postman 2 months ago

      Renee, give us an idea what it is you're working on.

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 2 months ago from Southern Georgia

      How may I assist you, Renee?

      Randy

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      renee 2 months ago

      needing to replace interior

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 2 months ago from Southern Georgia

      That works, Abel. My father-in-law has a similar--but a bit longer--RV I've worked on over the years. Let me know what you're working on first and I'll be glad to advise you.

      Randy

    • profile image

      Abel Postman 2 months ago

      Hi Randy,

      Let me try it this way,

      http://howdoinet.com/itasca440a.jpg

      I got to find some time to read, dealing with the BIG "C". Thats why I bought this as an option for traveling to treatments. So I guess we start with water leaks. I post general pics of outside first.

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 2 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Abel, if you use the "Contact Author" link at the top of any of my articles, this will send me an email and I'll send you personal email which will enable you to send me pics of the project.

      Randy

    • profile image

      Abel Postman 2 months ago

      Hello Randy,

      Decided I would tackle the forum learning curve later. Here comes the 411 on the class A. Dodge 3500 dually, 440 edelbrock performance low rise/ with a carter carb. Mileage 36,000.

      So this chassis is the upside, biggest issue;

      Generac impact 36 genny

    • profile image

      Abel Postman 2 months ago

      Ok, will look for you in the forums, if I can find them.

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 2 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Abel, you can post pictures on the forums, but not on the articles. You can send the pics to me via my Contact Author link on all of my articles.

      Randy

    • profile image

      Abel Postman 2 months ago

      I take it forum members cannot post pictures?

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 2 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Hey Abel, feel free to ask me about anything to do with your new acquisition. Check out my other RV repair articles as there's some dealing with the electrical systems as well as plumbing and AC systems.

      Randy

    • profile image

      Abel Postman 2 months ago

      Randy, well ended up in a 1978 itasca sun cruiser. Floor is wrecked, roof and ceiling aren't perfect but usable. It has only made 2 trips in 10 years once to the sellers house, and 1 to mine. Owner was in the hospital so a friend was the "broker" So this might be working and that maybe working. LOL but no guarantees. But HEY! it had a "REAL" clean title. I started with the genny once I got it home, it has 2 solar panels. I want to get an idea of the electrical. After all is said and done I maybe bugging you a lot. The genny is a Generac Impact 36 Plus. ever heard of it?

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 2 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Danny, what sort of material are the brackets attached to? Fiberglass, aluminum reinforced Styrofoam, or some other material?

      Randy

    • profile image

      Danny 2 months ago

      Hea Randy, Bottom Brackets connected to the awning arms are pulling out. I tried toggle bolts but they wouldn't spring out. How would you repair?

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 3 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Hi Abel, I'm not sure if I can help you figure the model, but the basic restoration should be simply if somewhat laborious.

      Randy

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      Abel Postman 3 months ago

      Hello Randy, I am considering what I believe is a class C. Can you help me figure out what it is? It is pretty rough and old.

      First thing is first. Allegedly it is a 80 Chevy G30 Brougham. Allegedly, because I cant find a single bit of corroborating info.

      Outside looks good, appears to be fiberglass. It is said the subfloor is bad. Might be a good project. I dont need fancy, I need utilitarian. Warm/cool, dry quarters to service basic needs.

      Can you help me figure out what this is first and then we can discuss if there is a successful remodel in its future?

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 3 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Tyler, some of the interior walls may be used fro structural support. You can add a few posts or columns to support the roof though.

      Randy

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      Tyler 3 months ago

      I've got a 38 foot 5th wheel camper a coworker used to live in, I Am in the middle of a complete remodel of the entire interior due to sever water damage. I have no desires or plans to ever utilize the bathroom or bathroom sink. So, I have been wondering if removing the bathroom altogether as well as the wall/doorway separating the living room from the bath and sleeping area is a possibility without causing structural problems to the camper. The 5th wheel is never going to be moved. I'm looking to do this to open the RV up to make it more spacious and allow more room to work with when deciding all the final touches and cabinetry and oddities I decide to add to the camper.

      If anyone can give me some feedback on completely removing the entirety of the bathroom and it's walling it would be greatly appreciated as i would hate to be in it and have a structural failure.

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 3 months ago from Southern Georgia

      I don't know your capabilities Melanie, but if you're handy with your hands you should be okay. There's nothing you can tear up that can't be fixed in some manner. Get you a plastic tarp in case it rains. Let me know if I can advise you with the repairs.

      Randy

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      melanie 3 months ago

      I inherited an old 76 GMC Midas. I think it's great, but sitting in a field pretty much trashed parts of the roof. So, now it has some sag, ruined luan etc. I have to make these repairs "open air", outside (not covered) so, I have to be mindful of rain as I repair. There is an obvious rotted/ruined section around vent over bathroom. Is it easier to repair from the inside first, then attack outer roof? And are you SURE I shouldn't be nervous to do myself? It seems VERY daunting!!!

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 4 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Ron, if you caould send me a few pics via my contact author link I'll take a look at what you are considering.

      Randy

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      Ron 4 months ago

      Randy, I have a travel trailer that has the open area on the front to haul 4 wheelers etc. How difficult would it be to convert that area into a bedroom?

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 4 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Al, I wouldn't as I'm not in the business anymore, but if you'll email me through my contact author link below my profile pic I'll be able to take look at it. You can't send photos through the author link, but it will enable me to contact you by regular email.

      Randy

    • AL LECOU profile image

      AL LECOU 5 months ago

      Randy, If you had a chance to buy a 1990 era Coachman Catalina 210rb that was largely trashed for $ 150 would you do it? I found one but it is in bad condition inside and out.

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 5 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Hi Taylor, this took about a week if I remember correctly. But then, my memory may be faulty. :)

      Randy

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      Taylor Bartholomew 5 months ago

      Hi! Thank you for your thorough tips! I recently got an old motorhome, same size as the one you did above, and I need to do just about every exact remodel you did in this post. I was wondering about how much time and money this took? I know it was from a long time ago, but if you can give me an estimate that would be great :)

      thanks for the great content!

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 5 months ago from Southern Georgia

      James, your idea is sound. Repairing the roof should be the first item on the agenda to prevent further damage.

      Randy

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      James A. McGrath 5 months ago

      Randy, working on a 64 Yellowstone, total restoration, removing all interior cabinets, appliances, fixtures, etc. Need to repair roof, water damage extensive to 2x2 framing members in ceiling. Thinking best idea is to leave wall & ceiling sheathing on and then repair roof and exterior sides, your thoughts? Thanks

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 5 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Jodi, I'd do a small section of the supporting studs at a time so all of the walls being gone wouldn't weaken the structure.

      Randy

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      Jodi Raymond NE 5 months ago

      I have a 1972 Mobile Traveler and need a complete tear out. I started with the removal of black mold covered walls and ceiling on the hitch end. I'm concerned about taking off all the interior walls and cabinets causing weak structure to camper. Can I gut entire interior and still be ok? Do I need to replace rotten frame as I go? Please help?!

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 6 months ago from Southern Georgia

      David, we beefed up the roof with angle iron as it had sagged where the AC was, but we didn't have remove the unit, just the ceiling assembly.

      Randy

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      davidstephens001 6 months ago

      Randy, Did you remove the entire air conditoner mechanical part from the roof, or just the interior cover?

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 6 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Hi April, You can indeed lay new plywood down over the old flooring. As for the bathroom fixtures, they should easily be removed with the plumbing either capped or removed depending on the situation. Is the front door wood or metal? If wood you may be able to remove it and reglue the separated areas. Hope this helps you out!

      Randy

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      April lopez 6 months ago

      I just acquired an old fleet wood prowler that I am planning to turn into a craft retreat. There is a lot more damage to it than I initialy thought. I have a couple of questions regarding taking out the bathroom and redoing the floor. There are a few soft spots in the floor as the roof cap have rotted so the rain has been allowed to come in. Is it ok to just lay new plywood down on top of the old flooring or should I just tear out the floor and redo? Also how can i fix the existing front door it seems to be separating at the bottom making it hard to open and close it. Last but not least how hard is it to remove the bathroom? I don't need it as the camper is right out my back door. Lol however the space would be great for storage of my crafting supplies. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 6 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Hi Darcy, did the original ceiling have any support besides the laminated panels? If not, then the new materials should need none.

      Randy

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      Darcy Densmore 6 months ago

      I recently purchased a 28 foot 1993 Hornet Cl C motor home and roof had signs of a bit of bunk water damage from front window. Once I got it home and first good rain I realized leak was worse than originally thought (of course) and damaged ceiling, walls and base of bunk around top front bunk area. (I found out leak was from weathered sealant /seam across front of roof where rubber material is attached.) I tore it apart but walls and ceiling are laminated paneling on Styrofoam panels. I gouged it all out back to edge of bunk/ start of upper cabinets. I intention is to re glue in new Styrofoam and paneling, but my worry is, there are no studs or ceiling joists, so will I be able to regain the structural support? Anybody have experience with this?

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      Randy Godwin 6 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Thanks, Ontario! I like to help others who love to go camping. :)

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      OntarioCanada 6 months ago

      I just stumbled across this article and realized you have been diligently answering peoples questions here for 6 years! Kudos to you, Randy!

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      Randy Godwin 6 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Rick, I'd first call the so-called electrician and--as my dad used to say--"lick his calf over"! Do you have any GFI outlets which won't reset?, Id check them with a multimeter anyway as they commonly fail with a power surge.

      Randy

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      ricknjan 6 months ago

      Had so called electrican install 30amp plug outside to hook up tt .now only tv and ac work. No lights,micro,fridge,awning,outlets? No breakers triped or fuses blown in tt. 2013 kz sportsman

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      Lauren Howard 7 months ago

      Thanks for the tips as we continue our 1991 winnebago warrior remodel. Going to be worth all the effort once we are completed. We have a website with all of our progress(and many setbacks) http://ourmoonwarrior.weebly.com

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      Randy Godwin 7 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Hi Mel, it would look better if you sprayed the exterior paint on the camper. Depending on how much paint you need you can use spray cans instead of buying a gun.

      Randy

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      mel1201 7 months ago

      hi there thank you for the great info :)

      i have just bought an old 1988 singal axel travel trailer for next to nothing and fixing it .... i have gutted it and i am re finishing it all but the floor (lots of water damage ) and some silly person had tryed to fix it in the pass but put realy thick plastic over the insulation...so it rotted lots....) i have managed to figure most of it out but my big question at this point is when i go to paint the aluminum on the out side can i do it by brush or roller or do i need a paint gun ?

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      Amy 7 months ago

      Thanks for all the great info...I am just starting to gut a 1982 rv

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      Randy Godwin 8 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Daniel, Kool Seal is a great roof repair product and it comes in either white or silver and is cheaper than RV roof repair products.

      Randy

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      Daniel Fowler 8 months ago

      It looks great....I am doing the same thing with a 1978 Chevy motorhome. What product did you use to water proof the roof?

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      Randy Godwin 10 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Jo, I think some of us can remember those days. The 60's and 70's were possibly the best "van" days. Thanks for your time, Jo. :)

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      Jo Miller 10 months ago from Tennessee

      Many years ago, my ex-husband and I bought an old step van (not running at the time) and made it into a camper, complete with purple paint inside. We took it on several camping trips, finally sold it when we had a baby (it was a little unsafe). The young guy who bought it said he was taking it to California and wouldn't change a thing about it. It still had the 'metal stud' installation signs on one sign and McGovern stickers on the other. The marriage didn't survive but that camper and baby were both good things. Your article brought back some good memories.

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      Randy Godwin 11 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Hi Karen, have you considered using a construction adhesive such as Liquid Nail to attach the luan to the walls? This may be your best option if done correctly.

      Randy

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      Karen in BC 11 months ago

      Hi I really enjoyed this article and looking forward to viewing the rest on your site.

      I have an application problem that I need help with.

      I have a '72 Holiday Rambler made entirely with aluminum framing no wood studs or rafters anywhere.

      The existing wall panels are those luan/styrofoam wall sections that are fuse seamed? At thier mating sides... No visible fastners or moldings.

      Unfortunately these panels are now bowing and i want to remove them, insulate between studs then reuse luan panels again but fix them well to metal studs this time.

      I then wanted to vapour barrier the walls (and ceiling in an envelope) and finally put nice new unmared 3/8 panelling on as finished wall... Existing luan has worth for its insulative value as i live in this trailer year round. It also has minor damage in many small places so it needs to be covered over for pleasing wall finish.

      My problem is... How do you attach wall panels to metal studs nicely?

      All i can think to do is screw old luan/styrofoam panels back in place somehow lightly tack and tuck tape vapour barrier in place and then somehow fix finishing panels by screws with anchours? Into styrofoam and cover screws by doing a board and batten look with 5/8 by 2 3/4 inch wood strips that

      I might glue on?

      Its getting complicated as you can tell.

      My goals are insulation value, non bulging walls and esthetics.

      Im not even sure why the walls are bulging...racking? from sitting slightly unlevel corner to corner? Its not rot so settling downwards from floor or wall rot not the issue. Nothing obvious jumps out.

      It is moist here on the coast of British Columbia so just trying to get her repaired once...warm and snug for the forseeable future.

      Any help appreciated, Im too old and strapped for cash to make costly mistakes from trail and error.

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      Randy Godwin 11 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Hey Malone, it's possible to add lathing to the sides of the camper for either log like exterior or board covering to be used. It depends on what the exterior walls consist of.

      Randy.

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      Malone 11 months ago

      Hey, Randy.... I have a 1980 something Fleetwood camper. I won't be traveling with it, but I'd like to make the exterior look like a log cabin or at least like it's a wood cabin. Any way to do that since there's nowhere to nail on the outside? Thx so much!!!

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      BGE 12 months ago

      Randy, I sent a question before I signed in. If you did not recieve it, please let me know. It would have been under the name BGE

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      Randy Godwin 12 months ago

      Hi Kimmie, as far as adding a deck is concerned, I've never heard of adding such to a travel trailer. Not saying it cannot be done, but just never heard of it. There are multiple roofing materials which can be used instead of dry-in paper. Just google RV roof repair materials and you should have a choice of different kinds. Good luck with the repairs. :)

      Randy

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      Kimmie 12 months ago

      Hi Charles, I'm a "can do...Lets try it kind of Girl, with a backround in Interior design and like to take on "fixer-upper houses. Myhusband is great at structual work, yet not to good at finish work- so we often take on projects some fail yet most succeed!

      We were given an old 18-8 ft RV that an aquaintence wanted to get rid of. I use it for art studio and sewing storage.

      With the Tiny House Movement growing I havebeen dreaming of turning it into a traveling home. Jerry, (my husband) is a warehouse manager for a roofing supply company, and brings "throw away stuff". End of the year inventory iscoming up so his bosses asked if we wanted a rolling stair unit.

      It would be tall enough to used as steps up to roof of RV for deck.

      Question: how do we know if RV would support a deck. We had a small leak last year and he covered the roof (and three sides) of RV with heavy dry in paper- I think thats what it is called-so it no longer leaks, yet still will need a surface since dry in paper is black, rough and ugly!

      What do you suggest?

      RV has no title. So it will have to stay my design studio until we can make it legal.

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      Charles 14 months ago

      Thank you for the quick response. I'll let you how it goes.

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      Randy Godwin 14 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Hi Charles, you should have no problem removing the window or replacing the exterior rubber seal. I think you'll be able to find a new seal on Amazon or any online RV parts store. Feel free to ask me about any complications you encounter and I'll try to advise you. Thanks for the question. :)

      Randy

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      Charles 14 months ago

      Hi Randy,

      Got a project that I hope you can provide some guidance. I have a 1994 Dutchmen 22' BH that sat covered and unused by original owner since 1995. I recently noticed some deteriorating wood on the wall by the lower bunk and need to replace it. Not sure of the source but the window seal is suspect since the rot appears around and below the window. Any information on how to tackle this would be appreciated. I have the tools and have worked on boats, but this is the first time for a trailer. Thanks in advance.

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      Randy Godwin 15 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Thanks for the nice comments, Laura. Feel free to ask me about any problems with the repairs you encounter. Or check out my articles on AC, floor, electrical, or power converter repairs.

      Randy

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      Laura Giancola 15 months ago

      Thank you for this article! I have looked at so many articles and videos online over the last few days to try to get information on repairing damaged roof/ceiling and interior walls. I found your article very informative and easy to follow. We are beginning to demo a 5th wheel that was left on property we recently purchased, and I will be referring to your articles as we go. Appreciate you sharing your knowledge and projects.

      Cheers,

      Laura

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      Lela 16 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Found it! It was right on the front page after I signed up with Flipboard after logging in with my FB account!

      Guess, I'll try putting it on my tablet.

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      Randy Godwin 16 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Hi Cindy NWayne--Not on this project, but it is possible to do so.

      Randy

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      cindy n wayne 16 months ago

      I have a question about the walls/ceiling. Did you attach the luan paneling to anything such as foam core?

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      Randy Godwin 20 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Hi Matt, I used quite a bit of construction glue and replaced all of the bad wood in repairing the corners. I'd consider long and hard before pulling the siding off, but then, you know your own capabilities and can have a better understanding of your particular problem than I do. Let me know how you progress in your repairs if you don't mind. I'm always interested in how different people deal with classic camper repairs. :)

      Randy

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      Matt 20 months ago

      Randy,

      Hi there we had bought a 69 beeline about 20' not in to bad of shape for its year but it had some roof prob leaking,weak ect resealed it with solarflex hasn't leaked so far but i think I'm going to do another coat just to be on safe side.I like the idea of reinforced beams thanks for that.My question is my back corners are pulled apart like yours was just not sure how to do it without too much expenses. I think I need to replace whole back wall sounds bad but it's just a compartment half way up so should I start outside and pull off siding what do you think

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      Randy Godwin 22 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Hi Donna, sometimes you can use Liquid Nail or other construction adhesive to fill in holes enough for reattaching items to an RV exterior. Hope this helps you out. :)

      Randy

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      Donna 22 months ago

      We are trying to replace some of the outside latches but the area behind the old latch is no good. Help me out

      Is there something we can put in old hole area to get new latches to hold up compartment doors?

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      Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Yes Danielle, I occasionally repair RVs for people. Now retired but still give advice to those who need it.

      Randy

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      danielle 2 years ago

      i get the sense from this article that you do rv repairs for other people. is this accurate? if so, i would love to talk to you more about it.

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      Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Nikki, there are toilets which may be more sturdy than yours, and perhaps more comfortable also. It may be in your best interest to look into a new one as most install in the same manner as your old one. you still may have to do a little repair work to the floor anyway to make sure the new toilet is securely mounted.

      Yes, there are many different kinds of vinyl coated paneling with which to cover over the old paneling. Check out Lowe's or Home Depot for such material. Good luck on your repairs. :)

      Randy