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How To Repair, Remodel, and Restore an Old Camper or RV Interior

Updated on September 10, 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.

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Older RV's: 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 type campers for sale which merely need a little fixing up and modernizing to make them comfortable and safe for our families to enjoy.

The following RV repair article describes the renovation of an 86 Nissan mounted camper body which had only been used for a couple of camping trips. The engine and interior of the truck itself was in great shape as it only had 38,000 miles on the odometer. The camper body itself, however, was in very bad condition due to a bad roof leak which caused much deterioration to the interior.

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. Since the RV was only $400, it was well worth repairing.

86 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.
Wood corner supports are deteriorated on the rear of the camper.  This is directly behind the stove and sink area.
Wood corner supports are deteriorated on the rear of the camper. This is directly behind the stove and sink area.

Getting a Materials List Together

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

This is easier than one might think as, unlike remodeling a home, the materials needed are usually in small amounts.

This goes for wood paneling screws, nails, glue, or just about anything else required in most RV interior repair jobs. For plumbing or RV electrical repairs, the same goes for them too. Many older RVs may be updated by using the newer flex plumbing to replace old copper or PVC water lines.

A new breaker box is also suggested for the very old travel trailers as microwave ovens, and other new appliances, may require more amps than the old RV electrical breaker panels were designed for.

RV refrigerators may be replaced by new efficient 110 volt models for a great savings if the old 3-way evaporation fridge is too far gone. Think ahead and be prepared. This will save you time and money if you properly plan your material list beforehand.

Removing the Deteriorated Material

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.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.

We decided to add 4 pieces of angle iron as rafters to add strength to the 4x¾” boards we replaced in the ceiling. This added support would keep the AC unit from bouncing and recreating the roof leaks.

Interior Water Damage In Small RV

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

We also removed the stove and sink from the cabinet, as well as the cabinet itself. The floor would be replaced by new plywood and we needed to get to the rotten corner wood supports behind the cabinet.

The same was done in the bath next to the stove as it needed new corner wood replaced also. 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.

The walls and counter tops also would need recovering or replacing in the little motorhome.
The walls and counter tops also would need recovering or replacing in the little motorhome.
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.

Removing and Replacing Damaged RV Walls and Ceilings

With the AC and stove/sink cabinet removed, we started out by replacing the wooden corner braces which the luan/Styrofoam panels were attached for strength and stability.

The thin paneling was discarded and replaced with new ¼” luan which may be stained or painted. The liberal use of Liquid Nail, or a similar adhesive, is highly recommended for use while repairing these RV’s and travel trailers.

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

This thin plywood is great for bending into the correct shape which many RVs use for the interior ceilings and walls. It paints or stains great too.

Often thin sheets of paneling may be turned backwards to the wood side to substitute for luan and are occasionally offered at clearance prices at Home Depot or Lowe's building supply stores.

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

Often, a water damaged floor will continue to deteriorate if it suddenly gets traffic on the surface and will eventually give problems if not recovered or reinforced properly.

Removing and Replacing Damaged RV Interior

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.
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.
Replacing cabinets after rear wall and support braces were repaired.
Replacing cabinets after rear wall and support braces were repaired.

Bath and Kitchen Area RV Repairs

The small bathroom shower unit was fine, but the paneling above the surround was replaced with luan paneling as was 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.

As you can tell, the new paneling does 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 other more obvious places, we relied on finish nails and more Liquid Nail to ensure a tight long lasting seal between the luan and the wood supports.

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.

Adding extra receptacles in the kitchen area is always a good idea during renovations. It's better to have too many than having to run extension cords across the limited floor space in most RVs.

The stove was cleaned up, sanded, and painted with high temperature paint to resist the heat from the gas burners on the stove. The gas lines were reattached and sealed properly during the reassembly.

A Plan Comes Together: Don't You Love It?

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.
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.
The sink and stove area before reinstalling the counter top.
The sink and stove area before reinstalling the counter top.

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 even hiring 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.

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. A wonderful permanent or emergency repair roofing product which pays to have along on any camping trip.

The roof was then coated with a rubber based rood sealant to ensure against any possible new leaks.

The examples of repair methods used in this article may be varied according to your own taste in design or in 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 expensive. Almost anything you do wrong can be repaired with no problems.

Good luck with your own project and thanks for stopping by my RV repair hubs.

The Finished Product : A Little Beauty of an RV

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.
Renovated bath area, also ready for the paint finish.
Renovated bath area, also ready for the paint finish.
Refurbished stove and kitchen area.  All plumbing and electrical lines reattached.
Refurbished stove and kitchen area. All plumbing and electrical lines reattached.
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.

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    • profile image

      Abel Postman 5 hours ago

      Great let me get some pics!

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 6 hours 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 hours 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 4 days 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

    • profile image

      Tonya kay 4 days 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 10 days 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 10 days 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 13 days 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 13 days 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 13 days 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 13 days 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 weeks ago

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

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

      How may I assist you, Renee?

      Randy

    • profile image

      renee 2 weeks ago

      needing to replace interior

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 2 weeks 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 weeks 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 3 weeks 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 3 weeks 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 3 weeks ago

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

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 3 weeks 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 3 weeks ago

      I take it forum members cannot post pictures?

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 3 weeks 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 3 weeks 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 3 weeks 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 3 weeks 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 4 weeks 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

    • profile image

      Abel Postman 4 weeks 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 7 weeks 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

    • profile image

      Tyler 7 weeks 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 8 weeks 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

    • profile image

      melanie 8 weeks 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 2 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

    • profile image

      Ron 2 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 3 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 3 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 3 months ago from Southern Georgia

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

      Randy

    • profile image

      Taylor Bartholomew 3 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 3 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

    • profile image

      James A. McGrath 3 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 4 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

    • profile image

      Jodi Raymond NE 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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

    • profile image

      April lopez 4 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 4 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 4 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?

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

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

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      OntarioCanada 4 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!

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 4 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

    • profile image

      ricknjan 4 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

    • profile image

      Lauren Howard 5 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

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 5 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 5 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 ?

    • profile image

      Amy 6 months ago

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

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 6 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 6 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?

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 8 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 8 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.

    • Randy Godwin profile image
      Author

      Randy Godwin 9 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 9 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.

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 9 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 9 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!!!

    • profile image

      BGE 10 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 10 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 10 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 12 months ago

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

    • Randy Godwin profile image
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      Randy Godwin 12 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 12 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 13 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 13 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 14 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 14 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 14 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 19 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 19 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 20 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 20 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

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      Nikki Kochsmeier 2 years ago

      Thank you so much for getting back to me, I really appreciate it.

      I started thinking after posting last night, that a whole new toilet may be needed instead. Our bathroom layout is actually a little inconvenient, the toilet is raised and sits above the rear wheel well. To be honest, I have a feeling I have caused some of the problem with the toilet. Paperwork (if you know what I mean) is a difficult task becasue of the way it sits, there is just not quite enough room to maneuver without leaning back on the seat, the cabinet under the sink is in the way and uses that extra couple of inches that are desperately needed, the toilet rocks more and more with each use because of this issue, am afraid the problem will keep happening unless we remove it.

      The toilet in there now is an Aqua Magic 4 and the part needed is the water replacement valve. The part number is 13168. Is this the only kind of toilet we can use or are there other more stable models available? Any suggestions are welcome.

      Could also use any information on the easiest way to get to the furnace, can it be pulled out without damaging it more or would accessing it from under the bed be a better idea?

      I understand that sheet rock is too heavy to install in Motorhomes, but isn't there any options other than plywood? Maybe a plastic paneling or something like that instead?

      Thank you again for your help.

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      Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Hi Nikki, it is sometimes difficult to get started repairing things you're not experienced with, but most of the time the repairs are not as hard as you expected.

      I would begin with the toilet just because of the damage it's causing the floor. It probably needs all new gaskets including the water supply lines and the flushing mechanism. You may find a parts breakdown on the net from the maker using the model number located on the toilet. Probably a diagram will be provided so your hubby won't have any excuses to procrastinate any longer. I'd strongly suggest repairing or strengthening the floor as you are repairing the toilet lest you end up on the ground one day. :)

      As for the paneling issue, I had the same problem remodeling an older camper as the fake plastic overlay on the paneling began to peel off because of moisture. I went to Lowe's and bought the cheapest wood paneling I could find, it was on sale as discontinued and I got a real bargain on it.

      I then reversed the paneling where the unpainted side was showing and installed it right over the old paneling, cabinets and all. I then chose a good paint and rolled the new surfaces with it where I could and used a brush to trim with. It turned out great and the old camper looked new on the inside. Sheetrock is not recommended because of the weight and the tendency to crack when the camper is moving.

      The furnace fan may be belt driven and may be slipping causing the squealing noise. or the fan motor itself may have bad bearings or sleeves. It should be a simple matter to oil the sleeves on the motor with a spray can--WD40 would be fine--or to tighten the belt if there is one. Neither of these maintenance procedures are very difficult, so don't let ole hubby slide this time.

      If you like I can research the toilet repair info for you. If so, send me the model number and all the info you have on the toilet and I'll give it a go. :)

      Randy

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      Nikki Kochsmeier 2 years ago

      My husband says that all we need is a gasket to fix the toilet, but seems to me if it were really that easy he would have fixed it by now. I think he is having a hard time figuring it out on his own, so it keeps getting put off. He is good about having excuses for things, me on the other hand, wants things done right away and am willing to jump in and figure something out, but I don't want to insult my husband. Please help!!

      Thank you

    • Nikki Kochsmeier profile image

      Nikki Kochsmeier 2 years ago

      Hi, I found your information very interesting. My husband and I bought a 1986 Fleetwood class c motor home and have actually been living in it for almost a year. There are a few issues that need attention but don't have a whole lot of money to fix them all at once. A few of the issues are, 1. a couple of walls and a couple areas of the ceiling have rotted, (plus I hate the old wood paneling) is there something else that can be used instead of wood paneling? Something more similar to sheet rock for instance. 2. the toilet has started leaking which has now caused flooring issues, 3. Our furnace squeals something terrible so we can't use it, we got the motor home for $3700 and were aware of some of the problems when we bought it, but since it is our home it is difficult to go hog wild on remodeling, plus not a whole lot of experience either. My husband has tried finding help online but keeps falling short on information. I'm pretty sure the toilet problem should be our first project but cannot find answers for fixing it. It is an Aqua Magic 4 and leaks severely every time we flush it. I am on the larger side and am afraid of falling through the floor one of these days because of the water damage to the flooring. Lol

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      Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Feel free as long as there are no live links in your comment, Martha. Or no ads for a business either. :)

      Randy

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      Martha Wescott 2 years ago

      Hello ,

      Just came across this site and would like to add some input!If it i alright?

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      Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Hello Wayward, the exterior may be fiberglass and if so, it can be painted with an epoxy paint. It may also be patched where the cracks and uneven places appear. If it isn't fiberglass, you may be able to recover the exterior with some other type of siding depending on how it is shaped. Feel free to ask for more info if you need it and I'll be happy to advise you. :)

      Randy

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      Waywardragamuffin 2 years ago

      I am sooooo glad to have come across your site. We bought an 1989 Southwind motor home. Motor runs well and has brand new tires. The insides look pretty good needing some walls replaced and some ceiling areas. I am a fairly handy type of person and can build simple projects...my dilemma is with the exterior... there are some breaks, cracks and uneven areas. It is some sort of smooth type of fiber material. I would like to replace this as it is really faded. The manufacturer is in North East Indiana and I have thought of making a trip to do a factory tour. Can you give me any advise about the exterior can it be replaced with different types of siding or repaired. I am a clueless old fart. Thank you for taking time to keep this site up and going.

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      Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Hey Vernon, yes, you should be able to easily replace the gaskets all throughout the toilet. And no, it's not unusual for someone to use all sorts of adhesives and caulks in the effort to quell leaks. You can always try forcefully removing the top and then consider replacing the toilet after you fail. LOL! I wish I could take a look at it myself, but alas...... :)

      Randy

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      Vernon Childs 2 years ago

      I have a 79 Komfort single axle trailer. Made it into a nice clamper. However, the toilet is kicking my you know what. I replaced the leaking feed lung and plastic adapters. It still leaked bad during the flush cycle. The water is spilling into the floor from just under the top side. Removed the toilet and about 12 screws that appear to attach the top bowl where the water it's supposed to swirl around and then go down the drain. Problem is the top part will not disengage like I thought it should. Am I missing something or do you think it has previously been worked on and glued down. Sure seems like it should just pop off and a new gasket made to contain the water leakage. Would sure appreciate your advise. New toilet or a bigger hammer?

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      Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Hi Shanda, it is a bit of work but the results can be worth the effort, at least in my experience. In some cases you can indeed place paneling over the old stuff. Usually the older campers used studding in the walls much as a house has. I've used wood paneling turned over to the wood side and painted it with good results. This also enables you to use a thinner paneling which makes reinstalling outlets a snap.

      I'll be glad to advise you if you run into any problems during the make-over. :)

      Randy

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      Shanda 2 years ago

      HELP ! HELP Randy!

      We Purchased a 1976 Itasca a few years ago for $500. Still with the original orange shag carpet (rake not included). I would like to update it some. However, my husband feels as if its way too much work and not worth it. For starters the paneling is coming apart. Is it possible to just panel over it? I would then like to add some color and paint it. Im sure this is a pretty stupid question but, Im pretty much on my own with this project and just know how to work and impact ;)

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      Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Hello Dondi, Liquid Nail works great for joining wood and all types of foam wall material. You'll probably have to replace some of the damaged wood but this should pose no problem. Feel free to ask for more help if needed and thanks for the question. :)

      Randy

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      Dondi4633 2 years ago

      Hi Randy, my 2001 cub hybrid RV (23ft.) had a leak on one of the roof seams and the water damaged the wall and of course the floor. I am sure I can fix the floor without much trouble but I am not sure what the walls consist of especially the front wall that has the pop out queen bed. The rounded top and bottom part under the fold out panel are soft, actually feels like there is nothing there ! Also the side shows water damage but it is all inside the wall. How do I replace it and reattach it to the outside material of the trailer ? I haven't taken the wall down yet just making a list but I'm thinking it is some type of foam wallboard, do I just use liquid nail to join them together ?

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      Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Yes, throw them in a dumpster. :)

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      Dkdubya 2 years ago

      Hi, Randy

      We are redecorating an '07 Newmar but can't see how to remove the factory art attached to the wall. We also plan to remove the sofa bed and dinette set. Do you have any suggestions for disposing of these items?

      Thanks, Debra

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      Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Yo Ranch Hand, Kool-Seal is a good product and has worked well for some people I know. I've used it myself on older model campers. I haven't heard of the other products you mentioned being used for such but they may work well also. Good luck with your repairs. :)

      Randy

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      Ranch Hand 2 years ago

      Hey Randy, the camper I plan to restore was brought to my home yesterday. Now it's time to get busy! Looks like the Coachmen Cadet has a metal roof. I saw that you recommended a rubber coating material to Erin, but I've found there are many different brands such as Kool-Seal, Dicor and Liquid Roof, to name a few. Keeping costs low is definitely a priority in this project, but I certainly want to use a quality product. Is there a brand you would suggest?

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      erincol22 2 years ago

      Thanks for the quick response Randy. The roof is fiberglass, steel reinforced and rubber clad. I sent you an email with picture links, not sure if you got it...Just trying to get a game plan in place. Let me know if I need to send a better link for the photos.