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Camper progress report

It’s been a productive week. The camper is starting to take shape. Most of the decayed structure has now been rebuilt. We’re now going back together with the rear floor area. The right and left side support areas are mostly back together. We still have a few more studs to replace and then fiberglass all of the areas where it’s required. Once we get to that point, we’ll address the inherently weak lifting points and beef it up with additional steel reinforcements. Stay tuned! Thanks for following along while we learn as we go. This really is a fun adventure! Really!

Tony & Michelle

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Here is the rotten rear floor panel that has been removed. Nice, huh! 🙂
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The right side structure that supports the refrigerator, furnace, water heater and dinette was seriously shot. It felt really great to see this section come back to life.
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Another view of the dinette side before the window was reinstalled.
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Framing in the appliance access areas.
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Peekaboo! The nasty, rotten  structure was removed exposing the truck bed.
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Sorry that the pictures are in no particular order. Here is where we are today. Both side structural areas are mostly together and the rear floor panel is glued in place. Still lacking are rear wall studs, some other reinforcements, and the fiberglass work which bonds the wood to the body. Getting close and it feels and we think, looks, really good. 
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Before the side structure went in, the forward camper body 2×4 supports had to be cut out and replaced. They are screwed to the lower body skirt and held in place with fiberglass mat and epoxy resin. There is one of these on each forward side. One under the refrigerator area and one under the kitchen sink.
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One reason the wood rots in these is that the windows were installed with a low quality, very typical in the RV industry, gray putty tape and non-stainless steel screws. The putty dries out and the screws rust away. The water seeps in and in no time, the wood structure behind the fiberglass body goes away. We have hopefully corrected the problem by using an automotive grade window butyl tape and stainless steel screws. I pity the person who ever tries to remove one of the windows in the future.

 

More camper rebuilding fun!

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Peekaboo! Looking down through the inside of the gutted camper to the truck bedside. The plywood panel that once covered this area was rotten.

The picture featured at the top shows Saturday’s progress. Still a long way to go, but it feels good to see the nasty, rotten wood, being replaced with new.  The new panel shown in the feature photo at the top, is almost ready to be permanently glued, stapled, screwed, and fiberglassed to the shell. But before that can happen, the missing vertical studs and appliance framing needs to be created.  Stay tuned!

Thank you for following along as we learn how to save our camper (and have an adventure before the real adventure begins!). Yeah, it might be easier to buy a new one, but what fun would THAT be? 🙂

’til next time,

Michelle & Tony

americanroandcamper.com

 

 

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Looking from the outside-in through the propane tank storage area. This is what’s behind the gray plastic liner.
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We’ll be nervous until the structure inside is back in place. We have  placed several jacks around the perimeter of the shell as support. No disasters, please.
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Looking out the refrigerator access door. The once-wood frame is hardly there. Under that, is a 2×4 that was glassed to the shell as additional support. The fiberglass is still there. The 2×4 is long gone from rot.
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…and next to the refrigerator lives the furnace. More rot.
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And to the right of the furnace is the space for the water heater. No wonder everything felt so loose and flimsy.
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Starting to scrape off the sprayed on insulation around the affected areas.
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Laying the rotten panel on top of the replacement plywood to use as a pattern. Not much to go on.

 

The fun has begun!

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Knowing all along that this day was coming didn’t make it any easier to swallow. 42 years, + the fact that this camper spent its entire life outdoors on the west coast and  in the northwest. Despite the fact that the AR camper had a wonderful one piece fiberglass shell, it still had an inner structure and floor made of wood. The roof vents, windows, and plumbing all developed leaks over the years and caused the damage shown in the pictures.
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Everyone who owns one of these is aware of the incredibly weak jack lifting points. Particularly the RR corner. All it consists of is a small 3/16″ steel plate bolted to the 5/8″ plywood. The plywood is attached to the body along the sides by 1×2 wood strips which are glued to the shell with fiberglass resin. . I’m hoping to re-engineer this area and will post my updated fixes as they happen.
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The rear door seal was prone to leaking, also. The rear entry footwell had carpeting which only compounded the problem. I’m willing to bet that most of these campers have rot issues in this area, unless they’ve been indoors their entire life.
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Looks a lot like Walter White’s utility closet. I think he made a reference to “fruiting bodies”. Looks an awful lot like rotten wood, to me. 😉 I do know that he showed a LOT more enthusiasm tackling his mess, than I am feeling at the moment.
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The right side structure that supports the refrigerator, furnace, and (leaking) water heater is heavily damaged. It will really feel great once these areas are like new again. Or I should say, hopefully better than new.
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Just plain scary. Nasty.
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The stuff bad dreams are made of.
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Kind of sad that this is the best example out of our 3 campers. I’m hoping that doing he next one will be a breeze. (Yeah, right)
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One thing I’m pretty sure of is that I will be able to remove the shower stall through the dining area window. It looks like a tight fit, but doable. I’m thinking this has got to be how Starcraft did it. There’s really no other way. If this works out,I believe our parts/donor camper has a pristine shower, plus it was equipped a Thetford marine toilet and a holding tank. I’d much rather have that than the Monomatic recirculating beast, affectionately referred to by people in the industry as the “fecal fountain”. There’s a lot of behind-the-shower-stall plumbing involved, to switch to the marine job. Not really possible, or as least practical, without pulling the enclosure out. This should be a win-win. 
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Just more of the fun…
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The wooden framing around the dining window needs help, too. :-/ Stay tuned for some progress reports!

Updates for the week

We’ve added a GUEST PAGE where you can give feedback and suggestions. Please feel free to give us your thoughts and any ideas so that we can improve the site and make it a more enjoyable experience. We’d love to hear from YOU! 🙂

Also new this week!

We were camping last weekend and had a great time! You may notice some new pics from our adventure.

The FOR SALE/WANTED page has been updated and polished. Any suggestions for improving this page are welcome.

Thank you for checking out americanroadcamper.com and for being  a part of our camper community!

Until next time,

Tony & Michelle

 

 

Project F350

Here are some pictures of the completed F350. It’s been a fair amout of work with a few headaches along the way, but we’re pleased with the outcome. Best of all, we made our deadline and will be able to camp this summer!

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At last! The camper still needs a lot of TLC, but is fully functional. We’d rather put it to use and work on it as we go, rather than start a full-blown restoration  and postpone camping for another year.
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We’re still hoping to have the side emblem/sticker reproduced. In the meantime, I created my own by hand cutting one out of vinyl. Better than nothing.
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Much of the interior is still original. Dad had installed a clear protective seat cover when the truck was new. It did a good job of keeping the seat like new over the years. I replaced the clear cover. I wonder if it will be good for another 42 years?
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The headliner didn’t fare too well. I created a new one out of matching vinyl. It’s ok, but I’m not all that pleased with my job. My sewing skills aren’t there, yet.
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I’d added the tilt and cruise in 1980, since Ford didn’t offer them in ’73.
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Here’s the period correct clear cover. Nothing quite like searing hot vinyl in the summer, but it does a pretty good job of saving the factory upholstery.
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An insane amount of effort went into the bed. It had hundreds of dents from years of abuse as my shop truck.
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Ready for a final sanding before the paint.
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Almost all of the trim is original. It’s in amazing shape for the age. Wish I could say the same for myself.
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Bed has been prepped and first color applied
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I straightened as many dents as I could, but still had to rely on plastic filler. This thing was a mess.
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Almost time to reinstall the bed. Seems like it took forever to reach this stage.
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I’m so thankful vehicles don’t have a rust issue in the southwest. I won’t be able to say the same once I start on our blue truck. I’m not looking forward to dealing with the rust.
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It felt so good to drive again after almost 2 years. The truck runs and drives like a new one. It was well worth the effort.

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Project F350

The truck is getting closer to completion. I’m almost through with the front 1/2 of the vehicle, and then I’ll tackle the bed. The project is finally becoming fun. These always drag on and on. And on.

Ive added a few more pictures below.  I hope to finish the interior over the next couple of days.

Thank you for checking out our page! We have added a new camper to the registry on the main site.  Chris from Minneapolis submitted his camper and story. Please check it out if you have a moment.

Happy Camping!

Tony & Michelle

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Here’s the front 1/2 of the F350, stripped again, and bodywork roughed in.
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Bodywork completed and given a couple coats of PPG epoxy primer
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Gray two component primer surfacer applied on top of epoxy. Then added a black guide coat to help see what I’m doing when I block sand it out.
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Ready for the black paint.
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The truck will now be 2-tone black and red. Here’s the first color.
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It feels so good to clean and detail the pieces as they go back on. I’m finally getting to the fun part, where you can see the efforts pay off. I want this to be finished in the worst way. Want to go camping!

 

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…and now the second color has been applied
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It’s always fun to see the project start to come together. Still a long way to go. I need to paint the bed and finish assembling the truck. Maybe in a couple of months, it will be ready for the camper and the mountains!
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It’s my understanding that the DOT requires clearance lights on vehicles 80″ and wider. Although the camper itself has these, more had to be more fun, right? Although new to this truck, these are the exact lamps it could’ve been ordered with, in their correct locations.
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The original headliner had delaminated and disintegrated. I did my best to recreate the original, but my upholstery skills are still lacking. At least it’s not flapping in the breeze.
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All the interior is lacking at this point are the seat belts and seat. Should be back together today!

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The Goldline Camper

Before the American Road Camper, there was the Goldline. It, too, was sold exclusively through Ford dealers and was designed specifically for the Ford pickup. Unlike the AR camper’s fiberglass shell, the Goldline was constructed out of ABS plastic. I have never seen one in person. If you have any stories or pictures, please send them in and I’ll add them to this page.

Thanks to Mark @ onceuponapart.com for providing the Goldline literature!