The light at the end of the tunnel

Been at it hard since July 1. Much of, if not most of the wood structure needed to be repaired or replaced. This picture shows some of the new studs which replaced pieces that had completely rotted away.
Here’s the new rear floor and side structures, still in process.
Jump to last week. It’s always fun to see the shiny stuff! But it wouldn’t count for much if the hidden parts weren’t up to snuff. We really think things have come together well. Previously, the floor felt like a sponge. Everything is rock-solid, now. The door closes effortlessly with a solid “thunk”. There is still a lot to do, but I keep having to remind myself that we’ve come a long way. It’s been quite a journey.
There’s still a ton of trim left to be installed. Baseboards, cabinet edging. And all of the cabinet doors will still be refinished.
These are the new cushions. We’re happy with them. Not the original (unobtainable) fabric, but still with that 70’s feel. We think, anyway. The camper feels pretty good to us. Any thoughts? Stay tuned! It won’t be too much longer!

9 thoughts on “The light at the end of the tunnel”

  1. Tony,
    First thing thank you for the parts as they were just what I needed.

    Your camper looks great ! I know how much work you put in it and many many $$$ . Mine is in storage in the Florida keys waiting for me !

    Thanks again

    1. Hi Jimmy!
      Nice to hear from you. I’m glad that you could use the parts. We’re all about keeping our campers alive! 🙂

      We’ve sort of kept track of receipts, but I’m afraid to total things up. But I do know it’s still a far cry from what a new Bigfoot camper would be. And even if we COULD afford a new one, I think we’d still prefer our AR camper. It’s old and scarred, not unlike me.

      When you DO pull your camper out of storage, ( and what a nice camper, it is!) have a blast and lots of luck fishing. The good times really are what this is all about, right?

      Happy Halloween!🎃


  2. Incredible! You have done an outstanding job of reconstructing the interior wooden structure – didn’t appear that you had much to work with when you started! Love your new upholstery – actually looks more 70’s than the original fabric. The countertops look great too – your baby has come a long ways and I compliment you on the “finishing touches”. LOVE IT!!!!! You are truly a craftsman.
    Thanks for sharing your project – Carol

    1. Hi Carol!
      Thanks so much! You always say the kindest things. This has been a labor of love, without a doubt.
      I do love our camper, but your very original and pristine camper still makes me green with envy. They can only be original, once.
      There was almost nothing left of ours that was worth saving. 95% of the cabinets are new construction. The old parts were good for patterns, but so beat up or eaten with rot, that they had to go. One of the nicest things about the camper is that is smells fresh. No more mildew or stale ick smell. whatever that is. It also got new wiring and fixtures, a new refrigerator, new water heater, holding tank monitor, new LPG plumbing and regulator, increased insulation, and a lot of little upgrades like LED light bulbs. Hopefully, we will have some trouble-free camping for some time before we have to worry about it. CAN’T WAIT!!

      Happy Halloween!🎃


  3. Tony,
    Original is great, but I really like the way you have updated yours – looks more upbeat and fresh – the original plaid upholstery was never my favorite…but I love yours!!!
    What did you use as a replacement for the wall paneling? Really looks good!
    Keep us all posted,

    1. Thanks, again, Carol!
      The paneling is the same type of luan plywood with a (fake) cherry wood appliqué. Just the same way it was made originally. It’s really hard to find anything. Paneling is passé, so I’ve been told. Which is no doubt why I like it. 😉
      This stuff was really all I could find. Didn’t have choices. It was RV specific. I bought all they had, and have run a little short. Did some searching and found a company in Hong Kong that makes all kinds of vinyl paper. Ordered some samples and they have one that is a dead ringer. We ordered a large roll of the stuff that will easily finish the interior and then some. The bad news is that it has been sitting at the USPS ISC center in LA for almost 3 weeks. Who knows if it will ever get here. Frustrating. I need it mainly to wrap moldings and some trim.

  4. Awesome work Tony! The photo documentation is really appreciated. I am almost afraid to look and see what kind of deterioration I have in my structure. Are you using pressure treated material, or exterior material? Is that redwood I see framing the walls?
    I spent the entire summer getting my truck ready for the camper. Maybe next summer I will work on the camper! I found a very clean 85 Dodge crew cab long box that was 2wd, gas, automatic. I put in a Cummins diesel, 5 speed, 4wd, and duals with air bags. Also am modifying the box to have aluminum toolboxes replacing most of the exterior fenders, but still have the clearance for the AR.
    Thanks again for hosting the site,
    Chris in Minneapolis

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thank you!
      This has been an adventure, for sure. I used red oak for the inner structure and exterior grade fir for the plywood. Granted, with exposure, they will rot with the best of them, but I was going for strength with the oak. I sealed the floor and side areas with fiberglass resin. I’ve also really concentrated on sealing the leak prone areas, i.e. The windows, side “chrome” trim, rooftop vents, etc, with automotive grade sealers rather than the lousy putty tape. I feel pretty confident that leaks will be minimal or hopefully, nonexistent. Combine that with the fact that it is so dry in New Mexico, this thing should outlast me. Which probably isn’t saying much…

      Your Dodge project sounds great! I’ve toyed with the notion of a 4WD conversion on one of our F350’s. If I was younger, it just might happen. I like the thought of a diesel, too. Anyway, your truck ought to be more than up to the task of hauling your camper. Good job!
      Thanks again for writing.

    2. Chris, there is a Facebook group for American Road Camper owners and enthusiast. Please connect with us and share stories and photos.

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