Posts Tagged ‘repair camper’
There was a lot of construction going on at the off grid solar homestead yesterday. Joe, a friend from NJ came up to help out. He works in construction and was a great help in getting some of the larger projects finished on the property. I worked on RV renovation and clean up trying to get ready to move into the old motorhome soon.
Saturday night TJ and I set up the LED disco lighting that I bought off herbsterplace1 from youtube. This is an LED light rope with different colored LEDs and a remote control so you can program it or use various preset programs. It is really cool and we played a few hands of UNO while the radio played in the background in the new RV. We also sat on the new homemade battery box/bench in the RV and played our game of cards. It felt good to use the bench that we build with our own hands. I just had the LEDs taped onto the walls for now but later I will install them properly.
The weather was nearly perfect all day Monday except for the humidity. There was a light breeze and the high was in the 80s with no rain.
Joe arrived in the late morning and he started working with TJ on the rain water collector, solar shower and building a work bench. Together they rebuild the whole rain water collection system and reinforced the struts. They also built it to take more panels and increase rain water collection.
In the mean time I was cleaning the RV closets and fastening some of the fixtures and window screens back in place. I found another old ant nest in the closet underneath a board that covers the propane lines.
My little Harbor Freight 800 watt portable generator got a good workout with Joe and TJ using it to cut wood with a circular saw while I used it to vacuum junk out of the RV. With a spark plug change, the little generator really performs well. I also read that you should burn premium gas in it for best performance, so I will change to that with the next fill up.
I also dug out the removable living room table that goes into the floor in the center of the RV living room. It sits perfectly with the new homemade bench. Without measuring the two, they make a perfect match for one another. Its like they were made for each other. I really like it. I washed the table up nicely and left it there. I think it will be very useful. With a couple fold up chairs I can easily seat 6 people around my table in the RV living room.
I used some Minwax wood hardener in a spot on the bathroom floor which was weak due to the ants. I is just an 8 inch round spot that gives under your feet when you step on it. I figured this stuff may help reinforce the floor so I dont have to cut and patch in a new piece of wood. It is supposed to seep down into the wood fibers and form a plastic like material with it. Well, it failed in my case. Now the floor is brittle and cracking where before it was just spongy. Now I need to repair it for real.
TJ and Joe reinforced the solar shower and finished it up by placing the Coleman solar camp shower on top so we can take real hot showers from now on. They leveled the shower stall off on the ground nicely as well. Now we have a real stand up solar hot shower in the off grid meadow. I still want to clean up an old 30 gallon metal drum and use it for showering but I need a water fitting for the shower head first.
I started working on the conversion of my RV electric control box but that will be a video all of its own. I removed all the 120 to 12 volt conversion circuitry and will wire in my solar panels and inverter to the original RV wiring. This will save me a lot of work and I can leave the original wires, circuit breakers and fuses in place. When I have the conversion finished I will upload the video separately and do an article on this site.
For the last project of the evening TJ and Joe build a very nice, rugged work bench so we dont have to work on the ground anymore. It is made up of all scrap materials. The frame was found in the forest and the top is made out of pallet wood.
Joe also gave me an electric fence tester and we tested out all the fence lines. I discovered that the fence ground is very poor and needs to be replaced asap.
A package arrived from Rich at Around The Cabin which contained some hard drive magnets for my wind turbine project, a fan for my RV, some balls for Baby cat and a couple 9 volt batteries. Thank you Rich. Every Monday night at 9 pm EST you can join me on www.aroundthecabin.com for a live talk/chat show about The Off Grid Project, survival, outdoors and alternate energy.
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The sun finally showed itself today and allowed me to get some outdoor work done. I washed and then sealed all the RV windows and seams. I also managed to get all the RV windows working finally. I had to raise my potato beds due to the plants being about 24 inches higher than the dirt. And much more.
The day started out with me cleaning all the window gaskets and seams around the RV to prepare for silicone sealant. I wanted to use the sunny day to finally stop the water leaks. It has been raining for well over a week straight now.
My neighbor Chris came over to help me get the RV windows open. They were sealed closed with algae and dirt from years of neglect. After soaking in silicone spray lubricant for a couple weeks, I used a putty knife to break loose the glass from the seals. Then the two of us worked together to get the windows open. I had to remove all the window screens first. The he went outside and I worked on the inside and we pushed at the same time while sliding the window in its track. With some work all the windows in the whole RV now function again.
I started to clean the inside of the RV with a mixture of vinegar, water and essential oil of lavender to get the mold and mildew off the walls. Using a green scratch pad and some hard work, I got the bathroom walls cleaned. I still have to get inside the bathroom cabinets and closet, but the outside is all done now.
I am limiting my time inside the RV due to the amount of mildew inside to prevent sickness so I took a break from that to work on taking apart wood pallets. I need to raise up my potato beds about 2 feet higher and bury the plants so they can bear more fruit.
After all the motorhome windows and seals had dried, I took a tube of clear silicone sealant and sealed up all the bad window gaskets. I also sealed around anything that was attached to the outside of the motorhome. If there is a screw or hole through the fiberglass shell, then it needs to be sealed to prevent leaks All windows, lights, reflectors and access panels have to be sealed on such an old RV.
I also got out some bleach and a spray bottle and sprayed bleach water under the bed area where the massive mouse nest was. I hit it three times all over to make sure I killed all germs and smells.
I also cleaned the bathroom counter and sink with bleach water three times. It sure looks nice in there now compared to how it was before. I will have to get some before and after photos to compare it with.
My motorhome bathroom sink before cleaning
My RV bathroom sink after cleaning it
After some more work on the potato beds, I cleaned the kitchen sink, counter and stove top with bleach water three times as well. I want to be able to set stuff down on the counter without contaminating things with filth. It makes a huge difference.
My RV kitchen sink before cleaning
My RV kitchen sink after cleaning it
After a good, full day of work I got out my old RV batteries that came with it and washed one up. I want to restore them on my Bedini motor if possible. The one I worked on had no water in it at all. This is bad for a battery and it may not be possible to restore if it had been charging before with no water. That could warp or destroy the plates inside.
I filled all the cells with distilled water and let it sit for about an hour.
There was a huge raccoon after my chickens last night. He knocked over the security light I had out there. He is smart. The light is supposed to warn me that he is around. He left huge footprints in the mud around my place. I got out my live trap and secured it firmly on all sides with trash that I have removed from the motorhome so that the raccoon has to enter from the front only. Last year he kept emptying the trap and I never did get him. This time I am leaving him no way to get the bait but through the front door. I put in some lunch meat and left another piece outside the trap to entice him. I sure hope it works. He wants my chickens.
I brought the battery I was working on inside and connected my SSG, but the neon light came on meaning that it saw no battery. The battery voltage is too low. So I used a good battery in parallel to jump start the charging process a bit. I sure hope I can restore these old batteries. It would be nice to have extras on hand.
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Yesterday the weather was awesome. The sun was shining and it was very warm. Almost like summer. So I took out the rubberized tar roof repair and went to work on the roof of my off grid camper. For about $15 I got a gallon of this roof repair that claims to penetrate deeply and seal leaks for good. It has a ten year guaranty.
So I am trying it out and hope the roof will be waterproof now. If this stuff works, I will recommend it in my survival list. You will need good roof repair materials in a long term survival situation. Camper roofs can spring a leak at any time. Imagine, you bug out with your nice survival camper and get settled into a quiet, safe place in the mountains. You make camp and settle in for the long haul. When the first rain comes, you find a leak from the stress of driving up into the mountains. If you have no repair materials, then you are finished with that camper. It may last the season, but you will have mold and health problems if you cannot fix the roof leak.
You put this stuff on with a trowel. The only condition is that it must be over 50 degrees or more so that the stuff can be spread. Any camper roof will start to leak with time. Campers are under a lot of stress and flexing when you drive them around to camp sites and off road. The seals and seams will leak on any camper that I have ever heard of to date. So I patched up every seam on the roof of the camper.
You spread a bit of this goop evenly over every seam. Make it thick enough to ensure a good seal. Cover every seam and crack evenly. By the way, I am not affiliated with nor endorsing this product. Just trying to get my camper fixed up.
The brush was used to brush off any loose dirt or leaves. I patched up around the ceiling vents, crank up tv antenna, air conditioner unit and every seam on the camper. I even ran a bit of tar along each side seam all the way around the camper roof. This roof should never leak again, I hope. After the tar cures I will cover it all up with my aluminum tape to make sure the tar will be protected from the elements longer. This should make sure the seal lasts even better. And it will help keep the roof cool in summer. Black absorbs heat. The aluminum will reflect it and help keep the camper cool.
If the roof does not leak anymore during the next rain storm, I can finish the roof repair in the living room area. Right now it is a construction zone. The camper ceiling is pulled off and insulation is hanging down. I am waiting for the wood do dry and then I will replace it all with new wood. If it does not dry, then I have a problem and need to look for more leaks.
This is some work I did a few months ago, but I took a lot of photos and wanted to share it anyway. The slide in truck camper is my first ever camper and when I got it, the guy told me it had no water leaks and everything was good. Not.
Right after I got it home, we had a hurricane. Then another one a week later. The camper leaked everywhere. I had leaks all over the place. And where he had told me it was old water damage and did not leak anymore was leaking the worst. There was water running in by the back wall of the above cab bedroom area. The wood and insulation were soaked.
I had never had any experience with repairing a camper before, so I was a bit afraid to start ripping things apart. But it had to be done. I had mold starting to grow. So one day I just tore out the whole bed floor and part of the back wall behind it. Then I had to let it dry out for a couple weeks with a fan running on it. I had a 12 volt fan running off a battery which was being charged during the day by a 5 watt solar panel.
The photo above shows some of the rotten wood after I pulled out the floor board and some insulation. The frame in the truck camper is only 2 x 2 inch pine boards. The floor was 1/4 inch particle board, which broke apart under my knees while looking the stuff over.
Above you can see the floor board had been removed. I also pulled the back wall out. There was water running down through the window frame and streaming into the back wall. Also the old marker lights on the top front of the camper were missing most of their lenses and were leaking water. So I removed all the lenses and light sockets and filled the holes with spray foam insulation. The next day I covered the holes with tar coated aluminum rv repair tape. It has tar on one side and aluminum on the other. Perfect for a fast and permanent repair.
I also caulked around the window frame. But another rain storm showed me that the frame was leaking around the window itself. So I took my tar coated aluminum repair tape and made a rain guard over it. This worked perfectly well. In the above photo you can see the repaired camper window. You can also see where the old broken marker lights had been. No more leaks on this part of the camper.
Back to my bed repair project. After the wood had dried up I was able to lay down new insulation and wood. I went to the store (wont mention which one) and got advice on what is the best insulation for my project. I was told to use the thickest stuff possible. Now, the frame on this camper is only 2 inches square. I was advised to get 9 1/2 inch thick insulation for its r30 insulation factor. I asked him if he was sure and was told yes, this is what I want. He also mentioned a vapor barrier. Never heard of one before, but I bought some plastic sheeting to place down on the work area first. The vapor barrier keeps wind out of my camper. It is laid down before putting the insulation in. Well, the insulation looked fine. It was compressed into a roll and looked about 2 inches thick in the roll. I figured I can probably manage it then. So I bought it and took it home. After I started to cut the insulation, it started to expand. Now I have cut it and cannot take it back to the store. Now I have a roll of 9 1/2 inch thick insulation on my hands. This stuff expanded to its full size. But the guy told me it was good. So I tried to stuff it into the little 2 inch space.
In the photo above you can see the first piece of fat insulation sitting on my new vapor shield. I knew I was in trouble. I was now wishing I had purchased that 3 inch roll of insulation I had been looking at instead of listening to a “professional”.
In the photo above you can see that I somehow managed to get one half of the wood down. I got 3/8 inch plywood to replace the weak, flimsy 1/4 inch particle board. I wanted to be sure I wasnt going to need to fix this ever again. And I wanted a bit of strength to it. That particle board was too thin and flexed way too much for my comfort. To press the thick insulation into a 2 inch frame was a job. I put the wood onto the top of the insulation and sat on a corner. I worked my way very slowly and carefully to the back until I was laying down on top of the whole board. Then I was able to nail it into place while keeping a full downward pressure on the board at all times.
Above is a closeup shot of the board after I had it pressed down a bit better. I would never advise anyone to try and cram too much insulation into their camper. It is just too much work. But the guy reassured me that the insulation will retain its full r3o factor even in my camper. I was later told by a carpenter that this is not true. Oh well, it is done now and I have learned a lesson.
Above you can see the finished above cab bedroom area. It is nice and cozy in there now. I got a free zero pressure hospital mattress that I put in there. When I got the camper it did not even have a mattress at all. Now I can sleep in comfort and feel like I am floating on air. This is a $300 mattress, hardly ever used and has sort of a rubbery outer shell so it washes easily. It has special layers of foam to make you feel absolutely nothing when you lie on it. Oh, what comfort.
While I was fixing up my camper, I caulked every single seam and seal on the whole camper. I caulked around every window, frame, door panel and seam. This was an old 1979 camper after all and it had its share of leaks. I figured while I was at it that I might as well caulk the whole thing. In this way I will catch any possible leak in it and cover any future leaks as well. Campers flex and twist a lot when you are on the road and these seams get a lot of stress on them. The camper seams are filled with a flexible filler substance that squeezes out of the cracks with time. It also gets hard when exposed to the elements too long.
Since the original fridge and heater were taken out, I also caulked and sealed off their access panels for good. They also both had vents to the outside. I sprayed the vents with foam sealer and then sealed off the doors with my aluminum and tar rv repair tape.
This is my survival camper, so a fridge will not be added to this camper. Heat is important, but in a survival situation, you wont have much propane with you. You may have enough for three days at most. So I want to find a heat source that is sustainable for survival. For cooling, I will dig a hole in the ground and use evaporative cooling methods.
In summary, fixing a camper is pretty easy and very cheap. I only paid about $100 total on caulk, wood, insulation and repair tape. Now the whole camper is leak free and mold free.
Check out our DIY Camper Category for more camper repair and upgrade articles.
It rained a few days in a row, quite heavily. The leak above the sofa that I found was worse than ever. I decided to rip down the ceiling panel and see how bad it was. The photo shows the wet ceiling board.
The next photo shows the ceiling panel removed. Doesnt look too bad there. You can see someone patched this up before with a piece of wood, sort of.
But where the water was coming in there is very bad rot and damage. The main roof support beam is rotted to nothing on the corner. That caused the roof to sag in this spot and the seams were leaking. No wonder. There was an inch of water on top of that spot. If the people who patched it previously had only replaced this whole board, it may never have leaked again. But with this piece sagging an inch downward, it was just a pond on top.
Its not actually going to be much work to fix this up. Two support beams should be taken out completely and replaced. They are 2 1/4 by just under an inch by 8 feet. Shouldnt cost more than a couple dollars. A new ceiling panel costs only $12 for an 8 x 4. That is double what I need. The insulation was surprisingly not even dirty. I may use it. Maybe I will just replace the piece where the water was coming in.
Camper repair is not really that expensive, nor is it hard to do. You just have to overcome the fear and dig in. Forget trying to save or keep old stuff and just replace it all. Then you will have a long lasting camper.
I will post updates when I get new wood. But before I close this up again, I will patch the roof better and wait for a good rain. Then, if it doesnt leak anymore, I can put up the new ceiling board.