Repurposing an old Pup-up Camper - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 07-18-2020, 01:57 PM Thread Starter
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Repurposing an old Pup-up Camper

Hello! I have a vintage pop-up camper base with a solid frame and very rickety walls/floor. I was going to take apart the rickety bits and reconstruct it in basically the same design--which is basically a shallow (') box on a trailer frame



I eventually want to make a camper out of it, but for now, I need something to move stuff with, and it has been good until most of the walls came apart. It has been out in the weather for a couple of years, and Connecticut winters are not kind.


What I'm wondering is what to do about rain. Currently the water just pours out the back and sides where the wood has rotted.


If I make the box out of pressure treated wood (2x2s) and something mostly waterproof--say polyurethaned luan for the inside wall covering(or maybe the white plastic'y wall covering that I used in my shower), and the original sheets of aluminum on the outside, and well-sealed plywood for the floor, how to I stop it from turning into a portable pool after a few rainstorms, or snow??



The above is basically how it started out, because as a camper, it was meant to be protected from the weather by the tent and roof/cover


I'm open to almost anything that won't cost me a fortune.


OR--Should I make slatted wood fence type "walls" and some kind of open-drainage floor for now until I'm really ready to camper it? If so, what would that floor be made of? One of the other things I was thinking of is cutting out the back and making it into a drop-down ramp to drive my bike up onto, and other rolling things, Any thoughts?



It's 79" wide and 10' long.
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post #2 of 28 Old 07-18-2020, 02:36 PM
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why aren't you considering a temporary makeshift tent made out of PVC pipe
and covered with plastic or a big silver tarp until you have a game plan ?
it is unclear (to me) of what you are asking.
how to keep rain out during construction ?
or - (????).

Note: in my experience, Luan and water have never played well together.
no matter what it is coated with.

.

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post #3 of 28 Old 07-21-2020, 01:43 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Smith_inFL View Post
why aren't you considering a temporary makeshift tent made out of PVC pipe
and covered with plastic or a big silver tarp until you have a game plan ?
it is unclear (to me) of what you are asking.
how to keep rain out during construction ?
or - (????).

Note: in my experience, Luan and water have never played well together.
no matter what it is coated with.

.
I think I was thinking out loud, so to speak. lol I was hoping to make it more sound while still using it for utility, so I could later add walls and roof to be a camper, but I can't think of anything that won't let it fill up with water if it rains. I was also visualizing the back of a pickup truck, they don't tend to fill up, at least not after you step on the gas, or drive up a hill. Maybe making the back end into a hinged ramp might be the answer, and making the inner walls out of marine plywood or polywalls and lots of caulk, with a floor of raised ridges to keep stuff out of the worst of any water that might build up while using it.
You're right about luan and water--that's what happened to it to get it the way it is now!



This definitely needs more thought, I was hoping for some brainstorming.

Last edited by cynrich; 07-21-2020 at 01:46 AM.
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post #4 of 28 Old 07-21-2020, 08:51 AM
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Why not make it a teardrop camper and use the rear hatch for loading and unloading things. This is one I built in 2006.
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post #5 of 28 Old 07-21-2020, 10:51 AM
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Quote:
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Why not make it a teardrop camper and use the rear hatch for loading and unloading things. This is one I built in 2006.
There is a lot of woodworking talent here at WoodworkingTalk, to be sure.

What continually amazes me is how much talent the people here have in non-woodworking disciplines, like everything that is not woodworking on that camper, such as the metalwork. I am impressed. Skilled people so often say, "it was easy" but such statements belie the truth that it took years of experience to learn those skills before it became "easy." For people like me who have never tackled such a project, it isn't. Sometimes it is as simple as not knowing where to start.
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post #6 of 28 Old 07-21-2020, 12:06 PM Thread Starter
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@BigJim, that's the dream! But for right now, I need my open top trailer to get my RAS, and a few other larger pieces of furniture
This is the trailer now.
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post #7 of 28 Old 07-21-2020, 04:24 PM
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My wife claims that I collect trailers.. from a tiny little 40 x 48, to a 48 x 72 through two enclosed trailers, to a flat bed that is 13ft x 7.5 ft I have re worked three of them from rotting hulks. Two I stripped down completely , replaced bearings etc, repainted and then for hauling cargo, put pressure treated decks and sides on them. The large flat bed, I had to paint, rewire and redeck. I put 30 inch stake sides on it of pressure treated also. Hauling is one thing, covered can still have a pressure treated deck, but an enclosed camper should have a metal waterproof skin under the deck. Keeps bugs out, keeps rain and water from splashing up through the floor. (In fact I have my eye on an original 1950's camper tear drop camper that has been parked behind a garage since at least 1992. Place has gone through two owners and I stop and ask. That new owner is thinking about it.

I also have a few four wheel wagons. A little all metal one that was a freight wagon at a railroad station, and two large hay wagons. The RR freight wagon, I started cutting pieces for. It is 4 ft x 10 ft and only a foot off the ground. I want to make a little caboose out of it for my Lion''s club to use as a sales stand at events. . I even galvanized 4x10 located sheet metal for the roof. ($30 a sheet) It doesn't have to be any larger than one person and an ice chest will fit.
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post #8 of 28 Old 07-22-2020, 12:44 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by holtzdreher View Post
My wife claims that I collect trailers.. from a tiny little 40 x 48, to a 48 x 72 through two enclosed trailers, to a flat bed that is 13ft x 7.5 ft I have re worked three of them from rotting hulks. Two I stripped down completely , replaced bearings etc, repainted and then for hauling cargo, put pressure treated decks and sides on them. The large flat bed, I had to paint, rewire and redeck. I put 30 inch stake sides on it of pressure treated also. Hauling is one thing, covered can still have a pressure treated deck, but an enclosed camper should have a metal waterproof skin under the deck. Keeps bugs out, keeps rain and water from splashing up through the floor. (In fact I have my eye on an original 1950's camper tear drop camper that has been parked behind a garage since at least 1992. Place has gone through two owners and I stop and ask. That new owner is thinking about it.

I also have a few four wheel wagons. A little all metal one that was a freight wagon at a railroad station, and two large hay wagons. The RR freight wagon, I started cutting pieces for. It is 4 ft x 10 ft and only a foot off the ground. I want to make a little caboose out of it for my Lion''s club to use as a sales stand at events. . I even galvanized 4x10 located sheet metal for the roof. ($30 a sheet) It doesn't have to be any larger than one person and an ice chest will fit.

@holtzdreher--color me jealous!! I don't dare accumulate any more big things--I live in a pretty tight small mobile home park, and the owner stops by occasionally and asks if I'm going to get rid of my trailer soon. I recently sold my actual tent camper, so he'll be happy about that, but I don't have any where else to go with this one. I need to fix it up so it doesn't trash the neighborhood, and so I can keep using it without losing all my stuff on the road!
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post #9 of 28 Old 07-22-2020, 06:08 AM
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Unistrut or Superstrut .........

Just thinking outloud here.... What if you made your trailer panels with Superstrut frames and fit pressure treated plywood inside the channels? That would give you great strength in the corners and they make all sorts of connectors and brackets to bolt the stuff together. It's a very flexible system:
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Superstr...-202714274-_-N


Another way to make panels is to use 2" pink insulating foam from Home Depot and skin it with P/T plywood or fibreglas sheets with wood frames:

https://www.homedepot.com/s/4%2520X%...n%2520l?NCNI-5


https://www.homedepot.com/s/4%2520X%...20sheet?NCNI-5


Also called SIP panels;
https://raycore.com/what-are-sips/


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post #10 of 28 Old 07-23-2020, 07:15 PM Thread Starter
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@woodnthings I like the Superstrut idea and while I was excited to plan with them, it turns out they aren't available at my Home Depot at this time, either in store or for delivery. Aarrgghh. I keep running into these shortages--damn that Covid~! It's got all sorts of able-bodied people home from work making things!!!


Well, anyway you gave me some good ideas for when I start the conversion from utility to camper at least. I like the foam wall stuff, too for that. If I make my frame from Superstrut (someday) I can surely use the pink foam to insulate it all.
Thanks!
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post #11 of 28 Old 07-23-2020, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cynrich View Post
@woodnthings I like the Superstrut idea and while I was excited to plan with them, it turns out they aren't available at my Home Depot at this time, either in store or for delivery. Aarrgghh. I keep running into these shortages--damn that Covid~! It's got all sorts of able-bodied people home from work making things!!!


Well, anyway you gave me some good ideas for when I start the conversion from utility to camper at least. I like the foam wall stuff, too for that. If I make my frame from Superstrut (someday) I can surely use the pink foam to insulate it all.
Thanks!

Superstrut is just one brand. They may have Unistrut or another brand.

If they sell metal conduit, they have strut from some brand or another.

If they trully dont have it, any plumbing, piping, or electrical supply has it.


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post #12 of 28 Old 07-24-2020, 06:27 AM
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I think that anything other than stripping the whole thing down to the bare frame is a waste of time and money.
Maybe you can store it in a mini-storage to keep it out of the weather and work on it there.

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"Strive for excellence and settle for completion" Tony B
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post #13 of 28 Old 07-24-2020, 10:38 AM Thread Starter
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I think that anything other than stripping the whole thing down to the bare frame is a waste of time and money.
Maybe you can store it in a mini-storage to keep it out of the weather and work on it there.

Storage is not an option unfortunately, due to budget constraints. I also still need to use it to remove things where they are stored now, because the very nice guy who's letting me store stuff in his barn needs it gone as soon as possible. It takes me forever, mostly because I'm by myself, somewhat disabled, as well as limited in space here, and have to sort and choose what I can keep and what I have to let go. I'm planning a yard sale, but it's been very difficult to make any of this happen due to the pandemic and other concerns.
Anyway, I need to fix it up to be safer to use until I can do anything else, so I do what I can when I can in addition to the hundred and seven other things I need to do around here--on a good day I can work about three hours, and good days are few and far between.
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post #14 of 28 Old 08-10-2020, 11:23 AM Thread Starter
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Well, Mother Nature has won the battle--I was using it to pick up a couple of things and the entire wall unit (?) detached from the floor/frame while I was on the road! It's now attached only by a 2" x2" four screw L-bracket on the front right top corner!
I was about 40 minutes away from home (40 min without having to deal with this mess) and had to drive really slow on the side of the road, pull over and stop every few miles to lift and pull forward to keep it from falling off onto the road. I made it to a store where I bought bungee cords--only because they didn't have any ratchet straps, and started binding it together in the parking lot to get it home more safely--thank goodness, there was a good samaritan young man who saw me struggling with it and gave me two ratchet straps from his truck, then helped me bind it up tight as a drum so I could make it home.


So, stripping it down to the frame is what I'm planning now. I'm going to build a new wood frame the same size as before and screw it all together so I can take it apart later. The floor will be slats of PT wood and I'll make the back wall hinged and latchable so I can use it as a ramp for easier loading of the heavier stuff. I also have to completely rewire the lights.

It'll be a learning experience (as I find most of life to be these days!) so I'll be ready for the trailer transformation later, with a little luck sometime this fall.
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post #15 of 28 Old 08-31-2020, 10:52 AM Thread Starter
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One good afternoon and it's all in pieces now, except for the base/frame. I still have to take off the aluminum siding from the rear end, along with the license plate and lights, etc, then I'll be stripping the rotten wood from the frame and seeing what I need to do about de-rusting and preserving it for the rebuild.



I still haven't decided whether to just make temporary sides to keep using it for utility so I can empty my storage...I think as a matter of fact that that's exactly what I'm going to do! Next spring I'll make it into a teardrop for camping as a reward for finishing all the work on the stored stuff.
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post #16 of 28 Old 09-01-2020, 06:51 PM Thread Starter
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The next day... since I couldn't use this one to take the trashed bits to the dump, my neighbor offered his to take a load tomorrow, so we started shifting the stuff from one to the other and while chatting afterwards, he pulled on the plywood that was still attached, and it came up like nothing and suddenly I was sweeping up the little shreds of wood and antique vinyl flooring and it's ready to de-rust and paint!



I'm thanking Mother Nature (and neighbor Don) for the beautiful and rare cool New England weather this week that has me moving outdoors to get stuff done finally!
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post #17 of 28 Old 09-01-2020, 09:04 PM
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nice frame, full perimeter, unlike my 2003 Aliner Scout

Retired engineer-bureaucrat in Oakland, CA. Been working with wood since the 1960's. From the 50's if you count the scrap woodpile on the farm!
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post #18 of 28 Old 09-02-2020, 09:14 AM Thread Starter
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nice frame, full perimeter, unlike my 2003 Aliner Scout

Yes, I'm thinking of building a box floor for it, with storage and space for a water tank and batteries, and so the floor will be above the tires, and later building a teardrop (7' wide x 7' long) just to about 2-2.5" before the back end, and that will leave a little "porch" to carry cooler, bike, etc I'll make an awning to attach to the bottom edge of the kitchen hatch to extend out, providing rain and sun shade while camping.

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post #19 of 28 Old 09-02-2020, 09:34 AM
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I have restored rusted truck frames....

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Yes, I'm thinking of building a box floor for it, with storage and space for a water tank and batteries, and so the floor will be above the tires, and later building a teardrop (7' wide x 7' long) just to about 2-2.5" before the back end, and that will leave a little "porch" to carry cooler, bike, etc I'll make an awning to attach to the bottom edge of the kitchen hatch to extend out, providing rain and sun shade while camping.
I would take this to a sandblasting shop and have all that rust removed because it's the "foundation" of all the work you intend to do later on. The rust will come back to haunt you if you don't either remove it by blasting or convert it to a sealed surface chemically. Sand or media blasting requires high pressure equipment, not homeowner stuff.

Chemical conversion options....... You can DIY with a spray can:
https://www.google.com/search?client...ust+stop+spray


After this process, paint it with Rustoleum red oxide primer enamel from a can, not spray paint. It will really seal and last a long time. After that there's a paint from auto paint stores called Chassis Black for car and truck frames. You only want to do this one time....
https://www.eastwood.com/the-origina...MaAtPQEALw_wcB

For your decking, use Marine grade plywood or PT plywood since it will be exposed to the harsh elements splashing up from underneath. Seal it and paint it with a good enamel or spray on undercoating on the bottom side. There are self tapping decking screws for attaching wooden decks to metal frames:
https://www.google.com/search?client...rews+for+metal


The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 09-02-2020 at 09:46 AM.
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post #20 of 28 Old 09-09-2020, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
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Angry Sandblasting Frustration

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I would take this to a sandblasting shop and have all that rust removed because it's the "foundation" of all the work you intend to do later on. ...
I spent a lot of time online and the phone trying to find a sandblasting shop near me, they are all shut down due to you-know-what.


Ok, Now that it's roughly stripped down to the frame, there is a lot of rust, but no visible rot. I flipped it over to sand the bottom first.




I have done some sandblasting before, both in a box and with a compressor and siphon feed.

This is my current sandblast setup using Black Diamond Medium Grit from Tractor Supply, brand new gun, also TS and my neighbor's bigger newer compressor:
I had hooked up my smaller compressor, a Kobalt horizontal from Lowe's that has worked fine on everything else I needed it for, but failed for some unknown reason (which may be electrical)

Anyway, I can't make it work. The compressor is putting out plenty of pressure and air, but every time I squeeze the trigger, I get one 1/4" spurt of grit then no more, but when I lift it up, it pours out a ton through the tube back into the bag.


It must be something simple, right?

Cyn

Last edited by cynrich; 09-09-2020 at 03:59 PM.
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