Disclaimer: reframing, reflooring and installing a water system was not cheap. If purchasing a vintage camper again, I would only buy one that has running water (hot and cold) that works in the sink, shower, and toilet respectively. There are other things we learned to test for leaks, which I will cover further in this article.
That said, I learned a lot and feel a lot more comfortable behind a drill!
Peeling Back the Layers (and years)
When we first found signs of a leak in our old 1972 Vintage Camper, I thought perhaps it would be just a small job. So layer by layer we peeled back the pressboard, insulation, dirt, and mold until we finally reached the metal flooring. Disgusted by the results, with each layer we learned a new leak existed elsewhere in the camper. In fact the further we went, the more obvious it was that we would need to refloor, reframe and treat the entire camper floor for mold.
Looking back, long before we peeled back the floorboards, there were some visible signs of a leak. The camper floor was uneven and lumpy in two places – both of which we were sure was just the axle below, but we now know – an uneven floor is most assuredly a leak. Don’t even consider a camper with an uneven floor.
Over the next three days, my husband and I removed hundreds of pounds in wet, moldy mass. It was a pungent blend of mold, urine, feces, dirt, and age — at points, the stench was so intense, you could smell it on the other side of the house.
It was not pretty.
Mold, Water & Rust Resistant Paint to the Rescue
Once the damage was cleared we spent a day wet vacumming out all of the remaining particles, dirt and grime until it was clean enough to lay down a strong mold, water and rust resistant paint. This step really helped bring down the scent, and provided a clean layer to work from going forward. Yay.
With each floorboard, we removed we carefully placed a fresh and dry 2×2 and 2×4 in its place to help brace and retain the shape of the camper during the labor –this also gave us a surface to walk on (sort of).
All in all the project took about 3 weeks from start to finish and costed well more than we ever imagined – but it sure feels and smells great spending time in the old girl again.