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Old 08-19-2019, 11:54 AM   #1
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1987 t1550 restoration

Hi Everyone. New member and my first time posting here. First off, I like to say how thrilled I am to have found this forum and great community. I have read through numerous threads here, and this community seems to be grade A with people sharing love for these campers and assisting one another.

I purchased a 1987 T-1550 a couple of weeks ago. I knew very little about campers, but was looking for something lightweight with a bathroom. I came across this camper on craigslist and it seemed to fit the bill. I went to see it and the owner had all the windows and doors open and a fan running inside. It looked good and he said no leaks and all systems worked, although he didnít have it hooked up to water at the time. He seemed likeable and honest. He sold it to me for 1000.00 and I took it home.

Starting to discover the issues:

First thing I did was hook the camper up to water and identified a cracked water lines from the bathroom sink to the intake valve. I replaced those lines and the line to the toilet with PEX. Ran water again and validated that the pump was also working and no more leaks.

The hot water tank valve was switched to bypass, so I switched that back and started to fill the HW tank up. After a couple of minutes, heard a pop and water leaking. Removed the HW tank and discovered an nail head sized hole in the bottom. Treated the aluminum and patched with marine tex back to solid.



Replaced broken propane regulator and tested heater, hot water heater and stove. All appear to work.

Decided to pull up the peel and stick tiles the original owner had installed as there was gaps and the tiles were not straight. When I pulled them up I noticed an number of areas of the floor OSB had been replaced. I decided to pull up on one of the areas to see what was going on underneath.

Thatís when the real trouble was found.

The wood was rotted to nothing, new 2x2 were just thrown on top of the thin metal underlayment and not fixed to anything, plywood was haphazardly thrown on top and everything was still sopping wet, wood, insulation, everything. The headers at the front and back were rotted to saw dust, the frame around the hot water heater completely gone.

I found an older post created by Thomascine who embarked on a project with the same camper in similar condition. This was a valuable find. I read all 33 pages in its entirety. A ton of great advice offered from John B on that thread.

So I began to remove the rear paneling and rear window, as well as the driverís side. Like Thomascine, most of the hex head screws are rusted apart. Iíve had to Dremal a flat head slot into almost all of them to get them out. The staples are also a challenge.

I work full time, so I am doing this as time permits on the weekends and evenings. I also have a 2 year old daughter who further slows my progress. I hope to get it completed and updated so my family and I can enjoy it next summer. I plan to update this post with progress and share my experience with this great community. Iím new to all this, but itís amazing what Iíve already learned about this camper in the 2 weeks Iíve owned it with the help of past threads and posts here. The value of these conversations go well beyond the original intended recipients and are referenced for years by others.

Here are some pics of when I bought it and some pics of its true condition once I tore it down a little bit. The only thing that disappoints me is that the original owner was very aware of its condition behind the walls and floor and hid it from me. The camper it very unsafe with so much destroyed wood, rot and mildew. I had my 2 year old daughter and wife in the car when we visited to look. I wouldnít ever be able to keep that from someone in good conscience, but you live and learn and now I have to work myself out of this purchase to get the camper we thought we were. Thanks for viewing.
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Old 08-19-2019, 01:37 PM   #2
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My experience is somewhat different as I knew the previous owner and was given the best info he knew.. unfortunately despite owning it for a few years he was unaware of the true issues or how to repair correctly.
Like you I have greatly benefited from this forum and the collective knowledge here.
My takeaway was that the time spent repairing was invaluable in the depth of understanding I know have of the trailer as a working system.
Not to mention the relationships built here as well.
All I can say is if you run into an issue fire those questions at this forum and you will likely find someone with experience in that problem!
Welcome aboard!
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Old 08-19-2019, 04:33 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Draughty View Post
My experience is somewhat different as I knew the previous owner and was given the best info he knew.. unfortunately despite owning it for a few years he was unaware of the true issues or how to repair correctly.
Like you I have greatly benefited from this forum and the collective knowledge here.
My takeaway was that the time spent repairing was invaluable in the depth of understanding I know have of the trailer as a working system.
Not to mention the relationships built here as well.
All I can say is if you run into an issue fire those questions at this forum and you will likely find someone with experience in that problem!
Welcome aboard!
Thank you so much Draughty. I couldn't agree more, I have already learned a tremendous amount about the camper and am enjoying the process. I look forward to posting my progress and interacting with this community. I'm already a big sunline fan through reading others enthusiasm on this forum.
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Old 08-19-2019, 06:07 PM   #4
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Hello Yellowjacket. Welcome!

I feel your pain! Previous owner told me the same and did the same - hid the damage. At least you know that it is fixable. I will be following as I still need to do the back this fall. The folks on this site have been amazingly helpful and supportive. If you have any questions, ask away. I look forward to seeing what you do with yours.
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Old 08-19-2019, 07:31 PM   #5
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Sharing our pain is not only cathartic it's helpful to those that follow in our footsteps...
Post your progress we'll all be happy to commiserate and brainstorm!
Some are even experienced and have some real wisdom to share!
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Old 08-20-2019, 08:20 PM   #6
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Hi Yellowjacket,

Welcome! You have been busy!! Lots of good work done.

Your intuition to dig deeper to see what was behind the floor was good. Sooner or later that would of reared it’s ugly head at the most unfortunate time.

There is one area you mentioned I just want to give you a friendly heads up on. Your hole in the water heater, and the repair you did. I am not familiar with your method so I cannot comment on how it will hold up, you may know more on that part. The water heater creates routinely 100psi water pressure when it heats. This comes from thermal expansion of the water and no built in large enough expansion tank to keep the pressure down to the 50psi range.

There is an air pocket in the top of the water heater that forms when you fill the tank, but still the pressure will rise when the water is heated. The heads up is, keep a close eye on it for a leak. A test before you go camping with a pressure gage in the water heater drain plug hole will help confirm all is working as expected and the tank repairs will hold under operational conditions.

If needed, they do sell new tanks. And we have a member who accidentally bought an all gas water heater new tank that was wrong for his camper and could not return it. I’m sure he would be happy to find someone to acquire it.

Keep up the good work and looking forward to your progress

John
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Old 08-22-2019, 07:06 PM   #7
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Welcome to the family! Even though I sold ours this past May, I still go on the site here and on the Facebook page to see what is going on and to help out where I can. I'm also debating trying to find a smaller one to fix up and use at the local race tracks. You can find my thread on how I fixed the roof, walls and floors of the rear of my Solaris to see if that helps at all. It won't be as in depth as John B's posts but you will get the picture. Where in MA are you? Good luck with the fix! It will be well worth it.


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Old 08-23-2019, 05:18 PM   #8
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Thank you so much Sep and John. John, the marine tex is rated for 13000 psi and is used mostly in marine applications. I'll make sure to run its through testing before I take it into the wild. It looks like it will hold nicely, but I wont know for sure until then. Sep, I'm on the South shore in Weymouth. I've already read through your entire rehab post. Learned alot through that as well . Made some progress on the back wall and started taking off more panels on the side and front. Question on the heater exhaust in the picture below. Do you know if it's a cover that can be taken off to remove the siding it's on, or if the heater itself needs to be disassembled? I heated it and pried it a bit, but it didnt seem to want to come off as a cover.

Adam
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Old 08-24-2019, 01:16 PM   #9
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I figured it out. The exhaust pipe pulled out with the cover a bit to allow the panels to be removed. I have another question though. I cant find wood thin enough to match the wall board in the camper, but can find the cardboard like wall board in the same thickness. Is this suitable, or would you recommend against it?
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Old 08-24-2019, 05:07 PM   #10
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I used Luaun or Mahogany underlayment which is the closest approximation you will find on the light thin plywood.
The interior wall board is probably an inexpensive hardboard paneling..
I used underlayment again in the small places I had to replace as I wanted the structural integrity. The front knee wall I also used 1/4 AC plywood in two places then we used a wall paper on top of that.
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Old 08-24-2019, 06:19 PM   #11
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Thanks Draughty! On the areas you needed to replace, I'm assuming you removed the old wallboard for the entire section of wall, or to the cabinets so you didnt have mismatched heights, or did molding in between the different wall boards solve this for you?
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Old 08-24-2019, 07:23 PM   #12
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I did all of those..I'll try to post some pictures later..
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Old 08-24-2019, 07:43 PM   #13
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Awesome Thanks!
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Old 08-25-2019, 02:58 PM   #14
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Hi Yellowjacket. I did end up using the cardboard type wallboard because I was able to find a close match to the original print and it was the same thickness as the original. I found it at HomeDepot. I need more for the back (thanks for posting pictures by the way - very helpful!). I don't think they carry it anymore but customer service told me to go to the store and speak to someone. Your work looks great and you work fast! Please keep the pictures coming.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/EUCATILE...8373/205978563
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Old 08-25-2019, 04:35 PM   #15
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Off you can find 1/8” Luan plywood. It might be close to what you have. As with anything in the lumber yard today, the 1/8” is not really 1/8” (0.125). It is thiner. I’m not able to measure my spare sheets of the Luan right now, but it did match my 2003/2004 built Sunline’s. By chance do you a set of calipers to measure your old wall board?

Finding paneling to match is close to pure luck now a days. I need to replace several walls inside wallboard and I and going to glue vinyl commercial wallpaper to the plain 1/8” Luan. Then maybe have to re-wallpaper some of the existing room so it all matches. Consider it an option if you can’t find anything in your area. I had to special order my Luan. Really only cost $18 extra above the board price for special packing at our local Menards. Don’t know if they are in your area, but even the local lumber yards to you may be able to order it.

Hope this helps

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The furnace exhaust, odds are high the pipe is rusted in. Happens a lot. Sunline Fan has the same issue in his old one. I told him, odds are high the pipe just slips inside a slightly bigger one like the new ones once the outside screws are off. But the 2 pipes rust together
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Old 08-25-2019, 05:21 PM   #16
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Thank you Thomascine and John! I'll keep hunting for the right size, but if I fall short, I'll probably use a combination of the slightly thicker underlayment and the similar size wallboard that home depot carries, depending on the area being replaced. The entire support on the rear driver side is rotted. Had to take off most of the entire side and front today. Pretty sure all the siding will have to come off this thing except the roof. I have this week off and the weather is looking promising, so I'm hopeful to accomplish a good amount in the coming days. Hopefully can start replacing more wood tomorrow. Thank you all for the comments and great advice. I'm so grateful for this wonderful forum.
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Old 08-27-2019, 06:49 PM   #17
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Hi update today
A little progress, but not as much as I would have liked. I really struggled today with getting things to line up. The fact that so much was rotten to mulch, meant I had nothing to go by, hence many redos. I treally hope everything fits up when it's time for the aluminum to go back.
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Old 08-27-2019, 09:12 PM   #18
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The framing looks really good! I am sure you will put it all back together just fine.
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Old 08-27-2019, 09:35 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yellowjacket View Post
Hi update today
A little progress, but not as much as I would have liked. I really struggled today with getting things to line up. The fact that so much was rotten to mulch, meant I had nothing to go by, hence many redos. I treally hope everything fits up when it's time for the aluminum to go back.
Here is a tip on the overall width of the front.

You still have a full width sheet of front siding to use as a gauge. It looks like the top front piece is still on the camper, the outer edges witness lines where the corner molding went was where the old wall was when the corner molding was on.

Check the bottom piece of full width siding for where the molding witness line is. The wall should not be too wide. If it is, the siding falls short of where it use to mount. Then the corner molding will not align to cover the old screw holes area and the old screw holes would be exposed and not covered up by the corner molding. That would shift the where the corner molding witness line would be on the siding. And if the wall is too short, then the siding is too long.

The witness line where the edge of the molding was on the old wall can be seen by the paint fading line. Under the molding out of the sun is a different color then what was exposed to sun. Mock up using the corner molding so the screw holes align vertically on the siding sheet. The wall width needs to be in that dimension when the molding gets mounted.

You will find out any issues in the top or bottom of the front wall width when you go to put the front siding back on and the corner molding. And by then you have a lot put back together that has to be adjusted. The tip is, work the new rebuilt wall to make the siding you have work out. And do not assume the original was was dead true vertically. Too of wall width and bottom may be different. Sunline built the front wall wood. Then cut the siding to match what was built with wood. You have to back track to match the siding.

Hope this helps. Your doing great. Keep up the good work.

John
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Old 08-28-2019, 06:27 PM   #20
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Thanks thomascine! Thank you John, great advice! I brought the sheeting out today to test. Had to make a new footer for the wall. After that, it test fitted pretty well. I tied everything in today and began removing some rotten wood on the left side. Unfortunately the wood under the bath and shower is in pretty rough shape. I was able to get out a couple of rotted supports under there, but the particle board is in pretty rough shape. Cant see how it can be removed without ripping out the entire bath and cabinets. Seeing how that will never come out and be able to be put back together again, I guess the best I can do is hit that particle board with rot epoxy, squeeze a couple of new supports under it and hope for the best?? First pic is under the bath..
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