We knew when we bought this popup camper (whose pet name is still pending) that there would be a lot of work involved to get it to the point where I would feel comfortable sleeping in it…and to the point where we would feel ok having our kids in it.
We also knew that due to the nature of some of the things we would need to fix, we’d have to strip this baby down to the bones. So once we got the key in the mail from the seller (yes, we hitched it up and left his house without the key), we got right to work.
There’s only so much I can actually do on this project, simply because I lack the workshop skills my husband thankfully possesses. So my main responsibilities for the rehab are everything fabric related and the overall design. Derek is handling construction, electrical, plumbing and general repairs.
Demo Day 1
I’m still kicking myself, but even being the photographer I am, I was so excited to dig in and start demo, I completely forgot to take proper “before” photos. 🙁
So out came the couch, the dinette, the toilet and cabinet, the kitchen, and everything the previous owner left in the storage trunk. Out came the heater cabinet and the end table. Out came the fridge. And thank goodness for phone cameras because I can’t imagine how many hours of diagramming those things saved us.
All of it came out and sat in our driveway overnight. Super classy.
Demo Day 2
The most pressing issue for me during demo, and the thing that stressed me out the most, was the mouse damage. When the previous owner opened up the camper for us to look at, it was the first time he’d had it up in over a year. He didn’t know mice had moved in. They ate holes in the canvas, made a nest in one of the mattresses, and generally made themselves at home if you know what I mean. And my goodness the smell.
I’d done some reading and found that the manufacturer of the canvas, Sunbrella, has a stain guide on their website. So for urine, they recommend a mixture of vinegar, blue Dawn, and water. I mixed some up, bought a new scrub brush and got to work on a bunk end. But I quickly discovered that I was getting nowhere.
I needed to somehow completely douse the canvas. I thought about the bathtub. Then I saw the kids playing in the blow-up pool in the front yard. Winner winner chicken dinner!
I kicked them out of the pool and made a mix of water, vinegar and blue Dawn in that kiddie pool, then I put all the canvas pieces in and started stomping them (a-la “I Love Lucy” and the grape barrels) to help the solution really permeate the canvas. Our daughter took some photos of this craziness:
Then I decided to let the canvas soak overnight in the pool, so we covered the whole thing with a tarp to keep the bird poo out.
Oh, and meanwhile, Derek continued demo…discovering spongy spots on the floor and confirming that we will need to remove EVERYTHING and peel back the old vinyl flooring to see all the water damage. And we drove most of the contents of the camper over to my mom’s to store in her garage while she was out of town.
Demo Day 3
I quickly ate breakfast and headed outside to see how the canvas looked. When I pulled back the tarp to look in the pool, what I saw seemed surreal. It looked like an iridescent, swirling, silky cloud. Shimmering in the light. Moving, pluming ever so slightly.
I have NO IDEA what caused it, but my best guess is that the waterproofing that came off in the pool interacted with the Dawn and the vinegar. It was kind of cool and creepy at the same time.
So one by one, I pulled out the canvas pieces and put them in the driveway, where I hosed them off until the suds were all gone. I also took the opportunity to scrub off all the mildew that had accumulated on the rubber seals. The mildew came off so easily after soaking all night.
After hosing them off, I pulled each piece into the yard and laid them out in the sun to dry, flipping them over every once in a while.
I am beyond thrilled to report that the smell is GONE from the canvas. But I’m also pretty stressed to figure out how to get the smell out of the mattresses, which I really want to save since they cost $300-$400 a piece to replace.
I think the most challenging part of this rehab is going to be the fact that we don’t have a garage to do all this in. We are at the mercy of the weather and hoping our tarps protect the vulnerable shell that remains.
On to the next!