Updating the Camper

Right after picking up the camper, we wanted to get going on updating it and making it ours for the trip but with the weather still being cold and a long wet spring, we didn’t really dig into it until June. The camper was in pretty good shape considering it is a 1986. As of the date of this post, there is still a pretty good list of things to tackle before we take off but we are very close! Here is a summarized list of work done to the camper to date:

  • Rebuilt hydraulic jack as it was leaking hydraulic fluid pretty badly
  • Replaced all seals in hydraulic rams that lift the roof
  • Refinished the interior wood
  • Recovered the seats with new faux leather thanks to our good friend  Amanda
  • Replaced the flooring with new vinyl floor
  • Replaced countertops with new formica
  • Replaced all butyl tape around the windows and seams in the camper as well as covered it with lap sealant for extra longevity
  • Replaced all Pirelli seals around the camper which provides a seal between the upper and lower halves of the camper
  • Replaced skylights with Fantastic Fans for those warm nights
  • Rewired lights, refrigerator, furnace and wired in Fantastic Fans
  • Rerouted exterior outlet to new outlet for converter charger which will allow us to plug into shore power when parked for extended periods of time
  • Wired in plug for solar panel which hasn’t been purchased yet
  • Wired in power inverter to allow us the use of 110V AC appliances
  • All of this is connected to a 200AH deep cycle AGM battery which will soon be wired to the truck via Blue Sea Add a Battery Kit which I am particularly excited about. This will allow our truck to charge our house battery while the engine is running but will separate the batteries when not running. This will protect us from running down the engine start batteries while camped but will also allow us to override the battery isolater to jump our engine start batteries if those die.
  • Installed Nova Kool refrigerator 12V refrigerator as the camper did not come with a refrigerator. We chose a 12V only as they are very efficient compared to 2 or 3 way refrigerators that use heat to cool the refrigerator. We should be able to generate enough electricity from the solar panel to allow the refrigerator to run for several days without starting the truck. Additionally, our research showed that it can be tough to find propane distributors that have the correct fittings to fill our propane tank so if we ran out of propane, the refrigerator would have to run off the batteries which is extremely inefficient. There are many forums covering this subject, but if you want more information on this, contact us!
  • Mounted a 30lb propane tank to rear of camper. I was a little nervous having a propane tank hanging of the back of the camper, but the camper sits high enough in the truck that if we got rearended, the propane tank would be high enough not to be hit. Also, as mentioned above, it can be difficult to find places with correct fittings to fill our tank so we want to be able fill up completely when we do find filling stations that can fill us up.

The camper has a stove/oven combo which will come in very handy along our trip. However, we dont like cooking meals in enclosed spaces that will leave a lingering smell for days. Also, the heat generated from cooking indoors is an issue so we will be bringing a camp stove to cook outdoors which is where we want to be anyways!

The Alaskan Campers have never (correct me if I am wrong) come with a fixed toilet with a black water tank. Rather, they have Thetford Cassette Toilets which are just portable toilets. The newer Alaskans come with a fixed toilet but still have the cassette that can be removed. These are very handy as you dont need an RV dump station to dump the black water, but they can be dumped in any toilet. We chose a toilet with about 2.6 gallons of fresh water and waste water capacities. There are larger capacities but we are happy to have gone with the size we did as it gets quite heavy once filled up. Emptying the cassette is pretty straightforward although it takes a little practice. I wont go into details, but we will never forget the first time we dumped the cassette!

In our future posts, we will get some more detailed photos of the camper as well as a list of items we are bringing with us. Additionally, we will get into the details of the Dodge, which we are still trying to name. Anyhow, onto photos!

These are the first photos of the truck/camper before any work was done:

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Here the work begins. We pulled down the upper cabinets to access electrical and were pleasantly surprised that the upper insulation and wood beams were good as new! Note that there is some rot on the bottom of the upper half. It seems that water gets thrown up from the truck tires when wet and also gets wicked up by the screws and seals when water runs off the top. This will be addressed before we leave.

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There is a large drawer under the dinette that provides tons of storage but was fairly soft when we stood on it. We screwed 3/4″ plywood to the top which was leftover from the counters and this made things much more solid. Before flooring:

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After Flooring:

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Replaced counter tops and of course a celebratory Budweiser:

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