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Old 02-21-2012, 12:43 AM   #1
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1978 Nomad Trailer Restoration/Project: From rot to not!

Well, I'm new to the site, and figured I'd post up the timeline of my trailer.

How it all came about. Growing up we had a slide in camper, grandparents had a few trailers and my parents to this day have a 1984 Itasca Class A motorhome. Well, being on my own in college, and after going tent camping with some friends who had a 1969 Timberline trailer project, I decided I wanted my own.

A day after the camping trip I spotted this 8 miles from my house. I bought it July 5 2010 for a whopping $250. It's was unlicenced/unused since 2003. It's a 1978 Nomad 19' travel trailer model 1920. It has a full bath, full kitchen, dinette, couch/bed, and bunk. It has a very nice and open floorplan. Here it was after it made the 8 mile trip down a gravel road to rest in my yard.




Few inside picts.



The best part. AM/FM and 8-Track!


After I got some of the floor pulled back.


Here was my initial assessment of the trailer:
The good: It's in good shape outside, just needs a good pressure washing. Inside, all the fabric, fixtures, counters, appliances etc appear to be in great condition.

The bad: Outside, the lights don't all work yet, but that should just be a cleaning/ground issue. the tires look to be original, as they are GoodYear 7.75-15ST tires and have LARGE cracks all over. Inside is going to take the most effort. The subfloor is toast. Trailer manufacturer decided to use chip board for a floor, that crumbles with any moisture. The roof is solid, but part of the paneling inside needs replaced. One small portion of wall needs replaced as well due to some water damage. The roof obviously needs sealed.
So with that began my project.
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78 Nomad 19'; Restored, 5" lift, 225/75R15, LED lighting, Delco stereo, 2.5' tongue extension, toolbox w/ Air
88 GMC K1500; 8" SAS/D44/14FF Detroit/TBI454/NV4500, GMT800 mirrors
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Old 02-21-2012, 12:47 AM   #2
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Being I'm cheap at times, I picked up a set of Republic Enterprise 205/70R15 tires for free. They are in great shape, probably about 60% tread. They actually hold about 150lbs more per tire as well, which is nice. I know they aren't trailer tires but they are at least useable compared to what was on there.


While doing this I took the hubs/drums off. The brakes shoes all look good, and the mechanisms move as they should. The bearings also looked great, and the grease appeared as if it had very few miles on it.



So I cleaned out the brakes with brake clean, and packed some more grease in the hub/bearings and re-assembled them. I even painted the hubs black so they look a little better.



And re-mounted the tires. I borrowed a 70s GMC center cap and voila, it fits. I may be looking at finding a good used set of them for the trailer.


Quick shot after the pressure washing and with the wheels back on


Water tank and water heater removed


Here is what the insides are looking like as of now. That is where the water tank was, working towards getting the other fixtures out this weekend.



Out came the dinette.


And pulled up the rotten sub floor.



Found about 5-6 tears in the aluminum, probably from rocks or something. Going to have to patch these up so no water gets in.


Found the right edge of the floor 2x2 frame is a little more rotten than I would like. It'll be replaced, along with a few in the floor itself.


Storing all the cushions in the bunk for now.


And all the cabinets/tables/dinette in the garage, with what little space I have. This pile will grow much more.
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78 Nomad 19'; Restored, 5" lift, 225/75R15, LED lighting, Delco stereo, 2.5' tongue extension, toolbox w/ Air
88 GMC K1500; 8" SAS/D44/14FF Detroit/TBI454/NV4500, GMT800 mirrors
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Old 02-21-2012, 12:48 AM   #3
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More progress. Got a few hundred dollars of supplies at the building supply place.


Where we left off


More floor pulling and disassembly





Few patch panels and JB weld


And the scary part. Some siding removed, holding the wall with jacks




Closeup of the sandwich style construction.


Floor ready for a few new floor joists, insulation and new flooring. See the daylight under the walls?




Insulated



Added additional bracing where the plywood panels will butt up against the next.


And putting the plywood in


First part floor panel in!!!

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Old 02-21-2012, 12:48 AM   #4
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Added a brace where the plywood sheets are joined. instead of putting the seam on top of the existing joist, I decided the joint was better off moved farther over, where it is primarily covered by the dinette.


Laying more plywood.



Under the kitchen cabinet. Still have a little piece to add in front of the wheelwell.


3/4 done



Last part is going to be the worst, because it's the back of the trailer, where the bathroom is and there are walls hanging down...
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88 GMC K1500; 8" SAS/D44/14FF Detroit/TBI454/NV4500, GMT800 mirrors
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Old 02-21-2012, 12:49 AM   #5
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Making more progress. Got the rest of the old flooring out. The hardest part was getting the old stuff out under the shower.


Door removed to replace the joist underneath. I also added some additional reinforcing since the step mounts here.




The bottom of the wall stud next to the door, just a *little* rotten. This will be replaced.


Probably the best corner of the joists, under the storage compartment


The back drivers side is a little rotten. Pulled the old joists out and made a new one.




Plywood cut, ready to be slid in under the walls


And floor insulated



Plywood partially slid in. I didn't get a picture, but to get the walls up I screwed a 2x4 to the outer wall and used the hi-lift to jack it up. You have no idea how valuable the Hi-Lift has been on this project.


I HAVE FLOOR!!! Also filled the all the gaps between plywood with putty, to smooth things out.



Tomorrow comes the epoxy coating, and it'll be curing over the weekend.
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Old 02-21-2012, 12:52 AM   #6
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Got the floor epoxied.


Storage Compartment


Bathroom (through the window since I can't walk in it yet)


And I spent a few hours taking the stove apart and cleaning. The top was a little rough, and not all the rust was removed but it looks WAY better.


A big 50lb box of parts I ordered! Nothing too exciting, mostly stuff to replace vents on the roof and seal up the windows/doors/siding


Realized that I didn't have any pictures with the truck attached. Snapped a few. I think the truck and trailer aren't very proportional....





Oh, and if I didn't have a stepside, I'd hit the front overhang of the trailer while at full lock cornering. It's amazing how short the tongue is on this thing.

Spent an entire morning repairing the right side wall. It was a little more damaged than I originally thought, but I was in there so replaced what needed it.

Took some siding off.


To repair this at the door, and these above the wheel well.



Door area repaired, and additional stud added for the dinette to mount to


Other side of wheel well repaired, and another additional stud added for the dinette to mount to


Back together


Sealed up the water fill and reflector, and installed with new screws.


Sealed the door with putty tape



Oh and just as I was finishing putting the door back on, a guy from town was walking by. He stopped and commented that he's been noticing all the work being put into it and how he's never heard of someone rebuilding a trailer, and that I'm doing a great job. Was a really nice thing to say.

Soon the stove, dinette and couch/bed goes back in.
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Old 02-21-2012, 12:53 AM   #7
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This is what she's looking like on the insides now. It's all back together, everything cleaned (even washed all the cusions and curtians) and the camping gear loaded.






Anyway, once it was together, I took the trailer to Ione, Wa (over 3 hours north of me) for a bachelor party. Everything went very well overall. on the way up, the truck towed the trailer pretty good. Had quite the diverse drive; started off in the rolling hills of the Palouse desert, making the little over an hour trek to Spokane and into the city. Made my way trough the city to meet up with the other camping crew, and headed farther north along some long flat highway, then onto a single lane highway in the foothills. Eventually we made it to Ione, Wa, 26 miles from the Canadian border. From there we headed to Lake Sullivan, which was up in the mountains aways. so lots of narrow winding, eventually gravel roads ensued. I even managed to ford a small creek with the trailer to get to the camping area.



All in all, the trailer towed quite well. It didn't sway a bit or buck, which was great as I did not want to spend the money on a weight distributing hitch if I didn't have to. The brakes worked good and the bearings didn't get too hot. The only problem I had with the trailer overall is my water pump isn't self priming (have to manually pull water through it) and I ended up puncturing a hole in a trailer tire with a sharp rock, but we patched that up.

The truck towed the trailer good on the way up. I definitely know it was back there, but I managed to drive smart enough not to hold people up on the highway, in most cases i didn't drop under the speed limit but infact had enough power to gain speed. Everything was in check, even with the temp pushing 95 outside and the AC blasting. Motor was running about 200 and the trans about 180.

On the way back, however, like and idiot I put regular in the truck and it wasn't happy. My truck doesn't prefer regular while it's hauling and I simply wasn't thinking about it. So, I had BAD spark knock on the way home. Combined the regular fuel causing spark knock, plus triple digit weather, the motor was heating up more than I like it. I ended up leaving the AC off and even at one point turning the heater on to help out. The motor saw a peak of 240 at one point, trans saw 200. Nothing horrible, but just something to make note of.

All in all, it was a good time. Soon I'll be investigating why my hot water heater doesn't work, take the fridge out and see if I can get it working, and do a few other misc things. I'm also looking up gears for the truck and contemplating a motor for it. There is a nice 383 built with 460 FT LBS and 390 HP for $2,500 and a 7year 70k warranty somewhat locally. But for now I'm just going to settle for gears.
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Old 02-21-2012, 12:55 AM   #8
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Did a little fiddling with the trailer. First thing is my water pump won't self prime, after taking it apart and all that about 20 times I've determined that the diaphragm is just too old. I got ahold of the manufacturer (shurflo) and they don't sell parts for it so I'm going to try and find a deal on a new one. For now I can manually prime it by pulling water through it and it works fine after. I also messed with the fridge and got it working on propane. I don't know if it will cool down or not at this point and plan to wait to see after I pull it out and clean it up a bit. I also messed with the hot water tank. I wasn't able to get the pilot lit so I pulled the lines and found the orifice was plugged. Cleaned it up and now I have a working hot water! I also got all the interior light lenses cleaned up, surprisingly the plastic has not yellowed at all, but they were just dirty inside.

I also received my set of GMC hubcaps for it! It's going on it's second outing, this time a bit farther from home (about 4 hours each way). Should be the last time pulling with the 3.73 gears as well, as I ordered a set of 4.56s for the truck.

Here it is after the trip!





Ok, back to working on the trailer.

First thing first.... The front of the trailer was sealed WAY incorrectly, with a nice combination of silicone, snowcoat, and duct tape. We will be fixing this and sealing with butyl putty like it should be.

I went and picked up some more lumber and went to repairing some more walls. Started taking some siding off


To find lots of an lots of rot.







Top of the wall/roof is fine, luckily.


Completely rebuilt top half



Everything replaced.


My modification. Instead of having the paneling act as the support between the top and bottom walls, as well as for the shelf, I put some 1/2" board under it so it's MUCH more structural and MUCH stronger as a shelf.


Also pulled the fridge out, cleaned it up and it's sitting in the driveway plugged in. Still needs the bottom area where the door seals up since it's a bit rusty.


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Old 02-21-2012, 12:57 AM   #9
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*Sigh* more rot. This corner I knew was bad, as it was literally collapsing in on itself. I think the only think holding it together was the siding, and even then it wasn't doing the best of job. Luckily after pulling the siding off, I found the rest of the wall in great shape, everything nice and solid. I'm very glad because I didn't have to take a TON apart on this side.




Once that was done, I started putting the front back together, resealing everything with Butyl Putty Tape as I go along.




Where I ended up tonight. Front's together, windows in and sealed and lights wired back in. Left the side wall apart so I can easily repair the back corner tomorrow as it is also rotten.


Anyway, another day, another wall. Very minimal rot on the side portion, but the back wall was another story.




New lower and upper back wall pieces...




Side wall repaired.


Used up both batteries for my drill/impact gun. So out came the air impact gun. It's a little much for this, but it works.


Tail light mounts, better than before. The plywood was just kinda floating there, with no 2x2 on the inside of it.


Insulated


And fixing the fridge shelf/platform. Roof vent was broken, so the particle board was all nasty and sagging. Luckily it didn't damage anything else.




Siding back on.



So now, the 2 side walls were repaired, and both front and back walls were rebuilt entirely. Now I just have to re-seal the seams and all the windows/doors.
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Old 02-21-2012, 12:59 AM   #10
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Front corners are back on and sealed.


All back lights sealed and mounted with new hardware.


Here is a closeup of a window that was re-sealed with the Butyal Putty.


As she sits now.


What is left to seal:
-5 windows left to seal (of 8 windows, however all the compartments/doors are sealed).
-Range hood vent
-Heater vent
-The back corners
-Everything on the roof

The fridge ended up not working on 120v. Nothing heated up, nor cooled, so i've determined the heating element is toast. I did get the fridge back in the trailer and it's currently running on propane, so we will see in a few more hours if it actually has done anything. When it was out, I tried "burping" it and could hear the ammonia mixture moving around the tubes. I also didn't see any residue or smell anything so I think it's still sealed, so cross your fingers it works.

Well good news! I left the fridge running on propane last night, and low and behold the temps about 8-10 hours later!




I think had It sat longer it would cooler more. I'm SUPER stoked it works, at least on propane. Now I know the 120v/12v heating element is dead, so time to look into a replacement and it appears they run about $40.

I messed with some circuit boards and LEDs for the trailer. These are 120 degree viewing angle LEDs.

On the left is the small board i made for the outside light, the right is one of the 7 larger boards for the inside lights. Each has a grid of 4x5 LEDs. If need be I may add more on the interior circuit boards.


I got the back walls sealed back up, the remaining lights, and one more window. I then got the water system hooked back up. You have NO idea how much more quiet this pump is compared to the last.



And the couch is back together.


I then got one set of LEDs together to test in the trailer for brightness.

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Old 02-21-2012, 01:01 AM   #11
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The dual battery setup. I had to move the fuse box (the small white thing next to the batteries over some)




And here is something I decided to install... A late 90s AC Delco Cassette and Slave CD.


This isn't any ordinary Delco. I modified it. Yup, that is a 3.5mm AUX input. It's self switching and direct to the preamp. So that means, you plug something into it, and you have crystal clear audio with full Volume, Fade, Balance and EQ adjustment.



And some 4x6s I had laying around.


And going in near the stereo, three 12v outlets for phones and stuff.


What better way to spend Saturday night than to build random stuff......

Unfortunately, out goes the 8-track.


And I measured up and designed a multi-media area. Here is the faceplate.


So I built this wooden box thing to hold the stereo.



With the faceplate installed. The switch kills the stereo power (like an ignition), and the clip is for my portable SAT radio.




There is also a nifty pocket below to store phones/ipod or whatever I'll be playing music from or charging. I'll also be adding 3 more 12v outlets under the stereo center for charging phones and stuff.
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Old 02-21-2012, 01:02 AM   #12
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So I wired up the stereo unit


And added 2 fuse holders in the back of the compartment, hidden yet easily reached without taking anything apart. One is for the outlets, the second is for the radio.


Cutting the openings for the stereo, speakers and outlets in the cabinet.




Installed the stereo in the opening, speakers under the cabinets and 3 outlets.



Faceplate installed.


And with the Sirius radio plugged in, and the pocket with the phone charging in it.


I also tested out the water pump, unfortunately I need to get a new head for it cause it's leaking where i repaired a crack in it. Hopefully soon I'll finish sealing everything. I've been kinda avoiding it as it's kinda boring, tedious work.... But it has to be done.
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Old 02-21-2012, 01:04 AM   #13
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Well, I've been working on the roof, all the vents were replaced with new and re-sealed. I need to pressure wash the roof so I can coat all the seams.

Here is a shot of what the roof vents looked like. Bleh what a mess.


The roof was scraped, new plumbing and fridge vents installed and sealed. Then I pressure washed the roof, let it dry, then coated all the seams and vents in elasticized roof coating. So, the leaks should be completely gone now. The heater was tested and works great, and I let the fridge run (actually used it for beer over the weekend) and found it cool really well, so well in fact one morning it was only 21 inside it and -5 int he freezer.... yeah, I turned the temp up a bit. I also got the fender trim re-installed and cleaned the trailer inside and out. I also adjusted the spacing of the hooks in the top for the redneck awning.



I did happen to tow the trailer Saturday with the new gears. Oh man, it's so much better. It's a night and day difference, and thankfully I can actually deal with headwinds now. Next up on the list is painting the frame/tongue, and finding the little white inserts for the doors/windows to finish things off there.

After all that work I really started using it. Here is the camping I do. During this trip the only single issue I had was in the middle of the night part of particle board under the bed broke. So that is now on the list of things as well to fix, upgrading it to some plywood.

Truck all loaded up before leaving.


Campsite all setup.


Few sunset shots from the park.






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Old 02-21-2012, 01:06 AM   #14
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One of the issues i fixed today. Here is the old water fill. It's a stupid little pull out drawer type thing, and doesn't work well at all. A hose doesn't fit in it, and it backs up when you fill it with water, and the hose that connects it with the tank leaks inside the trailer.


Enlarging the opening


Here is the old setup. Stupid style hose and tiny 3/8" vent.


New water fill.


New lines, and larger 1/2" vent line. This one doesn't backup when filling.


I also fixed my broken bed issues. Stupid 3/4" particle board isn't suitable for this (it's just too old/brittle) so instead i put down some 3/4" ply on both the main and dinette beds.



More progress. I added something that is a little bit of a luxury in this thing. I added an expansion tank to the water system. In RV world they are known as accumulators, however this is an expansion tank for residential hot water heaters. Basically it has an air bladder that is charged, and in residential use it takes on the additional pressure from the hot water when it heats up and expands. In the trailer however, the pump fills the water against the bladder and allows the water fixtures to be ran with less pump cycling and a more constant stream of water.

So, I had to devise a way to mount it.


And tee into the water system


Everything mounted and plumbed in. I had to hang the accumulator from the bed frame due to the water pump, lines and gas lines below. Barely had the space.






With the rest of the bed back together. I cut a hole in the top so you can easily change the air charge on the tank (it's a standard valve stem) and didn't screw the wood down to easily access these vital plumbing components for inspection.


I also changed my setup for the water tank vent. The level the water fill is at creates a problem; when the water sloshes to the side cornering or on rough roads, it fills up the vent tube and drains through it. To overcome this, I drilled an additional hole in the wall and ran the vent tube in a loop up about 2 1/2 ft. Hopefully this will keep the vent from leaking.


And finally, I cut some rubber and secured the water lines down to the floor. No more rattling pipes.



Next up is more work outside the trailer. I need to pull the lights still and put the gaskets behind them, and paint the siding where the paint is gone. I also have some LED lights I want to install outside.
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