Retro Trailer Rebuild: Part 10

Retro Trailer Rebuild: Part 10

New to the camper trailer rebuild? Don’t start here! CLICK THIS and start from part 1!

It’s D’day…but on this day there shall be no shells flying, fleets landing or human casualties. At least, if we’ve built this trailer right, we hope there will be no human casualties…

You’ve had a glimpse of the interior in the last blog post, but here’s a few before and after images of it complete inside and out:

Isn’t it a beautiful thing to behold!? Much pride

Anyway; it’s a 600km run from Perth to Melangata Station, which is situated near Yalgoo in Western Australia’s mid west of nowhere. Western 4wder Magazine is holding a bush doof party for the 100th edition of the magazine here, and seeing as I have written this camper build over multiple issues of the magazine; it seems fitting to take it along!

Everything that needs to be polished off has been done, the camper is absolutely 99.8 percent complete. It would be 100 percent, but I never got around to replacing the volt/ammeter I blew up. We get just out of the Perth suburbs and beyond the Swan Valley (maybe an hour drive) before we pull over to check everything. I suppose we are both a little nervous after the issue with the tyres rubbing, which is mentioned in Part 7. But everything is in perfect order.

Our day goes down without a hitch, all the lights work great, the wheels stay on, the roof stays shut and it’s so light you barely feel it behind the 3 litre Patrol. It’s wildflower country out here and they are putting on a spectacular display this year.

Wildflower country was spectacular! Even found a few ruins

The first problem we came across is dust sealing. A bit had been missed across the top of the door; so before we hit the gravel we put a bit of tape over the door gap. The same too with the back end of the camper, although the problem here is the rubber toggles that hold the back closed. They just don’t apply enough downwards pressure to seal the gap, so the canvas and the very end of the bed got a little dusted. These will have to be changed!

On the plus side, we set the camper up at about 1pm and when I checked the Redarc charger; it was in float mode. This means it’s been charging all day off the vehicle and is now full, but is currently receiving power from the solar panel to keep it topped up. My system works!

I made this electrical drawing and followed it closely. And it worked! A bit of planning DOES pay off!

Come nightfall and we lit up the entire bloody campground with our exterior work lights. These were supposed to be dimmable, but the dimmer switch seemed incompatible and they just stayed on all the time, so I switched them to rocker switches. The brightness is plenty to do everything by, but maybe a little annoying to other campers and an excessive drain on the battery. Perhaps I’ll work something out there.

The dimmer switches would not switch off, and had to be replaced with rocker switches

After a few beers, wines, and some sweet fortified wine type drink; I eventually made it to the pillow. I had initially thought the foam might be a little too firm for my liking, but I slept like a baby. May have had something to do with the booze too.

We were only there two nights, Friday and Saturday; but I think the power system could use a little work. By the end of a full day of sun it hadn’t quite managed to top the battery up, though it was still at a respectable level. Powering my massive Camera Charging Box via the inverter put a pretty big load on the battery. I think using a newer model BCDC with the inbuilt MPPT solar controller might be the answer, or we could just put more solar on it. A 150w panel only costs $280, cheaper than the $600 upgraded BCDC; and 300w of solar has to be more than enough!

Parked up among the crew at the Western 4wder party.

At the end of the weekend John and I were both extremely happy with how it went. Before setting off, we taped up the door once again; and this time we used ratchet straps on the rear arms to hold the back of the roof down tighter and keep the dust out.

18 months of hard work, 3 burned out sanders, a few late nights, some long weekends and a lot of ingenuity have taken this classic from a wreck to a brand new trailer. It’s certainly not a time or money saver project, exactly the opposite! But quality time spent together and a sense of pride and accomplishment at the end are absolutely worth it to me. Now we’ve just gotta get out there and make our money’s worth of camping out of it!

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  1. pete
    May 13, 07:13 Reply
    Brilliant effort mate. It's always great to see projects through. Looks amazing.
  2. Don
    May 13, 16:21 Reply
    Great write up Alex :) I just read all the Blog Posts for it in order and you guys did one hell of a job, congrats :)
  3. Glen
    May 14, 03:25 Reply
    Awesome mate, can not wait to see the video of the complete trailer, good luck with your dust sealing and electrical gremlins.. Glen
  4. Ian
    May 24, 06:54 Reply
    Magic job and write up Alex (isn't time spent with family awesome and it sure helps out with the budget). A few questions as I am also considering going down this track (and I live in Bibra Lake so all of the businesses you used are also localish to me). You estimated a spend of $5000 at the start of the project - how did the budget go? How much did the canvas work set you back? How much did the foam set you back? Who did the gas install and certification (as I believe it has to be certified before it can be registered)? Love your blog
    • Alex Garner
      June 08, 20:54 Reply
      Hey Ian! I think the budget blew out to about $7000, as is often the case for these things. The canvas work was $3000 and you are right about the gas certification being needed. I'll have to look through the folder and find out about the foam and who did the gas for what price, send me an email via the contact form if you like and I'll remember to chase it up that way :) Me and the old man both reckon we'd go a different way for gas to avoid needing the certification next time. Possibly some setup where you could have a portable stove?
  5. Brett
    July 04, 14:36 Reply
    Hey Alex, have followed your blog with the camper, you guys have done and amazing job! I have just acquired the exact same camper and am about to embark on a similar journey (not quite to the extent that you did tho!) I had a question for you about the roof mine has some sagging in the middle and I wondered if yours did and if so how did you address it.... being double skinned glass In sure it will be impossible to separate :( Brett
    • Alex Garner
      July 27, 12:41 Reply
      Hey Brett, The roof is a bit of a problem hey....ours is slightly sagged towards the middle, but its not enough for us to have worried about fixing. However, my idea should I have decided to fix it was to use some sort of bracing. At one point there was discussion about putting some sort of rack on the roof to carry kayaks, firewood and what have you. If we had gone this way I would have run some sort of aluminium square tubing across the width of the roof, probably 3-5mm wall so as it's nice and rigid. Then I would have run screws up from the inside of the roof into this rigid tube to pull the sagged roof upwards to meet the tubing. Then the tubing would also serve as a mounting point for roof accessories and hopefully distribute the weight to the outside edges of the roof rather than the centre. As I said, it was just a consideration and you might be interested in going through with it.
  6. John
    July 05, 21:17 Reply
    Hi Alex I thoroughly enjoy all your projects, I have a similar mind. I also have an identical "Cruiser" camper trailer as they were called. I have had it for close to 30 years, purchased second hand. It has been around Australia, Through the Vic alps, over sand dunes, throght rivers To Birdsville and so many more off road places, I estimate more than 100,000ks on and off road. I did raise it about 150mm , strengthening the frame and fit slightly larger rubber, Its still in very serviceable condition, however I too an about to do a makeover. I plan to fit 2 Chassis rails 100mm x 50mm Fit a new axle, springs with Nissan Patrol Hubs and Wheels , New larger water tanks and internal referb, Solar, Led lighting etc, etc. They are a fantastic camper being Light weight, Fiberglass and fast to erect. I will post a few pics, Yours looks fantastic, Great Job!
    • Alex Garner
      July 27, 12:36 Reply
      They are amazingly robust for an old fibreglass unit which was probably not designed to see such rugged use! Doing the chassis rails is a good idea, that's kinda the way we went with ours too. Look forward to seeing how your build goes!
  7. Longerlong
    October 09, 14:20 Reply
    Hey Alex we have the same camper wanting to put the gas struts on from what you posted think I can replicate but would love to know where you got all your lights? Especially the back tail lights? Cheers
  8. Isshy
    June 21, 21:36 Reply
    Hi Alex I have just purchased an ACT camper and I am tinkering with it I have thoroughly enjoyed following your renovation but mine was not needing as much work as your, for whick i am grateful Can you tell my what type of lock you have on your door and how you put it on.? I have an aluminium door above the smaller door not canvas I have both strutts and springs on the roof lifters and I struggle getting the roof up and down as I am a solo person I do have a winch system that just looks like a fshing rod but the bar has been cut n two for convienience of transporting it but sadly the weight of the roof has bent it slightly where the two poles join Thanks for sharing your amazing journey with so many I appreciated the way you shared the difficultires and then the solutions
    • Alex Garner
      June 29, 08:43 Reply
      Sounds like you've got yourself a good little project there! The door lock is internal and it's just one of those simple slide locks that you'd maybe see on the back of a toilet door? Not even a lock I suppose, it's not going to stop any sort of theft.
  9. waggie
    July 26, 19:59 Reply
    Looks a picture. Have been hanging on every post. Love these diy jobs. Just finished and sold a 1970 Millard Capri and now have my eye on a ACT camper.

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