Walls, Windows, Water & Whatever….

The interior walls and ceiling of Scamp trailers are typically covered with a type of mold- and mildew-resistant fabric that owners refer to as “rat fur.”  The rat fur is adhered to a bubble wrap, foil-covered insulation that’s glued to the fiberglass shell.  The previous owner ripped out all of the rat fur, saying he thought it was too dirty to clean, but he left the insulation.

After researching and talking with folks on various modification forums, I decided to purchase a marine headliner (typically installed in boats) for the walls of our trailer.  I ordered the Silver Grey Stratos (plain pattern) from  “Perfect Fit” and it arrived in a ridiculously long roll that we have stored in the hall in the basement.

First, I had to remove pieces of rat fur that were still around the rear window and the rear driver’s side window.



I really, really didn’t want to take these windows out, so I carefully cut and ripped out the old fabric.


Another Scamp owner said that when she replaced the fur with marine headliner, she simply made a fold and butted it up against the frame of the window instead of loosening the window frame to tuck the fabric behind it.  That’s what I plan to do, too.

Concerned about the amount of glue residue left on the walls from the removal of the old rat fur, I started using a “Goof Off” type of spray applied to a sponge, then I lightly washed the walls to remove the solvent.  (I still need to do more of this on the ceiling.)

A couple of weeks before this, I sanded and painted the bumper and tongue of the trailer with black Rust-oleum.  Looks much better.





The first time we saw some water in the “dinette” area near the door, we thought we’d tracked it in.  To our dismay, we finally realized that water was coming in from somewhere in the front, and we also discovered that the rear passenger side window was leaking.  As a side note, there was no rat fur around the leaking window, and I’m guessing that when the previous owner took it out to remove the fabric, he just didn’t re-seal properly when he put it back in.

We caulked over all the rivets in the roof, loosened and caulked around and under the hinges on the door, and we caulked over the leaking window.  We were pretty confident that we’d taken care of everything, but the next hard rain proved us wrong….

We knew that we had to get everything dry before we could consider putting up the wall covering or building the dinette or bed extension, so I ordered some butyl tape (that we couldn’t find locally) and we pulled out the rear passenger side window.  A large tarp covered the roof and hole for a week or so…


It took a while to remove all of the old caulk and adhesive around the window, but the solvent we used (and elbow grease) worked well.  Followed that by rinsing off the solvent and letting it dry.


I removed the old adhesive and caulk that were left on the window and cleaned out the weep holes.  Then we started the process of putting it back in.


Wayne put strips of butyl tape around the window opening.  I can see why this is the recommended way to re-install RV windows. It’s much thicker than the thin strip of adhesive that was there before.


Next step was to trim off the excess butyl tape that oozed out around the window, and we also caulked around the window.  I can’t think of anything else that we can do to make this leak-proof!

We also caulked around the big front window–both around the outside of it and between the gasket and the Plexiglas window.  In a perfect world and if we had crazy skills and an unlimited supply of money, we’d probably opt to replace the gasket around the window.  After watching some how-to videos, though, we decided not to mess with this right now.  Our goal is to be able to use our trailer as soon as possible, and while we’re not trying to cut corners, some things will just need to wait.

During the week of May 2-May 9, there were strong thunderstorms all around us, but not a single drop of rain fell here.  Now we have a nice Saturday to get some more work done on the trailer, but until we know–for SURE–that we’ve sealed up everything to prevent further leaking, we just can’t move forward with the dinette or wall covering….


Building a “Bathroom” – April-May, 2015

So our goals at this phase include building a “bathroom” (for a porta-potty), building a dinette in the front, and building an extension on and reinforcing the permanent bed in the back.  The first project tackled was the bathroom:


Measuring the available space.


Extending the floor.  Notice the angle; we need to allow room to get into the dinette.


Reinforced floor.


Floor extension.


The front wall of the bathroom attaches to the floor with L brackets, and to a block that was epoxied to the fiberglass shell of the camper.  This wall will also be connected to the driver’s side bench of the dinette.  By connecting all of these pieces–from the “kitchen” to the dinette–I think we’ll have very strong and stable structures. (And it’s possible that the bed extension will connect to the rear wall of the “kitchen” for additional support.)


Front view of the “bathroom” (with the gravel guard stored in the space).  At this point we’re thinking of just having a curtain to close off the room instead of a door.  Maybe we’ll add a door later, but it’s not a huge priority at this point. 😉


Assessing the Changes

After bringing the trailer home from the shop, it seemed like weeks before we had a chance to really get inside, look around or even think of what we would need to do, ourselves, to make it ready for camping.  Actually it WAS weeks….  Between cold weather, rainy weekends and crazy schedules, there just wasn’t time or opportunity to work on it.  Finally in March we assessed what had been done at the shop:


Lights had been mounted on the side of the closet, and the switch on the closet controls a newly-installed “porch” light.


A light was also installed in what would be the rear wall of the bathroom.


Lights and outlets were put on the back walls near the permanent bed platform.


An outlet was put in the lower part of the closet–which will eventually hold an A/C unit.  As I’ve mentioned before, at some time there WAS an air conditioner in this spot; there’s a drain in the floor of the closet, and a vent on the outside of the trailer.


Driver’s side cabinet structure with lights and outlets.


Passenger side structure with lights and outlets.

It’s a good start!



Our Christmas present to ourselves

Before taking the trailer to the shop on December 26, 2014, we really, REALLY duct-taped the temporary towing lights and wiring connections for the trip over the mountain!  To our surprise, everything was still connected when we stopped to check in Waynesboro, Virginia.


Once we got to the shop, we had to make some decisions about what we wanted done–and how.  Of course all the exterior lights needed to be wired up, and a 7-pin wiring harness would need to be put on in order to make the brakes on the trailer functional.  (We knew it had brakes, however we had no way of knowing if they worked.)  It needed new tires–and a new vent–and the marker light that had fallen off on the way home had to be replaced.  Those were all givens.  We also knew we wanted to have interior lights that would work on battery or electric, so that meant we’d need to purchase a deep cycle marine battery and a battery converter.



While this was going on, we had a brake controller installed on the 4Runner, and then the next phase of trailer work involved finding a way to mount lights and outlets in a fiberglass trailer; it’s not like you can just screw a light to the wall!  This was when we had to make some serious, “permanent” decisions about how we wanted to design the interior.  We looked at pictures on the internet, talked with friends and joined RV forums to try to make the best decisions.

DID we make the best decisions?  I hope so, but I guess time will tell!

We decided where we wanted the lights and outlets and then had rudimentary cabinets built to accommodate them.  The curved wooden shapes that the previous owner had used to support the roof became the front and back walls of a future “kitchen” on the driver’s side of the trailer.  The battery converter was put the bottom of the cabinet, with the electrical cord stored in the same space.


A smaller cabinet was attached to the closet on the passenger side, using another curved piece of wood. It’s possible that we’ll put a sink on this side instead of in the “kitchen” area–we haven’t fully decided where anything will go yet!


While we may opt to put in propane for a stove and furnace–as well as a sink, holding tanks, etc.–these items will all have to wait.  The shop-done renovations added up to more than we originally counted on (though we were very pleased with the work), and we really, really hope to use the trailer as soon as possible.

And so on February 22, 2015–with snow on the ground and ice in the driveway–we brought it home. 🙂




Silk purses and sow’s ears…

Once we had the trailer home, we started trying to figure out just what to do with it!  The only “standard” equipment in it was a fiberglass closet beside the door (passenger side), which helped to support the roof.  The previous owner had also cut a couple of pieces of wood for the other side to also offer roof support, and he’d started making a platform in the back for a permanent bed.  All good things….





We were really curious about the history of the trailer and wondered why it had never had propane, appliances, lights, and other things that you typically see in Scamp trailers.  The previous owner told us that he’d bought it from a construction company that had used it as a mobile office, and from other information we found, it’s possible that it was sold–as a shell–to the military in the mid-1990s to use as a mobile command center.

It HAD originally had the “rat fur” fabric on the walls, but the guy we bought it from had ripped it all out, saying it was awfully dirty.  Ack, maybe so, but it probably could have been cleaned…  At least it still had the “bubble wrap” insulation in it!


But the vent was damaged, so we knew we’d have to have that replaced, and we just didn’t have the skills to do the wiring, in order to add lights and outlets….

We called a couple of RV repair shops (the closest one was an hour away) and everyone wanted to see it before even giving a ballpark estimate for the most critical work that needed to be done.  Wayne then asked a camping friend if he could recommend a shop, and as fate would have it the guy’s nephew had his OWN repair shop–just over the mountain from us!

We called him, and he drove over a few days later to take a look at it.  The initial estimate he gave us seemed do-able, and so we hitched it up and took it over to Valley RV Service.  Game on!


November 2, 2014: We’ve got a Scamp!

We drove to the Midlothian area of Virginia on a Sunday morning and got our first glimpse of the 16 ft. Scamp that had been advertised on Craigslist.  Even though I knew we’d look it over thoroughly before writing a check, also I knew we’d be leaving with it. 🙂

Scamp-110214-00-2ndPic Scamp-110214-00-FirstPic

It looked safe to pull, but there would be challenges….  The vent wasn’t securely attached, so we’d have to pull it with a hole in the roof.  There was no wiring harness, and all of the wires TO the lights and brakes had been cut.  (WHY?!)  While there seemed to be some power coming to the lights, we couldn’t get them to work consistently.  We made a quick trip to a local Wal-Mart to buy temporary towing lights, various connectors and duct tape.  Plenty of duct tape….  We used some of the tape to attach the temporary towing lights to the spare tire holder on the back of the trailer, since there was no spare tire mounted.  But transaction completed and with title in hand, we started the slow trip home.


We stopped the first time while we were still in the seller’s neighborhood–and discovered that the wiring harness had come undone.  Well, darn–we wrapped up the connection with duct tape and set out again.  When we stopped a second time (maybe after about 10 miles), we discovered that we’d lost one of the marker lights!


When we stopped a third time (after about another 10 miles), we were surprised to see that the license plate had fallen off!


And EVERY time we stopped, we found that the wiring harness had become disconnected!  But WOW–we finally had a trailer!


Even if it WAS held together with bright orange duct tape!


Finding our Trailer

We love Virginia’s State Parks!  Each one that we’ve visited is like a little gem, and we hope to eventually visit all 36 of them!  Some parks, however, are simply too far away for a day trip, so a couple of years ago we decided to start looking for a small travel trailer.

We rationalized that if we had some sort of camper, we’d be able to do a longer drive on a Saturday, stay at the park over night, and drive home on a Sunday afternoon. With my Honda CR-V as a tow vehicle, however, we knew our options were really limited, but a 13 ft. Scamp trailer–constructed of fiberglass and designed to be very lightweight–would be the ideal choice.

Can you say, “Needle in a haystack”?  After checking Craigslist and other RV listings several times a day for many, many months, we still hadn’t found a 13 ft. Scamp within a day’s drive or within our budget.   As the 2014 camping season slipped away, we bought a 2000 Toyota 4Runner.  Even though we still hoped to find a Scamp–especially after learning so much about them during our months of research!–the 4Runner’s greater towing capacity would give us more options.


Shortly after buying our new “tug” or “TV” (tow vehicle), we looked at a couple of  small “vintage” trailers.   Despite being advertised as clean and ready to go, one had significant water damage, and another one was simply too small…

One day in late October 2014, I saw a 1995 16 ft. Scamp listed on Craigslist–and it was only about an hour and a half away!  I immediately contacted the owner, but–what? It was essentially an empty Scamp shell? Seriously?!

At first we hesitated; how could we fix up an empty trailer?  With winter coming on, no garage to work in, no specific RV renovation skills, and our crazy schedules, it just didn’t seem do-able.  But after talking about it, we started wondering….  What if?  What if we COULD totally customize a trailer and still stick to our original budget for a trailer?

Once our decision was made, I called the seller back, only to learn that another buyer had gotten there, first.  We were disappointed, of course, but not too surprised; these rare older Scamp trailers tend to sell very, very quickly….

But then to our TOTAL surprise, the first deal fell through, the trailer was available again, and we were next in line to purchase it.  And so on Sunday, November 2, 2014–the day after my birthday–we headed out to finally buy our trailer!  Happy, happy birthday to me!