The RV Remodel

There’s a ton of pictures on this page, so it may take a while to load…

 

Stefany and I bought an RV a few years ago.  It’s a 2003 MB Cruiser.  It’s based around a Sprinter van (one of those vans you see the FedEx guys driving).  We started off just using it to go to my bike races.  It contains pretty much everything you’d need, and we had vacationed in it several times.  But it was getting old…

The carpet was gross.  The ceiling was sagging.  The cabinets were water-stained and worn.  We would get stuck by staples if we touched it in certain places.  The list went on.  I got the approval to renovate the RV.

I kind of wish I never started, because it was 10 weeks of every night, every weekend, every spare minute I had to get the thing done.  I was very… unpleasant… during this time.  Fortunately, Stef is very understanding, and now we’re done and we have a totally pimped out RV.  Pictures from beginning to end and descriptions follow.

Here’s what it looked like the day we brought it home:

MB Cruiser Before Remodel

 

And here’s what it looks like now…

MB Cruiser After Remodel

But it was a long process to get there.  Here’s me starting to rip everything out of the RV.

Beginning RV Demo

Do I look happy?  No?  It’s August – and it’s over 100 degrees outside – and over 110 degrees inside the RV.  Seriously.  And since I was gutting it, I had the power off, so no fans, no AC, just heat.  Lesson #1:  Renovate RV in a garage, or in the spring or fall.

I had decided to leave the frames of the old stuff in place, and to just recover and re-skin the cabinets where they were.  This kept me from having to move anything really major, like plumbing, wiring, tanks, generators, etc.  I did wind up reinforcing most of the cabinets, as they weren’t put together all that great to begin with.  (OK, actually they were built like crap and I’m surprised it stayed together for 10 years.)  Regardless, Stef and I were basically happy with the layout, so this approach made the most sense.  Here you can see me working on cleaning up one of the dinette seats/cabinets.  Wiring/circuit panel/Converter/etc. stayed in place.

RV Remodel Demo Electrical

This next picture is about as far down as I took it.  The upper cabinets are completely gone.  The lower cabinets are down to skeletons.  I left a couple walls in the bathroom.  I kept the old toilet in place as long as I could, so I didn’t have to worry about having an open “toilet-hole” to work around. The vinyl ceiling liner is out.  Replacing that ceiling was what defined how far apart I had to take things.

SONY DSC

One of the things I did was to replace those stupid RV friction fit table legs with a marine pedestal table base.  This picture shows where I patched the old holes in the floor and the new hole for the pop-up table.  You can also see the Dynamat and ProDex insulation on the wheel well.

MB Cruiser Table Mount

OK.  Time to start putting things back together.  Here we can see in the bathroom, I’ve got the ceiling in (it’s anodized aluminum) but still with the protective cover on it.  The back window trim stayed in place (I had previously remade it).  The ceiling went up with adhesive.  I’m still amazed that everything in the RV wasn’t coated in adhesive in the process…

RV Remodel Aluminum Ceiling

It’s kind of hard to tell what you’re looking at in this next one, but what I’m trying to show is the sound deadening and insulation I installed on the ceiling of the cab.  There’s a layer of Dynamat, covered with a layer of ProDex insulation.  Cab is much quieter now. (I can’t really tell if the insulation is working or not, but let’s just say that it is so I don’t feel silly for spending the time and money on it.)

RV Remodel Cab ProDex Insulation

So the walls of the shower were just some kind of RV wallpaper.  I guess it was waterproof… maybe, but it didn’t seem right.  I had some FRP panels to add to the walls of the shower surround, but the special FRP adhesive wouldn’t stick properly to wallpaper.  So I had to peel it off.  This was a fun afternoon.

RV Shower Remodel Stripped

You can also see the expanding foam stuff I put in the hole where the trap was for the shower.  When they built this, they just put a plastic cover over a huge hole in the floor they cut.  It would let in all kinds of cold in the winter.  So I filled it with that evil expanding foam, and then carved out space for the trap.

The shower pan was yellowed and gross looking, but structurally sound.  I could have had a new one made for about $350, but instead, I got the original one coated with LineX for about $60.  It turned out pretty well.

RV Remodel Refurbished Shower Pan

Here you can see the support I put in under the shower to keep the pan from flexing.  You can also see where I carved out the foam and fit the trap back in.  I also later ran ducting for heat around the back of the shower.  It helps with heat distribution, but mostly, I hoped it would keep the water pipes from freezing.  Also, you can see the FRP panels glued up, but not finished out yet.

RV Remodel Shower Base

The bathroom lower cabinet was this weird, face frame abomination.  It sucked, bad, and had to go.  This is the new frame-up I made for it.  You can see lots of pocket screws.  LOTS of pocket screws and glue went into this rebuild.

RV Vanity Base

Here you can see the upper cabinets in in the main coach have gone in, and even the Corian countertop is in place with the cooktop mounted.  The face frames are actually solid cherry.  Where you see panels, they’re cherry faced, veneer core plywood.

RV Remodel Upper Cabinet Install

The windows were a bit tricky.  I didn’t want to do the vinyl covered whatever-it-was that was in there previously.  So I made these out of solid cherry. The walls of the RV are curved though, so I had to mill the stock down to about 1/4 inch to get them to bend enough to conform.  I didn’t have a lot of joinery options in quarter inch stock, so the pieces are joined with big old lap joints.  They should be plenty strong.

RV Cherry Window Frames

And the same kind of treatment for the sliding door.  Had to be pretty careful here with the screw covers to make sure nothing rubbed on the side of the van when it opened and closed.  (The old window treatment did.)

RV Sprinter Door Paneling

You can also see a little bit of the floor covering in that one.  It’s Allure Traffic Master or some such that we got at the Home Despot.  If I had to do it again, I would prefer a single sheet vinyl flooring.  (That would have been difficult with all the cabinets already in place.)  Alternatively, the correct time to install vinyl plank flooring apparently would have been in February.  In Barrow, Alaska.  This crap starts separating at the seams if the temperature drops 5 degrees.  Whether you’ve left a gap around the edges or not.  It’s embarrassing, and the perfectionist in me hates the floor.  I’ve replaced and re-joined pieces multiple times and it doesn’t get any better.  Lesson learned.  Anyway, you can see the hole in place for the table, and the way I covered up the bolt head that holds up the propane tank – It’s a motorcycle bolt head cover!  Hey, whatever works.

RV Allure Flooring Install

I don’t know why I wanted a safe in here, but I did.  It’s just a cheaper one from Harbor Freight Tools.  At this point, I’ve also got the furnace back in and the cherry face frame on the cabinet.

RV Safe

Here you can see what I eventually did to work around the “toilet hole”, as well as the ducting I ran behind the shower to keep the water lines warm.  This was before I finally wised up and put some plywood down to protect the floor.  (I dropped my driver on the floor and it ripped a gouge in a piece.  This led to much cursing, and ripping the floor up and laying it a second time to replace that piece – because they all lock together.)

RV Bathroom Floor plumbing

Here you can see the galley backsplash in place, as well as most of the galley cabinet and sink and cooktop.  The appliances are SMEV something or other from Italy.  Apart from the weird size water connections, they were not too bad to get working.  The backsplash is 430 series stainless steel.  It’s expensive, but you can stick magnets to it!  Why don’t they make refrigerators out of this stuff?

RV Galley Countertop

You know, I put this cabinet up over the bathroom vanity, and I thought I was pretty cool.  But then I realized I couldn’t put a door on it without it being a head banging hazard.  So I went with sliding doors with frosted Plexiglas.  Came out pretty good.  The lights underneath are also LED, but they’re a warm white, and the thinking was that they would help Stef with makeup or other girl stuff.  I had to turn the mirror sideways to get it all to fit, but it works out OK.  I have to bend over a bit to shave, but that’s the only negative.

RV Bathroom Upper Cabinet

While I was at it, I installed a ball valve onto the water heater drain.  We often head out in the winter, and being able to winterize quickly and easily (I use compressed air) is a good thing.

RV Winterizing Drain Modification

Maybe I shouldn’t be quite so proud of this next thing, but I am.  I’m pretty competent with wood, but I suck at metal.  In spite of that, this came out OK.  It replaces the enormous carpet covered box that hid part of the wheel well.  It’s just some of the left over aluminum from the ceiling that I coaxed into a curve and was able to bend some mounting tabs on.  It’s about half the volume that the stupid box was, so now we have some more foot room under the table.

RV Sprinter Wheel Well Cover

And so at this point, I’m done.  All that was left was to get the re-upholstered seats back into the van and take some pictures.  (I hired out the upholstery.)  The remainder of the pictures are of the completed van.

RV Sprinter Pillows and Drapes

There we go.  In the picture above, you can see the curtains and pillows that Stef’s mother made (THANK YOU!).  You can also see just a bit of the forward vent I put in just below the couch.  The latches are all those push-button kind that lie flush until you need a knob.  Very clean looking I think.  Except that someone (and I won’t mention her name but here’s a hint – I’m married to her) left one of them popped out and messed up the picture.  Also replaced the microwave trim.

Looking toward the back in this one, you can see the new china toilet, and the LCD TV with DVD which we had actually replaced earlier.  Also, you can see the dinette table which I covered in the same 430 stainless as the backsplash.  My thinking there was if we ever wanted to have place mats or something, we could put magnets in them and they would stay put while driving.  It’s a theory anyway.

RV Remodel Complete Interior

Oh.  Also in that one above you can see the Trimetric battery monitor under the table there.  It’s nice to not have to guess how much juice we’ve got left.

Another nice interior shot.  I tried to keep the grain running vertically wherever I could.  I hope, in some small way, this makes it seem a bit taller in there, and not so much like we’re, you know, living in a van.  Also, the dinette cushions are velcroed in, we don’t have to try to cram them under a lip like the original design had.

RV Remodel Dinette

Here’s one of the completed vanity.  I also added an under mount soap dispenser. And, down by the floor, is another heating vent. Since it took me like, 10 weeks to finish, it’s cooled off quite a bit.  I swear, the temperature read 110 those first couple weeks in August.

RV Remodel Complete Vanity

There’s not a ton of room in there, so getting back far enough to take a picture is tough, but here’s the best I could manage of the revamped shower.

RV Remodel Shower Complete

Looking from the back to the front in this next one.  You can get a little sense of the overall size.  Took this one from back by the toilet.

Sprinter RV Interior

Here’s a decent shot of the marine pedestal table.  It raises and lowers when you loosen that knob.  No more of those poles rolling about on the floor.  If you’re not familiar with this floorplan, the dinette table becomes one part of the bed with the seats, and the sofa backrest folds over to make one largish bed.

RV Remodel Table Base

Completed galley.  I added a waste basket behind the driver’s seat – mounted in the same holes as that black metal thing was.  Also, the two spaces that were formerly cabinets are now drawers on full extension slides.  You can also see the plywood front that I put on the fridge.  That was actually harder than it looks.  The panel can’t be more than a few millimeters thick, and the thinnest plywood I could get was quarter inch.  I had to run it through the drum sander until it was thin enough to fit.

RV Sprinter Complete Galley

Sink next.  That sink is DEEP.  The non-standard faucet takes some getting used to, but once you figure it out, it’s pretty neat.

RV Remodel SMEV Sink

Another thing to note (and I did this everywhere I could) – do you see where the paper towel holder is mounted underneath the upper cabinet?  Where it mounts, rather than just mount to plywood – there are solid wood blocks inside the cabinet bottom to provide a solid mounting surface.  Nobody would notice this if I didn’t point it out.  Did the same for all the lights, and anything you see mounted to a wall.

Cooktop (also cool).

RV Remodel SMEV Cooktop

So I mentioned bike races.  By that, I mean bicycles, and not motorcycles.  Well, these are expensive bicycles I’m talking about, so leaving them out on a rack is out of the question.  So I came up with this way to haul and store two bicycles in the cab of the vehicle, without interfering with any other function of the RV (except getting in and out the sliding door).  There are two fork mounts, and one of the bikes gets mounted behind the passengers seat headrest, pointing up, with its back wheel on the floor.  The other bike sits with its rear wheel in the footwell of the slider, and its fork mounted behind the dinette on another fork mount.  Here are the mounts:

Sprinter RV Bike Mount 1

Sprinter RV Bike Mount 2

And here are some bike mounts on the outside.  We obviously don’t travel with them there, but if we want some extra room in the van, it’s nice to be able to lock the bikes to something outside.

Sprinter RV Bike Mounts 3

Finally there’s this coolness.  Installed those REMI pleated shades in the cab.  They’re expensive, but look better to me than drapes, or sunscreens, or whatever.  Also installed wood trim dash kit, wrapped the steering wheel in leather, and added a padded armrest for the driver’s side.

Sprinter RV Remi Shades

Though not strictly a part of this remodel, I did also install Ultraheat tank heaters on the grey and black tanks, and a See-Level monitoring system on all the tanks.  Here’s an underside shot of the tanks/heaters/monitors.

RV Remodel Ultraheat Tank Heaters

And now, so I don’t sign off with a picture of a poop tank, here’s one last shot of the completed interior.  Closed the pleated shades for this one.

RV Remodel Final

Well, that’s about it.  Thanks for sticking through it.  What follows is a complete list of everything I did during the remodel that I could remember. Cheers!

 

Electrical –

 

Tanks –

 

Entertainment –

  • Replaced CRT TV with 12 volt 15” LCD television with DVD player.
  • Installed new Kenwood receiver with Garmin GPS and Sirius XM radio, Bluetooth, etc.
  • The cab stereo install includes component speakers in doors and a sub under passenger seat

 

Exterior –

  • Replaced the rattling sliders with new CR Lawrence tinted windows.  This does mean we gave up the screens, but the silence is worth it.
  • Added a lock onto the propane compartment and replace the propane tank (Manchester 6812) which was rusting badly.

 

Plumbing –

  • Filled and insulated the opening for shower trap.  Besides the wheel well, this seemed to be the biggest culprit for letting tons of cold air into the compartment under the sofa.
  • Replaced the traps on both sinks with flexible P-traps on sinks. (Rubber ones, not the bellows kind.)  The thinking is that this should give a little extra protection in case I forget to put anti freeze in the traps.
  • Insulated all water lines
  • Replaced original pump with Jabsco VSD pump.
  • Replaced the shower walls with FRP panels
  • Line-X on shower pan.
  • Added support under shower pan to prevent flexing
  • Added a quick drain ball valve to the water heater.
  • Replaced yellowed plastic faucets in bathroom sink and shower with new Dura models.
  • Replaced yellowed plastic toilet with china bowl Dometic 310

 

General –

37 thoughts on “The RV Remodel

  1. traci

    Hi
    your renovations look awesome! what fabric did you use for the gray upholstery? is that leather or a faux leather? if faux what is it vinyl? we are selecting fabric for our camper hence the question. i was told that vinyl is prone to mildew in “wet/damp” environments.

    thanks for any information that you provide.

    Reply
    1. James - Post author

      The upholstery is actually a marine grade vinyl. I thought about going with ultra leather or something like that, but the price differential was pretty severe. I wound up using the stuff they use in boats. The plus side is that it’s super easy to clean. You may want to check into marine vinyl if your upholsterer offers it. I’ve never had any mildew issues – but then again, we live in Utah. Thanks for looking. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  2. Alan Corcoran

    James,

    Thank you for sharing this and especially for including all the pictures. I bought an 89 Coachmen Catalina in May for weekend housing for a gig 80+ miles away. I’ve replaced 2/3’s of the cracked shower surround – not with FRP but something similar – a little lighter weight. The shower enclosure abuts the back corner and the the back of the trailer is not square (it curves outward.) After searching (futilely) for replacement corner molding strips, I gave up and tried to re-use the originals. Unfortunately, they’re warped and have cracked a bit. (The originals are plastic corner moldings, screwed into the thin plywood, and a plastic cover snaps into two small channels on the sides to hide {and seal?] the screw tops.) What did you use to seal the corners of your surround?

    Reply
    1. James - Post author

      Alan – Interesting question, and that was one area where I tried several things as well. The back of Das Bus is curved on both walls. I tried several of the store-bought corner moldings, and even cut a relief slit in the back of one – lengthwise with a handheld razor, I was sure I was going to slice my thumb off. It didn’t work. I gave up on corner moldings after that.

      The shower corners on Das Bus are just constructed to pretty tight tolerances. Then I just ran a good and consistent bead of silicone to seal up the corners. That’s actually it. I’ve looked under, and there’s no sign of leakage. If you’re doing something similar in the corners, you may want to reinforce behind the thin plywood to keep the walls from flexing too much. I couldn’t do that, because, if the tail light ever goes out, I have to cut open the shower to get to it!

      Good Luck

      Reply
      1. Alan Corcoran

        Thanks for the info James. I used the demolished pieces as patterns for the replacements, and, let’s just say the “tolerances” are typical of 1989 RV construction. I don’t know how much I’ll ever actually use the shower, but, if you spend a lot of time in close quarters, you quickly get sick of looking at crappy stuff – at least I do! I’m a little disappointed you didn’t find some magic molding, but, I haven’t found any yet either. If any of you other Coachmen owner’s have had better luck, please chime in!

    1. James - Post author

      Robert – You’re killin’ me! LOL.
      Beadboard is a good choice because it makes it easy to hide where panels meet. PVC is also smart as it won’t take any water damage. (A little different to paint though, so keep that in mind when you’re thinking of the final decor…)
      FRP is good stuff, as long as you like the pebbled finish it has (maybe there are other finishes, but I never found one). You do need to be careful with cutting it because of the potential for fiberglass dust. But yes, awesome stuff, the adhesive for it is pretty tame, and you can bend it pretty tight.
      Took the coach off the rails?? Wow. You’re deeper in than I got. I know what you mean about never giving up. That part of me hopes that that part of you wins out and you stick with it. Let me know how it goes. Wish I could help.

      Reply
  3. T

    Restoring a 1983 Presidential Coachmen 33 foot class A. Outside looks fabulous if I do say so myself! Painted it myself graphics and all! Inside has proved to be a bit more challenging. I’m having a heck of a time getting the faux leather to
    Stick to the dash. Bought professional spray adhesive but after a day just lifts right up..ugh! Anyone attempting this endeavor! I’d appreciate any suggestions.

    Reply
    1. James - Post author

      When I used spray adhesive (for sticking insulation to the roof, for example), I used V-S Spray adhesive that I got from RAAMAudio. It has held up very well, and I have not had any sagging or falling off. I can’t say specifically how it would work on faux leather and dash plastic, but it might be worth a shot. If that doesn’t work, then the problem is likely in surface prep. If hyper-cleaning it doesn’t work (try a variety of solvents until you find something that hits it pretty hard, but doesn’t melt it), then kind of like a primer, you may need to find something that will stick to the dash – and that the adhesive will stick to. That’s all I can think of right now. Good luck with your remodel!

      Reply
    2. robert

      Use 3M78 spray adhesive. 3M folks said it takes high temperatures.
      I know what you meant with your comment about wishing you had not started it.
      I have completely taken my coach off the frame because of rust issues on the main frame.
      Part of me wants to abandon the project and the other part has never abandoned anything.

      Reply
  4. David

    I simply want to commend you on the work you have done to your motorhome and the excellent documentation of it.

    This is one of the best remodels I have seen; and your post is very helpful as I try to figure out how to remodel my newly acquired 1977 class C.

    Thanks very much!

    Cheers,

    David

    Reply
    1. James - Post author

      Hey Thanks David! Do keep us posted as you progress with your remodel. It’s a big undertaking – wishing you the best of luck with it!

      Reply
    2. Patty

      Very nice work!

      I’m rehabbing a 1970 Gran Dee pull behind camper. I’d love to use the same system that you used to support your table, and to allow for the raising and lowering of it. What exactly are those parts, and where could I get some like that?

      Thanks for a reply. -Happy Camping!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Hey Patty – I put the links for most of the products I used in the description below the article. But there are a lot of them to go through. You can get them from Amazon. The marine pedestal table base can be found here. It was pretty easy, but you do need to cut a hole in the floor if you want to let it go all the way down. (I got lucky when I installed ours, and the hole in the floor is over an enclosed area, so it doesn’t leak or draft.)

      2. Patty

        Thank you, James – I found the link after I posted – duh. I followed the link, and I think I will go with something else since that is a high-end item and I have a low-end camper. I’m trying to make the work on my repairs and remodels first class, while staying on a small, (re-cycle, re-use, or buy cheap) budget. So far…..frustrating, but moving ahead slowly.

        Thanks for the photos, descriptions and links – very helpful.

        Patty

  5. Charles Johnson

    I have a 1977 dodge sportsman motorhome 20 foot ,I am trying to add a shower to the small bathroom have any ideas I can use, all so where do you buy the cushions any ideas ,and I would like to add a bunk bed to the over cab.

    Reply
    1. James - Post author

      Charles – I’m not familiar with the 77 Dodge Sportsman, but bathrooms in the class Bs are tough. I don’t know what your bathroom looks like now, but you’ll probably preserve the most space if you can make some kind of a wet bath. You’d have to completely waterproof the whole space, but the FRP panels make that do-able. You might need some kind of shower pan for the floor. You’d also have to cut a hole in the floor for the drain and trap – so it kind of depends on where your grey tank is too, since you need to stay higher than that. I had the cushions on our RV recovered by a local upholstery guy here in Salt Lake City – wasn’t cheap, but he did good work. I would just check out “upholstery” in your area and get some estimates. Be prepared – good foam is expensive. Good Luck!

      Reply
  6. Patrick Forestell

    Hi,
    Need your advice (please). I have my bedding area wall paper off, as well as it’s plywood backing; and what I see now is lots of foam and insulation. question: I would like to replace the now gone plywood with materials that will not mold and apply new wallpaper to said material. any ideas ?

    Thanks,
    Patrick
    2005 Dynaquest
    Lancaster Pa

    PS: Don’t ask why I had to tear all the wallpaper and plywood out.

    Reply
    1. James - Post author

      Well, I’m going to guess that you had some water damage?…
      Offhand, I can’t think of any other material that would replace the plywood and be cost effective. I believe Certainteed makes a PVC sheet material (like plywood). I’m sure it’s more expensive than plywood though – and it can’t be used structurally – only as a skin. There may also be expansion/contraction issues and I don’t know if wallpaper would stick to it. But maybe check that out.
      A more conventional route to go would be to use marine plywood. That’s the stuff they use on houseboats for walls and floors, so it should be mold-resistant enough for an RV application. (Probably easier to find, too.)
      Good Luck!

      Reply
    2. robert

      FRP is expensive but worth it because it is easy to work with and very bendable? Is that a word? (flexible)
      No mold problems

      Reply
    1. James - Post author

      Hey Den – Our Sprinter is a 2003, 159 inch wheelbase version. Long and tall. Overall, with the cargo bump-out on the back, it measures somewhere just under 23 feet. We don’t have many exterior shots of the van because we haven’t repainted that yet so it’s a little rough looking. The plan is to have her repainted over the winter.

      Speaking of winter, we’ve had a snowstorm here in Salt Lake City, and the van is currently snowed in. So I can’t make it out there to measure the bed to be certain, but the original literature said the bed was 74 inches long. We re-used the frame, so the length has not changed. It is long enough for Stef (5 feet 5 inches) to sleep on it no problem. I’m 5 foot 10 inches. If I slept on my back or side, the bed would be long enough, but I sleep on my stomach. Even in our queen bed at home, I like to hang my arms and legs off the top and bottom of the bed. In the RV, I usually either sleep a little diagonally, or I just put my arms and feet over the ends in the “aisle” space.

      Reply
  7. Den Beech

    Hi
    Lovely refit, thanks for sharing. One of the nicest I have picked up on the net.
    I may have missed it but what length Sprinter van do you have (we don’t have FedEx Sprinters over here)?
    Do you have any exterior shots of the vehicle?
    Once again many thanks.
    Den Beech
    Johannesburg, South Africa.

    Reply
  8. David

    Just bought a passenger Sprinter and plan to outfit it as a conversion van/camper for swim meets. I’m looking for a Sprinter bathroom unit for a mid vehicle location. Also like the faux wood on the dash. Any ideas on where to get rv parts for these vans? Thanks, Dave.

    Reply
    1. James - Post author

      The wife and I have never much liked the side bath models, so I’ve not researched them specifically. I would maybe start by contacting an RV manufacturer that has a wet bath layout you like and see if they will sell you one. Either that or just scour the internet.
      As far as the dash kits, you can find those at many online retailers. I believe I got ours from eurocampers.com, but there are other sources.
      A swim meet vehicle would be challenging – I would be concerned about water and moisture issues. Good Luck!!

      Reply
  9. ken

    The work you did looks absolutely beautiful. My wife and I have been looking at these older MB Cruisers because we want the rear bath floor plan. If you are going to be going to a larger RV and you wish to sell this one we would be very interested in talking to you about purchasing it.

    Reply
    1. James - Post author

      Yeah, the closest you can find to the old MB Cruiser is the Leisure Travel Vans Free Spirit SS. It has a great rear bathroom, but won’t work for us. We are still trying to find the perfect RV, but the bike storage is our big hangup. If we ever sell Das Bus (and I hope we do get to graduate someday…), I will be sure to post it on the web site. A couple of you have been interested.

      Reply
  10. Chris

    Thanks for taking the time to make this post. My husband and I are preparing to update our 30 yr old RV and your project has helped inspire me. I do a lot of basic woodworking projects but am not familiar with the FRP that you installed in shower. We may be installing small tub and will need new surround. Like the looks of FRP and am wondering – what is it, where do you get it, can it be cut with saws and is it installed with adhesive? Website would be helpful or the definition of FRP. Thanks, Chris

    Reply
    1. James - Post author

      Hey Chris, no problem. FRP is “Fiber Reinforced Plastic”. You can buy it in 4×8 sheets at the Home Depot. In fact, at my local HD, the bathroom walls are covered in it. You can cut it with saws, but you need to use some kind of respirator when you do because the dust is harmful. It does go up with adhesive and a trowel. I found that the FRP Adhesives are cheaper to buy online.

      Reply
  11. donna

    Wow! That’s awesome. Looking at buying a used RV – and most of the ones in our budget would definitely need updating. I doubt we could ever match yours though.. great job! Wifey must be happy!

    Reply
    1. James - Post author

      Thanks! You could probably do better than you think on a remodel. Or maybe I’m having selective amnesia and just not remembering how difficult it was! Stef loves it, but now she wants the outside as nice as the inside.

      Reply
  12. John

    Been a cabinet maker and kitchen bath contractor for 28 years know what it took to pull this off! GREAT JOB! How’s the noise level now that you’ve tightened it up so well? I’ve got one mod I posted a while back under new counter and backsplash somewhere in the archives. Anyway excellent work, descriptions, pics, all of it!

    Reply
    1. James - Post author

      Hey John – If you’ve been in the business for that long, then you KNOW I made some mistakes along the way! Nobody else notices, but the mistakes are all I see when I look at it – you know how that goes. But seriously – thanks! I appreciate the comments!.

      I’m a little bit obsessive about rattles, so one of my goals was to reduce them. I wrapped and secured all wiring, used Dynamat on the backs of large resonant surfaces, those kinds of things. I improved things significantly from how it was to begin with. The extra insulation and sound deadening in the cab helped a lot as well. I’ll have to go back and dig through the archives to find your mod – there may be some inspiration there. (I’ve already started bugging Stef to approve a new RV purchase – which I would immediately start to modify…) Cheers!

      Reply
  13. James - Post author

    I was in the same predicament, and ultimately went with very thin anodized aluminum. If you go with metal, you have to make sure it’s not going to tarnish from moisture, or rust or what have you, so that’s why the anodized aluminum instead of plain. Aluminum is also pretty light, which kept the weight down. I thought that was my best choice. I also considered wood, but I thought that would look strange with what I had planned down below. I thought about thin plastics, like the FRP panels you see in my shower, but thought that would look like a truck stop rest room. There may have been better plastic options, but I didn’t have any luck finding them. Maybe if you can find a plastics wholesaler they might have more choices. And finally, I also considered removing the fabric, and putting a thick wallpaper over the plywood, but ultimately decided against that too.

    What’s best for you will depend on a few things. How capable are you to remove upper cabinets? It would be very difficult to get a solid material to fit around all the things on a typical RV ceiling, which would leave you stuck with fabrics, or maybe the wallpaper option that you could easily cut. What is your skill level with wood/metal/plastics? How long and wide is your RV ceiling? If your ceiling is wider than 8 feet, you will have a hard time finding common materials to fit. And finally, how do you feel about seams in your ceiling? I was OK with the wood pieces you see on my ceiling because I used them as kind of “visual room dividers” between the galley, living area, and bath. But if that won’t work for you, you may want to consider some kind of fabric again, since you can get it all in one piece (or again, the wallpaper option, since you can usually hide the seams).

    Whatever you decide, good luck! And do come back and let us know what you decided on. Cheers!

    Reply
  14. J. Floyd

    We are full timers in a Bounder with fabric-type ceiling. It is now grungy but we cannot find any help on what we can do about the ceiling. Would love to replace it with non-fabric product. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    1. robert

      I found pvc breadboard in strips. It’s light and easy to work with and will look like it is one piece and then paint it.

      Reply

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