Last year I got the urge….
I wanted a pop-up. I loved camping, my girls loved camping and my new spouse
was a camper. We had a tent but it was such a hassle; and I had big dreams: going out of state, having a/c, a little more comfort…so a pop-up was a logical
I found Pop-Up-Times message board
in my search to learn. I created a screen name “iwantapopup” and started reading and posting. I became a fan of the Fix-It posts quickly! I started looking
for RV shows and we found a small one in IL. Tim & I both went and just drooled
over everything we saw. They only had a few pop-ups but at least we could get
a look at them.
A new pop-up was just not in the
budget and even many used units were out of our league for the time being. I
was a bit discouraged thinking we’d have to save for another year when I found a post on another forum. Someone was selling a pop-up for $50.00! I must have rubbed
my eyes a couple times making sure I read it right. I immediately e-mailed the
poster and crossed my fingers. Not long after I received a reply. The pop-up was still for sale, it was in IN and needed a lot of work.
All I knew that it was a Palomino Colt; I didn’t even know the year. It
turned out to be a 1982.
I talked to Tim about it. I’m not sure if he really thought I was crazy but I guess if nothing else, he wanted to please his
new bride! He took off with his son and my oldest daughter and brought it home. Let’s say the kids really thought I was nuts!
I was so excited I could hardly sleep. I wondered how bad it could be? I soon found out!
We opened it up that weekend, it
was dirty, leaves and mud covering everything, but overall pretty sound. The
hinges were busted, there was a big hole in the floor, the cabinets & countertop were water damaged and useless. The covers and curtains were ugly and nasty.
I’m not sure how many people laughed at me when I said I found a $50 pop-up but I knew we could transform it!
So we cleaned it all out which made
it look so much better. Tim started ripping out what wasn’t usable. I grabbed the curtains and cushions, ripped out the zippers, made patterns from the
old and made new curtains and cushion covers. A friend of mine gave me a piece
of countertop that was perfect to use as a countertop in the pop-up. Tim found
paneling marked down to $5/sheet at Home Depot. He reinforced a wall, replaced
part of the floor, made a new cabinet, and re-paneled the inside. So far, we
were out less than $50. I already had the fabric that I bought for one of those
projects I never got around to.
The canvas was the next challenge. I read so many posts over canvas and feared the worst.
It was in better shape than I thought but needed lots of patching. We
did manage to patch it to make it through this season but we will have to replace it for 2003.
Tim put it on the frame and popped it up. Wow! We were excited! It was really taking shape!
There had been a hole cut
in the side, Tim figured for a window a/c. Now I really wanted a/c in that camper. No way did I want to camp in the heat and humidity without some kind of escape! I was driving by and saw a window a/c in a yard sale for $20. I called Tim, he came over and home it went. It is a large
unit but the price was right so Tim had to cut the hole a little bigger and he made a cover.
We (ok he) slide it in and out when we camp. The wiring was a mess, so
Tim rewired and got the lights working. Let’s say he didn’t mind
as much working on it now in the hot July sun in St. Louis.
We talked more about the interior
design of our pop-up. It looked by the seat covers as it there were a long bench
seat but I wanted a mini fridge and a porta-potti so we decided not to put the seat back in.
Instead Tim built a platform over the wheel well for the porta-potti. We
mostly use it for nighttime or during the rain but it’s so handy. Tim also
found a used mini-fridge for $20, perfect for our budget! There was a little
space left so he closed it in and we have a spot for the tv/vcr.
While he was constructing, I was
still cleaning. It took a lot of scrubbing to really clean it up. There was dirt caked around the curtain tracks and I spent a lot of time with a brush getting it loose. Yuck! The camper bed mattresses were
gone so we decided on camping air mattresses which we already had and they have worked out great!
Tim had to buy new tires, which
were bought at Wal-Mart. I think they were around $35 ea but it wasn’t
too bad. We were almost done. We
kept the roof covered with a tarp because the vent was busted. I couldn’t
find a bargain on the vent. I think we paid about $40 new. We ordered some sealant from Camping World that was around $60. The
caulking job was really bad. Tim scraped the old caulking off and used the sealer,
no more leaking roof!
The inside looked pretty good, but
I thought it could look better. I decided on adding a valance but had no idea
how they attached. I had Tim check out the pop-ups at a local dealer and found
out they used Velcro. I decided to make them and glued the Velcro to the roof
(I tried the sticky back kind but it didn’t hold) I used Shoe-Goo and it is holding.
Tim bought some latches, bought
new lights for the outside and we were ready to camp! Our first trip was Labor
Day weekend. We bought the pop-up in late May so it took us about 3 months to
After our first trip, I found a
free step thanks to a PUT user. It’s a Jayco step but it works. Tim also made an awning but it needs some tweaking.
We’ve used our camper twice
now but have several trips planned for this year. This year we have more work
planned: a new canvas, paint job, new lettering, some type of external storage
and maybe a new floor.
While our camper is a little on
the small size (10 ft box) it was just right for our budget. I usually cook outside
unless it’s raining, so no one trips over me.
It’s a little on the small
size, 10 ft box., so I’m off dreaming again of something bigger…who knows what I may find next time!