Here is what our camper looked like after the last trip in sept. 2011.

I finely discovered what happened this spring when I was able to get up there and begin repair assessments.

The previous owner had a serious roof leak, and instead of replacing the whole roof, decided to rip out the front fifteen feet of rubber and ply, and replace it with luan, and then paint it with white roof coating. So when the caulking failed on the eight foot wide joint, it peeled away on the interstate and left me with this.

I can't believe what he had done, but am now stuck with it to fix.

We bought it knowing it had water damage issues, but did not know the extent until now.

The rest of the vehicle is as near perfect as I could expect for the year though, brakes, engine and tranny are all tight and trouble free, so I feel it's worth the time and effort.

And all the appliances work as they should with the one exception of the temp cut off relay on the hot water heater.

I counted the cost of total rebuild and decided against it in the traditional sense.

Having found ( blessedly ) aluminum framing, I am going to replace the roof this year, and next season begin rebuilding it from the inside out, with the siding possibly done last.

This is a backwards way of doing it but will accomplish two objectives.

first it will be easier labor and time wise, as well as stretching the dollar cost out over a longer period.

Second, ( and most important to us ) it will allow us to actually use it as a functional camper without a year or two of down time.

We have both decided that this is not our last RV.

I am hoping though, that the next one might be. We both have a fondness for class A's but appreciate the ease and cheaper cost of repairing class C's.

As I am having severe computer problems, I don't know how faithfully I can post pics of the progress, but will try.( if it ever stops raining here!)

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Comment by Jim Louiselle on December 19, 2012 at 6:08am

If someone had shown me pictures of what the underside of my roof looked like half ripped apart, I think I would have been very intimidated on undertaking it alone. But after the initial scary thoughts of never finishing it passed, and the project  began to come together a piece at a time, the fear left. Then the real excitement starts when you begin to rebuild with new wood and screws and before your eyes the roof takes shape and at the end of each day as you cover it up with a tarp and put away the tools till tomorrow, you find yourself looking forward to each new day to get up there and work away!

There are no words to describe the feeling you get when it is all done and you stand there in the driveway and admire what you've accomplished with your own hands. So find blogs and books and read, study, watch videos and ask questions until you're sick of doing so and all that stuff will come back to you as you climb up there to tear it apart,I guarantee !

Comment by Jim Louiselle on December 17, 2012 at 6:35am

Some of what I did saved money and time, but if I had I more of each, I would have done it differently. For instance, we wanted to be able to continue to use the camper as soon as possible, so I replaced the roof first. But I am still going to need to gut a lot of the inside and rebuild and reconfigure cabinets, closets etc., including a bathroom wall. I will also need to try and re-brace the rear section along the side from the frame to the roof in an attempt to take a large ripple out of the fiberglass siding along one side. If that doesn't work, I'll be re-siding.

All of these things would have been easier to do if I had left the roof for last, but we didn't want to be without a camper for what will probably be several seasons, so I'm doing it the hard way. I was fortunate when I stripped the roof skin and found aluminum rafters underneath and not wood! Otherwise I would have been making new ones and it would have added considerable time the job. I also made decisions that you may not, such as not putting a roof top AC unit back on. The one we had was barely working and at $800 to $1000 we decided that we didn't use it enough herein New England to spend the money. Had we lived in Arizona or Texas, I would have chosen otherwise!

I plan to set a small three to five thousand BTU unit through a wall and hide it in a cabinet sometime in the future. This will be cheaper, and eliminate one more hole up on the roof where water may invade. I got rid of the rooftop TV antenna as well since we don't watch when were camping. We used 5/16" sanded plywood to save money, figuring we don't load cargo up there, but I would have preferred 5/8" . Once again, money was the determining factor as well as doing this all alone, I had to haul the sheets up there walking up a ladder.

All in all. I am happy with the results. Having never redone an RV roof before it was worrisome to begin cutting away, but with patience, common sense and taking advantage of blogs and here and videos on Youtube, it went by quicker than I thought. Spring of 2013 God willing we begin to rebuild the inside and re arrange it to suit us space wise. The inside of this Coachmen was terribly designed and too cluttered and cramped. I can't wait to begin posting before and after pics as soon as the weather gets warm. To the best of my recollection, we put about $900. into the roof including all the caulk, screws, etc. and next spring will install the two crank out roof vents that we ran out of money to buy at the end of the project. At $45. per vent, we figured that would buy a tank of gas so we left them till next year. The hardest part of the whole job was stripping and pulling off what seemed like a ton of glue, caulk, putty tape and rusty old fasteners. the actual rebuilding seemed a breeze after that! I don't know how much of any of this helps you, but good luck and keep us posted.

Comment by Sam Green on June 10, 2012 at 7:02pm

It certainly is a daunting looking task ahead of you.  The difference between this and the 70,000 for a new one makes it all worth it.  I also think that your sense of self pride in your work will make a big difference to you also.  Good luck with your project and be safe, it can get dangerous at times.

Comment by Jim Louiselle on June 10, 2012 at 6:01pm

At last! Sun for the better part of an afternoon.

I got up on the ladder and began some more disassembly.

What the heck did I get into ???

Sure glad I put $50.00 worth of Eternabond on it last year, so now I can rip it off and toss it out !If you can see by these scratch marks, I have hit aluminum !

I can't even tell you how happy I am to find the framing is mostly metal.

Now rebuilding it from the inside out is a real viable course since I will be replacing very little structural pieces, and only luan panels and siding.This is underneath the rear termination bar where the rubber roof meets the fiberglass back.

The 4" wide  empty channel here is where an arched wood rafter was that the seam bar screwed into. Although it was rotted, it came out in one piece and I can use it to pattern a new one. The luan underlayment is so bad I can reach down and break through into the rear cabinates in the bedroom !

This is going to be the hardest part, because I can't really get up on the roof until there is new plywood to walk and kneel on. once the rear first piece is on, I will have a platform to climb onto and work from, rather than having to go up and down a ladder on each side of the camper.

It is a litltle overwhelming now, but all I have to do is look at the $70.000 price tag on a new 27" class C,  and I calm down !

Comment by Jim Louiselle on June 7, 2012 at 2:32pm

at last !

truck showed up with epdm roofing and glue.

And it's raining again!

I'm going to have to get a scuba divers camera to take pictures at this point.

This rebuild is going to go into fall I think.

Comment by Tim Dailey on June 4, 2012 at 7:21pm

Hey Jim, sounds like you got this under control and are ready for some fun!   I did a total roof rebuild on a shoestring budget, take a look at my photos, might strike some new ideas anyhow.   

Comment by stan franzone on June 4, 2012 at 7:11pm

after seeing the damage it will take alot of guts to tackle that damage,good luck and keep smiling

Comment by Sam Green on June 3, 2012 at 11:06pm

Wow, what a shame about the roof.  I am wishing you luck with getting everything pulled back together and hope you can continue your dream of Good old RVing.

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