Saturday, November 21, 2015

Rebuilding the Amerigo–Just call me the Demolition Man!

Finally, an update!

Been wasting a lot of weekends as of late, mostly sleeping trying to make up for too little sleep during the work week, but finally progress has been made and wonderful discoveries as well Smile.

The good news, first.

The frame of the camper is in excellent condition.    I’ve discovered only a couple spots where water entry has (and still is, but now that I know where it is, I can fix it Smile) occurred, but the only casualty was the ugly as sin ceiling paneling which I had planned to tear out anyway.

The bad, the bloody leak area is over the top of the blasted clamshell bathroom, likely been coming in around the tiny roof vent.

So that means I’m going to have to figure out how to separate the bathroom into its two pieces without damaging it.


I had already planned to upgrade the vent opening to a full 14”x14” opening, so I guess this is as good an incentive as any, perhaps now is a good time to look into the new holding tanks, since I’m going to removing the flange for the toilet anyway so I can move the shower. 

The rear vent is showing signs of leakage as well, but no major damage to the frame. Woods still solid and once it dries I can treat it with Minwax wood hardener to protect it from any future moisture exposure.


Bottom edge of the wood is damp, but the wood has not rotted, most of the dark areas are bits of the old roof board after it being removed.

The wooden ceiling material is damp all the way across the top of the bathroom and right around the vent, which follows the path that the camper leans at when its parked next to the house. 

I continued to demolish the ceiling and wall paneling moving forward, finding nothing but good news. 

Also realized why my Amerigo has no rear ladder, when so many others I’ve seen do.  There’s no plywood under the fiberglass roof.   It seems I cannot fail to buy a truck camper with a roof not-designed to walked on Smile.

Good to know, since I plan to attach a Winegard Antenna assembly. 


Main beam above the Snap-N-Nap is still solid and I have confirmed that when my unit was built that it was indeed built with glue and screws, as there’s four counter sunk screws holding each one of the 2x2s in place.  

No staples on this camper’s frame, just on the inner paneling, most of which is going to wind up in a dumpster.


Looks like at one time there was a power vent here, makes installing the Shurflo Comfort-Breeze even easier Smile.


Ah, looks like I did find one potential fib by the last owner, there was in fact at one time an Air Conditioner on this camper.  The original wiring for it was cut off and tucked up inside ceiling, I did a test on it and confirmed that the wire is not connected to anything, so there was never any danger, it simply was disconnected and discarded.   I’ll likely use the old wire to help pull a new line in.

I can tell by the doubled up roof timbers that where the skylight is where the A/C was.   I was surprised to find the skylight is framed in with 2x4s……   Now I’m drawn, do I want to keep the skylight, or restore the factory framing and put my A/C unit back in place there instead of making a new opening?  


Precusory check on the cabover roof at a primary leak point, no immediate signs of any water penetration, ever..


Cabover’s doubling as temporary storage for loose bits till I finish removing the cabinets so I can carefully remove the wall panels to reuse as templates and to check around the side windows for any leakage signs.


Signs of a past leak and repair.   The dark spot on the plywood is an old stain, and is sealed with epoxy and is quite solid.   A section of new 2x4 was grafted in by the previous owner most likely. It is solid, but I will buttress a full length of 2x4 on top of it to add some extra structural strength.



With the wall paneling removed, you can see the silly lopsided offset of the fridge compartment as it came from factory.

I’m going to shift the fridge towards the rear enough to make the cabover a full queen, which will in the same move center the fridge underneath the roof vent and to the exterior hatch.

The propane compartment will not move, but I may be able to gain a little storage compartment along side it to use for storing things like baking sheets and what not. 

The dinette likely won’t be serving as a bed when the remodel is done, at least not for tall people. 


I didn’t notice it until I removed the build up the last owner had done over the old dinette wall that there was a little piece of paneling over a hole cut in the wall from factory.  

When I opened up the wall, I discovered the little piece of panel was covering an access to the tie down anchor, which goes clean through the plywood wing and the 2x4 sill board at the bottom of the wall. 

A lot better anchor strength than the KIT, whose anchors simply went through the plywood and a 2x4 that was attached to the underside of the wings.



I can tell, sadly, that some water is getting around the points where the running lights connect, so I think I may go the smart route and replace them all, hopefully with a unit I can permanently seal the base to the fiberglass so that there’s no future worry about water penetration. 



The first sacrifice from the KIT, its nice new Suburban 6 Gallon water heater for the Amerigo’s older Mobile Temp. 

I have the new counter top material in storage at a family’s place, as it’s the same thing as what the Formica counter looks like, butcher block.  Lumber Liquidators had a wonderful deal on an 8’ x25” deep section of 1 1/4” thick oak unfinished counter, so I decided to upgrade to something slightly better than the particle board and Formica counters that were sagging in the middle.

With the two large openings in the counter top for the range and the sink, going to the solid wood counter won’t contribute enough additional weight to be of much concern. 


Added another vintage touch to the Express, got a set of cherry Dodge dog-dishes off a 1974 Dodge motorhome out in Ellensburg, WA (seems this project keeps taking me back up to Washington….)

Now, all I need is the grill work off a vintage Dodge Adventurer package truck and I’ll start looking like the Dodge on the Amerigo brochure Winking smile

(Brochure from, photos belong to


Looks like enough demo for one day Winking smile.


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Of Pirates and Truck Campers

Well, the Amerigo is officially mine and happily rests on the back of my trusty old Dodge truck.  Smile

I sit, preparing to enjoy my victory dinner at the Lacey Rock, Wood Fired Pizza and Spirits, chuckling at the fact that I took possession of my new “ship” on the annual “Talk like Pirate!” day. 

In fact, I’ve found it so funny, that I’ve decided to let my inner nerd out to play, and have chosen a fitting name for my new ship Winking smile

For those that are familiar with Japanese Anime, there’s a series specifically about pirates, goes by the name of “One Piece”….

Ironically, the brand of my new camper is an “A-Mer-I-Go”…..

Those that know the show should be screaming by now, cause they know where this is going……

And the name of the main character’s ship sounds very, very similar……



So, without further adieu, I give you, “THE GOING MERRY!” 



Arrrr!  She be a fine ship, her keel be strong and she sails the asphalt seas as smoothly as a fair maiden’s skin!


…..Ehem…..  Couldn’t help myself. 


After driving her from Spanaway down to Lacey, I can say she rids on the back of the truck like a dream, that beautifully rounded cab-over slices through the wind far like a knife!  

First time I actually managed to maintain 55mph going up a grade on I-5…..  Granted, that might change after she’s had some remodel work done, but so far she rides like a dream. 

At current she’s using a kludged power cord to drive the signals and running lights, but that will hopefully change soon as the next paycheck rolls around so I can invest in some new wire to get her properly wired up. 

We’ve got a long worklist ahead of us, but I can’t wait to get back to camping!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

A tale of Two Truck Campers - End of the KIT's road

Well, life is an interesting thing, and in this case, a rare find plopped into my lap not too long ago when I put up a Craigslist ad looking for Amerigo parts for my planned rebuild.

In this case, it came in the form of a 1975 Amerigo 11'6" Snap-N-Nap up in Puyallup, WA, and no the silver Dodge its sitting on is not mine ;).

The current owner has had it for roughly sixteen years, and has done several modifications to it already, including updating the power panel in the unit to a modern one, adding electric jacks to the front and building some very nicely done steel corner brackets that bolt both through the corner and sandwich with a steel plate on the inside as well as bolting through under the wing.

The camper has spent all of its downtime under a carport cover so that it has stayed out of the bulk of the Northwest’s weather, and hasn’t been used in the last several years as the her current owners have upgraded to a GMC Kodiak and a custom made Chalet Truck Camper.

The similarity of this tale to how the KIT was when I first found her is not lost on me.

Having made the trip to give it a good inspection, Dawn and I decided that we’d be able to get what we wanted in our remodel of the KIT by simply buying the Amerigo (ironically for the same amount as what we bought the KIT for nine years ago :) ), and restoring it.

Fortunately, the current owner is willing to hold onto it for us for a couple more months whilst we raise the funds really quick to make the purchase, as our savings was run down with a recent batch of dental surgery I had to undergo.

One of the first things I noticed is that he added a nice center aisle sky-light. In most Amerigos, there’s a vent roughly where the forward end of the skylight is, and that’s where the A/C unit is installed.

We’ll likely end up adding a second opening between the vent in the rear and the skylight to allow for the installation of a standard roof-top A/C unit, as the current owner has already upgraded the wiring in the unit to 30amp service, with a very nice marine twist lock plug.

Space-wise, in terms of floor space, the KIT and the Amerigo are fairly similar, the big differences being the floor plan and the fact that the Amerigo has a rear snap-n-nap, which adds a third bed (full size), oh and the two piece clamshell solid fiberglass bathroom that has a toilet that I can actually SIT ON without having to make major renovations, my one big beef with the KIT, I could never truly dry camp because I couldn’t comfortably sit on the john because the bathroom was too small.

One of the first things we plan to do is shift and/or shorten the dinette by about 4-5”, so we can extend the cabover bed back a little ways to allow it to fit a full queen size mattress (the mattress platform is 4’6 1/2” wide). The fridge compartment door will still be perfectly aligned, as the inner wall paneling actually over laps it by a good 3-4”.

The KIT’s bed actually already does this, so we’ll simply be recreating some more of the KIT’s floor plan.

The lower kitchen cabinets and probably the upper cabinets as well will be modified (and possibly refaced with kreg-joined solid oak pieces, similar to our Bighorn’s Kitchen).

The current owner has refaced a good part of the camper, which is why you see all the nice oak grain, the original wall paneling is the classic dark 70s wall board you commonly find in most similar era truck campers.

The yellow wallboard tacked over the top of the original wall paneling as a back splash for the kitchen is also going, and the range will likely be swapped out for the one in the KIT, as while its stainless steel like the range hood, its also fairly rusty inside, though the gas valves may prove to be useful.

The furnace is original, it’s a very early NT series style Suburban furnace, and is pilot lit, instead of electric spark ignition like modern units. The fact that it still looks brand new tells me this camper really never saw any winter use. We’ll either replace it with the KIT’s furnace, or if there’s funds enough, simply buy a new NT Series unit.

All of the plumbing has been redone with properly installed PEX water lines.

The rear snap-n-nap bed is a one piece fiberglass and aluminum framed construction with sprayed in foam insulation (way ahead of its time in 1975). The quilting is made of vinyl or pvc plastic, and I suspect, will get replaced with FRP paneling or possibly wood.

The hinged sides will be taken apart and foam board will be sandwiched into the middle, at which point we’ll reface them with FRP, or take a page from another Amerigo owner and recover them in marine vinyl.

One thing I noticed about the Amerigo’s and love that this one still has (and that I’ve located the truck side for) is a Phillips Radio Inter-Com system Smile.

I find it to be very amusing that it even came with a circuit diagram for the device itself.

Sadly, the current owner didn’t have the other half, I managed to find the other half that goes in the truck cab for $25 (w/free shipping :) ) on ebay!

Well, that kind of wraps this up, the true adventure won’t start till later this summer, once I get the cash together, that’ll be when the real fun starts ;).