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 ;).