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Old 09-22-2021, 10:13 AM   #1
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Name: Alexander
Trailer: Triple E Surfside
Manitoba
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Talking Hello From Winnipeg

Hello all!

Over the past few months i have been looking into the possibility of purchasing an older camper and renovating it with my dad and sister, after looking at many different types and models of campers we came to the conclusion that a Boler or Boler style molded fiber glass RV would be the best option.

This is because we would prefer something lighter and smaller that still is comfortable as a camper, and also it seems that the molded fiber glass RVs withstand the test of time the best compared to others.

The things that are still concerning me as unknowns are what are the best appliances to install in the even that the camper i purchase does not have all the working appliances, and what are some traditional modifications that people have made to their campers to bring it up to today's standards while still keeping its original charm.

I look forward to getting to know the people on here and sharing my journey and the progress once we start the renovation!
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Old 09-23-2021, 07:55 AM   #2
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Welcome, Alex!

Renovating an older trailer can be very rewarding. As you search for a trailer, remember that while the fiberglass shell can last almost forever, everything else can deteriorate, including the frame and floor. Inspect carefully so you don’t end up with more of a project than you bargained on.

As to appliances, it comes down to what you need as well as where and when you will camp. On- or off-grid? Warm weather or all-season? Propane or electric, possibly with lithium batteries, solar, inverter…? And of course the $64 question: budget?

I personally like the idea of converting refrigeration to electric, now that 12V compressor fridges are fairly reasonable and efficient. Heat and cooking are better with propane. A 12V power roof vent can really help with off-grid cooling.

Best wishes in your “egg hunt”!
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Old 09-23-2021, 07:59 AM   #3
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Manitoba
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Originally Posted by Jon in AZ View Post
Welcome, Alex!

Renovating an older trailer can be very rewarding. As you search for a trailer, remember that while the fiberglass shell can last almost forever, everything else can deteriorate, including the frame and floor. Inspect carefully so you don’t end up with more of a project than you bargained on.

As to appliances, it comes down to what you need and where and when you will camp. On- or off-grid? Warm weather or all-season? Propane or electric, possibly with lithium batteries, solar, inverter…? And of course the $64 question: budget?

I personally like the idea of converting refrigeration to electric, now that 12V compressor fridges are fairly reasonable. Heat and cooking are better with propane. A 12V power roof vent can really help with off-grid cooling.

Best wishes in your “egg hunt”!

Thank you! What I have been doing lately is going online to look at different parts and appliances that I might need to change and then making a budget using those price ranges, I will look at the compressor fridges as well and include them with it
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Old 09-23-2021, 08:14 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by alex freeze View Post
Thank you! What I have been doing lately is going online to look at different parts and appliances that I might need to change and then making a budget using those price ranges, I will look at the compressor fridges as well and include them with it
Just realize that a compressor fridge may require some upgrades to the electric system. Most Bolers are very rudimentary in that department.

If it has a working 3-way fridge, you might start with that. Some are very happy with them; others find them fussy and unreliable.
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Old 09-23-2021, 11:07 AM   #5
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Keep in mind also that the compressor refrigerators pretty well restrict you to camping with hookups, i.e. no boondocking. You can get around that to some degree if you are willing to upgrade your batteries, add solar, and maybe a hefty inverter.

Walt
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Old 09-23-2021, 11:38 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by WaltP View Post
Keep in mind also that the compressor refrigerators pretty well restrict you to camping with hookups, i.e. no boondocking. You can get around that to some degree if you are willing to upgrade your batteries, add solar, and maybe a hefty inverter.

Walt
A 12V compressor fridge does not require an inverter or hookups. Depending on the size (a Boler will be pretty small) a modest increase in battery capacity and solar panels should suffice for off-grid use.

A 120V dorm fridge is another story. Cheap, but not practical off grid.
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Old 09-23-2021, 11:43 AM   #7
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Thanks Jon.
Do you have a link to one I could look at?
Could be I'm out of date on this.
Yeah, has happened.

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Old 09-23-2021, 11:53 AM   #8
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Name: Duane
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Hello from Winnipeg

Hi
I would look at a total re-wire of any older trailer if 120v wiring is present. Chances are outlets, switches & wires are in rough shape or outdated and won't meet current standards/laws. Have someone experienced in the trade help you. I would reccomend you up-grade the 12 volt fixtures to LED's , these draw 80% less power than incandesent bulbs . Charging ports for electronics may be an addition to consider too. I added an outside light near the door on my Trillium, no more stumbling outside in the dark . I am also adding a 12v LED lamp to the front too. This will help with hitching and propane service on the tongue. Talk to people in your area as well about items they have changed or added to their own trailers as upgrades. If you are making changes to propane appliances consult a certified person for help. No need to blow yourself or a trailer to bits ! I have used this site as a source of information and tips when I started a re-do on mine. Good Luck in your search and any future repairs on a purchase of a home on wheels ! Duane
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Old 09-23-2021, 12:31 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by WaltP View Post
Thanks Jon.
Do you have a link to one I could look at?
Could be I'm out of date on this.
Yeah, has happened.

Walt
Here’s what we’re talking about. Not recommending this one, just a sample. It’s a newer class of fridges that use a swing compressor, not to be confused with older 12V coolers that use thermo-electric technology. I’ve seen other small, Boler-sized built-ins from around $500.
https://engelcoolers.com/products/70-rv-camping-fridge

They are available as traditional built-in, front opening styles and chest-type portables. The latter are actually more efficient, so some people replace a built-in icebox or fridge with a chest type on a slide.
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Old 09-23-2021, 12:44 PM   #10
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Thanks Jon. Aren't some of them AC/DC?
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Old 09-23-2021, 02:08 PM   #11
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Name: Alexander
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Thank you for all of this information this is all very helpful
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Old 09-23-2021, 02:14 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by WaltP View Post
Thanks Jon. Aren't some of them AC/DC?
Yes some are. The compressor itself runs on DC, and they have a built-in brick that converts AC power. Of course that is redundant in most RVs.
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Old 09-29-2021, 12:44 PM   #13
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I’m thinking about selling. I’ve put a lot into my 1975 Surfside over the years and haven’t used it in Two years. I would entertain an offer. I’m also in Winnipeg
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Old 09-29-2021, 06:38 PM   #14
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Scott, You have a very nice Surfside. I love the front kitchen, and king sized bed. I expect you could get a fair sum for it.
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Old 09-30-2021, 08:52 AM   #15
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Thank you David.
I’ve seen a few for sale this year and was surprised at the amounts. Might wait till spring and try then.
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Old 09-30-2021, 10:15 AM   #16
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It won't get bigger (or smaller) so size and weight would be my first metric to to eliminate campers on.

How you use a camper can matter a lot. Some folks like rustic camping without electric hookups. Others wouldn't dream of not being able to plug in. For the latter group a counter without a propane stove offers more room for electric hot plate or other electric cooking appliances.

Family camping, with kids. Couple camping. Solo camping. Hard sided tent, home away from home, or base for touring sites and attractions. Weekend "glamping"

There are a lot of mods done to Boler campers. Those will depend on how you find you would best use the limited space in a small camper. Appliances should work, or should be reflected in a reduced price if they do not work.

Myself I generally start with what does this camper have to do for me? What features or amenities matter for my use. Hanging closet for "good" clothes or room for storing camping equipment.

I will say I'm unlikely to replace a working appliance or fixture unless it doesn't work or is substandard in a safety related way. Old 110 shore power wiring and outlets are worth replacing, but a working refrigerator I wouldn't normally pull it unless I decided I wanted that space for something else. Small fridge in some campers doesn't hold much, may well decide space makes more sense as a cupboard for storing kitchen gear. Have food in a cooler in the car.

Your use will determine your mods and amenities. Got caught driving above the tree line needing a totally unavailable bathroom. Bought a port a pottie to store under the couch because I didn't want to see that situation again. You need to consider your situations and uses.
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Old 08-17-2022, 11:46 AM   #17
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Name: Alexander
Trailer: Triple E Surfside
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Big update

Hello all, thank you for all the advice!

Almost a year into my search I have finally bought a camper, this one is a triple e Surfside and it will need quite a bit of tlc.

I am told that some years ago a bear got into it and made a mess of everything so the previous owners had gutted it with the intent of renovating, however the renovation didn’t happen and it has sat empty accumulating bugs and moisture.

So step one for me will be figuring out the best way to clean and fix or replace the ensolite and get the door hinges fixed and secure back on properly.

Here are some pictures, the outside is great but the inside is a little scary
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Old 08-17-2022, 07:48 PM   #18
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Name: Brent
Trailer: Surfside
Manitoba
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Good luck on the rebuild!

I gutted & rebuilt our '77 Surfside a few years ago, save for the few niggling details I can't seem to get done yet Nice find if it's already gutted, that will have saved you some $ for the build!


A few tips from my experience. I see you're in Winnipeg, so will start with some geo-specific ones.


Online purchasing is your friend. If you put in the time, you'll find the deals. I ended up timing my purchases from US sources and shipped them all to Mike's Parcel Pickup in Pembina ND so with a weekend in Grand Forks I could make my pickup, skip the duty and save a ton on shipping.


There are a few places to pick things up locally, but I've always found things are a bit pricier, except for Princess Auto if they happen to have what you need.

Definitely rewire with 12v LEDs, including an external one & all internal illumination. I wired 3 120v circuits, all with GFI outlets, including an external one. Face it, based on the size of these, camping means a lot of outdoor time! I also incorporated USB charging ports and 12V cig lighter ports throughout. The latter are ugly and cumbersome, but it's a standard that just won't go away so you'll always have an adapter for it. You'll be rewiring everything, so may as well put in the conveniences, and make sure there's a light switch near every bunk. I also recommend wiring to the roof vent for a fan and overhead light. I don't have one, but you won't have to look too long to find the roof fan everyone either swears by or wishes they'd bought, especially without A/C.



I wired in a 30Amp electrical system with power converter to run all the 12v things with built-in fuses, then added an inverter alongside it with an automatic transfer switch. Honestly it's a bit of overkill for these, but when shore power is available, I can run the air conditioner and microwave plus any extras without a second thought. Yes, I put in both



You'll likely end up rebuilding the traditional layout, or close to it, but there are a few places you can push the dimensions a bit. The original layouts all had a floor-to-ceiling support somewhere midship: closet right behind the door, and the storage/appliance stack across from it. This provides extra roof support if there's snow load or anything like that to deal with. Not sure what the weight limits are, but I kept basically the same floor-to-ceiling support locations in my rebuild because it seemed wise to do so.


Not sure from the photos if the hole is still there where the heater was. You'll want to patch that up with fibreglass - I managed to figure out how to tackle that on my own, despite my wife not loving the primer on the outside (at least I used a yellow primer) since we haven't redone the exterior paint yet. Don't replace the heater with anything that size, there are far more efficient and smaller options available now, and that was a ton of wasted space.


With the heater gone, the first thing to do is upsize the refrigerator. Nobody ever complained that they had too much fridge space in a camper, though based on my own experience, I assume there are a lot of complaints when wives remove the beer to make room for dumb things like butter or eggs. Seriously, if you get nothing else from this, upsize the fridge from the original spec. Once you start the research, you'll find the claim that the chest or drawer-style refrigerators are more efficient. This is technically true, though not practically true. The theory is that when you open the door of a conventional fridge, the cold air "falls out" and the warm air now needs to be chilled by the unit once you close the door. Remembering from way back in school that warm air rises, you nod, because is is logical: the cold air "sinks" out of the fridge when the door is open. Practically however, your fridge is stuffed full of beer and butter and eggs now (all still cold), so there's not as much airspace in there as it would take to make much difference, because the tradeoff is with a chest-style cooler/fridge, you're looking down on everything, and shuffling it all around to find what you want instead of using the shelving in a proper fridge, and that's going to annoy your wife enough that she won't put your beer back into it once she's retrieved the eggs.

As to the plumbing system, I redid everything with pex, and put in a loop running outside to the front of the trailer where I can hook in a propane on-demand water heater which was like $130 or something. They're sold as portable but have mounting hardware. I installed a small bar-type sink that mounts below the counter rather than dropping in from the top. this means when I drop the cutout into the space, it rests on the lip of the sink and leaves a beautifully flush countertop space. Spring for a faucet with a built-in hose. I also plumbed in taps on the outside of the trailer (they sit inside a little door, buy the whole unit online) because again, so much of camping is outdoors.

Last tip. The first thing you're going to do after you've planned the build is to take out all the windows. Don't worry, it's not as bad as it sounds, and you want to replace all the wood from the inside. Take the jalousie windows inside and disassemble them so you can clean and replace any parts that need it - they're notorious for stripping so they won't tighten, but you cand replacement handles online. (keep track of left/right) Don't discard the wooden frames from the interior, you're going to use them to build replacements. Here comes the genius part. The Surfside (at least most, I believe) did not have overhead cabinets above the rear bunk/dinette seats, but there was sometimes a shelf along the back. The only overhead cupboards were above the countertop, with the end piece having one screw inserted through the fiberglass shell to fasten it. When I did my rebuild, I replaced the window frames with new ones but made the top of the frame quite a bit wider than the bottom on the rear window and two side/rear windows. They are all at the same height, which is exactly at the bottom of the overhead cabinets, so in our trailer, there are overhead cabinets on both sides, right to the back corner, resting on the top of the window frame for support. We went with a shelf across the back, but you could do a cabinet there the same way for the full "U" shape.

When you remove the windows, you'll find the screws are very rusted and be glad you get to replace them. The aluminum window frames are just screwed into the wood window frames on the inside, pinching the fiberglass shell in between - that's it, but it's definitely strong enough to support your overheads.


Okay, one more tip: you don't need to overbuild the cabinets and their framing. I used 1x2's, and that's it - including the bench bottoms. Just think as you go about where the weight is going to be, coming from which direction, and frame accordingly. Pre-drill as needed to assemble with screws. I know it sounds flimsy, but if you have a close look at the factory build, you'll find that's already stronger than the original. I covered mine with thin baltic birch plywood that you can get in 5x5 sheets locally from Windsor Plywood, and they'll stain up beautifully if you choose to go that route. Cabinet doors are the same material, just heavier ply. Bench seats etc just bog standard plywood and you're good to go.


I typed a lot, but I've just been avoiding doing real work, so hopefully there's something helpful in all of that!
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Old 08-18-2022, 08:47 PM   #19
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Name: Alexander
Trailer: Triple E Surfside
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Thank you Toderash, that’s all extremely useful information!
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Old 08-22-2022, 08:37 PM   #20
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Name: Alexander
Trailer: Triple E Surfside
Manitoba
Posts: 7
Wondering about Air Conditioning on Battery

Hello again everyone!

I'm still early in the planning stages and i have just started looking at information about electrical systems and am running into a few unknowns.

My goal is to have a fully electric camper that can run off battery charged with solar if I am not camping somewhere with shore power.

so i have 2 questions:

1. can you run an air conditioner off of a battery/inverter?

2. is there a style of air conditioner that i could build into the area that would normally have had the furnace in my Triple E Surfside camper?

i do not need a very powerful air conditioner as this is a smaller camper, and i would ideally like to be able to use the vent already in place from the furnace which i will not be using otherwise, and i would prefer not to install a roof air conditioner.
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