''Restoration'' of '72 Boler-American
UPDATE: Sorry for the mess earlier. I'm editing this note to remove the problem photos. I'll be reposting the photos and information lower in the thread. Sorry again...
The rest of the pictures...
The old dinette table (more pressboard) as well as the wooden rail along the back of the camper it attached to were both pretty trashed. I saved all the hardware and dumped the rest. A new table was cut using the old one as a template. I opted for a fold-up leg. There are catches on the leg that hold it up when it's in 'bed' mode as well as another catch that firmly holds the leg locked up when in 'table' mode so it doesn't accidently fall down.
While I was at it, I made a little sink cover out of a plastic cutting board. Had to cut a little notch for the pipe in the back which carries the wires. I screwed a pair of wooden rails on the bottom to hold the cover in place.
To finish things off, we recovered all the cushions in dress denim (not the sturdiest but this isn't exactly a living room couch either). Also made new curtains out of the same material. If you look close - you can see the bunk rail that I made. The rail is copper pipe sweated together. It slides into the poles that hold up the bunk. In order to make it more comfy, I covered the part of the rail that sticks out with pipe insulation.
Here it is finally on one of our first trips with it. The awning is a $10 freestanding one. I just used the side of the Boler to hold up one side. Under the awning is our folding camp table that we set a portable stove on to do all our cooking.
The shot was taken at the Dunes National Lakeshore here in Indiana. To get it into that position, I had to unhook it from the van, roll it back by hand between two trees, then turn it 90 degrees. All on sandy soil. Part of the benefits of lightweight trailers! :)
Finally - here's a closeup of the front badge on the trailer. It WAS painted sickly green. I scraped that down, painted it with black enamel then went over the lettering by hand with silver paint. I think it turned out pretty snappy.
Hope this trip through our '72 Boler has been interesting, informative and/or useful.
Mike-You've done a super job on that Boler. You'll have to take it to a Bolerama or two in EhLand one of these summers!
Pete and Rats
This encourages me and there is hope.:sunny It's transformation is very nice.
Restoration - repost
OK, let's try this again...
I picked up my '72 Boler American early last spring. The entire LONG saga of the work I put into it was posted as a work-in-progress on the Bolerama discussion group over on Delphi. The photos however came in big lumps since I'm still very analog when it comes to photography.
To start things off, here are the "before" pictures. I didn't take these. They were posted by the fellow I bought the trailer from. Here's the outside:
That is NOT the color the camper should be. It looked to have been painted using latex housepaint - with a brush. In addition, that vent on the side of the camper isn't functional. It's just covering a pair of gaping holes left when a couple things were removed from the camper (I'm guessing a water-fill and a furnace vent, but it's only a guess). Oh... the vent cover was installed using wood screws. :)
Oh - it's also worth noting that additional rear lights have been installed flanking the spare tire. The original lights were working just fine - so the reason for that is a bit of a mystery. I decided to leave them there however. Nothing wrong with a little EXTRA margin for safety.
Here's the inside "before" shots:
Needs a bit of work, wouldn't you say?
Now... These pictures are telling for what they show, but also for what they don't show. You don't see the ceiling (the insulation was falling down in a couple places), and they don't show the bunk/couch (cover on back/top was VERY badly ripped (visable later)), and they don't show the closet. More on that in the next note.
On with the restoration...
OK, Now we're on to some of my photos and the beginnings of my work.
Remember I said the seller's photos didn't show the closet...
Part of the reason was undoubtedly because the lower half of the closet had been chopped out to make room for a small dorm fridge.
Obviously, the fridge has been removed for these photos...
In order to mount the fridge, the sidewall was cut/hacked out of the closet. In addition, the wooden support rails that were in the corners of the closet were removed on both sides - again to make room for the fridge. :(
You can also see the sagging insulation in these images and the awful condition of the upper bunk cushion cover. That orange wasn't the most attractive though - so I didn't consider it any great loss.
In order to repair the closet - I first sistered in some 1x2 lumber against the stock rails. These were further reinforced using steel shelving support rails. These rails later were used to support wire shelving (visable below). I thought about how to repair the gaping holes. One thought was to do a traditional fiberglass repair - but I didn't think I could do a very good job of making both sides look decent and not making the repair obvious. I considered covering the WHOLE closet with 1/8 inch plywood (ie use the fiberglass for structural strength, and the thin plywood for looks) but dropped that idea. I eventually decided to cover the closet with fiberglass wall material. This stuff isn't cheap - but one sheet did the whole closet. It's made for the walls of walk-in fridges and public washrooms (the WalMart in town uses it!). It cuts fairly easily, is lightweight, VERY strong and easily glued up to the original closet walls. Here it is:
The insulation was also glued up using construction adhesive. It had to remain propped up till it dried (a long unfortunate adventure all in itself...)
Next up: finishing the inside
Finishing up the inside
Of course, the fiberglass sheeting I got to fix the closet was WHITE WHITE. As such, as soon as it was in the camper, the 'white' insulation on the walls started looking pretty crummy. (This is a general principal BTW - As soon as you fix up ONE thing on your old camper, it makes everything next to it look lousy by comparison so you have to fix up them. Once you fix up them, everything near THEM looks awful - etc etc etc. You get caught in an endless loop of updates, repairs and fixes...)
Anyway - After looking into several options for painting the insulation (the problem is that it's soft and flexable. Vinyl coated foam really.). While some had used latex or melamine paint - I found spray vinyl. It's sold by Rustoleum and intended to be used to spruce up old vinyl car seats and dashboards. Comes in fairly limited colors - WHITE and BLACK being on the list. I ended up buying several cans of the spray vinyl to hit the walls with. REALLY does a nice job of brightening up the place! Here's a shot half-way through the job. Left side has been painted, right side has not:
Wasn't the cheapest way to do things - but I wouldn't do it any other way.
BTW: I used the black spray vinyl to paint all the rubber seals inside and out around the windows. Especially the rubber on the outside of the camper looked like hell. Faded, chalky, pitted and just plain ugly. Spraying it down with the black vinyl gave it that deep black sheen like it had when it was new (without the expense of new seals). The spray vinyl also tends to seep into little cracks sealing them up. As long as the rubber is functionally sound, I think this is a great way to zip up their appearance (which of course looked AWFUL after I painted the trailer... see above...)
Finishing up the interior of the trailer was a matter of several things.
I pulled up ALL the old flooring down to the plywood. There were three layers of various floor coverings in that thing. All the old aluminum trim on the floor was also pulled, cleaned, straightened and sprayed with silver paint. I repaired the ONE small spot of rot I was able to find in the plywood floor, then covered the whole thing in 1x1 self-stick floor tiles. The self-stick part needed a bit of help though, especially on the verticals.
I also pulled ALL the old pressboard doors and replaced them with plywood ones (plain) with new latches. I can't stand pressboard. It's just sawdust with pictures of wood on the side. Ick!
Here's the inside of the trailer, all my fixes done, all it's waiting for is the redecorating (new cushion covers and window coverings).
Next up... the outside
Outside of the trailer
There was more done here than you might think.
The water tanks had been removed long ago. But the gravity fill port was still sitting there on the outside of the camper --> pulled.
That nasty grate SCREWED to the camper was pulled (leaving two gaping holes and four little screw holes in the side instead).
The resulting holes were repaired with fiberglass with body putty used to smooth things down. As I did this... I sure as heck was glad I chose to fix the closet by covering the whole thing! :)
Finally - the worst job of them all, stripping off all the old paint. MUCH of it stripped effortlessly using a razor scrapper. I already knew I would be repainting so the occasional scratch or minor gouge wasn't a problem.
Oh... almost forgot - I scrapped off all the old caulked up repairs at the same time. That included caulk on the roof that looked to have about 5 years worth of growth of lichens imbedded into it. :)
After scraping as much as I was willing to and doing all the body repairs, this is what I was left with:
The surface was then scuffed up (to help the paint stick) and primed. I'd chosen to use rustoleum paint in cans and roll it on. It's smoother than brushes, and doesn't require an investment in a sprayer. I think that sprayed polyurethane paint would give a smoother, glossier finish - but the rustoleum also did a nice job of covering some of the minor imperfections left in the body - and was cheaper...
Anyway, it was primed with their "clean metal primer" and painted. Light Machine Gray on the top and Navy Blue on the bottom. Before deciding on colors, we drew up a little Boler on the computer in a paint program and played around painting it different colors till we found one we were happy with. The light machine gray is actually a little darker than we planned, but once you put it next to the navy blue it doesn't look dark at all.
Oh... I also painted ALL exposed metal surfaces. The frame, door hinges, door holdback (added - thanks to Scamp), door latch and belly band were all painted with black epoxy. The window trim, vent cover, wheels and hubcaps were all painted with silver paint.
Here's the final product:
Finally - here it is on it's maiden voyage in it's new form:
That's it for now. At one time I thought about restoring the water systems to the trailer - but I'm not strongly motivated. For drinking, bottles are best. And who can wash anything in those tiny sinks? We MAY end up pulling both the sink and built-in stove in order to make one big counter. A portable stove would work just as nicely in that position. Considering we bring it along anyway (most cooking done outside) - seems reasonable.
The one thing I would like to do however is add a small 12V system (likely based on a portable jump starter unit) in order to power a new vent with a built in fan - and maybe the two big kitchen lights too. The fan is the big draw however. :)
Sorry again for the messed up shots before. Hopefully these are working better for everyone.
Quote - but I'm not strongly motivated.
That's a joke right Mike? You have done an amazing job!
Thanks for the posts and your time in showing others what is possible. Keep it coming!
Mike, you did a GREAT job! I look forward to seeing your little fiberglass wonder in person some day!
Looks like the little rig is good to go for another 30 years!
Hey, Mike W.
You might have said, but I don't remember. how long did this transformation take, hours/years. everytime I look at your before and after, I just stare in amazment. wow :omy
That was just about restoring the water system. We're not going to do anything in the near future about it, but for the moment we just don't see the pressing need to have water in the trailer itself.
Most of these sorts of attitudes come from the fact we were used to tent camping or camping in VERY rustic cabins (no running water, no electricity, no road for that matter - you hiked or boated in). Besides - the campgrounds have running water which washes dishes just fine. Why pack it in when there's plenty there?
I didn't make a point of it before - but one thing I really would like to do is replace the curbside rear window. It's broken. The lower pane (along with its frame) are completely gone. The hole was plugged by a former owner with a piece of plexiglass. Works to keep the rain and cold out - but it would be nice to have something I could open in the summer.
Q: How anal am I?
A: I painted the edge of the plexiglass to match the frame of the upper pane so it would be less obvious it was a cheap quickie fix.
Depending on the timing of things, I'm hoping to make one or two this spring/summer. Most appealing would be the Boler gathering up in Ontario (to get a peek at the other restoration jobs for ideas...) but something else closer would be fun too.
I wouldn't mind seeing what some of the slightly larger trailers look like. No immediate plans to change (we're gonna milk the Boler for ever last minute of usefulness), but when it's down to just the wife and I (at least a solid 7 or 8 years from now), then something better for two might start looking good. Then again - by then the truely ultralite character of the all glass 13 footers might be even MORE appealing.
I can fairly easily lift the tounge of my Boler to move it around in loose soil. AND, when I was using jackstands in the back (they were accidentally left behind at a Flying J), I would leave them adjusted to the right height and just pull up on the rear bumper to place them. Then crank up a bit on the front and it was fairly solid. Took all of about 2 minutes tops (counting the time to retrieve the jack stands).
I haven't yet replaced the jackstands. One of the changes (unshown) to the trailer was to have four automobile jacks welded to the frame in the corners. We can crank those down and the trailer is S T A B L E. The guy at the welding shop joked with me that the thing was probably good for about 8000 lbs now (each jack is rated at 2000). Nothing like a little overkill! Takes longer to set up than the jackstands did (especially with the trick above) but more stable and certainly better at the campsite.
You did a great job!
Mike - you really did a nice job, thank you for posting your pictures here. The way that you repainted the Boler sign certainly reflects your eye for detail!
You definitely must try and attend the Boler gathering....and don't forget to take your camera and bring us lots of pictures back!
>The way that you repainted the Boler sign certainly reflects your
eye for detail!
That's one way of looking at it. From a practical standpoint, it's related to the idea I mentioned above. Once you start doing this stuff - one really nice thing starts making everything else look shabby and in need of repairs or painting etc etc. I couldn't very well repaint the trailer and then stick back on a nasty, paint-peeling off name badge could I??? :)
Thomas and Janifer:
>how long did this transformation take?
I didn't keep a strong track of my time. But I picked the thing up in the middle of March last year and we hit the road in July. I spent time on the weekends and evenings on it. Nothing TOO bad really.
Most time consuming element:
Scraping off all the old paint. Had to be done or the new stuff would have started flaking in no time.
Putting the closet back in order.
Hard to say. There are things that I thought HAD to be done (like the undercoating) but which aren't terribly rewarding.
I'm very happy with how the paint job turned out (both inside and out). The real trick is in the details of course. In the end, THAT is what makes it all look new.
I'm also very pleased with the closet. That sheet fiberglass stuff, while pricy ($25 for a 4x8 sheet) is REALLY great stuff. Strong, thin, easy to work with... If I was going to try to scratch-build a trailer, I'd use this. Also - if it weren't for the assorted lips, I'd think about using this stuff to cover the kitchen too.
In terms of bang-for-the-buck - the new doors and storage covers are the best. All the pressboard went, replaced by stained and polyurethaned plywood. Gorgeous stuff. Cost: $0. I had most of a sheet of 1/2" ply laying around left over from when I built a console to fit between the kid's seats in the van. :)
Close second was re-doing the floors. Some cheap self-stick floor tiles. Probably spent all of $5 on them. It's real easy to sweep out, nice and bright too.
Don't hesitate to ask if anyone wants more details on any specific aspect of the updates.
Mike .. neat stuff!
I'd like more info on the four "auto" corner jacks.
I've often thought about adding to "fold-down," side-crank, boat trailer jacks to the rear of my trailer ... so it would be easy to lower and crank them up to level.
Are yours similar?
Thanks, Charles for bringing that up. My two rear jacks were missing from my TT when I bought it. Right now, I'm using the small jack stands, but plan on having something permanent installed. Rather than go back to the orignal type, this sounds like it could be very promising.
Did you post a picture of them that I missed? I would really like to see them.
There one is. I used jacks from Ford Festivas - they were free. :)
REAL solid! These things aren't gonna be snapping anytime soon or accidentally flipping up. Trailer isn't gonna slide off one either.
Takes longer to crank down than to set up a jackstand or use a flip-down jack. Suppose I could save some time by shoving a 4x4 under the jack - but then I'd have to carry them along with me. :)
I considered using the flip-down jacks, but my bumper/frame was too close to the ground for their low-end clearance. I think that's the way to go if your frame is higher than mine is.
I'd also strongly reccomend adding stabilizer jacks to the front as well. Before I did that the trailer had a tendency to rock a bit (especially as you went in the door - it's just the angles). By putting a pair of jacks on the front, the trailer ends up on 4 legs and it's not going anywhere. Gives you an absolutely rock solid platform. I'd only bother dropping the back jacks if I was on the road and wanted to get a quick getaway in the morning though.
mike-Consider using your rechargeable drill with the proper bit in it for raising and lowering. Recharge the drill while rolling with an inverter.
Pete and Rats
DITO CHARLES WATTS MESSAGE,good work and a good story with it,
Mike Watters, is that you in your avatar getting eaten by a vacuum or an octapus? That 's one bad thing about those avatars, they are so little you can't see the people. I can say yours is original.
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