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Open Roads Forum  >  Travel Trailers

 > Total rebuild, lots of pictures and advice needed

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Posted: 10/05/11 11:16pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Over the Summer while I had less than 20 projects going I bought an 1977 Road Ranger 18' TT.

This is an upgrade from our TC that I MADE fit our Tundra a few years back. We now have 2 dogs and we want some room to read and such.
I also go on a lot of 3-4 day ski trips starting as the season opens till it closes.

We purchased "Diddums" for $800 knowing he would need lots of work.

As the weather cooled I started in on him this week.

These are all I have for original picks





we we saw this in a local guys yard we knew all 4 corners were bad.


Notice how low the black and Grey tanks are, I'll be removing the Grey and switching the black from E-W configuration to N - S, and the added 4"+ from going SOA will help also.

Above front window was ZERO structure, lots of rot.

EVERY marker light had water streaks on wood and a few even sported some algae[emoticon]

2 14" vents, the one not in the bathroom was history, new 2x4 all the way across

The WX started turning for the worse, I needed to strip the roof so it could fit into my garage
94 3/4" to seam at the top of the door frame

95+ to top of camper

This should help out, WOW old tires, lots of cracks, they MAY be OEM

looks to be VERY tight

Bonus was a few chewed up wires

Things to ponder:
(We are adding 2 bunks so 4 adults can sleep comfortable, a couch/ bed and a fold down from the roof shelf bed.

*We are dropping the shower, for the VERY few time we may use it, we will still have the outside shower, but usually spending $5-7 at a truck stop is the best.

*We will have a 23 gal VS the 45 gal fresh H2O tank it came w/.

*adding a 7 gal RV anti freeze tank for the toilet in the winter

*110V drier for wet ski clothes

*Plan on running a 5K generator "in a box" in the back of TV inside topper shell.

*Ditching poor functioning Magic chef and getting Engel portable 40.

?? will 4 adults on one side mess it all up does it have to be 2 per side.

How much will I miss the shower

Any reason for attempting to "duct" air around a 18' TT

Has anyone ever added some steel to strengthen the roof up a bit, perhaps even the entry door frame.

That is all for now on day 3 have all sides stripped of alum, working on material list and local used parts sourcing.

Thanks for your time.


05 Tundra 4x4

1977' Road Ranger, Diddums is in action.


Calgary Alberta Canada

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Joined: 12/12/2003

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Posted: 10/06/11 12:54am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Big project! [emoticon]

If you need some input and guidance, check out my website where I totally rebuilt a rotten old 81 Citation.

Link is in my sig.

2007 GMC 3500 dually ext. cab 4X4 LBZ
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1997 Triple E Topaz 27' Bunkhouse TT


Fulltime, CA, USA

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Joined: 08/19/2003

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Posted: 10/06/11 01:41am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator


I think I would want the generator in the trailer, so that when you are out running around in the truck, or away from the trailer, you can still run the generator.

Why not use a Olympic Catalytic Heater?

I would not want such a small fresh water tank, especially if you plan on dry camping. You are really limiting yourself, but if weight is a huge concern - it will help reduce the weight.

Once the trailer is level, then 4 people - 700 - 800 pounds move to sleep on one side, it might change the level, and then the refrigerator will not be level anymore. Because the ammonia needs to return to the boiler for it to work correctly, front to back level is a little more critical than side to side level. So putting two bunks on each side makes more sence to me.

Or one bunk near the end wall, and another in sort of a L shape?

In my motorhome, I ordered it with 3 captains chairs (drivers and passenger in the front, with a third chair 4' behind the passenger seat, and dinette table that folds up agaist the wall while traveling) because the dinette is so uncomfortable in most RV's. Since you are going a little un-conventional, might look into alternative seating too. How about one bunk being about 20" off the floor, with a thick pad against the wall, so it acts like the back of a couch? Perhaps something that can fold out, or fold away, and when folded out might provide a little storage space?

I have a 6,000 Btu Olympic Catalytic heater, it keeps my well insulated 30' Bounder toasty warm when it is around 30F outside, and I run the furnace a small amount if it is coler than that. This saves a lot on battery power. It helps that I have Maxx Air covers on the vents, so no rain/snow can get in, and I can leave them open all the time.

Fantastic fan in the bathroom is a great idea.

You might want to mount the batteries in a warmer than normal location, also away from theifs. This will assist in their best output on winter nights. Or consider AGM batteries, that do not require any venting, can be mounted in a warm area, such as under the dinette or couch.

Yes I would run small ductwork to each room in the 18' trailer, and run ducts away from the furnace, so that the cold air is directed back, and it all gets mixxed up. You can use 4" dryer vent hose, or something similar. I would not bother insulating the ductwork, that is sort of pointless, as you actually want the heat out of the ductwork.

Stove with a oven has always been my choise. Baking cornbread or broil toast, my favorite uses for the oven. Not to mention a pizza stone can be used to make Pizza, then the heat from the oven will help warm the RV for a short time.

Good luck on your project. You might need some 4 wheel dollies to get the RV back out of the garage once finished. Just put those in the area that the tires used to be in. Looks like you will need new tires anyway.



The Keystone State

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Posted: 10/06/11 04:26am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It shouldn't take you long to finish the rebuild. You have plenty of time if you have less than 20 projects going. [emoticon]
Good luck and keep us updated. I like to see the older units restored.



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Posted: 10/06/11 04:53am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We use the shower in our TT all the time. In my case I would miss it.

Keep going, and keep us updated!

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2004 21' Forest River Surveyor


Houston, Texas, USA

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Posted: 10/06/11 05:07am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I'd like to know how much all of this costs compared to buying a newer unit that needed no work.

Good luck on this very interestiung if mammoth task.

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Posted: 10/06/11 05:37am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Sometimes folks have more money and labor in rebuilding those old clunkers than they will ever be worth. Have you put a pencil to actual costs vs what the trailer will be worth when completed.

Others have had second thoughts after running the actual numbers on costs vs what the old trailer would be worth when completed.

However if your just looking for a 'project' then you picked a tough one. Good luck.

"good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment" ............ Will Rogers

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Pacific Northwest

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Posted: 10/06/11 07:13am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

That's amazing...my hat is off to you for tackling a project like that. It wouldn't be for me...

I would much rather be using my rig most of the time, rather than working on it.

You must have just wanted a project and must enjoy that kind of thing, because otherwise it makes no sense (at least to me) given the fact that you probably could buy an very decent, functional unit for much less than what you will spend rehabbing that one.

Good luck with it and post pictures of the progress and finished project.

"If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane."

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Wilmington, NC

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Posted: 10/06/11 07:45am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I agree with questioning the financial gain of this project, but again, I admire you for tackling it....it will be fun![emoticon]
As for sleeping 4 adults to one side...if you've got the leveling jacks set, the TT should be pretty stable, so it won't matter.

I'd consider keeping the inside shower...even if you make the bathroom into a shower, with drain in floor area, the way many TCs have it. You plan to do quite a bit of winter camping (skiing), and you won't want to take any outside showers then! And just because you don't plan on using it, doesn't mean that you won't need it some time.

Keep those pictures coming....we love pictures[emoticon]

Bill & Claudia / DD Jenn / DS Chris / GS MJ
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Calgary, Alberta

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Posted: 10/06/11 08:40am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Interesting project.

For winter boondocking, building is probably the way to go.

Showers... Depends if the space could be used better for something else. Like storage or a wet winter clothes drying area. AND if there's available showers. It's been a while since I've downhill skied, but is there showers you can use at the hill? Or are you talking X-country skiing?

Also, I would look at getting rid of some windows. Like the the small one by the bunk. And possibly others. Less holes = less heat loss. ALSO, I would spend time to make sure the wiring is fixed properly, and then spray foam the walls & roof. Possibly even the floor, although I'd use conduit or something for the wires.

I like the smaller fresh water tank idea. That way you can make sure it's insulated properly. also, you can always carry extra water in the truck if need be.

My #1 concern would be keeping that trailer as heat efficient as possible. & I'd look at hardpiping in a proper catadyne heater (like big buddy) but in a location that it is Permanent & out of the way. Or a battery bank capable of running the furnace all night w/o the gennie.

Should be a neat project. I've always wanted to re-build a trailer.

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