My inherited Irwin's Kamper. 1966

Discussion in 'Vintage & Off The Wall Campers' started by Mende, May 17, 2020.

  1. Mende

    Mende New Member

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    My grandparents bought this in late 1966 or early 1967. The title says Irwi (sic) 1966, and the VIN is 301D. The Popup Camper History site tells me it was made by Kamp-craft in Greensburg, KS. My grandparents both passed away 1991, and my uncle inherited the camper. He did nothing with it except let it sit in his yard under tree cover for 12 years, so he gave it to us. We cleaned off the black gunk from the oak trees, and my husband did a little tinkering with the lights, but we didn't have the extra $$$ for the replacement of the canvas, so it's been sitting in our yard for 17 years. Bought a new 4x4 this past week, and I nudged my husband that the new truck would be great for pulling the camper cross country. He hooked it up to the hitch and hauled it into the workshop. I'm hoping for lots and lots of good advice from everyone because it's going to need a lot of work. It's a fiberglass body, and the roof is warped and cracked. Water will wick through the fiberglass, but remarkably, the interior of the camper was mostly dry, and the woodwork only needs repaired in a couple of places. We've got a good background in restoring old things. We live in a 150-year-old farmhouse that we restored after it sat vacant for 25+ years. Compared to that, this camper is a piece of cake!
    This project is super sentimental to me since I grew up camping with my grandparents in this popup. I spent 2-3 weeks a year for 17 years 20200515_213759.jpg 20200515_213759.jpg 20200515_211937.jpg 20200515_211928.jpg 20200515_222451.jpg IMG_6268.jpg IMG_6267.jpg 20200515_214140.jpg 20200515_201406.jpg 20200515_201350.jpg 20200515_201331.jpg camping with them, plus the times my parents borrowed it for our own camping trips. My grandma's camping dishes and silverware and my grandpa's aluminum tackle box were preserved inside. My grandma's clothes pin bag was even in there with clothes pins inside. It has been very much like opening a time capsule, and I've already had to pull out the Kleenex box!
    I'm including pictures of the camper from when it was new in addition to the work we are doing on it, now.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2020
  2. Mende

    Mende New Member

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    [ 20200515_233328.jpg 20200515_233222.jpg 20200516_000737.jpg 20200515_235105.jpg 20200515_235050.jpg 20200515_235027.jpg 20200515_221641.jpg 20200516_000746.jpg
     
  3. Overland

    Overland Active Member

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    Excellent.. thanks for sharing the back story. Look forward to watching this progress..

    Might want to keep the canvas for templates, I can vouch for the quality of canvasreplacements.com
     
  4. Mende

    Mende New Member

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    We've already sent the old canvas to Bear Creek. I couldn't reach anyone at Canvas Replacements after trying for a week. Al at Bear Creek has the 1970 version of my camper, so I'm hopeful that they will know just what to do. The canvas I sent isn't the original. It was made by Joplin Tent and Awning sometime in the 1980s. I wish I could get the new in the original blue, but I guess I'll have to be happy with green.
     
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  5. neighbormike

    neighbormike Well-Known Member

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    What a treasure! And a great story to go along with it! Please be sure to keep us all posted with your progress [:)C]
     
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  6. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    Have fun, great project!
     
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  7. Mende

    Mende New Member

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    A little Clorox cleanup, a little Simple Green, some scratcher pads, and elbow grease times 4 showed us some great results today.
     

    Attached Files:

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  8. Mende

    Mende New Member

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    I've been researching the best way to restore the old fiberglass, and I'd love to be able to sand, buff and polish the original fiberglass gelcoat on the body. I was pretty discouraged by all the crazing in it, but I decided to try the sanding sponge to see what would happen with the cracks. They sand out beautifully! I also discovered that the original fiberglass isn't bright white like it's always been painted. Instead, it's a lovely ivory color! It's going to take a ton of work to sand past all the paint on the whole thing, so I'm open for suggestions on ways to get the job done. I tried an orbital palm sander, but it didn't give the same results as the sanding sponge.
    My husband also started taking apart the cabinets so he can replace the subflooring, and he took off the tail lights so I can sand and repaint them. I can't believe how the lens looks brand new! 20200517_202040.jpg 20200517_202040.jpg 20200517_202001.jpg 20200517_221119.jpg 20200517_221110.jpg 20200517_213911.jpg 20200517_213851.jpg 20200517_211239.jpg 20200517_211232.jpg 20200517_221047.jpg
     
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  9. Haybale

    Haybale I'd rather be camping!!

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    Awesome to see you here, Ryan from FB!!!
     
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  10. Tronicus

    Tronicus New Member

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    Just a thought, try searching to find a forum for old boat repair. They may have some tricks of the trade on all that fiberglass. Even with all the paint off, I would guess that you will need to seal it with something. I bet those old boat guys can hook you up.
     
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  11. Mende

    Mende New Member

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    Thanks!
     
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  12. Mende

    Mende New Member

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    I've actually been reading tons on boat forums! If I decide to paint it back, I'll definitely be using marine topside paint or other quality paint for marine use. The first thing I'm planning to try is Meguiars Marine Compound followed by several coats of marine wax and lots of buffing.
    I'm unsure what to do with the roof, though. My first thought was to paint it with Flex seal since there are so many cracked places on it, and who knows how many of them will leak. I've also been reading about elastomeric "rubberized" paint like you'd use for a rubber RV roof, but idk how that would work on the fiberglass. I think the very first thing I'll do is to sand it all and fix the obvious holes with fiberglass patch, then sand everything smooth, again. Two-part polyurethane seems to be the choice for painting fiberglass boats, so I'm thinking that might be my best bet. Maybe I'll get brave enough to join a boat forum and post for advice.
     
  13. Tronicus

    Tronicus New Member

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    I would absolutely join a forum or two and ask. I would be willing to guess there are much better options than flex seal out there for what you are doing!
     
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