New to me 96 Coleman Niagra. What needs to be done to get ready?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Repairs & Maintenance' started by dbhost, Nov 5, 2019.

  1. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    So the camper is nearly mine. A 96 Coleman Niagra a friend of mine has worked a barter with me on, his Dad bought it new in 96 and aside from things like keeping the tanks going right, replacing stuff when it breaks, new tires etc... not much in maintenance has been done. Looking for ideas on what I need to do in order to have it ready.

    1. The AC, Heat, Fridge, and stove work.
    2. The canvas and upholstery are clean and there is no hint of mold / mildew.
    3. The bunk ends are not easy to slide out. I am thinking maybe something gunking up the tracks?
    4. What do I need to do to insure the roof mechanisms stay working right?
    5. Pretty sure the propane tanks are original, do I need new ones? Assuming they are 20lb tanks...
    6. Nothing seems to be soft / rotty / leaky.
    7. There is a cabinet for a toilet but the toilet is missing. (Been removed for other purposes) My toilet will fit, do I need to do anything special to make sure it stays still when travelling?
    8. What do I need to do in order to get a suspension lift / larger tires under the camper to keep it from dragging on the beach or forest service roads?
    9. What inexpensive mods should I do to make the camper more functional?
    Barring any unexpected events, we are at least 1 year out from being ready to title and tow this thing so I have time to work on it as I work on getting the TV ready as well...
     
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  2. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    I would, sanitize the water system. Lube the whiffle tree, lube the axels and check the breaks( if it has them, also the break away switch). I liked having led lights inside. Clean and re waterproff the canvas. Best mod i did was the shelves over the sink. So 2 closet rods and some wire closet shelves. I got the directions from the pop up princess. Greay water tote of some sort and hose to conect to the pup. Fresh water hose, water reducer and filter. Thats a basic list! Other will add to it!
     
  3. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    What, pray tell... is a whiffle tree? Google says it is a load distributing hitch type gizmo but there isn't one as part of the trailer. Do I need one with a trailer this light?

    I was planning on cleaning and repacking the wheel bearings, and lubing / verifying the trailer brakes which I assume it has, but am not sure...

    Yeah, the LEDs are high on the mod list, as is 12V power ports added by the beds.

    Got pics of the over sink shelves? Assuming this has to be put up once the roof is up?

    Planning on using the Reliance 5 gallon flexible water tote for gray.

    Been using a regulator, filter and potable hose with tenting so far, so already got that.

    Looking forward to other ideas!
     
  4. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    not my vid, hope it helps.
     
  5. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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  6. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    The wiffle tree is part of the lift system for the top, i think you have one( i could be wrong). Check the vid above, im out for a bit, at disney!
     
  7. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    I'll be a monkeys uncle. Looks like that is a giant vise screw. I know how to lube those up! Just booger a bunch of wheel bearing grease along the way.

    The video showed an awful lot of slop in the chain between the crank handle and lower sprocket. Is there supposed to be a tensioner of any kind there?
     
  8. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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  9. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    I think you are right, there is a box like that under the trailer floor...
     
  10. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    So far, the "trailer stuff" is as follows.

    1. Stansport 4 place setting / 24pc enamel steel serviceware. Plates, bowls, mugs, and silverware.
    2. Coleman Drip coffee maker with stainless steel carafe
    3. Texsport 6pc family cook set
    4. 10.5, and 12" cast iron skillets.
    5. 2qt cast iron bean / sauce pot.
    6. Water pressure regulator, inline filter, 90 degree inlet fitting and potable water hose.
    7. 15 amp 110V GFCI / surge supressor
    8. Ikea "Grunka" 4pc utensil set.
    9. Stainless steel mixing bowl and nesting strainer
    10. Swing A Way can / bottle opener.An old one from the early 90s.
    11. Ninja Bullet blender and cups.
    12. Small stoneware bakeware
    13. Harbor Freight Tailgator generator.
    14. 5 gallon portable flush toilet.
     
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  11. Dback2k4

    Dback2k4 Active Member

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    • The AC, Heat, Fridge, and stove work
    Scrub and sanitize the fridge. Sanitize the water tanks too
    • The canvas and upholstery are clean and there is no hint of mold / mildew.
    Clean and water-seal the canvas. https://www.thepopupprincess.com/pop-up-camper-maintenance/spring-cleaning-one/
    • The bunk ends are not easy to slide out. I am thinking maybe something gunking up the tracks?
    Clean the tracks and lubricate with dry silicon spray
    • What do I need to do to insure the roof mechanisms stay working right?
    Grease the wiffle tree as others have mentioned.
    • Pretty sure the propane tanks are original, do I need new ones? Assuming they are 20lb tanks...
    I go to home depot or similar and do the exchange. That will get you new tanks that you can then refill at places like Uhaul
    • What do I need to do in order to get a suspension lift / larger tires under the camper to keep it from dragging on the beach or forest service roads?
    There are mods to "flip the axle" to get a higher lift. If the tires are more than a few years old you'll probably want to replace. Dry rot will kill trailer tires faster than tread wear.
    • What inexpensive mods should I do to make the camper more functional?
    In mine I made and installed some drop-down towel bars under the bunk ends, installed a few 12v USB outlets inside for charging phones, replaced the interior lights with LEDs (saves battery power and runs cooler so less fire risk). I also upgraded to a pair of Group 27 batteries wired in parallel with a shutoff switch for extra power when camping and to avoid the battery drain when stored. I also installed a gauge on each LP tank with an auto-switchover valve.
     
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  12. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    Okay, I am doing more reading on the rig, and I am starting to get concerned about the ABS roof. Now my PU having been family owned since new, was kept under a tarp when not used to avoid UV degredation. The top has no cracks that I have seen yet, but I haven't been over it with a fine tooth comb.

    From what I have seen it looks like folks are putting on spray on bedliner over these roofs to protect from UV once they fix them. Now mind you, good idea. But...

    Being in Texas, aside from a cracking roof, heat gain through said roof is another HUGE concern.

    Would there be any advantage to going with the bedliner stuff instead of say coating the top with Henry Tropicool?
     
  13. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    Not really scrub worthy. The fridge is definately clean and lightly used. Santize is on the schedule though. Planning on spraying down with Lysol first, once dry bleaching what little remains, and then storing it with a box of baking soda in the fridge.

    AWESOME link, Thanks...

    Something like this stuff? https://www.walmart.com/ip/3-IN-ONE-RVcare-Slide-Out-Silicone-Lube/167031702

    I would prefer it if I could find a place that does exchange that would allow me to select my tanks... But yeah, much less expensive getting exchange tanks and getting them refilled later than buying new ones.

    New tires are on the short list, I just need to figure out what size. The big thing I am trying to avoid is getting stuck on the beach, or towing to the hunters camps... If the lift is a simple spring over coversion, like they do with older solid axle leaf spring 4x4s, that is easy enough to do, just need to buy some beer and call some friends...

    Let me respond to each line here, there is a lot to chew...

    In mine I made and installed some drop-down towel bars under the bunk ends.
    - Do you mean inside, or outside the camper? I am having trouble picturing this.

    installed a few 12v USB outlets inside for charging phones,
    - I am wanting to do something similar, but I want 12V outlet ports as well as USB charging ports so I can run my CPAP at either end of the camper should I want to without running an extender.

    replaced the interior lights with LEDs (saves battery power and runs cooler so less fire risk).
    - This is an area I think really needs upgraded. Can you recommend good bulbs? I have had some 12v LEDs that were absolute garbage made by big name brands...

    I also upgraded to a pair of Group 27 batteries wired in parallel with a shutoff switch for extra power when camping and to avoid the battery drain when stored.
    - I can't afford lithiums yet, but I was planning on a pair of Group 27 AGM deep cycle batteries. The trailer is already wired with parallel group 27s with a shutoff switch. Batteries have GOT to be shot by now.

    I also installed a gauge on each LP tank with an auto-switchover valve.
    - Can you recommend the gauges / switchover valve setup? There are a TON of them out there.
    What I have found in that regard is a pair of GasSaaf gauges https://amzn.to/2CjfTLF and a FlameKing dual bottle regulator / auto switching valve set https://amzn.to/2WQwSOG. Is that the right stuff?
     
  14. 1380ken

    1380ken Well-Known Member

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    Rule number 1 with a pop up , never force anything. If the bunks are hard to move, figure out why.
     
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  15. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member

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    Because your axle is cambered a simple spring over rotation is not preferred. It will cause rapid tire wear. You can get an inexpensive kit with new spring perches and ubolts from Dexter. The perches will need to be welded to the axle if you are going to use the trailer brakes.

    Did anyone mention repacking the wheel bearings?
     
  16. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    Yep, that would be me... :)

    Need to look up that Dexter kit. And yes, I was planning on welding...
     
  17. Dback2k4

    Dback2k4 Active Member

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    Yes, that would work great. Just make sure the tracks are cleaned of all grit, dirt, sand, grime, etc. And as previously posted, after cleaning and lubricating if they still pull hard, don't force, find out what's causing the bind. Also take extra care that all of your fabric is out of the slides when moving... don't ask me how I learned that lesson :)
    I've never done it myself, just read about it.
    Outside. It's a simple rod on a rope that drops down under the bunk. Then you use a couple of those U-clamps (like you'd hang a broom handle on in a garage) to secure the rod snug against the bottom of the bunk when you push in the bunk ends.
    [​IMG].
    I used these, so they have both USB and cig-plug
    https://www.amazon.com/Marine-Grade...argid=aud-801381245258:pla-403789237887&psc=1
    I bought some cheap ones on Amazon. I bought a few extras in case one dies prematurely. So far they've held up.
    I didn't do the AGMs, just generic marine deep cycle Group 27s. Installed a cheap battery meter inside wired up to a switch as well. That way I can flip a switch and get a rough estimate of my battery usage. The switch then shuts the gauge off so the gauge doesn't drain the batteries further. I bring the batteries inside in the winter and put them on a trickle-charger to keep them healthy.
    upload_2019-11-7_11-31-18.png
    You can use any old 12v gauge. Some prefer the ones with an actual voltage readout and know the ranges of 12v. This one just reads 0%, 25%, 50%, 75% and full. Useful for others I camp with that doesn't know the 12v ranges. I also toyed with getting one of those and tacking a laminated chart next to it.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    upload_2019-11-7_11-41-29.png
    Just keep in mind that if you're plugged into shore power it will always read full even if it's not. Because a 12v charger works by putting about 14v on the line so the battery charges (similar to an alternator in a car), thus giving a "false reading"

    These are what I used, one on each tank
    https://smile.amazon.com/Indicator-...r_1_2?keywords=lp+gauge&qid=1573147594&sr=8-2
    Then attached to this for the auto-switchover
    https://smile.amazon.com/Flame-King...ds=lp+switch+over+valve&qid=1573147642&sr=8-2
    upload_2019-11-7_11-30-44.png

    To your post about the roof, my advice is "If it ain't broke don't fix it." If your roof hasn't started cracking or delaminating in 20+ years it's not likely to in the next 5. There are differing opinions on this forum about covering or not covering a popup (keeping moisture and UV off versus letting heat build up underneath. Personally I would use a car-port type of canopy to protect it while allowing for plenty of air circulation.

    Oh, one other piece of advise, check your carbon monoxide/LP leak detector alarm. If yours hasn't been replaced in the last 5-8 years, replace it. They're about $100 online. They do have expiration dates.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
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  18. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    @Dback2k4

    There is presently on mine, a plate accross the tongue that the battery boxes bolt to. So picture what you have there but mounted side by side with the narrow sides almost touching. There is a 1.5" piece of square tubing bracing it all and it simply bolts down in front of the LP bottle compartment. Will look into the Dozyant gauges. I have several Dozyant pieces like my splitter, and hoses. They seem to make good stuff...

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Dback2k4

    Dback2k4 Active Member

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    That's how mine was originally, but there was really only room for one battery in there. I removed that bracket and built my own custom plate for the battery box that extended out across the driver side (to leave room for the swing-down jack) and mounted my own battery box.
     
  20. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, if I recall correctly, my friends Dad built the plate, basically made one wide enough for both batteries. It is kind of stupid wide, but it seems to work, never gets smashed by the bumper of the TV so I guess it's good...
     
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