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Old 11-07-2019, 10:25 AM   #1
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Default New Member - Old (1983) Hi-Lo

So, just bought an '83 Voyager (25L) for $100.

The positives: solid frame and good tires (pulls amazingly well), LP and electrical all work (AC, furnace, lights, etc.), original stove, new power converter, and it even raises and lowers perfectly.

The negatives: leaky roof / wall damage, pinholes in the siding, couple of small patch jobs, couple of broken windows, and missing awnings, and seriously outdated cosmetics.

My wife and I have done construction most of our lives and I've been around campers just as long, I'm actually looking forward to winter being done and getting to work on my new project. Unfortunately, we're in Iowa so a short, mild winter is a rarity around here.

As planning / design decisions and work goes on in the restoration, I'll post here, pics included.
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Old 11-07-2019, 12:44 PM   #2
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Welcome, Shamrock - sounds like you've got yourself a "project"!

A lot of folks on the forum have done similar work to what you have in store for you. While you're waiting for winter to end, look through the forum for ideas and tips that will help you.

- Jack
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Old 11-07-2019, 11:33 PM   #3
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Default Welcome to the forum.

Jack is right. Many of us have done major repairs. Work on the roof first and get it rebuilt/leak free. Take out all your windows and reseal with butyl tape and Lexel caulk. The frames can be taken to a glass shop for glass replacement. When the windows are out it will give you a snapshot view on the condition of your wall layers.
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Old 11-08-2019, 08:18 AM   #4
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Jack & Usagi --

My wife found the camper online and talked the seller down to $100 but it was a "pick it up today" deal. On the hour drive to check it out, my mind was pretty much made up (we were going to buy it because even if it were a lost cause, I could still scrap it out for more than the buying price).

Once I had a chance to chat with the seller, he informed me it was "stuck in the raised position" and had been for a couple of months since he bought it. A quick hook up with jumper cables to the motor and it was lowered. The whole trip home, I actually felt bad for the guy considering how long it's been since I've even seen a Hi-Lo and suddenly, I was bringing one home with most of the systems were functional.

Not being a patient person, the long winters are one horrible for me. Knowing the roof was number 1 priority and the snow was coming soon (2 days after we brought it home), after checking the water tanks and lines, my wife and I power washed the camper and put a tarp over her for the long winter nap.

I spent a few hours reading through the posts on here pulling all of the combined experience I could, made a lot of notes and started prepping for Spring. The preliminary list (which will almost certainly be changing the more we dig into this project) goes like this:

Patch and seal top of roof, remove any rotted / soft wood, gut the interior (for better access to the ceiling and walls), remove ceiling (panels and foam), remove windows, remove damaged walls (panels and foam), check / repair / brace steel framing, double check lights and all electrical systems (rewiring as needed), fix exterior patches, repair + weatherize windows, then (finally) start putting it all back together.

Once the interior is mostly back together and functional, then we'll be working on the cosmetics...

I've also been making a list of products others have given positive reviews on here, not sure about a couple of things though.

- What kind of panels have people used for the ceiling? We'd rather not use regular 8x4 panels from a box store and were trying to think of something creative.

- Has anyone here used countertop sheets for a bathroom all covering or backsplash? I found an awesome sheet that's used as a replacement covering for countertops. It's waterproof and comes as large as 5'x12' which is not only bigger than I need but would mean I would only have seams in corners. It's also non-porous and really easy to keep clean.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sorry for the wall of text but, I tend to over explain things (which drives my wife nuts, haha!).
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Old 11-14-2019, 05:23 PM   #5
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Welcome, Shamrock;

Don't worry about over-explaining. You get the best responses by being clear and detailed.

You are taking on quite a project, but if you are willing to do the work you got a heck of a deal. I find one has to enjoy working on an RV as a hobby to at least some extent if you are going to own one.

I intended to have a shop go thru my 1999 when I bought it four years ago, but they were backlogged 6 weeks. So I started working on it myself and it never did get to the shop. But when you know it intimately you are prepared for whatever may come along.

Best of luck
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Old 11-14-2019, 08:03 PM   #6
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Hey Shamrock!
Nice to know someone else has the courage to take on the restoration/updating of an 83 Voyager 25L. The generous and knowledgeable HiLo community that share this site have been an amazing resource and helped us many times on our project. We thought we were in for a one summer long cosmetic rebuild. We bought ours from the second owner, a master car mechanic who rebuilt the key systems. I'm a product designer....what could be easier? We bought it in the fall of 2016 and are still tinkering with it, making an ongoing list of more improvements every time we take it camping. I'm not on this site regularly, but I'll help you any way I can.
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Old 11-19-2019, 12:31 AM   #7
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anchorwood,

Glad my over-explaining is welcome here. haha! I've worked on a few friends' older campers and boats over the years (just never my own) so this should be a case of "same, but different." I've been a "jack-of-all-trades" for years so I've got the skill sets for the various projects it's just harder to find the time now that the weather has started to turn colder. Fortunately, the company my father-in-law works at, the manager has said I can use the truck bay (for semis) on weekends as long as I ask permission in advance. Definitely going to put that use this winter...

I agree having any type of "toy" (RV, camper, etc.) leads an owner to either learn how t repair / perform upkeep. Otherwise, a person might as well just rent one, which has a lot less satisfaction for someone like myself.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mike in MN,

I'm in Iowa... Small world, eh? I've been reading as much of other members' renovations / modifications as possible but I don't have a lot of time on here either. (Work, family, and the holidays coming quickly take up a lot of my personal time lately. Not complaining, just being factual...)

As I mentioned above, I've worked on campers and boats for friends but, this camper is probably the most "techie" system I've ever worked on. (Never worked on the clamshell design before so I'm learning as I go.) Wow, 3+ years of tinkering on your '85 Voyager... Kind of making me nervous since I basically know what kind of work is needed to get mine in usable shape. Either it's courage or "not knowing what I don't know." Hopefully, we don't find too many surprises, right?

So far, we completely emptied the tanks / weatherized, removed the AC cowl, patched pinholes in the roof; put on 3 coats of roof sealant (2 thin and 1 thick) and replaced the AC cowl. Hopefully, that's enough to get it through the winter.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For anyone who has tips / tricks / suggestions:

Please leave them here or link them... I'm very happy for any / all help from the community! Thanks!

If you don't have personal experience and just want to give moral support... I've never turned that down either.
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Old 11-19-2019, 10:15 PM   #8
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Hey Shamrock...

My turn for a bit of a novel.

Yes, 3 years of short summer weekends and long winters up here in Minnesota. Add in a few non-camping family vacations, weddings, funerals, spouse surgeries, multi-week business trips, and unexpected job hunting and suddenly all that time you thought you could dedicate to your project becomes very sporadic and limited. That’s life.

Just when we feel we should be done there’s always something else to tweak. Finally replaced the water pump just before winterizing (super easy upgrade!). You’d think those things would last more than 36 years, huh?

Smart move -- starting with patching the roof and sealing it. Our roof was pretty solid until this year and we did the same project. Wish we had done it sooner as a precaution. It was not as big of a job as I thought it would be.

We towed our 25ft ‘83 Voyager L home and checked the systems as we cleaned it up, took lots of pics and notes, winterized it and put it under a tarp, too. I knew NOTHING about restoring an RV ( much less a HiLo) so I was constantly researching and learning as we moved forward.

Started working on the interior during the fall & winter months. Peeled the tarp away from the end windows for ventilation, installed a CO2 detector, fire extinguishers and used a space heater (with more safety features than I can mention) and a to-do list a mile long.... LED lighting, backsplashes, RV primer and paint, replace warped countertops, door seals, fuses, windows, shades, fixed cabinet door issues, stove vent fan, replaced the foam in the cushions and much more. It’s all the little stuff that takes the most time. Didn’t get it all done the first winter, but made a huge dent in that list. At least it was functional and kind of presentable by Spring.

In Spring our HiLo got new galvanized sport wheels and tires. Get the best tires you can afford. Have them balanced and while you’re at it, repack the bearings and check the axles and the brakes.

Next we took it on a few short shake down trips... one close by, one a few hours away. Noted everything that still needed to be done and put it in priority order. Figured out how long our fresh water would last, how long the battery would last, figured out the tank monitors and the dump station process, etc. We had a lot of fun camping too!

During those early trips I realized that I had been so focused on the interior that the exterior still looked like an old beater (it needed serious help!). So the exterior became our next Summer priority. More planning, more patching, prepping and painting. Yes, we re-painted our camper from frame to roof. Lots of little stuff too...new end caps for the bumper and the grey/black water drain, tail light and running light bulbs, more work on the frame (rusting battery support shelf — not good). Installed a sway controller too. Scrubbed the awning within an inch of its long life, replaced the missing locking pins and got it working smoothly.

BTW.. Now when we pull into a campground, we draw an old school RV’er crowd. They give us lots of compliments and ask tons of questions (especially the airstreamers). They say it looks like a brand new rig and keep asking us if they are manufacturing HiLos again like ours. And their kids just want to see the top raise and lower. We should charge admission!

All that hard work will be worth it!

You’ll get it all done in your own time. Your project priorities will probably change like ours did. Just take your time and before you know it you’ll be enjoying your HiLo on camping trips like the rest of us! Hope our paths cross someday. Reach out with any questions you may have and Happy Thanksgiving.

Best of luck!
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