Monday, June 23, 2008

Motorhomes are made of wood?

Well actually motorhome floors are made of wood and 44 year old wood is not that solid. So we (we being primarily Jason and his Dad) have removed the rotten wood and replaced the floor from the front of the unit to the fridge. The layer cake begins with the steel frame, like a whale rib cage, then the original plastic panel and then the new, cool, space age, thin, silver bubble wrap insulation and finally plywood. It took 2 pieces of plywood for the main floor area and another piece will be cut up to do by the front seats.

The pictures look more terrifying than they are. Myrtle is solid with good fiberglass and steel frame. However she is just really leaky! The more we rip out the more we have to rip out more! We had intended on painting the ceiling tiles but I think they will be replaced. We are also replacing all of the insulation. I found a sweet little mouse making is home up by the drivers seat. I caught him by the tail and released him in a field.

As far as I can tell these are the major things to be done; new insulation installed, new wood panelling in the front half, new tap for kitchen sink (just cause it is ugly), new front seats with shoulder straps, new dinette and new couch (these built ins were missing but I am finding some online replacements, or we may build them), and getting 2 new exterior panel access doors built, sealing the roof, removing and re-caulking all the windows, new ceiling panels, new wiring and solar panels and a good engine tune up. And sadly we will need to remove the cute little shelf above the bed as we need the precious few inches to stretch out our 6 foot and 6'3 frames. When you write it all down it looks like a total rebuild!

We got a pleasant surprise when we opened the side panel to see a brand new, not even hooked up, furnace. This will save some cash.

I removed the front signal lights as the plastic lenses are broken. I am on the hunt for suitable replacements. I also replaced the exterior door locks. (I am SURE that I picked out 2 knobs that were keyed the same at Revy but by the time I got home they were not! So that necessitated another trip to get a matching knob).

Monday, June 16, 2008


We have installed a new vent where the atrocious air conditioner was previously. Yes we know it will be a little hot box in the summer but we plan on traveling in 1964 style, with out air conditioning! The floor has been removed and we will be replacing it with new plywood and then lino.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The start of a love affair

48 hours, 2 border crossings and 1600 kms round trip. But let's start at the beginning…

Last summer, I fell in love with a 1963 old blue Dodge Travco motorhome here in Calgary. However, no matter what I tried (and I tried a LOT), the owner would not sell her to me. So I started trolling the internet for other motorhomes. I finally came across my motorhome (here after called Myrtle) in Bozeman, Montana in late fall 2007, on craigslist. She is a 1964 Dodge Motorhome (the 2nd year they were made, and before they were called Travco) and she is in better shape than the first one I saw in Calgary. She has a 318 poly motor and a push button transmission. I spent months keeping in contact with the owner ensuring him I really was going to by her as soon as all the paperwork was in order and the snow melted.

 So let's talk paperwork. The good news is that a vehicle that is over 15 years old is easier to import from the USA than a newer one. So I collected the following paper work: bill of sale, title, insurance and an info sheet. You fax that all to the sweetgrass USA border crossing 72 hours in advance. As their answering machine says, they do not take messages, they do not call you back, unless there is something wrong. So you sweat wondering if it actually got through.

Anyways back to the present time. We left Thursday March 20, 2008 after a full day of work and made it all the way to Great Falls Montana. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express which I HIGHLY recommend; super soft beds, nice linens, free wifi, free cookies, free hot breakfast! So after Great Falls we stopped in at a Target in Helena and picked up walkie talkies (we could not find one of ours at home) for the trip back. I was scoping out the elusive new toilet bowl cleaner that Method has but it was not in stock. (If you have not hear of my adoration for Method yet see them here: - life changing I say!)

Then we went down to Bozeman and met with the current owner, a young guy who obviously was also very enchanted with the lovely old girl. He is excited to see what we do with her! We bought her with a International money order (keep the receipt, you need it later!) and drove her to Helena and stayed the night in another fabulous Holiday Inn for the extra special rate of $85/night!

Then this morning we started the home stretch. The walkie talkies are great. However the old fridge (which Myrtle was now referred to as) was quite noisy. So I figured out a system, as Jason was following me I would turn on my signal and then he would know I was trying to reach him. They came in handy. It allowed us to comment on the crazy tumbleweed storm and both freak out at the SUPER realistic metal moose that some jackass thought would be funny to put on the edge of his field and send the rest of us city folk in a panic thinking it would soon bolt across the road.

Myrtle aka Big Blue Fridge as she was subzero with NO heat (poor Jason) did awesome on the trip home. No mechanical probs we just had to pull over for a windshield wiper. She is not even that bad on gas for her size. And all the Americans we met along the way were just great.

So then we hit the border. We realized as we sat in the line that we should have pulled over to see USA customs first. So I booted upstairs and saw them. All it took was on stamp on the Title and I was on my way. Then we went through the Canadian border and we completed one form and paid $250 in GST and left. Some line ups but pretty dang easy!

So now she is parked on Jason's parents acreage (family rocks). She is a little rough around the edges, has some leaks in the roof and windows and some nasty shag rug but all in all she is pretty good for 44 years old. She has all her original lamp shades except for one. She has awesome wood veneer walls, a cute stove/oven, fridge, double bed, 2 doors, swivel captain chairs up front, a bench and a table that will turn into a bed. Now don't get me wrong... she needs some love, but it is going to be a kick ass project. Now I have somewhere for my vintage mountain scene curtains, turquoise melmac dishes, my original travco dealer brochures from Ebay and my retractable laundry line. Let the reno's begin!

Check out some history and old photos of Travco motorhomes here: Jay Cronen's Travco Site 

and check out the sweet interior here (now Myrtle is a little rougher then this, to say the least): Original Brochure of the Travco Interior 

Another very comprehensive site: Travco Motorhomes