March 10, 2021

The Catalina - Part 1

Well, she's finished.  So many of you have been with us on this unexpectedly longer than we thought adventure of remodeling our second camper, and  many of you have so many questions about it.  

If you want to know on. If you just want to see the pretty stuff, that will be in part 2!

As most of you know we are relatively new to the camping world.  We purchased our first pull behind travel trailer last July.  We had a blast in our 22ft. hybrid, but after about 6 months of camping, we knew that something bigger would be perfect (or at least I thought something bigger would be perfect - Mike would be fine in a tent).

Shortly after our New Year's camping trip we started looking (seriously) at bigger campers.  We knew (ish) what we wanted and found a few contenders.  We were really in no rush, but thought we would just look around.  We headed out to look at one which we turned down, and were ready to go home.  Then, the seller said, "Well, let me show you this one."

We walked into the Coachmen Catalina and it was everything that we were looking for.  Great condition (we thought), very clean, perfect floor plan and not that old (2011).  We were told that we would have to replace the awning and that there was a leak near the slide.  We somewhat inspected it and ended up buying it "as is".  We thought..."Well, we have flipped an entire house, Mike is super handy, this won't be that bad."


After we got it home and up our driveway (still not sure how that happened) and after almost killing ourselves getting the ripped  awning off, we started exploring the inside.  

The first look (above).


The initial problem (above) was a leak in the slide, which we thought was pretty much the main spot we were really going to have to focus on.

Boy were we wrong.

After further inspection we realized we were doomed.  Soooo much more of the floors/walls were damaged than we ever thought...including the framing under the sub-floor.

It felt like demo day turned into demo week(s).  Every time we would think we were ready to start putting the pieces back together we would find something else that was rotten.  Talk about deflating.

The trash... and hits... kept coming.  What started as a small corner of the slide and then bled into the main walkway, we quickly learned had also spread to the bunk room floor and walls due to a second leak we had no idea about.

Everything, and I mean pretty much everything had to come out.  
I cried for the first two weeks and Mike worked trying to make sense of it all.

Everyone kept asking us, "Do you think the guy you bought it from knew how bad it was?  Will you take legal action? "  

The honest answer is, I truly don't think he knew how bad it was, I don't think he was a bad guy and, honestly, we should have done a better job inspecting the entire camper before pulling the trigger.  LESSON LEARNED - for sure!

We ended up hiring two men, a handyman and a carpenter to help with the framing and structural aspects and we did everything else.

Above: New bunk room framing, before sub floor was replaced.

Above: New sub floor - we can walk in the camper again at this point!

Our garage began to look like a wood shop and after about 3 weeks we were ready to finally start the "fun stuff".

Once we could actually walk on the floors again, we started on the visual transformation.  There was not a single surface (seriously) that wasn't cleaned, sanded,  scraped, primed and painted. 

The priming and painting was never ending - but in the end it really made allll the difference in the world.

We also took out the lower cabinet on the media console and added an electric fireplace which heats the entire camper perfectly and actually saves us from running the heat (propane).  

Mike also fabricated a faux mantle above the radio to hide all of the electrical outlets and give some visual interest to the space.

We opted for two-toned kitchen cabinets (white on top and dark gray on the bottom) and then white everywhere else.  There are two different types of flooring, luxury vinyl planks in the majority of the camper and then sheet vinyl on the slide (both found at Ollie's for much better prices than HD or Lowe's - always check Ollie's first!!!).

Shiplap was added to the slide walls (we just bought the thinnest plywood we could find and then ripped it ourselves on a table saw) - which looks amazing and also hides all of the pieced together walls that had to be replaced due to wood rot.

We added new light fixtures (as long as you have the right bulbs for an RV - 12V - you can use any light fixture you want!) over the dining table and wall sconce near the couch. 

We used the same dinette pieces but changed the size to make room for a bigger couch and then re-covered the cushions with upholstery fabric, thin plywood and a staple gun.

The bunk room got a new layout, too.  We took a bed out, moved the third bunk against the back wall and also relocated the dresser which was made by Mike using pieces and parts that were taken out of the camper at the beginning of the renovation.  We also added brick paneling as the new back wall.

We added all new window coverings - cordless blinds in the bedrooms and then roll up shades (gray) in the slide area.   Because camper windows are all so short and wonky sizes we had LOTS of slats to take out of each one of the blinds (see pic above).  It was time consuming but so worth it!

The last step was giving her a final bath.  Although she is almost 10 years old, she looks like a new lady after getting some special treatment.  

We are proud, tired and can't wait to take her on our first trip this weekend!  Thanks to all who have been following this journey with us - we have needed all of the support and encouragement for this one!

Stay tuned for Part 2 to see the amazing before, during and after pictures!


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