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Jim & Susan 01-08-2005 09:06 PM

Doin' the Full Monte
Ok Guys, We bought a '73 Overlander a couple of months ago. We've decided to do a complete renovation. We have all of the interior out from the bath forward (rear bath). We knew going in that there was a problem with the water system. The PO had pulled a new water line from the back of the coach to the galley area. We hadn't had much of view until today when we started gutting things for real.
For whatever reason, the PO has completly bypassed the holding tank and was apparently using just city water. We have not had the opportunity as yet to completely look at the hot water tank situation. I do know that it works, at least in some rudimentary way.
Here's the thing. In removing the stove/sink/galley area, and accessing the holding tank area underneath, a truely WEIRD smell seems to be coming from the holding tank. It smells almost like evergreen (Pinesol?) or possible some other cleaning agent. It really makes you think that the fresh water holding tank has been contaminated in some way. We are new to the RV world (but not to camping). Is ther any possibilty that this is just the smell of some sanitizing agent or should I not take the chance and "spend the bucks, do it right the first time" and buy a new one.
After spending many hours on the forum over the past few months, i know someone will have an answer. Appreciate help in advance. Jim

whistler 01-08-2005 10:34 PM

Buy a new tank. 25 gallon tank can be picked up for $100 or less. I wouldn't take the chance. Good luck on the monte. :)


wahoonc 01-09-2005 06:45 AM

If you are going to be removing the tank completely, that will allow for inspection of the fittings and perhaps give you a better idea of what was used in it, and if that is where the odor is really coming from. FWIW we had a SOB that had a somewhat funky odor that was coming from under the kitchen area, I orginally though it was a LP leak, but it turned out to be a critter carcase :eek: Once it was removed and the area thoroughly scrubbed down, the odor went away. Replacement would certainly take care of most issues...

Aaron :cool:

Over59 01-09-2005 07:03 AM

You're already worried and you are along way from hooking up a freash water tank. Figure out the layout, functional requirements (ie. gallons), and you will likly find you want a new tank whether. You're sure it's a freash water tank under the sink? :confused: I thought freshwater was always up front under the window for balance. Maybe it was used for something other than water and they needed to get rid of the smell. :eek:

We all love to watch the full monty :D :D :D

wahoonc 01-09-2005 08:35 AM


Originally Posted by Over59
You're already worried and you are along way from hooking up a freash water tank. Figure out the layout, functional requirements (ie. gallons), and you will likly find you want a new tank whether. You're sure it's a freash water tank under the sink? :confused: I thought freshwater was always up front under the window for balance. Maybe it was used for something other than water and they needed to get rid of the smell. :eek:

We all love to watch the full monty :D :D :D

Somewhere along the line in the 70's the freshwater tanks were moved to under the floor just ahead of the axles. Still helps the balance if you fill them. Now why they couldn't figure that out about the black and grey tanks is beyond me... they had to stick those at the extreme rear of the unit which led to a host of other issues.

Aaron :cool:

Jim & Susan 01-09-2005 01:37 PM

Hi Guys, It's me again. Oh yes, there's no doubt this oder is coming from the fresh water holding tank itself. Once I got the galley out, I removed the fresh water filler tube that feeds the tank from the curbside exterior inlet(as part of removing the galley area for the Monte). The oder was, while not tremendous, VERY noticable. If you sniff the tube coming up from the tank, the oder is focused in the filler tube neck. (Insert your joke here!) I think the best thing to do here is simply replace the tank. As Whistler said, below, Why take the chance? As soon as I get a little better organized, electronically, I'll be posting some pictures. Thanks for the help! Jim

Stefrobrts 01-09-2005 02:27 PM

If you can afford to replace it, I say do so. We use our freshwater tank a lot while travelling, and I would not want to chance there having been something nasty in there that might stay with the plastic even after running the bleach solution through it. After all, that's your drinking water!

Jim & Susan 02-10-2005 08:15 PM

Ready to Rip
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Hi Guys, it's me again.

Ok, So we're about to begin taking the interior skins down. I have a few questions before we begin.

1) How essential is it that we have the trailer COMPLETELY level before we remove the skins? I know I need to support the aft end of the camper with jacks to avoid bending things....but we have leveled the trailer using the on-board levels on the forward end and the trailer still "looks" out of level. I intend to borrow an 8 foot level this weekend and check the true level of the camper, in as much as that is possible with an 8 foot level.

BTW, the reason we're completely removing the skins is three fold--water leaks, the plywood "sub-floor" has to be completely replaced and we need to clean EVERYTHING to get the left over smells out.

2) Cleaning the skins. I have seen reference in the threads to a "purple stuff" industrial type cleaner. Does anyone have a name brand? I have a friend who is an A&P mechanic with a "major Airline" and they use it, too, but he doesn't know the brand.

3) Once the skins are down, I assume that I should not move the trailer any more than absolutely neccessary because they are part of the actual structure of the trailer, correct?

4) I have several questions about floor replacesment, but I think I'll wait a couple of weeks on those.

5) Malconium, you and I talked a couple of weeks back in another thread about painting the interior skins. I looked at a '67 Tradewind this past weekend (not for sale, darn it!) that had been painted with a flat latex some years ago. Other than the fact that it was "flat" paint, it still looked pretty good (no peeling, bubbling, etc). And this was after several years of wear. Unfortunately, the camper was parked at the home of the son of the owners who are now in their 80's and nobody could remember the specifics of when/what name brand paint, etc. This trailer appeared to have vinyl clad alum, simular to my '73. This paint was rolled/brushed on, apparently. Right now, I'm leaning toward a careful roller/brush application on mine. I would greatly appreciate input from anybody who used this approach in the past and who has several years of wear and tear to report on.

A few pictures for now. I'll be posting more in my user area. I have literally dozens of pics of the dismanteling process if anybody needs me to email them. There doesn't seem to be a lot of pics available for early '70's Overlander remodels (or maybe I'm not looking hard enough!).

Believe it or not, that Univolt actually works. I'm going to replace it with something more modern. It'll be for sale at a nominal price if anybody's interested.

Chuck 02-11-2005 12:40 PM

Someone here recommended "Castrol Super Clean" to me. available at wally-world. so I went out and bought some...they only had concentrate. but its the automotive department.

it does a fabulous job on the vinyl-clad interior skin. amazing what it took off that nothing else would touch. spray it on and just wait a second or'll see this brown guck just start oozing off the wall. even on parts that I *thought* were clean. yikes!

even made the inside of my fridge access compartment door, which looked as though it hadn't been touched since 1973, look like new. Or at least "close enough".

malconium 02-11-2005 12:56 PM

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Jim and Susan,

What is probably more important than being level is that the frame be supported so that it is straight. I suggest that you can check this out pretty easily using a long string stretched tightly from one end of the trailer to the other. Tack a block of wood such as a flat piece of 2x4 to the floor at each end of the trailer. Attach your string to the top of the blocks and pull it tight. The string should now be 1-1/2" off of the floor all the way along the trailer. If it is not you should raise or lower the back end until it is straight. You can use your 8' level side to side to make sure that both sides are aligned with each other.

I found an industrial cleaner called Spra Bryte I used to great effect. The company that makes it happens to be just down the road from our daughters house in Washington and she recommended the product. Here is their contact information:

Verax Chemical Company
Maltsy Industrial Park
P.O. Box 803 Bothell, WA 98011

My personal opinion, however, is that most any good strong house hold cleaner would work. A strong mix of Spic and Span or Simple Green for example. Just check the label to make sure it is OK for use on plastics. What you are trying to remove is basically just dirt, grease, maybe smoke and maybe mold. I have only put back in the skins on the back end or our AS. I scrubbed them before I put them back in. I used a piece of indoor/outdoor carpet to lay them on the ground, got them wet with the hose and sprayed on a good dose of the cleaner (mixed about 4 to 1 water to cleaner) with a small pump up garden sprayer I bought expressly for all the cleaning I expect to do on the AS. I then used a small floor buffer that we have with scrub brushes to throughly scrub the surface. The panels cleaned up just fine except for the natural yellowing of the vinyl after 30+ years. I have attached a photo of the back end. There is a spot showing below the window where I managed to get some of the black roofing adhesive that I have been using to attach the foil insulation in the walls. I need to go over the spot again with mineral sprits to finish removing the black glop. Otherwise they cleaned up pretty good in my opionion.

The attached photos show a shot of what my AS looked like before I started work on it, another with the skins all off and the floor out. There is one showing the jacks and supports that I am using. The last couple show the foil insulation and then the end skins all back on. I too have a bunch more photos that I have not posted anywhere on the forums. I can if anyone is interested.


Jim & Susan 02-12-2005 11:22 AM

Malcom & Chuck, Thanks so much for the reply. I had intended to get started on this today, but other things to do. I'll keep y'all up to date. And thanks again for the great info!

Jim & Susan 02-20-2005 09:21 PM

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Hi guys. Thought y'all might find this interesting. Got all of the interior skins and insulation out this weekend between the end caps. Man, does this always take longer than you think it will? Figured out (the hard way) that when you remove the skins, you need to remove the center ceiling skin first and then work your way down toward the floor. The insulation was a very itchy exercise. And I think I'm well on my way to getting the strange smells out of there. Hopefully this week, the end caps. Next week, the floors come up. Then we can FINALLY begin to rebuild things.

Chuck and Malcolm gave me some great ideas on how to clean the skins. Any suggestions on what to use to clean behind the skins (i.e. the interior of the walls consisting of the Aluminum ribs and interior side of the outside Alclad)? Presumably the "purple stuff" is safe on the "raw" aluminum.

Take care. Lots more pictures behind the walls of a '73 if anybody needs any.


PizzaChop 02-21-2005 06:09 AM

Removing Overhead Skin

North Georgia greetings from someone who has only done the bathroom portion of what you're doing.

Since you've recently done it, how did you remove the overhead section of the interior? I have a couple of leaks that I'm quite sure are coming from the top but would like to be sure and it seems like removing the center overhead would be the quickest way to tell.

Good work, keep it up, and watch out for the reassembly depression that sometimes sets in!

Jim & Susan 02-21-2005 08:45 AM

Hello Ron. Good to hear from you. The center skin is actually easy to remove. Simply drill out the rivits, then start at one end of the panal and "bow" it down toward the floor and it will pop out. A couple of words of caution. ALL of the electrical (12v and 110v) lines run down this part of the ceiling and feeds the sides sides of the camper. Also, it takes about three guys to hold this thing up after the rivets come out. It's not heavy, just long and very flexible. I'll write more and send more pictures tonight.


Stefrobrts 02-21-2005 10:14 AM

Wow, I'm so glad the operation on the Caravel wasn't that extensive! You go!

Oh, and just to be helpful, I found softscrub and a bristle brush did a great job on the interior vinyl.

malconium 02-21-2005 12:56 PM


I first used a stiff brush that I think was originally for installing wall paper to brush off the insulation residue from the inside of the outer skins. I later used a bucket and sponge to clean off the inside of the outer skins when I decided they needed a bit more than just the brushing. I am still not entirely sure that was actually necessary though. I spent about $10 to buy a small pump up garden sprayer that has been great for applying cleaner to large areas. When your floor is out you might not mind using a garden hose to wash off the soap. Also I have a wet-dry shop vacuum cleaner that has been invaluable for the remodeling process. You could spray on cleaner, hose it off and then vacuum the water out of any place that it collects. Be careful if you decide to use a presure washer. I understand that the more powerfull ones can dent the aluminum.

I am glad to hear that you were able to get your center section out without too much trouble. Mine put up a real fight. It seems that it had been taken out before and someone had wedged extra aluminum strips in to keep it tight. One thing that did help was to spray in some silicon lubricant along the track to help it slip out more easily.

I hope you are taking lots of photos as to what things looked like before you removed them. Also I am very glad that I labeled all my inner skins. It has been long enough since I took them out that I needed those labels to help me find the right pieces. I found that it was a good idea to put labels on the back side of the panels that indicate which edge is on top and which one is underneath. When I put my back end cap panels in place I found that the upper panels and the end cap all lapped on top of the lower panels. It was just the opposite for the skins in the front area for some reason. I also used masking tape to put tags on all the wires as I disconnected things. I imagine that you may be as suprised as I was about just how much wiring there is inside the walls of an AS.

I hope all goes well from here. You have undertaken a large task which I am still in the middle of myself. This last weekend I finished installing the end cap and wall panels in the front of my AS. I also installed a piece of aluminum over the place where the water heater used to be in my AS. I am going to move the water heater elsewhere and decided to cover up the hole. It seems to have worked and it is barely noticeable that there was a hole there before.

Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions about removing the floor and etc. I may possibly be the only person in the forums that has replaced his floor twice in one remodeling cycle. The first time I used presure treated plywood not realizing that it should not be in contact with aluminum. I had to take it all out and did the job again using Polyboard. Have you read all the details that I posted about the process? Is there anything I can help you with? Just let me know.


Jim & Susan 02-21-2005 03:52 PM

I think I'll respond to y'all one at a time. Let me say, once again, I REALLY appreciate all the help and encouragement!

Jim & Susan 02-21-2005 04:07 PM

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Don, If my explanation wasnít good enough, let me know. I have read a lot on this site prior to beginning all of this and I have indeed seen your posts and pictures, previously. Looks like you did a 4.0 job on that bath! I removed all of the inner skins over the weekend and immediately afterwards the rains came last night. I have identified several leaks so far. You are correct, leaks do indeed occur underneath that center panel. I found one on the center vent (pictures below) and there is one near the rear vent somewhere, but I havenít found it yet. Also, other leaks were found. Two around the door, one on the fridge vent, one on a POP rivet over the door that extends to the outside skin ( I have no idea why there is a pop rivet through the outer skin) and believe it not, the fresh water fill tube next to the door leaks into the fresh water tank (presumably, the seal is shot around the fill door). Iíll keep you postedÖ.

By the way, where is Danielsville?

Jim & Susan 02-21-2005 04:15 PM

Interior removed
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Steph, Thanks for the words of encouragement! When you say Softsrub, I assume you mean the name brand of the same name? Also, youíll get a kick out of this picture. This is what the interior looks like once it has been fully removed!

Stefrobrts 02-21-2005 04:48 PM

Wow, that's what my living room looks like - only I'm so glad it's only a 17ft trailer. I'd never get a 27 ft interior in there! Looks like you don't have much room left to work :)

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