When the excitement started building for our wild adventure across the U.S, the first thing we needed to decide was the mode of transportation and style of accommodation. Without looking at our bank balance, or working out our savings, we quickly jumped onto “www.EpicSchoolBusConversions.com,” quickly realizing the school bus conversion couples you see on Instagram have used their trust funds perfectly, as the price for these buses rocket into the tens of thousands.
With school bus conversion out of the question, we scaled down to either a 1970 VW Camper or Ford Utility van. As a couple with two cars, adding a third vehicle did not exactly seem sensible, and the price range we were looking in, left us with vans that hadn’t seen the road since 1970.
After searching through all 2nd hand camper website options, from Craigslist to Ebay, our search was struggling. Then, the forces of Facebook struck. Jackie is a Facebook Market place fiend. We have found some amazing gems on this market place, but our best was yet to come.
We had finally found an accommodation style that fitted both our free spirits, and budget. We would be travelling across the U.S in a classic, majestic, vintage.. Pop-Up Camper! There, on Facebook Marketplace, was the beautiful, 1986, refurnished, collapsible camper, that we now call….. “Wanda”.
After a careful journey home with our new family member (neither of us have ever towed anything) we finally got Wanda into our driveway. Stepping back, she is truly a diamond in the rough. Let the polishing commence!
Again, we may have jumped into the pop up camper world through blind excitement without actually understanding how it all works. A few youtube videos later, some cuts and bruises we have the ultimate pop up technique. We’re like a NASCAR pit stop.
As with all tasks, the power of ‘the list’ keeps you on point as well as providing the extreme satisfaction of striking through a completed task!
First things first, lets get Wanda bathed and ready for the ball (Epic 5000+ mile adventure). We definitely had to put some muscle into it. 31 years of dirt isn’t easy to remove. We did some research and discovered many had success with 303 Mulit-serface cleaner. This is great for the canvas and vinyl without damaging the fabric. Note, this will likely strip some of the weather proofing. We planned to refresh the weather proofing anyway. (We used 303 Fabric Guard, Upolstery Protector).
You can see here the before, during and after evidence, look at that dirt!
We wanted to paint the exterior to put our personal touch and to bring it into this decade. We would need to remove the old stickers prior to painting and new this would be difficult after being on for 3 decades. With research we discovered that a wire brush attachment onto an electric drill would be the quickest. Just because its the quickest option, doesn’t mean it was easy! I worked well but definitely needed a lot of muscle. We took turns!
With a (literal) clean slate, it only seemed right to bring Wanda’s exterior to the 21st Century… that meant one thing!! PAINT SHOPPING!!!
Now Jackie as the Fine Art Graduate is the head Exterier designer, actually very much the interier Designer as well, and had a clear vision of how Wanda’s exterier would shine. This included a colour of paint by the name of Paradise water. We were advised by the always helpful and cheery people 🙂 at Home Depot that Alkyd Semi-gloss Enamel was the best paint for Wanda’s aluminum exterier.
The satisfaction of painting over a 1980s ‘cream’ exterier to a beautiful shining white, gleaming like a beautiful white (insert majestic white animal) is a therapeutic experience. 2 coats was all it took to wipe away the memory of the faded decals and neglected past. Wanda was back!
Now the base coat was dry, it was time to add our own finiahing touches to make her our own. Time for Jackie to delve into her Kutztown University Fine Art degree. Hopefully, the below results show that art degree was well worth it.
This was such a greaat experience, from figuring out the quirky mechanism that makes a pop up camper livable, to completely stripping the outside down to the bear aluminium, and restoring our newly loved member of the Purposely Wandering family…..
Watch out for us rolling majestically down ROUTE 66 soon….