1985 Coleman Columbia fixer-upper

Discussion in 'Checkout My Rig !' started by robenster, Mar 2, 2017.

  1. robenster

    robenster New Member

    9
    3
    Apr 28, 2016
    Cincinnati, OH
    Hello! I thought I'd share my progress of my 1985 Coleman Columbia I purchased for $300! I've named her Dolly after Dolly Parton :) It wasn't in too bad of shape really, but there were some major things that needed fixing which I didn't realize until I got it home. No worries, I come from a long line of handy people!

    Some large notable things to fix - canvas was shredding and was really beyond repair. I'm a fab sewer but it just seemed like a better idea to replace it with a new canvas from bear creek. The crank assembly was missing a few parts and the guide channel wasn't even on there. Which according to either the lift system repair manual or the owners manual you should never use the crank system without that in place. Of course, I read this when it's fully open. We've repaired that, and have begun to work on the leaky roof. The current diagnosis is old cracked vinyl trim was letting water in. To the best of my knowledge the camper was mostly just sitting for the last year and didn't get much use. The damage did appear to be new and we removed all the old crappy stuff and put up some new panels and will work on resealing the outside with Eternabond tape and new vinyl trim and some flex seal.

    Here are some pictures!

    [​IMG]
    The door wouldn't stay shut so we had to gorilla tape it shut to make it back home which was 3 hours away. Bought a new door lock and now it's great!

    [​IMG]
    Next thing we did was replace the old cruddy vinyl with an outdoor rug. Got this idea from Pop Up Princess. Wasn't too hard to remove the old rivets and put this in place. It looks sooo much better!

    [​IMG]
    Typical 80's interior and probably original canvas, I'm pretty sure it'll rip if you look at it long enough haha

    [​IMG]
    One of the pieces missing from the crank was the bearing plate. The whiffle tree/crank system would shift all around because nothing was holding it in place.

    [​IMG]
    Before and after on the whiffle tree being exposed and then the guide channel being put back into place.

    [​IMG]
    We had to take the front panel off to get to the chain to adjust it/put it back on so we could use the upper crank and stop creating damage to the bottom one. Just had to remove the old cracked vinyl that needed replacing anyways, take off the red thing (sorry I don't know every term) drill out the rivets, and then we had to drill out the rivets on top, and remove the screws on the bottom. It was a bit of a task.

    [​IMG]
    Here you'll see we found quite a surprise of a very extensive wasp nest (they're long gone - at least I hope!) We removed all of that and you'll also see we still need to replace or shorten these pins because they're going to keep rubbing against the wood.

    [​IMG]
    Chain wasn't quite on the cog (maybe it was a cog?) Now it is!

    [​IMG]
    shiny and new vinyl trim!

    [​IMG]
    We removed all the contact like paper of a ceiling and some of the wood that wasn't in too good of shape. No mold though so that was a plus!

    [​IMG]
    New panels!

    So far I've been heavily utilizing colemanpopupparts.com, home depot and menards. We're having a super mild/non existent winter here in Cincinnati so I might have Dolly all fixed up and ready for some spring time camping! *fingers crossed*

    There's a few more pictures in my photo bucket, but this is about what we've done so far!
    http://s377.photobucket.com/user/robenster/library/
     
    Orchid likes this.
  2. JPBar

    JPBar Well-Known Member

    1,851
    553
    Sep 22, 2016
    Texas
    Looking good, keep it going
     
  3. tamnror

    tamnror Member

    34
    4
    Jan 31, 2017
    Great stuff! We just got a 1990 Columbia, have been getting it ready also. We replaced the canvas too, Bear Creek great fit.
     
  4. robenster

    robenster New Member

    9
    3
    Apr 28, 2016
    Cincinnati, OH
    Got some more work done on Dolly!

    Finished the roof repair, now we're watertight!
    [​IMG]

    It might seem silly that I got like 3" Eternabond tape, but I like that I can see the edges haha. Also replaced the cracked-not-doing-anything vinyl with some fresh new flexible vinyl on the top and both rear seams too. Already replaced the front ones (by the tounge) when we repaired the crank system.

    [​IMG]

    Replaced the rear stabilizer jacks with new ones (what a difference!) and finsihed up little stuff on the roof. Also got the door remounted! My father in law was a huge help in the process. If I haven't mentioned it before, I'm mostly the bank and documenter. haha.

    [​IMG]

    As some of you know Coleman Columbia's come with the bed extension on the rear side. Both sides of the bed extension had broken things. They just needed new rivets. One side it was the front slide and the other side was the back side. If I had to guess at one point a previous owner might have forgotten to put in the bed supports and someone sat on it? Either way, it's fixed now and very stable! Not sure yet on what to do with this table. I would like a table the same size and to be able to withstand weight if someone wanted to use the dinette as a sleeping area. It's really sad and maybe beyond repair? I thought about just recovering the top with a laminate sheet that will match the new countertop, and apply strips of the laminate to the sides where the t vinyl is falling off. If anyone has any suggestions though let me know! We've talked about getting new particle board and just remaking it.

    [​IMG]

    On to something I actually did, I spray painted the interior for a nice fresh look! I'm sure it'll get scraped and dinged along the way but hey, who cares? I reused the old handles because they're gorgeous and still useful!

    [​IMG]

    It actually matches the outside "Coleman" and stripes pretty well! It's Kona Brown from Rustoleum. It took slightly more than 2 cans of spraypaint and I didn't get crazy perfect with spots that will be covered all the time with cushions. I'm keeping the original floor because it's still in pretty solid shape and I didn't want to add weight from peel and stick vinyl. I know it'd be probably around 20lbs but if I don't have to I'm not gonna. I can't wait to put the dinette cushions in there and see how great it all looks together!

    [​IMG]

    Also upgraded the interior light to an led light! Bought this on etrailer - https://www.etrailer.com/RV-Lightin...tml?feed=npn&gclid=CM2-99DiptMCFVQ7gQodoyMBKg

    Next up is a new countertop! I'm removing the old propane stove because I don't personally want to cook inside the camper, I already have a portable coleman stove, and we could use the counterspace :)

    Thanks for looking, friends!
     
    Orchid likes this.
  5. tamnror

    tamnror Member

    34
    4
    Jan 31, 2017
    Great stuff! I like the roof ceiling work. Just discovered we have some more work to do on our Columbia roof.
     
  6. rjniles

    rjniles Member

    895
    18
    Aug 7, 2009
    Georgetown SC
    Hate to be a naysayer but I question the wisdom of putting a $1000 canvas on a 30+ year old camper. For the investment in canvas and other parts you could have bought a much newer rig without all the work involved.
     
  7. robenster

    robenster New Member

    9
    3
    Apr 28, 2016
    Cincinnati, OH
    Eh. The camper was $300 which is what I could afford at the time. The canvas was original. The replacement was $850 and by far the biggest expense. (Thanks to my tax return it wasn't anything to my monthly budget) I'm still under $2k for total expenses and the camper is much nicer than some in my area that are being sold starting at $2k. Also, this camper is small and light. I don't have a big tow vehicle so in the end this is what worked best for me. I can afford some elbow grease and new parts over time.
     
    Orchid likes this.
  8. robenster

    robenster New Member

    9
    3
    Apr 28, 2016
    Cincinnati, OH
    I thought it was going to be horrible but the damage was mostly cosmetic and once we got the new tape on there and new vinyl it was all fixed! So far every "big" job that I was dreading wasn't really so bad. This site is fantastic for walking you through different things :)
     
  9. theseus

    theseus Centerville, OH

    2,556
    269
    Feb 6, 2007
    Centerville, OH
    Hey it's really looking great!
     
  10. tamnror

    tamnror Member

    34
    4
    Jan 31, 2017
    That is encouraging. We put a new canvas on ours this spring then found moisture on the inside of the canvas last time opening it. Either coming in the roof corner or the bottom front trim piece. Just in the front side with the door, glad we found it before mattress and bed board got wet.
     
  11. Mamie

    Mamie Active Member

    839
    109
    Sep 11, 2017
    LA - Lower Alabama
    I loved the cabinets and the hardware -- the pulls them self made it look so much more expensive. I like the shape of your camper. Once painted, it would be hard to tell what year it is.

    I wish I could find a camper for $300. I'm still looking though so I can find one for my niece. In the meantime, we've got mine.

    I paid a lot more for my camper, but it was the floorplan that I wanted, it was 15 minutes down the road and it was really clean on the inside. My sister was telling me this morning that I should have bought something in better shape instead of having to do repairs. Like you, I didn't have a lot to spend on a camper with having to keep a roof over my head. Plus, when I'm through, it will be a one-of-a-kind and custom - floors, cabinets and curtains.

    Now that I've had my camper in my drive-way for so long, we've 'bonded' and my dog has 'bonded' with it too. The cat has been in it a couple times, but as long as my dog is there, the cat will be fine.

    I think there is a certain amount of pride of ownership that you have when you have taken something from the ashes to something that is not only usable, but enjoyable. I need a new canvas, but it's not in the budget for this year.

    Looking forward to your updates.
     
    Orchid likes this.
  12. Fuzzy Bear

    Fuzzy Bear Active Member

    474
    55
    Mar 3, 2004
    Norwalk CT
    Looking good. The old Columbia's are a great little camper. I've also got an '85 that I'm very happy with. One thing we found early on is the front bunk mattress was thinner than the rear one. Ended up with a 1" mattress topper and that helped a lot with the comfort. Nice part of a fixer upper is when your finished you have the satisfaction of knowing everything was done and done right. Keep up the good work and keep us updated on your progress.
     
  13. Orchid

    Orchid Sharp Shootin' Grandma

    Unfortunately, the OP hasn't been here since a year ago, and I couldn't even tag them so I assume they are no longer members. It's a shame because they did such a nice job on that camper.

    Personally, I think buying a $1,000 canvas for a camper that cost $300, and had all that work put into it, is a wonderful idea. Still an inexpensive camper, but like brand new. I hope they did so and are still happily camping in it.
     
  14. Mamie

    Mamie Active Member

    839
    109
    Sep 11, 2017
    LA - Lower Alabama
    I agree. I couldn't afford a newer used camper, and anything I could afford would need a new canvas. I don't want to put out all my money upfront, but a canvas is definitely something that I will get next year if I'm around. Then, once everything else is done and a new canvas, I'll have a NTM camper for a whole lot less.
     

Share This Page