1989 Palomino Mustang-CR Rebuild

geoffm3

Active Member
Jun 21, 2010
204
Day 1 we stayed at Three Rivers State Park in Florida. This was a stay we hadn’t intended to do for this trip. My parents live about an hour from here and we were planning to stay with them for a few days, but since my mom came down with COVID and was quarantined we added that stay last minute to break up the drive. Total miles first day of travel was about 350 miles so it did well!

This is despite the picture a pretty nice campground. The campground loop is right on lake Seminole and there is a boat launch for small craft from within the campground loop as well as a nice fishing dock. The area was ravaged by hurricane Michael when it came through a few years back


 

geoffm3

Active Member
Jun 21, 2010
204
Well, we just returned home from our weeklong trip to the Orlando, FL area with "Poly". Total miles was about 1300, and we averaged about 16MPG with our F-150. Contrast that to towing the big camper on the same trip (a hard sided Micro Lite 25BRDS) we typically get 8-9MPG with that one. She did mostly ok for a shakedown! We had some leaks that need to be addressed clearly. After the first night we seemed to address that, but a few days later we had an all-day rain... a constant drizzle which showed that we had several very slow leaks that we didn't see previously. We have an open order placed with canvasreplacements.com to get a new canvas, so that should be a stop-gap measure until the new canvas arrives in 8-9 months(!). First night we actually had to run the AC since it was warm and very humid and found that our cabinet mounted AC doesn't have sufficient tilt to drain properly, so we had a nice little puddle on the floor in the morning. :p I shimmed that up til we got back to fix that a little better, but it is a workable solution til I fix it properly.

I need to start compiling a list of things to address, most everything is pretty minor things I think apart from the leaks, and I think even that should be a fairly easy thing (laborwise) to fix. I was pretty stoked that we were able to find an Atwood Hydroflame II furnace on our way back home on Facebook Marketplace and all the associated parts for $20! Haven't tried it yet, but physically looks to be in good condition. This one is a 16k BTU unit, where in the brochure for this model camper they originally installed a 12K BTU as an option. Ours had none at all. The cabinetry framing is already set up for this model furnace, so retrofit should be fairly easy.

I'm not a huge fan of gas fired furnaces (they are obviously noisy), typically we rely on an electric space heater when at a powered site, but they do win on a couple of key areas for me: 1. less junk cluttering up the counterspace of the interior (i.e. Mr. Buddy or equivalent) which is good because space is at a premium to begin with in a pop up, 2. low power requirements make for cool season camping with a solar panel possible and no electric hookups, 3. I know people think this is not too much of an issue with Mr. Buddy, but I like that the exhaust (CO mainly) is outside the living space of the camper. The drawback of all pop up camper equipment options comes at the expense of cabinet storage of course, but I think that's not as much of an issue on this particular model of camper due to it's placement in the cabinetry (there's no drawer there currently, just a blank, and it's mounted up high off of the floor anyway. This one is a 7916-ii vs the 8012P that the manual specs, the big difference between the 79-series and 80-series are the DC power requirements, 80-series is about half the current draw of the 79-series. Physically they are all the same dimensions though. Not sure if the difference in BTU will be a big deal, but hey, for $20, it's good for parts at least.

We'll have to compile a retrospective of our build.
 

geoffm3

Active Member
Jun 21, 2010
204
Another update... after sitting idle in the backyard for a couple weeks I pulled the camper onto the driveway and noticed that there was a noticeable list to one side... the torsion axle was sagging on one wheel about 1/2" or so. Looking at the rubber rods at the end of the torsion axle, it is apparent that it's about time to replace it. So, I was able to get the serial number off of the axle (an Al-Ko S19) and talk to Dexter. Dexter bought out Al-Ko. As it turns out, Al-Ko used a different style mounting bracket compared to everyone else in the industry (lovely), so another brand axle doesn't just bolt up to the existing holes in the frame. Two things are different: the width between holes is closer to 6" on the Al-Ko vs 8" for the rest... and the axle tube sits right in the middle of the mounting bracket vs being offset toward the front of the bracket for others. Dexter sells the #9 axle with a retrofit bracket that you can use to bolt right up to your Al-Ko application. They were able to look up the specs on our old axle after fiddling with the incomplete serial number on it. Ended up ordering that through them direct (Axle, Inc) and we received it in about 4 weeks. I also had them add on the never lube drilled spindles, which was about a $30 adder. All in with shipping cost us around $567 (ouch), which is certainly a lot more expensive today than past years reports on here. Hello inflation! Nevertheless it looks pretty good as far as axles are concerned. I have installed it already which was pretty straightforward. I do need to adjust it still as it dogtracks just a little bit. We have a camping trip for a few days here this weekend for trip #2, a short 40 minute one way, so we'll see how it performs on the way there.
 

geoffm3

Active Member
Jun 21, 2010
204
EDIT: Repurposing this post... I thought we were getting our canvas early, but nope, so I deleted, but I digress..

An update anyway. We took her out again with the shiny new axle and did just fine over Memorial Day weekend. Kind of hard to see the pup in this pic, but here was our setup nonetheless. I'm sure this will spur some questions. ha.

Untitled by Geoff Oltmans, on Flickr
 
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geoffm3

Active Member
Jun 21, 2010
204
Little update: I had to partially tear apart the roof and redo some of my previous work. The front and back boards came unglued from the sheet metal. Ugh. So, I had to pull the corner moldings loose and peel up all the basically new butyl tape and redo those. I didn't use contact cement this time around, instead, I used Loctite PL 3x on the front and Gorilla Glue construction adhesive on the back. I have a couple of voids on both ends, but it's stuck down a lot better than previously. I am glad that I had the back off though, because I discovered a spot of green mold starting on the inside surface of the back board, must have had a leak around the metal extrusion at the bottom of the roof, because it appeared that there was some water/staining pooling around the lip of that.
 

geoffm3

Active Member
Jun 21, 2010
204
Between the two I think the Loctite will probably do better. I'll likely have to redo one of the ends as well as the contact adhesive hasn't adhered all that great to the lumber on that either. The foam pieces seem to have held up just fine though.
 

geoffm3

Active Member
Jun 21, 2010
204
We received our new canvas this weekend! First a little background. We ordered this canvas on our maiden voyage with the camper when we decided that yes it was worth it for a new canvas. We also had some leaks that we had to deal with (although after some repeated treatments I think we resolve most (all?) of those. We ordered on Feb 4 of this year. They promised 8-9 months at the beginning and here we are at 6 months, so that part worked out. We also originally picked white vinyl, and we received a call from them saying that due to supply chain issues they could not guarantee that we would get the canvas in the promised time. We could either pick a different color or wait it out. Well, we knew moonglo was an option previously and we’re not to keen on the idea since our old canvas is Moonglo and felt that was too yellow. We had then send us swatches and found that the new Moonglo was quite a few shades different. If you look back at our older pictures you’ll see what I mean.

We haven't got it completely installed yet (no fasteners in), but appears to be positioned correctly. We're taking our time before screwing any fasteners into it. ha.

A few observations:

The fit is excellent!

The color is perfect for our paint job! The old Moonglo is much more yellow than this, and that's a good thing. It matches our antique white stripe on the box perfectly. The inside color is also much nicer. I am glad they were out of stock on the white and that forced us into this color, I think in retrospect the white would have clashed with our antique white striping.

Surprisingly, we gained some headspace in our bunkends! The new canvas is a few inches (maybe 3-4"?) taller at the end of the bunk end than our old canvas, and that's a good thing. We don't have the typical shepherds poles to hold up the bunk end canvas, instead the ends of our bed bows stab onto an adjustable strip with notches in it at the edge of the mattress. With the old canvas, our bed bows were about three notches from the end of the strip, and now it's about halfway between the ends.

The new is much more pliable and feels lighter to me than the old. I don't think it'll be any less durable and will probably shut better in our box with the top down.

All in all, at first blush very happy with the job that Canvas Replacements have done here. Looks great... can't wait to take it on the first outing!





 

geoffm3

Active Member
Jun 21, 2010
204
Done a few things here the past week on the pop up. The 6000 BTU AC unit we had in here proved to be a little too...well, little. I found a 12k BTU unit that was just the right size to fit the hole. Unfortunately, that left little room for any vent for the condenser core! lol So, where did it pull air from? The inside of the camper.... the whole canvas started to suck inwards. So, that clearly wasn't gonna work. That unit had 300 square inches of louvered vent area for the condenser fan and 200 square inches of exposed condenser fins.... and there was (checks math) about 50 square inches to pull in air from the outside. Yeah...

So, we found another unit that is more appropriately sized for a cabinet installation. This one is 8000 BTU. The original AC unit for this camper was 7500 BTU so we're in the ballpark with this one. Lots of additional vent area for the condenser so I don't think we'll be choking it off. Definitely feels cooler inside with this guy.

Another improvement was to add two crank down stabilizers. The swing down type worked okay but I think the crank down ones are superior for a number of reasons: 1. less wobbly. 2. less finger trappey... I was just waiting to pinch my fingers on those. 3. There's not much ground clearance on this camper, so the swing down ones can't be used at all if the site slopes to the back of the camper just a little bit. This way, the stabilizers can be used on a slope.

I added a LiFePo4 battery in the space under the dinette behind the converter, and a combo 12V cigarette lighter/USB charger port and solar panel connection! We took the camper to Elkmont Campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which doesn't have any electrical hookups. The battery is a 16AH battery, pretty small, smaller than a typical group U1 size battery that you use to start a riding mower, so I got a battery box to mount that in in a U1 size. You can get LiFePO4 batteries in U1 size of about double the capacity and doesn't take up a lot of space. Anyways, I got this battery super cheap, $8 from a Amazon returns place... capacity wise seems to be close to its rated capacity after testing it. Mainly I want this to be able to power my CPAP at night, and lights in the camper (which are already LED). In this respect it performed just fine. Later I also want it to power...

A gas furnace which is next on the list of mods. I have all of the parts for this minus the recessed thermostat mount. I can't remember if I mentioned this earlier but I managed to snag one of those on an earlier trip for $25. I bought a new vent grille for it off of ebay for another $25. It works fine on a bench hooked up to a propane bottle and 12V battery. Originally this camper had an option for a Hydroflame 8012P which is a piezo/pilot light model. The one I got is a Hydroflame 7912ii which is direct start. The disadvantage of the 79-series vs the 80-series apparently is that the blower uses about twice as much power. Since lithium batteries are so much better and I don't have electric brakes to power, I think this is not much of a concern for our use. I think a 35 AH battery (which should fit this battery box) at worst case should be good enough to carry you through the evening before solar can take over.
 

geoffm3

Active Member
Jun 21, 2010
204
Oh yeah, one other thing I did... this camper like a lot of pop ups has issues with frame sag such that the entry door won't latch unless you crank the stabilizers down in the back real tight. I reshimmed the door jamb on the latch side to account for a lot of this sag so the door latches and can be locked properly.
 

geoffm3

Active Member
Jun 21, 2010
204
...and another thing! My lovely wife has sewed up a couple of new covers for our mattresses. We tried a topper on our side of the bed but like so many others, the topper makes it difficult to shut the camper, and we tend to sleep too warm for our liking with a foam topper. So, we have three air mattresses that snap together that are zipped into the bed cover. There are three quick fill valves on those, which can also be opened up and emptied within seconds. That is a very comfy combination we've found and doesn't add too much to our setup time.
 




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