Guest Post by JoAnne Leonard
Our story about our little 1998 Aliner camper started two years ago when my husband and I brought home a funny camper with a rotted floor and got the evil eye from our neighbors. We salvaged it from its destiny of the dump from a couple camping friends of ours. They were getting older and had given up on most camping and didn’t have the time, energy or desire to fix the rotting floor, a known problem for this model and year. They had offered it to us a couple years prior, but we didn’t really have the means to deal with it. We were very happy camping in tents as we were lifelong campers ourselves and wanted to keep it simple. But this camper was different, it was simple, a basic popup but without the hassle of canvas, a unique triangle profile and a small foot print (6’3”x12’).
We’d bring the subject up to each other every once in a while until we decided to just go get it. It sat in the furthest corner from their house, the tires sat almost half way to the ground from sitting for so long, a branch had pierced a hole in one of the vents from a bad ice storm the year before and the floor was now growing things under the linoleum that was keeping it together. Looking back now I am not sure how it made it through the 30 mile trip back to our house.
We spent all summer working on it. We took everything out and saved what we could. We worked on the floor a bit at a time until it was completely replaced. While working on the floor we scoured the city looking for deals and we found them, we found the flooring as an end piece at a high end flooring store that wasn’t going to be able to sell it as it was so small.
The cabinets were found at a local contractor store, we paid $120 for solid oak and maple cabinets with built in drawers worth over $1400 but were ordered wrong and the store didn’t feel like shipping them back so they sold us them at what it would have cost to ship them back. Penny cabinet handles off the clearance rack at Lowes and so on. We spent a lot more time than money, but it was all worth it. Even after adding an actual mattress, new logos (designed online and ordered from Canada for a fraction of what US sellers quoted us), solar panel, LEDs our cost is around $1,000. Because of the high demand of these campers they can cost well over 14k new.
We also saved a lot because we were able to clean up and reuse a lot of the items in the camper such as the heater, water heater and pump, power convertor and so on. We replaced the wiring, battery (it didn’t have one), faucet ($7 Lowes contractor special bathroom fixture), water lines with PEX and gas lines for safety.
Now we camp in it all the time. We enjoy camping at a local state park
often and took the camper out of state in April from MA to SC. We replaced the tires prior to that trip! Where ever we go people always are amazed how big it is on the inside. We have everything we need to camp happily in there!
JoAnne and Micheal Leonard