Rebuilding a 1973 Twilight Bungalow

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Rebuilding a 1973 Twilight Bungalow

Postby APCROSS » Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:47 pm

Nearly 20 years ago, I bought a Twilight Bungalow teardrop-style camper in Oklahoma City. It was the first teardrop I had ever seen in person—remember, this was pre-Craigslist—so I excitedly paid the asking price, which at $1000, was probably too much back then. I took it to a local RV repair center where they quoted me a good price to redo the whole thing, but once they removed the fan from the roof and got a look at the water damage, they backed out. My father found a carpenter that redid the galley area—all of that wood had rotted. Then my father and I built new sides, installed a new counter for the galley, and basically stopped there, as I was moving from OKC to New York City. The bungalow lived in a friend's garage in Fort Worth for ten years, then in my brother's afterwards. I now live in Los Angeles, have a seven-year old daughter, and I'd really like to fix it up to take her camping. I'm back in Fort Worth for the next two weeks and really want to work on it. But I am scared, as I don't necessarily have lots of skill when it comes to woodwork. So I'm trying to draft a friend or maybe hire a carpenter that could help me.
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Re: Rebuilding a 1973 Twilight Bungalow

Postby APCROSS » Wed Jun 24, 2015 3:01 pm

As I mentioned, my father and I made new sides out of 1/2" plywood. When I worked on this years ago, I put in new paneling in the interior. Those didn't survive my brother's garage, plus, I put in cheap paneling, so I want to change that out. Should I add a 1/4" birch panel to the 1/2", or make new sides with a 3/4" panel that has birch on one side that I could stain?

Also, we put the panels up with a staple gun. Seems like there has to be a better method than that. I also did a poor job on the cabinets—I had just purchased doors from Home Depot, so I want to redo that as well.

You might be asking yourself, "Why are the windows and door installed when you haven't even skinned it?" The answer is that my brother had a roommate that thought she was helping by doing so.
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Last edited by APCROSS on Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rebuilding a 1973 Twilight Bungalow

Postby azgreg » Wed Jun 24, 2015 3:02 pm

Cool project. Can't wait to see it when you're done.
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Re: Rebuilding a 1973 Twilight Bungalow

Postby APCROSS » Wed Jun 24, 2015 3:03 pm

Here's a look at the galley.
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Re: Rebuilding a 1973 Twilight Bungalow

Postby APCROSS » Wed Jun 24, 2015 3:06 pm

When I took the Bungalow apart, I discovered that there was only insulation on the roof under the metal - there was nothing on the sides. If I install insulation, I will lose some space in the interior. Thoughts?
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Re: Rebuilding a 1973 Twilight Bungalow

Postby APCROSS » Wed Jun 24, 2015 3:17 pm

My goals over the next two weeks:

1) New interior paneling. Something classic-looking and wooden.
2) Rebuild the cabinets with the same type of wood.
3) Install new lights/rewire camper
4) Cover the roof, front and back with plywood.

Basically, I'd like to get everything done except skinning the camper. I might leave that to an expert. The original skin was the ribbed type that would slide in an lock with each length. But since I've always fantasized about having an airstream, maybe I should do shiny aluminum?
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Re: Rebuilding a 1973 Twilight Bungalow

Postby azgreg » Wed Jun 24, 2015 3:27 pm

APCROSS wrote:When I took the Bungalow apart, I discovered that there was only insulation on the roof under the metal - there was nothing on the sides. If I install insulation, I will lose some space in the interior. Thoughts?

I think it depends on what your ultimate goal is. Either to restore it complete or make it more useable. If it's the later by all means add insulation. Of course this is coming from a desert dweller that puts on a sweatshirt when it drops below 60°. :D
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Re: Rebuilding a 1973 Twilight Bungalow

Postby APCROSS » Thu Jun 25, 2015 12:32 pm

I'm feeling a slight surge of confidence. For one, a childhood friend who lived across the street from me now owns a massive RV dealership. He's giving me cost + 10% on anything I might need to buy.

Also, I went to the Plywood Company in Fort Worth to get some birch plywood. The guy who helped me had also restored a teardrop before, so he has picked out some great birch for me. I couldn't fit it in my dad's SUV, so a friend with a large one will help me get it home later this afternoon.

Here's what I got:

-- 3 of the 4' x 8' 1/4" panels—one for each side, and the third for the back wall (where my feet will be.)

I got 2 bendable birch panels, 1/8" in thickness. One to make the curve of the ceiling; the second to complete the ceiling. Question - on the front wall of the interior (where my head will be), should I use the 1/4" inch birch there instead of the 1/8"? Would it look weird, starting that interior front wall with 1/4", then moving to 1/8" to complete the ceiling?

I didn't get any of the molding to cover the staple holes - they had maple strips for $1 a foot, but I didn't know if that would stain the same color as the birch. Plus their may be more vintage style options. My camper was made in 1973, but I'd like it to look like a classic '50s model on the inside.
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Re: Rebuilding a 1973 Twilight Bungalow

Postby Patti » Fri Jun 26, 2015 10:11 pm

Not sure if this helps but we just had a cedar fence built, but the treated cross pieces didn't absorb stain the same way and came out lighter. Oddly, once the fence was finished I liked the contrast. It made it look rather architectural, if that makes sense, rather than just one flat solid color.

Good luck. Looks like a wonderful project.
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Re: Rebuilding a 1973 Twilight Bungalow

Postby APCROSS » Tue Jun 30, 2015 12:55 pm

So I decided to replace the walls - the plywood wasn't that bad, but after removing the old panels, old glue was everywhere.
Rather than scrape it off, I ordered two new 4' x 8's by phone from Home Depot. An hour later, it arrived. $20 delivery fee. I call that a good deal.


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I stained my 1/4' birch panels, then glued them onto the new 4' x 8' walls. I put on two coats of clear poly; I'll do another coat or two until I get the finish I want.

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Re: Rebuilding a 1973 Twilight Bungalow

Postby APCROSS » Tue Jun 30, 2015 1:02 pm

When I removed the walls, I discovered that the wheel wells were rusted in the front, so much so that the metal breaks off in your hand. I don't know how to fix that, so I am going to see if I can find someone to make a new set. Or perhaps I can find a pair new that would fit? Any suggestions appreciated.
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Re: Rebuilding a 1973 Twilight Bungalow

Postby KCStudly » Tue Jun 30, 2015 1:21 pm

If you don't like any of the quotes you get from metal fab shops, try HVAC shops that do duct work. That type of galvanized "tin" with knit corners is right up their alley.
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Re: Rebuilding a 1973 Twilight Bungalow

Postby rebapuck » Tue Jun 30, 2015 4:33 pm

This project is multi faceted. You will get a workout physically and mentally. Hope you like puzzles.

You're doing a great job.
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Re: Rebuilding a 1973 Twilight Bungalow

Postby APCROSS » Sun Jun 18, 2017 11:53 pm

So, after a two-year hiatus, I am back in Fort Worth for more work on my teardrop. I have three weeks here, and I hope to get in good enough shape to possibly tow back to California where I live now.

My daughter is now 9. She turns her nose at camping, and I really want to prove to her that it can be fun.

Likewise, my father is 79, and we've talked for years about going camping in this trailer; as they both get older, there's no time like the present.

I have to say I'm full of anxiety on this project. I've got massive ADHD which makes concentrating on tasks difficult; pair that with minimal carpentry skills and you've got yourself a recipe for disaster.

That said, I recently remodeled the inside of my closet, and that turned out pretty well, so hopefully I can parlay those skills into something.

One thing I do have in my favor: a childhood friend owns a large RV dealership in the area. He said he'd get me cost + 10% on any purchases, so I'm going to have to take him up on that offer.

If anyone in the Fort Worth area would like to drop by for moral support, or a little helpful advice, the beer is on me!
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