Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Canned Hams of all types and sizes...and Bread Boxes to go with that ham......

Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby trevize1138 » Tue Sep 08, 2020 1:22 pm

Hello!

Here are a couple galleries of my progress over Labor Day Weekend:

https://imgur.com/a/1qyd9iX

https://imgur.com/a/bZt2zye

We hope to have this thing ready by spring or summer. My wife has talked for a while about getting a "canned ham" camper we could use as a guest house and we finally found one. The big idea here is that campers have always been "my thing" and she just enjoys going along with our two kids. With a vintage camper we'll finally have something we can both be excited about. This was a FB find for $1200 two weeks ago.

So far I'm finding that being a collapsable camper has some advantages when it comes to restoration. We've already taken off the walls and then it was just a matter of removing appliances, cabinets and benches. There's not much to the interior of this so all of that went really quick. It's now sitting covered in a tarp in my driveway just the top and bottom shells. The bottom-front has already been removed.

Over the winter we can rehab/redo most of this thing piece-by-piece, wall-by-wall. But that part of the project will wait until the weather gets too cold. Until then I'm going to start dismantling the top and bottom shells and start rebuilding those. The rot in the corners of the lower portion is really bad. The top isn't as bad but it's obviously been leaking a bit. And I likely need to peel off the skin and start taking the top apart to get at whatever's mounting it to the bottom so I can remove it. I'm taking copious photos and measurements as we go.

My hope is that a restoration will be sorta like building one of these from a kit. If I document well enough as we disassemble I'm just creating assembly instructions in reverse. The vast majority of this thing is intact and original and all we need to do is replace rotted wood and insulation.

The biggest change we plan on making is replacing the dark wood paneling on the interior walls with a light birch paneling. We've already cleaned up the original icebox fridge and I'll make sure the pump-action sink and two-burner propane stove is working. After a few camping trips we can decide if we want a modern fridge and powered water pump.

These seem to be very, very rare. As far as I can tell the company stopped making campers in 73. I've seen examples on-line of people doing some real hacky jobs of rehabing and often they brace the walls to prevent it from collapsing. My goal is to have this 100% functional and tow it with our Outback. We're in the flatlands of MN so that should be fine at least for a couple of years. We only use the car for camping these days anyway.

I'll keep posting here and other places our progress. I'm hoping if I post in enough places I'll stumble across somebody who knows more about these.
trevize1138
Teardrop Builder
 
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2019 3:36 pm
Location: South-Central MN

Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby Greg M » Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:54 pm

You’ve sure got your work cut out for you, but it looks like you’ve got things well in hand :thumbsup:
Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach a person to use the Internet and they won't bother you for weeks.
User avatar
Greg M
*Geek Extraordinaire
 
Posts: 1141
Images: 85
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2005 12:40 am
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby Pmullen503 » Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:05 pm

Interesting, how did they seal up the corners when the walls were up?
Pmullen503
500 Club
 
Posts: 775
Images: 58
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2014 1:33 pm
Location: Fond du Lac, WI
Top

Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby tony.latham » Tue Sep 08, 2020 4:50 pm

Quite the rebuild. :applause:

Tony
User avatar
tony.latham
Gold Donating Member
 
Posts: 5851
Images: 17
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:03 pm
Location: Middle of Idaho on the edge of nowhere
Top

Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby rjgimp » Tue Sep 08, 2020 6:35 pm

Does that have surge brakes? The contraption on the tongue looks remarkably similar to the one on my 69 Steury popup.
-Rob


I hope to make it to a Procrastinators Anonymous meeting someday...
just as soon as the steering committee gets around to scheduling one!
User avatar
rjgimp
500 Club
 
Posts: 599
Images: 6
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:59 am
Location: Saint Paul MN
Top

Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby trevize1138 » Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:42 am

rjgimp wrote:Does that have surge brakes? The contraption on the tongue looks remarkably similar to the one on my 69 Steury popup.


No idea! This is why I'm posting here because of replies like this. People seeing stuff I hadn't even thought about.

Under that rectangular box behind the hitch there's some kind of hydraulic-looking lever. I've been wondering what that is. I'll have to look that up now. Thanks!
trevize1138
Teardrop Builder
 
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2019 3:36 pm
Location: South-Central MN
Top

Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby trevize1138 » Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:48 am

Pmullen503 wrote:Interesting, how did they seal up the corners when the walls were up?


The front and rear walls have double-hinged corner pieces that sort of wrap around to the side walls. From the inside you flip down these two levers to secure them to the side walls:

https://i.imgur.com/jAsxwvU.jpg

I'm going to focus a lot of attention on these corner pieces as well as the seals all around for them. The corners all have rot and I've read that part of the problem is just an overall design flaw. But I'll do whatever I can to have that part of the camper seal up better. I'm wondering if a pressure washer would be a good tool for testing that and tweaking the seals when it comes to reassembly.
trevize1138
Teardrop Builder
 
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2019 3:36 pm
Location: South-Central MN
Top

Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby trevize1138 » Wed Sep 09, 2020 10:04 am

Greg M wrote:You’ve sure got your work cut out for you, but it looks like you’ve got things well in hand :thumbsup:


Thanks! I hope so. I get nervous because it's so easy to get started and be excited about a project only to have it fizzle and then fester unfinished. I'm cautiously optimistic because my wife is excited to help, too, so we can support each other doing this. She's already getting things out of it she's been wanting for a while: Monday we cleaned up the basement a bunch getting it ready to use as a workshop. She's been on me to clean up the basement for a while.

So I get hesitant at first to go too far in dismantling this thing because I worry I'll get it too fargone and at some point my wife will put a stop to it all. But with both of us being enthusiastic I'm realizing I don't need to worry about that so much and we can do this restoration thoroughly and properly.
trevize1138
Teardrop Builder
 
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2019 3:36 pm
Location: South-Central MN
Top

Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby Pmullen503 » Wed Sep 09, 2020 11:07 am

trevize1138 wrote:
Pmullen503 wrote:Interesting, how did they seal up the corners when the walls were up?


The front and rear walls have double-hinged corner pieces that sort of wrap around to the side walls. From the inside you flip down these two levers to secure them to the side walls:

https://i.imgur.com/jAsxwvU.jpg



Thanks, I had a pop up with bad canvas I got for a song and was going to use fold down foam walls but never came up with a good way to seal the corners.

Quite a project. If you have access to some good woodworking tools (and skills) it shouldn't be too hard to reproduce the bad pieces. Does the motorized lift mechanism still work?
Pmullen503
500 Club
 
Posts: 775
Images: 58
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2014 1:33 pm
Location: Fond du Lac, WI
Top

Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby trevize1138 » Wed Sep 09, 2020 11:13 am

Pmullen503 wrote:Thanks, I had a pop up with bad canvas I got for a song and was going to use fold down foam walls but never came up with a good way to seal the corners.

Quite a project. If you have access to some good woodworking tools (and skills) it shouldn't be too hard to reproduce the bad pieces. Does the motorized lift mechanism still work?


Yeah, I'll keep posting here and other places as this goes. Stay tuned if you're looking for ideas on sealing up that canvas.

I've got plenty of tools including table saw, miter saw, band saw, jig saws. I've worked enough on home renovations that I'm confident I can cut and fit whatever replacement wood I need.

I don't know if the motor still works but I suspect it's just fine. Most of the things about this trailer seem to work without any problems. The previous owner was just clueless about it. He seemed to think it had been modified so it wouldn't collapse. It was missing the battery but when I plug into shore power all the outlets work just fine. My guess is the lift motor "died" due to it needing the battery hooked up to run it not just shore power. Either that or the lock on the control panel is switched off. Electric motors are really simple and I don't see any evidence of a problem there. I've got a battery to hook up and try that out. For now I've just been using my corded drill to turn the manual override in the front.
trevize1138
Teardrop Builder
 
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2019 3:36 pm
Location: South-Central MN
Top

Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby rjgimp » Wed Sep 09, 2020 1:19 pm

trevize1138 wrote:
rjgimp wrote:Does that have surge brakes? The contraption on the tongue looks remarkably similar to the one on my 69 Steury popup.


No idea! This is why I'm posting here because of replies like this. People seeing stuff I hadn't even thought about.

Under that rectangular box behind the hitch there's some kind of hydraulic-looking lever. I've been wondering what that is. I'll have to look that up now. Thanks!


Yup. You have surge brakes! LOL I had no idea at first either until I looked into it. So the trailer will follow nicely behind the car and then when you stop the car the trailer will want to keep going. When that happens the tongue of the trailer has a built in slide mechanism which will cause the weight of the trailer to "surge" against a ram behind that hydraulic reservoir which will function exactly like your foot pushing the brake pedal in the car When they are taken care of they will function just fine and stop the trailer safely behind the car but one drawback is it can be a challenge backing uphill in bumpy terrain because the brakes might get activated when you don't want them to. Some systems have an override function to stop that from happening. You can convert it to a full electric or an electric-over-hydraulic system or just leave it the way it is.
-Rob


I hope to make it to a Procrastinators Anonymous meeting someday...
just as soon as the steering committee gets around to scheduling one!
User avatar
rjgimp
500 Club
 
Posts: 599
Images: 6
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:59 am
Location: Saint Paul MN
Top

Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby rjgimp » Wed Sep 09, 2020 10:23 pm

Here is the brochure for the 1971 Rolite lineup. It shows the available list of optional equipment. Looks like the 1500 model was equipped standard with surge brakes. The larger 1700 and 1900 had optional electric brakes.

http://www.popupcamperhistory.com/rolite1971brochure.html

Here is a price list from 1969. The model 1510 went for $2095 and you could even get air conditioning for an extra $279.95! :fan:

http://www.popupcamperhistory.com/rolite1969pricelist.html

Lots of old ads and brochures and other fun stuff on that site
-Rob


I hope to make it to a Procrastinators Anonymous meeting someday...
just as soon as the steering committee gets around to scheduling one!
User avatar
rjgimp
500 Club
 
Posts: 599
Images: 6
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:59 am
Location: Saint Paul MN
Top

Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby rjgimp » Wed Sep 09, 2020 11:04 pm

Wow, this is nifty! Here is the operating manual from 1968. I presume things didn't change much mechanically over the ensuing three years.

http://www.popupcamperhistory.com/rolite1968manual.html#
-Rob


I hope to make it to a Procrastinators Anonymous meeting someday...
just as soon as the steering committee gets around to scheduling one!
User avatar
rjgimp
500 Club
 
Posts: 599
Images: 6
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2019 3:59 am
Location: Saint Paul MN
Top

Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby trevize1138 » Thu Sep 10, 2020 6:21 am

rjgimp wrote:Wow, this is nifty! Here is the operating manual from 1968. I presume things didn't change much mechanically over the ensuing three years.

http://www.popupcamperhistory.com/rolite1968manual.html#


Yup! I've seen this and the brocures, too. One thing I'm wondering is if I should build my own flip-down closet like you see on the later pages of that manual. That was typically only for the 1900 or larger models but I can see how it would fit in the 1500, too. I'll wait until we actually take it camping to decide if the extra storage space is even needed.

edit: one incredibly useful part of this brocure is the last page showing the entire lifting mechanism apparatus!
trevize1138
Teardrop Builder
 
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2019 3:36 pm
Location: South-Central MN
Top

Re: Restoring a 1971 Rolite Model 1500

Postby trevize1138 » Thu Sep 10, 2020 6:27 am

rjgimp wrote:Here is the brochure for the 1971 Rolite lineup. It shows the available list of optional equipment. Looks like the 1500 model was equipped standard with surge brakes. The larger 1700 and 1900 had optional electric brakes.

http://www.popupcamperhistory.com/rolite1971brochure.html

Here is a price list from 1969. The model 1510 went for $2095 and you could even get air conditioning for an extra $279.95! :fan:

http://www.popupcamperhistory.com/rolite1969pricelist.html

Lots of old ads and brochures and other fun stuff on that site


I'm curious where they'd put the AC on this. To get power to the roof there are no wires! They have two brass plates on the lower portion and three spring-loaded contacts on the roof portion. There's wiring that goes from the lower portion into the wall that goes between those contact points. Really cool!
trevize1138
Teardrop Builder
 
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2019 3:36 pm
Location: South-Central MN
Top

Next

Return to Canned Hams & Bread Loaves

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest