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Author Topic: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel  (Read 5362 times)

smb2177

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1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« on: October 14, 2011, 03:53:45 PM »
A couple weeks ago, my wife and I bought a 1989 Coachmen Classic 34' motorhome at an auction for $1,500. We previously owned a 22' fifth wheel which we remodeled, and we decided to get a new project to take on, and eventually use for roadtrips and camping with the kids. The rig had been a donation, and it probably hadn't been used in several years, it had been sitting for awhile.  It has 27,000 original miles on it. It runs great and I drove it all the way from Seattle to Spokane (300 miles). But it also had some other issues, such as a water leak in the roof in the bedroom around the air conditioner, and in the front above the headliner. We have already completely taken out the overhead bin above the cab where the TV used to be mounted because it was full of water and rust. We aren't sure if we will rebuild a new cabinet up there or just patch it up, the headliner was really just in the way anyway.  The water that leaked through had leaked onto the jackknife sofa and left a pretty big stain on it. Our plan is to completely remodel the interior of the rig and fix the roof.

As soon as we got it home, we put a large tarp on the top of the rig until we can fix the roof, then we took all of the carpet out. It was mostly soaked in the back and in the front. The subfloor was wet underneath, but surprisingly, looks pretty solid for the most part. We tried the fridge, a Norcold 600 series with a seperate freezer, and the fridge isn't working. However the house batteries are dead, and I read somewhere else on this forum that sometimes you need 12v power to get the fridge to work. This weekend I am planning to replace the house batteries with good ones, then we will see if the fridge fires up. When I plug the rig in, it indicates that there is AC power to the fridge (the light above the fridge lights up) I am having a similar issue with the generator, it isn't working. I'll troubleshoot that later and if it is bad, I will replace it.

Our overall plan is to repaint the walls, reupholster the furniture, possibly replace the couch, repair all of the water damage, repair the roof, put tile backsplash in the bathroom and kitchen, and replace the floor, either with new carpet or vinyl tiles (haven't decided yet). This should be a lengthy but fun project. I will post pictures as the work comes along.

The pictures are of the rig as it was when we bought it.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2011, 04:29:24 PM by smb2177 »
34' Coachmen Classic Class A
Spokane, Washington
http://www.facebook.com/stephen.bergman1 - if you send me a friend request, put "RV Forum" in the request so I can group you accordingly

Ernie Ekberg

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Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2011, 06:11:25 PM »
Its not sometimes you need 12 volts to refer- its always- . New batteries- and maybe new battery cables will help. Check with a slender screwdriver and try and puncture the floor where you had the water damage. If the screwdriver receives hard resistance- your floor is good. If it goes thru, then replacement is necessary. This is my "scientific" way I check out flooring.
check the date codes on those tires- if over 8 years- they are a ticking bomb. not IF they will blowout- but when.
this can be a doable project and we are here to help/
Ernie Ekberg, Weatherford, Tx
Bluebird Wanderlodge 43
www.ernieekbergflooring.net

smb2177

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Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2011, 06:18:07 PM »
Thanks Ernie. It doesn't seem very intuitive that you would need 12v for a fridge to work, but I sure am glad I saw that on this forum. The batteries may be ok, but there is no water in them. I have to buy new trays for the battery, then tomorrow I will mount them and fill them with water, hopefully we can get some juice out of them. Then maybe our fridge will work. Could save us a bunch of money in potential repairs.
34' Coachmen Classic Class A
Spokane, Washington
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34footer

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Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2011, 06:22:21 PM »
Welcome to the forum and have fun with the remodel.
J
1988 Pace Arrow, 34 feet, Chevy 454
                       So Cal

mnmnutswer

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Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2011, 07:49:07 PM »
If there is no water in the batt then chance is they are shot. If you have water stains in the inside roof (carpet) we used pet stain remover from the pet store to get that carpet on the roof looking like new. Have to spray it on very wet little rubbing and then dry towl and air dry it looks like new.
We also had a 1991 fixer up and just enjoy the heck out of it and on the road a lot. Each month we pick somthing else to repair or replace. Next year new roof and paint job is in the makes. My local sign shop will redo all the lettering, stripes and logo's back to new. Good luck with your project.
Terry & Kathy Weller
Direct Sales Jewelry
It goes where you are.

smb2177

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Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2011, 10:27:07 AM »
The batteries were definitely shot. We replaced them, then hooked everything back up. The generator actually turns over (good news!) although we weren't quite able to get it started yet. I am confident we can get it to start however. The more irritating problem is the fridge, even with battery and ac power, it doesn't seem to be getting cold.

We removed the ceiling around the air conditioner to replace the damaged wood and insulation. I also am in the process of removing the HUGE closet that takes up the entire hallway of the coach. Not only is it too big for us, it makes the hallway very narrow and there aren't any tip-outs in this thing. Since we won't be living in this thing, I'd much rather have something useful in that spot that doesn't take up as much space (maybe a mini-bar?).

By the way, my coach had 2-6 volt batteries in tandem to power all of the house supplies. Why can't you just use one 12 volt battery instead?  Is there an advantage to either set up?  Thanks!
34' Coachmen Classic Class A
Spokane, Washington
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gashog

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Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2011, 07:56:10 PM »
the fridge, even with battery and ac power, it doesn't seem to be getting cold.

By the way, my coach had 2-6 volt batteries in tandem to power all of the house supplies. Why can't you just use one 12 volt battery instead?  Is there an advantage to either set up?  Thanks!
I'm prety sure the fridge uses ammonia as a refrigerant. You should be able to see evidence (corrosion) if it has been leaking. It needs heat. If the gas won't light, maybe the heater element is accessible. You might check to see if it gets hot...or if there is power. Connections get corroded too.

If you can afford it, 2 big golf cart batteries (6v) in series = a very good, high cap, long life 12v system. They charge and discharge together.
Me....I use two cheap deep cycle RV/marine 12v batteries from NAPA. In parallel.

Ernie n Tara

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Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2011, 12:15:20 PM »
Don't give up on the refrigerator until it has had at least 24 hours to cool. They are not very fast. If its shot, a small household refrigerator will cost about a third as much and probably have more volume (works unless you plan to boondock at lot).
If you do save the floor, I'd think about using Allure or a similar floating floor rather than the cheap "stick down" type of tile. Any moisture under these will let them peel up and look crappy, and they often do anyway.
Have a great time with your project,
Ernie
Ernie 'n Tara

2011 Winn Journey 34y
2012 Jeep Rubicon - Dozer (orange - kinda)
2006 Jeep Wrangler

smb2177

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Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2011, 12:14:20 PM »
Thanks for the great info so far!  I do think we will be going with allure flooring. We are getting to the stage where we are about to paint and redo the countertops. They make a countertop paint for formica countertops, and I think we may try that out. We are also going to buy tile for a backsplash on the kitchen and bathroom sinks, we may start that this weekend. We repaired the roof over the rear bedroom, and removed the air conditioner. This beast had two air conditioners in it, and we really didnt feel like we needed both in there, especially since neither one works right now. I will just replace the one up front with a newer model. Since we will primarily be using this RV recreationally in the pacific northwest, two air conditioners probably won't be necessary.

We are going to use a primer, then paint over the wallpaper with a nice neutral color. Probably put up some nice wood trip. I am also going to replace all of the cabinet hardware with nicer pieces. The cabinets themselves surprisingly actually need little work.

I am working on design ideas for the giant space created where we removed the closet. If we were going to live in the RV, a washer/dryer or computer desk would be great. But for our use something like a bar area would be even better. This space is probably 6 feet long by 2 feet deep. I'll keep updated on what we decide to do.

I haven't posted any pictures recently because not a lot has changed cosmetically, we removed all of the furniture and carpet so essentially there is just bare floors now. I'll post more when the cosmetic stuff starts coming along, maybe this weekend.

By the way, I hear the fridge compressor working and cycling ammonia through the coils. I will leave it plugged in for a longer period and try that, we have only gone about 10 hours or so so far. If it doesnt work, I will probably have it repaired if at all possible, it is a beautiful and huge Norcold fridge and I would hate to have to replace it.
34' Coachmen Classic Class A
Spokane, Washington
http://www.facebook.com/stephen.bergman1 - if you send me a friend request, put "RV Forum" in the request so I can group you accordingly

Alfa38User

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Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2011, 12:58:53 PM »
If you hear the refrigerator compressor running, either you do not have an RV refrigerator or you are hearing things!! (LOL)

RV refers do not have compressors. The refrigerant circulates as the result of the cooling process, no pump/compressor needed. They may have a cooling fan in the back but otherwise are silent!!
Stu
Montreal, Canada
Snowbird, SW Florida
Alfa Gold 38 (2000) 5ver

smb2177

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Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2011, 01:30:27 PM »
I am obviously not very familiar with the inner workings of RV refrigerators. The Norcold in our previous fifth wheel worked off of propane and electric and never gave us any problems, so I never really had to learn about the makeup of it by necessity. I did hear a sound, maybe it was a cooling fan as you mention.
34' Coachmen Classic Class A
Spokane, Washington
http://www.facebook.com/stephen.bergman1 - if you send me a friend request, put "RV Forum" in the request so I can group you accordingly

mypursuit

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Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2011, 06:48:14 PM »
  Just a thought.  You say you have two A/C's and are going to remove the rear and update the front.  If these are non-ducted A/C's the noise can sometimes be bothersome.  I had a 30 foot class A with 2 A/C's and I found in the northwest that I could run the rear one and keep quite cool and  it was quieter in the front. Not sure if the 4 feet would make much difference.  Maybe a Fantastic fan in the front to pull air forward.
1997 Georgie Boy Pursuit     2008 Ford Focus
P-30 / 454 Chevy
Home Port Whidbey Island Washington
U.S. Navy 1970 - 1990
"Never Miss A Good Chance To Shut Up"  Will Rogers

gashog

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Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2011, 09:45:54 PM »
I am obviously not very familiar with the inner workings of RV refrigerators. The Norcold in our previous fifth wheel worked off of propane and electric and never gave us any problems, so I never really had to learn about the makeup of it by necessity. I did hear a sound, maybe it was a cooling fan as you mention.

About the fridge: they work on convection from being heated. That's why they can cool via AC/DC or propane. See if it's getting hot behind the access cover. If it isn't, you've found the problem. And,as far as how long it takes to start getting cold: Mine gets cooling after about an hour or so. It's full on after about 6-8 hours.

I always think of the movie "Mosquito Coast" when I look at my RV fridge. :)
I didn't get that movie. ???

smb2177

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Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2011, 10:53:33 PM »
Here is a picture of my Wifes tiling work in the kitchen so far. She is doing a great job. We used Bondera sheets instead of thinset - I recommend them very highly, especially in an application like this. We should finish most of the tiling tomorrow, this is just one wall.
34' Coachmen Classic Class A
Spokane, Washington
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anemic

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Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2011, 12:35:58 PM »
http://www.rvcoolingunit.net/servlet/StoreFront
Above link is for the "Amish fridge" If your fridge is bad you can get new upgrade guts for reasonably cheap and improve some of the low points of a Norcold fridge, improve performance and safety and retain the benefits of a "propane" fridge - if you might choose against the residential fridge option. Many RVers are quite pleased with this option.
1996 28' Tiffin Allegro Bay, purchased May 2011

smb2177

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Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2011, 03:50:30 PM »
Thanks for the info about the cooling unit replacement! That may be just what I need to get that thing going again.
34' Coachmen Classic Class A
Spokane, Washington
http://www.facebook.com/stephen.bergman1 - if you send me a friend request, put "RV Forum" in the request so I can group you accordingly

smb2177

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Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2012, 10:52:58 AM »
We were able to get a lot done in the last few weeks. It has been a bit slow because I am studying to take the Washington State Bar Exam in February, but my wife did a lot of great work. We repanelled all of the walls and painted them. We completely finished the bedroom. And we retiled the bathroom sink area and put in a new sink and faucet. We are about to finish the floors this weekend. It's starting to look quite nice inside. One of the pictures shows the vinyl tile we finished under the dinette to give a sense of what the rest of the floors will look like.
34' Coachmen Classic Class A
Spokane, Washington
http://www.facebook.com/stephen.bergman1 - if you send me a friend request, put "RV Forum" in the request so I can group you accordingly

PatrioticStabilist

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Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2012, 07:21:54 PM »
That is really looking pretty.  I love the tile.  I would like to do that but worry it will come loose when driving.  Have you driven it yet to see?

You guys are really doing a great job, hubby and I like doing remodeling on these too.  He just isn't home look enough and has to many things going to finish it all, so we wait.
Added 1992 American Eagle diesel pusher 38 ft

Winnie Sightseer 29 ', 2005 Class A 2 slides!  Bought 5/5/2010, Sold 1/7/2012. Added Tru Center , Trac Bar,  Air bags, Bilstein shocks Compressor for air bags, new awnings . New tires. New satellite dome, 2 flat screens
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smb2177

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Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2012, 07:39:34 PM »
Thanks patrioticStabilist. We used something called Bondera for the tile. Its a self-stick mat that adheres to the wall and you put the tile directly on it. It is pretty solid. Much better than thinset. I think it should stay in place pretty well.
34' Coachmen Classic Class A
Spokane, Washington
http://www.facebook.com/stephen.bergman1 - if you send me a friend request, put "RV Forum" in the request so I can group you accordingly

Ernie Ekberg

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Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2012, 06:47:30 AM »
very nice looking work
Ernie Ekberg, Weatherford, Tx
Bluebird Wanderlodge 43
www.ernieekbergflooring.net

DinnerDiva

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Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2012, 10:46:46 PM »
Love the look of the remodel.  We plan to replace the carpet in our MH with Allure - the kind that looks like stone vice wood planking because we have so much wood in the cabinets I think it would be too dark.  We are looking into aluminum tile for the kitchen backsplash that badly needs to be re-done.  We also saw some stuff at Lowes that looks like tin ceiling tile but it's some sort of plastic (I'm thinking this would be mroe lightweight and flexible than tile) - anybody use this stuff?  Any comments??  Seems like there is so much to do to keep the rig looking nice and updated.  I keep thinking we'll trade it in someday but then I hate to put all the work into it for someone else to enjoy so maybe we'll just run her till the wheels fall off!  I really love our MH and don't know if I'll find anything else I like more.  Besides, we have most of the obvious kinds worked out - sort of.
Jane and Adrian with Oscar and Nikko (two ornery cats)
2004 Gulfstream Voyager
2009 Hyundai Accent toad

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Lady Fitzgerald

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Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #21 on: January 21, 2012, 09:59:36 AM »
Here is a picture of my Wifes tiling work in the kitchen so far. She is doing a great job. We used Bondera sheets instead of thinset - I recommend them very highly, especially in an application like this. We should finish most of the tiling tomorrow, this is just one wall.

Thanks for the tip. I saw Tom Silva install a kitchen backsplash using this product on Ask This Old Mansion...er...House but a brand name was never provided. Your wife does good work!

Btw, here is a link for the manufacturer's website if anyone is interested.
Jeannie

Between RVs (to put it mildly) but planning on buying a TT to full time in.

Lady Fitzgerald

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  • Jeannie
Re: 1989 Coachmen Classic Remodel
« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2012, 10:19:28 AM »
We were able to get a lot done in the last few weeks. It has been a bit slow because I am studying to take the Washington State Bar Exam in February, but my wife did a lot of great work. We repanelled all of the walls and painted them. We completely finished the bedroom. And we retiled the bathroom sink area and put in a new sink and faucet. We are about to finish the floors this weekend. It's starting to look quite nice inside. One of the pictures shows the vinyl tile we finished under the dinette to give a sense of what the rest of the floors will look like.

I love that tile job in the bathroom. good job!
Jeannie

Between RVs (to put it mildly) but planning on buying a TT to full time in.