Monthly Archives: September 2012

1980 Starcraft Starmaster 1906 xl Restoration

Here’s a picture record of my PopUp Camper restoration. The story really starts here on the fantastic forum. Without the info and encouragement there I would never have gotten very far.

After tearing things to bits for several days this was the first thing to go in the right direction. I had to lap and glue two 1/4″ ply sheets to be able to make 11′ lengths of 1/2″ to make the new roof side bars

Here’s the new side bars. We can’t (easily) buy 12′ sheets of board in the UK. The old aly from the roof is in the background. I had scraped all the polystyrene off it, very strongly glued. At this point I thought I would use the original aly roof on my new frame.
At 7′ wide the front and back boards were able to be cut from regular 1/2″ 8×4′ sheets. I used external W&B grade ply throughout, not marine.
New roof frame about done. Was surprised how long it took me to make. woodwork is not my forte. The flags went up for eurovision song contest!
compared to the original manufacturerI added the three addition crossbars on the roof to prevent sagging. Have to say my roof still sags a bit…
after spending several hours fettling the old aly skin, when i found several corrosion holes in it i decided i needed something better. the last straw was after i placed it on the new frame and when it rained it still sagged into the centre seam and started dripping. Why did they put a seam down the middle???

I decided I wanted a roof skin without a seam. It took ages to source this but I managed to get an end of roll piece of ‘roofing coil’ it used to make roofs of artic trailors and trucks etc. we had a manufacturer locally who was very helpful.

the roofing coil sheet is 8′ 4″ wide. ideal. i only need 7′. It is, at 0.9mm, thicker than the original. the only dissapointment was I couldn’t get it with a stucco effect, this is just smooth. It is a devil to handle when you undo the coil – spings flat
To bond the wooden frame to the aly I made a wooden ‘former’ which replicated the curvature of the roof, laid the aly on it, glued the wooden frame too it using ‘no more nails’ type glue, then weighed it all down with part from the plough I’m renovating.
I bonded the polystyrene sheeting to the aly and wooden frame using special bostik contact adhesive that was designed not to melt styrene. At £30 for 5 litres it wasn’t cheap and it took it all.
To make the roof lining I bought white faced hardboard which has a plastic coating similar to the original. I used the same glue as above, but this has not worked well at all. My sheets are peeling off the styrene and this is adding to the slight sag in my roof I suspect. ahhhh!!! I intended no nails in the middle of my roof, just gluing the sheets and using the original plastic jointing strips to cover the gaps between the 4′ sheets. I have had to whack in some additional staples into the additional wooden struts I added. not good.

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around the same time as getting the roofing coil I jacked up the body of the pup to drag out the chassis. By this stage I had decided to change the front hitch and axle to a UK one from a donor caravan. The chassis was in for serious surgery.

The oringinal leaf spring axle. big question was could i use an axle from a donor caravan in it’s place. they were all torsion type, not leaf spring.

I used 100mm x 50mm box to make my new A frame for the chassis. Here’s the new front bar tacked in place. Someone said, “don’t bring home a wreck Mark and make the back garden look like a scrapyard”

you can see my donor torsion axle on the left. quite amazed to find that the mounting plates for it fitted quite nicely to the chassis where the spring hangers had been mounted. i just needed to make a plate to bolt the two sets of holes together
Goodbye Sur Act III 2″ ball hitch. Not sure all my angle grinding was very neighbour-friendly…

The axle fitted in nice between the inset part of the chassis
the new steel for the A frame was considerably heavier than the original – i’m an old farmer after all

I used the grid of the patio slabs to make sure everything was square.I should work for NASA!

Getting there, winding gear box tacked in place too now.

soon after this the chassis went to be shot blasted. Thanks to lads at CP Blasting, Creswell. they also painted the chassis for me.

i had hope that the 13″ wheels that came with the caravan axle would fit. Unfortunately they were just a bit too tight to the wheel arches. This was exacerbated by the fact that the new axle was 2 ” wider than the original

here’s the original wheels. they are 12″ 5 stud 4.5″ pcd. I had to get 12″ 4 stud 100mm PCD to fit my new axle. Fitted 145R12C tyres. Trailer sits real nice and level with those behind the range rover, just like it did with the original gear

chassis bac from the shot blasters. should be good for another 32 years now! the colour is chosen to match the original colours. The ‘mood board’ for the colour pallate is described as something unmentionable by some members of my family. For anyone interested my paint guys matched the colours to BS4800 colours thus; the brown – 08-B-29; the red – 04-D-45; the cream – 10-B-15. these colours appear not to have a standard set of names under the BS4800 scheme.

At this stage, knowing the deadline was tight Andy turned up to help for three days. you are a star!
Also Owen and Gertjan helped.

hitch on with brake linckage attached. Owen and Gertjan put all the brakes back on. I had removed all that before shot blasting, didn’t want to get chilled iron in them.

had the mount the winding gear slightly higher than normal to allow the brake rod to pass under. Works fine!

Winding gear back in. owen did this. i also removed the little pulleys from the chassis before blasting.

brake balancer. brake a re really sharp!

amazingly the holes i had to drill in the new A frame for the winding wires to pass through lined up nicely! The wire I bought to remake the broken one was 2mm 7/19 316 stainless from ebay. I used 2mm ferrules. I couldn’t run to the proper tool for crimping these ferrules (£50), so a squashed them in the vice then used a cold chisel to crunch them more down the middle. Don’t know if they’ll last for ever, but they’ve kept the roof up for a five day stint so far.

After the aly was bonded to the roof i was able to trim it to the proper width.

Here I’m testing a little bit  of the aly to see how well it wraps around. I should have wainted until the aly side plates were on of course. getting over excited!

 I used at etch primer on the bare aluminium. then two coats of base, four coats of topcoat.

 you might have seen that when i got the pup someone had decided to paint the lower panels cream to match the upper part.

here they’re going back to the original red

 Some of the red panels going back on!

roof, new wheels, and top fridge grill all getting top coated


At this point with 5 days to go before the August bank holiday deadline Myles came over to help put the roof on. Thanks mate!

roof on!

At this stage there were still several hours of frenetic activity. wiring of lights, new floor to screw down, all hatches to put back on, canvas to hang, roof seal to insert (fiddly), etc etc. Like the whole project it all took a lot longer than I’d imagined!! Spent three hours on it the morning we went away. i have a very patient wife

But – we’re camping!! greenbelt 2012, August bank holiday! Everyone amazed I’d got it finished, including me. It was a shell inside, but sound to use with a new floor. I rigged the original cooker to the LPG. We’d had the beds recovered. The weather at greenbelt was absolutely terrible, including torrential downpours. the pup had a full test but was totally dry throughout!

The canvas was all pretty good apart from two top bits of rot in one of the bed awnings. thanks to M & N Canvas Services Ltd, Sheffield who turned a repair around in less than a week and all for £20. they had some old stock canvas that was a great match for the colour too.

thanks to all my friends for their help. not least Kenny a RV. He supplied original parts which I was pleased to be able to get. Thanks to Ross anf Jennifer at Lilleker Antique Auto for shipping those parts to me