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Old 12-12-2010, 06:52 PM   #1
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Default DIY Question - Original or Update?

Thought I'd gather your input for renovating this 1986 GMC Fiesta 2500. Mechanically it's sound. My question is would you try and complete it as close to original or update it to something more current. I know that everyone is going to say it is a matter of personal preference, but what I'm looking for is your preferences and any ideas you can give me. Nothing beats experience! My first project will be the shower/ toilet area and I don't plan to do anything overnight or spend a bundle. I've included some pictures. Thanks, looking forward to your insight.

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File Type: jpg 86 Exterior.JPG (338.0 KB, 1216 views)
File Type: jpg 86 Interior 1.JPG (393.3 KB, 1214 views)
File Type: jpg 86 Interior 2.JPG (331.4 KB, 1214 views)
File Type: jpg 86 Interior 3.JPG (332.6 KB, 1215 views)
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Old 12-12-2010, 07:39 PM   #2
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Default Re: DIY Question

A complete makeover would be fun but I think it would end up costing too much. The layout is typical of older units and it was probably often done that way because of the size of the van. Some newer vans are 21' to 22' long. Yours might be 19' long.

Newer units don't have as much of the wood paneling showing. My Roadtrek had wood cabinets but had cloth covered "walls". The B+ I owned had some sort of wallpaper covered paneling on the walls. I think that you could modernize the look by creating a contrast between the cabinets and the walls. I'm not sure what I'd use on the walls to to make them lighter.

I usually end up changing faucets because I prefer single lever. Little things like that help update the look.
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Old 12-12-2010, 08:12 PM   #3
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Default Re: DIY Question - Original or Update?

I believe I would clean and shine that baby up and show it off. Your definitely going to have people ask the age of your rig - you can smile when you tell them - for they made it so well your driving and camping today. Enjoy and safe travels.
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Old 12-13-2010, 01:08 AM   #4
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Default Re: DIY Question - Original or Update?

I'd tend to agree with markopolo and Ron, that it's not a bad looking rig as it sits, and that
sometimes small cosmetic changes like kitchen or bathroom hardware can make things
look more updated, without costing a fortune. Maybe some paint or textured wall covering
might be a thought, if you think there's too much wood showing. Decor really is a matter of
personal taste and it is difficult to make specific suggestions. One of the first projects I
took on when I bought my Roadtrek was to change out all the OEM incandescent lights with
LEDs to help save battery power when dry camping. I also tossed the old 13" CRT TV that
came with it, and got a new flat screen LCD, also a low wattage draw (1/4 of the CRT draw),
and added an articulating arm swivel wall mount to hang it on. Both projects were fun and
challenging, because I'd never done anything like them before. Ultimately, I'm sure I get a
lot of extra battery time out of my system because of a bit of planning and some simple changes.
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Old 12-16-2010, 06:57 PM   #5
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Default Re: DIY Question - Original or Update?

If this was my rig:
1) Put covers on the speakers.
2) Replace the under-cabinet lights with fluorescent fixtures.
3) Do something to the paneled walls, to make it brighter inside.
4) Upholster the front door panels.
5) Replace the carpet with some type of hard flooring, then add a throw rug.
6) Make sure all wheel bearings, brakes, fluids and A/C are refreshed.
7) If it has a generator, run it every day for 15-30 minutes, for a week. Then at least 30 min per month.
8 ) Have the propane system checked and serviced.

Start using it, so you can get a feel for the things that need to be done, and the things you might want to change. Check out some of the new Class B RV's on the lots, to get some ideas.

Have fun with it.
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Old 12-18-2010, 12:58 PM   #6
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Default Re: DIY Question - Original or Update?

All great ideas, and thanks for your ideas. I would like to keep it as close as original as you suggested, but like the ideas of doing away with the carpet and lightning the paneling. No generator, and I really need to have a professional check the horizantal propane tank for safety purposes. I thought I might be able to do this myself but there doesn't seem to be a lot of information on what to look for besides the obvious. Keep the suggestions rolling in and I'll post some before and after pic as the renovations progress. Thanks again.
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Old 12-20-2010, 05:07 PM   #7
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Default Re: DIY Question - Original or Update?

With no generator, you will want to make sure you have enough house power, via the batteries. 2 or 3 AGM batteries and a strong alternator will work. A "Battery Brain" to keep from discharging the batteries below the 50% mark, will help your batteries have a long life.

Also, with no generator, you will want to reduce the power draw from the normally used items. Things like the lights, TV, etc. Don't use the inverter, if you don't have to (it draws power, when it is on). Change your light fixtures to something that uses less power (e.g. fluorescent, LED). LED tends to be too blue, and not very useful, unless you can find white/soft-white. The white LED's use more power to produce the same amount of light, so it may be a wash, compared to fluorescent.

If you are planning to be plugged in most of the time, none of this makes much difference.

Keeping it as original as possible is an interesting idea; but there have been many technology improvements made in the last 24 years (e.g. LCD TV, 2/3 step inverter-chargers, LED lights, tank-level sensors, etc. ).

Anyway. You have a fun new vehicle. It will be fun to see what you do to/with it.
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Old 12-20-2010, 09:59 PM   #8
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Default Re: DIY Question - Original or Update?

If you are interested in a small generator to carry later on, there is an excellent review on the RV.Net. It covers the Generac Inverter type genny. I know everyone says go with Honda and Yamaha, but sometimes others want to conserve, but not get had in their saving a few bucks. I have a Honda 2000i, along with the Onan in my RT, but if I were looking for a less expensive one - this one could fill the bill. Still like that rig of yours!! Safe travels.
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Old 12-20-2010, 10:16 PM   #9
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Default Re: DIY Question - Original or Update?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Photog
LED tends to be too blue, and not very useful, unless you can find white/soft-white.
The white LED's use more power to produce the same amount of light, so it may be a wash, compared to fluorescent.
Also, LEDs are typically more expensive up front, than the other 2 types of mainstream lighting,
but are physically more durable, and will last considerably longer than filamented bulbs or
fluorescents, barring manufacturing defects. They're pretty much shock proof which might be
another advantage in an automotive application.
They also can be used as a swap in replacement, in most incandescent light fixtures without
any modifications, unlike adding specialized ballasts or mounts for additional fluorescent lighting.

As far as the LED color or efficiency goes, everything I've ever read puts LEDs as the leader in lowest
power draw. Granted, they aren't as bright as their fluorescent or incandescent cousins, but they
might save you some valuable battery power. I find all of mine bright enough, and not overly blue,
but I requested warm white when I ordered them.
There's a decent online retailer called SuperBrightLeds that has all shapes and sizes of 12VDC LED
replacement bulbs if you decide to go that way. I used them to obtain some of mine, some festoon
lights for the cab and door steps, and a smaller wedge base for over the range burners. I still have
the 2 cab map lights as incandescents as we hardly ever do any reading in the van, and if we do, it's
usually something map or navigation related.

Like Ron says, you might want to consider a portable generator, if you've got someplace to store it inside.
I've seen a few rigs with them bolted to the rear end of their vans, or just sitting in a rear
external storage cage or mesh basket. Usually with a 20 lb. propane tank right beside it.
No idea if the propane is for the generator or not. Just a thought.
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Old 12-23-2010, 07:03 PM   #10
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Default Re: DIY Question - Original or Update?

LED's are the lowest power draw, and the "warm-white" is definitely the color to choose.
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