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The Unofficial Rules of Owning a Vintage Camper

I recently introduced my readers to Jenny.

She’s our janky vintage camper trailer that we acquired through irrational decision making and Facebook Marketplace.

Remodeling a 1969 Zipper Vintage Camper Trailer.
(Jenny on the day we picked her up!)

Perhaps you think we’re a couple of swanky hipsters that adore vintage everything and dream of becoming minimalist-tiny-house-liver-inners.

Buuutttt…..that’s pretty far from the truth. We’re more along the lines of amateur do-it-yourselfers that have watched a little too much HGTV and have never owned their own house. So, we’re dying to do a little bit of renovating (and old furniture just isn’t cutting it anymore).

In fact, all that vintage means to me is “old and janky, thus it will sell cheap enough that I can afford it.” Little did I know that restoring and renovating vintage campers is a WHOLE THING.

Vintage is just a cool word for old.

Like there are people that do this for a living. There are entire stores, websites, blogs, YouTube channels, books, clubs, and rallies dedicated to vintage campers. It’s its own world and my ignorant ass just walked right up in it.

Here are the totally useless, unofficial rules of owning a vintage camper.

Rule #1: Name It

That’s right…you have to name your vintage camper!

Not only do people name their campers and refer to them by name during conversations, but they also paint them on the back of the campers. It’s like boats, but for poor people.

So far, I’ve seen a Lola, Nugget, Rosie, Millie, Darla, Cherry, Blanche, Minnie Mae, Lucille, and so many more!

We decided on Jenny because she was a janky lady (and I’m a sucker for alliteration).

Rule #2: Join Vintage Camper Facebook Groups

After buying and naming your vintage camper, you have to join Vintage Camper groups on Facebook.

Like I said, vintage campers are their own world and these groups are where you can find out anything you want to know about them.

Don’t know the brand or the year of your camper? Someone in there can tell you. Want to know the best brand of aluminum polish? Someone can tell you which one and give you the link to the cheapest place to buy it. Looking for ideas on paint colors and interior decorating? Look no further, because these folks are more than glad to post their gorgeous glampers!

The wealth of knowledge in these groups knows no bounds. And the best part is….these people are willing to share that with you! They’re happy to share their experience and ideas with you.

Join vintage camper groups on Facebook.

Rule #3: Get Bullied by Grandpas in Said Facebook Groups

I know I made vintage camper Facebook groups sound like a good thing (and they can be), but don’t be fooled – it’s still the internet.

People of the internet can be BRUTAL and apparently old people are savage! I’m not kidding when I tell you that I was straight up bullied by grandpas in a Facebook group for asking a question about tankless hot water heaters.

Apparently, asking a question meant that I “didn’t know what the hell I was doing” and I was trying to “reinvent the wheel.”

Along with the question, I posted a picture of the renovation (so far), which was pretty much our gutted trailer and boy, did that rub some of them the wrong way.

Rule #4: Spend Countless Hours of Your Life Doing Research

Despite what Mr. Know-It-All up there thinks, I’ve done countless hours of research on vintage camper renovations. And I mean more than just looking at all the beautiful pictures on Pinterest.

I have read reviews of hot water heaters, j-trims, flat trims, aluminum polish, flooring options, floor plans, etc.

I’ve also watched numerous YouTube videos of renovations, especially framing, interior and exterior painting, and sealing up leaks.

I’ve read a plethora of blog posts and tutorials for everything from replacing sheet metal to how to check the frame for damage to the best way to clean the windows in the damn thing.

Don’t underestimate the time you will spend reading about campers, because it will consume you!

Do your research before restoring an old camper trailer.

Rule #5: Wad Up a Big Ball of Money…..and Light It on FIRE!

So far, this is the one rule that we haven’t learned the hard way….yet. We’ve only made it as far as gutting and repairing the wood rot in our camper. So, our only expense has been lumber and nails.

However, I KNOW that the costs are coming at me – fast and hard. We are going to try to save money where we can, but I do want Jenny to be a quality camper. I want her to last for many years and memories to come, so I’m not cheaping out on the important things.

Rule #5 of owning a vintage camper is to light your money on fire because it is expensive.

These are the unofficial rules that I’ve learned in just the first month of own a vintage camper. I’m sure there are many more that I’ll learn in the future.

I can’t wait to venture further into this weird and wonderful world of vintage camper revivals, grandpa bullies be damned!

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