March 2020- Brazil
In April of 2020 we arrived in the state of Rio do Sul, Brazil. We booked an appointment to have some repairs completed on the camper and the truck. Friends told us about a man that had helped them and we were ready to enlist in his help for our repair needs. His shop was fantastic, with Volkswagens, motorcycles, a pool table, a beer bar and a barbershop. What a fun place to be!
He and Mike looked over the repair needs and discussed a budget and a timeline for the issues. It was time to peel open the camper roof and the ceiling. Then rebuild the wood that was rotted from water intrusion. This would be a chance to repair the damage caused back in Suriname (click here to see the story of the low border crossing) as well as any other areas of damage. We would also have some suspension parts replaced and a few other little details. It was going to be a two to three week project.
The humans and dogs of Slowcarfasthouse rented a small home in Canela and moved EVERY SINGLE THING out of the camper. No small task, but the garage on the rental was perfect to hold it all. And it gave us a chance to sort, clean and eliminate the unnecessary items. We figured that we would have three weeks to get things cleaned up and then moved back in to the camper.
Then within that three-week time span, the world changed.
News of a new, global illness reached South America. The countries around Brazil began closing their borders. And even though we were just a one-day drive from our next country, Uruguay would NOT let us in. Nor would other neighboring countries; Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia had also closed their borders. Additionally, the USA was calling all citizens abroad to return to their home country. But we had a vehicle and dogs that we were not willing to leave in Brazil.
So we stayed.
A few weeks of border closure became a month. And the months passed with us nestled into the little town of Canela in the far south corner of Brazil, South America. We took this opportunity to become members of the community around us (click here to see post about giving back https://slowcarfasthouse.com/2021/01/20/giving-back-to-a-community/) and to continue the improvements to our truck and camper. Eventually we were able to venture out and explore some of the areas around us. (Click here to read about some of our activitieshttps://slowcarfasthouse.com/2021/04/01/doing-stuff-while-stuck-in-brazil/ ). We celebrated birthdays, holidays and season changes in this country while we waited for land borders to reopen.
While we waited, the roof and ceiling of the camper was removed.
During replacement of the roof and ceiling we made a few changes. The air conditioner and front windows were not reinstalled. We had new ceiling vents with fans, new lights, and a new solar panel installed. Click here to see the photos and videos that detail the steps of that process. This may be interesting to those who are considering rebuilding an older truck camper. This Northstar Arrow camper was 15 years when we started these repairs. Some of the wood rot was a surprise, and some of it we anticipated. Here is a collection of photos of the repair process. These photos show the wood rot, the damage, the old and new insulation and the old and new wood. This was a huge undertaking. And while we were not thrilled with the quality of the finish work, we are quite happy to have a roof that does not leak.
Since we had a lot of spare time and we were not living in the camper full time, we decided to repaint the interior of the camper. While all of our personal items were out of the camper, we were able to easily remove all the cabinet doors. Then remove and clean all cabinet hardware- handles, knobs, and hinges. Each door was sanded and then carefully cleaned. Any pits or holes were filled. The same procedure was done with the built-in portion of the cabinets inside the camper. Three coats of semi-gloss, exterior paint were applied to the cabinets.
Then the hardware was reattached and all the cabinets were returned to the interior of the camper. The change was incredible.
But those beautiful white cabinets made the walls look dingy and dirty. We still had plenty of time, waiting for borders to open. So we prepped and painted the walls a subtle contrast shade of blue. The final outcome looked bright and clean and spacious.
Then we replaced the vinyl flooring for a final step in restoration and beautification. We also added some stick on tile accents to the bathroom to cover a few areas of damage and bring the colors all together.
We also added the black brush guards to the roof. And a new set of stickers for the front of the camper. Once it was completed, we moved all our belongings back into the camper and started exploring around our new temporary community. Click here to see some of our explorations. https://slowcarfasthouse.com/2021/04/03/while-we-are-in-brazil-lets-see-if-we-can-get-in-to-uruguay/
I hope this post is useful to those who are considering restoring, painting or upgrading an older camper. It is hard work, but the outcome is very rewarding. We are thrilled with the way our camper looks now and we anticipate many years of service from the new roof and ceiling.
Thanks for reviewing this info. We hope it is helpful to others who want to restore or replace their roof and ceiling or repaint the interior.
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