Alexander SuperScamp

UPDATE: Alex is dead. He was t-boned on December 31st, 2018. He will be missed. A new model, Cara van Scamp, has since entered our nomadic lives.

Alexander SuperScamp is the fifth member of our little family. He sees us off in the mornings and welcomes us home at night. And though he be but small, he provides a mighty refuge from the elements. Alex is a 1997 13′ Scamp fiberglass travel trailer. His dry weight is only about 950lbs, his interior is 10′ long x 6.5′ wide, and he is the perfect model of efficiency. (This is where you can choose to read on, or just skip to the photo gallery at the bottom of the page for the tour.)

We adopted Alex from a very cool young family in Seattle (you can read that story here) and, aside from a few minor items, he was ready for adventure the day we picked him up. The updates his previous family had already administered were to our liking, so we took our cues from those and just finished the job.

First priority was to fix the broken furnace and update the thermostat. Next was the wiring. The right turn signal worked intermittently at first, and then not at all. After a whole lot of trouble-shooting and experimenting, turns out all that was needed was a little dielectric grease to help the connection. While we had the dinette benches out and the “rat fur” marine carpet wall covering torn apart, we saw that the tubing from the water tank to the sink pump was kind of gross, so we replaced that.

One the cosmetic side of things, Alex was in limbo. His original owners (we’re family #3) left the roof vent open during a Seattle downpour, and the water-damaged flooring had been replaced with a vinyl I would have chosen myself, so that was easy. Four carpet squares purchased from Flor’s online clearance fit perfectly for barefoot friendliness and insulation. The curtains were a large botanical print. They had the right colors in them, and although the pattern was more…pattern…than I would have chosen, I liked them. The cabinet doors had been painted white, but only on the outside, so I painted the insides to match. Cute vintage knobs had replaced the originals, but the ones on the larger doors were mismatched and just a tiny bit too funky and clunky for my taste. I kept the small painted knobs and replaced the large ones with simple white ceramic.

Last from a design standpoint were the vestiges of a travel trailer industry that had not caught up with the interior design industry in 1997, when Alex came to be. Alex was trimmed in 1970’s dark brown: dark brown pinstriping on his cabinets, dark brown furnace grill, dark brown bullet-style reading lights above the bed, and dark brown accented plaid upholstery. All of these had to go. To my surprise, the pinstriping peeled off easily. I used white heat resistant spray paint to update the furnace grill. The reading lights were riveted to the underside of the fiberglass cabinet, so we had to drill out the rivets in order to bolt on the white replacements we ordered from Scamp. The sofa cushions…off came the plaid, which I saved for patterning purposes. With dog hair and spills in mind, I found a deal on a faux tooled-leather vinyl upholstery fabric and ordered enough of it to allow for a mistake or two. I used the leftovers to cover a lightweight storage cube we were using as a bedside table in our house. It fits perfectly in the niche on the sofa next to the stove for additional storage and counter space.

We ditched the dinette cushions for an IKEA memory foam mattress I cut to fit Alex’s rounded corners and tailored the cover to fit. Since we can’t flip the mattress, we flip ourselves, switching ends the first of each month. Real sheets. Down comforter with duvet cover. The hardware to convert the bed platform to a table was nullified, so we removed it to create more usable storage space. I was able to find some plastic bins that fit perfectly to take advantage of every inch, with just enough to spare for my favorite IKEA storage crate…and oh yeah, Frankie, too.

The tall cabinet across from the kitchen took a bit of thought and research. Apparently, Scamp thinks people want a closet to hang clothes in their camper. Since we divested ourselves of formal attire before leaving, we wanted a place to store food instead. We also needed to house our Goal Zero Yeti 400 somewhere we could monitor input and usage and plug things in. I waded through Scamp and RV forums and blogs to find the best solution. The result was pretty simple; I built plywood shelves supported by a frame made out of 1″ pvc. The cabinet has a short door that opens into a black hole that houses the wheel well. The weird part is that there’s still a bunch of space above the wheel well and below the door opening. I put in a thin sheet of plywood that sits atop the wheel well just so things wouldn’t disappear into the narrow void on the left side, then a 3/4″ plywood shelf that sits just below the door opening. This shelf is split in half from side to side so the front half can be lifted to access the storage space below. The Goal Zero Yeti sits on the back half of the shelf, and there’s a hole in the removable section for the input from the solar panels. We drilled a hole in the floor under the dinette bench next to the water tank, and fitted it with a short piece of pvc we caulked into place. The solar cable runs through the cabinet, into the bench, and out to the panels. We push the cable up into the pipe and cap it for travel. I fitted the rest of the closet wth two more shelves, the lower of which is cut away to allow easier access to the Yeti.

We added a bunch of accessories: hooks, shelves, and a paper towel holder. We took advantage of every flat surface we could. Those Command adhesive strip things are the bomb for mounting things on the fiberglass, even things that are intended for use with hardware.

Alright, let’s address the most common question we get about Alex. Does he have a bathroom? Nope. We were lucky enough to have a friend give us a porta-potty that fits in the space under the sofa in case of “emergencies”. We haven’t used it, but it’s nice to know it’s there in the event we have to overnight somewhere in the midst of civilization. Besides, there’s nothing that makes you feel closer to nature than digging a 6″ deep hole in the ground and copping a squat. Two 2.5 gallon solar showers and a privacy tent round out our “facilities”.

I never truly recognized how much “more” we lived with until Alex came into our lives. Honestly, we would probably be perfectly alright with even less, but we’re grateful for the comforts of a good bed and warm shelter. We’re home.

The “Before”:

And the “After”: