Lockdown got everyone making lists; we must tidy this, paint that, plant gardens, bake or learn to cook – something. The Rock and I pondered painting the interior of Rosie (our 1998 Ford Transit four-berth ex-rental motorhome), but ordering a paint colour online was not going to work for me and with literally no tools, sandpaper or paint brushes on hand we wandered off to ponder tackling something else.

Luton right wall showing the leak damage

But with lockdown ending and a family member arriving – who just happens to be a professional old-school painter who is just a tad OCD and finicky – a little project seemed in order, especially as he would be with us for a few weeks. It sounded simple to start with – oh, famous last words.

Water travels when you have a leak, this delaminated board was dug out and then replaced later

Rick started with sanding the internal wood work. Our Rosie is built like a brick outhouse, real wooden locker and cupboard units, so strong. The wallboard was slightly delaminated in some spots around the windows but careful sanding cleared this back to a stable surface.

Finding the source of the leak, replacing the exterior light and resealing it

The cupboard doors, catches and hinges were taken off, bagged up and named for each unit so there were no mistakes putting them back up. With sanding complete, two coats of sealer undercoat and two coats of Resene oil-based enamel paint were applied. All white paint on the woodwork trim to make the cupboards pop.

Cutting in around the windows, then a small roller to undercoat

We don’t use a microwave in a motorhome. My thinking is that you have to plug in at a campground to use it, and as campgrounds usually have microwaves why waste precious space in your RV? So we have fitted out Rosie’s microwave space with an insert container to hold cups, plates, glasses, bread boards, foldable storage bowls – all sorts fit in it and it can be taken to the camp kitchen filled with washing up if necessary. We chose to paint this the cupboard colour for contrast to the white framing.

The start of the Luton area

Under the sink we painted the internal top shelf and unit, the bottom underneath was just too hard so made do with a clean-up. On the top shelf we put a sliding wire basket to hold pots, fry-pan and those types of utensils – an easy pull-out to save bending over and looking into the back.

The Luton - water damage fixed, painted and ready to go

The wardrobe was tidied, sanded and coated inside as well as outside, nice.

The entrance area (with ladder on the wall) and the ceiling all got attention and paint treatment, all nice and easy to clean for years to come.

Event the wardrobe interior was scrapped down, prepped and painted

The Luton was a little more involved. I did say Rick was a little OCD, so finding spots of soft wood in both front corners and in the wall under one window, he had to investigate. This ended up with us stripping the wall on one side and, with the help of a hose and some patience, tracking down the source of the water leak that caused the damage. The exterior top running light was replaced and resealed at the connection, and the window was resealed as well. Water travels and so did Rick, finding any spots where water had settled and caused softness.

Original paintwork, acrylic flat finish, blue doors white trim

We got a couple of repair quotes for the interior, and we decided to take advantage of the affordable pricing at Wendekreisen Motorhomes, who have a charge-out rate for repair work that can’t be beaten – $60 per hour. Rosie was booked in, and a few weeks later we got her back after the window had been taken out to install a new internal wall panel, Luton front edges repaired, window refitted and resealed – all sorted for under $2000. We realised we could claim insurance through Camper Care for the water damage inside, but not for the repair as there is a limited provision in our policy for a claim, so that was helpful and they worked promptly with us to settle the claim.

Lovely fresh finish, shiny and easy to clean. Microwave is gone - storage is in

The Luton paint job took just a few days, again with oil-based paint. It does take much longer and the smell lingers longer, but the shine durability and strength of the finish is a winner for me all day long. We elected to take the paint from the teal blue cupboards, mix it with a 50/50 high-gloss white to create a softer version of the colour for the Luton area. If we had done it full strength I think it would have become too dark over the area; this way it glows with softness. Curtain back in, new mattress squabs back up – a new LED light replacing the old fitting and this area is good to go.

Top cupboards, walls and ceilings all got a sand and repaint

We are so happy with the finish. To be fair the Rock and I could have done it ourselves,,but it would have been a sand/scrape, she’ll-be-right-I’m-over-this job, let’s-just-do-this finish, so seeing our favourite RV glowing with a new face looking fabulous inside and the best she can look is just a joy, thanks to the slightly OCD but so appreciated real painter, Rick, and the team at Wendekreisen.

Under-bench cupboards got the treatment, and we added in a slide-out basket for accessing pots etc easily

We are considering selling Rosie now as we have three motorhomes to park up, four cars, a boat and a trailer (not all ours), and finding a rental property in Auckland that has parking for more than two tiny smart cars is a challenge. We want to buy a house in Pukekohe, but are reluctant to release the property in Martinborough as it is a lovely spot to live, and life is up in the air. The private RV rental market is dead in the water, so letting one of our favourite motorhomes go is possibly on the cards.

Stage 1 under the window

We paid $20K for her in 2018 and since then we have spent essentially $28,000 on the interior and exterior with upgrades and repairs. Motoring wise we will have easily spent $10,000 on all sorts: cam belt, brake systems, wheel bearings, drive shaft seal – the list goes on. After every rental we had it serviced and checked. We have changed brakes shoes still with 3000km or more left on them (so renters had the best brakes available), and fitted new tyres all round.

Stage 2 under window, sanded and smoothed out then undercoat

Costs are ridiculous really when you have to do up an older unit. Buying things like satellite dishes, diesel heating, fridges or stoves are one part of the purchase equation, but installing those is nearly the purchase price again. Oh what am I saying – these things cost regardless of the age of your vehicle – every RV needs its water tightness checked every year, and upgrading any fixture like stove/fridge/electrical systems costs money, regardless of vehicle age.

So a $20K purchase, two years later, has cost us $58K total to get things like freedom-camping power, comfortable sleeping and upgraded heating. Were they necessary? Maybe not, but we all seem to want this stuff, and while we might have got a little carried away, maybe, the diesel heating is great, squabs and blinds make me happy and comfy, and I like watching TV whenever I want – for three days straight in crappy weather parked at a beach if necessary – without worrying about power. We love the layout in Rosie, compact at 5.5 metres, you can socialise in the rear, make up a comfy bed, or climb the ladder to the Luton for a comfortable sleep, complete with black-out curtains.

Stage 3 two undercoats - two top coats - perfect

New Habitation Door 2019

New door – insurance replacement with Share-A-Camper renter accident – grazed side of motorhome, moved hinges on door so needed complete replacement. No cost to us.

First Repairs and Roof Vents 2018

2018 Marty’s Panel & Paint – repair scrapes in side of motorhome, rebuild step area, replace step, replaced all window seals, clean and reseal all exterior roof joints, replace roof vent with new rain-sensing electric two-way vent – $10k.

November 2018

Solar system and new batteries

AA Solar upgraded the batteries and fitted a full solar system:

Battery Charger TBB 1240 A-33 Port 230V Charger c/w temp sensor. 40A,

Battery Monitor Votronic 12/24V LCD 100S programmable up to 100A,

Battery switch unit – Votronic 100A 12V 2072 and 24V 12/24V isolating relay,

Studer AJ Series 500–12 12V/230 VAC 400W continuous sine wave inverter,

Batteries AGM C12V260 Ah, 522 x 240 x 218mm, 61kg each – two of them,

MMPT Solar controller, eTracer 45 A BND 4415 MPPT 12–24VDC, 9–32V batt. 45A max,

Solar panel – two Simax PV solar panels 280W each, size 1640 x 992 x 40mm, weigh 17.5kg. Total cost $6600.00

Uniden High Definition widescreen 19” LED TV built-in DVD, 12–24V DC – $500

July 2019

Interior squabs-curtains

July 2019 we got Starfish Interiors to make new squab seating for the living and Luton areas, and new curtains and roman blinds for all the window and privacy spaces. Total cost $5864.

Sept 2019

Auto satellite dish – second hand

Initially AA Solar installed the AT 8022 Omnipro-UHF TV antenna, $120 from Uniden. This got damaged by a friend using the motorhome when he hit a tree and wiped it off! He replaced it with a refurbished Alden Onelight 65 auto satellite dish from Vantage RV, and they installed it in November 2019 – $1500

Heating

Diesel Heater install ACM. $1200

Eberspacher D2 (2.2kW) heater kit (RRP $2300)

July 2020

Repaint interior

Resene oil based enamel. The colour is half-opal on cupboard faces, quarter-opal in the Luton area.

Repair Luton and window panel area Wenderkreisen  $2000