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djfres

New Chinook Interior

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My wife and I recently purchased our third Toyota motorhome, so are now the owners of 2 Chinooks and one Sunrader, all running and in fair to good condition.

We are interested in having someone install a new interior, in a 1977 Chinook. Currently there is nothing inside the motorhome. Walls and floor are carpeted, but that is about as far as the interior amenities go in the motorhome section.

Has anyone ever worked with a business that does this type of work? Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. We understand this could be a bit expensive but would still like to pursue this.

Thanks for any assistance/recommendations.

djfres

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Not sure if RV places would do it? Also would be in my opinion prohibitively expensive.

In my past life I was involved with bus conversions and there was a loose network of converters who were very talented and fairly priced. It has been a long time so I no longer have contacts.

I would join the bus conversion forum and ask about someone in that business. There may be RV people of the same sort, but I do not know about them.

Finding someone with a good track record that is recommended would be the issue. There was a guy in PA that would take your vehicle and send bills every month, he ended up in jail! He never completed a job.

http://www.busconversions.com/bbs/index.php?PHPSESSID=f1afnrlc633ck4hfro52rrkd63&

HTH Jim SW FL

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If you are looking to hire someone - seems you have to have a plan of what you want. I can't imagine trying to hire someone under any conditions - but if I had to - seems you have to be clear what it is you want. Do you want it back to look like it was originally? Dinette or Gaucho? Do you want it modified from the original plan? It is obviously easier to copy what was done by the factory (in some ways) then to start from scratch. I recently scrapped a 77 Chinook and redid a 78 Chinook. Both Dinette models. I pretty much stuck with the original plan but with a few changes on the 78. I put in a 3.5 cubic foot electric chest refrigerator. So I have two left-over good-working three-way refrigerators for Chinooks. I also modified the bed arrangement. I think that is the hardest part. I modified a futon from Walmart and fit it in. I would of rather used a jack-knife sofa like my 1988 Toyota Minicruiser has but have yet to find one for sale at a reasonable price. Also put a spot in for a portable "john" with a closing door. Tight fit for an adult but nice to have on the road. I drink a LOT of coffee. Sometimes in certain areas - I can't just jump out of my RV and run behind a tree.

I also made changes in the electric system. Have a rear mounted battery now (where the refrigerator used to be) along with a 2000 watt inverter.

I assume your floor is flat as you look at it, from side to side? That is a BIG issue with Chinooks. They are one of the first to be built with "Vericel." A sort of honeycomb cardboard. Light and strong until a little rot gets in. Then weight of the roof, pushing down on the sides of the floor via the steel tubing, make it slump something awful. Very difficult to fix.

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jjrbus, Thanks for the information. I will try the bus conversion forum and see what is out there.

jdemaris, I will also do a good check of the floor. Thanks for that tip. Where did you find the space for a portable "john". I know the wife would appreciate that!

Will have to think about having someone else do the work. We had already started an interior refinish of our 76 Chinook and part way through the project the vehicle was stolen. Recovered it about 7 weeks after the theft to find most of the interior was trashed. Still working with the insurance company on that.

Once again, thanks for the information.

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For something the size of a Chinook, if I wanted nice, well-designed work and I had some dough, I'd think about talking to a boat guy. They would understand the weight to horsepower, quality of materials factors and cubic area...... Then I'd share a glass or two of wine with my wife and start thinking cubic money.

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make a list of what you want to do with the chinook, then look at the Sportsmobile or GTRV sites for some interior ideas and maybe a template (current builders of van based conversions, suggesting them since it's roughly similar size), then talk to a local cabinet builder?

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You can hire the work out to various types of people but first of all you need to know what direction you wish to go so that you get what you want for the best price.

The Sunraders and the Chinooks have something in common with each other, they have a fiberglass shell. Those shells were laid up inside of a mold. In order to remove the shell from the mold the sides had a slope to them as well as radius at the corners.

The efficient way to build cabinets for them is to create a face frame to which you attach some type of door or some other type of restraint for holding in the contents. There really is no back to the cabinets as that is created by the shell itself. The top of the cabinets is formed by the counter top which is secured to the shell or else held up by the end panels or dividers of the cabinet. The bed is created in a similar way but instead of a counter top you will have boards which support the seats. If you need to create an end panel that is exposed and needs to follow the contour of the shell then just make a template out of cardboard for that plywood shape.

If you are not a great woodworker and/or want to keep the weight down and strength up you can create a face frame from aluminum angle and pull rivet it to join the pieces. Simple plywood panel doors will look nice with an exposed aluminum face frame. You can also pull rivet hinges into place if you wish to do so or else bolt them to the frame. This is a pretty simple way to frame in the cabinets, you just measure and cut to length. Minimal tools needed, an 8 inch power miter saw with a carbide blade for cutting the aluminum to length, a drill motor, a metal file for smoothing cut edges and rounding over edges as needed, a drill motor and a rivet puller. You can have a cabinet shop cut your doors, counters and the boards below the cushions to size from sheets of plywood. That is a minimal labor cost compared to having the whole cabinet fabricated by them.

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