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1986 Wanderlust Project - Wanda


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I bought a 1986 Wanderlust this spring with plans to take my family to Burning Man. Thought I was buying something that needed only minor tweaks and cleaning, but ended up with something that needs a moderate overcab bunk rebuild, some resealing throughout, and general work. This will be my best attempt at documenting this journey, as well as canvasing members for help.

Wanda 1.jpg



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2 hours ago, Derek up North said:

Rare to see a Wanderlust (Canadian) motorhome. I look forward to following your project and see more details of the construction.

First question, as often: Do you have a 5-lug axle hiding behind the hub caps? :)

I didnt think to check for the 6-lug vs 5-lug when I bought it, but thankfully it's 6-lug. :) 

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So 1st "big" project started when I notices some ants, as well as paneling that seems a little warped. Once I opened it up, I found a moderate amount of rot. This rot seems to spread from that little corner. I read on hear once that when rebuilding, you need to keep peeling away until you find solid wood to attach to. I ended up peeling away the paneling in the whole overcab bunk back to the bathroom wall and the entry door, ceiling included.

Part way through the demo on a rainy day, I noticed water dripping from the light on the ceiling above the bed.







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So now I'm at the stage of getting the right materials for the rebuild, and deciding what needs to go, and what is good enough to leave where it is.

I've noticed a lot of debate of the best wood to use for weight/cost/strength/rot prevention and I haven't seen any jury's ruling yet. For availability's sake, I might just use some spruce/fir common lumber from the local builders and use my tablesaw to get them all down to the right dimensions and lengths. Thoughts?

The ceiling and sides aren't an issue as they are flat. But the front has that curve to it, and I'm trying to find a thin/lightweight material that is flexible enough for what I need. Another user had posted this on a thread somewhere as a great option, but I'm having trouble finding it in Canada for a decent price. https://www.homedepot.com/p/1-16-in-x-4-ft-x-8-ft-Plastic-Panel-63003/202090190
Home Depot (Canada) has this FRP, but it's $60/sheet and my wife doesn't like the texture.
There is a mahogany 1/8" ply for less than $20, and would look badass with a nice stain and finish to it. But I'm nervous about its ability to bend along the frame out front. 

The RV has a solid aluminum roof that seems to be intact and the water has been coming in through the trim at the edges and seams.
Butyl tape is butyl tape is Butyl tape, so there isn't much debate about that aside from the right thickness/width (correct me if I'm wrong). But I've seen the opinions ranging about caulking for the outside around the windows, lights, trim. Some say one type (ProFlex), others say another (DynaFlex), and many say not to worry about caulk, and just make sure to do the butyl tape properly and dont worry about it. :) 

I might need to start removing some cabinets if the top corner framing is effected that far back (hopefully not). Any tips on removing and reattaching cabinets?

Thanks everyone.

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For the framing pine or fir is fine with me, white oak if it is available and cheap would be better.  Dry rot is a fungus,  so google killing dry rot and I would treat the new wood with antifreeze after gluing.

I have bent what they call 1/4" 5.2mm luan into a tight radius with no ill effects. The locally available luan may have a lot of oil in it so is best to seal well before trying to add a finish too it.  The left and right sides in this picture is what I bent the luan to fit.  Not impossible but not easy either, will take some grunting.  

I see no reason to use butyl tape on a window and add caulk also.  I did caulk around the front window and marker lights after resealing it as they really do not belong there.

Good luck. 




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3 hours ago, grahamr83 said:


... the best wood to use for weight/cost/strength/rot prevention ...
...  For availability's sake, I might just use some spruce/fir common lumber from the local builders and use my tablesaw to get them all down to the right dimensions and lengths.

I'm doing something different (canoe) but looking for similar properties. I'll be using 5/4x6"x16' cedar decking. Not the cheapest (2x the price of pressure treated) but should be lighter. And I think the thickness (a full 1") will be just about right.

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Opening her up slowly, bit by bit when i have time. Realizing I need to peel off all the aluminum siding where I'll be removing rotten wood and reframing. This means removing the RV entry door remove and reattach the siding properly. I'm hoping to break some RV rebuild slow progress records with this job.




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  • 3 weeks later...

Here we go, this shit just got real.

I've removed all the siding needed, and cut away the rotten wood. I've started framing up the side wall, and pickup up some more wood and a pocket hole jig on Saturday to start assembling and attaching everything.

You can see in one of the photos in my last post that there is a hole in the aluminum siding (there are a handful throughout the siding that I'm working on, rangin in size from pinhole to decent sized). I'm planning on applying some Eternabond on the inside of the aluminum where the holes are to seal it up, then maybe filling the void with caulking to match the siding. Thought?

Also planning on replacing the layer between the aluminum and wood framing with Reflectix to help with insulation and sound deadening.

I've seen a handful of overcab beds on here, and the only thing I havent settled on is the framing for the platform for the mattress. What does everyone suggest? I would like to keep the passthrough open, if that changes what you would suggest. I was thinking some sort of 1x4 or 1x6 with pocket screws and glue. Then filling the spaces with rigid foam insulation board. Then glueing a 1/8" ply down as the bed surface. Attaching to the sided with same pocket hole screws or a metal bracket.

It was hard trying to decide what to keep and what to remove. Some things didn't seem "bad enough" to open that next can of worms.

Wish me luck!




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The build continues, productive day!

Framed in the wall and front using pocket screws. Kept the window opening in the same place, but played around with the wood for strength and simplicity. It was hard deciding where to stop cutting away questionable wood, but I think I made a good call to not get TOO carried away.



I'm curious how to finish the fibreglass sheet that lines the "floor" of the bunk area. It's not sitting as flush as I was expecting to the bottom of the wall framing. The further back it goes, it really starts to slope downward to a point where it wont pull up against the 



I opted to use Reflectix to replace the weird paper/styrofoam layer under the aluminum siding to help with insulation and maybe sound/extra water barrier. I ran two continuous pieces from under the cabover bed, all the way forward and up the front as high as I could get them towards the roof. Then added a layer on the side that i removed the aluminum.

You'll also see the framing for the bunk. Used spruce 1x6 and pocket hole screw assembly (that pocket hole jig is AMAZING!). Wanted to keep the passthrough wide and easy to climb through with the flip up mattress. I'll be inlaying foam insulation board into the voids, then seeing if I can get 1 solid sheet of 1/2" ply to finish it up (not sure I'll be able to get it in there now that I put the walls back on) 





I'll cut the window holes out later when I've got the siding back on and windows ready to install.


Edited by grahamr83
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I can tell that was a TON of work. thanks for the pics, they really help as a resource for future "rebuilders", the pics also confirm what a great job you did. good luck, best wishes and hang in there. joe from dover.

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