Coachmen Leprechaun

The restoration

 
 
 
 
 
 
Craic Lifer
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on Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 05.06.2019  ·  #601
Go to it Kevin. Make sure you have the live feed on the tail pipe so you will have sound and vision.
I started a Morrie Minor on Saturday last that hasn't been run for a few years had to clear a distributer short,clean out a blocked carb,and drain off what looked like old brandy from the tank the old way ( didn't taste like it ) when the blue smoke cleared and we could see it,in the shed again it ran sweet enough.


Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 13.07.2019  ·  #602
I may have doubled the value of the Coachmen recently!! :lol:

16.5" tyres.... pah.

 


Other than getting new tyres for the rear axle, I haven't really done a whole lot with the camper over the last few months. Some more wiring and a bit more work in the back.

Last week I accidentally backed into the side of the camper and broke one of the rear wheel arches. No other damage done thankfully, just the arch. The plastic in these is only 1mm thick and super brittle from age. Replacing them was on the to-do list anyway. As you'd expect, they don't make this style any more and finding a suitable replacement was proving impossible so far. They're known as "fender skirts" in the US.

So I watched a bit of Youtube last week, specifically, how to make fibreglass moulds. Today, I decided to have a go at making a copy using the remaining wheel arch as a template. I've done a little bit of fibreglass work before, but nothing as ambitious as this.

Worth a shot right?

I gently removed the surviving wheel arch from the camper and reinforced it from behind with fibreglass filler and aluminium rods. Hopefully this will make it strong enough to survive the mould making process. It was super super brittle!
I then made a stepped MDF platform to mount it on. Stepped, because the lower edges of the arch are curved. You'll see more clearly in the pics below.

 

 

 


Thats as far as I got today. Tomorrow I'll fill the screw holes, cracks & gaps and smooth out the "plug".

If any of you have experience in fibreglass work, please chip in with your tips n tricks here! :-)

I have a good bit of resin, hardener, pva release agent, carnuba wax and a couple of pieces of chopstrand in different weights. Hopefully I have enough to make a test piece!

Do I need paint on gel-coat? If yes, I can get some on Monday.

I might make a mould of something other than the original wheel arch first just to get a bit of practise... I've never done this kind of thing before..

Obviously the goal here is to keep things cheap! But if my practise pieces don't go well, I might cop out and bring the plug to a pro to get them to make a mould and the copies...

I got a quote from a boat builder in Cork a couple years ago, so I have at least one option there...

If any of you have recommendations, chime in!


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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 13.07.2019  ·  #603
@hillton9

Robert is the man to speak to about that!


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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 13.07.2019  ·  #604
If still stuck, I can check in with some old canoeist friends, couple of them had a business making fibreglass boats... And also the fibre glass urinals for festivals! And all of them have had to repair something! From memory the gel coat will be required!


Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 14.07.2019  ·  #605
Irony!

I just received an email from a company in California that have a fender skirt that might be a direct replacement. What are the odds!!
(I sent out emails to half a dozen RV parts suppliers last week, this was the only reply)

Not a bad price either...Just need to get a shipping quote... Hmmm, what to do... lol


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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 14.07.2019  ·  #606
https://www.bridgemotorhomes.ie/

These guys have rebuilt an RV too and might be able to help


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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 14.07.2019  ·  #607
Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 15.07.2019  ·  #608
Thanks Pat.

Yeah, I sent an email to those folks but I haven't heard anything back from them yet. They didn't have anything suitable listed on their web page, but I sent them some details of what I needed anyway.

The guys in California (Sierra RV parts) were recommended by one of the other companies that I sent an email to. Sierra said they may have something similar, but they needed more information from me, so I'm waiting on them to come back to me this week to confirm. The unit cost isn't bad but I'll bet the shipping costs will kill it.
https://www.rvpartssierra.com/…n-1978-132

Sierra #132 fender skirt:
 


I'm still thinking of having a go myself though. Nothing to lose now that I know I should be able to buy replacements... Besides, the 1/4 round corner mouldings on the front and back of the camper are also very fragile and showing signs of UV damage. They could do with being replaced too. If I can cut my teeth on the wheel arches, then I should be able to have a go at the corner mouldings also?
 


Didn't do anything to the plug yesterday. it was such a beautiful day, we loaded the dogs into the car and took a spin over to Sneem & Caherdaniel. What a day.


Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 15.07.2019  ·  #609
Quote by eirebus

https://www.bridgemotorhomes.ie/
These guys have rebuilt an RV too and might be able to help

Thanks Dave,

Their work is impressive!

I've sent an email to them to see if they can help.


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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 18.07.2019  ·  #610
Hope this helps you should be using your Mould from the inside out ,ie useing the back which would the unjelled side you need to sand it as smooth as possible even put in filler to get it as smooth as possible then spray paint it a few under coats and and a few gloss coats ,leave for a good week to harden then you need to wax it you can get Mould release wax from someone who sell fibreglass put 4/5 good coats of wax in the mood shinning each coat then when your happy with that put your gelcoat on a good thick coat when this is dry after a day put your glass on I would put 3 coats of glass on but you can buy glass at different weights,but for me it would be a min of two coats you can let it overhang your Mould this should help you prise your arches out of the mood ,if you need to talk to me I can pm you my phone number good luck don’t be afraid of it the less harder you put in the longer it will take to harden


Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 19.07.2019  ·  #611
Quote by hillton9

Hope this helps you should be using your Mould from the inside out ,ie useing the back which would the unjelled side you need to sand it as smooth as possible even put in filler to get it as smooth as possible then spray paint it a few under coats and and a few gloss coats ,leave for a good week to harden then you need to wax it you can get Mould release wax from someone who sell fibreglass put 4/5 good coats of wax in the mood shinning each coat then when your happy with that put your gelcoat on a good thick coat when this is dry after a day put your glass on I would put 3 coats of glass on but you can buy glass at different weights,but for me it would be a min of two coats you can let it overhang your Mould this should help you prise your arches out of the mood ,if you need to talk to me I can pm you my phone number good luck don’t be afraid of it the less harder you put in the longer it will take to harden


Thanks Robert!


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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 27.08.2019  ·  #612
Quote by Blag

Introducing our 1980 GMC Coachmen Leprechaun! (The restoration Project).

 

This will be a very slow project. I will only be able to work on it on weekends and some evenings, and there may be long gaps in between when life or work gets in the way, so dont expect a quick turn project here! :lol:

My folks gave us the camper as they dont use it any more. They've moved onto other things in their retirement, an the Coachment is in a bit of a state. Rust, the silent killer!.

First task was to get it running... then to get it moved to my home where I could start working on it.

2019 EDIT:
In 2018 we had a server crash on MHCraic which resulted in the loss of photos on this thread and many others. It essentially "made this thread worthless without pics"!! This event happened not so long after photo hosting policy changes on Photofuckit forced me to replace all of the photos on this thread one by one, which was a pita.
So, to avoid another repeat of that, I've decided to create a slideshow on youtube which I will have full control over and have backed up at home. I will update the slideshow every so often as I add more photos to the project library, but for now, you can click on the link below and see most of the photos that were on this original blog that I started in November of 2012... You're more than welcome to read through the pages of this thread, but there won't be any supporting photo's so a lot of the story may not make sense... If you jump to the end of this thread, you may see a continuation of the blog with photos of the more recent work done.

Bear in mind, this is a very slow burn project so you will probably find I'm still working on it years and years (and years) later... :lol: :lol:

Here's the youtube link, I hope you enjoy it:
:-)



I just seen that you had made that big edit kevin, great stuff. It still angers me about the crash, especially as there was never a plausable explanation. I still thank the server gods that I had the database backed up, or all was gone.


Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 05.09.2019  ·  #613
Quote by Ally

I just seen that you had made that big edit kevin, great stuff. It still angers me about the crash, especially as there was never a plausable explanation. I still thank the server gods that I had the database backed up, or all was gone.


Yeah, you were lucky!

I lost about 25% of the photos I had taken which was a pain, but I found some others I hadn't used before, so it worked out OK in the end.

Learned a valuable lesson myself about doing backups (and not just photos)!! 8-)


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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 05.09.2019  ·  #614
I now download the full media manager folder every couple of weeks. So if everyone uses the wee blue camera for pics, they'll never get lost again.


Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 16.09.2019  ·  #615
A bit more progress.

But first, the wheel arches. I had a couple of goes trying to make a mould on a test piece, but I wasn't happy with the results. I'm just not meant to be a mould maker... :lol:
With only one relatively delicate surviving wheel arch to work with, I didn't have any room to f*ck up, so I decided to bring it to a local boat builder who will make a few copies for me. Reasonably priced too. More on that later.


I haven't spent much time on the camper over the last few months. Any time I did spend was usually working in the back-half, working on some electrical wiring or finishing off the stripping & staining on the cabinets that my daughter started on.

Now that the kids are away at college, I have more time (and less money :'( ), which gives me a good reason to work on the camper. :-)

I decided to get back to working on the engine cover this Sunday. I started working on it last year, but I didn't finish it.
From day one I knew the new engine cover was wider than the original, but I didn't expect to have much difficulty getting it to fit. Again, hampered by trying to make a later model cab work with an 1980 dashboard & associated parts, I had my work cut out for me. (this bitch is really fighting me every step of the way :lol: ).

Heres a pic from a couple of years back before I put in the dashboard.
 


The centre console would not snug up to the dashboard properly because the engine cover had a few extra bulges in it.
(no pics, sorry)

The first bit of cutting & shaping:
 


But it was still cocked out at the bottom and on the right, and wouldn't line up with the dashboard. It doesn't look too bad in the photo below, but the panel gaps were awful and it just wouldn't fit right so I got frustrated with it and moved on to something else!
 


Fast forward to last weekend:
After lots of messing around, I decided the only way to go was to cut most of the cover away and make a new one.
I have lots of this light-weight perforated aluminium sheet material that stretches & shrinks into shape easily with a bit of hammering. It's also a great substrate for attaching fibreglass.
 


Several things had to be considered:
The compound curves on the engine cover needed to match those on the console.
The inside of the console had several protrusions that needed to clear the engine cover.
I needed to leave room for heat/sound insulation on the inside and for carpet on the outside.
The distributor & air filter on the engine stuck up a bit so I had to keep away from those!
 


But it worked out pretty good in the end. Everything fits very nicely now.
I still need to wrap it in fibreglass to make it airtight and do a bit of filler shaping, but the worst part of this job is done. Once it's wrapped in carpet, it shouldn't look too out of place.
 

 


Original & new for comparison.
 


Some of you might be wondering why I decided to leave that large bump-out down low on the drivers side? Heat. My lasting memory of driving this motorhome is just how toasty your legs get when driving it. On the passenger side too. The engine manifolds are right inside the cover on each side and it gets HOT. I plan to fit some beefy heat shields on the inside of the cover to cut down on the heat. I'm willing to sacrifice 2.5 inches of floorspace on the driver side to allow space for the heatshield. Well, that's the plan anyway...


Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 16.09.2019  ·  #616
Quote
I decided to bring it to a local boat builder


That was a good idea Kevin, glad to see you back in gear


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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 16.09.2019  ·  #617
Nice work Kevin, all progressing and that’s the main thing.


Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 23.09.2019  ·  #618
I wrapped the engine cover in fibreglass yesterday.

 


I also made up some lower mounting points for the centre console.

Test fit: Here I'm just checking position of the M6 bolts before permanently attaching it.
(I still need to repair & reinforce the holes on the console. They got wallered out at some stage.) :(
 


Finally glassed-in and ready to go:
(Just a piece of teak wood with the original M6 inserts attached. Fibreglassed into place, it ain't going anywhere.)
 


Slow progress, but still getting there...


Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 25.09.2019  ·  #619
The wheel arch "plug" is fixed up as good as I can get it.

Now on it's way to the fibreglass guy so he can make a mould and produce a few copies for me.

 


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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 22.10.2019  ·  #620
I decided on the radio for the camper.

I was originally toying with two ideas... fitting a modern radio (maybe with a flip up 7" screen), OR perhaps going to the other extreme by gutting this really old 70's in-dash radio that I've had forever, and upgrading it with a bluetooth conversion kit.
 


But I finally opted for the 80's Pioneer radio below.
I had one of these in my first car and I figured it would be the right look for the Coachmen, as well as a nostalgia trip for me. I've been on the lookout for one for a while, and this one recently popped up on ebay for cheap. It needs a clean and a service, but it should fit the bill nicely.

Good job I have a bag full of old cassette tapes! :D

 


I'll keep the 70's in-dash radio for another project. :-)


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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 22.10.2019  ·  #621
Wheel arch plug looks great once you get the mould you can pump out as many arches as you wish keep up the good work love the older radio it would be my choice and fit a Bluetooth one elsewhere


Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 22.10.2019  ·  #622
Quote by hillton9

fit a Bluetooth one elsewhere


I've seen a few different types online. I still need to do some research, but some sort of bluetooth amplifier tucked out of sight would be good. :up:

 


Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 22.10.2019  ·  #623
That looks the dogs bits looks small enough to tuck away somewhere


Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 26.11.2019  ·  #624
The guy making the new wheel arches contacted me last week to say they were ready for collection. I still need to sand and paint them but I'm happy enough with them. Even handier is having the mould should I need to make more in the future.
Also MUCH cheaper than buying from the US. :-)

 

 

 


WIRING UPDATE:
I recently finished the 12v and 240v rewiring of the camper. I have no idea why there were originally so many mains sockets in this camper, but I guess they will be handy to have in the future. The previous owner of the camper (before my dad) had put in some additional and very dodgy wiring which I was glad to pull all of that out and rewire it. (0.75mm2 twin-core lamp wire (no earth) going to double sockets kind of dodgy) o.O

(Electrical locker under the oven)
 

I gutted the old locker to make room for a new 12v fuse panel, 240v consumer unit, and the solar controller. Eventually, I'll fit an inverter where that red 13a plug is lying. I wired the consumer unit with a manual changeover switch (for an inverter) to keep things simple.
(New)
 



ENGINE UPDATE:
I started up the engine last weekend! It ran rough and needs some tuning, but at least it fired up. I don't think it's firing on all 8. I need to find the reason for that yet, probably a bad electrical connection somewhere. I didn't have the exhaust plumbed in either, so it was really noisy from the manifolds and I didn't want to run it for long. As soon as I pick up a silencer and finish the exhausts, I'll be able to run it for longer, sort out that misfire and bed in the camshaft (at 2000rpm for 20 mins).

We're almost ready to put it into gear and see will it move under it's own steam.


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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 26.11.2019  ·  #625
Oh! Vantastival 2020!!!! 😁

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Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 26.11.2019  ·  #626
Quote by Motorhome Craic

Oh! Vantastival 2020!!!! 😁


Well get a bunch of campers to meet him at the M1 Applegreen and convoy him to Drogheda, :D


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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 26.11.2019  ·  #627
Quote by sprinter

Quote by Motorhome Craic

Oh! Vantastival 2020!!!! 😁


Well get a bunch of campers to meet him at the M1 Applegreen and convoy him to Drogheda, :D


Better bring a strong tow-rope... :lol:

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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 26.11.2019  ·  #628
Quote
Even handier is having the mould should I need to make more in the future.


Is there a market there, make a few and sell them, recoup some of your costs, also you could write a book on the build 😂

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