Renovating Our Used Class C Motorhome

Renovating Our Used Class C Motorhome

Meet Melvin: our new to us Class C motorhome.

Melvin came to us in great shape for his age. Standing at a whopping 16 years old, Melvin had been well taken care of and we fell in love pretty quickly.

Even though we were swooned, we knew he’d need a little bit of work.

There was some pre-existing water damage over the cab and at the very back of the RV in the bedroom. It wasn’t enough for us to take pause (we had seen worse) but it was enough to have a conversation.

A week later, we drove Melvin home, and the rest is history.

Sort of…

2001 Class C Winnebago Minnie
Getting Melvin!

When we arrived home, our immediate “to do” was to get the generator running and hang out in our hard fought RV. It worked perfectly fine at the dealer, so we had no anxiety about it.

Then, Melvin’s generator had a really hard time starting. Once started, the fridge was on the fritz and even though the A/C was on, it wasn’t cooling the rig.

Jeremy next to class c motorhome
Sometimes, you just gotta laugh.

Eventually we learned that the rig wasn’t getting enough power to operate everything at once. Plus, it was really hot, so it was taking a lot more to cool the rig than normal (it’s Texas that IS normal).

Doing a little more research, we learned we needed another cable to hook up power. We bought a 10 gauge extension cord and that was the ticket.

Melvin was able to finally run the fridge and A/C while also allowing the A/C to cool. With that figured out, we set our sights on other projects to complete before our grand departure to Oregon.

We had not anticipated painting the RV for a while since that takes a bit of time. But once we decided we were taking down the valences and side panels on the windows for reupholstering anyway, we had time to paint. And once you start renovating your new to you class c motorhome, it makes sense to do as much as you can while you can.

So, we gave Melvin a new coat!

We wanted something bright, since our accents were light and dark grey, so we chose a shade of white. After a trip to Home Depot and looking at more shades of white than I think is humanly possible to come up with, we settled on a BEHR MARQUEE matte finish paint.

I read a blog post from Mountain Modern Life about how to prep the wallpaper in the RV for painting and what paint to use, and the MARQUEE guarantees one coat of paint. So I figured if it didn’t work, I’d take it back. But one coat sounded like less work and I read that others really like the finished product. Done deal.

Mel painting class c motorhome
Me looking fly painting Melvin.

Instead of using TSP solution to clean the wall, I used a water/essential oil spray (3 parts water, 1 part oil that I liked). I guess it did the trick because I had no problem cleaning or painting the walls.

NOTE: While I did not clean the walls with TSP solution as recommended in that and other posts, I did peel off the border wallpaper as mentioned. This worked extremely well, and, since I was careful, the sections of paper came off in long single pieces.

The valences (things above and around the windows) in the bedroom were much harder than the larger valences in the living room (couldn’t tell you why).

But the fabric and weird other stuff on top of the fabric, came off pretty easily. I literally ripped most of it off, but there were times I enlisted the help of some scissors.

taking fabric off the valences
Be gone, awful fabric!
Fabricless valences
Naked valences. Oh my!
fabric for valences
Ooo La La.
Reupholstering RV valences
God bless my stepmom.

It wasn’t until we had all our ducks in a row that we thought to really assess the over the cab damage.

Renovating Melvin
Assessing the damage.
Renovating Melvin
Realizing the damage is bad.

Unfortunately, we did not have the physical time to complete the over the cab repair ourselves before we set sail to the west coast, so we hired a guy to fix it for us. A small $1200 out of pocket expense. HA!

We were three days from a 2,000+ mile trip. There was no price too big at that point for making us feel more secure getting down the road.

Sealing Melvin and managing water fall off of roof will be an ongoing battle, but we just bought CAMCO RV Gutter Spouts to help (CAMCO makes everything, I swear) so that should do the trick.

What about the cats?

Of course they were not forgotten.

litter box in rv
The cat throne.

Jeremy cut out a small entry hole in the giant storage space of under the bed, and we bought two small pieces of plywood for a barrier between the litter box and the rest of our storage. It works really well and it is always out of sight.

We’ve all but gutted Melvin and he looks so much more like us than before. There are small projects we still want to complete (like putting decorative peel and stick wallpaper in the kitchen) and whitening the old yellow plastic in the shower and bathroom, but we’ll get there.

For now, we’re soaking up all the rays we can get on the Oregon coast.

Yaquina Head Natural Outstanding Area
Yaquina Head Natural Outstanding Area, AKA Jeremy’s work place.

Tips for Renovating

1. I’d love to say the entire process is so much fun because the end result is worth it and blah blah, but it’s hard. Here’s how we coped.

2. Renovating a motorhome can be stressful, especially with new surprises around every corner so it’s important to take breaks.

3. If you happen to work on your RV in the worst part of the summer, water is essential. Still, bubbly, whatever your choice may be drink it and drink a lot. There were days we were not so good at this and we paid.

4. Be sure to have your favorite music or podcasts on hand. Good Lord, if we hadn’t had an endless playlist of really good comedy I’m not sure how we would have fared.

5. Enlist help. Wow. Jeremy and I both really enjoy completing our own work, but when you’ve got a timeline sometimes this doesn’t work.

My stepmom is apparently a fantastic seamstress (best kept family secret). At first I thought, Aww that is so sweet. Well, ladies and gents, she is talented. We were so impressed with the results and couldn’t be happier with the way everything turned out.


The Afters

I don’t have the best BEFORE pics because the day was super crazy, but here is some of the final product!

WayPair RV bedroom
The bedroom after: walls and handles painted. Windows redone.
WayPair RV Office
My office (as it normally looks). Dinette and windows reupholstered and the walls are painted.
WayPair RV Bathroom
The bathroom. The walls and handles are painted and we put up Jeremy’s favorite painting!
WayPair RV bathroom
The shower. We have not been able to do much yet, but we did add the teak platform.

  • Lyle

    Awesome write-up! The RV… I mean Melvin looks so big and bright inside.

    • Thanks, buddy!

      It’s crazy what a little paint and some updated fabric will do. We just got in the “backsplash” for the kitchen, so that’s gonna be a nice update as well.

      Thanks so much for all the support. Much love to Texas!

      -Mel