Super Cheap RV Lifestyle! Restoring an Old Popup Trailer (Video)

I had a short time to fix it.

old camping trailer

This 1988 Sun-Lite Fire Hawk III popup trailer cost $1,000.

There was a reason for this low price; this little popup trailer was well used. In this episode of TFL’s Camper Corner, you will get a grand tour of the little trailer and an explanation as to why it was purchased. Along with that; as it is a work in progress, we’ll do updates in the future.

(6/28/20 UPDATE: You guys were right in the comments. I foolishly assumed the fridge was a 3-way like my parent’s old RVs. It’s just an ice box, which sucks. It will be replaced!)

This is my old Nissan Pathfinder pulling the old popup trailer. Old is cool, and “old” can be cheap. (Images: TFLtruck)

This small tent or popup trailer weighs in at just under 1,000 lbs wet (full water, propane, battery and some gear) and is easily towed with just about anything. While it is light and a breeze to move, it doesn’t have brakes of any kind. Sure, it’s light, but smaller vehicles will feel it when stopping.

Doubling stopping distances and taking it easy down hill is a smart bet.

The popup trailer’s main issue: roof rot (a major used RV issue) worn-out tires, rusted wheels, busted bumper and a rough interior. The platform, body, canvas and major components were in good shape. Our plan was to buy this trailer super cheap and put in less than $1,000 into it during its renovation.

Unfortunately, I had three weeks to fix it.

The roof-vent was ka-put. It needed a complete replacement and the roof had to be repaired.

I grew up with large RVs, but owning one, especially a popup was alien to me. It took time for me to research what I needed to do. I prioritized each need and worked my way forward. The trailer you see in this video was after two weeks. By week three, we would be camping.

The roof and obliterated roof-vent had top be the priority. After purchasing an electric roof-vent kit and some additional sealing/insulating material, I cut out the rotten roof sections and replaced and/or repaired them. After addressing the roof, the electrics, rotten interior wood (there was a lot) and other items; I fixed the stove. Finally, I replaced the wheels and tires along with other minor additions.

Still, that interior finish was in bad shape. We needed to take away the threat of splinters and make the surfaces more robust. As such, I turned it over to the kiddos. This may have been the best decision of the whole project.

Among many items I bought to seal the roof-vent. Amazon is a hell of a good options for folks who are pinching pennies. I am still adding components thanks to your suggestions on YouTube at Twitter!

My family’s vacation plans were ruined by the current crisis; like many of you. We were saving up for a family trip to California to to the reunion/vacation thing. You know, the overpriced mouse park, the crowded beaches, expensive food – the works. That whole plan got the heave-ho and we came up with a new one: buy a cheap trailer, fix it up and take many small trips over the next several months.

My little ones cleaned, prepped, painted and helped with many aspects of fixing this little thing up. It was far more rewarding idea than I expected. They now have ownership in the trailer, a sense of purpose and pride too.

Check out this video and see how this whole thing came together!

Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.