Why Frank lost his camper.

Posted on by Tom Dolaskie

There seems to be some confusion about whether or not Forward Controls came with factory camper options.   Specific to our build of Forward Frank, we’ve spent a fair bit of beer drinking & browsing the world wide web trying to determine if the camper was something we should save, and to determine if Kristian’s understanding that it was a “rare factory option” was in fact, – fact.   

As it turns out, talking to the original owner’s wife answered pretty much everything for me.  I called and talked to Betty on April 16th, 2014  and learned that  her husband Gerald did in fact build the camper, and he built it well.  So well in fact that I can claim it lasted longer than most cars or trucks do.  By estimation it provided adventure for well over 35 years.  And I have to say, that was the coolest 30 minute conversation about a truck I think I’ve ever had.  The camping trips, fishing, kids, memories, and a 65 Mustang still sitting in their garage that he (now 84 years old) really wants to get going.  I was inseparable from my grandfather growing up and can only imagine the stories that could be told from that garage in Pueblo Colorado. 

So, that’s that – for those wondering.  An adventure-loving man named Gerald built the camper in his sign shop a long time ago.  I really want to drive through Colorado and pay him a visit. 

 

Back to the story………….

When I flew in from Manhattan to prep the truck for its first Upper Peninsula Overland trip, I fully expected to toss in some gear and go.  That was the mentality at the time; that this was an “as-is adventuremobile”.   It rained heavily the day I flew in, and the moment we opened the door to the camper, reality set it.  It leaked like a sieve.  Everything was wet.   Worse yet was the pungent presence of mold.   If you’re not too familiar with mold, one thing to know is that the spores can lie dormant until the right conditions occur.   When we popped the cushions up off the benches, there were spots of black mold throughout.  

I don’t mess with black mold.  Perhaps I over-reacted in gutting the camper to try to get it all out, but honestly when we realized it was spread behind the insulation and the paneling, and in the ceiling…. a decision had to be made.  

Mold on cushions

Mold was on just about every cushion we pulled out.  In hindsight I probably should have taken more close-up photos instead of my typical “get the whole truck in the shot” approach.  You can tell by the general ‘shit thrown everywhere’ process we took that we weren’t in a documentary frame of mind. 

 

Rumor has it Gold Bond signs are worth some money now – ha. 

 

Gold Bond sign, and wood-rot on the bed behind the cab –  this amount of tear-down and build up, removing all the wood, etc., was a lot to consider. 

 

The majority of the leaking was toward the front of the camper, and down the outer wall and inside this closet set up.  You can also tell by looking at the sheet-metal that it had seen better days.  It was beat up and would’ve been almost impossible to leak-proof in this condition.  We assessed our options of silicone-bombing all of the rivets, but realized we’d be jumping down the rabbit hole.  I don’t know what all the peppered dents are from – maybe a thquirrel.  

 

This point was the crossroads for us on keeping the camper on or off.  We could have completely gutted it down to the metal frame and rebuilt it.   We would’ve had to tear everything out, all framing and decking, and rebuild it basically from scratch.  

 

We didn’t.   

But damn, I really like this thing.  And that available truck bed space is a HUGE bonus for our style of exploring. 

 

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