1978 Alaskan

Here’s the finished camper:

Alaskan on the truck Alaskan rear tybee bound

Alaskan interior right Alaskan interior rear Alaskan interior left
And here is the restoration. Bought it in Richmond Va. 08/15/2014
Alaskan up
Alaskan up_rear

You can see in the picture above where I had to amputate part of the camper (left side) to jockey it into my truck.

Alaskan up inside front
Alaskan up inside rear
Here how the top and bottom halves stack together when lowered.
Alaskan down inside kitchen
Alaskan on trailer
Alaskan camper in garage

The width at the tailgate of my truck is 60 1/4″ and the camper was originally 64″ wide at the rear. That’s why I needed to modify things. Here are the original dimensions for my 1978 Alaskan.  Alaskan Dimensions

It’s 80″ tall raised up – not including the roof vent, 57.5″ lowered.

Here is one of the interferences that I’m going to have to modify. There’s another one just like it on the other side. They’re protrusions at the rear of the camper ( behind the wheel wells) that allow for extra interior room. The problem is that it made the rear of the camper too wide to fit into my truck. I’m going to remove the street-side box flush with the camper and take 3″ off of the curbside box.
lower curbside rear
curbside wheel well
Here’s the street-side rear modification. I cut the entire box off and re-built it flush with the rest of the camper. You can see on the underside of the overhang how far the box originally stuck out. The black stuff is Rustoleum rubberized waterproofing spray that I put on to seal the plywood floor edges.
Alaskan lower left rear
I added a new 110 volt electrical inlet and outlet and a 12 volt outlet to the side. I moved the water inlet to the back of the camper (I removed the ones that were along the bedrail).
Alaskan road side bottom
Got some decals made and painted the emblems…
Alaskan decals and emblems
I pulled off all of the hardware, doors, drawers, windows and fixtures and refinished the interior. I changed the O-rings on the hydraulic pump and pistons, too. Here’s a shot of the interior with the top half separated and blocked up on the lower half.
Alaskan rear sanded
Alaskan front sanded
Here’s something that I never expected to find in an old camper… quality woodwork.
Alaskan doors booked
alaskan doors
Since most campers come off the production line as fast as they can slap them together, finding book matched cabinet doors was quite a surprise (especially for something built in the 1970’s). So I looked up Manheim, PA – where this Alaskan was built – and it’s in Lancaster County, the heart of Amish country.
The lower edge of the veneer on the upper half of the camper was delaminating so I re-glued the veneer and added some drywall corner bead to hold it tight to the wall. The corner won’t show once the two halves are put back together.
Alaskan top veneer
Now that I have the interior refinished (but not finished), I can get back to restoring the exterior. All of the windows needed a good cleaning, new putty tape and new screws. I’ll be replacing the running lights, too.
windows out
I forgot to get a “before” picture, but here are my serial number tags during and after I painted them. I taped over the punched numbers and then once the paint dried, I wet sanded the tags and removed the paint from the raised lettering.
Alaskan tags
I hadn’t really noticed all the dents before it was painted. This camper must have been driven through a hail storm. I’m going to cover over the worst part of the front with some anodized diamond plate. The paint job was Rustoleum with a roller.
Alaskan front hail damage

After new O rings in the pistons and pump, I was able to raise the roof again and finish the interior. I rebuilt all the counter tops and table with new wood and Formica.  I added a refrigerator but I took out the gas cooktop… it can be put back if needed.

Before I put it on my truck, I attached some pressure treated 1×4’s to the bottom of my camper. That will raise it 3/4″ and give me a little extra clearance over the truck bed rails.

Alaskan underside

Heading to the mountains

And a trip to the beach

Camper convoy

Camping at Hunting Island State Park, Beaufort, SCteardrop and Alaskan

on the beach

Mine was built by Pennacamp in Manheim, Pennsylvania. Finished on 9-22-1978.
Alaskan Camper ad

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15 comments on “1978 Alaskan

  1. Bob says:

    Thanks, I used shellac on the Alaskan interior.

  2. Tim Schoonmaker says:

    Hey Bob, nice job! What oil or finishing product did you use to refinish the cabinetry?

  3. Jon Anders Thulin says:

    Outstanding! A very nice restoration with newer materials.Like seeing old RVs restored. The simplicity is what I really appreciate. Thanks for sharing your project.

  4. Bob says:

    My guess is that it weighs about 1800 pounds empty – I should weigh it one day.

  5. Seth says:

    Amazing! I redo Airstreams, and recently found a derelict Alaskan Camper that I believe is a 78ish. Now to try to get the guy to sell it. How much does yours weigh if you don’t mind me prying.

  6. Chris Earle says:

    Nice piece of work and a good presentation. I’ve recently gotten a ’91 and am planning a similar restoration, this is a great resource.

  7. Milton says:

    Very nice restoration! Thanks for sharing. Milton

  8. Bob says:

    Thanks, they’re great campers – you’ll have a blast.

  9. Dave says:

    Excellent site. I just picked up a 1965 8ft. Standard.

  10. Dave says:

    Excellent post! I found a used 73 and have the same issue with the width not working. To bad I don’t have the time or resources to make this work in my newer Tundra.

    Very nice job on the remodel!

    Cheers 🙂

  11. Bob says:

    Thanks, I didn’t have to tear my camper apart too much, so I don’t have any pictures of the internals, but I did check out a lot of sites as I was working on mine and found a lot of good pictures here: http://campereparadise.com/wp/?page_id=1656 – a slideshow of an Alaskan rebuild.

  12. redShirtGuy says:

    Beautiful. Like the structure and guts pictures. I seem to have a hard time finding photos of the Alaskan’s deep innards taken with eye focused on the anatomy.

  13. Jay T. says:

    What a great job…good taste…you now have one classy looking Alaskan Camper!

  14. Bob says:

    Thanks, those Alaskan campers are worth the effort – you’ll enjoy it a lot.

  15. Shawn says:

    I am about to start the same project. You are an inspiration. Great job!

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