1972 Shasta Compact Renovation: Part Two

Today marks the two year anniversary of bringing our Shasta home! Most of that time has been spent alternatively storing it through the cold, long Wisconsin winter, and having it in shambles across my yard, garage, and driveway. After finishing it August, we have gotten to take it camping four times now (check out my post on Symco to see the highlight of our summer!) and we’re bona fide Shasta enthusiasts now (or, as my husband remarked to his brother this weekend: “vintage camper people are more our people than you guys are.” ha!).

If you missed my Part One post, that one showed off the interior renovation. Now I’m going to talk about what we did to spruce up the outside.

Here’s that original, bringing home baby picture:


And here’s the finale:


You might notice that the colors are awfully similar, haha! I have to say, we were SO indecisive on what color to paint the beast. It was ALMOST painted burgundy. Also, ALMOST like a navy blue. There was some semi-serious talk about both yellow and hunter green. And don’t even get me started on the stripe— to follow the original set-up or paint a Z stripe was a heated debate for a long time.

In the end, we decided to keep with the original lines. And we settled on the turquoise. It really is a great pop color. The original, official Shasta turquoise was a lighter color than this, and I wish our paint had ended up a little closer to that but oh well.

As far as original colors go, our particular Shasta was actually cream colored on top and bottom, with the stripe painted gold— pretty low key, nothing flashy about it (it seems like most of the early 70s Shastas were pretty drab in this regard).

Everything was repainted on the outside, top to bottom, including the hitch, hubcaps, and propane.

But, honestly, that was the last step. A whole lot of other exterior projects happened first. Most notably, this happening:


Here’s a break down:

  • We took the windows, door, and all the j-channel off

  • Pealed the skin off

  • Rebuilt areas of the frame that needed to be reconstructed

  • Patched the siding on the inside of the pieces of skins using JB Weld and aluminum squares

  • Added flashing to the walls, so that they would underlap the roof skin (previously, the wall/roof seam allowed leaks in)

  • Reinforced the front wall where the kicker plate would be, and fabricated a new piece of aluminum. Previous owners had patched and replaced sections of this front wall (next to the hitch) and our local shop wasn’t able to recreate it for us, so Mike fabricated it, and scored a 4 inch break pattern on it.

  • Used an air stapler to staple skin to frame

  • Really cleaned up the j-channel and window, getting all the old putty, paint, and silicone using rubbing compound

  • Put the j-channel back on, using butyl putty and new stainless steel hew screws

  • Polyurethane sealant used to seal any area where rain could seep in (don’t use silicone, it shrinks over time. Vintage camper people hate silicone, ha!)

  • New carriage bolts

  • Repacked the bearings

At some point in the middle of all that, we rewired all the exterior lights. It was a giant pain. Honestly, one of Mike’s least favorite parts of the whole project, I think. We weren’t able to locate repro starburst lights (the manufacturer that Vintage Trailer Supply uses recently stopped making them, and the VTS crew was looking for a new manufacturer), so we ended up with cheaper lights from Menards.

As far as painting goes, first we wet sanded the whole thing— sanded it down using 220 sandpaper and a spray bottle, followed by a dish detergent scrub down, and a final rinse with the hose.


For paint, we used Rustoleum Protective Enamel (here’s the metallic silver color we used for the center stripe and the wings— it looks great painted on). I think it’s an extremely good option for the DIY crowd; those who aren’t springing for a professional paint job. We didn’t prime it, and only did one coat, along with a little bit of touch ups (but we were also painting similar colors on top of similar colors). We used a combination of rolling and brushing.

Okay, here’s a mistake we made and then switched back again, haha. So, the center stripe (the one we painted silver): Why isn’t that stripe in the middle a straight, continuous line across all four sides? Why are the center stripe panels on the front and back higher up and wider than the stripes on the sides?! This drives me absolutely nuts! And I noticed some people ignore the paneling and paint whatever they want. Z stripes, triangles, etc. And some people paint it so there is one straight, continuous line across all four sides. I talked Mike into us doing it that way.

Taped to paint the silver straight across.

Taped to paint the silver straight across.

As soon as it was done, I said, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. We need to change it.” I hated it. It looked so dumb.

He said absolutely not, he just got done, no way. And he walked away. Only to come back five minutes later and say, “Want me to change it?”

So, yeah. We switched it back to painting it following the lines of the paneling. Much happier.

We picked up the awning from Vintage Trailer Supply (really happy with the quality of the product), and the black and white checked mat from Amazon.

If you didn’t see Part One, pop over and check out the interior!

What a project! If you’re looking at re-doing a vintage camper but haven’t taken the plunge yet, here’s Mike’s final words on it: “Way more work than flipping a house. We could have flipped a house made 30 thousand, bought a perfect 20 grand Shasta Airflyte and put 10k in the bank.”

But that said, we’re still always looking at buying another camper project . . . so . . . yeah. It’s addictive. Be careful out there.

Leave a comment and let me know where you’re at with your project camper, I’d love to hear about it! After all, you’re my kind of people ;)


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