Vintage Camper Restoration Project: Compact Jr.


Adding a new dimension to our road trip experience, we plan to delve into the vintage camper world with the restoration of a Compact Jr. Similar to the camper restoration project documented by the Tin Can Tourists, we’re planning a complete gutting of our lime “Green Bean”.

Given to us by a friend, our initial investment in this project is a whopping zero dollars. As you can see, the interior is in rough shape. Our first project will be to completely gut the interior and line the walls with an insulation foam. We’ll reinforce the both the floor and pop up trolley (which currently sags and collects standing water) with cross braces and plywood.

Ultimately the goal is to keep the towing weight as low as possible and use as many reclaimed and repurposed materials in the process. I’ll be pulling the Green Bean with my 2017 Subaru Outback, and secured a used trailer receiver from a local auto salvage yard for $65.

Exposed to the elements for many years, we spent some time hand-scrubbing the fiber glass exterior with a power drill brush attachment kit from Amazon.com. As you can see from the feature photo, the brush attachment was gentle enough to not damage the surface but powerful enough to speed up the cleaning process.

Next up is coming up with a plan for electricity – we plan to camp in the shoulder seasons and will need a small heating element that can (ideally) run with an electrical hookup or small solar-powered battery. The interior re-design will center around storage and a comfortable sleeping arrangement at least 75 inches long.

Thankfully the internet is full of inspiration for tiny homes and vintage camper redesign – follow along as we work on this fun project over the winter.


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Happy trails!


About the Author

Julie Henning
Julie Henning is a freelance writer and journalist based out of Eugene, Oregon. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and owner of the family-travel website RoadTripsForFamilies.com. She is a recent past member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Association for Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. Julie is the Oregon Coast destination specialist for Bindu Media, an itinerary-focused website launching in Spring 2016 and featuring the work of 200+ professional, indie travel writers. Julie has been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois), the Rochester Post Bulletin, Wisconsin Natural Resources (DNR) Magazine, Sustainable Chicago Magazine, Group Tour Magazine, Student Group Tour Magazine, Silent Sports Magazine, Intercom Magazine, Roadtrippers.com, and FTF Geocacher Magazine. Julie has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ohio Public Radio, and KCBX FM Central Coast Radio and is an affiliate producer with the Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a National Public Radio travel podcast. She has blogged for TravelWisconsin.com, Travel Oregon, and VISIT Milwaukee. Julie travels with her three kids and black lab as much as possible and lives by the motto, "Not all who wander are lost." Check out some of her best work at www.juliehenning.com.

4 Comments on "Vintage Camper Restoration Project: Compact Jr."

  1. Please keep us updated as things progress I too am renovating a gutted 72 JR and while I’m almost finished with mine I’d love to follow along.

  2. Thanks Brian! We’re working on framing and insulation next.

  3. I am just curious if your camper has been finished? I just bought a 1973 Comfort Jr that was totally gutted before I bought it. I am still in the planning phase and would like to know how you did your walls. Thanks! Bev

  4. Thanks Bev.Unfortunately, we ended up selling the camper about a year into the project. We bought an astro van with bed – best laid plans! The pandemic sort of got in the way of our financial and time situation. Boo!

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