1982 Coleman Redwood popup camper

Bought a fixer-upper camper project! A 1982 Coleman popup for $300. Canvas is in decent shape which my the most important requirement. Lower door/step was run into a tree so it’s bent/broken and needs replaced.

From Coleman Popup Camper Project
From Coleman Popup Camper Project

The electrical hookup outside is missing so I need to look in to that. The gas lines are there but I don’t feel comfortable using them. Will probably ultimately mount a propane tank or two on the front and run a line to a setup outside the camper. Awning is there but I haven’t taken it out to evaluate, zipper is broken so it’s held closed with alligator clips.

From Coleman Popup Camper Project
From Coleman Popup Camper Project

Well, first thing was to clean out the previous owners stuff and scrub from top-to-bottom. I cleaned out half a truck bed worth of trash and food swept out of all the cubbys.

From Coleman Popup Camper Project
From Coleman Popup Camper Project

My wife graciously scrubbed the canvas inside with soap and water and got the floor 3 shades cleaner! It was an incredible transformation!! The cross-braces under the bench seats were broken so I fixed them by drilling out the rivet-looking things and I had some short straight-head bolts/nuts used in place of rivets. Also put a couple extra screws in the cabinet where heater would be for structural support.

From Coleman Popup Camper Project

Outside, the panelling is pulling away from the body so thinking L brackets for fixing that. The old heat vent has a dryer vent over it so I’ll probably just get a metal plate to cover until, if ever, I get an actual heater. Lift posts were sticking but went smooth after I hit em with some white lithium grease in the joints. Tongue is bent slightly but solid. It actually tracks a little to the driver’s side so turns out I can keep an eye on it with a quick glance while towing. The jack wheel is fine far as I can tell, goes up and down anyway.

There is actually a ton of room compared to being in a tent so just cleaned out, I’m getting excited about hitting the camp sites! All in all, it was well worth the $300 after cleaning it up!! Bought it on Sunday, cleaned over a couple evenings during the week, wife worked on the inside most of Friday while I registered and tagged it and took it camping on Saturday! Good times!!

From Campout May 28, 2011

Stay tuned for upcoming fixes and tweaks…

UPDATE: Also made a tool kit to keep in the camper. Had a socket that fit wheel lugs and another for spare tire bolts, breaker bar, pump jack I had around and a couple screwdrivers. Used the jack to level the camper so that was handy. Found a decent size carpet scrap for $2 at Family Dollar for entry mat.

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4 Responses to 1982 Coleman Redwood popup camper

  1. Jennifer says:


    Thank you for the tips! I will post some pics soon. I think a lot of the items you mentioned are in pretty good shape. Before I bought it I checked everything in it and it is all functional. (The electricity, propane, furnace, water, tires, stabilizing jacks, exterior brake & turn lights.) The only thing I’ve done to it is wash the outside shell by hand with soap and water.
    The shell looks really nice except where the sticker trim is flaking off in the front. There doesn’t appear to be any leaks now. However, on the inside on the board next to the ceiling where you put the bar in to pop up the canvas over the bed the paper is peeling from the plywood. The wood underneath looks weak just a little. I haven’t peeled all the paper off to check it everywhere. It looks like it leaked a long time ago and I’m guessing whatever caused it has been repaired? When I washed it no moisture was there. The other 3 panels up next to the roof look fine. The bigger bed in the front is okay to pull out, but catches a little on one side, compared to the twin that moves easily. The mattresses and cushions are are original and I am debating covering them for now and maybe adding a little extra eggshell cushioning to them. Can’t decide if I’d be wasting too much money if I bought new foam? The right rear turn signal has a piece of plastic chipped off. Don’t know if I will be able to find a replacement. The previous owner stuffed a the end of a french fry box in there. It is not very noticeable but hardly waterproof. I will either paint of replace the interior wood. I’d love to replace the canvas more than anything. It is functional, but has had many repairs, and needs a few more. The canvas is the ugliest part of it! Just very expensive to replace. I will have to mull over whether to replace it for a while. I did buy linoleum stick down tiles today and will put those in soon.

    Do you know how safe it is to use the old stove, furnace, and water lines?


    • Adam Swanger says:

      You’re welcome! Looking forward to seeing the pics!

      Sounds like you have a camper in great shape and just needs a little touch up. The ceiling board under the bar is thin panelling. Mine was easily removed by taking out the screws and pulling the metal L-channels off if you want to replace. Should be easy to cut-to-fit, just line up or measure bar mount to put back in the same place. I think the corner metal needed to come off too.

      The big bed on mine caught on the driver’s side also! I just “walked” it out, never really messed with the slides to figure that one out sorry.

      For taillight, they make a red tape you can get from auto store to temporarily put over the hole but you’ll want to hunt down an OE replacement or buy 2 new ones (LEDs are pretty cool) if you’re not worried about keeping it original.

      My twin had no matress but we have an air matress that literally fits sung right in the space so I just always used that. Also not fond of old big matress that was there and used air matress on it. Good luck and let me know if you replace foam and such, I never took on that project. 🙂

      I always thought about the canvas as an alternative to a new camper. Spend $1100+/- on new canvas and have it last for 10 years or find another camper in better shape and pay that much or more for it… Something else I found was that you can buy the canvas panels in sections! So each month or so buy a new panel and put it on and spread the cost over time.

      I can’t give advice on old lines as mine didn’t have appliances and I’m just a lowly programmer so not familiar with that stuff. Recommend finding a local handyman to examine the systems.

      Another invaluable crowd source of info for me was http://www.popupportal.com/ I have numerous posts up on there http://www.popupportal.com/index.php?action=profile;u=30635 and the people on there have “done it before” so the advice is spot on. Hope this helps and please shoot me a link when you get pics up, can’t wait to see em!

  2. Jennifer says:


    I just bought an 82 Coleman Redwood and I am planning on cleaning it up over next weekend. I am trying to decide how much work I want to do on it and if I should buy a new canvas for it. Is there any advice you can give me about what I should be looking for to decide what needs fixed the most. Everything in it works, but it is cosmetically rough to decent shape.

    Thank you,

    in Iowa

    • Adam Swanger says:

      Howdy Jennifer,

      First priority for me is leaks. For the roof, look outside for dry rot, old caulk or joints coming apart and water damage on inside. As part of outside, make sure tongue/electrical harness, lifting mechanisms and wheels are in good working order. You may need to grease wheel bearings or adjust lift.

      For the canvas, look for brittle material, rips at seams (especially near windows) and holes anywhere. If you think the material is not too brittle, sew, seam seal and patch where needed otherwise consider replacing. Weigh the cost (~$1000 for all panels) against cost of repairing, how long you plan to keep camper or selling to someone who wants to take on that challenge and you can look for a different camper.

      After protection from the elements is established, take a look inside for what will make your camping experience more comfortable. Mine was completely functional inside at first so the gut and rebuild choice was strickly aesthetic and to gain experience for me. If you find must haves, make a list in order of what you want most to least so you can have the satisfaction of checking off completed tasks as you go.

      That’s my order of priorities for fixes, ymmv. Basically, figure out at what level of fixes you are willing to take it out and will be comfortable. Happy to have a back-and-forth about more details if ya want. Hope this helped and good luck with the work! Please post a link to progress, would be awesome to follow along.

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