Apache "How To" Page

This page is for all the various do-it-yourself instructions + hints & tips that have been sent in. You'll find some very useful tidbits here. Feel free to send in your own!

- Doug (Apache Webmaster)  doug@apachepopups.com

(Notice of Disclaimer: The creator and publisher of this site makes no guarantees whatsoever. Readers assume all liability and risk for any problems or injuries or whatever unintended consequences may happen as a result of following advice posted here. This is a free service for Apache lovers, so please use caution if following posted instructions. Thank you!)

    Linked Table of contents:

- ABS Matching paint formula - Gearbox Primer (clean & lube gears)
- ABS "permanent" repair - Gearbox - broken gearbox casing caution 
- ABS repair trick - Living hinge replacement
- AC installation - Lift spring repair
- Awning - make your own! - Power supply caution
- Bed frame roller repair - Propane caution
- Bed lift mechanism repair - Protect your undercarriage
- Bed wing roof seal repair - Refrigerator fix  
- Bike rack attaching trick - Roof seal replacement (front & rear)
- Cable hatch repair - Serial number exposed
- Bed end help - Shower & hot water heater installation
- Canvas repair with glue - Stabilizer leg recommendation
- Canvas replacement comments - Stop leaks (+ how to set up an Apache)
- Electrical problem fix - Towing advice
- Electrical - U-joint replacement on the long handled crank
- Floor replacement procedure - Vinyl travel top replacement
- Furnace operation - Wheel bearing packing
- Gearbox/Cable repair - Window replacement
- Gearbox repair instructions on CD

ABS Repair Trick

I found a FAQ on the net for motorcycle nuts, and one guy explained how he'd taken his ABS plastic faring to a repair shop and the repairman let him in on a cool secret. Use super glue to make a bead along the crack, THEN SPRINKLE BAKING SODA ON IT!!!!!!!!!! I did this and it works incredibly. The baking soda makes some kind of chemical reaction which heats up for just a second or two and then, BAM, the seam is welded! I repaired about 10 lineal feet of plastic rips and within ten seconds of brushing on the baking soda, I could press pretty hard on the former cracks with my thumb and there was no problem. It was way cool and easy to do, but time consuming. -Gary

ABS "Permanent" Repair

The best ABS crack repair you can do is with MEK (MethylEthylKetone) and ABS powder or chips. MEK can be found at most hardware stores as PVC/ABS glue, and it does a great job melting ABS (given time). ABS could probably be found at a hardware store in the PVC area. If someone finds a good source for white ABS, please let me know. You'll have to grind it up somehow (file or saw, etc.). The best repair method I've seen was described by Gary Burch. Use a small metal or glass jar with a lid. Mix about equal parts MEK and ABS powder or chips. If using chips, the smaller they are, the better, as they take time to melt. Cover and let sit a few minutes, then uncover and stir. Repeat for the next 30 minutes or so until all the chips are melted into a nice thick toxic goo. I've only tried ABS chips, but powder should melt a lot faster than chips.  Anyways, this goo can then be spread over the cracks. Work quickly, as it dries fast. Ideally you'd rough-up the ABS surrounding the crack and carefully clean it with ABS/PVC cleaning solvent prior to applying the goo. Be careful with the cleaner as it can drip down the side and remove the white color of the ABS. You can also use fiberglass strips to cover larger holes first before applying the goo. Multiple thin coats are better than one thick coat.

This type of repair will outlast any repair made with fiberglass material only. I've had great success with this method. It can even be sanded smooth and painted. Oh yeah - Apache Sales and others sell pre-mixed goo by the can (for around $12.00). Happy patching!  -Doug


ABS Repair Link
Here is another link that may be useful to anyone making ABS plastic repairs. 


Another take on ABS hole repair
After one bonehead move and a split second later, I put two holes in the plastic on the rear of my Mesa. One the size of a tangerine on a contour, the other grape sized hole on a corner none the less. After sulking a bit
I figured I could fix the damage. I tackled the big hole first. What I decided to do first was to remove all loose pieces of plastic . It took some time, but then shaped some sheet metal to fit the contour from the inside. I drilled a hole in the tin and used a piece of wire to hold it in place 'till I could pop rivet it in. Once the rivets secured it I simply cut the wire off letting a small piece fall in. Bondo (a plastic automotive filer) was the next step. Just follow the directions on the can. After sanding and priming the area it was ready for paint. I found a Krylon brand spray paint that is nearly a match. Pretty good in fact. The paint is Krylon's Living Color line, the color is titled Muslin. After painting and removing the tape I noticed that a definite paint line existed. After allowing some time to dry I simply fan sprayed a larger area to blend out the lines. This project was created in no time, but I was happy to have repaired it in just three hours. I am no body man, but was pleased with the results. Though not a perfect repair I do not think others will notice it. Hope my misfortune is helpful to other users. -Don

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More ABS Repair Comments
- First off, you can get pre-mixed abs/mek repair goo from the Apache Experts in Canada, IF you want to get it the easy way... Second, by rasping abs pieces into flakes and slowly dissolving into MEK as mentioned here, I was able to get a paste with the consistency of smooth pancake batter. This stuff was workable for about a minute. I used a flat-edged piece of tin to smooth it out. I was repairing cracks and the drill holes in my ventilator cover from the inside, and hoping for strength reinforcement. I was able to pour this mix in pretty much like pancake batter, and do what smoothing was necessary, and it turned
out pretty clean and smooth surfaced. As the MEK content was fairly high compared to the plastic, it is setting up fairly slowly, and I was able to indent it slightly with my fingernail about 10 hours afterwards. I believe it will still harden some more, and will definitely seal all the cracks and such. It would look alright even on the outside if necessary. Note 1: I backed the drill holes with the infinitely useful duct tape. Note 2: I was told to terminate the ends of cracks with a drilled hole, eighth inch diameter or smaller, to prevent the cracks from continuing to spread.

Patience is necessary in disolving the plastic. Stir it regularly, checking consistency, add flakes until it's as thick as desired, but keep the jar lid sealed while the plastic is dissolving. And definitely take care when working with MEK, as it has a nasty reputation. Preferably do your work in a breezy area. -- Wade

- To find ABS, look in the phone book under plastics. I got mine from Cadillac Plastics. I got some thin scrap and took a box cutter and whittled some into a pile then put it into an olive jar (which is very strong) and added a steel nut as a mixer. I added the MEK and let t soak for a few hours then either added more abs or mek to get to a pancake batter consistency. Some folks pour the batter into a plastic ketchup squeeze bottle (red). I don't know if the clear bottles will work. I got my bottle at ACE hardware. I also got the MEK from ACE. I used a natural bristle brush and primed the area to be fixed with raw MEK. Then I put the cream on and fiberglass patch. -Paul

ABS Matching paint formula

Doug, I thought this might help a lot of folks out there I have a paint formula that "exactly" matches the abs exterior of an apache. I work for ace hardware and one of my jobs is being an ace paint specialist and i have come up with a quart and a gallon formula. But keep in mind that this formula will only work out with ace hardware paint ,any other brand paint would be a different base and the color would not be the same. i hope this helps somebody out it sure helped me out in the restoration of my '79 ranger. the formula is as follows ace rust stop enamel #225a310 qt:AXX-4 C-3 L-11 KX-10 and ace rust stop enamel #225a310 gal:AXX-16 C-12 L-44 KX-40 .note this formula can also be mixed in latex for painting the paneling on the interior but i would stay with the oil base for painting the exterior abs.

Awning - Make your own!

I found a rather inexpensive and effective way of making an awning. We used an 8x10' brown tarp ($5), folded a loop along one long side just behind the seam, inserted the loop into the guide rail along with 2 5' sections of 1/4" allthread (Lowes ~ $5) to hold the tarp in place on the trailer side. On the side away from the trailer I used 1 10' section of electrical conduit (Lowes ~ $3) that I drilled holes to accept eye screws in matching positions for the eyelets in the tarp (they'll slip over and you can pin them in place with dowel pins). I then rolled the conduit over to make the tarp come over the top and down in front for rain to run off then drilled a hole on each end to accept extendable tent pole tips (wal-mart ~ $10)). Once raised they are tied off using 2 stakes/pole with string. Works & looks great. Oh yea, I store the conduit on top of the awning rail with 2 screws through the holes for the tent poles into the awining rail.  - Chris

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Repair your bed wing roof seal

The gray vinyl seal that rests on the bed edge when the Apache is closed, and makes a seal between the bed wing roof and the road cover when the Apache is set-up, was chipped and ripped on my basket case Apache Solid-State Ramada.  The vendors still have O.E.M. vinyl with the slip in extrusion lip, but it sells for more than $30 for each end.  So I spruced mine up by stapling Macklinburg Duncan (MD) vinyl garage door bottom seal to the existing vinyl.  Now I have a good-looking black seal that is double the original thickness.  Cost for both ends was about $8.  -Gary

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NOTE: Automotive weather stripping glue should work if you don't have access to a large stapler.

Attach a Bike Rack

Last year, my wife and I purchased our first Apache, totally unaware of the fraternity following these little beauties!! Anyway, I went through this dilemma last year and solved the problem the following way:

I found a bike rack that I liked - light weight aluminum, very small for being able to tote 4 bikes - (we got this from Camping World located on the I-94 service drive, Belleville, MI). The way I finally figured out to
attach it that worked well was I purchased (4) eyebolts - to the best of my memory, they were 5/16 size. I then used a tempered drill bit to drill (4) holes through the frame on the camper, 2 through left side frame (1 front, 1 rear ), and same on the right side. Be careful on the spacing, as this may cause some unwanted play. Once the holes are made (use oil frequently on the drill bit to keep it cool while drilling ), you then insert the eyebolt, eye facing the outside of the camper, and tighten it down (see sketch below).

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Once this is done, you simply purchase some ratcheting tie-downs, anchor between the eyebolt and the usual D-rings you will normally find on any bike rack - and presto you have yourself an anchored bike rack that a windstorm won't blow off!! You do have to be careful how much weight you decide to put on top of the camper to prevent cracking. We have traveled several hundred miles this way with no problems.

The one thing I also had to end up doing - my camper top is ribbed. I had to cut a piece of plywood the same height as the camper ribbing, wide enough to just fit nicely between two ribs in order to properly support the foam feet on my particular brand of carrier. This allowed me to better distribute the weight on the top of the camper, also provided a non-slip surface. The pressure from the ratcheting tie-downs will hold the plywood in place just fine.   - Paul

Shower & Hot Water Heater Installation

(Here's a picture of the factory-installed shower curtain hanger in a 1986 Apache Royal: shower curtain hanger in '86 Royal)


I have had many requests for information and pictures of the shower and hot water heater that I installed in our '77 Ramada two years ago.  I wanted to retain all of the original features in the camper and so I opted for the following:

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The picture above shows the current layout of the dinette end of the camper. I installed the shower and the hot water heater under the dinette seat.

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The picture above shows the back side of the hotwater heater and the shower base, installed under the dinette seat. No changes were made in the dinette seat dimensions. The only change was replacing the particle board with plywood since the hinge had to be set further back to provide maximum space for the shower base.

The shower base was constructed of 5/8 plywood (base and four sides). I cut a hole in the bottom to accommodate a shower drain fixture, which also passes through a hole in the camper floor and can be connected to site septic or to a gray water holding tank.

I also drilled holes for the faucet fixture. The entire inside and outside of the plywood base was then coated with fiberglass resin and the inside with some fiberglass cloth followed by a final gel coat layer (in white).

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A shower curtain rod was formed from two pieces of aluminum tubing which are joined with clips but can be separated for under-seat storage during transport. Also note the placement of the shower spray head, attached to the shower curtain rod. The rod is suspended from the ceiling with miniature bungee cords.

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This picture shows the shower set up for use. Note that the dinette table is moved to the far right and supported by a pole constructed for this purpose, since the normal leg is folded up to avoid contact with the right side seat.

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This picture shows installation of the shower faucet. Also note the tubing leading up to the shower head. Also note that I used cloth shower curtains, which can be sewn together (2) to encircle the tub enclosure with some overlap. I also attached snaps to the lower edge of the curtain and the upper lip of the shower base so that the curtain would remain inside the shower base during use.

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This shows a close-up of the shower head. Note a valve on the back side which allows control of water flow and saves water during during use.

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This picture shows the left side of the camper, with the access doors for the hot water heater, refrigerator and water tank/electrical hookup.

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This is a close up of the 6 gallon hot water heater. It is gas fired and has very quick recovery.
If anyone has questions about this installation, please e-mail me at skibs@sover.net. Thanks, Steve Skibniowsky

Floor Replacement Procedure

Replacing the floor is not a job for the faint of heart! I just replaced the floor on my 1976 Roamer that had been ravaged by termites. Here are the step by step procedures that I used.

1) Take plenty of pictures before removing any of the furnishings. You will want to refer to them during re-assembly.
2) Take plenty of pictures as you are disassembling the furnishings.
3) Take plenty of pictures.
4) Remove all interior furnishings (and take plenty of pictures).
5) Remove all the screws from the side wall to floor attaching points.
6) Remove all screws from the lift assembly to floor attach points on both ends.
7) Remove large screws holding the floor to the frame rails. Save these as you will need these for re-assembly.
8) Remove the pop rivets holding the side panels to the door posts.
9) Remove the screws and pop rivets from the wheel wells and remove them.
10) Spread the bottom of the sidewalls so that neither side wall is touching the center floor panel.
11) On my Roamer, the dividers were made of plastic, so I just broke them and and lifted the center floor panel out. You may have to get creative if your dividers are made of metal. You might try to set your skill saw blade height very carefully, and rip across the center of the middle floor panel and buckle this up in the middle.
12) The front and back panels can be slid to the center and removed.
13) Use the reverse of this procedure to re-assemble. 

You may have to get creative while replacing the floor panels to get the dividers back in. I put mine together without the dividers. The joints fall on frame crossmembers, so I drilled and screwed the panels on each side of the joint to the frame to keep the joint from springing. A little floor leveler in the joints and the flooring material was ready to go down.

While the floor was out, I took the opportunity to grind the rust off the frame and then paint it with POR-15. I also used pressure treated 5/8 plywood. It isn't quite the same thickness as the original material but it works out. Use the old floor panels as templates to get all your holes in the correct place on the new panels. I also used stainless steel screws to replace the rusted screws that I took out.

Remember, take pictures as you will need them during re-assembly! I speak from experience as I didn't take quite enough and have had to do a lot of creative thinking during this phase.  - Terry

Refrigerator Fix

Well, it happened to me at the International Roundup. The fridge just quit cooling. The stack still had heat coming out of it but nothing on either gas or 120v. It looked hopeless and a new unit seemed so pricey for a new three way. I had it all set in my head that a new 120v from Home Depot would probably be my fix, in fact I went to measure and price them. I then called Campers Paradise and asked if they may know why it died. ( I have heard that if it leaks amonia that it will leave a yellow color stain near the leak but none existed). I was told to remove the fridge, lay it on it' side for an hour, then flip it on it's top for an hour, then set it on the next side for an hour and the to set it upright for 24 hours. This would release any air pockets in the line. IT DID! It has been cooling now for over 24 hours and is colder than the north pole at this point. You have nothing to loose by attempting this if your fridge quits cooling. Give it a shot and good luck. - Tim

Stabilizer Leg Recommendation

I own a 1967 Apache tent trailer (a real tent on wheels). I have had to replace the stabilizer legs. I want everyone to know that I replaced them with CP stabilizer legs which are really nice! The new legs make
the trailer really stable and do not extend much below the level of the original legs. These legs are available from RV stores as a set of 4 which can be independently mounted. I'm really impressed! -James

Living Hinge Replacement

I recently replaced all the hinges on my trailer as they were cracked and failing. The first thing you need is the material, take a piece of your broken hinge to a plastics distributor and show them what you need and tell them what its for. It must be flexible and be able to maintain this property when you machine it down to 1/16 of an inch for the channel. I think the stuff I have is called mylar. They stock it in 4 x 8 sheets and sell it by the foot. A piece 1 x 8 is lots to do all the hinges with some for later on if you break one again. It cost me about $20.00. The thickness is 3/16 inches. To make the hinge, cut a strip the length required (measure the old one) on either a table saw with a fine tooth blade or a band saw, at the appropriate width. The hinges on my Ramada are 13/16th of an inch.  Using the old hinge for the profile, router the channel into the material, taking off 1/16th of an inch on either side. The outside edges of the hinge can then be routered to give a rounded edge. This is important if the hinge is for a side panel as it has to slide back and forth. If the hinge is going onto the back wall the edge can be left at 90 degrees.
The channel can also be cut into the stock using a table saw but you have a lot more control with a router table, at least I did anyway. Panel hinges are easy to replace. With the trailer opened, just slide the panel off the track ( after you take out the locking screw) pull out the old hinges and slide in the new ones, then slide the panel back on the hinge. It should slide back and forth with little effort. If it binds, you haven't rounded the edges enough, or the profile is off a little. Make a small practice piece first to get it right.
To replace the end wall hinges, this procedure works well for me:  With the end wall down,drill out the rivets holding the end cap on one side of the bed and slide it off. Remove the locking tab which secures the hinge in place from this side by removing the set screw and pulling gently with long nose pliers outwards.
The plastic of the wall can be flexed back enough to remove the tab but take your time so you don't give it a stress crack. Grasp the hinge then with the pliers and pull it out. The hinge is flexible enough that you don't have to hold the wall back to pull it out. Then slide your new one into place. Replace the locking tab, and the end cap can then be riveted back into place. Presto Chango you're all done.  I recommend you do this with the trailer in your garage or if not on a day with no wind as you don't want the alignment to get
knocked out of place when the hinge is off the end wall. The locking tab on the other side should not be removed. I have easily done it from one side only plus it helps to hold it together and aligned.
Good luck with the job! -Steve   

(WEBMASTER NOTE: Some parts places stock fabric living hinge - call first.)

Fix the U-joint on the long handled crank

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My long handled crank was missing the slotted pipe and the u-joint when I aquired it. The "new" styled u-joint I purchased from a vendor looked weak ($19.95 Canadian), so I made my own from a half-inch socket swivel. Our local surplus tool store (try your pawn shops) had the used socket u-joints for $2.25. I ground down the circumference on both ends so that one side would fit in the inside diameter of the long handle pipe and the other inside my new slotted tube. My slotted tube is about 3-inches long and cut
from an old tubular chair. Actually, any sturdy pipe that has an inside diameter that will accept the gearbox nipple will work, since I realize most people don't have old tubular-style chair sitting around that they want to cut up.

I slotted the short piece with a drill and grinder wheel, then welded the three components together. If you don't have a welder, it would be just about as easy to drill the components and secure them with a rivet or screw.  -Gary

Vinyl Travel Top Replacement

Vinyl Travel Top Replacement

You are looking at the rear of an Eagle soft top. This is as close as I can make it. The top line is the cover and it is made from heavy vinyl with the storm flap and female snaps attached to it. The storm flap can be made of lighter vinyl. It has a Velcro strip sewn to it. The storm flap is 4” wide and as long as needed for each side. The storm flap looks strange but it forms a tube that traps what water may sneak past the snap edge keeping the camper dry. The front storm flap should have several inches on each side that extend unattached past the edge of the camper so that they can wrap around the sides, otherwise the corners might leak. I didn’t install a storm flap in the back and didn’t seem to need it even when we drove through a downpour.

My camper has an aluminum body so I used flat head wood screws to anchor the male snap body. (Do not use round head screws as the female snap cannot fully engage and will pop off), nor use pop rivets as they pull out or distort the body of the male snap. - Paul

Repair your bed frame roller

Does your bed frame jam as you are trying to raise it? Try this modified roller. The original roller was a one-time one-try proposition. It also had a joint where the lift bracket (B) could wedge in. With this roller if you have problems with spacing, etc.,  just grind the rivet off and slide a new one in.

(D) Is the new part that is made from ¾" steel or brass stock. It is turned down to ½" dia. Leaving a 1/8" collar. It slides into part (E) leaving a 1/8" gap for (B) to slide in

(F) Is just a ¼" I.D. x 1" o.d. fender washer.

(E) Is the 1"x 3/8" thick steel bearing that is already on the old roller, the only modification necessary is to drill a ½" hole ¼" deep.

The rivet crown may need to be flattened slightly with a file to provide clearance for the bed platform. The whole assembly is temporarily installed, then the rivet is measured and cut ¼" longer then reassembled and the rivet is peened over

The rivet can be substituted with a bolt and lock nut but the threads will wear down faster causing a sloppy fit. The roller assembly should be able to rotate so don’t over tighten!

Spray all parts with TRIFLOW spray and fold it up with ease. - Paul

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(Click on Thumbnail to enlarge)

Repair a damaged bed lift mechanism

The EAGLE bed lift mechanism shown above is for my Apache Silver Eagle. It may or may not work for your camper. The mechanism I am referring to, is that bar which you must grab and pull in order to bring the bed platform out of the box and then slide the bed to its final position. On my camper 3 out of 4 were bent and repaired rather shabbily.

Before starting any repairs be sure to take measurements from the hinge rivet to the top hole (5"on mine)

Cut and repair only one pipe at a time so you will have a reference, incase you get lost. My pipe had a 5/8" I.D. so finding a rod to flatten/or grind was easy. This method would work on a roof support pole in a canvas tent also. Stove bolts are #14 x 1½"

I used a MAPP torch to heat the end till red then beat it down with a 3# hammer. If you want you could grind a flat on the rod instead. I then drilled the two holes at the bottom of the repair part. Then attached the rod to the triangle with stove bolts. Then I slid the top pipe over the rod till the hinge rivet was 5" from the top screw in the triangle plate. Then Vise Grip the tube and rod so it can’t move. Then drill through both the pipe and rod and pass a stove bolt through and nut. Cut all extra bolt ends off and cover with silicone rubber or such to protect the canvas. Check the Mechanism for operation and proceed to the next one.

If your canvas is too tight or too loose you can remove the repair rod, put it in a vise and tweak it either way with a torch and hammer.  - Paul

Broken gear box casing caution
I just replaced a broken gear box casing (got the used part from Apache Trailer Experts in Thornhill Ontario Canada) on my 1975 Ramada because the drive shaft pin had worked loose and punched a hole through the side of the casing while my 12 year old son cranked up the cover.  The used casing was also sent with a shaft.  The problem arose when I just swapped shafts (I had to cut the pin holding the lock on the rear box and couldn't get the rest of the pin out of the shaft and it was now useless).  When I had it all reassembled the drive gear would not move.  I had to take everything apart (again) to find that the cam on the new shaft was not the same as the cam on the old shaft.  The new cam was too small.  Fortunately Ole Elmer's notes came in handy and I was able to swap the old cam back in. - Chad

Gearbox Repair Instructions on CD

"A very nice presentation that does a great job at simplifying an important maintenance task - cleaning and lubing your gearboxes." -Webmaster's review

"For all of you who have lifting problems this CD is a must. It is in Microsoft Powerpoint format and will guide you step by step through the gear box. Filled with simple instructions, color photographs and diagrams to help you understand the lifting and lowering process. If your roof is lifting uneven, making a clunk, clunk noise or is just plain hard to crank, than this is exactly the cure you need. Don't spend your hard earned money on a new gear box when in most cases a little bit of maintenance is all that is needed, and this CD will show you how. You can order via paypal at www.paypal.com  using my email address or email me directly at tschaefer26@home.com  The CD is $14.95. If you are not a Paypal user and would like more information, please go to this link: http://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=p/gen/about-outside"

Roof Seal Replacement (front & rear)

I just recently replaced my bunk seal across the top of each bunk (1974 Royal). This is the rubber seal at the top of the foldout of the bunk. I purchased two lengths of 1/16" x 31/2" x 7' 6" of rubber from a rubber and gasket supply company.
Fournier Rubber and Supply Co.
1341 Norton Ave.
Columbus, Ohio 43212
Cost me $30.00 for the two pieces. I just removed the two end strips off the ends, placed the rubber in the groove and replaced the screws with stainless steel #8 screws. In fact I replaced all the screws in my sheet metal work with stainless. No more rust spots. I also had about 3 " left on each piece and replaced the small corner pieces in the folds. Joe - Columbus, Ohio
P.S. When you have the metal strips off clean them with a S.O.S. pad to a
bright finish and then spray with clear lacquer.

Apache power supply design flaw

I have noticed a design flaw on my 1975 Mesa's power supply that may be shared with other Apache's. The power supply has a 14 gauge 120 volt cord rated at 15 amps and a 15 amp circuit breaker. You would think that the 120 volt plug in the camper on the power supply is 15 amp also. It isn't. It will run an electric heater (most draw 13 amps) for quite a while and never blow a breaker. It will eventually burn the internal wires in the power supply. My guess is that this design was intentional so a small appliance could be plugged in the 120 volt plug while the 12 volt supply was working. This way the total amperage draw was less than 15 amps. The problem is many folks are scared of the propane heaters (if they are so equipped) and are using an electric heater . You will get into trouble sooner or later - perhaps even a small electrical fire.   - Mark

RESPONSE: I came up with a solution for the Apache power supply design flaw article. We also don't use our furnace anymore (we removed it to add cabinet space). I wanted a 20 amp circuit to run an electric heater and an A/C in the summer.  I removed the 14/3 cord supplied with the trailer and purchased a 10/3 cord. I also purchased a small 2 breaker box from Lowes. I ran the black wire from the new cord to the top of the 2 breakers. I ran the white to the neutral strip and hooked the green wire to ground. I installed an outlet with 12/3 (20 amp) from the first breaker. This is used for the heater - a/c only. From the second breaker I ran a wire 14/3 to the power supply (like the original power cord). Now we have a 20 amp outlet for the heater/ a/c. We've used both the a/c and heater on all day/night without a problem or overheated wires. This eliminates running the heater thru the light wires in the power supply. - JOHN


We just bought our 1975 Ramada and really didn't have time to check everything out before we went camping.  The only problem we encountered was that the 12V lights and furnace fan did not kick in [May 24 camping in Canada - down to 0 degrees Celsius].  Back home an investigation revealed that the transformer was not passing the current through.  It turned out to be the three way switch [battery/off/transformer].  Also once I fixed the switch the fan still didn't work.  I called my electrician friend who came over to investigate.  He found power throughout, so he smacked the fan with a screwdriver and it started right up.  A simple trick of the trade he said - if it doesn't work HIT IT. - Chad

Apache Propane Caution

Greetings from the land of the Apache birth (Michigan). We recently purchased a 78 Yuma hard side and found that the long propane hose that runs under the box was not attached to the frame at the axle. It was laying against the top of the axle and the hose has worn past the inner wire safety mesh. Also the regulator was attached to the frame where it was exposed to road debree. It should be attached up higher next to the shoulders of the propane tanks. We went to a commercial propane distributor to have a new hose made. We added two extra feet to the hose so that we could move the regulator where it needs to be. The hose was not available off the shelf at the RV stores. The connections are set up differently. An original Apache dealer who still services Apaches in our area says that the hose laying on the axle was quite common in all the models.  - Robert & Irene

Towing Advice

Here's what we do to make our towing as worry-free as possible:

#1 - First off, we try to pack any heavy items in the car and not the camper. The lighter you can keep the camper, the better. Definitely don't fill up the water tank before a road trip. Whatever we do pack in the camper, we're sure to keep the load as even as possible - forward and back, and left and right. If you must put a heavy item in, be sure to position it over the axle. Following these measures will help prevent camper sway. The last items we put in before the final fold-down are lawn chairs & other light things.

#2 - Check everything before pulling away. Always be sure to double check all the mechanical and electrical hook-up connections. Test out brake lights & turn signals, confirm safety chains are on, the lift is ALL THE WAY up, all feet are locked up, the door step is up, all utilities are disconnected, tires look solid with no signs of wear, etc. Be sure to keep the spare tire inflated. Always, always, take a final walk around before pulling away. You'd be amazed at how many people actually do not do this!

#3 - Take it easy! Remember - it will take a little longer to accelerate and to stop. Turns should be taken on the wide side. Slow WAY down for Railroad crossings. Stay at the posted speed limit and relax and your Apache will be much happier. After a while, you'll forget it's there! (be careful of that!) - Doug

Fix your electrical problem

A poor ground may cause the lights to go out and/or blink, and would not be detected as a short. I have (and have had) several trailers (boat, campers, cargo) and USUALLY, when there is a symptom of using the turn signal and either both, or all lights, flashing, it has usually been resolved by addressing a ground problem. For example: My 1966 Raven had the same symptoms. Going out for no reason, lights that shouldn't be flashing or blinking are, dim lights, no fuses burned out. The framework (tongue, springs, axle, etc) are totally isolated from the aluminum camper box. There is plywood secured to the framework, and the box is secured to that plywood around the perimeter. Since the Raven has NO cabinets or double walls, it was easy to trace the wiring. There is a ground wire that attaches to one of the gussets inside the body. The wiring configuration that pre-existed on the trailer when I picked it up had that wire going to the vehicle flat four plug connection. Unfortunately, the newer vehicle configuration doesn't include a ground connection on my vehicle (it is a hot wire instead). I installed a new grounding wire between the framework and the body and all of the symptoms have disappeared. I used a short piece of #14 stranded wire (typical trailer wiring stuff) with appropriate terminals on the ends to screw it to the metal. The ground connection between the vehicle and the trailer is made through the hitch. You may need to have the trailer connected to the vehicle to validate my suggestion, not just close enough for the wires to connect.  - Jim Lockard

Another Take: We were having electrical issues with our '75 Royal. The new trailer hookups just weren't working properly, even though they were wired correctly. The guy at the hitch place stressed the importance of a good solid ground. He tapped into the ground wire on the trailer tongue with a short piece of wire. He drilled a small hole into the tongue frame and bolted the end of the wire to the frame. The spliced end was taped up nice and tight, and all the lights have worked perfectly ever since! - Doug

Protect your undercarriage

I just painted the frame on my 1970 Mesa III with a paint that many of the auto restorers use. It is called POR-15. They have a website at www.por15.com. It is a very good paint for rusted undercarriages. You paint it right over the rust and it forms a very hard surface and prevents further rusting.

You can use any good wood deck type waterproofing paint for the plywood base.  - Tom

I coated the pressboard undercarriage (wood, metal frame, and wheel wells) on our '79 Ramada with a rubberized automobile undercoating product. It used quite a few cans and required a couple even thin coats, but turned out nicely. I just coated the outside few feet around the perimeter, and didn't spray the middle area. Just be sure to wear work clothes and gloves as it gets messy toward the end of the can and it's difficult to wash off. - Doug


I don't own an Apache popup, they look like well made units. I just surf around on sites dealing with any popups for info and saw "Protect your undercarriage" in the "How To" page and let you know of my experience: I used a tar based coating for roofs that can be applied using a paint brush. I coated the wood floor and all of the under carriage. The sealant worked so well that when I sprung a leak on the inside, the moisture was soaked up in the wood flooring and was very slow drying. Needless to say, when the wood dried, the floor was spongy. The coating kept the moisture in the floor longer. Maybe that's why the underside is not water proofed from the manufacture? - Daryl

Hmmmm - based on Daryl's response, perhaps It's a good idea to coat the (pressboard) wood around and behind the wheel wells/perimeter only to minimize road splatter moisture penetration?  The Apache plywood probably doesn't need to be coated at all. Tough call...  -Doug

Replace your windows

I just finished changing the windows in my 1977 Ramada and thought I would send along how it got done. My camper does not have rubber holding the windows in. There is a piece of extruded aluminum on each end of the window and the window slides in a track top and bottom. I cranked the top up then went inside. While lifting the end of the wall I was able to slide the roller assembly that holds each end of the wall, toward the outside of the camper top. There is a notch in the track that allows you to remove the rollers from the track. A helper to hold the disconnected end while you do the other end is required. Lay the wall down on a support in your camper (wood blocks, whatever).  Once you have both ends out, you have to remove the screws that hold the top track in place( 2 at each support). Once the screws are removed you can lift the entire top track off then the windows all come out the top. REMEMBER which track you got each window from!!!!! IF your screens are screwed in remove the screen screws also. Carefully remove the extruded aluminum from each side of each window. NOTE WHICH END IS UP and which way the weatherstrip points. The ends MUST go on the new glass the SAME way they came off the old. Put them on the new plexiglass. (use a little clear silicone sealer to hold them in place). Reassemble in reverse. Good luck be patient.   - John Kennedy

Another take:   I was able to (as you suggested) remove the rubber strip from around the screens to remove them.  This enabled me to attempt to clean the windows (which became cleaner, but were badly yellowed from age.)  Instead, I decided to replace all the windows.  I removed the rubber strip from the top and sides of the screens, letting them hang down from the bottom.  The metal "handle" strips remove from both ends of each window pane.  The rubber sleeve under that was simply glued on and pulled off quite easily.  I then measured the windows (for those of you who might want to do the same, the Ramada Solid State needed six 26 3/4" X 29 1/2" panels for the large windows and two 26 3/4" X 13" panels for the small sliders to the right of the door.  I decided not to replace the bed windows, since those curtains will always be drawn.  After removing the metal and rubber from the old windows, they simply bend and pop out of the tracks.  The new plexiglass panels (which cost only $60 for all of the above, cut to size by a local hardware store) popped in the same way. What a difference!  The inside is so much brighter, and the new plexiglass is as clear as day.  The newer plexiglass is much more scratch resistant, too.  - Pete

One More Take: I was able to replace the windows on our '79 Ramada without removing any tracks. The entire job took about 2 hours or so to complete, and here's how I did it:  I measured the windows and ordered them from a local plastics shop (Piper Plastics in Libertyville, Illinois). I got THICK ones - 1/8 inch (.118) dark tinted acrylic sheet. It ran $195 and I got to keep all the extra material (2+ extra windows, large ones and more). Lexan would work too but it's a little more money. I started on one side. I tilted the wall into the camper at an angle and removed the screens (2 screws each on the bottom). Then I removed the end screws holding in the aluminum window channel which sits in the middle of each set of windows. This holds the stationary window in place. The plastic can then be bent a little and popped out of the track. Remember the direction of the channel and which track the plastic sits in. Next remove the aluminum ends on the sliding window plastic. Just pop out the plastic plugs which hold them in place. Pull these tracks off, remember which way they go, then bend and pop out the old plastic. The 1/8 inch acrylic was a little thick, so I had to use a screwdriver and pry the side track channels open a little bit. I put a bead of silicone in each channel on the side tracks. Bend the plastic a bit and pop it into place in the proper track. Then slide the aluminum side tracks onto the plastic. I used a rubber mallet to get them on good and tight. Find the right drill bit and carefully drill out the plastic through the existing side track holes. Pop the old plugs back in to hold the side tracks tightly on. Bend the stationary plastic window in place and finally replace the last center aluminum track. This one had to be pried open the most for my thick plastic. Screw the middle channel back on top and bottom and replace the screen. Repeat for each set of windows. If you have any questions, let me know! Good luck, and remember that this plastic can be SHARP! (It can also be filed smooth on the moving window top and bottom edges for easier sliding)   -Doug

Repack your wheel bearings

For all of you with old Apache's...(basically all of you at this site), wanted to say how important repacking wheel bearings is.  My '74 was purchased from a friend, who admitted to me he had never repacked the bearings since original purchase.  I had my neighbor (part time "grease monkey") show me how to repack them.  If anyone is interested, it's probably the most important part of trailering your camper anywhere.  We found the old grease dried up and the bearings had begun to wear.  To repack them:

Jack up the camper (you can use a car jack on the frame or use the tongue jack with the rear jacks down and locked).  Be sure to use safety stands under the camper.  Raise one wheel off the ground.  Use a hammer and screwdriver to loosen the cap from the center of the wheel.  We used the hammer claw to pry it off a little at a time, moving around the cap.  Make sure the inside of the cap is clean and put it aside.  You will see a large nut beneath the cap, with a cotter pin through it. Bend the end of the cotter pin straight and push it out (or pull out with pliers) the other end to remove it.  Clean it and put it aside. The nut should only be hand tight, so you should be able to remove it without tools.  Once the nut is removed, you can remove the entire wheel.  The bearings (there are two sets in each wheel) can be removed by using a crow bar or hammer handle and tapping them out from the opposite side.  The bearing and seal will pop out.  Pop out both bearings and seals, wipe all dirty grease from them, and wipe out the inner area of the wheel. To repack the bearings, just put a big blob of wheel bearing grease (from auto parts or hardware store) into the palm of your hand, and "shave" the grease from your hand with the bearing, working the grease into the gap between the bearing housing and the bearings themselves. (It's very self-evident when you look at it.)  The old dirty grease will push out the top.  When the bearings are repacked, replace them in the wheel with the seals and tap back in.  Just remember which side was which.  One bearing is larger than the other.  (I think the larger bearing goes on the outside of the wheel)  Place the wheel back on the axle, replace the nut.  Turn the nut till hand tight, then replace the cotter pin through the hole in nut and axle end.  Bend one end of the cotter pin so it won't fall out.  Tap the cover back on and it's done. Repeat for the other side. This took my neighbor ten minutes for one wheel, and took me about fifteen for the other by myself.  This made a huge difference in the "free spin" of the wheels.  It also allowed me to lubricate all the trailer brake parts located behind the wheel.  And if you need to sand and paint your trailer wheels, this is a good way to do it because you have them off and there's no danger of paint contaminating the grease. Just plug the center area with newspaper and spray. Good Luck.   - Pete

NOTE: - Here's a copy of the Fayette Manufacturing Company Engineering Letter titled as follows:

Recommended Practices for Lubricating and Adjusting Wheel Bearings

Find your serial number

Hi, Great web site.  I thought I was the only one out there that loved their Apache!!  Ours is a 1977 Ramada 16.  I had a dickens of a time locating the s/n and I eventually was forced to strip the paint off of the tongue of the trailer hitch.  Voila the mystery number appeared on the cross beam that runs down the left side of the trailer about a foot back from the ball attachment point.  It only took me two years to find it, but then again what is two years in the life of an Apache.   - S. Beadore

Stop Leaks 

Plastic doesn't breathe, but people do. Our breath and bodies put off moisture, and so does cooking. If the moisture doesn't have an escape from the camper like a ceiling vent or an open window, it'll accumulate on the ABS sides or windows - usually the bed ends since they're the coolest. The moisture will eventually start to drip down to the lowest point - which is the plywood bed bottom. This one's fairly easy to manage - just open or power-up your vent every now and then or crack open a window to release the moisture. 

Rain leaks are another common problem. All the rain that lands on the roof is channeled to the bed ends and down one or more corners depending on how level the camper is set up. You have to look very closely at the outside bed end corners to determine where water may be coming in. Quite often the rubber pieces on the top corners get tweaked out of position and allow water in. Just loosen the screws, reposition the rubber, and tighten back down. Other times, the ABS exhibits fine hairline cracks along the top corner that allow in water. Remember - all the water that hits the roof will be channeled past this small crack, so some is bound to come in. Just follow the ABS repair method discussed on this page to fix this. I had to do this on our '79 Ramada. 

Finally, sometimes water comes in through the window seals. (Always be sure your windows are closed all the way into the channels). Just put a bead of clear silicone around the window seal to stop this sort of leak. One gentleman explained that he took a length of PVC pipe, cut it in half lengthwise to make two "gutters", and afixed these to the two ends of the roof. He capped off the front and they now work as gutters to channel all the rain that lands on the roof off the back instead of off the bed end roof. Whatever your method, it just takes a little effort to determine exactly where it's coming in, then it's usually a pretty simple fix.

(How to set up a typical  solid state Apache)

The best thing to do is follow the instruction manual that came with your camper. If you don't have a manual to follow, you may not be doing it right. You can always check the Manuals Page to see if yours or a similar one is posted. 

Apache's have to be put up very precisely to assure a weather-tight seal, especially on the ends. Basically, these are the most important points to remember:
1. The camper should be perfectly LEVEL with all the feet secured in place. It is very bad to raise and set up an Apache if it is not level as it puts unnecessary stress and strain on lifting components and panels, etc. A level popup is a happy popup!
2. After the roof is cranked all the way up, carefully (with 2 people ideally) fold the walls up and clip them into place. 
3. Pull the bed ends out and support them with the poles. Then you can go inside and fold up any cabinetry you may have. Next prepare to secure the bed end roof enclosure. Extra care should be taken to ensure each bed end enclosure is assembled correctly. The 'ears' on the top latch must be on the outside of the roof edge, but underneath the rubber flap seal. Pull the bed end walls toward you (slide them on the living hinge) and fold them up into place. Slide them tightly back into the grooves. Some models have separate molded plastic pieces that fit over the 4 outside corners and prevent leaks - similar to the molded plastic pieces that fit over the outside tracks. Look for extra plastic latches on the corners as an indication if your model requires them.
4. Finally, you must crank the top back down a few turns to lock the walls in place and seal them tight. Do not over tighten the roof or it'll stress the panels. Many models have metal clips in the center top of each side wall to hold the wall in position while lowering the top. Additionally, the track (or groove) in the underside of the roof that the top of the walls sit in should have a nice unbroken rubber seal in place. If this is missing or in poor shape, it can be ordered cheaply from Apache Sales Corp. or others.

If you have leaks, get in the camper during a rain storm and figure out exactly where water comes in. If any windows aren't completely shut into the end groove they could let water in, especially the end ones. When you discover exactly where the water is coming in, you can decide on the best way to stop it. Cracks in the plastic are easily repaired with an ABS plastic repair kit, or by following the instructions on this page under "ABS Repair".  -Doug

Gearbox/Cable Repair

I have a 74 Apache Eagle 8. It was bought new by my parents and is still in their name. It had not been used in 10 years and the yard man wanted to have it so he could gut it and make a lawn trailer out of it. I couldn't let it happen so I hooked it up and took it to my yard (1 mile). I then tried to crank up the top but the cables broke. I received Elmer's # and couldn't believe that I would have to spend almost  $700.00 to replace both gear boxes and four chains. The camper had only been used 15 times or fewer. I used the lift system manual to take apart the lift system and took all the plastic links to a marine store where I purchased Stainless Steel cables and replaced the old cables. The marine store also had the brass stops and a crimping tool to put the chain back together with. The total cost was about $175. The main thing to be sure to do is to get the cables tight. It requires two people so bring a friend. You know when you have done this when the chain bends. I also cracked a gear box. I repaired this by going to a Home improvement center and I purchased metal epoxy glue. I have also seen this glue in Auto Stores. This glue can even be machined. I glued the broken pieces together and then sanded. I have now used this trailer for 2 months straight. I repacked the bearings and traveled at 70mph for 7 hours with no problems. I have also installed an AC unit by taking out the 10 gal water tank and will write back on how this was done. -John

Fix your lift springs

Great site!!! When I bought my '70 Mesa III, I just thought I was getting a good deal on an old camper. After findng your site I realize I got a great deal on a classic !   One of my lift springs popped out of the track & twisted on the '70s unique system. The only replacements I could find cost $85 each, with me supplying the ends. I'm going to replace it with cable and a length of 1/2 " plumbers snake I bought at the local hardware store. Swag the original ends on, should be like new. All 4 corners can be re-done for less than $40. Happy camping!!!  -Mike Novotny

Cable Hatch Repair

I have another source for parts. My cable hatches were broken and the RV dealer wanted $9.00 for each hatch and the were white. They no longer make brown or green hatches. All that was wrong with my orginals was the metal springs were broken. The dealer told me I couldn't buy just the springs so I bought 1 hatch and then called 411. I got the number of the company that still makes this type of hatch (219) 262-4707. I purchased 10 springs for .35 each. To replace the spring you must first drill out the rivets holding in the hatch. the broken part can now be removed. Next on the hatch side take a knife and pop off the name ie Cable Hatch. You must be very careful when doing this because they are glued on and the plastic is old and brittle. You can now get to the other side of the spring. The spring is three pieces. Two rods and a clip spring. Install one rod and the spring into the door. This is the easy part. Next file one of the end of the second rod in a cone shape. Put the door and body together as in the closed position. Now take a fine screw driver like the smallest one on a Leatherman Tool and slide the rod into place. You have now replaced your spring. Get some new metal caulk to replace the old caulk and pop rivet back in place. The last thing is to glue the names back on the hatches. Now you can have all the orginal hatches in working order.  -John

AC Installation

The ac installation is complicated. I installed a 6000 BTU (should be 8000 or larger) window ac into the space where my 10 gallon water tank was. My ac unit was 12 3/4 in H by 18in W by 14in D. I had to cut the interior cabinet wall and fit the front of the ac flush to the wall. Second, I cut a 12 in by 12 in hole into the exterior and created duct work that connected the rear of the ac to the hole in the exterior. I also had to drill a hole in the lowest part of the ac unit and through the trailer floor so the water could flow outside. I also cut some 2 1/2 in holes through the floor and mounted circlular vents so air could get to the air intakes on the side of the
window unit.

I started by placing the ac unit where I thought it would go. Next I cut a 12 in X 12in hole in the exterior. I cut a hole about as big as a hatch first and checked the inside. I'm glad I did because I had the hole marked too high. I re-measured and made the cut. Next I cut the hole into the cabinet (take the front of the ac unit off and make a hole smaller than the back of the front grate.) When done correctly the grate will fit directly into the cabinet without any gaps. Now drill out the rivets and screws holding the cabinet wall into the trailer and remove. Now take your hole saw and create the holes in the floor ( not directly under where the ac unit will be) so the side vents on the ac unit will be able to get outside air. Now take your Ac unit and drill a 1/2 in hole in the lowest point and make sure you do not hit anything in the unit. place the unit inside the camper and drill a hole where your drain is.

Now place your unit inside the camper and make sure your hole is in the correct place. I made a 2 1/2 in hole to make sure it was in the right place and so water will never rot out my floor. Now measure for your duct work. I rivited the duct to the ac unit and then installed. Now place your ac unit inside. Next place the cabinet wall back and pop rivet and screw it in place. Last take metal caulk and caulk around the outside hole for the exaust grate. I screened the back of
the grill so bugs will not make a home in there during the off season. Then I screwed the grill in place. You can rivet this but I thought I might want to be able to take the off so I screwed it. This is more complicated than fixing the lift system but once in place is worth it. It took me one
complete day to do this project.  -John

Another take on AC installation

Well let me explain our A/C system, the unit I purchased is an Emerson Quiet Cool 7500 BTU window unit. I removed the doors on the lower half of the cabinets below the 3 burner stove, just over the wheel well. The vent panel is directly behind this area, I believe this is where a heater option may have been located. Then with some minor adjustment of the conduit that runs through this area the A/C unit slips in. The existing shelf needs to have one of the rear corners lowered, by removing one of the rivets and redrilling it to create a low point drain. The next step was to seal the 3 corners of what is now my drip pan, the low point can either be filed or drilled so the condensation will drain. Then use a piece of 1" PVC and attach it to the area that is now a drain, and plumb it to an area that can be drilled through the floor. A few pieces of high density foam is used to trim out this cavity to create a basically air tight compartment. Currently we just have the vent panel removed to experiment on the size of vent required, it appears this area could easily be trimmed and some sort of screened or louvered panel made to fit. I will fill you in on other details as they occur, we have only run this in the yard but soon plan to try it in the field. Again thanks for the great web site. . . . Well I ran into some problems on keeping the A/C unit cool, so here is my modified installation. In the cabinet under the stove I cut the existing heater vent plate larger to accommodate the A/C unit. I then made braces to fit in the cabinet for the width of the unit. I bought some drawer sliding rails 22" in length and mounted them to the braces. Then I attached the unit to the other part of the rails and put the system in. Now I can leave it in the camper while in tow and when not in use, and just slide it out when we need it. I am in the process of making a cover plate for the exterior of the opening. I will try and get some pics of the installation out for you. Thanks for the Great Site, - Kevin

Here's a picture of a similar installation: airconditioner.jpg (85114 bytes)

Non-destructive, removable AC Installation:

The non-destructive A/C installation described here was tested on my 1976 Mesa. It has the "tall" windows; windows that are 36" tall and 24" wide (48" for both panels together). The older units have much smaller (in height) windows, so some adapting would need to be done for that application, and the height of these small windows could pose a problem (in relation to the height of the A/C unit).

This methods mounts a standard window unit A/C in place of the outside screen. This is so you can install/uninstall the A/C just as you would the normal screen. In the Winter, install the screen as normal, and use a heater for warmth In the Summer, replace the screen with the plywood A/C panel, and you will have air conditioning! It can be installed by one person, but two people works even better.

The plywood used was ½", you can use birch or oak, etc. The support stiffners were ¾" pieces of oak plywood glued, then screwed in place. The inside twist tabs are also ¾" plywood. The handles were hardware store folding handles, and really help when installing the unit. The A/C unit was a Fedders 5,000 BTU unit, nothing fancy.

Please also notice here that all the pictures show the window being used as the "door" side window. This is for ease of photos only!!!! The correct window to use is the window directly across from it, on the backside (hookup side) of the camper (the windows are identical in size). This way you can plug directly into the campsite power. Do not use your power converter! Also, be sure to mount the vent on the inside of the camper high enough that it does not blow cold air on the back of your head when you are seated at the table!

The only option not shown in the installation is a support leg for the back of the A/C unit. I highly recommend this, as it is easy to do, and helps distribute the weight of the A/C evenly. To build it, just measure from the bottom of the back end of the window unit to the trough that is below the window on the outside. Then attach one half of a hinge to the A/C unit, and the other half of the hinge to a board of correct length. The when you set up you’re A/C at the campsite, just install the hinge pin, position the bottom of the board against the trough, and your done! This setup is VERY sturdy. I will post my A/C support leg pictures as soon as I have it done.

If you have questions, please email me at harleykids@aol.com and I will be glad to help!

- Jason

Shows window location for AC unit, but should be on the exact opposite (hookup) side of camper. window_ac_installation1.jpg (22952 bytes) window_ac_installation2.jpg (24867 bytes) window_ac_installation3.jpg (20294 bytes) window_ac_installation4.jpg (20826 bytes) window_ac_installation5.jpg (26256 bytes) window_ac_installation6.jpg (13201 bytes) window_ac_installation7.jpg (18282 bytes)

"Factory" AC Placement

Here's a few photos of the AC installation in our 1976 Royal. The unit is an 8000 BTU Fedders. - Jack Mann

1976 Royal "factory" AC placement ac_insideview.jpg (32512 bytes)  

Here are two shots of another end AC installation in a '75 Roamer with a smaller AC unit mounted a little higher and a good view of the support bracket. More shots of this camper can be found on the Apache Restoration page.

 1975 Roamer AC Installation 75roamerrehab1.jpg (13458 bytes)

One More Picture!

Here's a shot of yet another way to install a window AC unit on an Apache. This one is on Tony's '74 Roamer, and can be viewed on the Apache Restoration page.

1974 Roamer window AC installation

Repair your canvas with glue!

I own a 1965 Apache Golden Buffalo. When I bought it two years ago, I made several repairs
with a latex tarp patching glue. I purchased the glue in a one quart plastic bottle for about
$7 as I recall. I bought it at a farm supply store in Fargo ND named Nodak. I would assume
that any farm supply store would carry a similar glue. The glue dries very flexible and almost transparent. It rubs right off your hands after drying so there is not a lot of clean up to be concerned about. -Wayne Triebold

There is a latex cement called (TEAR MENDER) by Val-A Chicago, Inc. 700 W. Root Street Chicago IL 60609 . This may be the latex patch glue the other article is referring to. Note the glue slowly darkens with age and dirt.  Another glue/sealer I have used is (SEAM GRIP) it is a urethane base totally clear and grabbed to my vinyl top like a vice. I prefer this glue over the cheaper latex. - Paul D

Replacement Canvas Comments

I wanted to comment on Old Elmer's replacement canvases. Old Elmer himself is a wonderful person. The tentmaking is contracted out to Gregory Canvas in Lapeer.

We finally had to buy a replacement tent and awning for the Eagle. We were assured that the new one would be EXACTLY like the original for their having the patterns. What we got is about 80% exactly the same.

Gregory makes the main top of the tent itself out of white vinyl so we no longer have our beautiful green tent. The piping around the windows is cotton and capillary action brings pretty significant water drips inside when wind blows hard rain against the side. They must have changed the top to vinyl because the canvas they use other places, especially on the canopy is very light weight; in a heavy rain one can feel a very fine mist coming through. (We finally sent the canopy out to be professionally waterproof coated which has solved the problem.)

They used some self healing zippers but for the canopy connection to the main tent, they used the old metal zippers and it has taken us three seasons to smooth those metal teeth out enough to zip smoothly. (For two summers I cursed loudly trying to get the canopy attached).
They did not sew the front canopy straps on strongly enough or with enough backing (the straps with gromits that receive the pole heads) and we had to have them reworked by a canvas shop because they were tearing loose. The rear straps on the canopy were not put on at all until I sent the whole thing back for reworking. They also did not put the top rear tent strap on.

Finally, you really have to say that the sewing quality is not first rate. Seams wander and overlapping pieces were not caught together in places. We paid $645 for the tent and $220 for the canopy.

I do know a tentmaker that will make new canvas tents by copying your existing tent. It was he who repaired my Gregory Canvas tent and canopy and he has made some canvas side pannels for the canopy to my specifications. He also made up a velcro attached screening system that I designed for the canopy. If people are interested, I could be an intermediary (we are in Jersey City, New Jersey and he is in Patterson, NJ) for those too far away or for those who might want to use our old Eagle tent and canopy as a pattern. I'm just writing this as I think of it. Is there a service here? Should we talk?

I am John M. Hale, 293 Varick Street, Jersey City, NJ 07302.
Home phone: 201-435-8298; office phone: 201-547-4698.

Regards, John

Apache furnace operation

The furnace on our old '75 Royal didn't require a battery or any power, unless you wanted to use the blower. All it needed was propane. I was unsure at first, but it's pretty easy. Just turn on the propane tank, turn the red knob to pilot, push and hold it in, then swing open the little pilot door and put a match in. (one of those long grill lighters works best!) When the pilot lights, keep holding the button in for one full minute (or longer) so it heats up and stays lit, then let it go. It should stay lit. It's now in stand-by (pilot) mode. Close the little metal door all the way and keep it closed. When you're ready for heat, turn the knob all the way to "on" (next step past pilot) and it should go "woof" and start burning propane and producing heat. The other knob just controls how high the flames are inside (I think). It took me a while to get that one set for comfort. Anyways, the blower just cranks the heat out faster and helps circulate it. Careful - it gets HOT! Keep all flammable materials away from the furnace when operating (especially out of the cubby directly above the furnace)!  :) -Doug

Bed end help

On my '63 Apache trailer, the bed platforms can get heavy while one is trying to lower the support legs with one hand while supporting the bed with the other.  The previous owner of my trailer solved the problem by attaching a pipe flange to the bottom of each bed platform, centered near the outer edges, into which a length of threaded pipe can be screwed after the bed platform is pulled out just a few inches.  The length of pipe is (I ought to go measure them) just long enough to support each bed platform until the support legs are lowered, and they are easily removed and stowed between the edge of the bed and the edge of the platform when not in use. Craig

Cleaning and Lubricating Gears


Before reading the instructions on HOW to do this, please see this note from Tim Schaefer, the master Apache gearbox re-builder extraordinaire on WHY you'd want to do this in the first place:

"People don't really understand that if the gearboxes are regularly cleaned and lubricated that they will last forever. There is no real force being put on them to lift the chains and roof. But, also, if the extension poles are also not lubricated correctly it will bind and put force in the system and mess things up. The biggest problem I see with the chains is the metal cable that holds them together. It is at the point in there life that they are rusting and snapping. This problem also dates back to the poles not being lubricated. If a regular schedule of lubricating the extension poles for the roof was followed, the spray lubricant would have got into the links and to the metal cables and protected them with the silicone. Ah, but what are we to do now! Hind sight is always 20/20.

The reason the old gearboxes give way is the small gears can't take much force when the system is poorly maintained. If maintained and lubricated correctly, these small teeth gearboxes would last forever. As far as the aluminum gears vs. poly carbonate gears, there is good and bad both ways. Poly carbonate gears will give when the temps are low in conjunction with bad lubrication. Also, it matters the grease that is used. I prefer a white lithium grease because of it's light weight and water resistant qualities, but it still thickens in colder temps. The aluminum gears will power thru where the poly carbonate gears break and give way. This means if the system binds at some point, the aluminum gears will keep turning and the system will break at a different point, usually the chains or the cable running thru the chains. It's all trade offs. The best thing to do here is understand the lift system and care for it accordingly."

And now the Apache Gearbox Primer

1972 Apache Ramada Trailer

The 1972 Apache models had composition (molded) gears. The 1973 Apache gears were changed to metal parts. Please refer to pages 3, 4, & 5 in the "1967 Thru 1986 APACHE Lift Systems Parts and Service Manual" located at the end of the Parts page. The file to download is: liftsys.pdf (1,164 Kb). I will expand on the inspection, disassembly, cleaning, lubricating and reassembly of the gearboxes and connecting tube.


There are two gearboxes; one is located in the rear of the trailer and has the crank handle connection in the back of the gearbox. The second gearbox is located in the front of the trailer and has the connecting tube tension spring assembly in the back of the gearbox.


Before removing the gearboxes, inspect the assemblies for damage and binding. Look for cracked housings, broken bolts, missing nuts and washers, rust, dents and wear. In particular, the connecting tube may need cleaning, rust removal, and lubrication (bearing grease) at the frame suspension points. The tube ends fit into roll pins on the driveshafts of the gearboxes. Check these pins and the tube ends for wear.


1. Dow Corning 33 Lubricant Bearing Grease (contains silicone and lithium)
2. Cleaning solvent
3. Emery cloth (to clean off rust on shafts and tube),
4. RTV Silicone Adhesive
5. Roll pins (2) for gearbox drive shafts (if needed)
6. Cotter pin (1), 3/16" diameter, 2-1/2' long
7. Washer, stainless steel (2), 1/4" I.D.
8. Washer, stainless steel (1), 3/4" to 7/8" I.D. 1-1/2" to 2" O.D., 1/16" thick, or Washer, galvanized (2), electrical box reducing washers
9. Rubber grommet or washer, 3/4" I.D., 1/8" to 3/16" thick
10. Nuts and washers for gearbox mounts, 1/4" x 20


1. Wrench, or socket, 7/16"
2. Wrench, or socket, 3/8"
3. Bit, S2 (square no. 2 to fit socket adapter or driver)
4. Hammer, ball-pein
5. Punch, pin (or a large nail with the point flattened)
6. Scraper
7. Lint free rags
8. Toothbrush
9. Parts cleaning bucket


The top (Road Cover) must be in the full-down (towing) position.

1. Remove the skid plate protecting the rear gearbox.
2. Remove the hardware from the front gearbox. Apply pressure on the spring-loaded connecting shaft to disconnect it from the gearbox driveshaft. Lower the gearbox and pull away from the mounts. Release the spring pressure from the connecting tube. Pull the connecting tube forward to disengage it from the rear gearbox driveshaft. Place permanent identifying marks (position, location and which gearbox) on the gearbox. CAUTION: Cleaning may remove these marks.
3. Remove the rear gearbox hardware and then lower the gearbox. Place permanent identifying marks (position, location and which gearbox) on the gearbox. CAUTION: Cleaning may remove these marks.

NOTE: Look up into each chain opening (where the gearbox was located).

Use a felt-tip marker and mark the locations of each chain cog. This will help you remember where the cogs are located when you reinstall each gearbox. Also, this is a good time to do the cleaning, rust removal and lubrication (bearing grease), of the connecting tube, at the frame suspension points. Add grease to the connecting tube spring tension assembly (for rust prevention). Leave the connecting tube in place.


Mark, or otherwise identify the gear-tooth (contact points to the chain cogs) locations in relationship to the gearbox housing. Also, note each end of the gearbox and driveshaft. It is easy to be confused with the gear arrangement when you reassemble the housing.

1. Remove the roll pin from the driveshaft with a pin punch and hammer. Set the roll pin aside.
2. Clean the residue gasket material from the housings. Solvent-clean the housings.
3. Remove the hardware from the gearbox housing with a 3/8' wrench and S2 bit driver.
4. Carefully pull the two housings apart and note (a digital photo will do) the location of each seal, bearing, and gear. (This must be known for reassembly.)
5. Take each section of gears and remove all of the old grease and debris. A pan of solvent and toothbrush are good to use. Work the solvent into the roller bearings until the bearings will rotate. They might be frozen by the old grease.

NOTE: Do not use any sharp tools, or cloths that will leave lint. Also, observe the type of gears that are used (old or new style). See the picture on page 4, figure 4 of the manual. Place a check mark on the drawing next to the style of the gears that you have.

6. If the bearings will not turn, force a small amount of the bearing grease around each roller with your fingers. Repeat using solvent to clean the bearings. Continue this procedure until the rollers will turn. Repeat this method with each assembly. Again, note the location of each part in reference to its position in the gearbox. (Take more pictures.)
7. Repeat the cleaning procedure with the driveshaft bearings located in each housing. The bearings may have separated from the housing, when the gears were removed. Take note of the bearing and seal locations.


1. Relubricate all of the bearings and the driveshaft.
2. Add a film of grease over the teeth of each gear.
3. Check the orientation of each part and match it to your drawings or photos. Slide each assembly together.
4. Rotate the parts in either direction until the teeth engage and the housing shells can be pushed back together.
5. When you are satisfied that the housings can be completely closed, run a small bead of RTV adhesive around the mating portions of the gearbox housing shells. Smooth and remove any excess adhesive with your fingers and then reinstall the hardware on the housing. Do not seal the drain hole.
6. Reinstall the roll pin on the driveshaft. Use the same pin that was removed, or a new one of the same size.
7. Set the gearbox assembly aside.


Mark, or otherwise identify the gear-tooth (contact points to the chain cogs) locations in relationship to the gearbox housing. Also, note each end of the gearbox and driveshaft.

1. Remove the roll pin from the driveshaft with a pin punch and hammer. Set the roll pin aside.
2. Remove the crank guide pivot pin.

NOTE: The 1972 APACHE has a peined-pin that holds the crank guide in place. I found that I had to grind off the end of the pin, and remove the pin, before I could disassemble the gearbox housing. Probably, the rubber washer and spring have deteriorated and are not longer installed. This is the reason for the replacement items listed in the PARTS AND SUPPLIES list.

3. Follow the same procedures as used to disassemble the Front Gearbox; steps 2 through 7.


1. Follow the same procedures as used to assemble the Front Gearbox; steps 1 through 6.
2. It is time to reinstall the crank guide assembly to the back driveshaft. If any of the parts are broken, or missing then follow the suggested modification:
A. Install the rubber washer over the back driveshaft and push forward.
B. Install the stainless steel washer, or the two thin reducing washers.
C. Take the crank guide bracket, cotter pin, and two 1/4" s.s. washers and place them onto the driveshaft. The correct order is: cotter pin, washer, right side of the bracket, driveshaft, left side of the bracket, washer, and cotter pin forked end.
D. Spread the cotter pin forks outward.

NOTE: The crank guide bracket is installed with the flat sides toward the housing. Leave a 1/8" gap between the driveshaft and washer (Later, it will be divided to 1/16" for each side of the driveshaft.) This is for a gap that will allow the crank sleeve to fit onto the driveshaft, without excessive force. Now, bend the forks to a 90-degree angle of the cotter pin. Cut off any part of the cotter pin fork that extends beyond the bracket.

3. Set this assembly aside.


1. Position the gearbox teeth (that the chain cogs will drop into) in the rear gearbox so they will be in the same alignment as you marked.
2. Place the gearbox into its position, on the trailer, to see if the chain cogs fit into the gearbox. If so, reinstall the gearbox to the mounting screws with the hardware. If not, rotate the shaft of the gearbox so they will align with the cogs.

NOTE: Realignment will be necessary if the chains have been moved during the lubrication process, or, if the chains were not in the correct position. Try to reposition the chain cogs in the center of their travel. And/or rotate the driveshaft, in small increments, to realign the gearbox. This step is the most critical of all of the process. Unless it is performed correctly, the chain will not extend the top (Road Cover), to a level position. Take your time and, if necessary, relax and try it again, later.

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2, of this section, for the front gearbox. Except, do not permanently mount the box to the trailer. Set the front gearbox on the ground.
4. Reinstall the connecting tube onto the driveshaft of the rear gearbox and engage into the roll pin.
5. Take the front gearbox and the connecting tube spring tension assembly; fit them together as you reinstall the gearbox to the mounting screws, on the trailer, with the hardware.
6. You are now ready to use the crank and extend the trailer top. If all goes well, you will find that there is far less cranking "muscle" required. If this is not the case, consider improper alignment during the reassembly. Or, the chain and/or rails may be worn, or damaged. Follow other recommendations given for this condition as it goes beyond the scope of this document.

Copyright, 2000 Associated Medical Electronics
Use and copying this document is authorized to anyone associated with, or owns, an APACHE trailer, as long as the document is given the proper acknowledgement of the copyright owner.
April 9, 2000
Please report any errors or omissions to:

Dick Habegger
Associated Medical Electronics
4932 Budlong Street
Anaheim, CA 92807


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