After long consideration, and a failed attempt at repairing a disintegrating zipper, I decided to go ahead and replace the original tent. I still have the original, in good condition with the exception of the few tears, stains, and failed zipper, in storage, but it was not in good enough shape for actual use so I ordered a replacement from the Bus Depot. I bought the canvas tent that looks and feels like the original, but has three windows instead of the original one (which turns out to be WAY cooler, both in appearance and temperature.)
Upon receipt of the new tent I was shocked to see how small the box was – for whatever reason I thought that it would be much larger. I opened the package, inspected the replacement for damage and found none. The tag showed that the model year was correct for the Wanderer, so I spread it out and measured everything and it seemed to be about right (if a little snug in width. The length appeared to be spot on.)
Pulling the original tent was fairly simple and only took me about 30 minutes (I wanted to it out as cleanly as possible, with as little new damage as I could manage.) Once it was out I was able to compare them side-by-side and indeed, the width of the new tent seemed a tad short. I wrote this off as stretching in the old tent and proceeded to prep the new tent for install. I followed the directions, marking the centers on both the tent and the roof, and started tacking the top in place.
I chose to keep the pop-top installed, since I do not have anyone to help lift it off, and because the stapling is really simple, even in the rear. That hard part, I discovered, was the bottom, which I had though would be the easier or the two. Wow, I now know what it’s like to put a drum head on. This thing is TIGHT in width, so much so that I was concerned about tears. The top-to-bottom size was perfect, no problems what so ever in any area, but that width made it a serious bear to wrestle into place in the corners.
I quickly abandon the directions on the bottom, finding it easier to install the rear corners first while the rest of the bottom was loose. This allowed me more wiggle room in that tight spot. Once the corners were in, I then started in the center and worked my way out to each corner, attaching the aluminum rail. Then came the front corners, and man did that suck. I spent a lot of time working on those corners, a LOT of time. If any mosquito is unfortunate enough to hit the canvas down near the camper top it’s going to be propelled at sonic speeds into the Airstream I’m parked next to and be pulverized by the impact. I mean the width here is TIGHT!
All that said, once I actually got all four corners in the rest went fairly well. I did a little adjusting as I went, but everything went in smoothly after those corners. The end result looks pretty good to me (if you don’t like it you’re welcome to stop by and fix it yourself, be my guest!) I’ll say this about the new tent – it’s way cooler and looks like a million dollars. It’s a chore and a half, but it was worth the effort.
The sides and rear of the original tent were intact, if slightly stained, but the front was a lost cause.
The fiberglass covered wood made stapling difficult – many staples had to be driven the rest of the way in with a small hammer.
Top staples in progress
Reattaching the roof lift mount.
Not a lot of width to spare in the rear, but more than what I had in the front corners.
Double-checking the top rear fit.
Testing the front fit – corners still need a little tweaking.
Working in the rear with the top on is not for the claustrophobic.
All staples in and fit tested – time to get started on the bottom rails.
Making some adjustments to the rear corner.
Getting ready to fit the bottom front corners now – time for a break!
Same view as above of the finished product – no stains, mildew, or tears! Time to go camping!!!
Looking out the nice, new front window