GMC Western States

 Tech Center Number 7 - March 1994

This month's issue of Tech Center will provide you with basic information for renovating the interior of your coach. This issue follows the Lake Tahoe seminar and will answer some of the questions which came up during the seminar.
Refurbishing the interior of your GMC is not much different than refurbishing your home, and it can be fun. Let's say you decide to have your coach redone; the next decision is whether you' re going to do it yourself or have it done by a professional.
If you're handy and are proficient at projects like hanging wallpaper, laying carpet, and know something about sewing, you're a good candidate for doing the project yourself. But if you're not handy, you'll need to locate a reputable auto/RV upholstery shop in your area. The better the expertise the better the job will be in the long run. Accepting the lowest bid is not always the best policy. Don't be shy about asking for references; make phone calls and ask past customers about previous jobs.
Choosing a new interior color scheme or one that will blend with existing, permanent accessories should be next. Most of the fabrics, carpeting and new accessories you'll need are available from the same stores where you purchase items for your home.
There are only a few specialized items, such as curtain tracks which are available only from the RV dealers in your area. Shop and compare prices, and keep in mind that the higher quality products may cost a little more, but in the long run, they will wear better and last longer.


Seat Covering

Cushions get the most wear and tear and usually are the first items to wear out. When re-covering cushions, be sure to evaluate the condition of the existing foam rubber: If it has shrunk, lost its body, has gotten brittle, smells or has begun to disintegrate, it's time for replacement.
There are two types of foam rubber: poly foam and Everlon. Everlon has a softer feel than poly foam, which is coarse to the feel, and Everlon has a memory and will last longer. Everlon costs more than poly foam, but it's worth it. Most upholstery shops carry both types, and if you take your old foam rubber cushions with you, they'll cut the new ones to size. Adjust the size if the old ones have shrunk.
In even the smallest of communities you can find someone who does upholstery and makes cushions; they may even have foam available. Look for an ad in the local paper or inquire at a fabric shop.
If you are going to cover them yourself, use the old covers as the pattern, making the cutting and assembling simpler. Simply remove the old cushion covers from the foam and carefully take them apart at the seams.
The older (1973-74) style cushions are much easier to re-cover. The original fabric just zips off. The newer coaches with the Flex Steel furniture are more complex and require a bit more skill to deal with.
The following is a guide for purchasing fabric. The amounts are approximate. When purchasing a repeated pattern, order about 2. percent (2%) more fabric.
Cushions up to 44 inches 1.5 yards
Cushions 44 to 72 inches 3.5 yards
Double gaucho
(unfolds to a single bed) 5.5 yards.
Triple gaucho
(unfolds to a double bed) 6.S yards
Horseshoe dinette 9.0 yards
Flip-flop dinette (per side) 8.0 yards
Single mattress 6.0 yards
Double mattress 7.0 yards
Queen mattress 8.0 yards

The type of fabric is a personal choice, but we do not recommend using a Herculon fabric or any natural fiber (cotton, etc.) because it deteriorates in the hot environment of the coach. Use a nylon or similar type of fabric for the best durability.


Window Covering

Consider privacy and insulation when choosing a fabric for curtains or draperies. There are new fabrics on the market that have a polyester backing for insulation. They are easier to work with and have equal or better insulation qualities than rubber backed material.
For windows up to 24 inches long, purchase approximately 1 yard of fabric for every 22 inches of window width. This allows for some fullness. Add one-third of a yard of fabric for every additional 10 inches of window length.
When you're updating your RV, changing the window coverings to a more modern type can create the most dramatic visual effects. Matchstick, pleated shades or mini-blind styles can change the interior look and feel. No company makes a standard RV-size window covering because there is no such thing, so each must be custom-made. They can he ordered at any store that sells home window coverings. The Home Depot has some of the best prices and special orders take 7-10 days.
Measuring for blinds is not difficult. The GMC interiors have cabinets above some of the windows. The cabinets have wood supports which are mounted just above the window line. Measure from the bottom of the cabinet support to 1 inch below the window frame. This dimension is called the drop. The drop is usually 35 inches for the all the coach windows except the rear which depends on how you plan to attack it. It's wider at the bottom than at the top. The side-to-side dimension is called the width, measure 1 inch beyond the frame on each side. For windows without cabinets above them, measure approximately 6 inches for woven woods or 4 inches for mini-blinds, above the window (to compensate for the valance header and stacking), and 1 inch below the frame.
When ordering, designate which side you want the controls on. This is for ease of operating near chairs or couches. For example, it is more convenient to have the controls at the head of the bed instead of the foot. Make sure they come with the end covers. When ordering mini blinds, request hold-down brackets for the bottom rails (most come with them). They keep the blinds From swinging back and forth while traveling.
The latest in window fashions are vertical-slat blinds. They come in fabric, plastic or aluminum and work very well in an RV. Vertical blinds work best where there is a wide space on both sides of the window because they require extra room for stacking. Each manufacturer has special instructions for measuring; follow them carefully.
To give a new effect, you can build shadow boxes like those commonly found in high-dollar motor-homes. The boxes are just 1 / 4-inch plywood material attached to a 1 x 2 inch (or 1 x 3 inch) frame covered with 1/4inch foam, then an accent fabric is glued to the foam or stapled to the wood. You can use matching fabric from your furniture or try some contrasting combinations. Other possibilities are painting the shadow boxes, or making them out of plastic or a high quality wood such as Oak or Walnut and staining or varnishing them.
Headliner replacement is more involved than any of the projects we've mentioned because you'll have to remove cabinets and work around the closet and bathroom modules. Changing the headliner can create a drastic change to the feeling of the Motorhome interior. The original headliner material is no longer available, but you can come close at some auto upholstery shops. The better solution is a product called "Plasticor" which is a semi-rigid panel which comes in 4-foot by 8-foot sheets and can be cut to size. The panel can be used as-is or can be sprayed with an aerosol adhesive and then covered with fabric or wall paper to create the desired look. Plasticor is available from Laird Plastics in Sacramento, CA They can be reached at 800-872-4949. You'll need about 7 sheets to do a complete coach. The sheets sell for about $15 each not including shipping.


CB Antenna

Do you have marginal communication range with your CB? We have found that replacing the mirror mounted antenna with a roof mounted antenna can solve this range problem. Reception/transmission range can go from a block {maximum) range to greater than a mile by just mounting the CB antenna on the roof of the coach. This is not a surprise, since the roof provides a ground plane, (flat metal surface) which is not available on the front fiberglass nose piece section of our coaches. For an optimum antenna configuration, the ground plane is a vital part of the antenna system.
Several antenna brands and types are available including a Snap-In, Roof-Mount Antenna {"Shorty") offered by Radio Shack, catalog item Number 21-906B for about $24. Features of this antenna include a center load coil, steel whip & shock spring mounting base, 16 foot cable and connector. The Snap-In Roof Mount makes it easy to install onto an existing Roof by drilling one hole and snapping the outside mount into an inside washer. The cable is then routed above the headliner and down the rear edge of the Drivers side window (remove molding to conceal the cable). Removal of the forward vent frame & the driver's side speaker/ overhead light will aid in routing the cable.
The antenna mounting location selected should be just in front of the forward roof vent and far enough away from the AM/FM radio antenna so that they don't touch or bang together while driving.
The mounting instructions leave a bit to be desired, however, the installation is straight forward once you determine that you must remove an 'Insert' from the base before snapping the base onto the inside mounted washer. Once the base is snapped into the inside washer, replace the insert before tightening the base hardware. Do not cut the cable to your installation length. Keep the entire 16 ft. cable length intact since the antenna is tuned with the 16 ft. cable for proper interface with the CB Radio. Remember, don't cut the cable!
The large antenna seal may not have to be used due to a problem with the base installation. The antenna base may have to be sealed to the roof with a silicone sealant to prevent water leaks.
The use of a Standing Wave Ratio (SWR) meter to tune your antenna to its installation is also desired. Trimming the upper antenna section in 1/8" increments until the desired SWR is achieved is all there is to it!


 Tech Info