Painting Part 1

The last major part of the project: painting – another huge undertaking.  As this entire restoration has fallen into the “shade tree” category, we’ve had to work around the weather.  In addition, if you’ve painted anything before, you know from experience that preparation is the most important and time-consuming part of the task.  So here we go with the pictures!

The problems:

So that was several days of wood repair, body repair, cleaning and straightening the bottom metal channel that encloses the bottom of the vehicle sides.

The actual painting doesn’t take too long at all – Rust-Oleum Canvas White is a great color match for classic Winnie’s like this one.

After the paint had time to set up, we caulked all the windows and seams under worklights since it was supposed to start raining at 1 a.m. that morning.  Thankfully, the showers held off until 5 a.m. and our weather window closed just in time!

Stay tuned for Painting Part 2 – where things really get exciting!

– James


1 Year Update: Interior Before and After

It’s hard to believe we’ve been working on the Winnebago for over a year, but it’s true!  At this time, the last major project is finishing some exterior body work and painting the sides and back of the vehicle.  In the meantime, enjoy these before and after photos.

– James

On the Road: Visiting Texas

Here’s a recap from the Winnie’s first big trip out of state in February and March before our world got a little crazy.  Hope you enjoy.

The goal of this trip was to do a longer shakedown cruise, work out bugs, enjoy some slightly warmer weather and visit some radio stations along the way!

El Reno, Oklahoma

This was the first stop after leaving Wichita, Kansas.  Originally planned as a backup stop, the Lucky Star Casino turned out to be the perfect spot with full hookups for FREE!  That’s pretty rare.  You can actually stay four nights here, just pull in to an open spot and then check in with the security desk.  Day one also brought our first squawk – no oil pressure indicating on the gauge.  Turned out to be a loose connection on the sending unit, so a quick five minute fix.

The next morning, it was time to take care of a few radio tasks, including recording and cutting the network spots for Sterling on Sunday, of course using QGoLive.  So there we were, cutting national radio commercials airing on 50,000 watt stations in the middle of a parking lot (with a nice little Shasta trailer in view).

Lawton, Oklahoma

We continued on to Lake Lawtonka in Lawton, Oklahoma, which is an incredibly beautiful place to stay in full view of the Wichita Mountains.  Although the weather was cold (still mid February), the city-owned camps are well-maintained and $12 a night during the winter for electricity, dump station and bathrooms.  The folks in the area are incredibly nice and it was really a shame to leave.

Wichita Falls, Texas

As a Wichita, KS native, I’d always heard of Wichita Falls, but never visited.  We stopped by a few area radio stations and stayed at the River Bend RV park, which is owned by the city.  It’s $17 a night for water and electric hookups with a dump station on site in a very convenient location.  There’s also a suspended bridge to an enormous city park that leads to the actual Wichita Falls, which oddly enough are man made.  Wichita Falls is also home to The World’s Littlest Skyscraper, which was actually an elaborate scam, but makes for an interesting tourist stop.


It sounded like shelf over the radio studio inside the Winnie had spontaneously collapsed going down a Texas two-lane highway.  A few milliseconds later, I realized that the shelf was fine, but one of the rear dual tires was not.

I eventually found an abandoned gas station to pull into and started the fun-filled process of changing the inner passenger’s side dual.  With a bottle jack, lug wrench and cheater bar, it took just under an hour to deal with the eight big lug nuts and mount the spare tire.  We replaced all four rear tires a few days later just to be on the safe side.


Whitney, Texas

Whitney is just outside of Waco and there are a wide variety of parks in the area.  The first night we stayed at Lofers Bend State Park, which isn’t too busy in the winter, but I’m told reservations are a must during the summer.  At $20 a night it’s a bit expensive for my tastes, but electricity and water were provided plus a dump station and bathrooms on site.  It was an interesting challenge getting into the site in the dark.

The next day we explored free camping options in the area, eventually settling on Walling Bend State Park on the other side of the lake because there’s plenty of sun for solar power.  Walling Bend is great because you can stay for FREE for 14 days in designated spots.  I met some wonderful people at this park and picked up so much RVing knowledge from the pros.

Waco, Texas

We finally made it to Waco and invited our first guests into the Winnebago.  The picture of Scott and Jennine is a favorite – it represents a lot since it was taken less than a year from the original Radio Nomad concept.  Waco also included a trip to the Dr. Pepper museum, which is a must-see stop if you’re a fan.

Heading back

We didn’t waste much time returning to Wichita, but stayed in a Walmart parking lot, the Winstar Casino RV park and another city park at Bell Cow Lake in Chandler, Oklahoma.

One of the last stops was the Round Barn in Arcadia, Oklahoma, just outside Oklahoma City on Route 66.  It’s exactly what it sounds like, but is worth visiting and is just across the street from Pops, another legendary stop.

So that’s the whirlwind recap.  It was a great trip with a taste of everything – looking forward to many more to come.

– James and Ash

Better first impressions

I’m happy to report that the front of the vehicle has been painted!  I rather sheepishly admit we used… spray cans.  Rust-Oleum Protective Gloss Enamel Canvas White was a close match to the original off white.  The results turned out much better than I was expecting.  As with any job, prep was the most important and time-consuming job.  All the paint and what was left of the Winnebago decal was stripped from the front using Methyl Ethyl Ketone.  This took most of a day.  Before painting, the aluminum was treated with a conversion coating that cleans and etches the metal and provides corrosion protection.  Below you can see before, during and after.

In addition to painting, damaged marker lights were replaced and everything was resealed.  The rechromed middle bumper section was also installed along with the polished originals.  The only part left is remaking the original Winnebago decal, which is in progress currently.

Another “first impression” project was the entry step, which is now finished!

In addition to these projects, we’ve installed a new windshield washer reservoir, repaired and installed the coolant overflow reservoir, set timing and mixture on the engine, installed a new turn-signal switch, and replaced the engine temperature sensor and oil pressure sending unit.

There’s always more to do.  I’ll keep you updated!

– James

Doors, body work and batteries

The fun continues with small projects as the weather permits.  I’m happy to report that the worst body rot underneath the entry door and all along the passenger side of the vehicle has been removed and replaced with new wood.  Eventually this process will have to be repeated on all bottom edges of the vehicle.

After the wood rot was fixed, we were able to finally finish the entry door installation.  The door was rebuilt a couple months ago and many parts of the door were saved.  We did replace the rotten wood at the bottom of the door and went with FRP (the same material used for the ceiling) on the interior of the door.  The finishing touch was the Slim Shade window, which has a built-in pull-down shade.

Finding new door seals around the frame was another challenge, but luckily they are still available from Winnebago!

Another continuing project is the repair of the lower interior storage doors.  I was able to use a spare door to replace the one under the dinette bench.

Finally, we’ve improved the battery situation with a new 200 amp hour house battery.  The existing house battery has been put into service as the new automotive battery.  The battery tray was also cleaned, painted and primed.

So – now I can say the Winnie is powered by Duracell!  That’s all for now – much more to come.

– James

December Recap

Progress continues on the Winnebago restoration, although obvious holiday distractions and the cold weather have slowed things down a bit.  The good news is the RV is in use daily for a variety of tasks including audio production.  The acoustics in the studio area have turned out great.  Since this is a recap, I’ll briefly list some of the recent restoration news:

  • The source of shimmying noted in previous posts was discovered to be the driver’s side front rim which was probably built wrong from day one.  Since all the rims on the vehicle are the same (and rather rare 17.5″ ones at that), the spare tire rim was substituted.  Long story short, that rim had a leak through one of the rivets and had to be epoxied.  Good news is, it was a inexpensive fix and we’re rolling great with no leaks!
  • The entry door has been rebuilt and put back on the frame, although it will have to come off again when we reconstruct the wood underneath the door that has rotted away.  Look for a post on that soon.
  • All six curtains are finished and installed! Again, I’ll have a post on that upcoming.
  • Installation has started on the ham and CB radios to go in the vehicle, accessible from the driving area.
  • Most of the electrical upgrades have been completed (I think).  An extra outlet under the couch was added to power some heat tape.  While the water is not running right now, existing and new heat tape is keeping the lines and water pump from freezing, just in case.
  • A 30 amp electrical outlet has been added to provide full electrical service to the RV.  I could even run the air conditioner right now if I wanted…
  • All lighting is running off solar power.  The power converter stays off most of the time.  New batteries will be on their way soon.
  • Plugging up holes and fixing leaks continues as always – but they are getting few and far between!

Those are some of the highlights – the vehicle is certainly drivable and livable – but there’s still a page of things we’d like to do before hitting the road.  Thanks for following along and happy new year!

– James