A Winnebago Birthday

The Winnebago has permeated into every aspect of my life, including my birthday cake.  Mrs. Copeland really outdid herself this year with a first foray into fondant, which turned out to be quite the crowd pleaser.

Steady progress on the RV continues.  The very complicated brake system has now been restored and is fully functional after months of research and several days of work under the vehicle. The original Bendix hydrovac brake boosters (the shiny things in the picture below) are increasingly difficult to find, but rebuilt units from Mexico can be had with some Internet digging.  A couple of heat shields will have to be fabricated to keep the exhaust system from melting the new boosters, which is what happened to the old ones.

Inside the vehicle, DC wiring continues as we move towards installing the solar panel charge controller and inverter.  Before that, plumbing tasks have to be finished up.  All of this is holding up the flooring install.  It’s a never-ending jigsaw puzzle!

The roof is finished!

I thought I might never type those words, but here we are, with a roof that has survived its first storm!  One air conditioner, two powered vents with covers, one refrigerator vent, two solar panels, one TV antenna, one antenna junction box, and one luggage rack and a ladder make up the inhabitants of the roof, plus a few sundry plumbing vents.  Everything is buttoned up with Butyl tape and self-leveling sealant, and I’m quite pleased with the results.

Most of the inhabitants of the underside of the roof have made their way to their new homes, including lots of LED lighting fixtures, vent garnishes (yes, that’s what they’re called), and cabinetry above the kitchen and dinette areas.

Some of you may ask, “Why isn’t he painting that disgusting 70’s wood veneer?”

My answer is:

1. It will probably come back in style.

2. Once you paint them, there’s no going back to the way it was.

3. I’m not ruling out paint in the future, but let’s put everything back together and see how it looks.

The carpet, however, is coming out, with the exception of the driving area (or The Bridge, as I think it should be referred to from now on).  I’ve been inside probably 30 RVs over the past few months, and not a single one had carpet in it, so “wood” laminate flooring is certainly “in” right now.

Stay tuned for a flooring update coming soon! There’s also lots of electrical work going on, and plumbing is just around the corner.

– James

Taking shape

They say painting a house is 90 percent surface preparation and 10 percent actual painting.  That’s how a Winnebago roof seems to be as well.  We finally got the roof material (TPO) applied after literally months of preparation.  Before that could happen, the remainder of the direct current wiring was tucked away and lauan plywood was applied on top of everything.

Fun Fact – there are nearly 1,000 screws or plastic rivets within the Radio Nomad roof structure…

After the plywood was screwed down (with over 500 #6 3/4″ screws), fleece tape was applied between the plywood sheets to cover any gaps.  Then, the edges were sanded down with an air sander.  Next, adhesive was applied with a paint roller before the TPO was set on top.  After that, a push broom and sock feet aided the removal of bubbles from underneath the surface.

Now, the actual legitimate fun of installing all those roof accessories can start, which is what we’ll get in to next week!


The quest to finish the roof

Finally, some dry weather to get this roof thing finished.  Progress has been great as we cut and fit insulation, route wires and custom build everything as we go.  Progressing from the back to the front of the vehicle, holes for the rear vent/fan and air conditioner have been cut, and the wiring harnesses have been modified for the new roof structure.  In between the wood is 3/4 inch extruded polystyrene insulation.  Eventually a thin sheet of plywood will be put on top of this, and the entire works will be bonded together.

The air conditioner was hoisted atop the vehicle, and a test fit has been completed.  Since one of the output ducts from the air conditioner was right up against the refrigerator and wouldn’t do much good there, a custom duct attachment was fashioned from sheet metal that routes air into the radio studio/lounge area and ensures air flow even with the dividing curtain closed.

A platform inside the vehicle supported by jacks ensures the roof sections are in the proper place while they are being fitted and screwed down. This also helps crown the ceiling slightly.

The vehicle radio up front has also been replaced with a similar period unit which makes work more enjoyable (can’t live without that cassette player, after all). Plus, it was free.

So, we continue on by leaps and bounds everyday in 97 degree heat!

Making progress – Shocking!

Last week’s weather continued to be vexing, so we occupied ourselves with other tasks such as replacing the shock absorbers on the Winnebago.  The vehicle is now benefiting from enhanced stability on the road and in the driveway.  Other tasks included tearing into the radio and miscellaneous wiring.

The start of this week has brought cooler, less rainy weather, so progress has resumed on the roof rebuild.  We’re now in the process of cutting and fitting insulation and installing the direct current wiring inside the roof.  Most of the holes for the power fans and air conditioner have been cut as well.

Pictures and another update on progress coming soon!

Bagos dead and alive

I took a break from the Winnebago project this past week to attend a family reunion in northern Minnesota.  Of course, this was a good opportunity to watch for classic Winnebagos on the road.  Having driven a few thousand miles this summer, this was the first trip I actually saw a classic “eyebrow” Bago, like the Radio Nomad.  This style was used from the mid 1960’s through 1977.  A big change to the body style in 1978 eliminated the eyebrow.  On this trip, I actually saw three eyebrow models.  The first, pictured above, is a 1970 F-17.  I found it near Itasca state park at the Pioneer Farmers Show.

The second two were actually seen in the state of Kansas.  One was broken down on the side of the road on I-35.  The second was rotting away on the side of US-81 south of Concordia.  The owner was nice enough to let me poke around. This is a Brave model (as opposed to my Indian), and I believe it’s a 1977 D21. The owner said he wanted to redo the inside, but he’s got too many projects going on now. At this point, about his only hope will be to part the vehicle out.

This experience is a good reminder of how relatively rare these vehicles are in running condition – at least in the Midwest where they’re subjected to water damage, which seems to be the big killer.

Another update coming next week as we get back to work!