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!

Hurry up and glue

Drill, dowel, glue, clamp, wait. That’s been the rhythm for the past few weeks as we glue the wood roof structure together and subsequently attach the ceiling. Dowels connect all the wood pieces together, and after they are glued they must cure for 24 hours. It’s another 24 hours after the ceiling gets glued and attached with plastic rivets. So 48 hours minimum per panel, and there are 6 of them. Thankfully, all but one is done, and it will be finished up once the other 5 sections are in place.  That one will be used to take the “slop” out once the others are secure.  The largest section over the kitchen and dining area took some ingenuity to place on the vehicle, utilizing two extension ladders.

The next step will be to complete all the direct current wiring and to add the 3/4″ insulation, which involved a trip to the metropolis of Salina, KS, to acquire.  That will be bonded to the ceiling, and the thin plywood will go on top of that.  The engineering department is working out a plan to do most of the gluing directly on the vehicle.  We’re expecting a report soon after tests are completed.

The weather has been characteristically uncooperative, with occasional pop-up showers and near 100-degree temperatures. The vehicle gets tucked into bed each night via a large tarp, and the trapped heat has done some interesting things to the PVC ridge pole underneath.

I’ll be very glad to get this phase of the restoration done and move on to other less drudgerous parts of the project!

 

Measure once, cut twice

That’s how it goes, right?  There’s been much to cut and measure as we put the new roof on the Winnebago.  The new structure is going to be significantly different from the old one, consisting of a skeleton of 1×2’s.  Underneath will be a layer of FRP, which will make up the ceiling.  In between the 1×2’s will be insulation, and Lauan and TPO will top it off.

It’s a slow process since everything that will go on the roof has to be mapped out ahead of time, and the CAD modeling has to keep up with the woodworking so that we know where beams are once everything is closed up. (Yes, we’ve created a CAD model of the roof.)  This includes knowing where basic things like vents and the air conditioner are, plus anything that will hang from the ceiling, including cabinetry and curtains.  It also must include add-ons like solar panels, antenna connections and powered roof vents.  All the wiring has to be run at this stage as well, including all the DC, some AC, cell repeater, HF coax and solar panel wiring.  It’s a lot to keep up with!

Everything is done in 8-foot sections, starting with the back.  The wood structure is all pegged and glued together, and then the FRP is attached on the ground.  From there it’s put into place so wiring harnesses can be installed, then removed again from the vehicle for final wiring and insulation.

The pace has been slow but steady, despite having to tarp the vehicle for the occasional pop-up shower!

Off comes the roof

We’re past the point of no return – the QGoLive Mobile is now a convertible, at least for the time being.

It was just a few months ago I was watching videos of this process and hoping I would never have to do that – so naturally, here we are.

But when you see the water damage for yourself, as pictured at the left, there’s no arguing this was necessary.  The two original air conditioners were installed at rather weak points on the flat roof, and didn’t have much to keep them from causing the entire structure from sagging down, which invited water to pool and eventually leak through.

The hole you see in the middle of the picture with no damage around it originally contained a vent.  That area is much more structurally stable and will eventually house the much lighter replacement air conditioner.

This picture was taken after the aluminium skin was peeled off.  All said, it took three pickup truck loads to haul off everything that had been on the roof.

Next step is to construct the new roof, and a lot of design work has to take place between now and then.  Oh, did I mention much of the AC and DC wiring runs through the roof as well?  It’s a fun time.  Luckily, no rain in the forecast… at least not yet.  Knock on 70’s wood paneling.

Winnebago roof update

Work continues on the RV roof.  We’ve removed several hundred pounds of weight, including two very old air conditioners and lots of add-on channel iron that was holding everything together.  All that’s left is some lauan plywood, foam, a few 1 by 4s and the aluminum skin.

The new roof design will be a vast improvement from the original, with steel supports for one much lighter air conditioner.  The new roof design will consist of a fiberglass-reinforced plastic ceiling, 1x2s for support beams, insulating foam, luan plywood and a layer of thermoplastic polyolefin on the top.

Still a lot of work to do but the project is certainly coming along! This is no doubt the biggest task of the entire project.  While it may appear simple, a stock Winnebago roof is surprisingly complex.

Radio Nomad on network show

What better way to help kick off the Radio Nomad project than to share an update on national radio?

That’s what I did this past weekend thanks to Walter Sterling’s show, Sterling on Sunday, aired on almost 100 radio stations including WLS, WPHT, KMOX, KFBK, WBAP and others.

This clip serves as another great example of how a telephone hybrid is no match for QGoLive.  Walter is doing the show via QGoLive, and I’m connected to WPHT using a standard telephone hybrid.  The difference is unmistakable.