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Old 03-25-2011, 03:54 AM   #1
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Smile 1979 Winnebago Chieftain Complete Gut & Remodel

New to this forum thing, so bear with me. In April of 2010, my wife and I purchased a 30' 1979 Winnebago Chieftain - our first RV. We were so excited! We had grand plans to travel the country in our vintage rig. The plans unravelled after the first rain, which occurred the day after we bought it. Egads, what a reality check...water was coming from everywhere!
More on this adventure soon. I have tons of pics to share and stories to tell. After nearly one year, we have yet to take our first trip! We're trying to get her (the dirty thirty) ready for a spring break trip to see my inlaws in Glendale, AZ. I have many questions and need input from the "seasoned". Since we're installing all new stuff, I need opinions on plumbing, electrical, propane, etc. I'll be starting many questions with, "if you could start from scratch..." I even tracked down the original owners, which is a neat tale in itself. Cheers!
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Old 03-25-2011, 07:26 AM   #2
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welcome and tell me more
because im kinda old and slow
pics would be great
safe travels
brianj
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Old 03-25-2011, 08:16 PM   #3
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Welcome!

Sounds like you have got yourself a bargain and one exciting roller coaster ride ahead of you!

Would love to see some pictures and hear those stories .

Good luck & safe travels.
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Old 03-25-2011, 08:33 PM   #4
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I'm looking forward to the pictures and reading your stories, but I don't think I'll be able to answer very many of your questions.
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Old 03-25-2011, 09:49 PM   #5
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Sounds like some of the Studebakers that I've restored! Just think of how good it'll feel when it's done and going down the road! And you can say "I did that"!
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Old 03-26-2011, 12:07 AM   #6
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Well I might be able to help you on a few things. Just ask away since there are people here ready to share any info they have. And welcome to the group. Les
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Old 03-29-2011, 12:02 AM   #7
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Update

Thanks to all for the warm welcome! The wife and I are gathering pictures, which are scattered amongst several cel phones and memory cards. Hopefully that won’t take too long – I don’t want to keep everyone in suspense.

Our original intentions with the rv were to replace the carpet, freshen up the interior, and fix some obvious mechanical issues. The more layers we peeled back, the more depressed we became. The water damage was extensive and I’m not the type to just patch stuff up for surface beauty. I watch a show called “Holmes on Homes” and the host goes to houses looking to repair shoddy work done by hack contractors. On every episode he seems to say, “rip it all down – we gotta start over”. Well, that’s just what we did. Over the course of one week, we completely gutted the interior from the doghouse to the stern (we’re leaving the front area for phase II). I’m so glad we did this because I found several areas of mold, fire hazards due to wiring and gas line problems, hidden roof leaks, structural issues, etc. I also had problems with the original design of the HVAC. [By the way, I am the owner/operator of a fire protection design business, with a civil engineering background (University of Texas at El Paso)]. I learned about something I think is called the Winnebago “Motoraid” option. Running hot engine coolant lines throughout the interior is asking for trouble - gone. Since I’m a light sleeper, I didn’t care for the furnace –ripped it out along with ducts & vents and replacing it with two gas radiators – no fans, no electricity required. The plumbing was sub-par – replacing it with PEX tubing and shark-bite fittings. I replaced every single fastener inside and out with stainless steel – made the folks at ACE Hardware very happy! Sorry for bouncing around from topic to topic, but I’m trying to organize my thoughts since buying the rv ($3200) a year ago. When we ripped out the ceiling, we discovered the source of the water and realized just how much work this endeavor was going to take. The aluminum roof was in bad shape. During the day, we could see light coming through. We had discovered George H.W.’s “thousand points of light”. There were literally hundreds of pinholes created by a previous roof repair. The repair consisted of 3” x 3” x ¼” (yes you read that right) angle iron that sat on top of the roof in sort of an H pattern. Two lengths spanned the width of the rv. Two more surrounded the front roof vent and were welded to the other two, essentially creating a bird bath around said vent. Wait, it gets better. Four ¾” dia. Bolts went through the iron, through the roof, and terminated at washers and nuts above the ceiling. None of this was stainless or even galvanized! Even though I wore a mask, I'm sure I have rust-lung or something like that. There were several other areas where someone had driven large wood screws and lag bolts from below through the roof – watch your step! So, after much contemplation, I decided the spend all of my free time last summer on the roof of this poor neglected beast. I grinded and wire wheeled the ENTIRE roof – nearly 250 square feet. About halfway through I through about peeling the whole roof off and buying a new sheet of aluminum, but I stupidly figured, well I’ve gone this far…. Uuuughhh! I bought all new roof vents with large fans built in, new solar-powered plumbing vent caps, and a new ac cover. I followed up with Eternabond tape and two coats of Ultraroof 1000 elastomeric coating from Lowe’s. Boy, I was one proud daddy when I finished. We found numerous wasp nests. One on the kitchen vent, several underneath the floor, the furnace was completely full, in the water heater vent, generator, doghouse, etc. Thankfully the residents moved out long ago. That’s all I have energy for today – oh one more thing: We’ve been working on the dirty thirty every day since the end of Feb. and we’ll continue that pace until spring break arrives in about 4 weeks. Current status:
· All new paneling on exterior walls
· New ceiling panels & vents/fans
· New wiring – pre-wired for LED fixtures coming next week from Starlights.com
· New carpet – which is actually just for sound & heat insulation – paneling and linoleum will go over this.
· New insulation – tripled the amount of ceiling insulation using unexpanded blue foam panels.
· tires & Bilstein shocks
· brakes & master cylinder
· air cleaner & housing
· plugs & MSD wires
· restored screen door
· restored all windows except front side windows – coming soon. This involved removing each window and completely blowing them apart, sanding, painting, scraping the glass of all water spots (holy cow – you have no idea – or maybe you do), new solar-rated screens, and making new window track/guides out of rubber-backed carpet (more on this in my window restoration segment).
· New curtains (home-made by us)
· New porta-toilet – this is until I reconfigure the black & grey tank situation.
· Wiper blades
· Windshields
· Steering wheel cover
· Headlights
· Hoses, belts, radiator, carb, alternator (stolen while getting a smog check)
· I’m sure I’m forgetting something…
Stay tuned for more…Goodnight America!

Cheers,

Paul & Liz

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Old 03-29-2011, 12:18 AM   #8
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Now you really have to find the pictures, that is if your not too tired.
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Old 03-29-2011, 12:27 AM   #9
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update - again

I did forget some things:
more completed items:
  • new fuel gauges, sending units, & solenoid switch. I got rid of the old dash switch and single fuel gauge and installed two gauges that constantly show level in each tank along with a new switch.
  • new fan clutch
Pending tasks:
  • new converter/inverter stuff - I yanked the old rusty one which smelled like burnt hair - I need input on this (the new elec. stuff, not burnt hair) I need to know about amps, battery charging system, etc. As for loads, there is one roof ac unit ( the rear one is long gone) and figure a microwave and the usual stuff.
  • new sofa bed & dinette set - I was going to make this stuff myself, but the wife talked me out of it. This frees up more time for other honey-do's.
  • new exhaust system - headers, x-pipe, flowmasters (powertrain is Dodge 440)-yeehaw!
  • air horns
  • fire extinguishers & first-aid kit
  • gauges
  • elec. radiator fan
  • reupholster front seats
  • new seat belts
  • front carpet & doghouse insulation
  • tire press. mon. system - I have it, just need to install
  • awning - didn't have one, but the open screw holes were there - all 40 of them!
  • exterior paint - GM Silver Birch Metallic (our 2007 Silverado is this color) with red RT stripe - think of the stripe on a 1970 HemiCuda. At the rear the stripe will turn down and blend into "RV 440". Spare tire cover will also have this, but with a slanted double red stripe like the current Dodge Logo.
  • small black pirate flag on roof luggage rack
  • shower (we're refinishing the old one)
OK, I'm really going to bed now...
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Old 03-29-2011, 12:32 AM   #10
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pics?

alright, alright, I'll see if I can find one or two for now...I'll have to figure out how to put them on here...
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Old 03-29-2011, 12:51 AM   #11
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If you run into a problem posting them just shout.
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Old 03-29-2011, 12:52 AM   #12
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pics - for now

OK, here's just a peek for now. These were taken last summer and give you a pretty good idea of what we were dealing with for the interior. I hope I did this right and the pics come through. The interior looks nothing like this now of course. In one of the pics you can see EMT conduit at the ceiling which I used to support the roof. You can also see some of the blue foam panels, which are covered in cloth to keep the dog from going insane from squeaking foam panels while driving down the road. We had installed some without the cloth in the beginning and quickly discovered a migraine-inducing squeaking during a test-drive!
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Old 03-29-2011, 01:00 AM   #13
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Hey, JohnRR - I was born & raised in Michigan - mostly Millington & Vassar. Planning a trip there this summer!
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Old 03-29-2011, 01:08 AM   #14
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If you get this far north I'll be here most of the summer barring about three 6 or 7 day trips.
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