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Old 07-17-2016, 07:04 PM   #1
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Clive: Our 1977 Winnebago Brave purchased for $750 and brought back from the dead

Hello! Wanted to introduce everyone to our project.

(Scroll down for pics)
My girlfriend and I picked up "Clive" on Craigslist for $750. A few quick specs:
-1977 Brave D26RT (26' Length)
-Mopar 440 V8 (built and modified)
-Dodge M400 chassis

When we bought him, the owner said the only time it had run in the past 12 years was a 3 mile drive 5 years ago. After many attempts, he finally sputtered to life, and I drove him several laps around the seller's barn to try and shake the cobwebbs out before the 45 minute trek to my shop. He made it, and I got to work. I only had two months before I needed to drive this old dog from Minneapolis, MN to Tampa, FL for a new job at a large RV dealership.

Clive was everything you'd expect from a $750 RV from the 70s. The roof was shot, with water pouring down from a sagging AC. The orange shag carpet was heavy with dirt and debris. There was evidence of rot and water damage in every corner, along with garbage left from previous owners.

As we got him:

First step was to remove the roof. I had seen many projects where people spent weeks peeling off old sealer and carefully resealing everything. I didn't have that kind of time. But I had power tools. And an overhead chain hoist. Time to rip that leaky tin off.

Now that we could see, we got to work gutting the interior. Nearly everything was torn out and all original holes and wall damage was filled and sanded.

Once everything was smooth, painting began. We also replaced remaining cabinet hardware and hinges.

And then there was the ugly cab area...
A wiring nightmare, orange shag carpet, and surface rust stood in my way.

Now that the shag is gone, time for fake hardwood flooring. Lock together style.

We replaced the dinette with a nice little retro couch in front of some wainscoting.

Repaired the cracked dog house, added dynamat, and prepped the cab area for finishing

Little side note--all the metal trim, seat bases, and cabinet hardware are sprayed with the same nickel finish

Organized all the loose wiring and made kickpanels for under the dash. Carefully cut an opening in the vinyl dash (sorry guys!) for my Motorola Xoom tablet which feeds in to the audio system. Eventually will run lighting as well.

As we got close to our departure date, it was time to build the new roof. 2x4's were cut to length, then cut on a bandsaw so they form a shallow arch. The roof was assembled and sealed with a roll on rubber product designed for mobile home roofs.

We loaded up, and took off for Florida.

Just east of New Orleans, the tired old 440 had enough. From what I assume, the old dry cracked rear main seal failed and I lost all my oil along I-10, leading to a snapped rod in cylinder 1. We left him in a truck stop parking lot and went back for him the following weekend, bringing him the rest of the way back to Florida on a gooseneck (watch out for bridges!)

Got him to our new family shop in Florida and ripped the engine out.

Once to Florida, I sourced a rebuilt and spiced up 440 that a guy was going to use in a hot rod project. Still has the RV cam. Went hunting on ebay and really got the new powerplant looking nice. Estimating around 350-375HP.

With the engine out, I took the time to clean up years of oil blow by and grease on the frame rails.

And this is how Clive sits now. I hope to have the engine back in within a couple weeks, and then focus will be on exterior restoration with some modification (I work in the body shop of a busy RV dealer).

Thanks for checking out the project! I'll keep you guys posted as we move along.

JD and Lydia.
Proud owners of a $750 Craigslist find brought back from the dead.
1977 Winnebago Brave 26', restored, Rebuilt 440
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Old 07-17-2016, 07:34 PM   #2
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Outstanding work, wish you were an RV service guy Here!

See projects on my 1997 America Dream here, Index to the projects is in the first post.

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Old 07-17-2016, 07:53 PM   #3
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wow .. what an impressive rebuilt. Clive looks great!

I hope that your new employer is paying you right and understands that you have some mad RV repair & renovation skills.

It's too bad that you didn't make your way to New England, I'm sure I have some projects that could use your skillsets.
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Old 07-18-2016, 12:52 AM   #4
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Great job so far, he is going to be a looker when done! And sound great too! Look forward to the rest of the build, and a video when you fire him up would be so cool too?!! Rail!
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Old 07-18-2016, 03:08 AM   #5
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Wow, seriously impressive. What shop are you working at in Tampa?
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Old 07-18-2016, 04:00 AM   #6
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Our first motorhome was a 1977 Win Brave with a 440ci engine, boy that thing could clime mountains. Good luck with your project.
Earl & Sharon, 2008 Fleetwood Expedition, ISB 6.7
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Old 07-18-2016, 04:09 AM   #7
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What more can I add? Except when you get back to Minn. stop by and we can start on my 82 PA. interior.
Great work, man what a skill.
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Old 07-18-2016, 04:24 AM   #8
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Absolutely impressive.
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Old 07-18-2016, 04:41 AM   #9
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That was great to see. Thanks for posting it. The first time I went to Winnebago in Forrest City , they had ( and possibly still do) a mid to late 60's in the lobby that they totally restored.
Yours can take its place if they ever needed a new one .

This may be it.

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Cliff,Tallulah and Buddy ( 1999-2012 )
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Old 07-18-2016, 06:28 AM   #10
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wow,,,great work,,,,,looking forward to more aswell...

thank you for posting...
jeff n debbie, and our 4 4 legged family members
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Old 07-18-2016, 07:20 AM   #11
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Impressive, I see a possible Tv show in your future !

"restore my Rv"
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Old 07-18-2016, 07:57 AM   #12
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I love the work you've done on Clive, very impressive. It's a shame the engine threw a rod. From the lack of crud buildup in the engine it looks as if it had been well maintained or had very low miles.

You mentioned future plans, something like this perhaps...

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Old 07-18-2016, 08:12 AM   #13
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Thanks so much for the kind words everyone. I've had a blast working on this project.

The lack of crud could have been because everything burnt off. The inside of the valve covers were torched. It got mighty warm before giving up.

I work at Lazydays in Tampa. Just transferred to the body shop from the cabinet and window shop.

Forgot to add some engine specs:

-440 .040" over
-higher compression pistons (don't remember which brand)
-Jegs long tube headers
-Edelbrock 650 carb
-new distributor
-chrome valve covers (not pictured)
-alloy bolt kit
-new plugs
-all new gaskets
-refurbished water pump and alternator
-metallic black block
-completely rebuilt 727 transmission
-rebuilt motor mounts (strengthened with urethane)

Should get him purring pretty well. I plan to throw some electric cut outs on just for grins too
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Old 07-18-2016, 08:25 AM   #14
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I probably don't need to tell you this but with the kind of power your pouring to that drivetrain you may want to add some extra cooling capacity to your transmission. Just because your engine has the horsepower and torque to tear up the hill climbs doesn't mean your transmission's up to the task, even a new or rebuilt transmission. An additional oil cooler is cheap insurance.

Many many many years ago I seriously modified an engine in a car I had. It took me two transmissions and one rear end later to learn a serious lesson (I guess I was a slow learner), make certain that the entire drivetrain's up to the task!

Just a little free advice from a 68 year old lifelong gear freak.


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