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Author Topic: Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG  (Read 4451 times)

Offline ebaierl

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Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG
« on: February 20, 2017, 10:15 PM »
My wife and I are going to be living full time in an RV starting this summer. We've been shopping around a lot, and I found an old 1978 Winnebago Winnie Minnie 20ft Class C. But it needs work, a lot of work. It has been sitting for five years, so I assume it has some water damage, but I'm not sure how bad the inside is. The photos look like it is fine, but I'm going tomorrow to have a more detailed look.


The engine though, might need some work. I think it is a 360, but it might be a 318. The engine starts when you pour gas in the carburetor, and it runs, but obviously that won't be a permanent solution. I think it might be a fuel pump issue since gas isn't getting to the engine on its own. I'll be honest though, at this point I'm still learning and calling my brother frequently since he knows a lot more about fixing engines than I do. I will likely take it to a professional mechanic to get some of the work done and then learn as I go, but since it has been sitting for so long, I want to replace anything that might have degraded, like the gaskets and hoses.


Next is the brakes. According to the owner, the brake pedal goes all the way to the floor. It has been sitting in grass for a few years though, so he doesn't know if it is leaking, low on fluid, or something else. I'm hoping there is a hose or line that is leaking or rusted, and I'll just get those replaced when I get non-starting issue fixed.

If I can get both of those issues taken care of, I think it will be in good condition to drive to my brother's place and do a remodel. He knows a fair deal about older engines, so we might swap out the carburetor for a 4bbl, I assume it has a 2bbl in it. Then I'll have to figure out what I can do with the gas mileage to make that a little better.


For our end game, we want to wander around and do a lot of boondocking, so we will be adding solar at some point. We are probably going to replace most of the interior, it is the old dated wood paneling. It also needs a new kitchen sink and stove, so we might as well put in a new kitchenette while we are at it. I don't know if we will replace the paneling inside, but probably at least paint it something a little lighter. I'm not planning on restoring this though, but bringing it up to date and customizing the hell out of it for our every day living.

Offline brians1969

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Re: Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2017, 05:29 AM »
I would strongly suggest looking for something else. You have a major project on your hands. In itself that isn't bad, but you said you are going to start living full time in it this summer. I'm assuming, based on the sitting motorhomes I've looked at, that it has a leaking, sagging roof inside. Summer is 4 months away. That's problem #1.

Problem #2 this is a project for someone with alot of experience in vehicles and the physical aspect of coaches with their various electrical/plumbing/propane systems. You are going to spending $$$$ to have other people fix it.

Problem #3 Two people living full time in 20' rv?

 Sure you can take a project like this as a learning experience, but understand it is a longer-term project.
For not alot of money, you can get something running, driveable and most importantly, liveable within a short period of time.  The leaking, barely running heaps that are in people's backyards, should be avoided.

Pictures on craigslist can be very deceiving! Also, don't be seduced by the "low mileage" claims. Usually most motorhomes are anyways. Low mileage can also mean "sitting for a decade, sinking into the ground" in the backyard. Take it from someone who has been there,  lol.

Also do a search on the board for "thermopanel" and learn how Winnies are constructed.You want to avoid ripping paneling off because of the way it's all glued together.

Offline Rickf1985

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Re: Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2017, 08:54 AM »
Water damage = structural damage. This is not going to be just a clean up and replace paneling, it is going to be a complete tear down of walls and roof and build new ones and you cannot do it the way it was done at the factory so it all boils down to raw carpentry skills and innovation. And that is just the coach side of it, You say you are not good with engines which I am going to take as you are not a mechanic so you are not going to be good with the brakes or transmission either. This is all stuff that needs attention on RV's so if you have to pay someone to do it so think in the range of 120.00 to 150.00 an hour to pay a shop to do this work and it is all labor intensive work. A weeks worth of work at a shop, not including parts prices, could cost upwards of 6,000.00!! You could buy a pretty decent RV for that kind of money.

Offline LJ-TJ

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Re: Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2017, 09:33 AM »
Ok, STOP,STOP,STOP. Take the time and do your home work. Sometimes CHEAP or FREE are sucker moves. And with in days a dream can evaporate in a heart beat. You know "Well it seamed like a good idea at the time". That's when you find your in way over your head and don't have the finances to dig your way out. Can you two really live in a 20' motor home full time? A weekend is one thing. Two weeks vacation is not bad. Full time! There's going to be those times your going to want a little down time. Your own space. 20'? I will be watching to see what some of our more experienced full timers have to say. Remember one thing right now you probably have a driveway and tools to work with. Space and tools that aren't going to available to you once your on the road. So how much money are you planing on spending on this thing to get you up and going? Why not take that money and step up and buy a little newer bigger rig that's ready to go. That's my opinion and opinions are like bum holes everybody's got one. I realize this is a little extreme.  D:oH! :)ThmbUp ;)

https://roanoke.craigslist.org/rvs/5960757854.html

https://oklahomacity.craigslist.org/rvd/5987243258.html

https://gulfport.craigslist.org/rvs/6004033584.html

Offline Rickf1985

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Re: Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2017, 11:26 AM »
That first one is almost as big as my house!!! The problem with that one is the 102" wide, That is illegal on a lot of non highway roads and just plain scary to drive on them since it is also about the same width as the lane. But I see the point TJ is getting across, Unless you have all of the skills needed to completely rebuild one of these both mechanically and cosmetically then buying one in good condition is much better. And the Foretravels use bus components so you are not looking at light duty suspension and drivetrain that is maxed out like all the others. I would steer clear of anything with a Caterpillar engine though, if that engine needs service you might as well sell the RV! They are VERY pricey to work on.  Detroits and Cummins are cheap and easy to find parts for.

Offline LJ-TJ

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Re: Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2017, 12:35 PM »
Thanks Rick you always seem to find a way to condense what I'm trying to say. When you go full time then you are looking at a home on wheels. My ideas are intended to be general not literal ideas. Kind of a jump off point. The more ideas you have the better decision you will be able to make.

Offline Rickf1985

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Re: Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2017, 07:07 PM »
I wish I knew about that second one before I bought mine! Cancel that, I now see that even though it says diesel pusher it is a 454 gas powered version. I want a diesel version.

Offline LJ-TJ

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Re: Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2017, 07:33 PM »
My Dream rig has always been a Blue Bird Wonderlodge or preferably the Fortraveler Grand Villa. We better not wonder to far from the subject at hand.

Offline ebaierl

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Re: Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2017, 07:55 PM »
Thanks all. I admit I was blinded by the cheapness of it. We had a few other options, one being a 33' class A, it just seemed a bit bigger than we needed. Maybe I should look at that one instead and just sell my wife's car to get the extra money. I kind of want something that requires some work though, so we can customize it, and we were looking for something smaller so it is more mobile and we can get into a lot of places without issue. The Class A seems a bit large for our needs, but maybe I should reconsider.

Offline Froggy1936

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Re: Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2017, 08:58 PM »
I semi full time in a 1977 class c 21 ft  Just me and my dog and a lot of stuff for all seasons It is too small. For two people . It is too small for 1 people unless you clean up every day after ea meal completly Just a few dishes left in the sink will complicate the next meal , There is no room to bake a cake or plan a large 3 course meal etc It is nice to be able to park on city streets and only use 1 space in a parking lot . But haveing to dissessemble the table to sleep then reassemble upon wakeing And no place to just crash for a nap . Are all drawbacks Would be nice to have a couch and a recliner !   Frank & Louie  Also the most complicated repairs are roof related !
The Journey is the REWARD !

Offline LJ-TJ

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Re: Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2017, 09:59 PM »
A Class "A" you'll never regret it. You get to sit tall in the saddle when your driving and your wife will love it because she'll be able to see over all the SUV's when your driving down the road. She'll love it for the ease of being able to get up and go back and make a sandwich, read a book in comfort or even have a nap shoot she can go back to the bathroom. Nothing wrong with wanting to tinker trust us there will always be some tinkering. If you don't mind me asking what kind of money have you got to play with? We all want the least amount possible. If you had to and you found a really, really nice rig what's the absolut MAX you'd want to spend. Don't have to answer just curious. D:oH! Hm?

Offline LJ-TJ

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Re: Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2017, 10:28 PM »
 31' Executive Dodge 440 1973 - $3800
https://seattle.craigslist.org/oly/rvs/5999054262.html

Offline LJ-TJ

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Re: Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2017, 10:33 PM »
1987 Executive 35ft Motorhome - $5000
https://inlandempire.craigslist.org/rvs/6004015306.html

1978 Dodge Executive - $3800 (Culver City)
https://losangeles.craigslist.org/wst/rvs/5998694259.html

Online TerryH

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Re: Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2017, 02:09 AM »
I semi full time in a 1977 class c 21 ft  Just me and my dog and a lot of stuff for all seasons It is too small. For two people . It is too small for 1 people unless you clean up every day after ea meal completly Just a few dishes left in the sink will complicate the next meal , There is no room to bake a cake or plan a large 3 course meal etc It is nice to be able to park on city streets and only use 1 space in a parking lot . But haveing to dissessemble the table to sleep then reassemble upon wakeing And no place to just crash for a nap . Are all drawbacks Would be nice to have a couch and a recliner !   Frank & Louie  Also the most complicated repairs are roof related !

As a full timer and being single and determined to remain so I am going to join in here.
I have a 27' class A. Pretty much standard floor plan when I bought it. There was a lot included in the floor plan that wasn't really conductive to a single person, so I made a few changes.

First was the standard 'club chair' that was beside the passenger seat. It interfered with and was useless  in conjunction with the passenger seat that fully rotates. I removed it. Lots of added aisle room.

Next was the couch that reclined to an extra bed. Took up a lot of room and would likely seldom be used as a couch and never as a bed. I removed it. More aisle room.

Couch was replaced with a reading chair that reclines, swivels and slides. I've had it in my last house, boat that I lived on for over 10 years and now in my RV. Favorite chair for a lot of years. The swivel and recline, coupled with the standard half swivel for the driver's seat lets it be used as a sleeping place for one if required. Hasn't happened to date.
 
Dinette that doubles as a bed and is supposed to seat 4 - possibly if you are all missing elbows - removed. Replaced with a small antique 3 legged (always sits flat) round table and 2 chairs. Left room behind it above the wheel well for a well used cabinet. Opened up a lot of aisle room.

Changed the rear corner double? bed to a twin, removed the stupid curtain, changed the bed base to a hinged plywood base that I can raise for access to the fresh water tank and pump, rear heater, and numerous plumbing and electrical infrastructure and cut the 'corner' back. More aisle room.

Removed the above dog house tv, made the space into more storage and added a flat screen mid way galley opposite the cook top on an articulating mount. Now I can see it while cooking and as well as comfortably from either the passenger seat or the newly added reading chair. I could never understand the thought behind a tv above the dog house that could only be comfortably seen from one side of the dinette.
 
Moving forward, I moved the windshield curtain that normally hangs between the driver/passenger seats and the dash forward so it gives me the use of the deep dash area. I made a sliding shelf for the passenger side of the dash for my laptop. Works great for me, especially as when you are parked the dash in front of the seat is generally an unused area.

Everything I did made for more room and a sense of more space, but mainly benefiting one person. Of course, there are many couples here that find their units ideal for two. I'm not trying to dissuade you, rather suggest you ensure that this living situation will work for you.

What I'm trying to say here is that what I have done has opened up a lot of area and space for me and gives me a sense of openness. In a 27'. For one person.
I would strongly suggest you consider how much area you comfortably require for two. Maybe tape off an area in your house equal to what you would have in a prospective RV, live within that area for a while to get an idea of what to expect.
Big jump going from a house to full time RVing.
"Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike."  - 
Theodore Roosevelt

Offline tmsnyder

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Re: Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG
« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2017, 08:01 AM »
Maybe they are newlyweds?  Hm?  In that case, a 20' long RV might be plenty big.


I would definitely run away from that '78 minie winne.   You want one that's being used, or has been on the road recently.   Starts, runs, drives at a minimum.  Check levels and smell the fluids.  Listen and feel for weird sounds and vibrations.  You are going to run into mechanical problems eventually but starting from a wreck is a very expensive way to do it.



You don't need a wrecked one to rebuild, you can rebuild one that's not falling apart just as easy if you want to go all HGTV on it. Don't invite trouble, especially if you need the place to live in.



You might luck out and get something for $2k that fits the bill, but more likely $5-8k .  Even for $2k, it must run and drive without problems and no signs of rot inside.  Find something that you could see you and the wife climbing in and driving off AS-IS.   There will be plenty of work to do on it even if everything looks fine when you buy it.


Between now and summer is almost Zero time to get one that's even in good shape ready to fulltime in it.   You're going to want to take some short exploratory trips in it before ditching your current home.  Kind of like a bird leaving the nest, they don't just fly off on the first try.


Offline Rickf1985

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Re: Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG
« Reply #15 on: February 22, 2017, 05:22 PM »
I would not say go right to a class A since they are big, the engine is a bear to work on although for the most part ir is all inside the coach, that part is nice but if you need to replace a water pump for example............... A LOT of work. A class C you lose a little since the drivers compartment is kind of separated from the back but overall the dimensions are pretty much the same inside with a smaller outside profile. I think 24-26 foot will be fine if you think you can live closely. The hot new think is tiny houses and people make that work. A 24 foot RV is bigger than those things. No matter what you buy in the 5,000.00 range and down you are going to be looking at doing some work, mostly roof leaks and window leaks. Class C's can have some serious issues with the overhang so look them over very closely. In that length you also do not have the extreme overhang behind the rear axle which can be a problem pulling into and out of places with steep driveways. Whatever you do be sure to research the one you want to buy well, don't just jump on it because it looks pretty and most of all do NOT believe everything the owner will tell you about repairs that were made. They seldom tell the whole truth.

Also, on the main forum page here, on the right side bar, down near the bottom of the page you will find a link to what you need to look for in buying a used RV. Be sure to check it out.

Just in case you don't see it, here is a link to it. (I was bored tonight :Dhttp://www.classicwinnebagos.com/eFreeDocs/Logs/RVBuyingChecklist.pdf

Online legomybago

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Re: Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG
« Reply #16 on: February 22, 2017, 06:19 PM »
That 26 foot 1978 Executive is a keeper....rare bird. Great price.
Never get crap happy with a slap happy pappy

Offline plockit007

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Re: Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG
« Reply #17 on: February 22, 2017, 07:24 PM »
Yep...Very sound advice. Please don't just jump in. It may sound appealing but it will be lots of work. I redid mine over the past 6 years bought it for $2,500.00 I put over $4,300.00 just in the under carriage alone it sat in the shop for a month.

I hope to have it out a little more this summer than when I first purchased it. My wife does not want to go in it. So I figure 225 square feet for me. D25CL Chieftain. So if I do decide to sell it I am not going to pay get my return on investment.

But I love my Winnie.

Do think carefully and select wisely. HAPPY RVING !!!!!

Offline boohoo222

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Re: Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG
« Reply #18 on: February 22, 2017, 08:01 PM »
terry h,.....pictures, pictures, pictures
1978 dodge coachmen class c 23ft                       1978 chevy open road class b

Offline ebaierl

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Re: Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2017, 09:04 AM »
Well the Class A is pretty cheap and it good condition. I didn't have an opportunity to drive it since its parked in behind a fifth wheel, but I definitely will before money changes hands. The current owner got it in a trade for money owed to him and he doesn't need it so he's trying to make his money back. I checked for leaks and it seems all good, the roof is in excellent condition and there wasn't any signs of water damage inside. It could use an engine tune up and check over, but it doesn't seem like it needs much.


We could do a little customizing inside though. The carpet is in good condition, but we will probably take it out and put down a vinyl tile because we have a cat that throws up like all cats do. The couch covers the water tank and faces a window. I think there might have been chairs there, but there aren't now so we could put a TV or desk there. We'd have to take out the back double beds and put in a single larger bed. Maybe some paint to refresh it and get rid of the 80s look, but that's really about it. That would leave us a cushion in case something needs fixing later too.


And yes, I guess you could consider us newly weds. We've known each other for about ten years but only been married for two. When we were looking at RVs, we found a different one that was smaller and I asked my wife if she would be able to handle living in as much space as our kitchen and dining room with me, and she replied that she actually likes spending time with me.  :)  But that could change if it was too small.

Offline LJ-TJ

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Re: Modding a '78 Minie Winnie 20RG
« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2017, 10:00 AM »
Picture's MAN, Picture's. Didn't anyone ever tell you we like pictures. D:oH! :D

 


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