June 13, 2023

1976 Winnebago

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Winnebago Industries, Inc. is an American of motorhomes, a type of recreational vehicle (RV), in the Untied States. In 2018, the company expanded into motorboat manufacturing with the acquisition of Chris-Craft Corporation. Winnebago has also manufactured light-to-medium utility vehicles as well as other products. The company is name after Winnebago County, Iowa, where it used to be headquartered. The county is named after the Native American tribe who have historically lived in the area. During the 1970s and 1980s, Winnebago Industries depended on Native American history and traditions in naming their products, for example “Chieftain” and “Brave.” They also used Native American iconography and patterns in their designs and period adventures.

In 1973, the company introduced a new model, the Minnie Winnie, built on the Dodge B-series van chassis. It was about 19-1/2 feet (5.9 m) long (despite the name, longer than the shortest contemporary Brave model). Longer models were added through the years. This model continued (using Chevrolet or Ford chassis after 1980) to be built into the 21st century. As fuel prices went up over time, the company continued to make smaller models available, such as the “Winnie Wagon” with a low profile and pop-top.

In the early 1970s, Orlando Helicopter Airways developed a novel RV conversion of the Sikorsky S-55 helicopter, the Heli-Camper, featuring a built-in mini-kitchen and sleeping accommodations for four. Later in that decade, Orlando developed an enhanced version based on the larger Sikorsky S-58, and participated in a joint effort with Winnebago Industries to market both aircraft as the Winnebago Heli-Home. The S-58 version featured a larger kitchenette, sleeping accommodations for six, a minibar, and an entertainment system; optional floats were offered for amphibious operations. The aircraft were featured in several American popular magazines and reportedly drew large crowds at RV shows and dealerships, but their high purchase price and prodigious fuel consumption together with rising 1970s fuel prices resulted in very limited sales; production is not well documented, but is estimated at only six or seven of the S-55 and S-58 versions combined.

We will be doing a lot of work on the engine to get this motorhome running. There is also a leak in the roof that we will be diagnosing and fixing.

Removed the brakes to inspect the condition they are in.

We have begun teardown of the engine to inspect the condition.

We have begun removing the old roof to replace with a brand new one.

The roof has been completely removed and we will begin building a new roof.

Removed the black and grey tanks from the undercarriage.

Beginning to install new roof.

Finished laying interior roof and now beginning to frame the roof supports.

We have completed framing the supports and have begun installing the insulation.

We have begun laying down the top layer of plywood in preparation to be sprayed with Rhino Liner.

We have reinstalled the apron to the trim onto the roof.

We have gotten the right side exhaust installed.

We have cut new holes in roof for the new vents to be installed.

We have begun installing wiring for AC and lights.

With the wiring complete we have begun finishing installing the plywood.