A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Behind the Wheel in the Box

But first, let's go to the bathroom.  Can you see the woman's touch here?  The plumbing beneath the sink bugged her to no end so a little apron was designed.  And then there was the matching toilet lid cover. Must have that.  The entire phone booth-sized bathroom was also the shower but we never used it.  How could one with all the designer upgrades?  In reality using showers at campgrounds works better and leaves your bathroom area dry.  We had a solar shower also.

On one of our first outings my wife used the toilet and then off we went for several hours.  When we returned I wondered why the water pump kept coming on and off.  I discovered that the foot valve at the base of the toilet did not shut off completely and all that time water had been slowly flowing into the toilet. PANIC!  We were out in the middle of Nowhere, Desert, Nevada.  We had to breakdown camp and I left her there with our stuff while I went to go dump the black water tank and find somewhere to refill our 40 gallon freshwater tank.  For the rest of the trip we made sure that flusher was shut off and once back home I installed a stronger return spring. 

I made a larger cabinet for the original was pitifully small.

Looking forward from the bed at the rear.  Bathroom is just to the left where you can barely make out the half length mirror on the door.  Notice above the passenger seat how the overhead bunk folds up and locks in at an angle.  The round circle design is all that was left behind from all the weird offbeat stickers, decals and posters we had stuck all over that surface.

In this view you can see the overhead bed in the down position.  Almost guaranteed I'd hit my head on it like this so it was always in the up position.  We carried our chairs up there and not much else.  The carpet is leftovers from our home.  Like I mentioned before, it was an atrocious green and yellow shag before which may have been installed by a previous owner and not necessarily by Winnebago. Not sure.

The dash board, top and facing front was covered with an equally awful colored padded Naugahyde.  It was removed and redone with left over material the the upholster used in recovering the swivel seats and the cushions at the table.  I sprayed the top and instrument panel with a texture spray paint.  Notice the wood box by the driver's left foot.  Speakers from a home stereo with another pair in back sitting on the floor beneath the bed.  The upper stereo was the radio and tape player while the lower unit played cd's.  We had nice sound in the Box.

Access to the engine compartment was beneath the center dome portion which was easily removed once you pulled the passenger seat up from it's swivel mount.  I spent a lot of time hanging down into that engine compartment.  For you men, it was a Chevrolet 350 with an automatic transmission.  Interestingly we met a lot of other Winnebago Braves of the same year give or take and all but one were a Dodge engine and transmission.  Only one other Chevrolet.  Also, all those Dodge variations had a reversed floor plan as to ours.  Refrigerator and stove (cooker to you Brits) was on the passenger side and the table the driver's side.

The pilot's seat.  Notice the dimmer switch that I moved up top for I could never find it with my foot.  Easier to do by hand.  Oh it was a rat's nest of wiring behind that panel but everything worked and I had to re-label each switch so as to know what did what.  All the wires behind were labeled too.  I added a couple switches along with a water temperature gauge, battery level indicator gauge and tachometer which I drove by for the most part.  Oh the hours I spent hanging upside down working underneath that dash panel.  It was very easy to drive but side winds really got your attention fast!

When the time came to sell it I listed it on Craigslist. Groan.  I got a call one drizzly rainy day and the fellow wanted to come by and see it.  Another tire kicker.  He arrived with his friend and his son.  They were kind of red-necky country guys, the older one who had called around my age.  Then he asked to drive it.  Grrr. The Box was a bit of an ordeal getting out of our place as I had it parked perpendicular to the driveway underneath a roof.  The Box's roof not being entirely leak proof was an issue.  The beast required a 3 and sometimes 4 point turn in getting it in and out, but I did for them.  Off we went down the frontage road and the rain began in earnest.  Please don't leak.  Then I turned the wheel over to him and he seemed pleased.  Gee, maybe they might buy it after all. Back home he turned to his son and friend and asked if they too thought it was what they were looking for and they agreed.  Sold!  It turned out he had a ranch up north and wanted an extra "guest room" on the property.  The Box would be living out it's days pretty much "turned out to pasture".  I thought that was kind of nice for it considering she was growing pretty tired.  I suggested to him that he build a roof over it like I had as it would greatly help on prolonging the life without the sun and rain beating down upon it all year long.  He said that was his plan. 

Now to find a replacement motor home.


  1. What a wonderful time I am having reading about your early box! You did quite a lot to it and it appears you enjoyed it a lot also! As always, John, thank you for the detail you provide. You are an interesting read every day. I have just mentioned your blog in an interview I did with a fellow blogger in India. I was asked to name my favorite blogs - and there you were. Have a great day!

  2. Hi John..."Another tire kicker"that cracked me up..: }, but a good salesman you have been, almost had me sold on it ; } until you mentioned the leaking roof lol!!
    I have enjoyed the adventure you took us on with the "Box" !

  3. aww! the box got to retire! :) i like your dashboard o' trinkets. and it sure helps you are handy and mechanically inclined! i'd be stranded!

  4. I'm loving this series. I can tell you that I'd be super claustrophobic in that overhead bunk.

  5. Love reading all the box stories :-)

  6. I've loved reading this story about The Box, and the tour. I haven't been in many motor homes, and this one has a whole lot of charm. the best part? Sinbad's photo on the dash. You guys made many memories in this little highway home, it's nice to look back and remember, huh? happy day to you and orange fur ball. (and thanks for your kind comment at STT).

  7. Someone else will love to have it.

  8. Congratulations! You must be very happy that you can now look for a more modern version.

  9. I can tell you put a lot of work and thought into the upgrades you did on the box, and I bet it was hard to say goodbye!

  10. I loved your tour of "The Box". I still on occasion see a Brave out there.

    We have a 1987 Winnebago Campsite and although it's not quite as retro as you had, it was definitely a flashback to walk in there. I know what you mean about the terrible dark panelling and just today I finished repainting the entire interior. We went a little more flashy though with "Key West Colors"; bright pink, green, blue, purple, aqua and yellow. And yes, when I brought it home a couple years ago the first thing I did was pull out that horrible carpet and lay vinyl.

    Thanks for sharing!


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