I answered the below questions about Winnie, my 19-foot Winnebago Micro Warrior. Check out the full article by Christina Nellemann on her website Do It Yourself RV here.
- What was the catalyst for wanting to restore and move into an RV?
From a young age I was interested in RVs. When I was 5 my dad bought a camper and we started taking trips in it every weekend to nearby campgrounds and longer trips down to the southern states during my school vacations to escape the cold and get a taste of southern culture and accents. I was drawn to the simple life the RV encouraged. We didn’t have many items with us, but our lives were full of love and abundance in all the areas that truly mattered to me. I enjoyed the adventure of travel, the excitement of waking up in a new place each day; I loved meeting new people and learning about different ways of living.
As I grew older my love of travel stayed with me. I wanted to see more international destinations, so I spent some years traveling by plane, train, bus, car, bike and foot exploring the world with just a backpack When I began to realize that traveling wasn’t so much of a hobby for me as it was a lifestyle I began thinking about some more long term options. I wanted to have some sort of a “home base” that didn’t involve staying in someone else’s space or having to search for apartments or sign a lease. Also, given my itchy feet having a stationary home just didn’t make sense. The solution was obvious- I would buy an RV.
I knew I wanted to buy a camper as opposed to a trailer, so I wouldn’t have to own an additional vehicle. I wanted something that was as small as possible with a full bathroom. It also would be ideal to get great gas mileage because I planned to take to the road frequently, which made a Toyota camper a clear winner. Renovating my own RV was never a question in my mind- I knew I would want to basically gut one and customize it completely, leaving as much open space as possible. I often dreamed of what I would do if I had my own small space to live in and it was exciting to finally make that a reality.
- Where did you get Winnie and what are her specifications?
I got Winnie in Rhode Island and found her through Craigslist. She is a 1990 Toyota Winnebago Micro Warrior. She had a lot of water damage when I bought her, so I got a really good deal on her, just $2000, which is pretty amazing considering how great of shape her (V6) engine is in.
- What do you plan to restore, rebuild, etc?
I took out just about everything that was in Winnie when I got her including the chairs, table, sofa, cabinets, bathroom sink, air conditioner, stove, oven, carpet, and wallpaper. After reading about the Best Water Softener Systems, I decided to get one for the RV. I reinforced the roof, put in a new floor, put up new walls, built a custom counter with cabinets and a sink space, a custom water tank holder which also houses the electric panel and doubles as a seat, and created a closet that is still in the works.
I’m looking forward to continuing to customize the closet, creating a cabinet above the fridge that houses a powerful inverter, getting my bike rack and spare tire holder up and going, creating more custom fruit storage, and installing interior LED lights. I am also still working figuring out kinks with the gas fridge and heating system. Further down the line I look forward to likely adding solar power to the equation.
- What has been some of your favorite projects with Winnie? Not so favorite?
One of my favorite projects in Winnie was putting in the bamboo floor. My sister and I spent a morning working together and banged it right out. It was my first time installing this type of flooring and it was super satisfying because everything fits together nicely and once it’s down it’s finished. We also shared a lot of laughs and just generally enjoyed being self-sufficient goofballs together.
My not so favorite job was building a new compartment for the water tank and electrical box. I was working with a small space over the wheel well and was trying to fit a lot of plumbing and electric into a certain pre-defined area. There were definitely elements of it I enjoyed, but after nearly a week of re-plumbing, building, and trips upon trips to Home Depot and the RV store, I was thrilled to have the job completed.
Overall I really love the satisfaction that comes with doing my own work on Winnie. I also enjoy out-sourcing jobs that don’t excite me. For example, I don’t tend to enjoy the vehicle maintenance, so I leave the vehicle stuff to other willing friends and family or take it to a shop. I am really digging working on Winnie these days because she’s finished enough that I’m getting into fun custom creations in the interior spaces, like building the storage spaces just as I want, making hidden compartments and fold-down night-stands. It feels like such a treat to be able to explore my creativity in this functional, satisfying way to a space I call home.