Project: Mobile Studio - Part 4

     Before we begin the interior demolition, we felt it necessary to show y’all photos of what it looked like when I picked it up. As the saying goes about pictures and thousands of words, I’ll let you insert your own. I know what came to mind for me. Luckily, you’re only getting the visuals and not the odors! The best part of this old girl is that she had just been neglected, but not abused. For the most part, it appears that the bones are good, but her makeup had been done in the dark! 43 years of use, storage, and who knows how many owners and backyard repairs read like wrinkles of age.

     Now is the time for that long awaited face lift. And, it has to begin with the removal of almost everything inside that constitutes the definition of a motorhome. Complete removal of the toilet and shower, bathroom sink, no more stove, oven, sink, refrigerator, water heater, fresh water tank, black water holding tank, roof swamp cooler… yes, you read correctly, a Coleman swamp cooler on the roof, not an A/C unit! All lighting, roof antenna, rear window house-style A/C unit, all ducting, dining-bench seats, vinyl floor tiles, remaining carpet, heater, water and propane lines, and finally the interior cabinets, drawers, doors and closet! The only original motorhome comfort-feature that will remain is the drop-down overhead sleeper bunk, and an additional sleeping area will be added in the new build.

     Upon initial inspection for leaks, it appeared that the only visible leak was on the edge of the roof and wall near the right rear. However, not too much damage was spotted… that is, until all of the aforementioned was removed! This is where we found that the roof leak had run to the center of the rear portion of the roof/ceiling, causing a significant amount of overhead dry rot. The now-removed interior cabinets and closets had been a significant source of structural support for this damage. With those pieces removed, the ceiling was now attempting to attach itself to the floor like two magnets drawn to each other. We have to give this repair some serious consideration before we move forward.

     As most of the interior is gone, it seemed like a great time to remove all outside compartment doors and their respectful interior cabinets, as well as residual waste plumbing and roof vents. By creating this many holes, it solved the one issue mentioned at the beginning of this post… The odors rapidly dissipated! Woo Hoo! Now, that’s progress! We estimate that we removed roughly 1,500 pounds total! Oh yeah, a few pounds of that was mouse and rat droppings found in all of the usual hiding spots!

     A lot was accomplished on the first day!

     Time to take a shower!

Project: Mobile Studio - Part 3

Click on photos to enlarge.

     With all of the thoughts and ideas that were thrown out for this project… we figured we better start at the beginning! What a concept! And, what might that be? Moving the Brave from our California studio location to… Las Vegas, Baby! The move would be to the home of Unique RV in Henderson, NV. This is a process that is easier said than done. To hire a semi with a low-boy flatbed would be the easy way out, as well as the most expensive. But, we’re DIYers! My Ford F-350 with a flatbed trailer was all that was needed. And, a lot of prayers for no wind as we would be traveling through the Mojave desert on Highway 58 and Interstate 15! Wait just a minute. I’m getting ahead of myself. It all began with the loading process. If you are going to learn about this build, we’re going to give you the details!

     I’ve loaded a lot of vehicles onto trailers over the years, but never have I had something fight me for so long. My son, Austin (Pink Flamingo Photographer and Engineer) and I estimated a 2-hour load, beginning at 6pm. Hmmm. We surpassed that number by an additional 5 hours, finishing at 1am! Why so long, you ask? After copious measurements, we knew that the duals on the little (uh hem, bigger on loading) Brave were 2” too wide to fit between the fenders of the low-boy 14,000 lb. capacity trailer. Thinking that with the duals resting against the fenders would still provide enough tongue weight, we would have it easily loaded in the 2 hours. Wrong. The weight distribution was still set too far back, which only meant one thing… the outside duals had to be removed, to move the Brave further forward. Since it was already on the trailer, it was jacked up one side at a time for the wheel removal. A new problem! These lug nuts appeared to have been the original torque settings from 1972… rust and all. With very large breaker and cheater bars, we achieved results on the left side, and with quite a bit more effort on the right side had the second dual removed! All good! Oops! Okay, maybe not. Upon lowering the jack, we discovered that the remaining inner dual was… you guess it… FLAT! One more time of jacking up the right side to remove the inner dual… safety first with jack stands in place… and inner dual replaced with the previously removed outer dual. Why on Earth would we possibly have a flat? Remember the factory-torqued lugs? They were holding on the split rims (AKA suicide rims) with what looked like 1972 tires that had cracks in the sidewalls similar to the width and depth of the Grand Canyon! Tubes, yes tubes, were the only reason there was air in any of the others. Moving the Brave forward also required placing 2X10 boards under the wheels to make enough height clearance for the body from the trailer fenders. Add more time to the loading process!

     Ratchet straps and chains are all that are left. Wouldn’t you know… for that much undercarriage, no easily-accessed location for the hooks! A lot of creativity went into the hook’s locations. Remember, we have at least 5 hours of road time ahead of us. Having something of this size wiggling loose is not on my options list! An early start-time to beat the wind paid off. We made it to Unique RV without incident… without wind… without being pulled over… and, without one loose strap!

Let the demolition begin! 

Project: Mobile Studio - Part 2

Proposed Transformation

Day of Purchase

     The idea of having a mobile recording studio was intriguing. The thought was a bit overwhelming, but still intriguing. This would mean a vehicle dedicated to the act of recording episodes of Pink Flamingo RV Radio, and nothing more. An RV seemed appropriate considering the topic of the show. A vintage travel trailer was the first thought. With classic lines and the ever-increasing interest in this genre, it seemed like a logical choice. However, to accommodate guests for interviews, this meant a trailer of substantial size. You see, as trailers tend to get smaller they lose not only square footage, but much needed standing-head clearance. Off to look for bigger trailers! After finding a 36’ Spartan that was gutted of all internals, it seemed destined for a studio-build. There were only a couple of problems. One: The owner refused to sell. Yeah, that’s a stumbling block, even though I know how persistent I can be! Two: That meant positioning a large trailer at each event. Although I have plenty of experience in this field, and I don’t see it as a problem, I was beginning to see that I wasn’t thinking outside the box. I needed to create an image that was not yet a common sight at events. 

     As soon as I realized the error of my ways, a new door opened. Within 2 miles of my house, a derelict motorhome that I had my eye on for some time miraculously had a “For Sale” sign appear in the windshield! Why would I have my eye on a derelict motorhome? C’mon… it’s a car-guy disease! An addiction! No different than having the urge to take home that stray puppy or kitten! Yep, I stopped. I looked. I acquired… A 1972 Winnebago Brave, 18’ motorhome. It appeared to be the perfect donor vehicle for a studio. It ran. But, didn’t stop! NO BRAKES! A quick addition of brake fluid and bleeding the brake system in the (previous) owner’s driveway, and I proudly drove my new “motorcoach” home! 

     In their day, these little motorhomes were the portals to vacationing for many families. And, they were cute! Believe it or not, I could still see the “cute” in this one. I have always had an affliction for the Brave body style. They are short and boxy with a minimalistic interior. Although fully equipped for cooking, toilet/shower facilities and sleeping… I had a new life planned for this survivor RV. And, so did my friends at Unique RV in Henderson/Las Vegas, NV. With over 40 years-experience in customizing RVs for celebrities and the movie industry, Mario and Mike Sciortino threw their ideas on the table with those of the Pink Flamingo Team, and a project was born!

     As a team effort on this build, we will be updating the progress here on our website. Plenty-O-Photos along with a descriptive storyline will keep Pink Flamingo listeners up to date. We know that our style may not appeal to everyone, but there is truly a method to our madness. And, as a mad-science project, we could not have asked for a better sponsor to be involved in this build.

Stay tuned!
If you need any type of repair work performed on your RV while in or near the Las Vegas area, give Unique RV a call at 702-566-6192.   

Project: Mobile Studio - Part 1

     After a long delay in deciding the correct direction of our build, we are back to work on Team Flamingo's Mobile Studio! Without delving into the deep abyss of "why" there was a delay, it was just one of those domino theories. One thing led to another, plans changed, and before we knew it... Time had passed! 

     So, with a clean sheet of paper and a plan at hand, a full-on attack of building was this past week's mission. Because of previous damage to the right, lower body, a significant bit of demolition and repair was in order. The wall had actually been torn from the floor, and was in need of moving back into position. Once this was accomplished, it was time to create the new floor, that would be the seating and recording area of the studio. Because the rear wheel tubs stuck up through the floor by an additional 5 inches, a raised floor from the back would extend forward by approximately 8 feet. Before any sub-flooring was laid down, all floor to wall connections were sealed. This would ensure reduced squeaks and rattles, and ultimately strengthen all of our new construction. Previous openings in the floor relating to battery boxes, water tanks, drain pipes, bolt holes, and propane cabinets were closed off via the new sub-floor.  It was now time for the new plywood flooring! Plywood, in itself, is not an issue. With construction background to rely on, laying down the sheets is not a problem. It is the minute-by-minute measuring fitting, remeasuring and refitting, that will make the new construction superior to the original factory build. We plan on this studio spending a great amount of time on the road, and we want it to be strong, quiet, solid, and safe for many years to come. After precision measurements (remember the old saying... "Measure twice, cut once"?) and a steady hand on the Skill Saw, each sheet of plywood fit exactly into it's final resting place, and was screwed to the original flooring with an overabundance of deck screws.  

     Did I mention, I picked one of the hottest and most humid weeks to be in Las Vegas? With daily temperatures WELL INTO the triple digits, as well as thunderstorms causing local flooding, we couldn't drink enough water or stay cool enough throughout the days. Add the fact that most of the work was done INSIDE the "old Winnie", it was a perfect advertisement for how to sweat off those unwanted pounds!   

     The new raised floor stringer and joist layout was designed, cut, glued and screwed into place. More adhesive was used against the walls and stringers to tighten things up even more. Household wall insulation was placed in each compartment of the floor to reduce road  and generator noise. And FINALLY... the new plywood flooring was glued and screwed into place, completing several days of construction. Yes, it may have taken me a bit longer as one person, but the trick was to make sure that there were no mistakes that would require any removal and refitting!  

One last minor detail that made a significant change... We removed the forward-overhead-pull-down bunk! Talk about opening up the space!

     My next report will show the interior walls being built. Why new interior walls, you may ask? Stay tuned. The next updates will show you some of the issues which caused the delay in progress! 

Until next time... Travel Safe and Enjoy the RV Lifestyle!