Thursday, June 2, 2016

My New Winnie View!

I've still got some posts to write about my travels from Arizona to Illinois this past spring, but wanted to jump ahead to real-time today and introduce you to my new Winnie View!

No, I haven't cashed in my retirement savings or gone into debt for a new model.  But, for only about 5% of the cost of a new 2017, I took my tired-looking 2007 View to the master craftsmen at Mike's Custom Painting (in Bremen, IN near Elkhart), and 4 weeks later, this shiny new-looking RV was ready to roll!

Before I show you all the cool before & after photos, let me step back and explain what lead up to this decision.

When I first bought my View in 2013, I was so excited about finding this floorplan on a 5-cylinder Sprinter (perfect for Mexico travels as it has none of the U.S. emissions controls of the newer models), I had failed to notice all the cosmetic exterior problems until I'd already brought it home.

The previous owner did not drive this View very often.  That was great for a low odometer reading, but a very bad thing for the exterior gel coat.  It was parked in the same position for years, and either never waxed, or waxed with something horribly destructive.  After consulting with a few pro detailers, the verdict was in-- the gel coat was completely gone on 2 sides of the coach, and very minimal on the other 2 sides.  The worst areas were getting chalky with tiny gray spots of oxidation all over.

If I wanted to keep this View, I'd have to do something very soon to save the exterior fiberglass!

In addition to the faded, peeling decals of a now nearly 10-year-old RV, I inherited a few "boo-boos" from the previous owner's driving adventures-- a big dent on one of the rear corner trim pieces, a torn front awning cap, a small dent beneath one headlight, and various other scrapes and scratches.  In fairness, I must admit to adding a few additional scrapes to the plastic skirt panels myself.

In the end, I was left with 2 decisions-- sell the coach for a different one, or invest in a major exterior makeover.

Selling was never really a consideration-- lose all my interior upgrades and known systems for a coach with completely unknown systems?  Likely, that'd be a few thousand dollars right there to just make a same year/model trade!

So, about 6 months ago, I began researching a new paint job in earnest.

I looked at just getting a new gel/clear coat, just getting it repainted white with new decals, and even looked at Mexican versus U.S. paint shops.  In the end, the cost savings were minimal, as the biggest labor cost by far is simply getting the coach sanded, primed, and prepped.

Why Mike's (MCP)?

I first heard about MCP from Howard's blog at  In 2014, Howard and Linda had their 2006 white 5th Wheel painted by MCP, and I remember how "wow'd" I'd been from their before and after photos.

Then, last year, on the Yahoo View-Navion forum, I read that a couple of fellow View owners had recently gotten their rigs painted-- one at the shop in Forest City, IA that paints new Winnebagos, and another painted by MCP (for a few thousand dollars less).

At the start of this year, I began emailing with Livia at MCP who patiently and thoroughly answered all of my questions.  I also reached out to Howard and the fellow View owner-- both had glowing praise for Mike and the folks at MCP, and both were still very pleased with their paint jobs.

So, by late January, I booked my rig for the month of May at MCP.  No deposit necessary to hold my spot on their schedule, and no contracts to sign with draconian penalties.  They're a small business who trusts that customers will treat them as fairly and honestly as they treat you!


The biggest decision in a job like this is selecting a design (and colors) you'll be happy with for years to come.  Most older RVs getting full body paint jobs are Class A's and 5th Wheels.  So Mike's didn't have a lot of "canned" Sprinter Class C designs to show me, but suggested I send them photos of RVs I liked, and they'd use that to start a custom design for my coach.

Thankfully, Winnebago has a great online resource of all their paint designs from the 1970s up to 2013.  I found a 2010 View design that I liked, and then fired up Google Image Search to find as many real-life RV photos as I could.

For awhile, I toyed with the idea of a silver base color like this one (rather than white):

But, ultimately decided on white for two important reasons-- 1. It would match the screen door better (and avoid the complexity of painting the screen door) 2. It would not raise the heat levels in the engine compartment (which already struggles to pull my overloaded RV and 3000-lb toad over steep mountain passes).

In the end, this was the finalized design I went with:


Like any major home remodel,  for the project to run smoothly without delays, lots of detailed planning and preparation has to be done upfront.  Nearly everything screwed or glued onto the exterior of the RV must be removed, so if you want to upgrade those items or change colors, logistics must be handled for all of these in advance.

Here are the things I purchased beforehand:

  • New awning end caps (my friend Hans was able to install these ahead of time and fix the alignment problems thus saving me the cost of buying a whole new awning.  Thank you again, Hans!)
  • New black slide-out topper (MCP installed this after painting the RV)
  • New rear corner trim piece and LED brake light from Winnebago (MCP was able to repair all other cracked and scratched plastic trim parts saving me considerable expense)
  • Black flip-up door hanger (too difficult to paint these, but they're easy/cheap to buy)
  • Black porch light (MCP would have painted my old white one, but it didn't seem worth the trouble as new ones are less than $10).
  • New plastic "chrome" trim for the front bumper
  • Replaced the Dodge grill with the Mercedes version (I did most of the install myself, but left the more difficult hood adhesive removal for MCP to clean up.  MCP painted the u-shaped black metal trim that came with this kit to match my custom paint).
  • A few tubes of NuFlex 311 caulk that Winnebago recommends for the roof (MCP had to remove/reinstall the rear top cap trim and rear ladder during the job). 
The screen door was a major dilemma - paint it or leave it?  MCP would have painted it for a few hundred dollars, but that would have added lots of complexity (i.e removing the door), and less optimal aesthetics on the inside (clashing window shade, and wraparound trim pieces).  So, I decided to just leave it "as is."

The Job

At the beginning of May, I arrived at MCP with my sad old Winnie and finally got to meet Mike and Livia in person.  We did a detailed walk-around the rig to discuss every nook and cranny, and I then headed to the office with Livia to review paint colors and some needed design tweaks.

While they have a few paint chip samples in the office, they don't have the hundreds I thought they would.  Instead, Livia offered to get samples of any specific paint colors I wished.  Leaving it up to me to decide the best color combinations just seemed too risky, so in the end, I chose to go with the same Sikkens color combination that Winnebago used on one of their 2010 Views.

While I got to see a couple of these color swatches the next week, I didn't end up seeing all the colors together until it was completely finished.  Quite a leap of faith!  So, I'm very happy that I stuck to Winnebago's recipe card.

At the start of Week 3, Livia called to see if I'd like to come review the masking before they started painting.  The design software could only create masks for an '08+ View, and with the cabover and front end of the '06-'07's being slightly different, the masks needed some adjustments up there.

It was extremely helpful to see the rig in-person and talk to the shop manager at this critical stage, as there were, indeed, a few slight changes I wished to make to what he'd laid out.  

In hindsight, I wish I'd also seen the Winnebago lettering mask on the cabover beforehand.  They'd not yet completed that step when I visited, and the design software ended up spitting out a lettering mask that was a bit larger than I'd anticipated.  

All in all though, MCP did a really fabulous job with the coach, and even got it finished a couple days early.  Money very well-spent!

Before and After

So enough of me blabbing-- you want to see these before and after shots!

Now, let's take a look all the way around:

MCP painted the awning and rooftop accessories (AC cover, fridge vent) to match the dark gray top colors.  The roof itself stayed unpainted, and MCP did a great job at leaving my rooftop solar panels and wiring undisturbed.

The view I most worried about-- what the original coach door and screen door would look like with the new colors.  Not bad at all!  Glad I went with the white base color (thanks Ed!).

FYI-- the steel wheels still need to be refurbished.  A set of new aluminum wheels would cost almost as much as the whole paint job, and it's too difficult to check tire air pressure with the original wheel simulators installed.  So, I'm hoping to get the steel wheels sandblasted and re-painted as soon as I can find someone to do the job.

I had thought about a continental kit (chrome ring with a paintable white plastic disc) to replace the vinyl Winnebago tire cover, but $300 for just a tire cover seemed a bit rich.  I'll probably go for a custom designed soft cover of some kind....or just leave it as is and remind myself "it's only a damn tire cover!"

Now for the thing I love most about the new paint job-- the painted slide-out walls!  I could sit on this side of the RV and stare at that slide-out for hours!

and here's the front of the painted slide-out wall...

I was really impressed by all the added extras that MCP provided.  Not only did they repaint the coach steps, they also painted the generator and RV tailpipes, the mud flaps, the hitch, the windshield wiper hardware, all door handles, all window frames, front sides of each mirror, the bumper, and even the step wells below each headlight!

Now it's time to get to some prettier places and find me a background for a new home page header photo that's nicer than this ugly 18-wheeler in a parking lot!


  1. Very, very beautiful. We have a 2006 View and would love to have such a makeover but I think the cost would be prohibitive. I don't know what the paint job cost but if you are willing to share that detail it would be helpful.

    1. Cheaper than buying a new or newer RV, that's for sure! Email me and I'll give you the costs-- winnieviews (at) gmail (dot) com

    2. A beautiful paint job for a beautiful RV - well done.
      If, like me, you are unable to afford a full paint job I offer the following info

  2. The Winnie looks amazing!!!! Nice job!

  3. Thank you for sharing this! Not sure I will convince my husband, but someday I would love to update our 2005. Nice choices all around.

  4. Fabulous.......I thought it was new. Mine is 06 too.

  5. It looks amazing, and congrats on your 'new' RV :). We totally should have gone there instead for our paint job last summer!

  6. Why do I see Dodge and Mercedes?

    1. No signs of Dodge left on this Winnie View! Dodge rebranded the Mercedes Sprinter for about 5 years before the companies went their separate ways. Sprinters have always been 100% Mercedes-made vehicles, though, so I just returned the View to its true maker!

  7. USF Holland definitely makes an ugly backdrop, but they used to be one of my favorite vendors, back in my working days, Lynne. :) Gorgeous paint job!

  8. I think in many ways this looks better than some of the new ones. I didn't expect them to bring the stripping around the sides of the slideout. Fantastic color choices.

    1. Flipping through the Winnebago Paint books and doing Google Image searches found me quite a few wild designs and color combinations! But, the final design of the dark color on top was quite intentional-- I wanted to hide as many bug splats on the cabover as possible, and hide as many black streaks beneath windows and water drain marks down the back top corners as I could!

  9. What a great makeover. Really would have thought it was a new rig at first glance. I like the mercedes grill.

  10. Now that looks awesome, thanks for sharing !

  11. That is definitely a "wow" job ... looks fantastic. I thought you had made a trade when I first saw the photo.

  12. Awesome Lynne - they even matched up the sides of the slide! Good choice to have the swish yellow to match the tracker. Also a new front licence plate :) It does look fantastic, with the new badge on the hood definitely looks new.

  13. Lynne, As a full timer myself in an rv that needs to be repainted, I wonder where did you stay while this was being done? It looks great, btw.

    1. I had originally thought about an AirBnB rental, but then found a great extended stay hotel with kitchen in Ft. Wayne for only $200/wk (Value Place). I stayed there 2 weeks, and then came back to Chicago to stay with family for 2 weeks. Had I been smarter and planned this project for a warmer summer month, I could have gone tent camping along the sandy shores of western Michigan. It's spectacular there in the summer!

  14. That looks absolutely amazing...even more striking of a difference than Howard and Linda's rig.

  15. Wow! does not even begin to describe it!!! That looks incredible!! Thanks for sharing all the details. I'll have to email you directly for $$ because poor Ciao Baby is hitting 25 next year and her paint looks terrible. I doubt it's worth it, but you View definitely is! It looks brand new!

  16. Great Job! Looks like an entirely new Winnie from the outside. Definitely would consider that for our trailer.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  17. Snazzy! Beautiful! Somehow, it looks bigger to me. Beefier. Looks great. They did a beautiful job.

  18. I am stunned at how good your Winnie looks! They did such a nice job. We're going to make a note of where you went for when the time comes for our bus to be painted. Kudos to your for the design and color choices.

    1. I've added their logo and weblink to my home page sidebar to help those in the future know how to contact MCP!

  19. It is absolutely gorgeous! I never would have thought of doing that. Thank you so much for sharing all about it and all the different pictures. It looks like a brand new Winnie!

  20. Awesome! I understand completely when you said you could sit and stare at the slideout forever. Oh yes! So, so beautiful! I'd never want to be inside - or anywhere I couldn't see the outside! Simply stunning.

  21. Wow! Whatta View! Our View might be feeling pangs of envy... Enjoy as you're back out on the road.

  22. It looks wonderful and you did a fantastic job in choosing the colors and small changes. I love that you brought it back to Mercedes. We know how much work it takes and the headaches involved. We had our 2001 40' bus repainted several years ago at Precision Painting in Elkhart, Indiana and it still looks brand new today.

    1. Yes, I would have investigated Precision Painting if Mike's had not been so wonderful to work with from the very start (and had examples of previous Sprinters and Views they'd painted). No shortage, it seems, of skillful RV painters in the Elkhart area!

  23. Really looks great! I'm usually not too excited about "swoops & swirls" but that design really "updated" the rig somehow. Good choice! the front end looks more current and "lifted".. Very nice.

  24. Wow! This is a great make-over! I guess the toad is next??? Also you might consider having the wheels chromed...

  25. Wow!!! Now I'm tempted to do this for my 2008 View. I suspect my clear coat is largely gone too.

  26. Hi, Looks Absolutely Great!! I have a 07 view and also have damaged awning end caps. My local RV store says a call to Dometic says they are no longer available. SS Horizon is the label on the awning. Any help is appreciated. Thanks

    1. Hi Rich-- When you extend the awning, you should see a sticker on the inside metal area. Mine said Fiamma 45i, which is actually the real manufacturer and model of the awning (Dometic just rebranded it as a Horizon II). I went to the Fiamma USA website and reviewed their parts list, emailed their parts dept and ordered my parts from them. The end caps were surprisingly to install-- old ones snap off with a flat blade screwdriver to pry them off, and new ones just snap on.

  27. Thank You So Much Lynne ! my local RV guy didn't even know that and he's been in the business for "forever". Dometic was no help at all either. thank you thank you thank you. my last real eyesore on my 07 view will be fixed. and will be for sale soon. Rich

  28. Als trailers are specialize in building quality RVs including A-frame, Fifth wheel, Toy hauler, Motor homes, Travel Trailers and has a great service team.

  29. Great explanation of the process, due credit to the MCP crew, and excellent before and after pics. Outstanding post. We are also alumni and fans of Mike Custom Paint on our View ‘07 J. Praise well-deserved.


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