Construction Underway on the Next Fit RV

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Well, if you’ve been around this website a while, you probably know that we are scheduled to go on a shakedown cruise in our new RV on July 14th.  That’s less than a month away now.  So if you think we should have started on construction – you’d be right.  Here he is:

Holes Cut
So, the holes are cut (well, most of them anyway), and at least one of the windows is in for this picture.  More on windows shortly.

They’ve also been busy fabricating the cabinets that will go into our new RV.  Here’s the rear cabinet (the one that will hold up the bed), in a staging area waiting for its new yellow home:

New Rear Cabinet

I kinda like the his & hers wardrobes. I may actually get some wardrobe space this time around!

I’ll also reveal some more details about our new yellow Travato 59GX.  But remember, the “GX” is my own, made-up model name for our new RV – it’s not an official Winnebago designation.  So please don’t ask your dealer for this floor plan or set of options.  This is an experimental vehicle – both for us and Winnebago.


Let there be light!

Back to the windows…  Other than being excited about the large refrigerator, Stef has been pretty quiet about new RV requirements.  She did ask for one change, and it’s happening.  Winnebago is adding an additional non-opening window above the galley.  You can see the location we’re talking about in this still from our video review of the Travato 59G.   It’s in that panel over the galley.

Galley Window Location
Looking at the picture, you can see that area could use some brightening up, so Stef gets her way on this one.  It’s a “non-opening” window because an opening window might interfere with the sliding door on that side of the vehicle.  Normally, a window in the galley requires metal (non-flammable) mini blinds – which I don’t like.  We’re working out something different in this case, and I asked Winnebago not to install the blinds.  We will need SOMETHING there to get us through our first couple weeks however, so we’ll see what Winnebago comes up with.  TBD on that one.

And while we’re on windows, we’re getting another window up high.  Check out this mockup of the raised bed location.  (Not our vehicle in this one, just a mockup to give you an idea of how the space will work out.)

Bed Mockup 2

You can see that the bed is pretty high up.  I’m calling that area “the penthouse”.  But when you add the Froli Sleep System, and then a mattress on top of that, it might feel a little tight up there.  So Winnebago is installing a small, awning style window above that upper rail.

But these aren’t just any windows, these are European acrylic windows.  (Seitz)  They’re supposed to be quiet, insulating, and just plain cool.  They’re also supposed to be installed in vehicles with much thicker walls than the sheet metal of the ProMaster, which presents some problems.  They’re hard at work templating out the windows so they can build up something to mount the window properly.

Small Travato Window

We had originally thought we might be able to use those windows in all parts of the van.  But the installation requirements were a bit tricky to work out, so we’re happy with just the one penthouse window.


What About TV?

Winegard RayzarTV isn’t super critical for Stef and me, but we still want one that works.  If you notice in that first picture, we asked to have the King Jack antenna deleted – and you won’t see a hole for it.  We did this so we can get more solar capacity on the roof.

So, to make the TV functional again, Winnebago is just installing a jack for us, and providing a Winegard Rayzar antenna that we can hook up when we need it and hang in a window.  It’ll look something like what you see here.


More on the Composting Toilet

We’re going with an Airhead composting toilet, as I’ve mentioned before.  It’s going to be installed in the standard Travato wet bath, on the platform where the regular toilet sits.  But the Airhead toilet is quite a bit taller than the standard one, so that presents a problem.

If you’ve seen others who have retrofitted a composting toilet onto a platform, they usually have a stool in front of it to keep their legs from dangling in the air while they use it.  We could have gone that route, but Winnebago offered to go one better.  They’re working on a small teak (water friendly) platform that can sit in the as-is shower.  It should provide a place to put your legs, and shouldn’t require removal for showering. Plus it’s going to look pretty cool. I built a similar one for Das Bus and we love it.

The final design may vary somewhat, but conceptually, it looks like this:

Shower Platform

I actually think that little ledge might come in handy when showering, so this is a good way to go.

Pimp My Ride

I don’t have photos of the next couple of changes yet, so you’ll have to use your imagination.

Winnebago is going to be doing some different things with the stereo system in the RV.  They’ll be installing an upgraded JBL speaker system with a subwoofer.  Heck yeah!  And I think Stef is a little excited about this one too, because the Jensen head unit is Bluetooth compatible.  This means we won’t have to bring along one of those portable speakers any longer.  (Remember, the 59G has outdoor speakers already.)

And they’ll also be installing tubular running boards with accent lighting!  There are some photos on the internet of a Travato they had at Dealer Days in Las Vegas.  That Travato had the running boards and lighting, so if you can find that photo – imagine that setup on a yellow RV.  I wasn’t crazy about the electric step anyway, so… Coolness.


The Bike Rack

You’ve seen the bed is raised for bike storage underneath.  But believe it or not, there are times when we DON’T travel with bikes.  (Perish the thought!)  And sometimes, we might be traveling with mountain bikes or something we wouldn’t mind keeping on the outdoor bike rack (which Winnebago is also installing).  For those occasions, we thought it would be best to have that huge under-bed space available for gear storage.  This means, we don’t want a bike rack permanently mounted to the floor.  So we settled on this bike rack from Saris, which will be present, but not permanently affixed to the floor in the back:

Saris Traps Triple TrackIt may need to be trimmed a little to fit the width of the space we have between the cabinets and the bathroom, but this is how we intend to carry the bikes. It’ll be there when we need it, and completely out of the way when we don’t.  Perfect.


There are still a few more minor modifications I haven’t covered, but this and the last post should give you a pretty good idea what to expect when we unveil our new Travato.  We’re pretty excited about it.  I’m actually checking my inbox about fifteen times a day for any new updates or pictures from Winnebago.  (Russ, if you’re reading, send more when you can.)

If you’d like to see it in person, you can meet us and our new RV on the Driftless Adventure (all smaller RVs welcome), and at the Grand National Rally (only if you have a Winnebago).  Stef will be leading workouts and she tells me I’ll be co-hosting events at the rally, which will be interesting.  I’ve never hosted anything before.

Anyway, that’s all for now.  More to come as construction progresses.

James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.

    28 thoughts on “Construction Underway on the Next Fit RV

    1. Ed Le Cara

      Do you have the actual measurements of the under the bed cabinets? I am thinking about doing the exact same thing for hanging clothes (full timer) and want to make hanging closet in front a pantry.

      After sleeping in there would you make a little lower or stick to what you have?

      1. James - Post author

        The cabinet is no wider than the standard cabinets Winnebago puts in that location.
        The bed platform is 1 meter (40 inches or so) off the floor to allow bike storage.
        The height of the bed has not been a problem for us.

    2. Alexander King

      Love your rv but I would like the 59g with the latest compressor fridge freezer used in the peseo /view as well as 200what solar and passenger rear continental spare tire. Passenger side because of rear ladder, can you please tell me if winnebago would supply the travato with these modifications?

      1. James - Post author

        Well, they generally don’t do one-off modifications. But I believe some of these would be under consideration for future model years.
        (I wouldn’t count on a spare tire though. I believe they order the chassis without them.)

    3. Shaun Bethell

      Hi James (and Stef), love your blog and youtube channel. My wife and I just picked up a 2016 3500 PM Ext Diesel and will be building it into a camper, adventure, cycling support van. We are following your blog for ideas for our build. Quick question on the JBL speakers and sub you have. I noticed JBL speakers in the doors of Lance, are these connected to the factory stereo? Do you have any other modifications to the factory stereo? Amp? Sub? Or are all of the audio upgrades done on the coach stereo (the Jensen)?


      1. James - Post author

        Hi Shaun. Yes, the JBL speakers are connected into the FCA (UConnect) stereo. The intent was to also install an amplifier that was tuned for the rig. That amp would have powered the sub as well. Unfortunately, we were only briefly able to get the amplifier working with the factory stereo. When Fiat had that well-publicized hack of their UConnect system, they released a security update which prevents the amp from working. We’ve never figured a way around it – and I’ve stopped trying. So the speakers are driven directly by the factory radio. The sub sits idle. I’m thinking of wiring the sub into the Jensen stereo and getting rid of the Jensen sub. Just haven’t done it yet.

    4. Andy & Kim

      Looking forward to the new pictures !!!
      That wardrobe is just spectacular.The Travato is still on our short list ( with the Zion and the Pleasure-way Promaster Lexor) and that extra storage has bumped it to the top (hope it becomes an option).

      Have you come up with the method you will use to get in/out of the elevated bed? A mini trampoline inbound and bungee jump outbound perhaps ?!?!?!?

      You must be climbing the walls at this point …. we’re so excited for you two!

      1. James - Post author

        We’re pretty excited too (as you can imagine). New photos should go up tomorrow if I get the time to work on it.
        The wardrobe cabinets are even cooler than you think. You’ll see what I mean in the write up.
        And actually, we haven’t worked out how to get in and out of the bed yet. We were kind of hoping the folks at Winnebago might have some answers for us? I like the trampoline idea though.
        I’ll tell Winnebago that there’s at least one other couple hoping for the “GX” option to be made available. Then maybe they won’t think we’re so crazy. 🙂

    5. Bob

      You said

      “But when you add the Froli Sleep System, and then a mattress on top of that, it might feel a little tight up there.”

      Suggest you try that out BEFORE the cabinet design is finalized. Having sailed on older sailboats with really, really tight (no height) aft cabins – they are more like a coffin. Like sliding into a box at night. Just don’t sit up suddenly. ;~)

      Is it that height to accommodate bikes with all wheels and seat on? I would think if you removed front wheel and seat, it would come down a bit.

      1. James - Post author

        Well, we’re already locked in with the cabinet height. That’s one reason we’re glad to have the porthole up there. We’ve already come to the same conclusion as you – don’t sit up too fast… lol.
        Removing the seat only actually gets you a couple inches once you remove the front wheel – with the way things tilt. I measured a bunch of our bikes and sent the info to Winnebago. I’m pretty confident they’ve done the best job possible in getting us the room we need for the bikes, and giving us the best place possible to sleep under that constraint. I guess we’ll see when we pick it up.
        We should have more pictures up this weekend. It’s actually very close to done.

        1. Bob

          Well, design is all about compromise! Hope it all works out. Looking forward to photos soon,maybe even a video tour (please) of all the new features.

        2. James - Post author

          Should have some more van progress pictures up Monday. It’s mostly done on the inside, and making its way to paint this week.

    6. Shawn

      Some observations from an 2015 Travato owner: 1)If there is any other option for the window installed in the van sliding door, get it! The window installed in the 2015 is week sauce. There is so much flex that the window springs open when you close the sliding door. Difficult to align to close, enjoy wind noise. Plus it provides poor security as the window can be bounced open easily. I have to figure a better way to pin the window. I would have preferred a split window with the tip-out bottom section (had these on a Roadtrek loved them). 2) if they are going to install the stainless steal body trim, skip it! Unless they have figured out a better way to secure it. The panels on mine look like they were installed with liquid nails. I noticed one loose and ready to fall of, it was removed and set aside. The other one…weeeellll hope it didn’t clip someone as it went missing on our travels. 3) The ability to get at the under bed compartment space from the rear. So if you have items blocking the white sliders you could still grab often used items.

      Love the Travato, glad to see that Winnebago is continuing to develop and improve their product. Congratulations to you guys! I can’t wait to see how your new GoGo machine turns out.

      In case you know; what the count is for the Froli bed system? Looking to add it to our firm mattress.

      1. James - Post author

        Don’t know the specifics on the Froli bed system. Sorry. It doesn’t look like it would be hard to add though, if you just get the right kit.

        Interesting observations! Das Bus had a sliding window in the sliding door. I eventually replaced it with fixed window for noise and security reasons. If it becomes a problem on the Travato, I expect I’ll do the same there. We’re actually looking forward to the stainless steel trim. I have to imagine they’ve got the adhesive worked out by now – or at least can provide replacement parts if needed.

        But GREAT IDEA about accessing the under-bed storage from the rear of the vehicle! As you can see though, they’ve already got that cabinet finished. I can ask if they can add another door, because I can see wanting to get the electrical cord when we’ve got bikes stored there. But even if they can’t make that change now… I’m pretty handy with wood.

        1. Shawn

          Any chance you have pictures of the 2016 59g Travato they had at the Dealer Days in Las Vegas?

          Parts of it are in some of the videos… All red upper paint scheme looks like a bedlinner bottom.

          Would think that Winnebago would have promo pics. but I can’t find them.

        2. James - Post author

          That’s the one I’m thinking of. I don’t have the pictures though. I think I saw one on the Class B Forum. It may have been a screen grab from a video.

          Speaking of… our running boards are on already and we should have some more construction pictures up next week.

    7. Ron Merritt

      You really should have them mount that Rayzar on the underside of the air conditioner shroud. That is where Advance RV is mounting theirs and by all reports works very well there.

      1. James - Post author

        That’s not a bad idea. Too bad you didn’t tell me sooner! I think by now, they’ve got the ceiling buttoned up though.
        This could be a good project for me – I’ll check into it when we get it home.
        Thanks for the suggestion!

        1. Ron Merritt

          Actually I did a while back when you announced you were gettting the van. Think in the excitement you overlooked it. It’s an easy project, except for getting the wiring thru the roof of the van. Really should be done at the factory.

        2. James - Post author

          Bummer. I guess I missed it then. As you mention, the roof penetration would be my only concern in doing it myself.

        3. Davydd

          I have no penetration for wires that I can see in my Advanced RV for the Razar antenna which is probably the same as you are getting. I would think you could fish a wire up inside the air conditioner opening and attach the Razar to the ceiling of the air conditioning cover. It works for me. I can’t adjust it, move it around, raise it and all that stuff. However, I got 54 channels in Phoenix and 34 in the Twin Cities. That’s good enough for me but haven’t compared it directly with someone else that has a raisable outside antenna that can be aimed. I would think however it would work just as well as having it inside up against a window. I see this as an easy DIY project if you can fish a wire through an existing opening. Maybe Winnebago could do it if they understood what to do.

        4. James - Post author

          Interesting that you don’t have any additional holes. If there’s a way to fish it up through the air conditioner, I’ll figure it out.
          Winnebago might have done it if I had asked about it before they finished with the ceiling… (facepalm)

    8. Highlander


      Loving the cabinets! Teak flooring is the way to go in the bathroom. You’ll find it not anywhere near as slippery as the standard floor when showering. A window in the Galley is another great addition.

      1. James - Post author

        You’re right. Stef has really liked the wooden mat in our current shower.
        I just kind of built it as a lark, after seeing the ones in Europe. I had no idea it would be such a hit.

    9. D. J. Heaton

      As a new follower and reader, I’ve assumed you’ve a partnership of sorts w/WI and you’re well versed in their willingness to do on the new TRAVATO. We will be replacing our beloved 14y/o RIALTA w/a 59K twin-bed floor-plan late next year. I wish them to have a year or so of production before ours ordered.

      I wish 2 x 100 watt solar panels. I know form your video they have plugs for 3 such roof units. I’m not really interested in kayak racks, and it is my understanding that a 2nd 100w panel only comes with kayak/roof rack. Jim, is it your sense that I could visit Forest City next year regarding a special order on what we’re after assuming my assumptions are correct? Of course, for a cost damn near anything can be done. This would go along with a greater tongue weight capacity (500#) hitch.
      Jim Heaton

      1. James - Post author

        Hi Jim.
        We are working closely with Winnebago on our concept Travato, but I certainly can’t speak for their willingness or plans to take on custom work in the future. I really just don’t know.
        BUT… Those changes you’re after don’t seem like that big of a deal, and I don’t think they would require being done at the factory. I think your dealer should be able to swap out a hitch and add a solar panel on the roof. That really doesn’t seem that hard (heck, I think I could do it).
        I would approach your dealer first – they should be closer and easier to arrange it with. Maybe not the answer you wanted to hear, but I think it would be the easiest way to get what you want.


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