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Topic: Dodge 440 powered Class A

Posted By: vacuumbed on 01/13/10 10:55pm

I just helped a friend buy a 1978 Pace Arrow with a Dodge 440. It seems to run and drive pretty well. I'm interested in hearing what folks here like or dislike about this engine/chassis...

Thanks in advance...


Posted By: admiral0647 on 01/13/10 11:33pm

I once owned an 16 year old 1974 Winnebago with the Dodge 440 drive train. Though the engine was strong, I did have some problems with the Carter Thermo-Quad Carburetor. The phenolic (black plastic) main body of the carb was worn around the butterfly shafts allowing air leaks making it difficult to set the proper air to fuel ratio. Back then parts were hard to find and a replacement carb was not in my budget.

Overall this drivetrain setup (without a modern overdrive) was not very fuel efficient. I seem to recall getting about 4-5 mpg. I also had problems with high engine space temps and broken exhaust manifold bolts that leaked engine coolant.

But other than that...


I started with nothing... and have most of it left.

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Posted By: don b on 01/14/10 05:22am

I owned a 79 Swinger and was satisfied with the performance, I think I got about 6-7 mpg but it did require leaded gasoline. I did have an ongoing exhaust manifold problem, I think I replaced them twice before I installed headers, that seemed to resolve the problem.


2003 Dolphin Model 5380, Workhorse 8.1, 04 Honda CRV, Brake Buddy, Blue Ox, Banks System, Garmin 7200.



Posted By: Georgew48 on 01/14/10 05:29am

I had two different Winnies with the 440 and they were both great. Like other have said, the main problem was with the carb and the exhaust manifolds would not stay tight. Put headers on the last one i owned and never had a problem after that. The engine is bullet proof and the chrysler transmission was good back then. Loved the 78 Winnie Elandan that I had. It had some things on it that are hard to get on RVs today.


2013 F350 Dulley King Ranch
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Posted By: whem2fish on 01/14/10 05:28am

do a search on IRV2 fourms then go to vintage (over 20 years old)
some great people just like this site


Posted By: FuelFunnel on 01/14/10 12:08am

I can't say much about the motorhome chassis, but I has a 440 in a 1977 Power Wagon. It survived my teenager driving habbits at the time. Due in part to their deep skirt design, the Chrysler RB engines (which includes the legendary 426 Hemi)are well known for power and durability. The only problem I recall with the truck was that the carburetor suffered from heat soak on warmer days--requiring lots of cranking to start after the engine was ran for a while, sat for a few minutes, and then restarted again (gas stations).

Kris


Posted By: Golden_HVAC on 01/14/10 07:59am

The only problem that sticks out in my mind is that some older Dodge chassis motorhome had a problem develop with the steering box. If parked, try turning the steering wheel while someone watches the steering box.

If the box is moving around, even a little bit, it will cause problems driving down the road. If the steering box is moving right and left, the wheels will go too- without moving the steering wheel. Most will be OK, but it is worth checking it out.

Also make sure you are not using split rims. Most are single piece rims, and must have the Radial weight rating to be the correct rim. Make sure you are not overloading those rims or tires.

Check the date code on the tires. If it reads 228 then the tires might have been made in the 22sd week of 1989 or 1999. If the tires read 3402, then it is made in the 34th week of 2002. If the tires are more than 6 years old, expect them to fail sooner than later. Driving more than 55 is not advised with the older tires, as they might come apart at any time - without warning.

Good Luck,

Fred.


Posted By: Mike Hohnstein on 01/14/10 06:56am

Brake parts might be made of unobtainium. I'd check on that.


Posted By: david_42 on 01/14/10 07:21am

Had a 1979 C with the 440. In five years I replaced:

Passenger side exhaust manifold
Carburetor
Alternator
Voltage regulator
Alternator brackets
Starter
Alternator again
Distributor
Fan clutch
Radiator
The flexible board for the instrument panel shed connectors
Had to get it towed three times in two days on one trip

Spent about $3000 trying to get that piece of junk working right. Spent more time in the shop than on the road. It finally died one too many times and I called www.junkmycar.com.

I hope you manage to remain friends.

* This post was edited 01/14/10 08:37pm by an administrator/moderator *


Posted By: sljkansas on 01/14/10 06:53am

One thing to watch is that that year of engine was designed for LEADED gas, and the valve guides should be replaced with the newer ones for unleaded. The other option is to use a LEAD substitute, found at auto stores and Walmart. I had a 78 with a 360 cid and lost a vavle due to not using leaded or a substitute. An expensive lesson.


Steve & Linda
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Daughter Married.
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Posted By: vacuumbed on 01/14/10 02:10pm

Thanks for all the info everyone. Very interesting and helpful.


Posted By: dougrainer on 01/14/10 06:26am

They burned a lot of No 8 and No 4 plug wires. Make sure you install GOOD plug wires. The factory (Mopar) plug wires could not take the heat. I would also change out the carb to a Holley. The Mopar carbs were hard to start cold. Good drivetrain system . Doug


Posted By: zmotorsports on 01/14/10 05:51am

My parents had a 1978 Pace Arrow 28' on the Dodge platform. This was what I pretty much cut my RVing teeth on. I agree with above post as far as the carburetor. The Carter Thermoquad was not up to the task. They used the phenolic base to cope with the heat but it didn't work. I replaced it with a Holley shortly after they purchased it and it ran much better once I got it dialed in. A couple of years later it developed valve problems so I removed the heads and had hardened valve seats installed to cope with the unleaded fuel.

After reinstalling the heads I installed a 2 1/2" exhaust system with an H-pipe through dual mufflers which helped. I installed a shift improver kit in the transmission and an auxiliary cooler with electric fan for the trans. also.

All in all for the technology that was available in 1978 it was a pretty well built unit and my parents enjoyed it for several years before his health deteriorated. It is still running around by the people that bought it but barely. They have handed it down a couple of times to their kids and grandchildren but it is still going.

I remember not being that impressed with it on the freeway. The engine revved to around 3200 RPM at approx 62-63 MPH if memeory serves and you felt every seam in the road.

I do remember when my wife and I purchased our first motorhome (1984 30' Travelcraft) on the GM P-30 chassis I was used to driving my perents and the GM chassis was a difference of day and night.

If you have any specific question please don't hessitate to ask. It has been about 18 years since I worked on it but I remember working on it alot. Mike.


2003 Monaco Dynasty/ 26' Haulmark Edge trailer
2011 Jeep Unlimited Rubicon



Posted By: 69RoadRunner on 01/14/10 07:19am

FuelFunnel wrote:

Due in part to their deep skirt design, the Chrysler RB engines (which includes the legendary 426 Hemi)are well known for power and durability.Kris


The Hemi was a different block from the RB engines.

I'd get a good set of headers from TTI for the engine. Get the thermal barrier.

Depending on your budget and condition of the engine, there are lots of things you can do to improve performance with the cam, heads, etc.

The later 1970s were low compression smog motors, unfortunately. That's true of everything from that era.


09 Newmar Ventana 3942
Bunkbeds for the munchkins



Posted By: moisheh on 01/17/10 06:07am

There is nothing wrong with the original distributor. The heads are definitely a weak point. They were not deigned for unleaded fuel. To keep the engine compartment heat down I installed headers and a 3 inch exhaust sytem with scholl bus mufflers. The M600 chassis is a fine unit. The engineers who designed this chassis went on to become "Roadmaster". Like all Chrysler products any wiring supplied by Mopar was crap!!

Moisheh


Posted By: CaBoy on 01/16/10 11:58pm

Had a 440-3 with 4.10 gears in a 21 ft. class C, and up to about 60 mph it would pass anything but a gas station


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Posted By: DSDP Don on 01/14/10 10:26pm

I rebuilt and tuned a ThermoQuad once on a 440 powered motor home. Once I got the ThermoQuad dialed in, it was a rocket.


Don & Mary
2014 Newmar Dutch Star 4018
450 Cummins
2012 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ CrewCab 4WD
2013 Polaris RZR 800 LE



Posted By: vacuumbed on 01/14/10 02:17pm

dougrainer wrote:

They burned a lot of No 8 and No 4 plug wires. Make sure you install GOOD plug wires. The factory (Mopar) plug wires could not take the heat. I would also change out the carb to a Holley. The Mopar carbs were hard to start cold. Good drivetrain system . Doug


This I must say I noticed right away as a concern about the 440. I don't like the way you have to run the plug wires on it making a weird route under the exhaust manifolds.

I think the plug wires on mine are ok, but I'm thinking of replacing them with a set of Borg Warner wires. If you know of a better brand to use please chime in.

I'm not sure if it has the Thermoquad carb on it or not, but I will check this Saturday. It does fire up on the first try and doesn't stall. It also has an exhaust leak but I don't think it's from the manifolds.


Posted By: vacuumbed on 01/15/10 07:59pm

It will be interesting to see what carb is on that tomorrow, it does start up and run good even in this bitter cold!


Posted By: vacuumbed on 01/16/10 03:18pm

I looked at it today and no TQ. It is a Carter AFB or Edelbrock. I think it's a Edelbrock since it is polished. It has a chrome air cleaner on it and I don't like that. I wonder if the stock Dodge air cleaner won't fit the Edelbrock (Carter AFB) carb.

I am not impressed with the power at all. It slows down climbing the slightest hill, even though it runs well otherwise. I'm thinking it needs a full tune up and the ignition timing checked.


Posted By: vacuumbed on 01/17/10 02:20am

Thanks for the info John. I found this on ebay...
Possible Solution


Posted By: vacuumbed on 01/17/10 02:23am

69RoadRunner wrote:

This will bolt right in!

That's quite awesome, but I only paid $900 for the RV.


Posted By: Jarlaxle on 01/16/10 07:48pm

The advance weights in the distributor might be stuck, especially if it sat for a while. This isn't uncommon in big-block Mopars. I've freed a couple using liberal use of Liquid Wrench and careful (CAREFUL!) use of a propane torch.


John and Elizabeth (Liz), with 3 nutty cats
My beloved St. Bernard, Marm, lost him 1/2/12
Current rig:
1992 International Genesis school bus conversion


Posted By: Jarlaxle on 01/14/10 07:50pm

Oh jeez, not the Thermoquad-hater club again...

Regarding the Carter ThermoQuad (hereafter the "TQ"), it's an excellent carb with an undeserved poor reputation. The body is plastic, which minimizes heat transfer to the fuel, critical on hot-running, hard-pulling truck & RV engines, especially the shoehorned-in vane & class A's. The TQ will last forever UNLESS overtightened: the carb mounting bolts only call for, IIRC, 15-20 inch-pounds of torque! That's it! Absolutely no more! Like GM's (also maligned) Quadrajet, it's a good MPG carb: the TQ has very small primary barrels for good throttle response, part-throttle driveability, and mileage, with BIG demand-activated secondaries for WOT power. The earlier Carters (the AFB the AVS, and the current Edelbrock) are good, but the TQ is a better choice for an RV. With today's oxygenated gas, a thin plastic carb spacer (and maybe a heat shield, if it doesn't have one) is probably a good idea.

My friend has a 1974 Coachmen class C on a B-300 chassis, powered by a TQ-fed 440. With 8.75R16.5 tires, 4.10 gears, & a Gear Vendors OD he manages about 8MPG towing a Toyota truck. His engine is stock except for dual exhaust with turbo mufflers, ignition timing tweaks, & a supertuned TQ carb.

I'd bet a 1978 Class A (probably an M-300 chassis, I'd guess) would have a 440-3 heavy-duty truck engine. Check the harmonic balancer: if it has a big balance weight on it, that's the 440-3. If so, that's great: HD bottom end (same crank & rods as the legendary 440 6-pack), hardened valve seats with stainless valves, maybe valve rotators, thicker pistons, & a super-huge water pump & fan. (IIRC, the 440-3 also uses funny-looking "peanut" spark plugs.)


Posted By: Jarlaxle on 01/14/10 07:52pm

Regarding plug wires: I recall someone (MSD...I think...?) makes sleeves to prevent them from getting burned. They're designed for people with headers on their hot rods, but work just fine on a 440 with iron manifolds.


Posted By: Jarlaxle on 01/15/10 07:26pm

IIRC, the typical street Edelbrock carb is essentially a Carter AVS.

Don is on the mark: a TQ isn't forgiving, but when it's tuned right, WOW, does it work!


Posted By: 69RoadRunner on 01/16/10 07:09pm

This will bolt right in!


Posted By: 69RoadRunner on 01/16/10 06:27am

Jarlaxle wrote:

IIRC, the typical street Edelbrock carb is essentially a Carter AVS.




That's right.


Posted By: 69RoadRunner on 01/15/10 01:00pm

If you need to replace the carb, Carter is out of business, I believe, but Edelbrock's carb is basically the same design.


Posted By: 69RoadRunner on 01/17/10 05:47am

vacuumbed wrote:

69RoadRunner wrote:

This will bolt right in!

That's quite awesome, but I only paid $900 for the RV.


I didn't say it made financial sense. We're RVers. Since when do we make financial sense?


Posted By: moisheh on 01/17/10 04:48pm

jarlaxle: I am sorry you are wrong. I owned a 1978 440-3 in a Vogue M600 chassis. No hardened valve seats. A few of the engines that went in to the 1979's ( last year) did have hardened seats. I had to throw the heads away as the seats ere pounded beyond repair. This was common on those engines. Perhaps the car engines that were not a dash 3 had the proper seats but none of the MH's did!! When I said there was nothing wrong I did not mean the OP's actual unit. I meant that the distributor used by Mopar did the job well.


Moisheh


Posted By: vacuumbed on 01/17/10 11:47pm

Does anyone by chance know if a stock Chrysler air cleaner will fit the Carter AFB carburetor?

Also, do the exhaust manifolds to pipe connection use replaceable donuts?

Thanks!


Posted By: vacuumbed on 01/18/10 05:20pm

Jarlaxle wrote:

One from a pre-1970 should...most V8's used AFB or AVS carbs until the early 70's.

Not sure on the exhaust. www.allpar.com

Thanks John! I will check it out...


Posted By: vacuumbed on 01/22/10 09:37pm

The_Handier_Man wrote:

For a must see site, check out Classic Winnebagos and Vintage RV's. They have plenty of 440-3 owners with lots of info. My '73 Winnebago, with a 440-3, has over 100,000 miles, and I think plenty more where these came from. Les

That's a really neat site! I signed up, thanks for the info.


Posted By: Jarlaxle on 01/17/10 07:00pm

I've torn down several 440-3's and a 318-3. All of them had hardened valve seats. I have never seen a Mopar engine built 1973 or later without them.


Posted By: Jarlaxle on 01/18/10 04:47pm

One from a pre-1970 should...most V8's used AFB or AVS carbs until the early 70's.

Not sure on the exhaust. www.allpar.com


Posted By: Jarlaxle on 01/17/10 06:54am

Quote:

There is nothing wrong with the original distributor.


Without looking at it, you cannot say that.

Quote:

The heads are definitely a weak point. They were not deigned for unleaded fuel.


The heads are 452 castings, and most certainly are. The dash-3's had hardened valve seats starting in the early 70's.


Posted By: 69RoadRunner on 01/18/10 07:13pm

For classic Mopar questions, go to Moparts


Posted By: Canadian Rainbirds on 01/17/10 05:24pm

Our first Class A was a 23' 1973 Triple E with the Dodge 440. Don't remember what carb, but was a 4 barrel for sure. Lots of power, went up hills towing our 1991 Tracker passing lots of slower cars. Don't ask about the gas mileage though!

Exhaust manifolds were the biggest problem, wouldn't stay tight.






Posted By: The_Handier_Man on 01/22/10 09:52am

For a must see site, check out Classic Winnebagos and Vintage RV's. They have plenty of 440-3 owners with lots of info. My '73 Winnebago, with a 440-3, has over 100,000 miles, and I think plenty more where these came from. Les


My BLOG



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