New owner of a well used '76 Dodge Class C here...and a long post.
I think I might be missing something in the process trying to figure it all out properly.
I GOOGLE for "1976 Dodge Sportsman TravelCraft Class C motorhome" or something along those lines and get nothing back...well nothing of any use anyways, just spam crap...at least until I came across this site.
What search terms should I be using if I'm trying to find various information for this thing? Obviously, I've got more than a few questions about this thing, and apparently a lot of other people have a soft spot for these types of RVs.
I've never owned a real RV before. Just a small pop up tent camper with ZERO options other than a few beds and a door. This thing is a 1976 Dodge Sportsman 'TravelCraft'. Got it for $1,000. 80K-ish miles. Couldn't pass it up. Drives straight, tires are good, brakes are good, engine ran rough on the way home, but I figured that out really quick. Doesn't help if the #8 plug wire end is burned up and arcing to the exhaust manifold, the distributor cap was only being held on by one clip so that was dancing around on the mount, the vacuum advance was not only disconnected, but the vacuum port on the carb was wide open. Engine is a 440-1 (not the -3???). Transmission shifts solidly and the fluid looks pretty good. According to the previous owner (and I haven't tested out anything yet), the furnace works fine, all of the water systems work fine but the condition of the hot water heater is unknown, but it doesn't look good. (how does that thing come out anyways?) The stove and oven work fine. The fridge works off gas, but not 120VAC (isn't that backwards from the way those would normally fail?). The electrical seems to be in good shape and has 2 batteries installed, and somebody along the way must be thinking the way I think. He put diodes on both batteries between the charger and batteries, along with a couple of low ohm high watt wire-wound resistors (1 ohm each) to keep the charger from frying itself when charging a pair of really DEAD batteries and I'm sure the .25v diode drop helps keep them from overcharging. Sure, the batteries will take longer to charge, but I think it's cheap insurance against burning up the charger.
I've been doing some reading here about the folks that replace the thermoquad with other carbs (i.e. Q-Jets, Edelbrock replacements,etc.). What do they do with the transmission kickdown rod? Does a guy end up manufacturing a kickdown rod bracket of some sort or is it a direct bolt on or what? I don't feel an urgent need to replace the TQ, but if the body is actually cracked or if the throttle shaft holes are tore up, replacement might be the only way to go.
Also, the box hanging off the dash in the front. Is that a separate A/C unit with it's own compressor or is it tied in with the vehicle A/C compressor or what? I can't get a good test on the vehicle A/C or the roof mounted A/C yet since it isn't warm enough up here in N.D. yet. With my luck, neither one will end up working.
And the big question...
On the wall in front of the fridge, next to the thermostat for the furnace, and inboard of the thermostat, there's a two position rocker switch. 2 red wires, one green, one white, and a bundle of 3 other white wires dead-ended together, taped off, and sheathed in a black bundle further back (make any sense?). I can't figure out what this switch controls, the previous owner had no idea either. Those wires run over from the switch, over the top of the fridge, then disappear.
Edelbrock and holley make throttle linkage brackets to install there universal type carbs onto your engine. And depending on what type of kickdown linkage is on your rig ,there,s a few different brackets availible from edelbrock and other vendors for that as well.
The a/c unit you have upfront sounds like an add-on aftermarket setup which is pretty common . The compressor is mounted and driven off the engine.
The switch in the back could be just about anything? possibly even added on over the years.
With the amount of wires going to it , sounds like it might be an aux. rear heater ,the type that get hot water from the engine.
One thing I will note on that old of a unit, they all ran leaded gas back then and didn't have the hardened valves or valve seats (can't remember which right now)so using unleaded does not lube the valves as the lead did. I would make sure you run a lead substitute if the heads have not been redone.
Our first Class C was a 1978 Apache on a Dodge chassic, 360 cid. The best thing to do id but a Chiltons manual for the Van. chassic, ir will cover most of the drive train. The rest of the appliances you can get the manuals on line from the manufacturer of from fellow RV's you still have them. It just takes time to check everything out. You got a good deal, so have fun with it.
Steve & Linda
Son married (1 DIL, 3 granddaughters 1 grandson)
Daughter can now be called a Teacher.
Miami Co. Kansas
2004 F350 CC dually 8ft bed 6.0 PSD
2009 Bighorn 3670RL
B&W under bed hitch with 18k companion hitch
Chinook440 - Good info on the linkages. If my stock T-Q turns out to be beyond repair, I'll have no choice but to look into them. Asked about the switch in the back 'cause I didn't know if it was a factory option or if it was something one of the owners added in the past or what. I still can't find the other end of those wires. Like you said, could be anything. Popped the hood and found the refrigerant lines running from the dash mounted box going straight to the compressor and condenser. 1 more minute of looking and I wouldn't have asked that question! (headslap)
Handbasket - Will look into it.
TreeSeeker - Saw that thread (it's what brought me here). No kidding! 425 pages! I'm only on page 70, and still taking notes. And thanks for the link.
sljkansas - I thought non-hardened valve seats went out of style back in '73 or '74, even on big blocks, so that part might not apply. The other thing that makes me think that is the sticker on the valve cover mentioned unleaded fuel. Thanks for the hint on the Chilton's manual. I wouldn't have thought to look at one for a VAN! And I'm slowly figuring out that the appliances aren't rocket science.
Sluggo54 - I'm a Q-Jet guy myself, got a few of them sitting in the garage waiting to pass gas on something new. Never messed with T-Q's, but always up for something new. Are you sure about the designation for the transmission? I thought they were all called 727's? A-27 is something I've never heard of, but, I've never owned a Class C either... I'll have to look into the band adjustment a bit further. If I remember right, that band holds 2nd gear in kickdown, and has does reverse (?).
Generally there are two white resistor blocks on the top on the tranny bell housing for dropping the voltage to the coil.. they tend to burn out. keep a pair handy. I put on an Accel SuperCoil which can take full 13.8 voltage. I changed the tranny fluid over to ford "F" as talked about in the MOPAR mag. My exhaust castiron manifolds were warped.. but just free handed with a straight edge ground them down and then the ex gaskets held OK. I used MOPAR cast alum valve covers to get better seal and stop valve cover leaks. Some say it has been run on leaded fuel so has been inbeded but I used aftermarket lead sub as didnt know if had valve seat inserts or cast iorn. 1976 440-3 but bearing backing showed as 1975 in M400 25ft class A with 33,000 miles since new.. the paper sticker on the bathroom basin still had the original sticker on it when I got it after 12 years in storage. Had leaky left rear brake cyl. NAPA had seals but shoes and drum showed little wear.. as only 33K. One crank bearing was bad.. long storage and rear of crank sat in acidic motor oil and took out babbit so bearing went out and had to have crank reground .010 under but cyls still had hash marks of oringinal honeing. Great fun to run those oldtimers.. used chiltons dodge truck manuel for info.
Be wary of the ThermoQuad. The main bowl assembly is plastic. They warp and leak onto a hot engine and a fire starts. Then the carb melts and things get really hot really fast. We transferred Jartran trucks back in the TQ days and they lost lots of the Dodge-based cube vans to engine fires. The correct transmission is in fact 727. In cars, TorqFlite. In vans, LoadFlite. There are various internal ways to build them up, so I'm sure not all of them were created equal. We lost three 727's to "incidents." One was backing hard into a steep uphill driveway. This leads me to think maybe reverse isn't anywhere near as strong as first. Another failure came from a leak in the trans cooler in the bottom of the radiator. Then, after an engine swap, we ended up with a "car" torque converter in place of a "truck" converter. The "car" version has too high a stall speed for a truck, RV or towing. Fast acceleration, but it slipped all the time at highway speed, overheated, burned out the transmission. If somebody says "they're all the same" go find somebody who knows they aren't.
God Bless, jd
2003 Jayco Escapade 31A on 2002 Ford E450 V10 4R100
I never head a lot of luck with T-quads. 'Course, a 440 is going to use a lot of gas no matter what. I did best with Carter AFB's. Plenty of linkage options there. IIRC, the Edelbrock is just an AFB with a different label.
Get the Chilton manual. These things aren't rocket science. The transmission is the A-27; keep it cool and the bands adjusted (easy stuff) and the fluid fresh and it will run forever. Mine was still going strong at 251k when I sold it. The body was falling apart by then, or I would still have it. Thought about keeping it for my casket.