Soon, I will be an owner of a 1973 Class C Dodge Motor Home. I feel anxious yet cautious to begin my adventure!
But I am a newbie to RVing thus seeking all information available to avoid problems on the road, or else where.
As stated above, the motor home is a 1973 Dodge; thereby, is very old, but is a fixer-upper. And because this MH is being purchased from a friend, I am aware that It has a new 360 V-8 engine with a new gas tank(s), as well.
But this vehicle has not been driven for many months, so in addition to other probs, I expect separate issues because of not being driven.
i will drive this MH nearly 1500 miles after I make the purchase.
1. What kind of maintenance should be performed on said vehicle before beginning this journey?
2. Insurance and AAA?
And any other suggestions / advice is greatly appreciated.
We had an old Havest RV on a Dodge chassis. As the previous poster mentioned, check the tires. There is a real good chance that they are old and thus susceptible to blow out. Check the age not just the tread depth. We bought ours about five years ago and used it for a couple of years and put about 10,000 miles on it. The only real problem we had was all of the bushings in the windshield wipers disinigrated. During a rain storm, naturally. It was a cheap easy fix and the local Dodge dealer even had them in stock which surprising since the RV was 74 or 75, I don't remember for sure. It only had about 45000 on it when we bought it but the front end was loose which made it a bit of a challenge to drive on narrow roads when the wind was blowing. We never had much problem with the Carrige part but the cabin was another story. Harvest is out of business and for good reason. They built a cheap RV. Some of what they did in the construction of our RV just made you say, "what were they thinking!"
Enjoy it! We did a real thorough tune up on the engine, new plugs, points, condenser, rotor, cap, etc. I would also recommend flushing the cooling system and change the oil and transmission fluid. Although it didn't happen to us I've been told that that. Intage of Dodge van occasionally lost reverse.
Like I said earlier we put about 10,000 on ours and it was fun. We have since purchased a newer unit and are enjoying it as I type this.
If you have the spare time,skills, tools, and workspace of a truck mechanic, electrician, plumber, appliance and RV repair person, you may be happy with an old fixer-upper. Don't spend way more money on an old "beater" than it's market value. It may only be worth $2000.If you have to pay someone to repair water leak damage it can cost $2000 more. New tires will cost about $1300+. RV Tires are normally replaced every 6 years regardless of tread depth or appearance. They deteriorate and become unsafe/blowout prone just sitting parked/undriven for six years in sun and weather. Expect that previous owner(s) may have changed wiring and done slap dab fixes for you to puzzle over and fix. Generators and dash and roof A/C units and fridges cost a lot to have repaired/replaced. Awning may need replacing and so on. Been there, done that spent way too much.
Before attempting to drive it I would do the tires and brake fluid. If this is the one you want to drive from Montana to San Diego you just may need those brakes some time. A good brake flush is simple to do and not expensive if you have to pay to have it done.
2003 Newmar Mountain Aire, Workhorse W22, 2008 Saturn Vue, Falcon 5250, & US Gear Unified Tow Brake
That 360 V8 probably has the nylon-filled timing chain, unless it has been changed. If it hasn't been changed, or you can't prove it one way or the other, and it has over 75K miles on it, you might want to consider it.
That is an "interference engine", meaning if it jumps time, the pistons will hit the valves, and you will need a complete valve job or rebuilt heads.
One old-timer method for checking the timing chain is to adjust the idle as low as it will go and still keep running, then put a timing light on it. If the timing marks are fairly steady, the chain is probably good. If the marks jump back and forth, the chain is worn, and could slip at any time.
If it slips, the engine will immediately quit running, and will not restart until the chain and sprockets are replaced, and the bent valves replaced.
Yes, voice of experience!
CM1, USN (RET)
2002 Fleetwood Southwind 32V, Ford V10
Toad: 2006 Jeep Rubicon LJ
Other toad: '06 PT Cruiser, Kar Kaddy dolly
Toy: 1977 Dodge W100 CC SWB, 3/4 ton axles & springs
"When seconds count, help is only minutes away!"
You have some history, but there are still things waiting to bite you. It is best to know what they are.
When you go to start it, have a good battery and DO NOT touch the gas pedal. Crank it for 30~60 seconds or until you see the oil pressure come up. The hit the gas pedal to set the choke.
You do not mention id you are a capable mechanic in your own right. If you are not, you may have problems as a vehicle this old requires constant attention. You can have it be reliable, but it will still always need something.
Someone mentioned tires. Get dates off the DOT code. If they are 5~10yo worry a lot. If they are over 10 (like have a three digit date code) plan on replacing them NOW. If they are 16.5 - Good Luck. Firestone is the last US manufacturer. Many dealers will try to sell you old stock. (Sound like experience?)
All the rubber parts should be suspected of over age. Plan on them failing. I do mean all the rubber. Coolant lines, brake and fuel lines, door gaskets and belts are all over age.
The brake system and cooling system should be flushed and refilled, but that could wait until you get home.
Good Luck Guy
Matt & Mary Colie
A sailor, his bride and their black dog going to see some dry places that have Geocaches in a coach made the year we married.
Nobody wants to rain on your parade, just be aware, especially when planning a loooong first trip. I just had six new tires installed and thorough mechanical checkup/servicing including cooling system, brake system flush, oil and filters and all belts and hoses checked to put our much newer 2004 rig fully back in service after sitting parked/seldom driven since 2006. Some tires were 2003, some 2006 vintage ,all had potentially dangerous sidewall cracks. Roof AC and fridge were replaced last year. Batteries may yet need to be replaced. Try to eliminate things that can halt your trip 500 miles from nowhere and make you hole up there while somebody takes their time, waits for parts, and charges you and arm and leg for repairs. In our 72 Delta Class C. we spent a weekend in Puyallup WA waiting for the "RV Doctor" to plastic-weld our holding tanks after an old, but new looking, rear tire came apart, blew, and whipped the underside with it's flailing steel belt. BTW, have the means to pay for whatever comes up on the way home.
We had an old left front flex hose brake line rupture inside, causing steering to suddenly pull hard to the left, nearly sending us into opposing traffic. Old flex hose brake lines should be replaced. Brake fluid collects water droplets over time, can result in brake fade on long downgrades. Old brake fluid should be flushed and changed and complete brake system checked and repaired as needed. Engine and transmission should be serviced as needed including test of fuel pump and transmission. Radiator should be pressure tested, coolant flushed and changed and all belts and hoses should be checked and replaced as needed,water pump and fan clutch if may need to be replaced. Engine cooling system is especially important on RV's. The dash AC unit should be cooling effectively for your comfort for driving on hot days. Windshield wipers and all light and signals should all be working properly. You should have some kind of emergency road service to change tires if needed on the road. RV tire changing is heavy duty, not like car tire changes. You should have a spare especially if you have old size 8.00 X 16.5 bias belted tires. A cell phone can be handy. Have all perscription meds needed by you and any passengers. When you have everything covered for safety and reliability, you can enjoy the trip.