Hey, Mike it's great that you got your vintage RV.
When buying any used RV I usually do thorough maintenance before any trip. It's much cheaper at home, some of it you can do yourself and you can use a trusted local source for more technical or difficult work.
Make it a fun project and dedicate a few afternoons to your vintage RV.
- Check and change all the fluids, including the transmission and rear differential.
(Note-have a shop familiar with rvs change/service transmissons and differentials)
- Check and change as needed all hoses, wipers, belts, engine thermostat and radiator cap.
- If the tires are not new and age unknown replace them. A blow out is no fun 300 miles from the back end of nowhere.
- Check to see if it has a spare tire and that it's inflated. How about jack and lug wrench too.
- Check the trailer hitch, safety chains, wiring, brakes and turn signals.
- Have a garage or Les Schwab type company check the brakes, shocks and alignment and grease wheel bearings on trailers.
- Check all exterior and interior lights and fuses. Buy extras.
- I usually crawl underneath and check all wiring... normaly I find some hanging down or worn out. - I also remove and clean all electrical connections and grounds; Many problems are the result of poorly grounded or worn out wires.
- How are the batteries, cables and connections?
- Now up on the roof and look for cracks, loose tape, etc. The roof seals are VERY IMPORTANT! If the roof leaks into the ceiling or walls it's almost impossible to fix. See restorations on the bottom of our home page under RV Repair. Plan on resealing the roof and windows. (VK tells us that any roof vents, seams and windows should be examined and sealed yearly as needed. Eterna bond tape is one product for this
- Check the systems. Does the Roof and dash Air blow cold? All Heaters work? Have an RV technician check propane lines, tanks and appliances. Does the Water heater work? (usually there is rust and buggy things in the burner tube... gently work a baby bottle brush or similar inside the tube and blow out with air.- All vents clear of bird’s nests, mud dauber nests, leaves, etc? Sanitize and flush several times the water heater tank to.
- Get a good RV brass water pressure reducer. RVs water systems will not handle city water pressure. Next, get a new white fresh water hose ( very bad things grow in ones that have been sitting). Sanitize and flush your fresh water tank several times before use to eliminate deadly bacteria. Check or buy new sewer hose(s) and "maybe" a new 30 amp RV electric cable to hook up to shore power at the campgrounds and electrical adapters.
If you do this you'll come away with a pretty worry free rig. And, it will cost far less doing this at home.
The Chevy engines are pretty bullet proof as long as you keep them cool, feed them clean fuel and keep clean fluids in them. Also, parts are readily available either from Napa (my favorite) and hundreds of good aftermarket suppliers. The one thing I don't know about is the 79 Chevy engine vs todays lower octane fuels and ethanol. You might ask Marty about that really knows this stuff.
See you down the road. Pat
That's a fantastic list. I'm going to keep it for my own use. Very helpful to me, and thorough too!!
James, glad it helped. Most of us do this kind of "naturally" after umpteen breakdowns, tows, blown tires, etc. if it can break or leak it will... at the absolute worst place or time. Most folks get to the point where they just factor the couple hundred bucks o more into the cost of purchasing any vintage camper or rv. I just bite the bullet now rather than 700 miles away from the cabin and shop. Keep us all up to date on how you're doing with your good old rv.
Thanks for the awesome tips !! I still have a lot to do to this one before Im ready to hit the road.
The first thing we did was drop off our 1979 Dodge Beaver Sierra at an RV dealership and had them do a thorough inspection and fix anything that was wrong with it. You will also want to inspect it yourself, before every camping trip.
You will also want to get a Sam Goody membership, just incase you brake down anywhere. It is AAA for RVs.
More good information for me as a new member.
A point to remember, with motor homes,,,,, Start them up at least once a month and run the trans thru the gears to keep the oil circulating along with the fluid in the trans circulating and not varnishing. A slow death to engines and transmissions is NOT getting used and ran. Ive seen several motor homes sit for 6 months or more, then the owner goes out and fights with it to get it started, with belts squealing and popping back fires and chugging smoke due to the choke being *stuck. Not to mention the transmission wanting to slip or even worse,, the gasket around the pan has dry rotted and you end up with a full blown pan leak.
And on occasion, 15 families of rodents scrambling out of the engine compartment.
Moving A Vintage RV. here's an excellent post by member Lakota from another forum post:
Like Russ mentioned,,, Have a chase vehicle, (someone to follow behind you). I would drive it a couple miles and pull off and double check everything,, tires etc,,, making sure your not overheating or leaking/burning oil,, leaking trans fluid etc. On Dual rear tires check to make sure THEY ARE NOT TOUCHING each other,, thats a sure fire way to blow side walls out. Then drive a few more miles,, 50 to 100 miles if everything seems to be working smoothly.. Just remember,, when driving an older rig that you are not familiar with,, drive easy and pay attention to noise,rattles etc, along with all the guages,fluids, braking system. Its like buying a used car,,, You dont know how the previous owner maintained it and what it needs. I would baby it, being extra cautious.And if you have never driven something as big a vehicle as the winnie,, its best to familiar yourself on its size and turning radius, because a bigger vehicle needs wider turns and more stopping distance then a car or pick up truck.
Try taking it to a big parking lot to get used to the size and handling before heading out onto a highway.
With the width, its not going to be easy staying in your lane untill you know exactly where the sides are tracking between the lines, and its not going to stop on a dime like a car,,, Your toting a few extra TONS of weight and it will take a little more distance to come to a stop. I would recommend having a mechanic look it over and give you a thumbs up before takling the roadway with it. Better to be safe then sorry.
Now if you feel comfortable to drive it, and you get a thumbs up from a mechanic letting you know its safe to drive,,, I would defenitly get roadside assistance insurance. Tow fees for a rig that size is NOT CHEAP. (ole billy bob is not the guy ya want comming to tow ya with his half ton chevy with a piece of pipe and a hand winch). Now me,,, I would check how it runs,, staying cool, and not burning/leaking oil etc and makeing sure the brakes work 100% and the tires look roadworthy, and spend a day in a big parking lot, getting the feel of its size and braking abilities etc before I even thought of hitting a highway.
And, making sure the lights,turn signals and brake lights work.
I hate to sound like a buzz kill, But Im a stickler for being safe,,, not just for myself, but other drivers around me, With a large rig,,, when something goes wrong,, its not a little boo boo, but a HUGE boo boo.
And I only wish the best for all my RV friends, and only hope for safe travels.
Hi Mike, My Travelcraft is a 1978 on a 1977 Chevy G 30 chassis. 350 with a turbo 350 tranny. I can't really add much here it looks like most of it has been covered but I will tell you what I did when I bought mine last fall, My camper had what looked like brand new tires and the spare had never been on the ground. It had just that morning passed a highway patrol inspection. I drove twenty miles and blew the inside rear tire on the drivers side so please do not take the tires for granted. as mentioned before, look at that date code it's on there for a reason. after I replaced all seven tires ( tire shop refused to work on my tires because they was 10 years old and that new spare was 15 years old..) I drove 200 feet and a caliper locked up and flat spotted one of my brand new tires. Had a bad rubber hose that caused the fluid to stay in the caliper. I would definitely replace those two front wheel brake lines . I know what your thinking it has such low miles, well, mine only had 19,900 miles on it. the next thing I done was to take to my RV dealer and paid the bench fee of $100.00 per hour to go through the coach systems and fix or replace any deficits they found ( Money well spent) They changed out the bottle gas regulator and gave the camper a clean bill of health, I then took it to my mechanic and had the chassis gone through; they flushed the rear end and inspected all the mechanical components again money well spent . So at this point I have a very reliable rig that I have used quite a bit over the last year and I am very happy to pull my Palace right in next to the best of them and smile a little when people stop and check out my old class C and the big shinny class A next to me is ignored. I hope you have as much fun with your rig as I have had with mine. PS get up on the roof and inspect all the vents and seems, you'll want to make sure it stays water proof.