Just purchased 1975 Dodge Tioga - NO CLUE what I'm doing, several questions (but very excited!)

Hi there!

My husband and I just purchased a 1975 Dodge Tioga GT in extremely good overall condition.  We bought it from the original owners who kept it garaged when not in use.  It has 80,000 miles on it, and has been immaculately well maintained.  All of the original carpet, upholstry, curtains, trim, cushions, toilet, shower attachment, jack, lug wrench...everything is near mint.  It even has all of its original clip in seatbelts, which were fun to discover.  The oven was rarely used and looks practically new, and all appliances work perfectly.  One of the coolest "finds" tucked back in a drawer was the original Tioga folder containing the Dodge owner's manutal, the house owner's manual, and all the vintage directions and warranties for the the appliances, pumps, etc.  Anyway, I'll post more pics later, but I have several questions I am hoping people can help me out with.  As with any vintage RV, there are a few issues that need resolved, and there are also several things that I just don't know a thing about.  This is our first RV, and we truly are CLUELESS!  

1.  There does not appear to be a grey tank in this model - does that sound right? The instructions say to place a bucket under the grey tank drainage and "dispose of the grey water in the designated area of the campground."  So.  Where might this drainage hose/system/apparatus be located?  And if there is, in fact, no grey tank, what do people usually do about disposal? 

2.  The pipe connector located in the (hardest to reach) area behind the toilet has a crack in it.  Thus, we can't use ANY water in the RV since when it tries to pressurize it sprays water all over the bathroom.  It appears to be an easy fix, and this might be a totally stupid question - is it possible to take the toilet off to reach the area behind it?  And if so, how on earth do you do that?  We really want to get to the bottom of how to operate the water system in the rig, but as far as we can tell that's not possible without fixing this first.  I don't see any way to close off the water pressure to the toilet.  Any ideas? Advice on how to fix?  

3.  There is a water slide out thingy next to the side door.  Is this how you fill your water tank?  How much water does my tank hold?  Does the tank fill automatically when you connect to city water on the opposite side?  And there is a tiny plastic water spigot in the same area of the RV - is that connected to the water tank? Or is it its own little tank?  Is it just for filling outside dog water dishes (kidding!)?  Seriously, what is it for?  

4.  The black tank fiberglass "shell" is extremely cracked and damaged from the rusty belts that hold it and attach it to the RV (the belts have "cut in" to the fiberglass over time).  Is this shell the actual tank, or is there a plastic tank inside the fiberglass?  How can I tell if the tank is damaged without learning the really hard way?  Is it possible for newbies to install a new black tank  themselves if needed?  Also - I learned how to attach the black tank sewer hose to the RV, but I can't figure out how to open the valve (and again, don't want to learn this one the hard way).  Its has a rectangular metal plate next to the opening that has a wing nut on it.  But I can't get the thing to budge.  Any clues on how to open the valve?  There are no sensors - how can I tell when I need to empty the black tank?

5.  The house battery is new and is all charged.  Approximately how long will one house battery last in a small RV like this with minimal use (lights only at night, fridge switched to propane, not using plug ins)?  Does the house battery charge when the RV is driving (I know this is a stupid question, but I just don't know)?  

6.  We hope to take it to our family property on the coast next week.  There are full hook-ups there, and it seems like the best possible place to learn how to do the water/electric/sewage stuff (plus if we screw it all up there is a house to retreat into!).  What do we need to make sure we have with us before we head out as far as the basic operation of the water/electric/sewage stuff goes?  I purchased a new white hose, a water pressure regulator, an adapter to plug it in to a regular extension cord, and it came with a new in box sewage hose and adapters.  Am I missing anything?

I'm so sorry that my questions are so basic.  My husband is an airline pilot, so he is at work all week and I am having to figure all of this out on my own.  Normally when house/car/maintanence things come up when he is gone, I just watch youtube videos until I can fix it myself.  However, I cannot find ANY youtube videos on how to work on this type of RV (however, once I know how to do it all, I will MAKE some youtube videos and post them!).  Our local Camping World does not have any service appointments until mid-August, and I'm too excited to wait that long to get it up and running!  Many thanks to everyone who makes it this far through my extensive post and many questions.

Tags: Tioga, newbie

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Congratulations on your your new to Tioga, sounds like a great find.  Wish I had some answers to you questions, but I know nothing about Tiogas and doing repairs that you are asking about.  I have my 88 Southwind that I am till learning about and my repairs on it are just going in blind and hoping I don't really screw something up.  I was an electrician by trade years ago so electrical problems I can follow my nose and come out OK, but I still ask when I run into something confusing.

All that being said, I do know that the toilet comes out, I think the base is just cosmetic and should pop off revealing the bolts holding it down.  

Best of luck and safe travels.

Hi, looks like you found a nice one!  I'm not familiar with the Tioga, but will try to help. 

1. I had an older Mini-Winnie on a Dodge frame that had a single tank, it had to be dumped in a proper disposal area.  I installed a dump station connected to my septic system in a couple of hours.  As concerns the black fiberglass, I don't know if it is some kind of cover or not?  I would probably put water in the tank using a hose down the toilet and see if it leaks.  If there is supposed to be a grey water tank then water down the tub drain should either leak somewhere or go in the combination grey/black tank.

2. Lacking a shut-off at the toilet, turn off and drain town water and pump.  Pictures of the toilet may help for disconnecting (is it plastic or ceramic).  I would install a shutoff when repairing.

3. The slide out is probably to fill the tank with water from a hose, this set-up is so you don't pressurize the tank when filling.  The hose connection on the other side is to connect town water, this should pressurize the system and not need to use the on board pump.  there is a check valve (Usually built into the pump) that prevents town water from going into the tank, so the water in the tank is separate and used when not connected to town water and pumped via on board pump.  The valve adjacent to the tank is probably to drain the tank.  The tank is usually under the sofa, and as a guess possibly 40 gallons. And sure, why not fill up the dog dish.

4. Sounds like a cover, but don't know.  I was able to use a couple of ratcheting cargo straps from Harbor freight to secure my tanks.  How about pictures of the tank drain set-up?  If the fiberglass is a cover you wouldn't see the sensors (is there a panel inside with read outs for the tank?).  I would make sure that I could drain the tank before messing with it too much!  If there are no sensors, a flashlight looking down into the tank thru the open toilet valve works pretty good.

5. Hard to say how long battery will last (type of battery, age usage,etc.) but you should know that discharging the battery below 50% will drastically reduce the life of the battery!  You should get some kind of gauge or tester and not let the voltage fall below about 12 volts (around 12.6+ is fully charged). Driving should charge the house battery, but often strange things are done to RVs.  Try it and see what happens (test voltage before and after drive).

6. I'd bring an electric tester and some basic tools.

Good Luck!.

Oh thank you thank you thank you for helping me get started on figuring some of this out!

Welcome and Yahoo! :) Another woman just getting it done.  Love hearing another Classic is being saved! You are very lucky all appliances work and you got manuals. I noticed you didn't mention anything about the roof, please check it out soon to make sure no weather checking on the seam seals, also, even though stored under cover, check around the windows to make sure the tracks are clean of dust and drain good. 

Sounds like you have what you need for the water, would also suggest to take with you: your choice chemical or water softener to put down tiolet for smell/cleaning, bucket and gloves for dumping. Then I would bring 1 or 2 gallon water container. If you cant get water working but the tiolet is up and running you can always pour water after use. We set up tabletop hand wash unit of outside table to avoid filling grey water too. 

On how often to dump black tank, if its 30 gallon tank we go our family of four for week usually no problem. But we always dump it after a weekend. It's heavy and any extra weight will cut down on gas mileage.Your manual should tell you size of tank. 

Battery will depend on your use. Would strongly encourage you to get some solar lights to use until you can get LED bulbs put in. They take alot less battery to run than the original 12 volt. Also, we don't leave our water pump on, just flip on when we use it. 

Please keep posting! You are dealing with some issues I'm sure I will need at some point. lol Most important, have fun and use it! :)

Wow!! All good questions to figuring out how to get this old gal up and running again. We have a 72 Dodge Travel Queen and it has required some attention to get all the systems up and running.I can answer some of your questions but the others would require some picture taking. 

This era of camper does not have a grey water tank. A "leaky bucket" is what people used back then. Today in the majority of campgrounds one must have the grey water drain into an external waste tank. The old timers call it "blue tanking it". What we have done is bought a 5 gallon portable waste tank and hook it up with a 3" bayonet fitting that attaches to the black water sewer drain. Keep the black water main drain CLOSED. This fitting has a garden hose attachment to it that you screw into the portable tank. When it is full take it to a camp dump station or to an outhouse and empty it.

I would be in agreement with Richard. Take a garden hose put it in the toilet and fill the black water tank to see if your tank is leaking. Remember to open the flush valve (foot pedal) while running the water in the toilet bowl.

To figure out what is your fresh water tank capacity is. There are great calculators on line to figure out the liquid volume of a tank. Measure your length, width and height of the tank plug the numbers in calculator and it automatically calculate how many gallons of water the tank will hold. Ours tank is 24.6 gallons and fits under one of the seats in the dining area.

As to your battery there are alot of variables. A simple hand held volt meter to take readings would be helpful to start with. Do some additional reading on your electrical system to help you to get a better and basic understanding of batteries and 12 volt systems. My guesstimate with lite usage it should be OK for 1 to 2 days. The engine alternator while driving will charge your battery unless you have a on board converter/battery charger which will charge while plugged into 120V outlet. That's an entirely different discussion.

Its a good start. Use some creativity, have fun with it. Have your your engine, tires and suspension check before hitting the road. Safety first. If you repair, fix, replace or improve a few things at a time it will not be so overwhelming. It gives you time in between to use it. Keep on trucking.

in order of inquiry...

1. yes,in bumper or compartment prolly need new, tote tank

2. yes, pics please, remove toilet and repair ..maybe just replumb

3. yes, measure dimensions and go online to calculator, no, yes, no, you could fill a dog dish, its prolly the fresh water tank drain.

4. prolly is the tank, fill it and check for leaks, maybe a good soak will soften the crust and allow you to open the valve. it may need replacement. just look down the toilet when open..you see when its full. maybe a measuring stick?

5. may a couple days or more with no furnace. it will only charge while driving..your converter needs updating..

6. appliance level freezer shelf. do a search on "refer leveling" in the search window and read my blog on this...

Okay, so 3 weeks in and here is what I have learned so far...

* Our mechanic replaced the alternator, the belts, the hoses, cleaned the carbs and changed the oil.  She is running FABULOUSLY!  He also was able to fix the fitting behind the toilet, so we can use our water and our facilities now.  Yay!  We get her back tomorrow, and leave for our first ever trip Thursday, so we have less than 24 hours to figure everything out.  

* Apparently there is a grey water bypass that I *think* goes into the black tank.  I'm still really unclear on how all of this will work.  If there is just one tank, does it just all go into that and I just dump it all at once?  I still don't quite know where the grey water would bypass to (and end up in a bucket/blue tank) if not the black tank?  We DID find out that the black tank is, in fact, in good working order by running water through it.  And we figured out how to open the valve (it was just stuck).  

* The tiny spigot on the outside needs replaced since it leaks (a very slow, drip leak, but still).  For now, we are putting a plug in it.  We will fix it in the fall. The actual tank drain is under the RV, so apparently the spigot is just for external water use as needed (aka filling the dog dish).  

* We have two small window leaks, which we found when it poured down rain this week.  The leaks are definitely coming from the windows, not from the roof, and hasn't caused any damage thus far.  One is a small drip onto the mattress on the overcab bunk.  The other is on one side of the big window in the back (got the curtains damp).  Should we just have both windows resealed altogether?  It sounds like leaks are notoriously hard to find and fix. 

* We are boondocking for 5 days at our friend's private property over this weekend, so it will be our "maiden voyage."  We do not have AC and there are no hookups of any kind, so we made a DIY "air conditioner" out of a styrofoam cooler, a battery powered fan, two pvc pipe joints and frozen milk jugs.  We will see how well it works.  It definitely puts out cold air.  We also purchased some silver insulating material (kind of like silver bubble wrap) and cut pieces to fit the windows to help reflect the sun, keep the cool air in, and keep the heat in at night.  It seems to make a HUGE difference in how warm it gets inside the RV, so hopefully it's effective.

* We are getting new propane tanks tomorrow.  I have an irrational fear of using the propane (I would really prefer NOT go blow up the RV).  So we bought two new fire extinguishers as well.  

* How should I set up the fridge for boondocking?  It works great when hooked up to shore power.  Do I switch it to battery while we are driving (and will it keep the food cold for 3 hours of driving?), and then propane once we arrive and are level?  Definitely bringing a backup cooler this trip just in case.  I feel silly asking about this, but I am truly clueless.  

I must say, I am having SO MUCH FUN with all of this.  I can't wait to take her out!  And THANK YOU for all the continued advice, I truly appreciate it!

Sounds like you are starting to do all the right things!!! To your fridge question. Yes, while your driving since it is a 3 hour trip. Switch fridge to 12 volt. When you get to your camp site - level your rig. Then switch it to propane. Turn the main gas valve on to the tank and light the fridge. Get an inexpensive fridge thermometer to determine how cold everything is. As to the grey water and black tank bypass question. Now you know where the black water tank valve is. A simple test would be. BEFORE you use the toilet. Turn on your kitchen sink faucet and let the water run for a couple of minutes. Stand back and open the valve dump. If water comes out then you DO have a by pass. If not then you will have to use an external catch tank or bucket.
As to your window leaks it may be as simple as thoroughly cleaning the slide tracks and weep drain holes out. They will get full of dirt and mud so the tracks will not drain when raining. They will over flow. A stiff brush, q-tip,squirt bottle what not. Super clean. Got to go. Have a fantastic trip! Happy Trails. P.




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