Yesterday morning at 4h55 am, me and a co-driver left Montreal to travel 5h15 hours to get to see a first MH. To go there, my co-driver and me are going to go trough 2 Canadians provinces and one US state. The trip is about 330 miles and we have to do it both way in the same day. Daniel Long was very helpful in doing the initial assessment of the RV and although it might be far, the picture he sent seems to indicate the unit has potential. I made several research on the particular unit that we are going to visit, the engine and what to expect.
No matter the result of the visit, I already can see positive things out of the whole experience as I learned a lot about what I was getting into and at some point, you have to see the real thing, not just some pictures on internet.
The trip went like this:
The 500$, 1976 Winnebago Chieftain D-23C was part of an estate. The person in charge of liquidating the estate met us after we arrived.
We walked around, stretching our legs and it did not looked too bad, although dirty at first glance. A tire was off the rim, some lockers had hinges broken and the doors couldn't close, nut nothing that couldn't be fixed (or taped temporarily), some trims were not fixed (again, tape for now until we can get in in a place to fix it) and some window seals appeared to be dried and had a gap (probably leaking now). I climbed the ladder in the back after making sure it was strong but the roof was full of snow so I couldn't see it well. Anyway, nothing major at first glance. So we stepped inside.
As we walked in the interior, I was surprised that the unit wasn't smelling moisture, cigarette smoke or anything really. The unit was, a bit unorganized as you might expect from a unit that sat there for a while but overall, first impression was not too bad. The green and yellow "flowered pattern" seats did not had any rip and the shaggy orange carpet was in a good condition (but still ugly as... orange and shaggy is by no mean trendy, I'm planning on getting rid of the carpets anyway).
WOW! I just love that layout. Although there is no permanent bed in this unit, but almost anything can be used as a one. I counted a total of 7 potential sleeping accommodation: 2 in the bunk over the cab, 1 in the dinette, 2 in the "lounge" in the back (more on that latter), and 2 in flip down bunk at the back of the RV, The head and shower were in the middle / port side of the cabin, right in front of the refrigerator. The stove and oven were actually a first for me. You had the oven on top of the stove, where you would normally see a microwave nowadays. I could not test the appliances but they looked clean. Right beside the stove, you had some counter space with a dual sink. The dinette was right behind the driver's seat. Both the driver and passenger seats can rotate but on some motorhome, they put the shower in such a way that there is no point in doing so but when the dinette or a sofa is there, the driver seat can be used as part of the seating area when spending some time together so that's a plus.The "lounge" area in the back is actually a "U" shaped sofa with large windows all around it. It is not very bit but you get a sense of openness. I can imagine going down the road in there, you would feel more like you are in a train then on the road while sitting in there, provided you have some seat belts installed as there are none right now. If you are just a couple, you can turn this area in a permanent bed for the duration of the trip. I loved it.
The engine compartment was clean and accessible. It seemed to be able to turn although we could not test it
OK, time to look at what will need to be fixed. in here.
The bad stuff...:
I must say that I was pretty thrilled at that point so far but, although some politicians tries to, reality is something we can't ignore. the ceiling was peeling off... there was a leak in the roof. and the unit was leaning on one side because of the tire off the rim, so that leaked seemed to have got in the wall on the port side of the vehicle. A leak is bad, but I was thinking that I could probably do repair it by injecting some "rotfix" or a similar epoxy product made to permanently restore structural integrity of rotten wood in boats. I would also remove the wooden wall finish of the RV and replace it after with something else. The insulation in these panels is not fiberglass, and doesn't seems to get soaked from some video I saw on Youtube and after drying, can work again without issues once a new finish is put there.
The tires all needed to be replaced, they seemed to be dating from the 1980s according to the date code. Someone will have to explain me what those tires are as I a more used to the way the tires are sized on cars and light truck. Brakes will need to be checked, as all the mechanical components that didn't run for a while, although the engine and radiator looked clean and without much rust.
The ugly stuff........:
Up to now, I was still undecided of what I would do. In my case I would need to import it in Canada and have it registered with the SAAQ to get a licence plate on it. It seemed a project that wasn't going to be impossible but would require a lot of work. So I kept inspecting, double checking things, opening lockers and compartments, looking at all the corners and seams that I might find until I saw a missing pop rivet. To install a pop rivet is like 10 seconds but where I got suspicious is that I saw light trough that hole the pop rivet wasn't the only one gone in that area, there was quite a few of them missing actually but this hole was the only one with some light in it. Upon close inspection, it was the sky I was seeing, so I ran outside and paid close attention to the top wall on the port side, ¼ of the rivets were missing, it was splitting apart! I was so disappointed by that. The Winnebago sat in that spot for so many years, slightly leaning on one side that I guess the weight of the snow plus water freezing and unfreezing in the area that the rivets ended up being torn apart and water got in that side of the wall, not from a leak in the roof, but from the gap between the roof and the wall.
That's when I gave up........ It's too bad, Such a unit in such a condition.I have to say that If I lived nearby, I might still be thinking about it but for now, it is out of reach for me.
So I we met with Daniel Long and his son in a nice restaurant, fuelled again an went back home. All in all, it was a total of 1100 km in a day. Not wasted at all as I met a real nice guy face to face !
The search is still on !