All I have learned and toiled at since buying a Class A RV (1 Viewer)

DregeDE

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So yesterday morning I had seen a RV thread on 4chan/diy/ I started typing and posting.
A lot of my wisdom is hard learned lessons from trail and error some accredited to Travelin's mentoring.
I will post my RV manifest here along with my biased opinions for the good of the interested community.

Excrips from my posts on 4chan/diy/

"Me and my woman just bought a 30 foot class A. it has a 4.0BFG onan generator, two fresh water holding tanks (no idea what the holding size is) and presumably two sewage tanks ( I assume) black (shit and piss) and grey (sink and shower??)
its a 1978 dodge powered M600 - that means the chassis (vehicle frame) was a high capacity heavy duty truck, utilitarian models were usually water trucks, flat bed tow trucks and medium to heavy duty utility trucks. It has a 440 cubic inch driving motor with heavy duty steel crank and cams and slightly different cylinder heads (exhaust manifold over spark plugs - making the plugs only accessible from underneath the rig)
2013-03-05080811_zpsc7bc91bd.jpg

My model is in exceptional shape for a 1978, the walls, floor boards and cabinetry is in 98% good shape, all the plumbing and electrical system is in usable shape (rare for a 70's model) the roof however is in pretty bad shape, I have thus far put over 100 hours of work into it estimated at over 700$'s and its still not finished.
2013-03-16103151_zpsf76546fc.jpg




So the biggest thing you want to look out for with motorhomes (with integral drive engines - trailers are not self powered and are pulled behind a truck, powerful car or van) is milage. With a regular road vehicle 100,000 to 200,000 miles is a typical and not necessarily bad milage - provided the vehicle was maintained well over the course of its life, lots of cars, trucks, vans and SUV's can get as old as 500,000 mies and some even as much as 1,000,000. An RV ages differently, most sit in storage, someones driveway or yard for 90% of there lifetime so age is more important than milage, though milage is still a harshening factor - my RV has 27,000 miles on its driving engine, has never left the state of California and has never been lived in homeless like. it was originally bought by a retired couple and owned by them up until the mid 90's when it was sold to someone that did not care for it, at that point it was allowed to sit unprotected from the sun and rain, doing significant damage to the rood; mine has 1" X 1" ferrous metal ribs in the roof that have rusted out causing the roof to sag in the rear over the main sleeping area, over the sinks on the passenger side and the front roof over the captains chairs; the front being the worst, it dips in nearly 6" in the center causing extreme puddling. I will have to tear out the ceiling from the inside, replace the metal joists reinforcing the roof from the inside then tear the matting off the top and replace and reseal it. for this I have been using sheet aluminum witch I will refer to prices and dimensions later.
2013-03-23102328_zps2757056f.jpg

I have 15 year old tires on it cracked along the sidewalls from UV rays, i refer to prices of tires later on also, suffice to say that cracks on your tires sidewalls are a recipe for disaster - a 2+ ton vehicle at highway speed that looses one tire in the rear can potentially take out its neighboring tire and send the rig down on its side, a front (steering tire) that blows out could kill you and any passengers! Tires are the utmost old tires loose their elasticity and essentially become a semi-flexable plastic, 55+MPH on hot blacktop WILL BLOW THEM OUT!!!
Suffice to say that if you buy an RV with 100,000+ miles on it its equivalent of buying a car with in excess of 500,000 miles and possibly lived in by a homeless family of 3 for several years to a decade, they can have A LOT OF PROBLEMS!!!!! - but they are usually cheap, I mean under 1000$'s cheap!


I have owned many vehicles from the 70's, I have jerry rigged many detrimental problems and kept many vehicles that would otherwise ended up in a junkyard on the road for many 10's of thousands of miles past due for major scheduled maintenance - but this RV venture has been a test to my skills and fortitude as well as having stressing my relationship with my lover to the breaking strain at least once a week, being the subject of monitory drain and lifestyle debacle.
The tires I have on it are about 15 years old as per the date code "HKF199" which can be broken down here: http://www.ehow.com/how_4621263_read-tire-date-codes.html so by that my tires are the first week of 1999 making my tires 14 years old, they are also a size that is no longer in production, they have a modern equivalent that is 225/70R19.5 the 8R19.5 is no longer made - the problem with this is that the modern equivalent is not the same rotational size, they change the accuracy of the speedometer and cannot be mounted along side the 8R19.5's, (on the dualies rear axel or a tandem axel with a double or triple axel motorhome) And it seems I might need a wider spaced rim for the dualies set in the back, since there is a finite amount of flex in the rim and hub as well as the tires themselves the outer and inner tires could rub against each other, chafing unseen until a catastrophic blowout occurs. This is the same for any vehicle with dual rear tires setups, transport vans, school busses and delivery/moving trucks. "You've got a lot riding on your tires" - Don't fuck up!
Some links relating to this here:http://busride.com/2010/06/front-tire-failures-can-turn-into-a-catastrophic-event/
YOHEDSCN0609-300x225.jpg

http://rickpaulettervjournal.blogspot.com/2009/11/what-to-do-in-case-of-tire-blowout.html
Monaco_Steer_Tire_Blowout_thumb%5B2%5D.jpg

megabus-crash-0802.jpg

And one final pic
argentina-bus-accident-2010-11-3-16-0-27.jpg




Taken from: http://www.goodyearrvtires.com/size-conversions.aspx

Converting from 8R19.5 to 225/70R19.5:

Many RV owners are converting from 8R19.5 to the newer, more popular 225/70R19.5 size. In most cases this can be done successfully. The following guidelines should be consulted to determine if this conversion can work for you. Before making a final decision to convert, we recommend contacting your local Goodyear RV tire retailer to verify that all considerations have been met.

Advantages = more even wear, improved stability

Conversion Checklist (8R19.5 to 225/70R19.5 only):

Check with the vehicle manufacturer to ensure approval of the tire/wheel clearance and fitment

Verify that rim width is compatible to run the 225/70R19.5

A wider minimum dual spacing is required and should be confirmed

Due to a tire diameter and static loaded radius difference there will be an increased number of revolutions per mile which will mean that the vehicle speedometer and odometer will read approximately 2.5% high. Because the difference in RPM is less than 3%, however, no changes to gearing would generally be required.

Now heres the kicker, new modern size tires are about 200 - 500 dollar PER TIRE!!!!! used ones (8R19.5) are about 75 - 200 per from private sellers, some are retreads, And think about it this is a typical RV, two front tires, 4 rear tires and the spare - so thats some Hefty money just for rubber rings.

Then there is brakes, brakes are usually cheap and easy on most road vehicles - larger RV's are a different story, even the smallest OLD RV that I know of is the winnebago brave - thats a dodge M300 frame, still has HUGE brake drums, EVEN if you can find them in a typical parts store like napa, they will be expensive!!! they are heavy, expensive and typical hand tools are ineffective for the job - not to mention you need a 4+ ton jack and jack stands to get your rig off its wheels to get the job done. My friend once got a 35 foot airstream argosy similar to this one
92classic02.jpg

He got it for free up in Arcata california the only trouble was it had no brakes, he called me and asked if I'd be willing to come up and help him put brakes on it I said sure, he called back a few days later and said never mind he could not find any brakes for it within his price range, If I remember correctly the brakes were about $3000
This is shitty but its a common occurrence with these old busses, RV's and trucks - EVEN CLASS C's CAN HAVE THIS PROBLEM, In spite of most of them being built on a truck or van and similar chassis they have heavy duty suspension and axels.

So the thing is that you may find a 26 foot class A RV for 600$'s but think about all the things that can be wrong over the phone the seller/owner will probably not tell you that the brakes don't work, the transmission don't work or leaks like a xiv, won't tell you that the tires look like a dish sponge or that it has to be tarpped while it rains - I wouldn't, I'd wanna get the goddamn thing off my hands ASAP!

Another thing is weight, I was able to find .019 sheet aluminum at home depot in 25' X 14" rolls and flat sheets of 3'x3' the prices are pretty good, about a dollar a foot for the rolls and a bout $3.50 a square foot for the 3X3's, I used 3/4 inch NON SELF TAPPING screws for the fastening because the roof is 1/16 inch plywood and under that is 3/4 inch Styrofoam, so there is no need to have less thread in the Styrofoam wasted length with the self tappers, you just have to use a little more force to send the screw tip through the relatively soft sheet aluminum.
All seams need a DOUBLE BEAD OF WATER PROOF CAULK!!!!! I used liquid nails about $3 per tube - for the rear roof and center (above the sinks and stove) I used about 20 tubes of caulk. Then the expensive elastometric roof coating - I found gallon cans of henries at a local ace hardware store for about 30$ per can - some people suggest koolseal and snocoat these are about $60 - $100 per gallon can, you want a MINIMUM OF 2 COATS!!!! one applied with lateral brush strokes and then another with horizontal brush strokes, this creates a rubberized skin that will last in excess of 2 years, yes I know 2 years aint shit When this is expected to be your home for a long time to come, but this is the nature of the beast - even modern RV's have this flaw, the roofs are LIGHTWEIGHT canvass like material with a rubberized coating over top of the sheet, it is far from impervious and if you can afford to redo the whole goddamn roof yourself with light weight sheet aluminum ASAP!!!! the roof will eventually rot out and once you get leaks then your floors and walls start rotting out, interior bulkheads get weak allowing pipes passing through them to flex, breaking connections, creating more leaks, your floor gets wet rot, you fall through your floor, your carpet grows mold and mushrooms witch a lot of people are deathly allergic to black mold and then your electrical system will start to short out left and fucking right causing you a triple threat nightmare!!!!

"But drege I've heard it's often a better solution to buy a retired school bus and rip out the seats."
Lemme try to address this without being an asshole . . .
While I don't know much about people moving rigs - city and school busses I think I know enough about enough to say this is a bad idea, and I'm not even getting into the conversion; like with water, electricity, walls and modern living setups being built into a bus - its just too much to cover here at this time.
1. Tires.
2. Brakes.
3. Engine/transmission.
4. Registration (I'm referring to use class, weight class, emissions/smog
5. And finally fuel economy, maneuverability and feasibility of a bus as a motorhome.

Now if you know anything about big rig tires first off they are usually not tubeless radials, they are usually tubed tires, witch means they are expensive to attain and install, you cannot go to hectors tire shop and have your 1959 international school bus tires replaced/serviced, you have go to a fleet truck shop or a truck stop like a TA, loves or flying J. These tires may be in excess of 200 - 500 per tire. and when they blow out its like a bomb going off, they are under tremendous pressure.
Breaks, same thing, you will not have the tools to do your own brake job on your bus, you will not find the parts you need for it at a napa, o'rielie's, auto zone or any other typical road vehicle parts store.
If you have an engine failure or transmission failure your fucked, unless you have money you are fucked. a front engine bus MIGHT be a large chevy, ford, dodge or international engine 460+ cubic inches so plugs, wires, alternators, starters emissions control/air/fuel parts fasteners and electrical devices MIGHT be obtainable for you at a parts store but when those big rigs break down its usually something critical like transmission bands, engine main bearings/Crank, cylinder head gaskets, radiator+/- hoses or water pump - and I'm only referring to gasoline engines, not diesel. a city bus is usually a PUSHER Which means the motor is in the rear and the transmission is connected to the rear axle either directly or via a trans-axel similar to a front wheel drive car, these can fail as well. unlike front engine, rear wheel drive rigs the drive line can come detached there is a counter measure to keep the yoke safe from damage from the road if this ever happens - observe>
0506or_14z+1970_Ford_F100+Driveshaft_Strap.jpg


Registering your bus might find your self having to get an inspection, removal of all traffic regulating devices like the swing out stop sign, the flashers, the "SCHOOL BUS" bust be covered, modified or removed from the vehicle before you, a private owner/operator can operate the school bus legally on US roadways. There is also emissions devices on most diesel workhorses that can cost you $10,000 to have replaced - and they go out regularly, its like an exhaust bong. it liquid filters the diesel exhaust.
The use class may or may not apply to you but since a school/city bus is a conveyance for people, you might need to get the title changed from a coach to a HSCR otherwise you might have to get a coach license to drive/own. also registration fees may be exorbitant for number of axels and vehicle weight.
Now fuel, Yes a diesel bus can easily and relatively cheaply be converted to a BIOdiesel, but you will need a trailer to tote all your greezy diesel cans, your engine parts will wear faster, EVERYTHING YOU OWN WILL BE SMEARED WITH GREESE, the engine bay will weep this grease, and it stinks and is higher prone to mechanical failure as the engine was not designed to be fed this thick gooy go juice. Operating a large rig like a bus is not easy, You have to have a plan of attack for dense urban areas, You cannot just make a B line for austin and figure you'll just hop off the freeway and motervate around as you wish. Cities are not your friend in a big rig, you also have to pay closer attention to signs saying weight class allowed on bridges and certain roads, you can seriously collapse a fucking bridge or roadway with hollows underneath them, and if you clip a pole making a turn you can tip your rig over, pinch other vehicles, blow out tires, break axels, windows, fire hydrants, light poles, buildings - shit can get bad real fast in a long heavy class vehicle in a dense metropolis.
So I say get a RV and stay the fuck away from the busses, but The good thing about a bus is that they often have a rounded sheet steel roof and will probably never, EVER FUCKING LEAK!!!

Back to RV's

The electrical systems of old were not set up for DC>AC my rooftop Air Conditioner, 110vAC plugs, refrigerator and microwave DO NoT RUN OFF THE ELECTRICAL PANEL!!! the reason for this is that in the 70's when gasoline was cheap it was not a problem to run the generator while "roughing it" this is not the case anymore, most modern RV's have complex DC>AC systems that work very well, but they are still prone to needing serviced regularly and outright replaced often, same goes for the refrigerator, they are notoriously prone to failure - some models moreso than others, you just have to google it, and these units can cost ass much as 1000$ to replace and up to 700$ to have serviced by knowledgable technicians.

I plan on converting any appliances I need to 12vDC over time and modifying my grocery buying to need less refrigeration for food storage, lots of milks on the market that are far healthier for you that don't need ref'd and eggs do not either, harder cheeses and dried/canned meats.
My batteries were 200$ from walmart, they have a 11 month warranty and I have been told they can be expected to last up to 2 years By travlin, In 11 months I will discharge them and drain the electrolyte and refill with tap water or sprite or something to degrade the plates and return them - walmart has an excellent return policy.

Another thing is the gasoline delivery system, fuel pumps are prone to failure and fuel lines rot out easily over 10 - 20 years relatively fast, especially when the vehicle sits for long periods of time, a vehicle should ALWASE BE STORED WITH A FULL TANK OF GASOLINE!!!!!! gasoline these days is formulated to degrade over a very short time, about 14 months renders any amount of gasoline USELESS, it literally turns to turpentine! also a less than full gas tank has air in the top portion of the tank, air has water molecules in it, those condense against surfaces and form water droplets that over time corrode the surface of older low grade ferrous metal gas tanks, this is commonly refereed to as RUST!!! internal combustion engines cannot run off turpentine and rusty water, at lest not well.
I had to take down BOTH of my gas tanks and clean them out, one is about 65 gallons capacity and the main tank is estimated at about 75 to 85 gallons. I soaked them with vinegar over about 12 hours, then rinsed them well and set this air pump up to run air through the tank to carry the moisture out as fast as possible
2013-03-25120452_zpsa2d8925f.jpg

another way to do this is to put a 24 volt DC charge through the water filled gas tank with a piece of iron rebar as your negative electrode suspended in your salt water solution, all the rust from the tank surface is electronically affixed to the rebar and then you have to seal the molecularly clean tank inner surface with an epoxy, for a full list and description see:> http://www.mopedarmy.com/wiki/Removing_rust_from_a_gas_tank I neither had the money or time to do this so I opted for vinegar bath and quick dry. I also had baffles inside the tank that would have caused problems with consistency with the sealant.

The good thing about a class A RV is that they can often easily tow as big as a full size car truck or SUV, smaller is better but you can usually tow a full-size, my 440 can moderately move it self but I'd be afraid to tow a large heavy vehicle behind it and have to climb a mountain pass, steel crank and cams be dammed there is mechanical limits to these older motors low milage be dammned.
Towed vehicles are called "toads" popular models are ford festival, dodge colts, geo metros, suziki samuris (4wheel drive 4 cylinders) and other sub compact models.
Class-A-toad.jpg

The problem with a "toad" is that you usually have to stay at 55MPH on most us State highways as you are towing, most three speed automatics 55MPH is the optimal speed for highest fuel efficiency for overall avrage speed-time, however a 3 speed with overdrive or more gear might afford you higher - like 65 - 75 MPH, and I'm sure there are manual transmissions too, I just don't know of any definitively.

California, Texas, New York, Massachusetts, Indiana, Colorado and Louisiana Have some of the most stringent DMV laws as I understand it. RV/Camper insurance can be had in all 50 states for between 100 - and 800 a year. Mind you this is not full on insurance its like basic liability, My buddy has a 1976 toyota hilux/chinook - thing can hardly be considered a RV but it's title is listed as "HSCR" so he through quartzite private company pays about $8 dollars a month. And its just his work truck. though he is insane and often ends up living out of it.

So this is some highlighting knowledge I have concerning motorhomes and some common sensical knowledge about bus conversions, Please if anyone can improve, contest or add to this thread I think it can be a great source for those aspiring to come to own a wheeled home.
 
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DregeDE

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http://sfbay.craigslist.org/nby/rvd/3780024746.html
This could be made drivable fairly quick, chevy's can come back from engine fires easily, the wiring is simple and the vacuum hose routing is easy to divine. Plus is looks fucking good.
http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/rvs/3802728712.html
Perfect example of something that is cheap but probably needing $5000 worth of repairs.
And http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/rvs/3805558181.html
No price listed but they probably want around $2000, stating 'alternator, I'm not a mechanic" they are probably trying to shovel a headache into someone's lap, this is the kind of shit you godda beware of. For all you know this thing has a seized motor or blown heads, its too nice to be gotten rid of cause of an unknown issue.
 

travelin

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first one is a POS, no need to even look at it.

second one is a strong possibility if one is able to drain tanks and be ready to install a new water pump and altenator.

third one is the exact motorhome i have on the farm. exact same inside, just different color fabrics. in running condition in east texas its currently worth about 3500-6000.

its well worth looking at providing you can bring a charged battery to start it and be able to replace house batteries, altenator, water pump, probably rotor bug and plug wires and plugs. must be ready to replace all belts also. id go look at that one if i had a battery to put on it, bring a meter and check to see if altenator is charging. if tires are more than four years old thats about 1200+ to replace. this motorhome uses the 8R19.5 high pressure tires and if it has air bags on the axles and hydraulic jacks and has steering stbilization its worth more than 3500
 

Scotty

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Good write up. I bought a 1978 Ford E-350 Ambulance and had that same issue with the tires.. easily overlooked when you're looking at how "Badass" it is. I would of bought it anyways, but those truckstop tires were expensive. Of course the brake lines blew (in the yard, thank god), tranny lines leaked, ate 2 tanks of gas like nobody's business. Had I of made the purchase while on the road, it could of been a mess from the beginning.

But if you don't know anything about mechanics.. it's best to be willing to learn or avoid an RV or a bus altogether. I've been learning on an S10 pickup and it's great. Cheap standard parts, tiny motor, a hell of a lot better on gas than a van and comfortable clean bed space/plenty for tools.

My brother's got a mess of a story about hunting down a starter for a Detroit diesel. You can't just go to autozone for that shit. And it wasn't a simple install neither. It's easy to lay $1000 down on a bus that'll drive out of the driveway... but if you give a shit and don't have space/money.. it could be one hell of a headache.
 

DregeDE

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Seems kinda like an us kinda kid, also he's got a lot of the same issues with his roof that I have talked about, leaking, sagging and structural frame roof modification.
http://www.irv2.com/forums/f65/lazys-73-winnebago-brave-152525.html
Trying to confirm my claims about the M300 frame cause now that I think about it I'm not sure.

And Its Australia I think, Observe the "LEFT HAND DRIVE" placard on the back of the rig, I hate the modern side graphics, I think the 70's and 80's graphics were far better looking.
 

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