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Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/30/20 8:09 p.m.

Cheap insurance for your awning in case you may encounter windy places:  Awning de-flappers.  Handy items and they're cheap and small so they don't take up much space... in  your cargo OR your wallet.

Might consider a Slunky.  Google it.  Handy.

Drinking water tank sanitizer.  Who knows what grows in your water tank while it's sitting?  Another option I've employed is to quarter-fill the drinking water tank and dump in a cup of bleach before you leave the campground.  Let it slosh while you drive.  Drain the tank when you get home and the residual chlorine will keep things kosher, and by the time you fill the tank for the next trip the bleach will be so diluted you'll never notice it.

I also like to dump the black and gray tanks before I hit the road, but I often fill the black tank about half way with fresh water.  That sloshes water around and keeps the level gauge cleanish... but don't kid yourself.  The tank level sensors get coated in poo and TP and they will always tell you they're full even when you dump it.  Regarding black tanks... if you have septic at home, NEVER use the blue toilet treatment.  It will kill your septic tank.  If you're on sewer, ALWAYS use the blue toilet treatment.  There are all kinds of "green" alternatives, but they all suck.  My trailer at the lake uses only septo-bac because it goes to a septic tank on the property.  It doesn't matter what I use, the black tank smells like a septic tank... which is good because it means a healthy system.

Also, maybe consider a dining table/chairs instead of a dinette, especially for 6 people.  Sorry for mentioning dining after discussing septic tanks.

If your water heater doesn't have a bypass on it, install one.  That makes it able to be winterized with about one gallon of pink anti freeze instead of 8-12 gallons.

Possible thing to get is an air purge fitting.  It's simply a garden hose male fitting on one end and a tire valve on the other.  Screw it on your fresh water inlet, open faucets, put a tire chuck on it set to about 50 psi to blow water out before winterizing.  They're $2 and they are the size of a matchbox.  Handy hickey.

Check your water system.  Some systems let you stick a hose in a gallon of anti freeze and turn on the water pump.  Others you have to pump it in through the hose hookup.  If yours is from the hose hookup, get an anti-freeze pump.  Super simple plunger pump that you stick in a gallon and pump it through the RV manually.

Jay_W
Jay_W SuperDork
6/30/20 8:25 p.m.

I had a p30 chassis thing for a lot of years and yeah it was stressed. As is often the  case, the max  gross weight and the curb weight were *very* close to each other. Most of them are within a few hundred lb of max, or even right at max, right outta the factory. This is a big part of why tires get replaced often. I replaced mine on the demand method. One blows, replace it. This current coach we have is in another league. Curb weight 22k, max gross 30. I like that, I like that a lot. It also was designed from the ground up to not have bump steer, which most are not. Ever so much nicer to drive. And the interior is... really quite lovely. I spent 2 years shopping to replace that P30. Shop around, be picky, if you see ripples down the sides run away, and good luck.

mad_machine (Forum Supporter)
mad_machine (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/30/20 10:26 p.m.

while I have heard they are pretty miserable to drive, some of the best RVs out there are the Toyota powered Sunraders. With an all glassfibre "cabin" connected to the bulletproof toyota pickup with the 22r, they are slow, but solid and leak free.

bgkast (Forum Supporter)
bgkast (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
6/30/20 11:56 p.m.

Thanks to all, and especially Curtis for the wealth of info. Most of the ones I was finding in the price range were cheaper built models. This bluebird is a bit older than I was initially considering, but might be worth a look:

https://eugene.craigslist.org/rvs/d/eugene-1981-bluebird-wonderlodge/7142446514.html

Jay_W
Jay_W SuperDork
7/1/20 1:04 a.m.

Bluebirds are awesome. They're tanks. They are built to survive a rollover and not come apart, something only they and foretravel and then really expensive stuff like Newell and Featherlite and the other bus conversions can say. They are also heavy and very complex... if it ain't too far, yeah go look at it. Someone on this board has one and can tell ya all about 'em. 

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/1/20 5:48 a.m.

That Bluebird looks nice, although keep Toyman's comments about the tires in mind. Those are full-on OTR truck tires and a set of 6 will make a set of Hoosiers looks cheap.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/1/20 10:02 a.m.

In reply to bgkast (Forum Supporter) :

A member here has/had his Bluebird RV for sale, or at least mentioned it was going to be for sale, and is just across the border in Canada in the PNW area - I mapped it because I'd love to have one, but that drive is a bit too far to make it work for me. Unfortunately, I don't remember who it is, but if you do a google advanced search for "bluebird" on GRM you'll find it(along with Gumby's T-bird)

Rons
Rons Reader
7/1/20 11:10 a.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

The user is bearmtnmartin, he' s near Chilliwack in the eastern Fraser Valley.

fanfoy
fanfoy SuperDork
7/1/20 1:25 p.m.

I don't want to threadjack, but the large RV has been at the back of my mind for a while and this thread does not help.

 What do you, guys in the know, think of this one? What kind of things would you look out on something like this?

From the add:

- 14000$ of repairs recently - parts easy to find - tires changed -  New exhaust - 110V A/C added - New alternator - Chauffe eau, heating, oven and fridge running on propane - Fridge also works on 110V  - Brakes recently checked by EM brakes - Engine runs well - Brand new clutch - mechanically works well - 6 beds total

BoxheadTim (Forum Supporter)
BoxheadTim (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/1/20 1:32 p.m.
bgkast (Forum Supporter) said:

Thanks to all, and especially Curtis for the wealth of info. Most of the ones I was finding in the price range were cheaper built models. This bluebird is a bit older than I was initially considering, but might be worth a look:

https://eugene.craigslist.org/rvs/d/eugene-1981-bluebird-wonderlodge/7142446514.html

That looks familiar - it may have been for sale for a while, or it's being resold again. I recall seeing one that looked *very* much like this one when I was casually looking around for one on the West Coast in 2018. Of course, there might be two around with the same paint scheme and interior.

lrrs
lrrs HalfDork
7/1/20 2:11 p.m.

I cant add anything to the specific class A discussion, BUT,

When looking be aware, changing sheets on a full or larger size bed that does not have access on three sides is a PITA. Putting sheets on when kneeling on the bed not fun. If you have a significant other to do it, no sweat off your back, if they expect you to do it, heed my warning. My Class B is even worse, walls all the way around, except the 24:inches you use to crawl on to the bed.

 

Jay_W
Jay_W SuperDork
7/1/20 3:04 p.m.

In reply to fanfoy :

Would love some more info.  New clutch? So manual trans? Kewl. But what engine? This is a non-trivial detail...how many miles etc etc etc

bgkast (Forum Supporter)
bgkast (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
7/1/20 4:25 p.m.

One other question. I've always had a thing for converted busses, but don't have the time to convert my own. How bad an idea is buying somebody else's project?   Probably as bad as buying somebody else's project car or kit plane I expect...

BoxheadTim (Forum Supporter)
BoxheadTim (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/1/20 4:37 p.m.

In reply to bgkast (Forum Supporter) :

I'd say probably a cross of buying someone else's kit plane and house project. At the same time.

aircooled
aircooled MegaDork
7/1/20 5:05 p.m.

The only observation I have about buying non-winged RV's is a friend of mine used to be on the lookout for them.  They could be broken into two very general categories:

- Very nice, well kept, and almost never used.

- VERY used, generally smelly / scary.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
7/1/20 5:43 p.m.
aircooled said:

Since you where not specific, I have always been a bit of a fan of the RV4.

Being a homebuilt, you will of course want be super careful to have it inspected, and importantly have good information on how and who built it (preferably someone who has a good reputation).

The later RV are nice also, but something about the simplicity of the RV4 is appealing.

Not sure how you will get 6 people anywhere.  Maybe buy 3?

smiley

This post is both informative and completely unhelpful. Thanks for the laugh wink

solfly
solfly HalfDork
7/2/20 2:11 p.m.

If it's a Ford V10 torque the spark plugs!

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
7/2/20 2:42 p.m.
solfly said:

If it's a Ford V10 torque the spark plugs!

Not too much, there are only a few threads! Or, if it's a later one, you won't have to, because they won't come out anyway! laugh

A 401 CJ
A 401 CJ Dork
7/2/20 5:02 p.m.
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) said:

If I were buying a 90s Class A, I would get an Alumalite/Holiday Rambler every day of the week and twice on Sunday.  This is the era where they had really perfected RVs and before Monaco bought the company (1999 I think).

They use an aluminum skin with aluminum studs and laminated/bonded foam as insulation and structure.  If a wooden-stick built RV gets a leak, it could be ages until you find it.  By then the wood is soaked, started to rot, will continue to rot, and grow all kinds of fungi.  Many people shy away because of the two-piece aluminum roof, but it has a single seam down the center with a slight curve to the roof.  My 1992 never leaked... at least not the roof.  The bolt that held the lower awning arm into the skin got a leak and I had a soft spot in the floor which was easily fixed.  The nice thing is, if you get a leak (and all RVs will leak eventually), you know that the structure of the RV can't rot if it's aluminum.  It's always worth fixing.

My 1992 Holiday Rambler TT spent the first 10 years of its life owned by a couple who parked it near a lake.  I bought it in 2002 for $9800 and towed it cross country twice.  Then around 2004 I took it to a lake and parked it.  I never covered it, babied it, or did anything other than winterize and kept some paraformaldehyde packets opened for the winter.  Last summer I decided to upgrade so I bought a 5th wheel to park there and I was able to trade my camper for 8 acres of land and a used 4-wheeler.  That sounds like a whopper deal, but the land is kinda useless.  I think the non-running 4 wheeler was the better part of that deal.

I personally don't prefer rubber roofs.  They require maintenance.  The UV damages the rubber, so you have to get up there and scrub it with a special cleaner, then treat it to protect it.  Then for the rest of the year, the slowly-oxidizing rubber drips gray streaks all down the sides of your RV.  I always felt that the increased sealing you get from rubber is more than offset by the once-a-year walking around on the roof and the extra maintenance.  I would say whatever roof you choose, get one with the least number of seams, and as Toyman ever so brilliantly pointed out, get one that that cap wraps down over the sides.

When looking at a potential RV, look hard at the cabinetry and floor coverings.  In an effort to keep weight low, most RVs make hideously awful cabinets that are a corner piece of 1x1 pine with luan stapled to it and covered with a vinyl sticker to look like wood.  While the cabinets may last just fine, I have never encountered an RV where this wasn't an indicator of cheap, lightweight construction everywhere else.  The cabinets in my Holiday Rambler were a similar construction, but they made stressed-skin platforms out of that 1x and luan, so it was skinned inside and out.  Still light weight, but super rigid and looked very nice.  I had no problems stuffing those cabinets full of canned goods and dishes and driving on Missouri roads.  (sorry, MO, but your roads suck).

Look at the hinges and grab the cabinet doors and check for hinge flex.  See how the doors line up.  All old RVs in this era will likely have awful plastic bathroom and kitchen faucets, but they follow standard sizing, so its easy to get a nice residential version of both and change them out.  Toilets will be pretty standard Dometic units that work fine.  They'll either be a side flush or a foot flush and both should serve you well.  If you don't like them, the aftermarket has some nice upgrades.  If you plan on frequently using it for family trips with 6 people, consider a macerating toilet.  If it's just going to be one or two trips a year, don't worry about it.  When you hook up to sewer, always let the black tank almost fill up before dumping.  You can leave the gray tank open, but if you leave the black tank open, the solids make a poo mountain and the liquids drain out.  Letting it fill allows time for the solids to liquefy, and any solids that remain will get flushed through by all the liquids.

90% of the RVs out there will have a standard complement of appliances; dometic LP range, 2 or 3-way fridge, and a gas water heater in either 6 or 10 gallon.  If you get lucky, you'll get the best of the best water heaters which has both gas and electric.  Great for having 6 people showering.  The electric will maintain hot water without using up your LP, and you can supplement with LP if you're all showering every day.

Unless you're going really big (as in two rooftop AC units and washer/dryer), a standard 30-amp 120v plug will be sufficient.  30A will run most electric water heaters, A/C units, and still have some left over for a TV and lights.  

I also like to keep a cube heater around.  On chilly nights it can pretty easily heat the RV without using the furnace.  Basically, I'm saying to take advantage of the electric utility included in your campsite whenever possible.  Most LP appliances in RVs are grossly inefficient and they use up propane quickly.

Since you're looking for a motorhome, don't neglect the chassis and drivetrain.  Many are built on the P30 (GM step van, often called the Workhorse chassis) and they are a bit stressed.  You'll find yourself potentially having white knuckles every time you're passed by a truck.   John Deere is the other big chassis manufacturer.  They sold to Oshkosh and Freightliner for their step van trucks and they are a much beefier option.  John Deere chassis often came with Ford running gear like the 460 or the 6.8L V10/E4OD or 4R100.  Workhorse almost always has Chevy running gear like a 454/4L80E.  Either one of those engines/transmissions is wonderful, but try for the John Deere chassis if you can. If you go to a diesel pusher (not as likely in your price range), you'll have to consult others on that.  I know they borrowed heavily from Blue Bird, Gillig, and Thomas bus chassis so they should be up to the task. 

Curtis, you never fail to bring it and I look forward to each and every one of your posts.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/2/20 7:49 p.m.
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) said:
solfly said:

If it's a Ford V10 torque the spark plugs!

Not too much, there are only a few threads! Or, if it's a later one, you won't have to, because they won't come out anyway! laugh

Truth.  They'll either eject themselves, or weld themselves in place.  Take your pick.

(actually, both of the plug styles have pretty easy fixes if you run into that problem)

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/2/20 7:49 p.m.

In reply to A 401 CJ :

Thank you, brother.

bearmtnmartin
bearmtnmartin SuperDork
7/2/20 9:19 p.m.

That would be me with the Wanderlodge, although I think there is one other member with one. 

I had a discussion about downsizing earlier, and narrowed the choices down to either a Travco or a GMC, both of which are old and cool. But after looking at those I decided it was too big a step down for me and I am keeping the fossil. In fact I am going to repower it and am on the hunt for a donor truck. So that should be fun for you all.

to the OP, Wnderlodges are very cool but you need deeper than average pockets and a place and the ability to work on it, or it will break you. But if you could find a really decent Travco with a 440 I would say look at those.

 

Jay_W
Jay_W SuperDork
7/3/20 12:31 a.m.

I'm kinda happy you're keeping the fossil!

pilotbraden
pilotbraden UltraDork
7/3/20 12:34 a.m.

In reply to bearmtnmartin :

Is that the one that I  looked at in Flint? I think it's pretty darn cool. I too am glad that you are keeping it. 

bearmtnmartin
bearmtnmartin SuperDork
7/3/20 9:45 a.m.

In reply to pilotbraden :

It is! After that first trip back from Flint to BC it has been all over the West Coast, BC, Alberta, California as well as local camping. Tomorrow we are heading up to the park for a night. 

Here it is in the grad parade a couple weeks ago. You cannot tell fortunately but it contained five not very socially distant grads shotgunning beers and having way more fun than the rest of the class in cars. 

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