OT - Motorhome questions
I am hoping that some of you have experience with owning a motor home and can help me decide what to do with the "beauty" that I bought last summer.
It is a 1979 Winnebago "Elandan II" and looks remotely like this:
But of course it is much rougher and has no cheese or wine on the table. Basically it is sound but, well, sort of weathered.
Anyway, I crawled under the beast today and was horrified by all the bad repairs that some folks had made over the years. Spliced and disconnected fuel lines, mystery wires that have been chopped off, etc. Timing is off, carburetor corroded, no dip stick. Good is that the drive train, frame, and exhaust all look great. Interior needs floor replacement, some cabinetry work, some paneling, and the air conditioning units need new shrouds, if they work at all that is. Roof needs re-coating. Roof-rack is trashy. But upholstery is decent and all the windows are good. Bath is ugly yellow but sound. Body is 90% and paint faded but not really too bad. But I can see me spending all summer on this and think I might end up polishing a turd with lots of $$$ added for elbow grease.
So what do you think? It has the famous 440 Dodge engine with the equally famous 727 automatic transmission. Also a 7,500 watt Onan generator with only 85 hours on it. Plus very good 19.5" wheels and tires that I know are expensive to replace. I am thinking of parting it out and putting the money toward a newer rig that doesn't need so much work.
So what is the consensus? How much could the 440 and trans bring on Craig's list? How about the wheels and tires? Is the rear axle worth anything? How about the front axle? My inclination is to part it out and get something more modern. Many thanks for any and all comments.
Randy, I was at the same place you are now with a motorhome. I don't like to give advise so let me tell you what I did. The same thoughts came to my mind about the motor-surely it must be worth something,
well after much wasted time I couldn't even give it away because no one wants to pull a motor out of an old motorhome (a lot of work)
Same goes for the generator. To sell it must be pulled cleaned and serviced you know plugs, probably a new muffler stuff like that, when all is said and done you would be lucky to get $250 for all you work
minus what you spent out of pocket and your time. Not worth it to me. My RV needed roof sealing, expensive 19.5" tires same story as you, well long long story short I called an outfit that said I could donate it and get a tax wright off and that it would go to help veterans.
Best thing I ever did because like most of us I have more projects and ideas than money so it was one less thing to worry about.
Please take no offense but why on earth did you buy such a crock ? I mean did you look it over first and purchase with a plan in mind, like parting it out for a profit or a "project" ? I'd say dump it any way possible and write the rest off if that is possible. I regaurd motor homes as boats, happy day buy, happier day sell in between a black hole for cash and time.
I mean I did the same with a '89 Jag xjs which was much better shape that what you described, but is a project slowly comming back to shape as time and budget allow.
From what you describe I can't see the point of parting it out. I can't see what parts would bring any money. Even the wheels I can't see having much if any value as the bolt circle and offset will not fit anything modern and besides once the wheels are gone good luck moving the remains to get rid of it. As for fixing it up and using it you will get between 4 and 6 miles to the gallon so it would be expensive to even drive across town
If your sure its a 440 (some had 413's) and the trans works good, on CL I'd be asking 500 plus for the pair. Usually the exhaust manifolds are cracked and headers were put in their place. The generator is worth probably 3-400 in running condition and if the ac works (is it the unit bolted to the top of the rv?) maybe 1-200 (they sell refurbished units at the rv place for 350) The tires are only worth something if someone actually needs a set so they're probably worth more in scrap weight. Does the fridge work? Furnace? Stuff like that can sometimes be sold but, again, someone is going to need one first. All in all that thing is worth more in parts than trying to resurrect from the dead.
My 2 cents,
As the old saying goes "How much money can you afford to save?" Fixing this motor home will really show just how much money can be poured into a project - you have only found the tip of the iceberg so far. You will wind up restoring instead of just fixing the motorhome. By the time you chase down all the known problems, and the new problems that you will find, the final cost will probably be about the same as buying a new motorhome. I went through this years ago with a boat - when I finally sold it, I probably got back no more than 20% of what I had spent.
We owned one very much like it way back when.
I'd be inclined to drive it to the nearest scrap yard and sell the whole thing by the
pound. Buy a few beers on the way home and try to forget you ever saw it.
sounds like a hunting camp to me
Your description of the motorhome sounds suspiciously like the one Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) had in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. The scene where he was offloading the holding tank is priceless...
You could spend 1,000s on that thing and end up with a motorhome that is worth the same as your average '79 Winnebago. Why bother, drive it as is or scrap it.
Both my wife and I did the motor home thing before we met, so when we began traveling together, it's been commercial air/rent a car for some long distance trips, though we drove our car cross country on our "best" trip and everywhere within several hundred miles.
One of the recurring conversations we have as we travel now, "How much do we hate thee, (motorhomes) let us count the ways".
Me: "Remember tires rotting off before they wore out?" She: "how much slower it was and when we finally got there, no parking places big enough? The intriguing little side-roads and byways that we dared not venture on."
Sitting in a nice restaraunt having breakfast, she: "cool, they'll do the dishes and we made money buying it ready-made and for the room last night, by getting 5 times better mileage at todays prices." Me: "and they put clean sheets on for us every night".
"I remember the night that the wind came up, rocking me to sleep, (right!) and tore off the awning, getting it way ahead of me on the trip".
Driving very comfortably in our car, the rockies West of Denver, medium snow storm, Me: "You wan't fun? motorhome on ice-slick highway near Cheyenne Wyoming and the wind blowing the snow straight horizontal, lost two days, couldn't keep it on the road. One kinda' fun thing waiting there, I was walking into a commercial complex where a bundled-up kid was chasing swirling leaves with a push broom, hardly touching them. An hour later on the way out, same kid, broom and evasive leaves. I asked him what he was doing. He said the owners paid him to sweep the leaves. I asked why he didn't wait 'til the wind quit blowing and he guilessly answered, "the wind doesn't stop blowing here". She, "yes, hate motorhomes in wind."
We live on the East side of the Cajon Pass, over the mountains from the L.A. Basin. For recreation, we drive down into the basin after a wind storm, (fairly often) and play "guess how many motorhomes we'll see playing possum beside and in the road." Flipped semi's don't count, because they stay together when they roll. That's no fun.
Now a handful of Gypsies do it well but we've discovered we aren't Gypsies. We travel with one large bag in the trunk, containing a weeks worth of clothes, one load in a laundramat once a week and that usually where we stay the night. My favorite wash day in Kentucky, she at the laundramat and me at the Corvette Museum. She volunteered.....honest... "take your time, have fun..." She had a romance novel. Guy on the cover had me beat to hell, now that I think about it, the girl was kinda' nice too....
Now I've never driven one of the big diesel pusher land yachts, I'm sure they're better but they still don't change their own bed clothes, wash the dishes or create big parking spaces but I can just imagine the savings....... well.... after you pay the fuel bill and have cracked the quarter to half million dollar entrance fee.
Currently being upgraded. 6 cyl air cooled Deutz diesel w/ 727 trans, will be used for hauling hay locally.
My idea of roughing it is Holiday Inn.
If you can't do all of the repairs yourself, get rid of it. Any fracture in the structure/top will be a water leak nightware.
Your best bet is to sell it to the Truck Customizing crowd - sometimes those rims are a match for older Ford and GM trucks that were originally provided with split rims which no one wants to deal with any more.
With motor homes there is a breaking point 1990-91 where they changed over to fuel injection and over-drive transmissions. With those two changes you are looking at about 1/3 better fuel mileage!
With my 1983 Winnebago it got 5-7 mpg. That was acceptable in the 90's when gas was under $1., now, no so much.
I once saw a Diamond Reo truck rumbling through a campsite pulling a newish 5th wheel trailer. The owner had gutted the motor/transmission and put a big block V-8 in. It looked great and apart from the smaller cab, what a capable hauler.
Look for an old 1 to 5 ton truck from the 30's or 40's, swap in whatever combination of gas/diesel - automatic/manual, install universal air conditioning or at least get a power window kit for passenger door. Junk/part out what you can from your motor home. Buy a travel trailer, an old airstream trailer would look about right and would provide you with your next project.
Once you have your "new" truck built you start dreaming about flat deck, dump box etc. options and if you installed older technology components, passing by all the computer operated vehicles that the owners can't fix without the special computers/software.
Yes it definitely is a 440 and the trans works. 60K miles on the whole rig. I had thought that maybe since 440's are getting increasingly scarce that maybe a MoPar enthusiast would want to grab it. Especially since it is a truck duty engine, as for other makes that means a steel crank and steel forged rods. Not sure if that applies to the 440 though.
So why did I buy it? Well as cg285 imagined, I bought it as a camping vehicle to park on some recreational property until I build something more substantial. After all the advice given I think I will keep it all together and get it fixed up enough for that use. I am just floored by all the horrible repairs that I have discovered. Some people really should be forbidden to touch tools at all.
440's are becoming harder to find these days. Used to be 250.00 to 300.00 bucks would get you a complete running engine or better yet 50 bucks for a whole car so long as you get it out of my yard. Today that 440 will bring 500 easily and maybe alittle more if its a steel crank engine, being a 79 model that is doubtful though. If its a 440 with the industrial heads on it that will change your market.
1979 was the last year for the Chrysler built motorhome chassis, yes I know there were alot of 1980 and some 1981 motorhomes that are Dodge powered but they were built on 79 Dodge chassis'.
If it were me and even if it were free I would rip out the few items that would bring decent cash and then scrap the rest. Right now the RV market is flooded with just about every conceivable type of vehicle. Having helped my father over the years dealing with two Chevy 454 powered motorhomes my number one rule on RV buying is run away from any GM product having to do with recreation as it won't be. If you are serious about RV'ing with a motorhome do your homework and shop around and you can find a nice diesel powered unit very reasonable. My father just sold his 1999 40 foot diesel pusher, low mileage, very well kept and with several high dollar upgrades and got about 1/2 of what it would have sold for before the never ending recession set in.
These trucks are just too cool. The rims I have look just like those on the wrecker with five huge studs and nuts. Gotta love the can of WD-40 on the cab step. I occasionally see one of these on the freeway, completely tricked-out and usually towing something very expensive. These are toys for guys with big bucks. I love the look.