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¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
3/7/17 7:56 p.m.

Some time ago, I posted this thread in which I was warned a great many times against the purchase of a cheap craigslist RV. So, naturally, I bought this:

Thirty one feet of E36 M3ty house on top of what is effectively a hacked up delivery truck chassis, with factory overloaded suspension and a 454 which will drink more than a challenge car's dollar value in fuel over the course of our planned 6000 mile trip. I am an idiot.

wae
wae Dork
3/7/17 8:02 p.m.

ooh! ooh! I will be watching this with intense interest!

Does the 454 have the Banks pack on it? That'll help with the whole cracking manifolds problem. I'm guessing from the tarp that there's a little water penetration on the roof?

I'm an idiot right along with you with a very similar rig, so I'm really interested in what you wind up doing! Tell us more!

Toyman01
Toyman01 MegaDork
3/7/17 8:03 p.m.

It's Glorious!!

Can't be worse than buying a 60 year old bus, 1000 miles from home.

conesare2seconds
conesare2seconds HalfDork
3/7/17 8:14 p.m.

Here's hoping the interior features as much ill-advised blue as the exterior, and in at least as many shades. Following with interest.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
3/7/17 8:15 p.m.

November 2016

Recently married SWMBO and I have decided that we want to go on a big stupid honeymoon adventure in the spring, in an equally big and stupid RV. We've been watching the market, sending eachother craigslist links constantly and generally trying to figure out how buying a cheap RV should work- and we're stumped. Meth shacks asking $10k, clean looking rigs for half of that, and everything in between for every price imaginable. The consensus is that prices appear to be randomized and we should go drive some to find out how berkeleyed we are.

The first one we go to look at is a Winnebago of some sort, previously used as a mobile hunting cabin. It smells funny but runs well and generally seems to function as it should, apart from an incident involving us being stuck on a small section of highway with no shoulder and a dead engine while the seller was giving us a ride- it did eventually restart, once I figured out that there was a trick to getting the ignition to stay on, namely holding down the battery button the entire way back to the seller's house. This isn't the one we looked at but it's nearly identical:

We came away from that knowing that we could do this- that RV was in challenge price territory, and the stalling incident actually hadn't scared us enough to wipe the Winnebago off the list, but we thought we'd see what another thousand dollars could get. As soon as we got home, craigslist was open again- and there was a brand new ad, only asking a thousand dollars more than the RV we were in an hour ago, only 20 minutes from home. A 1994 Fleetwood Southwind.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
3/7/17 8:32 p.m.

So we went and looked at the Fleetwood that afternoon, and it was a night and day difference from the Winnebago. The interior was nice, it ran well, drove well, had four new(ish) tires, and apart from the rooftop AC, everything appeared to work. I told the seller I would have to sleep on it, primarily because it was a Sunday and I couldn't get cash or transfer the title that day anyway

It is worth mentioning that it hadn't been winterized, and we bought it three days later... when it was going to drop into the 20s for the first time that fall. I bought a bunch of RV antifreeze on my way home from work and met the seller at our local tag place, where we inexplicably encountered fellow GRMer Ian F selling his Mini to somebody. Ian laughed at me when I told him what I was buying.

Then I went home to my new RV, in the dark, temperature now below freezing, and began the process of winterizing the plumbing- luckily the black and grey tanks were empty when I bought it, but the fresh water system was full, so I started by draining the fresh water tank... mostly onto myself as I fumbled around with the various valves and lines under this big ugly bus that I had only seen once before. Once the water was out of the tank, it was time to pump antifreeze through the lines, which involved more spilling, more strange lines and valves, and a decent amount of swearing.

With a bottle of antifreeze all hooked up and ready to pump, I went inside the RV to switch the pump on and got... nothing. The pump had worked a couple of days ago when we looked at this thing, but now it was definitely dead, so I grabbed my multimeter and got to work crawling around the innards of the thing. It turned out to be a bad ground to the water pump, so I cut and stripped the ground wire and weighed the bare end of it down on a piece of exposed metal. The offending wire:

After that, things went more smoothly, and several gallons of weird pink RV antifreeze made their way though the lines and down the toilet. I'm still not sure where the rest of that wire goes or if it's a switched ground.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
3/7/17 8:41 p.m.

Several weeks after the fun experience of winterizing the plumbing, we got the rest of it ready for storage- I had to work on the Merkur all winter and knew that I wouldn't get around to the RV for months, so we put some fuel stabilizer in it, pulled it behind the shed, disconnected the batteries, and covered the roof with a ginormous Nissan banner weighed down with old motorcycle tires to store it for the winter. The roof doesn't leak, but the Nissan banner should make sure that it doesn't start leaking by surprise either.

The plan for this spring is to go through it and give it a bit of a tune-up, fix anything we find broken, replace the two tires not recently replaced by the PO, and equip it for a southwestern adventure with two people, two dogs, and a cat, which will to include modifications to the bedroom and possibly the kitchen. We set off in less than two months and I haven't started this thing since December

wae
wae Dork
3/7/17 8:43 p.m.

Okay, so here's the thing - I'm going to be super annoying with trying to share all the E36 M3 I've learned over the last year, so I apologize in advance.

Too late for now, but you can save yourself a ton of time and lots of antifreeze (and have a better tasting water system) by using one of these:

It's a blow-out plug with a quick disconnect. You put that on the city water connection instead of a hose, and then you connect your compressor to it. Put it at about 30-40 psi and then go around and open your faucets one at a time (after you've drained the hot water heater and fresh tank, of course). Once there's no water left in the lines, you can just pour a cup or so of RV antifreeze into each drain to fill the P-trap and you're finished. When we got back from the Rolex this year, I had the rig re-winterized in about 15 minutes.

Something that I found with my water pump is that there's a switch up in the galley area at the monitor panel and then there's another switch down by the outdoor shower. There's some magic combination of those two switches that needs to be just right in order for the pump to work and the outdoor shower switch seems to occasionally get jostled during driving. I'd think that they'd switch the +12VDC side, though, not the negative...

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
3/7/17 8:45 p.m.
wae wrote: ooh! ooh! I will be watching this with intense interest! Does the 454 have the Banks pack on it? That'll help with the whole cracking manifolds problem. I'm guessing from the tarp that there's a little water penetration on the roof? I'm an idiot right along with you with a very similar rig, so I'm really interested in what you wind up doing! Tell us more!

No Banks pack, although one of my coworkers used to work at Banks and asked the same thing. The tarp is there to keep a roof leak from sneaking up on us and ruining the interior, it stayed dry inside without it through several rain storms.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
3/7/17 8:59 p.m.

In reply to wae:

The blow-out thing is neat, maybe I'll do that if I ever get one of these again. I'm hoping to have it sold by next winter!

There are two water pump switches on the Southwind, and I did a LOT of fiddling with them trying to diagnose the problem- I hope you're right that the positive side is all that's switched, then I can just find a place to ground this wire instead of having to chase it all over the place to find where it failed.

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler UberDork
3/7/17 9:09 p.m.
wae wrote: It's a blow-out plug with a quick disconnect. You put that on the city water connection instead of a hose, and then you connect your compressor to it. Put it at about 30-40 psi and then go around and open your faucets one at a time (after you've drained the hot water heater and fresh tank, of course). Once there's no water left in the lines, you can just pour a cup or so of RV antifreeze into each drain to fill the P-trap and you're finished. When we got back from the Rolex this year, I had the rig re-winterized in about 15 minutes.

I have one of those and I used it to blow out the water system in our travel trailer last fall. Then I pumped a bunch of RV anti-freeze through it anyway. I wanted to make sure.

Also, they are nice for blowing the water out of my pressure washer for winter, as well.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
3/11/17 4:44 p.m.

Spent today working on this beast. First, an interior tour for those who were wondering- the cockpit:

Kitchen and living room:

Bedroom:

The plan for the bedroom is to build a platform which will fit a queen mattress sideways with two dog beds aft of it- we'll see how that goes in a future installment.

Today was basic tune-up time. Plugs, wires, distributor cap, rotor, ignition coil, fuel filter, and air filter. Time to access the engine:

Great access to the TBI business, which all looks pretty good and has a build date of '97 embossed on it so it has been replaced at least once. Accessing anything else can be done provided you have N+1 wobble extensions, where N is equal to the number of wobble extensions you currently own. The air intake had what I believe is one of those silly '90s fuel saver vortexifiers in it:

Nearly all of the spark plug wires were crumbling, and a number of the spark plugs really didn't want to break free, but I got them out. It's slightly easier to do spark plugs on this thing than, say, a 4th gen F-body, although it would have been much easier if one of my arms had two elbows. The distributor is slightly tucked under the lip of the floor so getting the cap off is more difficult than it needs to be, but it's got all new ignition bits now:

I checked the brake fluid while I was in there- the master cylinder is under the driver's feet and nearly inaccessible. Luckily, the fluid was clean and the level was good! This is the best picture I could get, it's the black rectangle in the middle of the frame:

New air filter:

And then, fuel filter:

I know, I know. "Isn't there snow on the ground? And it's 20F outside? And fuel evaporates immediately making you way colder when you lay under the filter you're taking off like a dumbass?"

Of course not, all of this displaced snow is just from some sort of large mammal burrowing under the RV to hibernate. Or change the fuel filter.

Ended the session by hooking up one of the four batteries to a charger and going inside before hypothermia set in:

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
3/11/17 10:21 p.m.

and here I am not wanting to go out tomorrow when it's 35 degrees and swap out an e30 diff in the driveway......

As always, hardcore, Mr. Nonack.

NGTD
NGTD UberDork
3/12/17 5:51 p.m.

Well I'm still weaseling out. It was -25C (-13F) here again this morning. It's been a weird winter!

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
3/18/17 4:32 p.m.

Built a filler platform for the bed- dog for scale:

I hate working with wood, I don't really get along with it. Fits well though!

A memory foam mattress is on its' way from amazon, and should fit nicely across the front of our now-continuous bed platform. Then we connected the battery and fired it up- it started like it had been parked a few hours instead of a few months!

It runs pretty well, but still hesitates at full throttle- I'm hoping it's something simple, and ordered a TPS, MAP sensor, and fuel pump because 454 parts are CHEAP.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
3/19/17 1:17 p.m.

Replaced the generator's fuel filter, air filter, and spark plug today- the old stuff looked pretty crusty, I don't think they had been changed very recently.

Stampie
Stampie Dork
3/19/17 8:08 p.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ wrote:

I look at that and I mentally draw a line cutting behind the side door and wonder how many cars that flatbed RV can haul.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
3/20/17 7:42 a.m.

In reply to Stampie:

Two pretty easily, and if you ditch the water and poo tanks there will be plenty of extra weight capacity back there- so you're interested in picking it up, then? It'll be for sale in about two months

Stampie
Stampie Dork
3/20/17 7:50 a.m.

In reply to ¯_(ツ)_/¯:

Two might be a little big for me. I haven't been admitted to the Pat School of Car Hauling yet.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
3/20/17 7:53 a.m.

In reply to Stampie:

That just means you can keep the kitchen and maybe 25% of the bathroom!

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
3/20/17 8:09 a.m.

If you have it for sale by the end of May, I may be interested. I have a camping trip coming up in early June. I hate camping.

Any plans to diagnose the non-working A/C?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
3/20/17 8:14 a.m.

In reply to Ian F:

It's WAY down the list since the timing of our trip is aimed at the sweet spot for weather, but if the thing is otherwise ready to rock ahead of time then I'll start poking around the air conditioner.

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
3/20/17 8:14 a.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ wrote:

The one thing I really liked about that rig were the separate beds. Less romantic, I know, but for an insomnia sufferer it looked like paradise.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ SuperDork
3/20/17 8:17 a.m.

In reply to pinchvalve:

The center section just lifts out, the whole point of having it as a separate platform was to be able to switch it back to the original configuration easily. The couch and table up front both turn into beds too if we decide not to share for some reason.

java230
java230 SuperDork
3/21/17 10:42 a.m.

How did I miss this?! So much win!

You know you want to keep it for race car hauling!

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