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Old 03-18-2019, 06:51 AM   #1
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Am I crazy? 22 yr old Bounder to Yellowstone?

Hello all and thank you all for this forum. So this weekend I bought a 1997 bounder with the intent of going from Iowa to Yellowstone. I am new to motorhomes and jumped in with both feet. The prices to rent a rig are ridiculous considering what I paid to have my own coach. I also have intent to take other trips.
So my rig is a 35 foot F53 chassis 1997 bounder. 66 thousand miles on the unit. Seems to be in fairly serviceable condition with a few repairs needed. Has a new roof. Coach and genny seems to run ok. I have not had time to check every single detail yet
What I am hoping for from the experienced folks on the forum is an important list of things I need to check.
I have some time and cash to get it fixed up but I am wondering if I am overreaching to think I can expect this truck to safely and reliably go 2200 miles in one trip.
Also I have learned that I can get chassis parts form auto parts houses. However where do I find fleetwood specific interior parts?
Thanks in advance for any information or links that can help me.
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Old 03-18-2019, 07:12 AM   #2
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Welcome to the Forum.

Quote:
I have some time and cash to get it fixed up but I am wondering if I am overreaching to think I can expect this truck to safely and reliably go 2200 miles in one trip.
The DW and I just finished a 7500 mile winter excursion across the US in our 1999 Southwind.

I'll note that working on our Southwind is somewhat of a hobby for me.. So I try to keep it in top mechanical condition, i.e. Its trustworthy and reliable to take on these long trips. If you're able to do the majority of work yourself, , and you start out with "good bones" then there should be no reason why a 20 year old vehicle cannot be just as reliable as a brand new one.


Quote:
However where do I find fleetwood specific interior parts?
There are very few "Fleetwood" specific parts. Most of the systems, i.e. furnace, frig, water heater, slides, jacks, plumbing, electrical, awnings, doors, windows, etc, etc, are from separate third party vendors, and most are well supported.

Your 97 Bounder may be on an older F53 version than my 99 Southwind, I maintain a web site where I document most of the work I do. You may be interested in looking at it to get some ideas for your Bounder. The Bounder and Southwind are very similar (almost identical). I believe the main difference is the Southwind had a little bit more upscale trim

1999 Southwind 35S – Southwind by Fleetwood – sporting its new paint job


I'd encourage you to post any questions on this forum. There are a lot of people here who may have similar issues, AND, there are also a lot of people who may have solutions. Again, Welcome and good luck and safe journeys in your travels.
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(www.1999Southwind.com)

It won't do MACH 2, but I can get a sandwich and take a pee.
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Old 03-18-2019, 07:57 AM   #3
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Thank you for the encouragement. I am able to DIY most of the repairs. How big of a jack do I need to be able to take the tires off and check the brakes?
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Old 03-18-2019, 08:01 AM   #4
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We take our old rig to Yellowstone every year.

There are many unknowns. With a used rig you really don't know how well the preventive maintenance was done. Ours was used. We had the engine and drive train checked as well as we could. We have had a great time. Keep in mind a new motor home can (and d0) have problems as well.

Take your rig (if you haven't) on a couple of fairly close trips to give it a decent workout. As long as you are a tinkerer you will be fine on your trips.

As mentioned, other than some fit and trim parts just about anything in the unit will be the same in any unit.

Above all, I have found out that there is nothing that you can break/wear out/fold/bend/spindle/mutilate that someone else hasn't already accomplished. These forums are your friend. Search for your problem and you will get all kinds of help.

Happy and safe travels.
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Old 03-18-2019, 08:01 AM   #5
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Quote:
How big of a jack do I need to be able to take the tires off and check the brakes?
A good 6 - 10 ton bottle jack will raise it up. Choke the wheels and place jack stands under it in case the jack fails.

I have leveling jacks, so I use these to raise it, then put stands under it in case the levelers fail.
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1999 Fleetwood Southwind 35S (Ford F53 6.8L V10 275hp 4R100 4 spd trans) - Toad 2003 Saturn Vue.
(www.1999Southwind.com)

It won't do MACH 2, but I can get a sandwich and take a pee.
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Old 03-18-2019, 08:12 AM   #6
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Quote:
There are many unknowns. With a used rig you really don't know how well the preventive maintenance was done. Ours was used.
This is what I do. I have no idea where the Preventitive maintenance is, so I just assume nothing has been done and start from there.

ALSO - Because of the age, I do a little bit of failure analysis. i.e. what is the cost of replacing a part vs what are the consequences of a failure. These parts are 20 years old, so may be at the end of their life cycle.

EXAMPLE - Cam shaft position sensor and crankshaft position sensor. New one cost $15. If either of these fail, we are dead in the water. So I replaced them. Once we pass infant mortality, I should be good for 20 plus years (I carry the old ones as spare)

Starter, fuel pump, vehicle speed sensor, water pump, thermostat, spark plugs, COPs, These are all low cost, high consequence items.
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1999 Fleetwood Southwind 35S (Ford F53 6.8L V10 275hp 4R100 4 spd trans) - Toad 2003 Saturn Vue.
(www.1999Southwind.com)

It won't do MACH 2, but I can get a sandwich and take a pee.
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Old 03-18-2019, 08:25 AM   #7
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Not crazy, 66k miles is nothing!

Obviously 20 years old makes a difference, but if it runs well, then there shouldn't be anything wrong that can't be fixed.

Sounds like you're not mechanically inclined enough to do a lot of the work yourself...yet.

If that's the case, I would recommend taking it to a mechanic for a thorough check up. He should be able to give you an idea if there's anything urgent, and also help you identify anything you can do yourself.

As others have said, if you just assume that nothing preventive was done and go from there, you should be good to go. If the engine runs well there's really not much that you can do other than change all the fluids to have a solid baseline. At 20 years old there's always a chance of major engine problems, but with only 66k miles I think you should have a little more confidence that it will go right.
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Old 03-18-2019, 08:40 AM   #8
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I would also preemptively replace the belts (save old ones as spares) radiator hoses (and flush at same time), check air filter along with items already mentioned. If you dont have a full maintenance history then go through throughly on a 20+ chassis so you dont lose a belt like we did on our long trip with our '95 ten years ago. Was almost imposible to find someone to repair it on a holiday weekend.
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Old 03-18-2019, 08:48 AM   #9
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Jaybound,
Welcome to the RV life.
Being in Iowa at this time of the year presents its own problems with doing some short trips to check everything out however you maybe able to check somethings out right at your home.
Be safe, even with 66k miles you need to consider that no PM has been done. Pull out the manual and check what should have been done at the last or next PM and get them done to be safe.
At home, if you have an RV garage you will be able to work on it but w/o a garage you can still do interior checks such as: plug it is to your house power (recommend you run a dedicated 30 amp line) and test all your electrical items. Run the furnance and heat it up. Propane is expensive but you need to make sure it is working. Consider adding an electric heater. This is the time to buy one if you are going to use it in the Spring and Fall. I just bought a 1500w Quartz Infrared heater on clearance for $43.00 - half price on current price.
Check 120v receptacles to insure they are working.
Check 12v system, each light and and receptacle to insure they are working.

As soon as we get above freezing you need to check the water system; fresh water tank, lines, pump, faucets, shower, water heater, etc. Check for leaks. Faucet washers and pump are always suspicious on older rigs as they dry out and then leak.

Check the stool for leaks and operation. Common problem is the gate valve that opens to drop the stuff into the black tank and then closes to keep the odor down there instead of in the rig. If not closing properly, hold open and grease the rubber gasket with Vaseline and open and close the valve until it operates properly.

Run water thru system to put in your black and gray tanks. Check for leaks and then drain as you check for proper valve operation. I actually pulled the handle out of the valve and had to replace the valve with a full black tank - OMG!!

Hope this helps to get you started - Drive safe and enjoy - Richard
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Old 03-18-2019, 09:00 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rrtribble View Post
Jaybound,
Welcome to the RV life.
Being in Iowa at this time of the year presents its own problems with doing some short trips to check everything out however you maybe able to check somethings out right at your home.
Be safe, even with 66k miles you need to consider that no PM has been done. Pull out the manual and check what should have been done at the last or next PM and get them done to be safe.
At home, if you have an RV garage you will be able to work on it but w/o a garage you can still do interior checks such as: plug it is to your house power (recommend you run a dedicated 30 amp line) and test all your electrical items. Run the furnance and heat it up. Propane is expensive but you need to make sure it is working. Consider adding an electric heater. This is the time to buy one if you are going to use it in the Spring and Fall. I just bought a 1500w Quartz Infrared heater on clearance for $43.00 - half price on current price.
Check 120v receptacles to insure they are working.
Check 12v system, each light and and receptacle to insure they are working.

As soon as we get above freezing you need to check the water system; fresh water tank, lines, pump, faucets, shower, water heater, etc. Check for leaks. Faucet washers and pump are always suspicious on older rigs as they dry out and then leak.

Check the stool for leaks and operation. Common problem is the gate valve that opens to drop the stuff into the black tank and then closes to keep the odor down there instead of in the rig. If not closing properly, hold open and grease the rubber gasket with Vaseline and open and close the valve until it operates properly.

Run water thru system to put in your black and gray tanks. Check for leaks and then drain as you check for proper valve operation. I actually pulled the handle out of the valve and had to replace the valve with a full black tank - OMG!!

Hope this helps to get you started - Drive safe and enjoy - Richard

+1. At 22 years after making sure the chassis is serviced I would turn my attention to the house systems. Water heaters, refrigerators, water pumps, etc have a finite lifespan so I would go over all that with a fine tooth comb.
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Old 03-18-2019, 10:00 AM   #11
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Thank you for the replies. I do not have an rv garage however I do have a slab and some space to park it and work on it. It is a little over whelming with the number of items to check until I learn all about everything. I am picking it up tonight and will begin to make a check and repair list....
Are there any ford specific trouble spots or items to worry about with the chassis? I plan on doing a full tune up right away as the first task.
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Old 03-18-2019, 10:25 AM   #12
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Make sure the tires are young enough and in good shape and enjoy the trip
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Old 03-18-2019, 10:32 AM   #13
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Quote:
Are there any ford specific trouble spots or items to worry about with the chassis?
YES - Take your VIN # to any Ford dealer. Ask the Service department if the Cruise control recall applies to it and/or if its been complied with..

A faulty / leaking cruise control switch can cause a fire, even if its sitting in storage. My Neighbors F150 burnt to the ground in his driveway, He was very lucky it wasn't in the garage.

Ford fires and the cruise control recall – 1999 Southwind 35S


..
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1999 Fleetwood Southwind 35S (Ford F53 6.8L V10 275hp 4R100 4 spd trans) - Toad 2003 Saturn Vue.
(www.1999Southwind.com)

It won't do MACH 2, but I can get a sandwich and take a pee.
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Old 03-18-2019, 11:11 AM   #14
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Am I Crazy?

Sounds like you have an adventure in your future!
We purchased a 1999 Tioga two years ago with 20K on the odometer. It had been in a heated garage since new , so the unit looked new. However the chassis showed it's age , rubber bushings dried out , tie rod rubber boots cracked , etc. We took it in and had the steering , suspension , and brakes gone through.
Also had all the fluids , brake fluid , coolant , differential , transmission , engine and power steering fluid changed . Also replaced plugs , hoses and filters. This was not cheap , but we put two 5K trips on the MH with zero issues on both trips.
Remember, the most important thing is that it needs to start , run and stop .
Have a great trip.
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