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Old 07-11-2011, 09:38 AM   #1
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New to RV-ing, Bought 1980 Pace Arrow with 28K Miles

Hello everyone, my name is Rich Truesdelland I'm the new proud owner of a 1980 Pace Arrow 30-foot motorhome.

It's exceptionally clean inside and out and I have some camera phone photos of it posted here if anyone is curious.

First off, I am a total newbie, have never owned a motorhome, never drove one until last Friday when I drove my Pace Arrow 80 miles from Victorville, CA where I bought it to my home near Temecula. To say that it was interesting, would be an understatement. Even though I am an automotive journalist, the biggest vehicle I had ever driven previously was a Dodge Ram 3500 dually so I did feel that I was driving a top heavy box on wheels.

(Background, about two months ago I wrote a feature for Automotive Traveler Magazine on the 1973-1978 GMC MotorHomes which is where I got the RV bug. That's what I really wanted but all were priced well outside of my budget.)

The unit has sat for a while and went through a series of transactions so the seller I bought it from didn't know too much about it. I have been going through it to get it ready to live in for the rest of the summer. First step was to test the coach batteries -- both were bad -- so I replaced them with 27DC batteries from Walmart so the coach now has power.

The seller said that the wire running from the battery to the generator (from what I can make out from the data tag it's an Onan model 6 5 H 3CR/16004N) was bad but that turned out not to be the case. After installing the batteries and wiring the cable to the battery with a $5 quick disconnect, I had power to the generator and after setting the choke, the generator would turn over but will not start. (I know the generator uses gas from the tank so I filled up both the main and aux tanks well past half full.) I am not a mechanic but does anyone want to suggest where to start? For all I know the fuel pump for the generator might not be working. Where is the fuel pump located?

I am powering the coach from a 30 amp 110 line from my house with a 50-foot heavy-duty extension cord and I have the front roof-mount A/C working but not the rear roof-mount unit nor is the fridge on. All the tanks are empty. Before I put propane in the tank, I want to get all the electrical issues solved. Can anyone make suggestions or hazard a guess as to why the rear A/C unit or the fridge are not coming on? I checked the breaker panel under the bed -- found the breaker tripped for the front roof-mount A/C unit, reset it and the front unit came on (blows cool but can't get the front section of the coach really cool when the outside temperature is 100 as it was yesterday. I assume that this is probably normal).

I hope I won't get in too much trouble if I cross post this in the vintage and Fleetwood forums.

I would love to connect with owners of similar late seventies, early eighties Pace Arrows, especially those that live in Southern California (I live in Sun City, 10 miles north of Temecula, 20 miles south of Riverside). I've already connected with someone near Palm Springs who has a 1983 Pace Arrow and has blogged extensively on its restoration and has exchanged a very helpful series of E-mails with me.

As I am a journalist I will be writing about my adventures on AutomotiveTraveler.com and hopefully some travel publications once I get my rig road worthy and hit the road this fall. I've set aside August to finish up some writing projects as well as getting my new toy ready for some trips this fall.

Any help in getting it road worthy will be greatly appreciated. I'm new at this and need all the help I can get. I believe in giving back so I will be looking to contribute in return. If you want to know about automotive photography and how to shoot your rig, let me know. I'll be glad to help.

Looking forward to talking with many of you, especially vintage Pace Arrow owners who will be able to offer helpful hints on getting my coach ready to hit the road. Click here for my direct E-mail address.

Best wishes,

Richard Truesdell
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Old 07-11-2011, 09:53 AM   #2
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As far as the rear AC is concerned, most older rv's would allow you to run one unit at a time unless you ran the generator and it was 5500 watts or higher. Look for a switch somwhere labled perhaps front/back AC. Might look like a standard light switch.
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Old 07-11-2011, 10:10 AM   #3
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You should be able to find your Onan manual here.

If it turns over with no start, I would check fuel filter first, spark plug and wire next, oil level third (should not allow firing if oil level too low), fuel pump fourth. There is probably a winter/summer choke setting as well.

On general principles, I would replace plug, plug wire and fuel filter as well as changing oil and oil filter. These are regular maintenance items that should be done according to an hourly schedule listed in your manual.
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Old 07-11-2011, 11:21 AM   #4
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Hi Rich. Welcome to the forum
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Old 07-11-2011, 11:32 AM   #5
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Remember, I'm a journalist, not a mechanic but I fixed lawnmower engines as a kid.

Here's a photo of the carb before starting.



Went through a basic check list, first checked oil level (it's fine, generator has 242 hours on it, not much over 31+ years), next checked for spark, have it. Next, cleaned the air filter, still wouldn't start. Then took off the top of the carb, shot some starter fluid in, it started up, ran for 3-4 seconds so I now know it's a fuel issue and that the generator itself works.

Questions. Where is the fuel filter? I figure that might be clogged. After that, is there a fuel pump of is the system gravity fed? If there's a fuel pump, where might it be located?



Servicing is complicated by the fact that the tray that the generator sits on is bent, has been repaired at some point, and doesn't slide out as it should (frame bowed down due to weight).

Is the fuel filter the small canister-type item to the lower left of the carb, facing the generator, the top of which is visible in the first photo?

But at least I know the generator works, that's a good start to the day.

Thanks for the help thus far. I'm poking around the web site to see if there's existing threads that address issues similar to mine.

Richard Truesdell
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Old 07-11-2011, 04:50 PM   #6
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Rather than a filter, I believe that canister is your fuel pump. Most Onans that I've heard of suck rather than push the gas. Can you unhook the flexible gas line upstream from your carb and stick the end of it in a gallon of gas (throw a 1/4 can of Sea Foam in the gas while you're at it)?

If the problem is the fuel pump, it won't run. If its an upstream filter, it should run. If a filter, you'll just have to trace the flex line back (can you see it from underneath the rig?) or just find where the metal gas line changes to flex and run a new line with a more accessible fuel filter.

If it were me, I believe I would take a rolling 3 ton automotive jack, and gently jack up on center of the tray your gennie sits on, and see if I could persuade the tray to come out that way.

The trouble is, you'll need the access to the rear of the gennie. Some are designed to drop down, but yours is going to need to slide forward at some point in time.
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Old 07-11-2011, 09:42 PM   #7
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I believe it's the fuel pump, here's why I think why.

First, I believe that the fuel pump is below the switch panel because the flexible line on the inlet side I traced back to the fuel tank (and the line said "fuel" on it). I removed the line and it was totally dry. I tested the wire running from the coil to the fuel pump and when I hit the switch the test light showed that the line went hot, yet there was no apparent suction on the inlet side to suck the fuel from the line going back to the tank.

Can this fuel pump be rebuilt, does it have to be replaced with an OE-style pump or can I use a generic low-pressure universal pump from AutoZone, Pep Boys or the like?

Did some additional troubleshooting on my Ei Trav'ler gas/electric fridge as it did not get cold while the coach was plugged into my 110 line running from the house. While hooked up to 110, I opened the back panel and the coil was very hot as it was plugged into the 110-volt outlet behind the fridge. I'm hoping that I didn't damage the unit. Anyone have any thoughts on this issue?

I feel as if I'm making progress and will really feel good once I have the generator operating and have the rear A/C operational. Then the next step will be to hook up to water and fill the fresh water tank next. I figure that by the weekend I'll be ready for my first shakedown cruise.

Thanks again for the warm welcome and the suggestions thus far.

Best wishes,

Richard Truesdell
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Old 07-12-2011, 01:12 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AutoTraveler View Post
I believe it's the fuel pump, here's why I think why.


Can this fuel pump be rebuilt, does it have to be replaced with an OE-style pump or can I use a generic low-pressure universal pump from AutoZone, Pep Boys or the like?

Did some additional troubleshooting on my Ei Trav'ler gas/electric fridge as it did not get cold while the coach was plugged into my 110 line running from the house. While hooked up to 110, I opened the back panel and the coil was very hot as it was plugged into the 110-volt outlet behind the fridge. I'm hoping that I didn't damage the unit. Anyone have any thoughts on this issue?

Thanks again for the warm welcome and the suggestions thus far.

Best wishes,

Richard Truesdell
The Onan pump is very low pressure, I just happen to have one as a spare. I got mine at Walt's RV Supplies in Rialto, CA, 10 bucks new. Check them out, they have a lot of RV supplies, cheap. They buy surplus and resale. I forwarded your article on the GMC to a buddy who is restoring his coach. I had a '78 Southwind, which is the little brother to your coach. Do you have the Dodge powertrain? Mine had the 440/727 combo.
On your fridge did you give it time to cool down? It's not like a residential fridge, takes time to get cold. the freezer will chill first. Be sure that the coach is fairly level. If you don't have auto levelers you will have to use blocks. Pick up this manual when you get a chance, you won't be sorry.
Amazon.com: RV Repair and Maintenance Manual: Updated and Expanded (RV Repair & Maintenance Manual) (0074470034957): Bob Livingston: Books
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Old 07-12-2011, 12:03 PM   #9
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Goldwinger,

Thanks for the advice. I have a Richardson's RV right around the corner from me and I'll check the price on the fuel pump there, if they stock it. If they have it I'll probably buy it otherwise I'll check out Walt's as I have to drive up to LA this afternoon to attend a Chrysler event tonight and tomorrow (driving all the new SRT models at Willow Springs).

I have levelers for my RV, tried to get it level this morning but they don't extend far enough (if you look at my pix you'll see I have it parked in front of my house) to get it level. I assume that's what the wood blocks are for in my storage compartment.

Being new to this, why does the coach need to be level to get the fridge to cool down and is this necessary when running on 110? (I tested the 110 outlet and it's live and feeling the coil, parked as it is, it was very hot to the touch). I'm hoping that I didn't damage the fridge by running it? What would cause the coil to get so hot? Bad compressor? It's an Ei Trav'ler, not a Dometic as I've seen in most coaches. Do you think that there is there some kind of protection circuit on the unit for the compressor?

Checked what I think is my water pump (under the sink) and it seems OK so I might fill the fresh water tank today, before I head to LA. Then when I get back Thursday morning I'll get the propane tank filled so I'll have hot water to shower. Taking things one at a time, which I think will be easier once I have the generator running.

Mine is a 454 Chevy-powered coach. I wonder what kind of mileage I can expect when it is properly tuned up?

Do you have any idea what a coach like mine sold for when new? I'm thinking about $40K in 1980. That's $110,000 in today's inflated dollars. That buys a pretty well-equipped Class A with slide outs, right?

Best wishes,

Richard Truesdell
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Old 07-12-2011, 12:19 PM   #10
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Fridges that run by gas absorption require leveling due to the way the ammonia gas in the coils move, whether using propane or electricity. The older the fridge, the more critical the leveling.

You WILL permanently ruin your fridge by running it unlevel.

The heat from the coils is perfectly normal and essential to the gas absorption refrigeration process. You can will note you have a grill and an open area which works as a chimney/stack at the back of your fridge, which leads to an opening covered with a vent on the roof. You need the free movement of air up and over those coils on your fridge for proper operation.

You will get around 5-7 miles per gallon with your 454 running well.
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Old 07-12-2011, 01:54 PM   #11
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Senior Chief,

Thanks for the explanation. I ran the fridge plugged in on 110 without it getting cold for close to 10 hours while I worked on the inside of the coach. When I get back home Thursday morning I will get it level and see if it kicks on. I wonder what sort of protection circuit it might have internally, to prevent damage if not level. I assume that you can run it while driving, and when doing so, it runs off the 12-volt deep cycle batteries. Remember, I'm totally new to this.

Just removed fuel pump, going to Richardson's by my house for a replacement, then I will see if I can get the generator running.

I wonder where, if there is one, where is a switch that will allow the rear A/C to kick on instead of the front unit or will it only run off the generator?

I just wish there was someone close by that could walk me through my motorhome like the seller should have. The problem is I know more about the coach than he did.

Best wishes,

Richard Truesdell
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Old 07-12-2011, 02:05 PM   #12
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The fridge will run on propane (or 12 volt, but only if you have a 3-way fridge; i.e 110VAC, 12VDC and propane vs more common propane & 110VAC) while running down the road. No issues with leveling because the normal sway while in motion will keep the ammonia moving adequately.

Sorry, there are no internal protection circuits on your fridge. It will do its best to run, level or unlevel but if the ammonia is trapped and won't flow due to being unlevel, you are SOL.

10 hours is adequate for the fridge to cool down- certainly try it again with the coach leveled (actually level the inside of the fridge) but you may find your unit is toast. If necessary, you can buy a new Amish cooling unit for your Lil Trav'ler for somewhere in the $400-500 range.

If both ACs are hard-wired, there will be a selector switch somewhere for your front and rear ACs (our switch is inside a front cupboard) It may be a dial switch or may look like a light switch, and may no longer be labeled.
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Old 07-12-2011, 02:28 PM   #13
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Do you have any idea what a coach like mine sold for when new? I'm thinking about $40K in 1980. That's $110,000 in today's inflated dollars. That buys a pretty well-equipped Class A with slide outs, right?

Best wishes,

Richard Truesdell.
NADA shows the list price as 28,285 in 1980, the 35 footer was 29,000.
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Old 07-12-2011, 03:52 PM   #14
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Went to Richardson's by my house, have to special order the OE Onan part for around $160.

Called Walt's RV, waiting for a call back. The person I talked to said I was the second request today. i wonder if someone here called on my behalf. I may stop by on my way up to LA.

Researched on the web, seems that the Airtex E8016S Electric Fuel Pump is the go-to aftermarket solution for around $40. Seems like a no-brainer to me. NAPA or AutoZone should have the part or something similar.

Has anyone reading this gone this route?

I'll start working on the coach Thursday morning, really appreciate all the help I've found here.

Best wishes,

Richard Truesdell
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