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Old 04-25-2014, 08:17 AM   #1
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1974 Travco

Since October, I've been working on putting a 27' 1974 Travco 270 back on the road.

She's powered by a 440, and has 98K showing on the odometer.

It's a travco, so water penetration has been limited to crappy window seals, and the fridge vent.



This is what it looked like when I made the offer of $800, which was $1200 less than she wanted. However, even with a fresh battery we couldn't get it to do anything... not even a dash light. Also notice that it was sunk to the frame in the dirt. It hasn't moved in 15 years.


A really big tow truck hauled it to a mechanic shop 7 miles away, for $195

Once at the shop for a check out it became obvious that my minor hopefully minor problems were anything but minor. The engine wiring harness was completely melted and a mess. The old lady taht sold it to me said it ran a year or two ago but failed to mention that it CAUGHT FIRE!!! I spent many hours on the phone trying to find a wiring harness... remember this thing is forty years old... parts aren't just on shelves. AZ RV Salvage in Phoenix had one they would send. Got it, had the shop install it,a nd then found out they chopped it off at the dog house.... called them back and had another one sent up. With shipping this cost me another couple hundred bucks.

The cause of the fire was a shoddy repair job and miswiring of the alternator, so a new 65amp alternator was also installed, as was a new cap and rotor.



Now that it'd move on its own power, the brakes had to be inspected... rear brakes were completely seized and out of adjustment. New lines were installed, brake adjusters removed, cleaned, unfrozen, and re-installed. and everything just sorta knocked apart and inspected. Stopping is important!

In March, a full five months after the purchase, I finally got to take it on its first drive. Went about 15 or 20 miles, made a huge list of additional mechanical work, and knew it was time to start figuring out what I was doing on the inside.

This is what I was starting with


We removed mountains of crap


I yanked out a dinette / tiny bed that would work for a single but was no way going to work as my only double bed ( to be replaced with a futon) and determined that the wall immediately behind the driver was completely thrashed from water leaking in the window. I replaced the wall.





Then it was time to start painting. Everything. The walls, the ceilings, the doors, the window trim. It's all getting a coat of high build primer, and a coat of high gloss enamel. So far all I've done is lay down the primer. Lots of taping... so much taping... for every 5 minutes of spraying primer I was taping for 2 hours.





Then I had to go out of town for a few weeks so I decided to get it to the mechanic for a tune up. A different mechanic that's more into old stuff, and $20 an hour cheaper.

I got back, the mechanic forgot he had it (mod edited term!), he's working on it again, dropping the gas tank, douching out the rust, tuning the carb, and checking out the loose steering.

Meanwhile I found some fabric I liked...


Made the 100 mile trip to gather the rear beds for recovery, bought all that the local fabric store had (about 7 yards) and ordered another 6 yards from the internet. The only thing I've ever recovered in my life is some dining room chairs. This wasn't a whole lot different, just a lot bigger. And the stripes sort of made me mental making sure they were straight. I got three out of the four bunk bed pieces redone. The fourth had significant water damage and idiotic repair work that caused enough damage it will have to be rebuilt.

Took the old fabric off


Used it for a template


Got the big side of one of the bunk beds done


Completed an entire bunk bed


Hmmm this doesn't look good




(Mod Edit)... really?


Finished the big side of the 2nd bunk bed


The back of things





Which brings me now to present day, The mechanic is still working on it for a tune up. I need to rebuild the rotted portion of the bunk bed, and we have to sew new covers for the mattress pads.

I still have a lot of painting to do, primer touch ups, and the glossy enamel, and lots of trim pieces to hit with a rattle can.

Then I will rip out the carpet... which will undoubtedly lead to ripping out significant sections of flooring. Which will then get repaired, and recovered with probably pergo but that's yet to be determined.

I have to get new steer tires, I may or may not get new drive tires.

I still don't know if the generator, the furnace, plumbing, or fridge work.

Oh and I have to find a futon that will fit in the space where the dinette used to be. With regards to eating... we'll setup a skinny folding table at the rear of the coach between the two folding bunkbed / couches ... where our family of six can all eat dinner together.
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Old 04-25-2014, 08:32 AM   #2
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Wow. Alot of work. Good thing is you will know everything there is to know about the rig when your done. Don't know what it is about a Travco but of all the things my brother has ever owned the one thing he regrets selling is his Travco (he bought a 1978 Champion). Best of luck with the rest of the project and for sure, replace those old drive tires before you hit the road.
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Old 04-25-2014, 08:37 AM   #3
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Quite a project!! You said it had been sitting 15 years.

"I have to get new steer tires, I may or may not get new drive tires."

Check the date codes on the sidewall, RV tires don't usually wear out, they time out. Most replace if they are 7 years old.
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Old 04-25-2014, 08:49 AM   #4
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The steer tires are getting done without question. The drive tires don't show any obvious signs of cracking or being too shoddy, but I have a line on six newish 19.5's that I can probably afford.

A hundred here doesn't hurt the wallet too much, but laying out over a grand at once for rubber will make me feel poor.

So far the biggest expense by far was having the new wiring harness installed, brakes adjusted etc... that was nearly $1900.

I expect the current mechanic to at or above a grand as well.
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Old 04-25-2014, 12:28 PM   #5
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I do not know my Dodge truck motors as well as passenger car engines but-have your mech check the play in the timing chain. (not hard to do just watch the distributor vs crank rotation) At your mileage and age of engine the nylon cam gear is close to its life. But your truck motor might have a steel cam gear. I know your heads are unique to truck motors-extra water cooling around the spark plugs. Nice rig
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Old 04-25-2014, 01:34 PM   #6
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Not having actually pulled any engine apart ever... I do believe that the 440-3 (which I'm pretty certain is what's in this beast). was engineered with a much more robust steel rather than nylon gear.

As well as some cam, head, distributor, waterpump, and thermostat differences.

My grandpa was actually a motorhome dealer (of sorts) with mid 70's Chrysler powered coaches... and he was the one telling me the differences between the "truck" motors and the regular car big-blocks.

Firstly though, the rust in the tank needs to be dumped out so it's not going through the fuel system, cracked and deteriorated lines will get replaced. New plug wires are on the way, and it's almost certain that I'll have to replace at least the drivers side exhaust manifold.

My goal for this spring is make it serviceable for the summer, and then after a season of use I'm sure I'll have a fairly good winter to-do list.
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Old 04-25-2014, 01:47 PM   #7
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Welcome aboard and glad you joined us. Whoa! Now that's a project but I commend you in putting in the effort. Keep us posted on your progress. It's nice to see some of the older rigs being restored. Good luck and have fun.
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Old 04-26-2014, 07:29 PM   #8
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Lots of work there. With 19.5" tires, you have the RM400 chassis (redesignated to M500). If the tires have been on it for at least 15 years then please replace them. You do not want to tear up that fiberglass body due to a blowout. I take it you have also acquired the chassis service manual and parts manuals. Cross referencing the original Dodge P/N to a aftermarket P/N is usually the easiest way to locate parts.
1) The 440-3 uses a skirted thermostat (Mr. Gasket #4367)
2) The 440-3 uses a Champion RV9YC peanut plug (5/8 inch, 14mm thread gasketless taper plug) where a passenger car 440-1 uses a RJ12YC (13/16 inch, 14mm thread gasket plug)


3) The 440-3 head has additional water cooling passages. Uses different head gaskets and Intake manifold gaskets.
4) Many people replace the Thermoquad with a Edelbrock carb. However, most parts for the TQ are still available through NAPA (including brass floats).
5) Follow the service manual procedure religiously for exhaust manifold bolt tightening. 440-3 are notorious for recurring exhaust leaks.

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Old 05-01-2014, 06:42 PM   #9
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Nice work!!
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Old 05-02-2014, 08:35 AM   #10
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wow a labor of love for sure. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 05-14-2014, 12:15 AM   #11
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May 2, 2014

Picked it up today… and gave away another $750 dollars… and this time all I got for it was the gas tank dropped and the fuel lines checked out, and the timing adjusted.

I’m not pleased. When the owner of the shop returns we’re going to have some more discussion.

Five weeks and the only thing he did was waste time messing around with the gas tank. Still need to get the king pins done. Still need to get the exhaust leak sorted out.

Only about a five mile trip home, the thing over heated and started making so much noise and steam … and burning smell I thought there was a fire. Seriously I was ready to jump out and run and watch my toy go up in a ball of flames.

It wasn’t.

I went and bought the biggest fire extinguisher that would fit near the driver.

…sigh.
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Old 05-14-2014, 12:16 AM   #12
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May 4, 2014
Well now that it’s been in the 60′s we can do so much more! No more need to run the heater for a few hours to warm the inside up enough to work.

I laid down a the final paint, a few layers thick on most surfaces. There is a few places I’m going to have to hit with the brush but my god it’s amazing what a difference the white makes. It was really wonderful taking the plastic off the windows and really getting to see what things look like.

Power washed, and scrubbed the outside. It was absolutely filthy. Jamie did most of the scrubbing while I was inside doing the painting. On Saturday we used the power washer to hose off all the cotton-wood garbage. Jamie got after it with a magic eraser and it was incredibly impressive how well things cleaned up.

I direct wired the water pump, it came on but I got no water … the thing is obviously original, and someone has done some really awful hack-job wiring it. it’s on the replace list .

I fired up the generator, it did run , but poorly… needs a tune-up badly. But, yeay it works and it powers the 110 stuff like it’s supposed to.

I yanked out the carpet too, it was easy, lightly glued down and I was pleased with the condition of the floor beneath.

Here's the pictures:
Clean & Paint - Imgur
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Old 05-14-2014, 12:19 AM   #13
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May 13, 2014

So I decided to take Friday off work and work on the camper… mostly with the goal of getting the water pump replaced and seeing how the plumbing is doing.

I started off by ripping out all the whacked out wiring that the PO installed… seriously what the heck. Straight off the battery, to a 110 light switch, completely bypassing the control panel and pump switch.

Removed the old pump, it was garbage. Installed the new pump. Direct wired it (to just test the plumbing… and yippee everything actually works! I noticed a small leak in the bathroom sink drain. And a big crack and leak in the black tank. I also noticed what seemed like a whole lot of water in the hot water heater area (which surprised me by being electric only). I then tackled the crazy control panel and found that all the wiring was still in place, just disconnected. I used fresh wire nuts and cleaned everything up and now running as it should through the control panel.

Saturday, Jamie and I spent the day running around trying to find a local source for smart tiles. No luck. We also went to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and got a nice hunk of carpet for $50

Sunday was Mom’s day , and we had plans to hang out with Jamie’s family, but I started off early enough that I ripped out the leaky water heater, the disgusting carpet , and several large chunks of copper piping.

I roughed in PEX and will be replacing nearly all the piping, next weekend I will get the required connectors and get everything hooked up and tested out again.

Pictures:
water everywhere - Imgur
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Old 05-15-2014, 08:14 AM   #14
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Boy your interior fabric is almost like mine. Have any worth saving? good enough for me too buy? My barrel chairs arm rest may need replacing in a few years and yours is pretty close to mine.
Tim.
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