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Old 10-21-2015, 07:52 PM   #1
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1977 Winnebago Elandan 440 Chrysler Engine Review?

I know it is an older motorhome, but there is just something about it that makes me want to drive two and a half hours to look at her and maybe make an offer? Do any of you have any first hand knowledge of this old rig? Be it good, bad or ugly I would appreciate any input!

Thanks Folks!

Mike
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Old 10-21-2015, 07:59 PM   #2
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That dodge chassis will pass just about anything...but a gas station.
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Old 10-22-2015, 12:31 AM   #3
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If I remember right, the Dodge chassis had a brake booster that has become very hard to find a replacement? You might do some checking on that before making a offer!! And TQ60 is right, they like the gas!!
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Old 10-22-2015, 02:03 AM   #4
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Something else to think about is that a 1977 engine would likely (unless it was built for the California market) be built for leaded fuel. If you plan on doing a lot of miles, you'd definitely want to make sure you had additives, since running a leaded motor on unleaded will shorten its lifespan (on the other hand, if you use it 2-3,000 miles a year, it'd likely still last forever on unleaded).

Also, check if it has 16.5" wheels -- if it does, you'll want to factor in that it's now a pretty orphan size and I know some people have struggled to find tires in that size now.

In general, as others have said, lots of parts will be harder to find these days. Given how relatively inexpensive early 1990s motorhomes are these days (and how much newer and more modern they will be), it's hard to recommend a truly 'vintage' coach on a financial basis (although they can be fun if you want the vintage experience).

Steve
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Old 10-22-2015, 02:56 PM   #5
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Actually, unleaded gas use started in 1974 so a '77 would be built for it.

As Steve and Rail point out, some parts will be difficult to source. I believe 1979 was the last year Dodge/Chrysler made any RV chassis. I would be looking at coaches at least 10 years newer.
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Old 10-22-2015, 03:43 PM   #6
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In those years it was mainly a ca thing so unless sold new in ca it was not designed for unleaded.

It was many years later until they figured out how to get it right.

Mainly fuel injection
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Old 10-24-2015, 09:33 AM   #7
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As far as the leaded/unleaded gas issue. Detroit it its penny-pinching wisdom formerly used mild steel valves and valve seats, depending on the lead in the gasoline to act as a lubricant. Without the lead in the gasoline the valves would wear out very quickly. The answer is to remove the heads and replace the valves with hardened steel or stainless valves and have hardened steel valve seats installed. I had to have that done on a 4 cylinder boat engine and it cost me about $320 for head work alone so I imagine you could multiply the 440 cost by two, not to mention having to remove and reinstall the heads and sundry costs such as a head gasket kit and other parts.

What upsets me about the valve issue is that I remember having to do valve jobs, typically at between 50-75k on early cars I owned. I’ve had valves last 300k in modern car engines. And Detroit wonders why the Japanese were able to come over in the 1970’s and kick their cheap butts.

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Old 10-31-2015, 08:29 PM   #8
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Dodge started using the 440-3 engine in motor homes in 1974. All 440-3 Motor home engines used hardened steel valves to support the unleaded gas requirement. The compression ratio was reduced 8.12 to 1 also.
Brake parts are still available for 74 and later chassis'. M300 chassis used Master-Vac booster. M400-M500 originally used Hydro-Vac booster. All chassis had migrated to Hydroboost by 79.
During 70's and 80's all Class A Gas Motorhome chassis (Dodge, Chevy, John Deere, Ford) got around 7-9 mpg.
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Old 11-10-2015, 09:09 AM   #9
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So... did you go look at it?
If 1977 Dodge, it will be a M500 chassis with front disk brakes.. Will have a 440-3, 727 and a 4:56 rear end. If it has been sitting for a long period, the biggest issue may be the brakes. May need new rear wheel cylinders, etc.
My 77 will spank a UPS truck leaving a red light and pull a 3500 lb trailer like it's not even back there while getting 7.8 mpg as long as I keep the speed at 60mph. Original 70K mile engine... have yet to have any issues due to unleaded fuel.
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Old 11-10-2015, 08:48 PM   #10
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The older 440's and the 413's before that were very strong and sturdy engines. They were mated to a 727 automatic that had a very low failure rate. I used to work in a Dodge dealership that did the medium/heavy duty truck segment. Chrysler owned this motorhome market at that time.
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Old 11-12-2015, 10:27 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 77Travco View Post
So... did you go look at it?
If 1977 Dodge, it will be a M500 chassis with front disk brakes.. Will have a 440-3, 727 and a 4:56 rear end. If it has been sitting for a long period, the biggest issue may be the brakes. May need new rear wheel cylinders, etc.
My 77 will spank a UPS truck leaving a red light and pull a 3500 lb trailer like it's not even back there while getting 7.8 mpg as long as I keep the speed at 60mph. Original 70K mile engine... have yet to have any issues due to unleaded fuel.
Going to go take a 1993 Damon Challenger (Chevy Chassis 454 Engine) for a test ride Saturday. Parts availability much better.

Mike
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Old 11-18-2015, 06:52 PM   #12
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Well, first time ever behind the wheel of a Class A Motorhome and it was really cool! Drove the 1993 Damon Challenger 45 miles and was very impressed with the ride, handling and mostly the awesome view going down the road! 22,472 miles on her. Owner says the MPG is around five miles per gallon!! Yikes! I guess it just comes down to asking yourself, "Is it worth it"? Stay tuned...
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Old 11-19-2015, 06:53 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Brown View Post
Well, first time ever behind the wheel of a Class A Motorhome and it was really cool! Drove the 1993 Damon Challenger 45 miles and was very impressed with the ride, handling and mostly the awesome view going down the road! 22,472 miles on her. Owner says the MPG is around five miles per gallon!! Yikes! I guess it just comes down to asking yourself, "Is it worth it"? Stay tuned...
My 1994 33' Class A Holiday Rambler has a Ford 460 V8 and on my recent trip from San Marcos TX to Sierra Vista AZ, with a brand new rebuilt engine, I was getting 6-6.5mpg pulling a toad, but I did between 70-75mph the entire way. If I could control my heavy foot and keep her at 60-65 I'm sure I would've done better. Like I said, I have a Ford but I imagine your GM should get about the same gas mileage as mine. I'm sure some GM owners will be chiming in soon.

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Old 11-19-2015, 10:38 AM   #14
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Mike I have a class A with a v10 ford. My mpg is 7-7 1/2 travelling @ 60 mph. You'll find most coaches regardless of size or engine make will get the best mpg between 58 - 62 mph. Any faster than that will really affect mpg.
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