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Old 07-02-2009, 12:59 AM   #1
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1979 Dodge Vogue Revival - Motorhome Checklist

Hello to all, i just revived a 1979 Dodge Vogue motorcoach, and would like to share my problems and solutions with you.

Maybe this might be helpful to owners of newer motorcoaches as well.

Please be aware that i am not a professional, and on top of that human, so my solutions might be less than perfect or downright stupid.

List of things to do when you check a motorhome which is older than one year:
  • interior sniff: is it smelly?
  • interior looks: any visible stains/signs of humidity? (floor, walls, ceiling), especially corners, kitchen, bathroom - open all compartments, check under carpet
  • outside: take out a couple of screws from exposed areas (windows awnings, roof corners, ...) and check for rust - if there is rust, take out more screws to pinpoint the source - expect serious water damage. Especially fishy are screws used to mount (after sale) accessories (roof ladder, bike carriers, handles, etc.)
  • use a moisture measuring device: check the whole interior (floor, walls, ceiling), write the result on a post-it and stick it to the point where you measured. This should be done every 40 inch, covering the whole interior. If all results are the same (and low) - good. If the numbers are uneven and rise close to critical areas - keep measuring until you pinpoint the leak.
  • If you identified a leak, open the area around it (inside and outside - especially below it), and check for water damage. Be aware that water can travel long distances undetected and might leak out far from the point it came in.
  • donīt be shy to rip out all suspicious material - do it nice or do it twice is my rule for these things.
  • It might be necessary to spray the leaky area from the outside with a water hose and use toilet paper to look for humidity, or use a strong light to find leaks - dont`stop until you are sure about the root cause of the leak.
  • I definitely cannot access the suspicious location from the inside, because it is behind furniture, bath, ...?
Ok, before you go any further: this is a last resort if there is no other way, and should only be done if:
  1. your motorcoach has a sandwich type wall (e.g. GFK/Styrodur/GFK/wood)
  2. you made absolutely clear that behind the hole you are about to cut there are no power lines, plumbing (water, gas) and that you will not cut through any supporting structures (wooden or metall beams)
  3. you painted the cut lines nicely and rectangular, parallel to the vehicle structure and
  4. thought long and hard if the hole might be designed to be useful later (vent, trash box, luggage compartment, safe, ...). Check if there is a cover available and size the hole accordingly.
  • take a jigsaw and carefully cut a nice rectangular hole in the wall, make sure not to damage the cut part, as you might need it to re close the hole later.
  • if your wall is sandwich the you can reclose the hole with the cut part and pu-foam (attention - only use the water proof type for well sealing) which you spray into the cut gap - the foam will expand and seal the whole cut (cover with tape to keep the foam from dribbling onto the walls. I used aluminum ledges to cover the cuts from the outside, doesn`t look too bad (i hope)
  • use a jigsaw blade, which is not longer than the wall thickness (blade fully extended) as not to cut structures behind the wall
This is usually the point to reconsider your decision to buy, sell or burn the motorcoach, be advised that if you cannot repair water damage yourself things will get very quickly very expensive - it might be better to look for alternatives.

There are two basic types of motorhomes:
Sandwich wall motorhomes and the ones with sheet metal walls with glass wool (or other) insulation in between.

the sandwich type (most older us motorhomes) uses a metal structure for stability, and can handle water damage far better than the sheet metal wall type (most European motorhomes) which usually use wooden beams for stability.

A wet sandwich wall will usually rot on the inside wooden layer. The rotten wooden layer can be scratched off and repaired with no damage to the structural stability of the motorhome - if the metal supporting beams are not heavily rusted, which is possible but rare.

If sheet metal wall type gets wet, the wooden beams are being kept wet and warm in the wet insulation and will start rotting fast - meaning total destruction in a couple of years.
The problem is that many sheet metal wall motorhomes with rotten beams look nice, but are being kept together by the sheet metal wall itself, which is not very stable. So the whole body moves a lot while driving and more and more cracks develop, more leaks, more beams rot and so on.

Why is that - are the manufacturers of sheet metal wall type motorhomes all criminals who build cheap?

I think there is more to that: first, when the sheet metal wall type was introduced in europe, motorhomes were smaller and lighter and could cope with the forces created while driving e.g. over bumbholes or cornering.

Then, as customers requested more space and comfort, they grew bigger and heavier, loaded with creature comforts like central heating, big refrigeratores, toilets ,water and sewage tanks, tv, microwave, a rubber boat on the roof, bikes in the back and so on.

Only ten years ago, rooftop a/c`s were very rare in Europe. Now everybody wants them, and they represent a heavy load on the weakest part of the motorhome - the roof.

In the US of A, bigger was always better and rooftop A/Cīs were common for 30 years, so there was never a real choice for maufacturers.

Ok let`s move on - you decided to go for it - next steps:

  • leaky or not - start replacing/reasiling all exposed outside seals:
  • take off all plastic or aluminium rails (a heat gun can be helpful), corner covers, guards and so on that you can rip off the body and check for water.
  • clean all seal surfaces with degreaser (remove all old sealant with thinner), put plenty of new sealant (no silicone, the acid is bad for aluminium) an e.g. the rail und screw it back on - the excess sealant should be squeezed out along all edges. (masking tape might be a good idea) - remove the excess sealant with a spattel (there are special rubber spattels for this job which create smooth round or straight edges)
Just scraping of the old sealant without removing the rail/cover/guard will not do the job!

On older RV`s i do recommend to take out all windows, vents and doors for resealing.

I currently use one4all as sealant, i do know that there are professional products on the market, but if you spend more than 20 cartridges (and you will) it makes a difference whether you spend 5 or 15 Euros per cartridge and the price should not keep you from using the stuff generously.

Thatīs all for now, please leave comments/corrections and tell me whether you like my input and let me know your own ideas on the subject.


If you like me to go on, electrics will be the next chapter.
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Old 04-01-2011, 11:20 AM   #2
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Thanks for the tips, I recently bought the same make and year as yours, and have been having a blast working on it. Do you have any pictures of your rig?
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Old 04-01-2011, 07:01 PM   #3
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i come from an automotive restoration background, with a short side trip into cabin cruisers and houseboats some time back. all your points are on target and especially the notion of not holding back on getting rid of damp damage. in cars, there is no dealing with rust except to replace it; i look at rot the same way. it HAS to go and solid material go back in it's place where applicable. our '84 Fleetwood Southwind 33' has some leaks that have caused some rot on the inside, but it is built on a steel tube frame and sheathed with fiberglas, so eliminating the source of the leak and getting the rot out won't severely compromise the integrity of the hull.

what DOES sort of aggravate me is the closeness of flammable material to things i would LIKE to do some welding on, to add structural stiffness to a couple of deficient areas that concern me. the entire interior is made up of "stuff that burns like wildfire" IMHO. i suppose a raft of welding blankets and a couple of sharp-eyed assistants with CO2 extinguishers at the ready.....
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Old 04-01-2011, 07:32 PM   #4
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I'd like to see some pictures of this gem as well.
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Old 04-01-2011, 07:44 PM   #5
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Thanks for this input, I will be pulling the AC units off...as well as the railings on mine to re-seal and check for rot. On the inside there is some shrinkage, wrinkling and curling of the headliner around the AC's, so I suspect there are some issues there.
I got a question: Is it possible for those few corner areas of the headliner to be steamed off to clean the underside, so to re-positioned/glue it back on flat?
Also where do you find "One4All" sealant mentioned?
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Old 07-24-2011, 12:13 PM   #6
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bobadi, how did your re-sealing of the roof go? I have a unit like yours from the looks of your avatar. I have some sag in the roof by the A/C unit and want to do something with it and then re-seal the whole roof.
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Old 11-30-2011, 04:02 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Enew View Post
bobadi, how did your re-sealing of the roof go? I have a unit like yours from the looks of your avatar. I have some sag in the roof by the A/C unit and want to do something with it and then re-seal the whole roof.
I suppose the right way would be to tear it all out and re-do everything, but I did not have enough time for that having a meet I was scheduled to attend, and the wood was not-so-completely-bad. I think the 1-1/2" framing is redwood? The glue was deteriorated, and joints loose, so I beefed them up with fresh gorilla-glue and corner braces at the vent and A/C openings. The real issue was that the inner veneer was peeling off the Styrofoam sheeting. This I am sure helps with tensional strength, and may the issue of your sagging? My quick and dirty fix was to wedge up the sheeting and remove/clean as much as I could deeply reach around the openings, (vacuum with smaller hoses etc,) I drove off-level so it would run where I wanted, and then pumped-in epoxy of the kind that DOES NOT melt Styrofoam. Layering both sides of the deteriorating veneer, and wedging with props to a sheet of plywood, to push up the ceiling from the interior, and with chunks of cement/bags of sand on the roof; I managed to compress this sandwich together...it worked?!! I do keep to the sides when i walk on the roof, but so far it looks OK! The A/C's on mine have an interesting plastic flange which not many RV repair folks know about. It raises the A/C up off of the roof, and I do now believe it needs a wooden support/riser which bolsters it. (Mine was missing, perhaps rotted and thrown away from someone's former repair?) That is something you should look out for, as I do believe I need to re-do my re-seal with this riser made and installed. (I have a leak)
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Old 11-30-2011, 05:37 PM   #8
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I don't think you addressed the aluminum framed, aluminum skinned and styrofoamed insulated variety. This is an older Holiday Rambler showing the framing and insulation. They tend to hold up well. Well, not this particular motor home. It's in a salvage yard.

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Old 12-01-2011, 08:02 PM   #9
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Ouch, Someone left the water on!!!
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Old 07-12-2012, 04:47 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by bobadi View Post
I suppose the right way would be to tear it all out and re-do everything, but I did not have enough time for that having a meet I was scheduled to attend, and the wood was not-so-completely-bad. I think the 1-1/2" framing is redwood? The glue was deteriorated, and joints loose, so I beefed them up with fresh gorilla-glue and corner braces at the vent and A/C openings. The real issue was that the inner veneer was peeling off the Styrofoam sheeting. This I am sure helps with tensional strength, and may the issue of your sagging? My quick and dirty fix was to wedge up the sheeting and remove/clean as much as I could deeply reach around the openings, (vacuum with smaller hoses etc,) I drove off-level so it would run where I wanted, and then pumped-in epoxy of the kind that DOES NOT melt Styrofoam. Layering both sides of the deteriorating veneer, and wedging with props to a sheet of plywood, to push up the ceiling from the interior, and with chunks of cement/bags of sand on the roof; I managed to compress this sandwich together...it worked?!! I do keep to the sides when i walk on the roof, but so far it looks OK! The A/C's on mine have an interesting plastic flange which not many RV repair folks know about. It raises the A/C up off of the roof, and I do now believe it needs a wooden support/riser which bolsters it. (Mine was missing, perhaps rotted and thrown away from someone's former repair?) That is something you should look out for, as I do believe I need to re-do my re-seal with this riser made and installed. (I have a leak)

Well the leak was an easy fix.

I just rolled out a layer of Butyl Putty Tape on both the top and bottom of the new foam gasket. Yeah this rig does have a riser, but it seemed strong enough though not supported as I think it should be.
I hear some folks say just seal the part of the gasket that does not have adhesive, but that did not work for me.
Sealing both the upper and lower of this gasket has proven reliable through miles of use and with and heavy rain.

And my roof "fix" still seems tight.
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