Terry I too inherited a 1989 Southwind 30' about 5 years ago and have been enjoying it ever since. My parents bought it brand new, so I am very familiar with its good and bad points. Mine has the 460 Ford with 4 barrel carb & Banks headers, a John Deer Chasis with Mor-Ride suspension and only 36K miles. Five years ago I spent some $ to get it up to usable/boondockable condition and it has met every expectation since then. Here's what I did to get it up to usable condition. But right up front I warn you that the only way to make this all economically feasible is to do most of the work yourself:
1. New EPDM Liquid Rubber roof coating - put it on myself for the cost materials & 2 days labor (see Pro Guard Coatings The Manufacturer of Liquid Roof and Liquid Rubber
- 5 gal pail plus, seam tape and tools. This stuff is fantastic and relatively cheap if you install it yourself. I would agree that the Southwind's roof was highly leak prone as it came from Fleetwood. Mine has several dry rot areas in the side panels as a result of years of leaking. But no more leaks! As to the dry rot and fixing the Filon, see below.
2. New rubber belts/hoses
3. New front shocks
4. New front fan
5. New Onan generator control board & carb cleaning
6. New fluids including: oil/filters motor/gen, trans, diff
7. 4 new Costco 6v golf cart batteries for coach & 1 new engine battery. Coach now has 440 aH of 12v power when running on batteries. Fleetwood did a horrible job wiring this MH! I re-did most of the 12v battery cables when I installed these great & very economical batteries with the solar system described below. Be absolutely certain that your neg is grounded directly to the chasis! Mine was not and this one thing gave mom & dad years of problems.
8. 2 - 205 watt solar panels wired in series thru a Blue Sky charge controller & a remote monitor/control panel above the driver. (get cheaper non UL "blemished" panels from Solar Panels, PV Systems and Inverters Distributor
). In cloudless midday sky's, these babies put out almost 30 amps of charging! Installation of these is critical!! DO NOT use the standard 10 ga wire that comes with most panels. I used 2 ga stranded cable from the roof mounted panels (near the rear) to the charge controller that is mounted on the sidewall by the drivers foot. It is then less than 3' to the batteries and also less than 3' from them to the inverter (critical) on the other side of the firewall. The rear AC did not work so I removed it to make room for these fairly large panels. The panels are mounted so that they can be tilted left or right to increase panel efficiency.
9. Installed a Xantrex 2000 watt ProSine inverter under dash above motor mount. This is wired to two new switches in the elec panel under the fridge, allowing the inverter to power all 120v outlets throughout the coach. The switches allow power source selection (Shore-Gen or Inverter & the ability to turn off the stock charger-converter when running off batteries).
10. Replaced 4 bulbs with LEDs to conserve boondocking power (1.6 amp vs .2 !!)
11. 2 - cheap 20" flat screen TVs (1 mounted above driver across old hole between overhead cab)
12. Replaced dated carpet throughout with DuPont tile-look foam backed interlocking flooring from Home Depot. Floor is now easy care & coach is much much quieter on the road. This stuff looks like tile but weighs no more than laminate (like Pergo). I use 6 rubber backed bathroom throw carpets from Costco to keep everything soft/warm. These are washable so coach clean out is a snap. Just shake and sweep!
13. Cut aluminum insulating bubble wrap from Home Depot to fit all windows when in storage.
14. Winegard Mini-Max satellite dome antenna mounted on roof just behind the front AC and a non-HD Directv box in the overhead cabinet feeds both TVs.
15. Replaced the cheesy original & leaking kitchen faucet with a regular house kitchen faucet with sprayer.
16. New Turbo wash internal tank spray systems on both gray and black water tanks make flushing them a snap (no more dragging filthy hoses inside!).
17. Several other items including regular washing and waxing, flushing the water heater, etc...
Ok, that's a fairly extensive list! But before I undertook all of this, I had to justify the expense versus simply going newer. My thinking was that I could add about $5k of stuff to what amounted to a "free" motorhome and have all of the utility of a new model for tens of thousands less. With this rig, I do not worry about traveling a dirt road to that perfect boondock site or that someone might break into it while I am at a commercial campground. Why would they when there is a beautiful $200K diesel pusher parked right next door? Add in much cheaper insurance/annual license fees, with no monthly loan payments plus the fact that I know my parents took good care of it since new, and the decision was easy.
My biggest problem now is that sidewall dry rot issue. Five years ago when I did the big upgrade, I got estimates from a local RV specialty shop for a dry rot clean out and re-Filon job. The estimate was $15K to carve out the "cancer", re-skin the sides with Filon then do a complete body paint including the front/rear caps. At that time I elected to postpone the decision. There is simply no way I would get my $ back if I were to spend this much. Now, I am considering an upgrade to something like a mid-90's Blue Bird. This really would make more sense but it is hard to part with mon & dad's pride and joy. With this in mind I am trying to decide whether to spring for new tires or just sell the Southwind. It has been 8 years since dad replaced them. Although the tread is like new and I have religiously kept them covered when stored, it is time to replace them IF I plan on continuing to use the Southwind. Then there's the emotional attachment of climbing the steps and "seeing" dad laying on his couch or mom sitting accross from me at the dinette table laughing. Decisions, decisions... Life is full of them.
Lastly, I hope you got some good out of this lengthy post and best wishes with your antique.