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Old 10-19-2013, 04:55 PM   #1
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Just bought a 1974 Fleetwood Southwind, Chassis question.

I just purchased a 1974 Southwind, this RV was well taken care of when in use and has been parked inside a barn for 15 years, protected from the elements.

I've been looking at 'bargain' motorhomes for about a month, and what stood out about this one was no water damage anywhere, the ceiling is perfect, the structure (bones) solid as a rock. The interior is complete and it has roof air and the optional generator. Everything is there and in good shape. This has been rare in my searches, most are half parted out, vandalized and rotten.

I've heard it run briefly, and believe that after a tune up and maybe a carb clean it should purr like a kitten.

The brakes are out, the pedal goes straight to the floor, and as far as I can tell its the master cylinder.

The RV is 200 miles from here and I just got home, but while there I couldn't find anything to indicate which chassis its built on. I know it has a 440 engine, so Dodge, but how would I find what chassis it is so I can get parts together?

My intention is to fix it where it sits, as towing it will likely be incredibly expensive.. really a tune up and some fluid changes, plus getting brake pressure is about all it should need to make the trip home. The tires are definitely due for replacement, but they have plenty of tread and show no visible cracks or checking.. I think if I go easy they will likely be good enough to make the trip home anyway.

I'm pretty stoked, this RV is in fantastic shape for its age, and with a little work I should be able to give this southwind a second wind.

Any help on what chassis they may have used for these would be a great help, hoping someone here has had one and knows off the top of their head.
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Old 10-19-2013, 05:00 PM   #2
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Welcome to IRV 2. Best of luck with your new RV.
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Old 10-19-2013, 09:53 PM   #3
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5 lug rims say:

If you have 17" split rims then it is a 73 M375 chassis with a 413 motor (spark plugs access above exhaust manifold). Most likely has front drum brakes

If you have 19.5" tubeless rims then it is a 74 RM400 chassis (Redesignated to M500 by Dodge) with a 440-3 (spark plugs access below exhaust manifold). Has front disc brakes.

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Old 10-19-2013, 10:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave78Chief View Post
5 lug rims say:

If you have 17" split rims then it is a 73 M375 chassis with a 413 motor (spark plugs access above exhaust manifold). Most likely has front drum brakes

If you have 19.5" tubeless rims then it is a 74 RM400 chassis (Redesignated to M500 by Dodge) with a 440-3 (spark plugs access below exhaust manifold). Has front disc brakes.

Dave
Well, they weren't split rims and plug access is below exhaust manifolds, so it looks like RM400 thanks!
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Old 10-19-2013, 10:23 PM   #5
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Before putting a new master cylinder on it, better check the condition of the brake lines. Sitting that long, perhaps a steel line has rusted out or a flexible line has rotted or been chewed. In addition, "protected from the elements" is not true, it was exposed to oxygen, humidity, and other things that can degrade important systems. Before moving it I'd change all belts, hoses, and fluids, including gas in the tank. 15 year old gas could do serious damage to engine components. Grease drive train and suspension. Tires sitting for more than 15 years, (check date codes on sidewall) can look perfect and blow as soon as they warm up. I'd remove tires, check or rebuild brakes, and take the wheels to a tire shop and get all new tires all around. You might be buying a 'cherry' motorhome, but sitting that long still has some potential issues, and expense if any of the components mentioned break on the first trip.
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Old 10-19-2013, 10:47 PM   #6
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I gave the lines a visual today and they looked OK, I did not get under the rear end to check the rubber hose there, but there is definitely signs of fluid leaking out of the seal on the master.. I figure I'll start there, and take my double flare kit with me. The wheels were just off and there wasn't any sign of leakage, though I didn't personally remove them so I don't know if anything is frozen.

I hear what you are saying about the tires, and if I can sell my bike in the next week it will get tires, but if not, I gotta roll the dice as I have to have the vehicle moved, and new rubber isn't in the budget this week or next. I'll take it slow and keep both hands on the wheel.

I plan on fluid changes and fresh gas, greasing.. the belt is still pliable and should hold, hoses looked OK.. as soon as I can get it to its new home it will get ALL the maintenance done, plus some minor updates..

By 'not exposed to the elements' I meant rain, the beating sun, snow, and ice.. I didn't mean to imply that it was stored in a weightless vacuum. :P
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Old 10-19-2013, 10:52 PM   #7
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A 200 mile trip in a vehicle that has sat for 15 years? I hardly know where to begin. I'd change the engine oil and coolant and then install a new inline fuel filters and put some fuel in it see what happens. Carry some extra coolant, engine oil, PS, trans fluid of course.
I'd be shocked if the trans seals still worked. Speaking of extras I'd carry a even dozen inline fuel filters, and a bottle of bars leak.

AND GET BRAKES ON IT BEFORE YOU EVEN DROP IT IN GEAR
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Old 10-20-2013, 09:33 AM   #8
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For manuals:
You want the 73 Dodge Motorhome Service manual PLUS the 74-75 Motorhome Supplement manual. The supplement only addresses areas that were different from the 73 manual.
You also want the 69-77 Dodge Motorhome Parts manual. You will find that the best way to locate parts is to cross reference the original Dodge P/N to the afermarket P/N as the most effective method.

dodge motorhome manual in eBay Motors | eBay

The manuals are also available in the Classic Winnebago site store for download (in my signature).

This information from my website will help you with the brakes:
Dave's Place - Dodge MH Brake Info

Select link: Dave's Place - M500 (RM400) 1973-75

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Old 10-20-2013, 10:43 AM   #9
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Thanks Dave! I actually already found your website and have been reading up on what I got myself into. Hoping the boosters don't need replaced too.

I'll check out those manuals, I did find the Fleetwood manual on their site but it's next to useless.

When I go to napa and look up the RM400 it shows a master cylinder that looks correct, but it doesn't list the 440 as an engine option on that Chassis.. I do know that the epa sticker on the valve cover lists the engine as a 1973. I just want to get basic tune up stuff and filters.. I suppose all that stuff will pretty much be the same with any 1973 440 though, as far as points, cap, rotor, wires and plugs.

Mekanic- I'm expecting complications and will take it for a quick trip with a recheck before I start the journey home, but this isn't my first resurrection, or my 10th, I've brought a lot of cars and bikes back from the dead and in my experience it's usually not that bad.. the trans will likely work ok, the radiator looks great, no corrosion or damage I see, my big concerns are really brakes, and tires. I will be carrying a full tool kit and I'll have a chase car, so worst case its a trip to the closest parts store if I need a random hose or whatever.



I'll definitely post a follow up of how the trip goes once I get that far.
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Old 10-20-2013, 11:26 AM   #10
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It may all be moot at this point, a buddy has a towing service and says he has a truck that can flat tow it.. anyone have any experience with that?
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Old 10-20-2013, 11:34 AM   #11
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You'll have to disconnect the drive shaft. You'll still have potential tire and bearing issues.
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Old 10-20-2013, 11:49 AM   #12
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I bought a 79 winnie once ; traded a lawnmower for it. My wife said if that bed could talk! Anyway everything worked on it except for the genny and that was an easy fix. I think this will be a riot going home and I would love to go with you if you were close. Only scary issue is the brakes ; just when you think your ready stand on them really hard to make sure nothing pops.
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Old 10-20-2013, 05:35 PM   #13
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Quote:
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I bought a 79 winnie once ; traded a lawnmower for it. My wife said if that bed could talk! Anyway everything worked on it except for the genny and that was an easy fix. I think this will be a riot going home and I would love to go with you if you were close. Only scary issue is the brakes ; just when you think your ready stand on them really hard to make sure nothing pops.
Yup, that's the plan

In further talks with my tow truck buddy, he wants to put it on a trailer, with the catch being that it needs to run and stop to get it on the trailer.. and that will cost me 600 bones.. I figure I can get new steering tires for that same 600..

Going to go up Tuesday and dig into the brakes, tune up the engine and drain the old fuel.. figure I'll probably have at least another day once I get a parts list for the brakes.. ofc if it runs long I can always crash in the RV
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Old 10-21-2013, 08:09 AM   #14
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What a great find!

I think you have a pretty good handle on what needs to be done, and, you'll have somebody driving a chase vehicle if something should happen while on the road? As long as you aren't traveling on a weekend where you might have trouble finding an auto supply open, or during a howling winter gale where working on it while on the road might be difficult, you'll have no trouble getting it home.

I would advise you to get after the entire roof and and all windows as one of your first projects? You found a great coach, but the only chance it has of staying that way is being taken care of by somebody that knows how to keep it that way? Make DARN sure it's water/weather tight!!!! SOON!!!!

Best of luck with it!
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