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Old 04-14-2015, 02:09 PM   #1
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Just purchased our first RV!

My husband and I just became proud owners of an 86 Winnebago Chieftain 22. It is in great condition but has not been used as a camper for quite some time. It has 36K miles and still has the plastic on most of the carpeting from the factory. However, it does need some things like new bedding and curtains. But that's minor and expected due to sheer age. Overall we are happy....
However we both are very new to the world of RVs. Aside from mechanics of the engine being updated (hubby's a mechanic so that will be covered). What do we need to make sure we inspect and make sure are properly maintained? We are the third owners and the one we purchased from is a master mechanic so the engine is truly the last of my worries. I am more worried about why we can't get any power in the house. Cabin lights work as they should but we can not get any power in the back. Do we HAVE to have the generator running to have power? Not sure we want to mess with the propane system just yet. Any help or tips would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 04-14-2015, 02:43 PM   #2
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possible to phase out the propane??

What all would be involved to phase out the propane? It's a little daunting to me... I've had propane years ago when we lived in a doublewide but I know how dangerous it can be and with little kids, I'd like to try and at least limit it's use if not get Rid of it all together! Thanks!
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Old 04-14-2015, 03:29 PM   #3
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first of all wecome to irv2,,,,i have removed the propane on small tt,s but never on an mh, so im sure that one of the other guy,s on here can give better advise than i can on the removel on them..
there are ALOT of great helpful folks on here willing to share the know how....
and again congrats on your new to you rv..
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Old 04-14-2015, 09:27 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Upde-Owl View Post
What all would be involved to phase out the propane? It's a little daunting to me... I've had propane years ago when we lived in a doublewide but I know how dangerous it can be and with little kids, I'd like to try and at least limit it's use if not get Rid of it all together! Thanks!
I have never removed propane from a motor home, so I do not want to misrepresent myself.

Typically, a motorhome like yours will use the propane for heat, for cooking, for hot water, and maybe even the frige.

Good news is that you can easily use electic heaters, at least while plugged into shore power. I don't cook in the MH much on the surface unit, and a microwave is fine inside, rest of cooking can be done outside if camping and you want to.

You can get an electic hot water heater, and some work on electric or propane, you might get lucky and not need to do much, or just replace the unit. Lastly, the frige is most always muliple powered, with at least one electic option, 12 v or 120 volt. On that at least, you will not likely need to do anything other than move the switch.

Good luck. There are MHs now that are all electric, so the components all exist.
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Old 04-15-2015, 08:37 AM   #5
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when the dw and i converted our tt over to all electric we had to have it inspected and licened that it was done to spec.,,it wasnt hard at all and we left it easy to put it back to run on propane if we ever wanted,,,,,just thought about that and were in ky but im pretty sure most states would need the inspection sticker if converted..
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Old 04-15-2015, 08:54 AM   #6
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We were just in your shoes two short years ago! Our is a 1984 Tioga, 29k miles, hubby is a mechanic! The only problem we have had mechanically was a belt that broke on our way home one time, luckily my ever prepared husband had one in storage.

We use the propane for the water heater (dishes only) we do not use the shower mainly because of the size. We have had the furnace running a few times, just in the morning to make it easier to get out from under the covers. We can't seem to keep the stove lit, so we just don't use it, contemplating having it looked at, but haven't missed it. We have used the propane to run the fridge, but usually use it off the electric.

We have 2 carbon monoxide detectors and have never had concerns about using the propane. Maybe because my husband seems confident about what he is doing, could be he's blowing smoke though lol.

Enjoy!!!
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Old 04-15-2015, 09:08 AM   #7
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Guys, Go back and read what the OP asked you about their electrical not working. It appears that is their issue. They don't want to mess with the propane right now, just want to get the electrical working.


Welcome to IRV2. Great group of people here to help including some electricians.


Are the house batteries dead? Sometimes these are stored in unusual places like under the stairs or in one of the basements. Are they corroded? Do you have manuals? If not, there are places here you can get and download your manual to your Winnie.


I love Winnie's and that is what I am looking for. Congratulations on your new rig, you are going to have a blast! This is a fascinating world with some good old fashioned ethics people.


Welcome and check your batteries. Lynne
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Old 04-15-2015, 09:37 AM   #8
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Thanks everyone! The propane issue is just something I'm just thinking about doing. But, we have found the batteries they are indeed under the top stair. The rig starts up just like a typical older Chevy. 2nd try everytime. Lol We will test both batteries just to make sure they aren't maybe drained a little from sitting for a bit. A manual would be great. It came with a mechanics book for the 454 with all the areas specific to our rig highlighted which will make life so much easier in the future! Tried looking up part numbers online for some things that we need. Found a great list however it was not legible. Looked like it might be a bad scan. Gonna try to print it and see if it will be readable. Will check batteries and get back to you. I know mostly everything should at least turn on with the 12v. Gonna make sure the generator works too. Maybe batteries just need charged.
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Old 04-16-2015, 08:00 AM   #9
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No, you do NOT have to have the generator running. Unlikely in your Winnie, but our old Class C had a switch which had to be thrown to go from battery to shore power.

One possible reason for no 120v power is a tripped GFI outlet. Check for one in your bathroom, and you may also have an exterior patio outlet that will be GFI.
In our '89, although it wasn't supposed to to be wired that way, the outside patio outlet would shut down the entire coach if it tripped.

You might also look in your power center, where you will find your 12 volt fuses and 120v breakers- check to see that everything is in order there with no tripped breakers.

Do you still have lights throughout the coach (not just in the cab)? Your lights will be 12 volt, and run through the batteries even while plugged in.

If you have no power at all outside the cab/driver's seat (which typically is powered by the engine starting battery) then you may have a problem with your converter or power center.
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Old 04-16-2015, 04:40 PM   #10
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As far as power is concerned, if it's like mine I have to remove the cable from the generator socket and plug it into the power plug/socket that feeds the MH. I happen to have a 50 amp setup. As far as the propane goes have it checked out by a reliable service company. I wouldn't be with out the propane. And as far as the engine is concerned have your DH recurve the distributor so the the max advance on it should be 40-45 degrees it will really help open up the 454 and make it run cooler.
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Old 04-18-2015, 08:25 AM   #11
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As far as power is concerned, if it's like mine I have to remove the cable from the generator socket and plug it into the power plug/socket that feeds the MH. I happen to have a 50 amp setup. As far as the propane goes have it checked out by a reliable service company. I wouldn't be with out the propane. And as far as the engine is concerned have your DH recurve the distributor so the the max advance on it should be 40-45 degrees it will really help open up the 454 and make it run cooler.
OK, I'm not the OP, but what does it mean to "recurve the distributor"?

Sounds like I want this, but how does one get it done? Speak gently, I'm a girl

Cuz I would LOVE to get 8 mpg out of our 454.
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Old 04-18-2015, 08:51 AM   #12
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Recurve. Change the weights and springs in the distributor there are some good info on this in the vintage section from jim elliot about 3 years ago he ran a dyno for no power look where the electric cord is stored there will be a plug you plug your cord in there to have power from the generator
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Old 04-19-2015, 10:14 AM   #13
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OK, I'm not the OP, but what does it mean to "recurve the distributor"?

Sounds like I want this, but how does one get it done? Speak gently, I'm a girl

Cuz I would LOVE to get 8 mpg out of our 454.

A distributor recurve is changing weights and springs on the advance arms that are inside. They're a selection of different springs and weights to throw the advance on faster in distributor. It takes some fiddling to find just the right combination for what you want.

OR, just picking up a new Performance MSD Distributor/Coil/Plug Wire Kit.

To gain even more power and driveability is to change the old carburetor over to Holley's Fuel Injection Kit. It's around $1500, but will give you complete control over how you want engine to run from inside the cab, or at least that's what's advertised.
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Old 04-27-2015, 02:24 AM   #14
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You got some good info so far, so check the power center, for tripped breakers! I would think yours should automaticly switch its self over from generator to plug in power. As far as the propane, I would not be without it! If it is working right, nothing could be better! We just spent a month, going from the desert to the mountains, and the propane system worked as it was supposed to! The fridge switched from propane to elect. automaticly and the water heater worked great as did the furnace! We used the elect. heaters when plugged in as the elect. was in the price of the campsite, so why not? We also cooked with the stove, and the oven, and both worked great! Just saying, the propane systems on the MH's of today are very simple, automatic, and work great! Our was a 1996, and it worked flawlessly! Have it checked out, tested, and have your detectors tested, and enjoy! Rail!
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