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Old 04-09-2013, 11:44 PM   #1
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Where to start and get a smoother ride?

Hi everyone,

Young/Old (32) owner of a 1978 Dodge Winnebago Sportsman, the thing is 5 years older then I am I've purchased it last year in hopes for my kids to enjoy as much of it as the beast could take. It was also my time to find out, if my kids liked it. They loved it.

This year, I'm going to soon take it out of storage and hopefully (if financially possible at the time) try to fix a few things.

I guess the number one thing I'm looking at is either replace the shocks, springs or overall drive shaft. Now, I'm not a 100% mechanic, but I'm guessing just those would bring a smoother ride.

Let me explain, if I'm on the thru-way I've got quite the raddle in my steering. Not sure if I should put $$$ into smoothing the ride up or looking at something that's in the 90' ... for my family to enjoy. Wife wants to keep it since I've renovated the top front bunk bead and sealed it, she also got into customizing a lot of the interior for our kids.

Anyone know what the costs are for doing maintenance on few replacements? it's a 1978 Dodge Winnebago Sportsman (B300, 360 V8).

Let me know what you guys think?
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Old 04-10-2013, 12:20 AM   #2
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Try to get suspension checked out by mechanic to identify the must fix (safety) items. This will give you a ballpark idea of what your investment will total to.
Myself, I would sell it and look for something newer.
Any money in improvements of engine and suspension will not increase vehicles property value.
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Old 04-10-2013, 12:48 AM   #3
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I worked for Dodge when these units were new and used for ambulances.
When loaded to GVW they ate front end parts. Ball joints , tie rod end every front end part would have to be repaced every 15>20k miles.
They are also a unit body vehicle so check for rust in the sub frame; if the rocker panels are rusted , chances are the unit body is in trouble too.
Like Doggy Daddy says have a full inspection done , the vehicle may be beyond economical repair.
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Old 04-10-2013, 07:44 AM   #4
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With the problems you describe and the year of your coach. I would seriously consider a different coach. There are tons of them out there that are in pretty good shape yet.
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Old 04-10-2013, 08:00 AM   #5
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I'm with the crowd here.

It would probably take a few thousand to pay someone to do the upgrades you'd need to do to an 'industrial' chassis to give it a 'passenger' ride quality. If you put that money on top of what you got from selling it you'd likely have enough to buy a unit 20 years newer than what you have.

There is just no comparison in ride quality between 2one ton chassis's, one a 70's Dodge and the other a 90's Ford or Gmc.

You would also notice a huge difference between a 360 & a 460/454 drivetrain.
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Old 04-10-2013, 08:11 AM   #6
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Cheapest thing that might give you a little improvement would be get it weighed and make sure tire pressure is correct to the weight. Beyond that I would be very leary to put a lot of money into it. Do make sure to get suspesion checked for any safety issues and fix as $$$ allows. Be careful some mechs love to just replace ALL the parts and charge you a great deal of cash as well.
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Old 04-10-2013, 08:14 AM   #7
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don't dispair

As for the front end rattle... there are probably three culprits involved. one is tires. a bad tire or one not properly balanced can cause all kinds of headaches in the ride. Two front end...bad linkage, tie rods etc can cause a lot of shakin goin on. A bad drag link can give you the feeling of too much play in the steering. it's a tough call to decide what to do. shocks is three. you can't test them on your RV like you can your car. but if you bounce a few times after hitting a bump, they may need replacing
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Old 04-10-2013, 08:56 AM   #8
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not that bad

Thank you all for your input. Its not that bad of an RV but I do get your point. I've had an eye on a 94 for three times the amount I've paid on this o e. I've already have rebuilt the top bunk because of a leak that the prev owner neglected to fix while he had it, the leak was in one of the markers by the room trim at the front. Took a while to figure out.

In regards to shocks, it doesn't bounce any more then expected I guess.

I don't see any rust around any of the under carriage or chassis, I'm guessing that's a plus. If I could convince the wife to get the 94 one and sell this one, it be a blessing I guess. How do you convince her lol. One the other hand, who would want to buy into this if I'm selling it because of what I know about it.

It did pass inspection, had engine rebuilt 2 years ago. I might just take it in at the end of the month and see what the mech around here says. If its more then what the 94 is going for then of course might be putting this one up for sale.

Now in regarded to the 94 ... the guy selling it is asking about $3k above the retail used value that I've looked up and matched it to. Would you guys think I can just tell him that I'll buy it of him for the book value of should I even go lower?

Thanks again for all your input.
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Old 04-10-2013, 09:20 AM   #9
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GOOD plan!! As far as cost of the other rig you could try to bid lower might work. A lot of that depends on condition as well as how it will work for you with floorplan and other options. Do a good inspection before you even make an offer so you can use what you find to lower price if needed.
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Old 04-11-2013, 07:45 AM   #10
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Good advise Conquest102 When we found our coach we drove from Florida to Virginia to check it out, and spent two days going over every inch of that rig. drove the salesman crazy! if you have cash, you have the upper hand as well, they will come down in price when they know it's a done deal without financing. And those things that can go wrong with most rigs, are unlikely if you find something with a spartan or freightliner suspension. if semi's can get 200,000 miles plus from their rigs, so can you with proper care and upkeep. plus you don't share the risk of parts going obsolete like with companies that go under. good luck!
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Old 04-12-2013, 08:38 AM   #11
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Thank you and Pics

Hi,

Thank you once again for contributing into my thread and letting me know your thoughts. First thing I will do with it this year is take it to a mech and figure out whats broken and what needs replacements in the suspension, if there is a problem. Might be just the steering control something or other replaced. Then move onto other items.

I also thought I would post a few photos of her, give you guys a thought of what I'm talking about. She's not a beauty but something for our first RV I guess. I'm sure going to join all the other ranks out there later in my life with a nice few coule $k dropped on it. Thanks again!.
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Old 04-12-2013, 10:57 AM   #12
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I see your delema now it is a VERY NICE looking rig. My 84 was the like this when we got it from older couple. If it works for you then yes you have a very useful RV. They will take some $$$$$ to upkeep no matter what year.
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Old 04-12-2013, 12:42 PM   #13
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I really hate to tell you this but back in 2009 we traded our 1999 Dutch Star by Newmar when we bought our Ford F-150. They gave us $25,000. The guy who bought it from the dealer also only paid $25,000. We bought it new and took excellent care of it. I kind of wish we had it back. I think we paid about $78,000 for it in 1999. When you own something with a limited market you loose $$$ when you sell. There are good units out there.

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Old 04-12-2013, 01:01 PM   #14
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If you have heavy-lug tires, or tires that aren't matched, that can contribute to rough ride.

Side note:

Is it just my old eyes, or does the camper body distinctly lean-to-streetside as it appears to do in this pic?

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