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Old 10-26-2020, 11:41 PM   #1
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First Time Camping in "Percy"

Hey RV world,


Blended family of 8 (My wife and I) and 3 boys, 3 girls. Dog, Cat, and whatever strays the kids find until owner shows up! I grew up camping in a Palomino Pop-up all over Minnesota as a kid. My wife is a transplant from Florida and Colorado before meeting me, so has a history of outdoorsy-ness as well. As our kids have grown our trips around the country have been limited to one or two here or there. This year, as COVID ramped up, we took a leap to tackle Yellowstone with 4 of them. Started out by researching rentals and then took another leap and found our "Percy" (short for 'Snow Piercer'). Percy is a 27 foot, 1991 Travelmaster Sportscoach with a Chevy 454 in it. Just shy of 50k miles on it. Now its nothing flashy but we made the maiden voyage from Central MN through Yellowstone out to Jackson Wyoming and the Grand Teton with minimal interruption! (Minimal being, Generator quit working day 2, the roof vents blew off in the bathroom and front cabin due to sun rot, and the water hook up valve some how bent closed.) So we just rolled with it. Pun intended.



We have big plans in store and weighed it out, a rental would have cost us the same as our first rig and full dive test run! So we were loving it!



Lots of questions to come as we are either going to gut, repair, remodel this one and hand it down to our oldest 2 for their wild 20 something adventures, or cut our "evens" and start our hunt for the next rig as we are hooked!
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Old 10-27-2020, 09:55 AM   #2
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That thing will nickel and dime ya to pieces! But probably will cost less to fixup than a new MH, and you have a good blank slate to start with.
The 454 is a good old engine. Pay attention to transmission, brake and steering fluids, too. I'm not a fan of power flushes, but a simple fluid change might be in order.
The roof needs to be a high priority. Look for signs of weakness like soft spots. Also closely examine the sealant on the seams and around the AC and vent openings. Reseal with lap sealant if any cracking shows.
Check around all your seams very carefully for signs of wood rot and soft spots, around doors, hatches and windows. Other plastic elements may be subject to weather rot as well. Look at your utility connections, etc for cracking.
Once she's ship shape and roadworthy, you can remodel the interior to your taste. New mattress, seat fabric, curtains or blinds. I highly recommend upgrading to LED lights.
The old generator might just need a carb job or injectors cleaned and fuel filters and tuneup.
And don't forget to inspect your tires for age.
Last but not least, a good RV cover is worth its weight in gold. Your kids will inherit a fine vintage road trip machine.
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Old 10-27-2020, 03:08 PM   #3
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This is coming from someone that owns a nearly 20 year old motorhome:


Sell it while the market is still up and buy something more appropriate for your travel needs next year once Covid has passed and the market is flooded with used motorhomes. Given the vintage of the coach, and what you describe about its condition, you will be much better off buying something at least 10-15 years newer, perhaps something a little larger with more space for the growing kids. If you fix it up you will never get your money back out of it, and you will constantly be spending money fixing one thing after another.
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Old 10-27-2020, 03:36 PM   #4
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This is coming from someone that owns a nearly 20 year old motorhome:


Sell it while the market is still up and buy something more appropriate for your travel needs next year once Covid has passed and the market is flooded with used motorhomes. Given the vintage of the coach, and what you describe about its condition, you will be much better off buying something at least 10-15 years newer, perhaps something a little larger with more space for the growing kids. If you fix it up you will never get your money back out of it, and you will constantly be spending money fixing one thing after another.
I have to add on to this as an owner of several rvs over the years, none of which was newer than my current 94. Yes the older models need work, things will break, it is always something going wrong or giving you trouble. BUT it costs WAY less than a newer one, even the new ones have issues.

Now I'm biased as a person who is not scared to tackle much so I fix my own issues. If you are able to do the research and bust a knuckle or two there is no reason to buy newer. The 454 is a solid motor, change all the fluids, maintain what you have, and it will serve you well. You have kids to pay for and the memories you make will not be any different if you are paying more and in a newer rv. Heck even the breakdowns and problems are all part of the adventure! Rolls with it, enjoy, and save the extra bucks for the fuel and fun of being on the road!!
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Old 10-27-2020, 10:41 PM   #5
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Enjoy it to the max. If you can turn a wrench just keep her going. If you decide on a more recent unit, a bunk model would fit a family your size real well.
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Old 10-28-2020, 01:42 AM   #6
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Keep it, in a year or two you will know more about it than most know about their RV, because you would have fixed just about everything.
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Old 10-28-2020, 01:43 AM   #7
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Just to clarify my position on this, there is a difference between maintaining a well maintained older coach, and maintaining a neglected coach, from what you have said, I suspect yours may be closer to the neglected end of things. I do most of my own work on my coach, having bought it in 2016, with the previous owner having spent over $10,000 in parts alone in the preceding 2 years before I bought it, and yet I have spent something over $2,000 each year until this year with Covid, I have owned it on either needed repairs, preventive maintenance or upgrades. Before my next trip it will be time for a new set of tires (mine turned 7 years old this month), that will run another another $2,000 by itself. This year I have spent about $1,200 in parts, which I will install DIY when I get time this winter, including a new air conditioner condenser, oil cooler, oil cooler lines, and ABS brake lines. All of which are leaking, oozing or are abraded, and need to be changed to prevent getting stranded on the side of the road or worse.


Now sure some of this I could ignore, and it may last years before failure, but sooner or later that oozing ABS module brake line is going to give out, ...
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Old 10-28-2020, 07:06 AM   #8
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Just to clarify my position on this, there is a difference between maintaining a well maintained older coach, and maintaining a neglected coach, from what you have said, I suspect yours may be closer to the neglected end of things. I do most of my own work on my coach, having bought it in 2016, with the previous owner having spent over $10,000 in parts alone in the preceding 2 years before I bought it, and yet I have spent something over $2,000 each year until this year with Covid, I have owned it on either needed repairs, preventive maintenance or upgrades. Before my next trip it will be time for a new set of tires (mine turned 7 years old this month), that will run another another $2,000 by itself. This year I have spent about $1,200 in parts, which I will install DIY when I get time this winter, including a new air conditioner condenser, oil cooler, oil cooler lines, and ABS brake lines. All of which are leaking, oozing or are abraded, and need to be changed to prevent getting stranded on the side of the road or worse.


Now sure some of this I could ignore, and it may last years before failure, but sooner or later that oozing ABS module brake line is going to give out, ...
Yes it's true, RV life is not cheap. You are still.way ahead of making payments on a newer coach and they need stuff like tires too. It's nice being able to do your own work, otherwise you could triple your numbers each year
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Old 10-29-2020, 03:26 PM   #9
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Follow-up

I 100% agree with all the aforementioned statements. We knew full well diving in that the price points and items for consideration are going to be critical throughout this new adventure stage of our life. First, Yes, the breakdowns, issues, errors, and malfunctions are all part of what I grew up with living on a farm raising hogs. Nothing was more nerve racking than helping dad or uncles "hold the light" during repairs. Second, my original price point on Percy was OVERLY worth the risk. A week long rental of a sporty newer/new rig for this journey would have been over what I paid. So as of today (owning it for 6 months nearly) it has already paid for itself. Oddest part is, the closest dealership has it's twin that is in a bit better shape coming to auction in the next month; so I may attempt to luck out and have a 2-for-1 where I can swap parts and pieces for the immediate foreseeable future. Third, my three boys have their own "expertise." 1-Nuclear Engineer (former Navy-vet), 2- Computer programmer/self-trained electrician, 3- Just finished his A-school for Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic (Current National Guardsman). That and my bull-headedness for DYI and "life-hacking" I think we could have found a bonding project for all of us for long term. Worst case, all my relatives are already asking "When it quits, can we scrap it into a fish-house."

So far here's the "plan of attack"
#1 "concern" I have is the generator. Clicks and wants to turn over but doesn't. Fly wheel is free and moves, only thing I notice "out of line" is the choke stays full as though a spring popped off or the choke failed. So I'll tinker with that this weekend while it's "Warm".
#2- All 3 roof vents have been replaced found them all for less than $20, no roof leaks or soft spots or water spots identified. I re-sealed all vents and A/C unit. Will re-rubber the entire thing this coming spring, just to be safe. #3- I think I'm going to gut the water lines/clean water storage tank this winter, just to be safe and "know it's all new and clean." Would anyone recommend a replacement water pump that's solid/reliable or any other component to consider replacing if I'm already "busting knuckles" with the water supplies and returns?
#4- My son and I are combing through the engine next week (fluid flushes, levels, seals). To date, not a drop under the rig (before, during, or AFTER being driven).
#5- Before next spring/summer, I'm going to have the full braking system reviewed and fine-toothed.

Wish me, luck. I'll update as the adventure rolls!
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Old 10-29-2020, 05:58 PM   #10
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Can you tell us the brand and full model number of your generator, we might be able to give you some tips on where to look
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Old 10-30-2020, 07:57 AM   #11
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For the generator start with the basics. Fuel, spark, compression. If you need more guidance on those checks let us know. Once you have verified that please report back with more details on model etc.

I personally see no reason to replace the water system unless you know it's bad. They can be sanitized if you are concerned. Spend that time working on maintenance, like pull the furnace and clean everything good check for mouse nests etc. Flush coolant, tranny etc. Clean flooring upholstery, blinds. Do LED wiring upgrades. Clean all ground wiring connections. Lots of other things I would worry about more than rebuilding water system.

Yes I agree, check brakes, change differential fluids, look for loose worn front end parts. Ball joints, etc. Check ujoints on driveshaft. Grease everything that you can.

Lots to do on these older rigs but I enjoy it, please post updates
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Old 10-30-2020, 11:15 AM   #12
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Given the vintage of the coach if it has the old gray polybutylene pipe I would replace it with PEX, there was a big recall / class action lawsuit in the mid 1990's over this stuff.
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Old 10-30-2020, 01:09 PM   #13
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Given the vintage of the coach if it has the old gray polybutylene pipe I would replace it with PEX, there was a big recall / class action lawsuit in the mid 1990's over this stuff.

Well that is very interesting! I will have to look into that, I was unaware. Thanks for the info!!
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Old 10-30-2020, 10:02 PM   #14
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My experience with the gray stuff is the lines themselves are OK, it is the plastic connectors that break. I have it all under my (manufactured) home and on a regular basis one of the connectors breaks. The repair is to replace the defective connector with a Sharkbite equivalent. Before I get too old to crawl around under there I plan to replace ALL the old connectors, leaving the gray pipe in place.

My RV does have the same gray pipe. But it uses metal connectors and never gives trouble.

A thought on the water pump. If you are replacing it, now is the time to determine whether you want to get one of the newer, quieter variable capacity pumps, or stay with the older style, pumps, maybe adding an expansion tank to tame down the frequent and somewhat noisy pumping cycles.
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