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Old 06-12-2021, 03:41 PM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 10
1989 Mobile Traveler 27 foot MH Being Restored

I found a well-running 1989 Mobile Traveler 27 foot MH (Ford 460, 3-speed tranny on a John Deere chassis) with good tires for less than the price of a set of used tires, an engine tune-up, and new startup and house batteries. The front shocks need to be replaced, but otherwise, the suspension is solid.

It was driven mostly about 100 - 200 miles a month for the past 32 years, so the 40K miles weren't accrued between long periods of non-use. The exterior needs some TLC, especially restoring the gel coat, but the fiberglass is intact, with no fibers exposed through the surface of the epoxy, and there's not much rust except for a few holidays from rock dings in the front bumper.

It has an aircraft-grade aluminum honeycomb roof that's well-sealed and there's no evidence of any water leakage in the interior. The underside of the roof honeycomb ceiling still has its original fabric surface, and it's completely intact adhesion-wise and stain-free.

The windows and seals are all waterproof, and several of the side windows are louvered glass with rubber seals that allow them to be closed flush within their frames. That's excellent for airflow through the MH that isn't possible in sliding windows in more modern MH's, which only allow airflow through half of the area of each window that opens, and often less.

Even though it's only 27 feet long, it has a queen-size bedroom, a bathroom and separate shower stall across the passageway, a complete kitchen with a propane oven, four-burner stovetop and Norcold three-way fridge/freezer (yes, I know about propane fridges and won't be using that option), a dinette that converts to a full size bed, a couch that converts to a queen size pull-out bed, and very nice, cushy driver's and passenger's front seats that swivel around 180 degrees.

The latch and window on the right side entrance door need to be reassembled, but the pieces are all there, including the fiberglass panels, intact aluminum frame, window glass and seals, latch plates and handles, deadbolt, screen door, etc. The cloth in the awning over most of the passenger-side windows needs to be replaced, but the frame is fully functional. It also came with all of the manuals and other documentation, as the binder in this photo shows.

The interior cabinetry was mostly painted over with thick latex, the faces of which have cracked from heat-induced dry-out. The kitchen and bathroom countertops and dinette table Formica are worn down to the base layer in places. The walls are also painted over and will be covered with fabric-covered panels that will be pressed into place and held by friction along the edges. They will be Velcro compatible and there will be enamel-coated steel sheets behind some fabric to allow magnet-backed items to be placed on them.

The woodwork will all be replaced with real wood materials in clear oak. I cringe when beautiful natural wood is sloppily painted over because people are too lazy to properly sand, steel wool, and apply polyurethane or polyacrylic finishes to preserve wood grains.

The plumbing and electrical components appear to all be intact and fully working with no leaks, shorts, or interrupted circuits, but the dead starter and house batteries were removed. I have to figure out which unlabeled battery cable needs to be connected between the voltage regulator and the starter battery to allow it to be charged from the alternator, and the remaining cables need to be connected to the house batteries through a Sure-Power battery isolator.

It's a definite project, but built on solid bones. It's getting about four - five mpg at mostly 45 - 55 mph (slower on steep mountains) over a mix of mountainous, rolling hilly, and elevated flat terrain, but gasoline is faintly smelled after it's shut down when parked, although not due to any fuel leaks, suggesting incomplete combustion. That's probably due to the carb needing cleaning/adjustment and/or ignition system components needing cleaning, adjustment (e.g., spark plugs gapped, distributor timing, and so forth), or replacement.

The MH's previous owner is a fellow ham radio operator and the MH was used as a mobile emergency communications center at Senator Wash and Quartzsite during the Winter gatherings in that region. It had solar power via a ground array of panels, and I will also be establishing a solar power generation system for radios, as well as all house power, eventually.

I'll be driving the resurrected rig down to events there next Winter after shakedown cruises throughout the Mountain West, to include most of the National Parks and Forests, many BLM sites, and other boondocking opportunities via Harvest Hosts, Boondockers Welcome, etc.

More to Come, So Stay Tuned!
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Old 06-12-2021, 04:23 PM   #2
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Location: Columbus, MS
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Hi ! Welcome to IRV2! We're sure glad you joined us!

Congrats on the new rig! Give us more pictures as the renovation progresses.
Let the adventure begin!

Good luck, happy trails, and God bless!
Joe & Annette
Sometimes I sits and thinks, sometimes I just sits.....
2002 Monaco Windsor 40PBT, 2013 Honda CRV AWD
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Old 06-12-2021, 07:20 PM   #3
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Location: Where we park it!
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Welcome to the forum. Congrats on the new rig/project. I think you got your self a beauty.

You are joining a good group of folks here with good information to share. Read the various threads here and ask questions as they come up or add information if you can.

Good luck and enjoy the adventure!
2018 Tiffin Allegro RED 37PA
2020 JEEP Trailhawk
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Old 06-12-2021, 08:20 PM   #4
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Location: Point Pleasant Beach, NJ
Posts: 24,063

Nice to have you onboard with us.

Browse the forums and ask questions. Good luck with the restoration. Keep the pictures coming as you make progress.

Let us know if we can help you.
Tony & Ruth........... FMCA#F416727
2016 London Aire 4519, Freightliner chassis, Cummins ISX, 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, Blue Ox Avail with AF1. TST 507 TPMS
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Old 06-13-2021, 08:38 PM   #5
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Hi Joe & Annette, momdoc, Tony, and Ruth,

I greatly appreciate the warm welcome!

I've been puzzling through the documents I have, including the John Deere chassis service manual and Sure-Power battery isolator installation instructions, and I'm not sure what connects to what, except the positive cable from the engine battery to the starter solenoid. That allows me to start the engine and operate the headlights, running lights, dashboard instrumentation lights, and so forth.

There are several more high-current positive cables that had been left dangling when the PO removed the engine and house batteries, and they're unlabeled, of course. One is the largest-diameter/gauge cable that's barely long enough to connect to the engine battery if I position it as far to the left (driver's side) in the battery tray forward of the engine. I believe it's from the alternator, and there is a pair of much smaller (~16 gauge) black and white wires in a protective wire loom next to the large cable coming from the same direction just to the left and bottom of the radiator and oil cooler on the driver's side.

I assume that these should be connected to the positive and negative terminals of the engine battery, respectively, so that it will be recharged (AIUI, the alternator has an integrated voltage regulator). There is a slightly smaller-diameter/gauge positive cable coming from the Sure-Power battery isolator, that I believe should be connected to the positive terminal of the house battery(/ies), as the isolator manages charging of the truck and house batteries via the alternator/voltage regulator, as well as between the batteries themselves when at least one has a sufficient charge to start the engine.

There's another high-current positive cable that's connected to an unidentified component in the upper left corner of the firewall on the driver's side (upper right when looking in under the hood). None of the documents I have contains a line drawing or photo of the components mounted on the front of the firewall looking under the hood, and I can't find a candidate for this mystery part in the prolific schematics in the chassis service manual.

I don't want to blow any fuses, melt any cables, destroy any parts, or burn down the MH so soon after acquiring it, by connecting anything to the wrong place! In the meantime, if anyone is familiar with the 1988-vintage Ford 460 engine in a motorhome chassis, and is certain that my assumptions are valid or out-to-lunch, please feel free to let me know. I'll take photos Monday morning and post them here.

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