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Old 09-24-2020, 03:38 PM   #1
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1981 Chevy Transtar conversion

Hello all! My name is Chloe and my fiancé and I are rebuilding/converting a 1981 Chevy transtar with a custom layout from the original owner! We haven’t been able to find much information online until I stumbled upon a thread by another user and found a lot of people in the same situations with the same van! We are looking for some advice on the electrical side of it. Here’s her story:
She runs and drives amazingly. The PO drove her an hour and some change to my fiancé’s dads house and before we bought it, we had him drive us around in it to see for ourselves. Mechanically, everything looks pretty good, I know we are redoing the brakes just because we have to pump them in order to stop. As you can see in the pictures, the PO stripped everything which saved us some work! I’m just needing to know if anyone can tell me if the wires seem to be in the right place still, and if anyone has any advice on the LP pipe that is still in tact, but the range was stripped out! We are buying a mini stove that you can light with the little propane tanks, so we aren’t going to need that LP pipe. I would like to get rid of it properly and correctly. Any advice regarding anything else I would absolutely love to hear! The PO also left us the original books that came with it, tons of wiring diagrams printed out, and all of his blueprints to convert it, including a mini solar panel plan for the roof. Thanks in advanced!
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Old 09-24-2020, 10:50 PM   #2
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Normally, I wouldn't touch with a 10ft pole or new sewer hose.


But, I understand about the LP. You can always buy a (most common) 3/8" brass flare plug and plug off the l.p. line to stove. If you want to remove the stove l.p. line altogether follow it under the coach until you hit the manifold. Disconnect line from manifold, and cap off open manifold port with a (most common) 3/8" brass flare cap.


As far as wiring, yup. Its still there. On refit / remodels I always use nail plates and will notch the studs and joists with a router so plates don't stick out. Prevents putting nails / brads / most screws into a wire or cable assembly but doesn't cause noticeable bulges in labelling.


If you get time, please consider putting manuals / prints / other docs into the public domain. Scan / photograph all the pages and upload to appropriate library on archive.org . As you have discovered, there is so little info that has survived 40 years.
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Old 09-25-2020, 08:11 AM   #3
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Diagrams and original books

Here’s what the PO left me!
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Old 09-25-2020, 08:14 AM   #4
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PO stuff

Part2
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Old 09-25-2020, 08:16 AM   #5
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PO stuff

Part 3
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Old 09-25-2020, 02:05 PM   #6
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Very nice. From the look of it, the wiring for the dash is in place, worse comes to worse go ahead and try fitting the dash back in place and if anything is dangling below, zip tie it up and out of the way. Figuring it out will be like putting a puzzle together, so hopefully all of the pieces are still there.

While the walls are open, its cheap insurance to spray a hose on each of the windows from the outside and see if there are any water leaks. If so, get some good quality outdoor silicone caulk (available at any hardware store) and run a bead all the way around any leaking window. If the window is leaking at any of the seams between the pieces of glass, check with a local RV shop to see if they can reseal them for you.

Curious if the generator is still in its compartment behind the drivers door? If so, does it work, and if so and you are going to convert it to solar you can sell it and use the space for batteries and the inverter & controller.

As for the LP gas, it would be worth it to replace the furnace if you ever plan to use this in colder weather. Nothing lasts forever and a leaking furnace could kill you and/or burn the RV to the ground. They are simple to replace, unscrew a couple of copper fittings and I think 3 wires for the thermostat and voila its out. It sounds like you are well aware of the risk associated with gas leaks so the same advice goes for the water heater. I don't remember if they are gas or electric, I haven't gotten that far with mine yet.

Good luck, I love the stripes on the earlier Transtars, as well as the alpine windows along the roof.
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Old 10-06-2020, 10:30 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tidy Tabby View Post
Very nice. From the look of it, the wiring for the dash is in place, worse comes to worse go ahead and try fitting the dash back in place and if anything is dangling below, zip tie it up and out of the way. Figuring it out will be like putting a puzzle together, so hopefully all of the pieces are still there.

While the walls are open, its cheap insurance to spray a hose on each of the windows from the outside and see if there are any water leaks. If so, get some good quality outdoor silicone caulk (available at any hardware store) and run a bead all the way around any leaking window. If the window is leaking at any of the seams between the pieces of glass, check with a local RV shop to see if they can reseal them for you.

Curious if the generator is still in its compartment behind the drivers door? If so, does it work, and if so and you are going to convert it to solar you can sell it and use the space for batteries and the inverter & controller.

As for the LP gas, it would be worth it to replace the furnace if you ever plan to use this in colder weather. Nothing lasts forever and a leaking furnace could kill you and/or burn the RV to the ground. They are simple to replace, unscrew a couple of copper fittings and I think 3 wires for the thermostat and voila its out. It sounds like you are well aware of the risk associated with gas leaks so the same advice goes for the water heater. I don't remember if they are gas or electric, I haven't gotten that far with mine yet.

Good luck, I love the stripes on the earlier Transtars, as well as the alpine windows along the roof.
Here’s a pic of the generator! Another thing the PO Did was unhook the fridge but left it in there. Any tips on what to do with that? Should we get a new fridge? We are converting to solar. We’re looking at buying 100w renogy panels, wired in series with a 10amp fuse maybe? We want to redo the bathroom completely as well. Thanks for all the tips so far!
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Old 10-06-2020, 01:21 PM   #8
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Looks like the same model in mine, its not worth a lot but its worth something, especially if it runs.
Normally they installed these on a metal frame that unbolts from the RV so you can put a motorcycle jack or forklift and remove it for servicing. I say motorcycle lift because it more likely you or a friend would have that rather than a forklift, but you might surprise me. I don't know how easy that actually is, this is another system on my RV that I haven't bothered with yet. However once you figure out how to remove it, that space makes a great little compartment you could use for either a luggage bin or batteries and your solar controller and inverter.
The fridge, again check to see that it works and it isn't too nasty otherwise you should be able to go to an RV place and find a new one to replace it.
Does your rig have the "wet" bathroom where the shower, sink and toilet are in the same space? Our first one had the toilet and sink in one cubby and the shower was separate, our current one has it all in one space. Not sure how much you can do with the all-in-one setup, and I wouldn't mess with a fiberglass shower because they are pretty much irreplaceable at this point.
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Old 10-06-2020, 10:46 PM   #9
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Caulk advice

Please don't use silicone caulk. It is a bear to remove. I have taken all my windows out and resealed with buty tape and Lexel caulk. Some have used sikaflex caulk. Lexel caulk is a premium caulk and can be purchased at Ace hardware or on line. It comes in clear or white.
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Old 10-07-2020, 06:43 AM   #10
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We put in some thought and decided against the solar panels, simply because we aren't going to have that many appliances anyways and then gen is in good shape. Tomorrow we go back to pop out the windows and scrape off the sealant to redo it. The PO has it slathered in a mess and didn't shut the window completely before sealing them so we gotta fix that and check for leaks! Just painted the engined cover for our theme 🎃 we got a new radio, and my fiances dad is helping us reshape the dash for it to fit! Once we put the dash back together we can flip all the switches and see whats alive. Any one know where we can get replacement windows? The very top small windows are all cracked, and we do want to keep windows there for the light!
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Old 10-07-2020, 09:49 AM   #11
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Thank you!!
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Old 10-07-2020, 12:17 PM   #12
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I'm not 100% sure if the glass is tempered. In any case if you have the entire window & frame removed you can take the broken piece to any auto glass shop and they should be able to help. My advice if they aren't already would be to get all of the glass tinted. Helps to keep the RV cool in sunlight and darker at night when you are trying to sleep.
Silicone is a problem if you plan to keep the RV for a long time and want to remove and replace the windows occasionally because it is difficult to remove if you do. It is also relatively cheap, durable and commonly available and if you were leaving the window in place running a nice bead around the edges of it is a quick and simple way to seal them, but there are better options if you want to spend more money. The butyl tape is definitely preferred if you have the frame out.
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