Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Oh, that's why.... vintage vs. new class A RV's

Those of us hooked, stuck, addicted to classic RV's have many reasons for keeping our old RV's and not trading them in for new versions which should be arguably better than the decades-old versions we keep. I mean, how can the new ones not be better than ours???? Reliability, amenities, efficiency, ease of use.. cost? (HA!). these should all be so much better than a 30+ RV right? Maybe not so much.

I've been to Camping Worlds and their RV sales locations and I have to say that not much beats my Class A 1987 Allegro that sleeps 6. Let us compare. Now, to be realistic we should understand that there are inherent risks with owning an older RV: upkeep, repairs, ageing components, etc. But when you factor this with the costs of buying a new RV the risks seem a bit overblown.

We bought the LH2 for $2300. How can anyone complain about getting a Class A that sleeps 6, kitchen, refrigerator, generator, bathroom, shower, running engine and drive train, no roof leaks, awesome 1980's pink shag and velour seating, curtains??? Let's not even mention the fantastic off white, brown and orange paint scheme on the aluminum panels! It's so angular is "tubular"!!

Here are some examples of stuff out there for sale as "new" Class A RV's about the same size and I'm shocked at what gets sacrificed for a slide out with a queen bed. Guess some of these are empty-nester type RV's with no kids to take along.



You know, I'll think I will stick with my $2300 angled brick of an RV. Somehow mine has a bit more personality than these RV's...

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Oh yeah, have a Happy Hanukah as well.

Here's my Christmas Eve
start up video on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNGyV_ywcEY

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Doing the weekly start-up!

With the onset of cold weather and not traveling due to kids in school I've been trying to keep the RV in shape with regular start-ups. If I wait more than a week, the battery is not strong enough to start her. That's not right. In any case, I have my two Toyotas parked up so close for a potential jump start that they look like pups nursing up to Momma in the front yard. Bet my neighbor across the street is just pitching fits about all the vehicles in her view. Working on it!
The Toyota's suckling up to the Allegro on a cold December evening.....

I did get the RV started and the amp meter sat at zero amps until some groaning stopped from the belts and alternator, then it climbed into the positive territory to charge. Guessing new belts are in order.... Onan genset started right up with a couple of smacks on the control panel and then hitting the start switch in the back.
Must be cold. Oil pressure is still high, temp is cold and thank goodness the amps are up a bit. 40 gallons left in the tank.

Keep reading and you'll see some further upgrades in the next month before spring. Have to keep moving on and up with this RV! Trips to PA and OH are on the schedule for 2018!
Vacuum good, temps down and RPMs nice and low.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Blast from the Past. The old Road Trip Blog

Hi All!
This is the link to the old blog that basically stopped once I got back from Floriday trying to rescue the old Dodge RV.

Here it is: Vintage RV'ing

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

From Fall into Winter! Planning the fixin' projects and other stuff for 2018.....

Hello All! Just a quick post to let you know you can trace down my old blog at:
VintageRV'ing: Long Hauler 1.  To see what we tried a couple of years ago with the old '77 Dodge RV. Crazy stuff there but hope we learned from it going into the LH 2 this and next year! Our oldest son will be spending his last Summer prior to college in 2018 so this should be interesting.

So, for the next few months we'll be posting about winterizing, roof repairs and fixes (oh, you Sillycone users!) upgrades with touchscreens, GPS and warp drive....okay maybe not the last one but I can always dream about swapping out the rear diff to get into that highway cruise sweet spot at 2100-2200 rpm at 65 or so.

Here are some of the purchases to work on. A new dash console to allow for GPS, wifi and other stuff while we are on the road and camping. Now to find a swivel case that will mount on the dash for easy use. The kit includes a rear view camera so that will be pretty cool, too!
Not to mention changing out that rear fold-down bunk set up that our youngest sleeps in.

Stay Tuned and remember... it only costs you your time reading at the LongHauler.com!

Have a good Turkey Day! Triptophan is your friend.

Dan "TheVintageRV'er"

I'll be uploading new video on YouTube as well.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Summer is technically over... Camping Trip!

Now that we're back home and getting ready for the first day of school, again, it's great to know the RV behaved well up to the campsite and back this time! After the crazy side trip to Camping World's parking lot in Liverpool, NY the LH2 is back up and ready for action as noted by the previous post.

I did do some other minor fixes before heading out. One of them was to help the driving behavior on the highway. The Allegro is not so great in a crosswind but even in just a light wind shes' a bit of a two-hander to deal with. So, I ordered a Gabriel RV steering damper and some MOOG urethane sway bar bushings to help the ride.

A stowaway no more! The original useless steering damper.
 This first photo is of the old, OEM? Steering damper. Right. Not much there and it didn't do anything except hang around for the trip. No resistance or anything. Could have worked better as a slide whistle. Getting the part out required a pickle fork (which I found in it's tool box!) and a hammer to pop out the tapered pin/bolt. The other end needed some "Thrust" and my 1/2" impact wrench to undo the 2 nuts locked on the end attached to the cross member. I also needed a pipe wrench (yes, you read correctly) to keep the thing from just spinning with the impact wrench. Right tools= easy job!
 With a couple of trips under the RV the new, very yellow, steering damper was in and ready to go! Now for the sway bar bushings! Moog ones but I'm still a bit skeptical about the fit. I ordered the largest ones and still have a bit of gap on them. I did go the hardware store and picked up all stainless bolts and nuts for the install to replace the bent and rusted ones holding onto the old bushings. That impact wrench smoked the old bolts but did get them off.

There's some new colors in town! Bit by bit, the RV is getting retrofit... Hey! I made a rhyme!
 The only real issues I had was me working the impact wrench under the rig. First I wound up getting the wrong bolt in the bin from the store (someone dumped one in there...) that jammed a nut on it. Then after that I had a nut in the socket and wound up driving 2 nuts onto the bolt and getting that all wonked up. Had to break out the sawsall with the carbide blade to cut that out and redo it. But with all jobs, the right tools= easy job! Okay, now onto other projects that have been lingering on....
The side door always leaked in a big rainstorm. The water would just drip inside and down the door to the floor, making a big puddle on the step that was carpeted. The old drip edge was plastic and completely brittle and shot. You know what? Aluminum drip edge you buy to redo your roof on the house is exactly the size you need to install! All you do is cut off one tab that is used to nail the drip edge onto your roof edge. The rest is bent to fit. I  just cut it to the width and punched in the screws to fit. No caulking or anything. This trip it kept the remnants of Harvey out of our RV on Saturday night and Sunday.

We headed out a bit late after getting everything set for the drive and arrived at the Natural Bridge/ Watertown KOA http://koa.com/campgrounds/watertown/

Gettin' a fire goin' in the Adirondack Campground fire pit! Even cooked two dinners on this one!

A nice pile of old and dry firewood courtesy of Ed at KOA!

Some of the old and outdated playground equipment the new owner's removed from the KOA. Oh, Charlie Brown!

Working and stoking the campfire on Saturday before the remnants of Harvey swooped in and rained for almost 2 days....

The campsite is great with most of the spots being a wooded location under Eastern Hemlocks. The "new" owners have been working on upgrades and fixing things that were left a bit undone by the previous owners. We never had any issues with water, electric or sewer while there. They moved us to a great spot in the middle of the campground (#28!) right next to Ed and family that help them keep the place in shape. Ed even offered to get us some old firewood to stock up our fire pit for the weekend! Everyone was friendly and despite having rain on Saturday night through Sunday all day and night we had a good time.

Now to plan the "after summer" camping trip. Where to go and what to do....

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Prepping for the Labor Day Weekend

Now that the LH2 is back in it's home port I'm working on some maintenance items that may have been put off by the PO. No one likes fooling with the transmission so of course I decided to change the filter and oil today. While I'm at it, due to suffering from Shipfitter's disease, I'm stripping and repainting the transmission pan orange to match the Allegro paint scheme and allow me to see if there are leaks.

Well the pan went back on and I've put 5 quarts of ATF back in and she's right up to the "hot" mark on the dipstick!
This was the pan with the old cork gasket. The pan had that grey-black sludge in it from being on the RV for 30 years and the magnet had a good coating of that same sludge with some very small metal shavings (not too many!). I cleaned it all out and prepped for painting.

Here is a pic of the cleaned up pan in Allegro Orange. It was the only color I had bright enough to detect leaks.

The installation shot with new ATF put in! Had to get the new shocks in the pic as well.
We have a full tank of gas and are ready to hit the road for Labor Day. Well, maybe not before I remove the damaged second muffler for the ONAN and fix some of the wiring on that generator.....
There's always tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

This is why we take short trips first....

Managed to get three weekend trips to various parts of NY this Summer, the last was Herkimer Diamond Mines KOA just north of Herkimer. I recommend it for families and 'empty nesters'. The campground was FULL that weekend. We were assigned slot #1 right next to the office and store. Only complaint would be the weather. First night it came down in buckets! The only leak was the side door where the drip edge has crumbled and let water in behind the door. No biggie.

Almost the oldest RV in the park until this one showed up!!

An Astro Van Allegro from 1986! Great couple that is traveling in this one. They have a Harley as a toad!

After spending the weekend at Herkimer we followed the Canada River down to Herkimer and got on the NYS Thruway headed home. At exit 39 the transmission dropped down to first and we crawled off that exit (I do NOT want to pay an RV tow off the Thruway!!) and got ourselves to Camping World in Liverpool (NY). The folks there were really nice and let us park the LH2 in their lot so we could set up service on her.

The problem?? Well the RV has a TurboHydromatic (TH400) three-speed transmission and there are a couple of things that happen to these over time. One is the vacuum modulator can go, stopping it from shifting. Simple part to replace if you have it. I'm keeping spares in the RV. The other possible (and more likely) issue is with the little plastic gear on the end of the governor that controls shifting. This part is purposely made weak to prevent damage to the tranny should any abuse take place. The part gets used up and saves other more valuable bits inside.

A lesson on the TH 400 GM Transmission:

A shot of a very clean and new TH400 (I am so jealous!) the white thingy with the red nipple is the modulator (or as Marvin the Martian would say, the PU36 Space Mod-u-la-tor!) Near the back is the governor cover plate on the same side.

This is a picture showing what happens to that gear over time. Once it looks like this it's toast and you wont get out of first gear. The kit costs about $8 online.

A kit you can buy off Amazon for about $7 to fix what is likely the main suspect in your no-shift issue.

This is what your governor looks like if its in working order. These can be had for about $70.

A red stripe vacuum modulator that controls shifting. Sometimes these go or the vacuum line gets brittle. Cheap at about $16 so it's worth just getting if you're not sure.
Of course this is all wonderful if this is the problem and I really hope it is because this fix takes about 15-20 minutes to perform if you are comfortable with working on your RV. I'm heading off to Camping World to see if I can perform the fix and get the heck out of there since it's also the first day of the New York State Fair right down the road....

More later once we get there and see what's up! Oh, the joy of owning a vintage RV!

UPDATE! Got to Camping World and did the gear swap. The old gear was completely worn down! The RV is safe at home now and awaiting a new transmission filter and oil change.

Thanks for reading!!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

When Little Projects Grow UP.....

The potty swap turned into a complete rebuild of the floor. Yep, 30 years of small leaks and not even the wastewater! The plywood floor was shot and since I was in there I might as well replace it!
The Long Hauler 2 in the driveway, getting some attention for our next trip!
 The pictures will be in reverse order from finished product to the ugly ripping out of the floor. The Allegros still had aluminum sheathing on the underside of the plywood floors!! Holy cow! That really saves these old RV's from the weathering and rot that occurs
I took this and it looks like the wood floor already has water damage. The grain and color is a bit different but I have to say the pre-finished oak flooring was just the ticket for this renovation!
 With the removal of the old 1/2" plywood (yes, it was only 1/2" and not 3/4" like I've seen on other RV's) the approach was to get the new flange in the right height to mount it on the floor. I was surprised after ripping out the old flange and floor to find that the new one was so much higher than the old one.
the back cut needed to fit the last piece in the floor.
 There is the last strip to fit on the end. It's an old carpenters trick to get the last part of the wood floor down and as close to the wall as you can.

 After getting up all the rotted plywood I used the shop vac to get all the small bits out. I used another trick for counter top installers and used a large sheet of paper ( I have 36" wide rolls) to create a template to cut the new plywood to the exact shape. Worked like a charm!

Monday, July 31, 2017

The refit work and updates never stop...

This is what it's like owning an older RV (heck, I bet this is like owning a new one except those folks will never fess up about it!). Always projects and updates to keep up with the old stuff and making sure things are in working order.

The list isn't that bad: 1) fix some original skylights that no one wanted to deal with except with duct tape; 2) check out the Dometic fridge that was working but now seems to be more particular with how it works; 3) trouble shoot an apparently-related issue with the ONAN gen set with the switching and starter; 4) fix other leaks and clean up all the moss trying to establish a foothold on the LH2!5) and lets not forget the new potty!!!

Let's all check out the new skylights on the roof!! No more duct taped ones or totally missing plumbing vents here!

A typical existing skylight complete with poor foam gasket, taped shut and busted parts. The entire rim was curled up off the roof!

Work in progress for the ONAN genset, battery bank and other rear bits. It pays to do regular maintenance on this stuff.

Picture showing the new potty in the bathroom. Guess we'll keep the shag carpet for now. Nice on the bare feet.

Dometic gas burner in action after lots of cleaning and checking of connections. Still, the thermocouple (copper tube just above flame) has been ordered so it's now started to work again....
Lot's of projects but none at this point that are crazy or big enough to halt the progress. I can't believe I'm saying this but after getting used to the nightmare of the LH1 ('77 Tioga) I have to say that this rig is a lot better to work on. Most of the projects are just trying to get this to run completely as new or add some conveniences to our trips. Thanks for reading!!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dog Days of August: making family memories!

With the Allegro making it to and back from Association Island we have planned two more trips in August on the weekends. One is to Watkins Glen (keeping to NYS and working the bugs out on shorter trips) and the other is to Herkimer. Here are a few pics of Watkins KOA.

This place should be a blast if the weather holds out. We like the KOA spots because at least most try and provide some activities for the kids so we don't have to keep driving the Class A around or have a toad to get us around. Should be great fun!

The next series of pics is of Herkimer KOA and the "diamond" mines there. Hey, at least the kids can have fun learning about geology and find some cool quartz minerals! Just hide the educational value like you do when you sneak vegetables in the spaghetti sauce and meatballs!

I've got some more work to do on the Allegro. I've bought a new potty, water pump and other bits to get the plumbing systems working as they should. Hoping to get that all installed this weekend and tested before we go on our next trip! More later about the glitchy Dometic fridge on the next post. I did manage to rip off the old Solid State TV antenna and patch that leaky spot. More later!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Back in the Saddle Again....

Air shocks are terrific!
I took a bit of a break from this blog for several reasons. Some of it had to do with moving on to a new day job that doesn't have the flexibility of my old job. When you work for the State, you gotta follow the rules. Plus I have not given up my old job so the remaining time not at the day job gets filled with my other projects and I still have to balance the family life. Result: stuff like this gets but waaay back on the "to do" list. On the RV todo list was installing the air shocks on the front springs. Done!! That was about 2 hours of cutting, pulling, pushing and inflating. Boy, do they make a difference! I run them at about 70 psi.

Well, the family did manage to pull off a Week-after-Memorial Day vacation trip to the 1000 Islands to a KOA located on Association Island. It was a YMCA camp in the '50's and then somehow became a KOA campground. Many of the old buildings are still there including one BIG barn building they call the "Town Hall".


The water level on Lake Ontario is very high and expected to only crest sometime in later June. From what I saw, there is about another 12"-18" of rise this place can take before things like the marina and septic systems will become non-functional. Hope that the water level drops down and they can get back to normal!!
Photo courtesy of Association Island KOA.
We took the scenic route from our home up to 104 East up through Oswego and then up Route 3 to Henderson, NY. Three days there (Saturday, Sunday and part of Monday) and it rained for about half the time but we managed to get some good times in with campfire dogs and smores the first evening (after the wind died down! Wow that was something!). Saturday was grey but ok and that night we tested out the roof with the major downpours and thunderstorms late that night! Sunday was a mix of drizzle and such but you could get out and explore.
Arrival at Association Island after a nearly 3 hour wind-swept drive. 

The LH2 sitting pretty on our not-so-tropical island....

The drive up was in high winds and the Allegro certainly is a bit of a challenge driving and staying on track in that kind of situation! The last part was an exciting drive on the narrow causeway to the island. We got about 5.1 mpg with the generator running the entire time (lots of hills and not much highway traffic). On the way back we took 81 south to the Thruway back home and got almost 7 mpg with the generator ( and major rainstorms!).

photos of our constant fire pit that weekend. We managed to keep it going even with the rains with driftwood scraps!
 We hope to get the water pump replaced and get the plumbing all up and running the next trip but pretty much everything else worked just fine! Until the next trip this spring/summer!