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BigTuna117

"The Tank" 1978 Travco 320

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I figured I'd put up a thread for my parent's motorhome, since I typically end up dealing with the strangest of the shenanigans keeping it running. It is in incredible shape, considering it's age, however these bad boys were built to last. The fiberglass-on-steel design on top of a dodge truck chassis makes it REALLY sturdy. The fiberglass exterior is a unibody too, meaning the outside is pretty much leak proof and UV Resistant.

 

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We made the decision to buy this beast, and in April of 2008, the adventure began.

 

Many times, we have run into shenanigans, such as when we had a bolt holding the alternator on sheared off mid drive, and had to patch it back together with a wire coat hanger and zip ties, and drove it 300+ miles home like that. If there ever was a testament to the durability and reliability of the Dodge 440 V8, this rig is it.

 

And over the years, she has served us well, and always gotten us home. It's always been an experience to get her out on the road.

 

But for the last two years, she has sat, receiving minor upgrades and repairs after a tire blowout pulled the freshwater main apart. My dad and I (both being strategically and mechanically minded) have begun a push to get her back to 100% by later this year.

 

We have 3 major overhauls to complete. Repair the freshwater mains, Brakes, and the 12 volt electrical system. After installing the dual battery solenoid on the Jeep, I decided I'd take on the electrical systems. Boy oh boy, I didn't realize what I was getting myself into.

 

Being an older RV, it obviously doesn't have the fancy computer controlled charging systems that modern RVs have. Instead, it has a 6 post charging solenoid, which is supposed to charge the engine battery and house battery while you drive. The old girl has always had issues charging the second battery, and I think I found the issue.

The charging system seems to be an over complex crows nest of wires.

 

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Tracing the wires to their origin, or as close to their origin as I can get, this is what I've come up with:

3qzXLpY.jpg

 

I find it puzzling that one 12 volt line leads into the switch at the same side of the battery yet the other one (presumably leading to the interior fusebox) leads out on the correct side, also the fact that the alternator leads directly onto the switch instead of into either the solenoid or directly to the primary battery. I need to finish tracing one of the 12 volt leads, but I feel like I could greatly clean up the wiring by moving to the modern standard 4 post solenoid with a control unit. Also, it really irks me that nothing is fused. Regardless of anything else I do, the entire system will be fused when I'm done.

 

I feel like it could be MUCH simpler when I'm done, and MUCH safer with additional fuses.

 

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Had a Travco of my very own back in the day. Looked exactly like this one, paint scheme and all, except mine was bright orange:

l_1.jpg

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neat rig, and yeah that wiring looks like PITA to deal with - good luck, i'm sure you can simplify it and hopefully make it more reliable and safer.

 

as you mentioned, some breakers or fuses are definitely in order on the main leads coming from the battery bank and the starting battery (positioned as close to the batteries as possible).

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neat rig, and yeah that wiring looks like PITA to deal with - good luck, i'm sure you can simplify it and hopefully make it more reliable and safer.

 

as you mentioned, some breakers or fuses are definitely in order on the main leads coming from the battery bank and the starting battery (positioned as close to the batteries as possible).

 

Well, I think I have the wiring figured out for the most part now. I have a few more wires to trace, but for the most part, I have a gameplan. Since it currently uses a solenoid style charging system, we'll keep it like that, except we'll move it over to a smart solenoid (perhaps the same T-MAX I just put in the WJ) so that it can charge both batteries without the engine running. Then, I can drop a battery maintainer in to keep the house/engine batteries charged when we're storing it. As far as the batteries go, it'll be perfectly ok with to standard batteries instead of a deep cycle, since we normally only use the 12 volt systems for the lights while driving, which have been converted to LED anyways.

 

So, one of the things I found is that the far 12volt out from the switch (the side opposite of the battery) runs to the 12 volt fuse box, controlling the lights and fridge, allowing you to switch it all off, as it is supposed to. the other 12 volt out is an "always hot" wire that i've yet to determine where it leads to. From what I've determined, the very thick gauge wire runs to the starter control module on the 440, which also distributes power to the other bits such as speedo regulation, and instrument cluster.

 

P6mndIy.jpg

The starter control module, with years of road grime and a wire which got replaced shortly after this picture was taken.

 

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The 440 is healthy, at around 60k miles, though difficult to take a good picture of.

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Had a Travco of my very own back in the day. Looked exactly like this one, paint scheme and all, except mine was bright orange:

l_1.jpg

 

Cool! What model was it? (240, 270, 320, L'espirit)?

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Cool! What model was it? (240, 270, 320, L'espirit)?

 

Hot Wheels:o

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Hot Wheels:o

 

Ohh hehe xD

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I found this time lapse video of me cleaning the old girl before her last run in 2013. No, this isn't doctored, she still has carpet roof, although that will probably get swapped for beadboard or something of the sort in the future. the ceiling carpet it too high maintenance, and has gotten kinda lanky from the heat.

 

 

And yes, that is the kitchen sink on the couch. We replaced the faucet!It was a PITA. Old style RVs have a different connection/fitting system than modern ones, and different sized lines. Took a while to get the correct adapters and fittings to make it work.

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It's been about two years since I last updated this. I hate to say it, but she's sat for the last two years while we deal with electrical gremlins. Recently, it received a new battery, which brought a whole new set of electrical shenanigans. The last 6 months, she has sat, completely dead. No crank, no life from the engine electrical whatsoever.

 

... Until this weekend, when fiddling with the harness coming off of the starter control module, we got her to crank again. You may remember, I repaired a wire in the starter control module previously, now it seems both of it's partners are compromised as well now. Which leads me to question of these two wires have been the culprit with many of our electrical gremlins all along. I am actively searching for a new complete wiring harness for the engine, which is a fairly simple harness. For now I'll have to repair the two wires and see if there are any breaks or issues further down the lines. In the end, if I cannot find a full harness, I may just end up manufacturing my own harness.

 

But we'll see. You fiddle with those two wires, and it'll crank for a short while. Nothing like dealing with cranky old wiring harnesses.

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BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN

 

After 4 years of sitting, 3 of which with no life, she has awoken from her deep slumber!

We're not entirely sure what we did to wake her up, but she has been started at least 3 times in the past week, all of which she fired up on the first try! We've used this sudden momentum to put several needed repairs in motion, so that she can be back on the road soon. Saturday she got a fresh set of Triange 14 Ply R19.5 tires. The old meats were pretty rotted out given their age. Sunday we took her out for a wash, despite most of the power across town being out. We did find a Terrible's wash station still open in the old town, though.

39059806_10209429156245533_7947378974525489152_o.jpg.0dccde81cb8a6383b6b1a21031297fdb.jpg

Yes, the T fell of. Yes, we still have it. Yes, it's getting put back on soon.

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Small by comparison

 

Up next we need to get her into a shop and have these engine electrical gremlins squared away one and for all. Then, she'll need to visit an RV specialist shop to have the cracked water main repaired. And new brakes. Should probably mention those. REALLY needs new brakes. And the rear A/C unit failed, too. It was original, so I can't say we weren't anticipating that one.

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