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BigTuna117

"The Tank" 1978 Travco 320

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Life with an RV, certianly comes complete with some "adventures in advanced roadside repair lessons"... LOL...

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It is now a "RAVCO".

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Life with an RV, certianly comes complete with some "adventures in advanced roadside repair lessons"... LOL...

 

God knows this is true! Like the time the alternator snapped one of it's bolts and we had to hold it in place with Zip-ties and a wire coat hanger to limp her home!

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Recently I discovered a Travco enthusiasts page on Facebook. I was able to ask a few questions about the charging system, and receive some answers. The solenoid does work to charge the house/engine batteries, but is actually operated by a secondary module for when it is connected to 115v. which explains the various "thermo-breakers" I found near the solenoid. These operate based on heat/resistance, and self-reset based on such.

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Apparently this was Travco's unit of choice, and was used all throughout their models in the late 70's.

Further investigation is required. I have been told to look under the rear driver's side bed for this unit. One kinda-sucky thing about this is that in order to activate the unit, you would have to lift the bed up to flip the switch every time you dock. Perhaps I'll look into modding gas struts into the bed "lids".

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Well, the rig has returned to us after several weeks of refit at a local mechanic shop. To say that she is running well... is an understatement.
She received:

  • A full tuneup, new belts, hoses, wires, plugs etc.
  • re-cored radiator... since nobody makes these rads anymore!
  • rebuilt fuel system, with proper "helper" electric fuel pump and regulator & custom hard fuel lines.
  • The ORIGINAL in-dash A/C system has been brought back to life with a new compressor and hoses. Now running r134a and staying very, very cool.
  • new turn signal switch
  • front end re-lube
  • new transmission and oil pan seals
  • new valve cover seals
  • new exhaust manifold seals & some work to reduce a tick/ leak on the passenger bank

 

... and now the cosmetic work begins. A water main break somewhere in the back calls for our attention, meanwhile we have acquired all of the beadboard paneling for the ceiling. We also decided to tile over the plain wood in the kitchen area, giving it a cleaner look while still looking "in place" 
In the meantime, I'm also doing research for vintage or "vintage styled" 12v lights. the six 12v "main lights" across the cabin are ridiculously small, and worn out anyways. The problems I face are simple, it seems like not many 12v fixtures deviate from plain white and clear, with a more "modern" look about them. I found a few companies who make vintage reproductions, but primarily of the late 80's fake-woodgrain florescent fixtures that everybody used at the time. 

 

Once the main is repaired, the ceiling retrofitted, we'll be ready to rip up the carpet and replace it. It will be replaced with some sort of laminate or hardwood, depending on what ends up being durable and easy to clean.

 

It's good to have this project back on track again.

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With the engine and mechanical refits successful, we finally have momentum to update a bit of the interior. Talking to several other Travco owners, we've discovered that the ceiling "carpet" is definitely not original. Aside from sagging, it's extremely difficult to keep clean. Naturally we decided to tear it down!

What we uncovered was an extremely heat soaked... masonite? Paper board? Which had white "crinkle" style texture to it underneath (similar to what many modern motor homes use today). Whoever had installed the faux carpet ceiling covers had simply used a spray adhesive to hold it in place. Six panels made up the living area, kitchen, and sleeping areas. The strange thing, the first three boards I uncovered were properly fastened into place, and the the three rear-most panels weren't being held up by... anything. We had always attributed the rattles this thing put out while driving to being old, but the panels were being suspended by failing glue and gravity for all this time! Having removed the heat damaged panels, you get a good look at the rig's "ribcage" of steel supports and trusses which gives the fiberglass shell it's rigidity. 

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Another thing this has led to is the inspection of both the 12v and house electrical. It looks to be in good shape, and in fact, appears to have been replaced at some point in the motorhome's life. This is probably for the better as I've seen a few Travcos burn in the last few months due to the original electrical becoming faulty. 

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(The storage cabinets above the sleeping area fold down into two additional bunks. We've never used this feature, but in theory would allow this beast to house 4 people and two kids. The fold down sections are being supported since their cabling was removed in order to rip out the old ceiling)

 

After making a few tweaks to the wiring, it's nearly ready for it's new ceiling layer! We decided to go for a wood beadboard, painted in a light offwhite (which I cannot remember the name of for the life of me) Coming up, the Kitchen area will get a new counter top, A nicer-than-plain-wood backdrop, and a majority of the bathroom will have to be disassembled to repair a busted water main. 

 

It's good to be finally making visible progress on this machine.

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What a cool project!

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So, we've encountered several setbacks cutting the new panels for the ceiling. For one thing, the old saying "They don't build them like they used to" comes to mind. As it turns out, there aren't as many "even angles" in this thing as you'd expect. LOTS of trick cuts to get panels to fit. Fortunately, you do somehow get used to it after a while. Drilling holes into the steel "Ribcage" to fasten the panels turned out to be a chore as well, several drill bits later, I've had to upgrade to a set of bits for hardened steel. On top of that, the holes themselves actually have to be tapped, as the screws can't shape the steel on their own. This, plus an industrial strength adhesive tacking the panels to the ribcage, makes for a tight fit  with pretty much no vibration or rattling. This will be a very pleasant change, as the initial panels in the rear driver side, above the bed and kitchen, were not held in by hardware (the previous owner worked on the ceiling, and neglected to reinstall the hardware at some point... as I found out when I tore down the old masonite boards). The beadboard doesn't flex very well, so we are looking at possibly "kerfing" the panels towards the front where the boards are visible. Fortunately in this storage space not much is lost.

The panels are painted and will have to be cleaned, please pardon the dirt here. As you can guess, this is a mighty dirty job! Currently trying to find an appropriate trim to cover the seams. The trim screws will also be painted to match.

 

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For most of this project, the rear A/C cowl has been hanging freely. I've hit my head on it several times. Now It's fastened up and no longer an issue. The new LED light fixtures are also nice and bright.

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Pardon our dust!

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This panel above the door was our first attempt at Kerfing. The result was a panel which was still a bit too rigid, but could indeed bend further before it finally started to split.

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