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 > Rebuild ideas and thoughts

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Posted: 06/03/20 01:01am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I am going to do a custom rebuild of my motorhome as I got it fairly cheap, probably paid way too much for it. I like to customize things and finding out what works and didn't work. Below are some ideas that I have been brainstorming. This is going to be my semi-permanent home for at least a year or so, maybe longer until I find my life calling. It will be me and occasionally my 4 kids.

This is a 1990 Fleetwood Southwind Class A Motorhome, 68k miles got for $2500

I am going to be starting with the powertrain system first.


-The engine is going to be rebuilt, 7.4L with all original items. Does look good but when I popped the intake manifold found bent pushrods, so am going to go ahead and yank it and rebuild.
- I have a new carburetor, Edelbrock 1411.
- Looking for the intake manifold (maybe as this could be replaced easily later)
- Looking to upgrade at least camshaft
- The exhaust manifold will be just running back to the mufflers (which I have a new muffler from a Silverado that I acquired)
- The radiator will be replaced by a solid aluminum type
- I don't have emission and I think that system is shot anyway, so no more air pumps or emission-related stuff.
- My AC is shot I might get a new compressor or just modify it to something cheaper and easier, after all this will only be cooling the front passengers at the moment and not the back.
- I want to integrate a hot water system along with the radiator, maybe a separate system.
- I want to modify the radiator support install to make it easier for me to yank it back out if need be, it took almost the whole day for me to get that part removed to have access to the front of the engine.)
- I wanted the transmission, oil, power steering, and radiator to have its own little coolers but reading I found that wasn't much of a good idea. (does the transmission and power steering use the same fluid, can't I just move the lines in conjunction with them to eliminate the pump; just a thought) Still looking into this though any ideas would be appreciated.
- Although all of the above are separated Ideally would like to have a cluster of external filters for each of them.
- I had thoughts of adding an air compressor to the front where one of the air pumps were and add a clutch to turn it on an off like an AC compressor. Thoughts of an extra alternator or anything else?
- Fans, I will have the electric fan up front that came stock, which will be probably be upgraded as I acquired some from a newer car.
- I would like to relocate my master cylinder as I don't feel comfortable where it was located, makes it more difficult to look at the brake fluid.
- Power steering pump, I have an external reservoir and also am trying to find a place to relocate this also just for the convenience factor.
- The transmission will get somewhat of a rebuild, am looking to upgrading some components, torque convertor.
- I would like to add a 4-wheel drive system but that would be way too much work, maybe if I found something that would work. This is just for getting power to all four wheels, not really for offroading.
- The driveshaft, I didn't realize that it was so freaking long, has anyone ever heard of adding extra stuff to the driveshaft as far as supporting it a little bit better like extra carrier bearings? It just makes me sort of nervous with how long it is and how much of a pain it would be if it ever decided to go. Also how much torque and stress it must take pushing the motorhome. But I didn't design it either.
- Differentials haven't looked too much into this on the rear side, I do know that I need to replace my seals and fluid.
- I'm not sure what else I may be missing as far as any future-proofing this thing, ideally, if I could make it solid electric I would definitely do it but practicality wise not worth it in the long run.
- I want to clean up the electrical and make the engine as simple as I can to work on. I am going to redesign most of it and try to take some of this out of the equation.

- So this is going to be where I am going to need ideas and inputs mainly on what works and what would you do if you could.
- the steel framing is shot on the rear side and delamination has occurred. The roof is done. AC on top only one work.
- My thoughts of what I would like to have, I don't need that big bed in the back, I was thinking of putting in multiple beds and turning it into some type of master bedroom. Not much time will be in here, probably make a partial office in this area.
- So the rear is somewhat shot, I would like to have a workshop or storage area, the main access point would be the rear with a drop-down ramp of some type. I would like to store my toolbox and some other tools back there that I wouldn't really need access to on the road. I would like to move the rear wall back maybe 6 to 10 feet to accomplish this part. My biggest issue here is the weight on what I am able to store back here (ideally I am thinking around 1000 pounds). I know that there really isn't that much back there originally and not sure if that was on purpose or not. I would maybe relocate the water tanks and such further forward. The back bedroom would have to move forward or shrink some.
- The door that is on the side I would like to relocate this one to the passenger front as there is no door there at the moment and that would free up some space over there.
- Insulation, I am trying to research what is ideal and would like probably be out in areas where it may be a somewhat chili, I would like to bring my kids to see snow also at some point, so I am thinking spray foam would be ideal but that is a lot of money, I may look for people giving away insulation on craigslist and go from there.
- So the roof, I would like to do the split level AC system as I don't really care for too much being up there in the first place. Some type of Bedliner (line-x or other is my idea). Of course, I would have to think of some type of railing system or something that I may be able to modify at a later date. I will probably use less thick plywood (3/8") for the support or even something else like an attic jack spacing system, something for weight. I know I'm not supposed to live up there but I would like to have some functionality up there. Maybe star gazing or something. There will more than likely be solar panels up there but haven't made up my mind yet on how many.
- So the Bedliner stuff I would like to run it through the whole motorhome on the side and such, but the effectiveness on that may not be worth it, although would be airtight and no water intrusions, maybe if I find a good deal and someone willing to help with that project. I do have to replace some of the sidings due to the previous owner blaming his kids for hitting the side of his house. ( I would like ideas on this.) I would like to add a little overhang maybe an inch to help deter some of the water dripping into the siding area.
- I have lots of undercoating that I may be spraying on the underside to help with the rust buildup.
- I do want to do a type of custom dash since I will be playing with the Bedliner stuff, maybe form it with cardboard or something then spray it wit the Bedliner, maybe.
- I am going to try to install a partition behind the driver's area to make the area into a cockpit type. Along with this, I will be adding sensors and lots of things to monitor the health of the engine and components. Upgrade the radio area and have an intercom system for the rear.
- While I am at it I do have to fix the battery box location since it was thin metal and rusted out, I would like thoughts on the relocation of the batteries.
- The wiring for the rear, I do not like that most of the wiring cannot be accessed, so for the inside, I do plan on putting sheathing around different systems to color code and keep this easily repairable and upgradable. I am going to build a crown molding type system that I will be able to access the wiring and such without ripping stuff out.
- There will be an access hole for the roof for the wiring and such so if I do plan on upgrading up there should be able to use that access point to get up there.
- The ladder, I don't like that think, seems like it is an accident waiting to happen. Have you heard anyone making an access point inside the RV or along the front, maybe eliminating the permanent ladder and putting a portable ladder for this? Either way, I am thinking about removing that.
- So the roof, ventilation system, can't I install a small vent like a household bathroom and run it to the side? Same with the kitchen area. The lesser stuff on the roof for me would be better.
- So heat-wise, I have been looking into wood-burning stoves for motorhomes and brainstorming that area for alternate heat sources. Not much I can do to find alternate cooling sources unless someone has a theory on that one. But my thoughts, if I am in the middle of nowhere and something happens I can try and find things to burn. I've seen them in houses and they do get toasty, and I do like the heat, plus wood can be found almost anywhere for free.
- So ideas, links, pictures would be greatly appreciated. Cost I am not too concerned about because I already know that I am not going to get what I paid for the thing, but that's not the point, I want it to last, easily able to work on, and convenient. The powertrain is my main priority so I can get the thing into my shop. But I like to look for deals and ideas to brainstorm.

If I get some posts on my brainstorming conversion I will try and keep this post updated as time moves on.



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Posted: 06/03/20 07:01am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I think if I was going to do that much work I'd go with a throttle body fuel injection and an electronic ignition. For insulation closed cell spray foam insulation is the best since it seals all air leaks and it is unaffected by humidity. It also ad rigidity to the walls and can help quiet the rig when going down the road. Check on eBay and you will find that the spray foam is not that expensive. Just make sure that you run all of your electrical wires before you spray the foam. This looks like a major project so just take it in steps and try not to get discouraged.


Palos Heights, IL USA

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Posted: 06/03/20 07:40am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hopefully this is a project for its own sake because with so much work the rig may never be ready to take it on the road.

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Newport News, VA

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Posted: 06/03/20 08:00am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I would start by reading thru this post - Anyone interested in 83 Pace Arrow Tear down and Rebuild?. The owner is about to move into year three of a restoration effort.

For now leave the power train alone and focus on the house side of the rig. The drive train is a lot easier to rebuild and has a higher potential for success than the house. If you can't get the house side to work any funds spent on the power train may be difficult to recover unless you find the right person to buy the parts.

Watch the weight of everything used to rebuild the house side. You don't have a lot of tire/wheel/axle/suspension capacity and every pound you add via construction "to make things better and stronger" is that much less you have for cargo.

Keep in mind you'll never get close to recovering any money spent to repair and update the coach. It will be a labor of love to an object that will never love you back. Keep thinks simple and easy to repair or maintain. Simple doesn't fail as much as exotic or complex.

Good luck.

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Milford, CT

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Posted: 06/03/20 08:28am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I agree with what Ron said a TBI would be better. Also add headers and get rid of the stock exhaust manifolds they are probably leaking or cracked, you will increase your HP buy roughly 80 HP. Add some air dams from the grill to the radiator to force air through radiator instead of under neath it to keep it running cooler. Add a CAI to grill instead of stock intake which is sucking in hot air. Advance timing from 4 degrees to 9 degrees to pick up some more performance. I would not worry about the long drive shaft, you have more important things to do. I would not worry about the tranny or adding 4 wheel drive you have a lot of weight on those rear wheels for traction. The 4LE80 transmission is fairly robust, just change fluid and filter and look what is in the bottom on pan before you rebuild the transmission. With 64k miles it may just need a fluid change. As far as the body you are asking for a lot of work that won't add much value for you. Weight the MH first and compare your Traveling weight to you GVWR which is probably no more than 18,000 lbs. Remember if you are living in the MH with all your tools it will be a lot heavier than just a week end camper. How long is the MH?


New Mexico

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Posted: 06/03/20 08:41am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

How much time are you allowing for this? Sounds like years of work.

Hard to imagine a wood-burning stove in a MH.



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Posted: 06/03/20 08:42am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator


3 years and counting.....

I am pretty handy. I wouldn't touch it.

He has 3 years into it, and almost $10,000 and he has only scratched the surface. I respect him for sticking with it, but it simply does not make sense to rebuild these vintage RV's. Best to find a low mileage older rig and make do. There are many of them on the market.

* This post was edited 06/03/20 08:50am by 2bzy2c *

My advice is worth exactly what you paid for it.


Southwest Florida_USA

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Posted: 06/03/20 11:04am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Sounds like it should have been a TT for a little more money and for a lot less, than the OP will have in the MH. Even with something to pull it with.
Unless of course, he's really planning on hitting the road, for day in and day out travel around the country.
Even at that, I'd have payed more for something that was ready to go or close.
Yeah, I know and the original price was a lot cheaper, but just wait and for a rude awakening that's about to slap one in the face.
Like said, you gotta love the punishment of the project itself, above all else.

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Baraboo, WI

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Posted: 06/03/20 11:11am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I look at projects like this and I hope that thee person knows what they are getting into. Take your projected cost and triple it. I once tried to rebuild a boat and found out that a boat is a hole in the water that you just keep throwing money into.

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Bird Freak

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Posted: 06/03/20 05:17pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

BarabooBob wrote:

I look at projects like this and I hope that thee person knows what they are getting into. Take your projected cost and triple it. I once tried to rebuild a boat and found out that a boat is a hole in the water that you just keep throwing money into.
My last Chris Craft resto taught me what BOAT stands for.
Break Out Another Thousand.
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