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Newbie Buying Early 70’s E(?)Camper w/ Many Questions.

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Newbie Buying Early 70’s E(?)Camper w/ Many Questions.

Unread postby stevennlv on Sat Jan 08, 2011 10:13 pm

Hi everybody,

I’m Steven, I’m a newbie and I’ve got a ton of questions. I’m hoping that maybe I can pick your brains?
Short version of a very long story: I was moving from Charlotte to Salt Lake City for work when my truck broke down in Louisville and I can’t afford to fix it. There’s a guy here with an RV I’m looking at. He’s willing to work with me and do some horse trading. My truck needs about $2500 to fix and then he could flip it for about $7500. (I’m cool with that. I don’t have the $2500 to fix it.) He has an early 1970’s Econoline RV.

But I’m not even sure that he even really knows what it is. I’ve seen some pictures and it’s definitely an early 1970’s Econoline RV. He says it has 76K miles and has been very well maintained.

But, he also says that it’s a “Utopia”. However, when I search on the net according to everything I’ve found a Utopia was a Dodge RV? Also he says that it’s a 1972. But I’m not sure about that either. It has one of the old pre-1980 non-standardized VIN’s (E30GNH03006). I’ve racked my brains scouring the internet for the last six hours before I found you guys. I cannot pull any hard info on that VIN; no matter where I think to look. I’ve found some Ford truck VIN sites that claim to be able to read part of the VIN. They both tell me that they can’t read the model, but that it was made in VA in NOV69 and has Windsor 302 V8 w/ 2 barrel carb.

I’m hoping that you guys can help me figure out exactly what it is. I want to educate myself before I go look at it tomorrow. I need to know a lot of things. If this trade works out this will be mine and my wife’s “house” for an extended period of time. We have a bunch of stuff in a trailer, too much really. We’re looking to eliminate some, but by no means all of it. This RV does not currently have a tow hitch on it. So either I’ll have to add one or get everything out of the trailer and in to the RV. I’ve attached the pictures he’s sent me.

That’s the back story, now for the questions:
1) What the heck is it? Specifically I want to know the year / make / model of the chassis so that I can investigate the power plant and drive train.
2) Can a tow hitch even be added to it?
3) How durable is it and what are the known issues (if any) with the power plant and drive train in particular and this model RV conversion in general.
4) If I can’t tow with it, or if the tow capacity is very low, how much “stuff” (read weight) can I put in to the RV without overloading it?
5) Can I add an electronic brake controller to it for the trailer? If not how will that effect towing the trailer?
6) Its a 19 footer. If put a lot of weight in the rear end (past the rear axle) can I put towing type air bags in the rear suspension to raise the rear end and improve overall ride and handling. Or is loading that heavy just a bad idea in general?
7) I’m heading (hopefully) for snow country. With snow chains all around, how will it handle in the snow? And if it can tow how will it handle the trailer in the snow?
8) We camp a lot and to be honest we’re so broke that part of the plan (if we can get to Salt Lake) is to “live off the land”, at least partially. (A Utah fishing license is cheap and you don’t need any license for jack rabbit out there – cheaper than the grocery store.) So how deep in to the back woods can I get with this thing; both with or without the trailer, or heavily loaded. Obviously I can’t go 4x4’ing like I could with my truck. But do I need to stick to only paved roads with this thing?
9) He says that its “winterized”, but it’s really cold in Utah this time of year. How will the cold effect the “RVing” type systems (read showers, toilet, etc), or the drive train and power plant for that matter? What type of preventative maintenance should I do before I take it out there? Plus, sleeping in a “winterized” RV and 40 degree below zero sleeping bags, with it being at 0 degrees outside will we need to worry about frostbite? Will the toilet, sink or shower plumbing or water reservoirs bust or leak at those temps?
10) I’ve never RV’ed in my life. Should it have a way to generate heat inside without running the engine or killing the battery? I need to do this as cheaply as possible (all the way around) and don’t want to burn fuel all night at $3 plus a gallon.
11) I’m going to take it to an RV dealer for a diagnostic before I buy it. But, when I do my own inspection tomorrow what are the big warning signs that say run, don’t walk away?
12) The guy is asking $1500 in cash or trade. Is that a descent price for what he has?
I really appreciate any help that any of you folks can give me.
Thanks,

Steven.

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Re: Newbie Buying Early 70’s E(?)Camper w/ Many Questions.

Unread postby mikhen on Sun Jan 09, 2011 11:34 am

You can try to check the VIN here..http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicle_Identification_Number

I'd start there, then worry about the other questions.
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Re: Newbie Buying Early 70’s E(?)Camper w/ Many Questions.

Unread postby plainsman48 on Sun Jan 09, 2011 1:33 pm

Personally I wouldn't go near it. Fix your truck up and move on.
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Re: Newbie Buying Early 70’s E(?)Camper w/ Many Questions.

Unread postby Limey on Sun Jan 09, 2011 4:12 pm

plainsman48 wrote:Personally I wouldn't go near it. Fix your truck up and move on.


I agree with that, but as the OP says he can't afford to fix the truck, and this is an alternative deal being offered, he is pretty much between a rock and a hard place.

However, It smells to me of someone trying to pull a fast one on a poor person with little knowledge of RV's - especially very old ones. I think they are trying to con him out of his truck and getting him to take (what looks like) a suspicious RV, to say the least!!
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Re: Newbie Buying Early 70’s E(?)Camper w/ Many Questions.

Unread postby frank on Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:27 am

Well all I can say is I don't know about this
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Re: Newbie Buying Early 70’s E(?)Camper w/ Many Questions.

Unread postby Zinger on Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:41 pm

It looks good by the pics. but!!! remember for $1500.00 you dont get much especially that you can drive on the road lots of concerns tires being a major one just to start
Have a good one
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Re: Newbie Buying Early 70’s E(?)Camper w/ Many Questions.

Unread postby 86bigred on Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:59 pm

i'm an rv tech by trade.it is a good choice to take it to a rv dealer to have it checked out. if it is winterized there will be rv antifreeze in the water lines.also check out the furnace if your going to live in it during cold weather, you want it to work and don't want c02 poisoning.do not fun the fridge in -4 f,the ammonia in the fridge will crystallize and destroy the cooling coils.when you check out the interior see if any of the paneling or wall covering is peeling,this is a sign of a water leak.if it smells moldy it probably is.you could have a receiver hitch installed on it,but with a 302 v8 it will be under powered.
are you going to park it at a year round camp ground or a place where you can plug it in? if so you can buy some portable heaters to help with heating it.if not it will be cool in the coach as they are not very well insulated.good luck.
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Re: Newbie Buying Early 70’s E(?)Camper w/ Many Questions.

Unread postby Limey on Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:30 am

Good points 86bigred. Welcome to the forum! :)
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