1979 "Minnie Winnie" on Dodge Dually Van Chassis... - Pirate4x4.Com : 4x4 and Off-Road Forum
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Old 05-26-2010, 07:32 AM   #1 (permalink)
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1979 "Minnie Winnie" on Dodge Dually Van Chassis...

Ok, I know squat about RVs and their works, but I am inheriting the old Class C RV in the title.

It's small, seems to be in decent shape, 23,000 miles, etc.

I have heard roof leaks are a deal-breaker, and this one seems to have 2 small leaks. Possibly just seams that need to be sealed, as the RV hasn't moved in over 10 years. Heck, it hasn't been started in 8 years.

Seems the most pressing issues for driving this outta here are the dead battery and the original bias ply tires from 79 still being on it. That, and parts will be difficult to find as the standard engine was a 360, optional 440, and grandpa special ordered it with a 318 for fuel economy. It failed smog in 2002 and was registered non-op, but I will slap some TN tags on it and call it a day in that department (smog failure is presumed to be from running the test on 4 year old fuel).

The questions I have:

1. It has a generator hook-up package, but no generator. How hard is it to find the right type/size generator to put in these?

2. Could I just seal the roof's seams, or am I looking at an expensive repair?

3. Batteries: There is a dual/main switch, is this only for charging and do I need to shut it off before starting on the main (doesn't matter yet, ALL batteries are dead).

4. What do I need to do to the 110/12v/lpg fridge before firing it up?

5. What do I need to do to the lpg heater before use?

6. How do I maintain the shower and water pump? Remember, they haven't been used in over 10 years.

7. Where is the best place to find the little things, like replacement cabinet latches and a new door latch assembly?

8. Have mounted lpg tanks changed to OPD-style like bbq tanks, or would the same connection and such be proper and safe today?

Even though I know squat about RVs, the entire family agreed upon giving it to me (it was actually willed to one of my uncles) as my wife and I are the only ones besides my sister who go camping, and my sister and her husband have a new-ish 5th wheel RV. I am also the only one who has any confidence in my ability to make it road-worthy again... I think I could have it running down the road reliably with a good day's work put into it. Tires, batteries, coolant flush, fresh fuel, run and check seals, minor tuning, and roll. It's the back half of the RV that would be a new experience to me.
[QUOTE=Mrs.CSR;14024539]You were good[/QUOTE]

Last edited by DRTDEVL; 05-26-2010 at 07:34 AM.
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Old 05-26-2010, 08:37 AM   #2 (permalink)
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1 it's easy to find a small one to fit. but if you want a built it i don't really know
2 if the roof leaks and it has sat outside then ou could be looking at anything from some sillycone on the roof to gutting the entire interior. it really could be that bad. you've got to get behind the wall board where it was leaking and see how bad the rot in the main structure is.
3. you don't need ot shut off the battery switch when you drive. unless some of the batteries are still the old dead ones.
4 sorry those are over priced pieces of junk. so i have no idea
5 get a propane sensor, and a carbon monoxide alarm. make sure you can see the pilot light for the first start up.
6 no idea
7 i hear RV junk yards exist and are the best deals. but there are none near me
8 no idea

good luck. but really look hard at the water damage before sinking even a penny into batteries. without a good structure and interior it's worth $500. keep that in mind.
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Old 05-26-2010, 08:46 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I am not too worried about water damage... It has been sitting in Santa Monica, Ca, so there hasn/t been a lot of rain in it's life. The only way I know it's got roof leaks is the peeling in 2 spots of the ceiling, where the fiberboard and it's wallpaper-like cover have separated. The interior is pretty much spotless, my grandfather was meticulous about maintenance.

Heck, the only reason the batteries are dead is the solar charging system he built and installed on the roof died. The system is still good, but the panel itself finally failed.

As for the battery switch, I was wondering if it needed to be isolated during starting. One would be a deep-cycle, the other is the normal underhood battery. Would forgetting about the switch cause any damage?
[QUOTE=Mrs.CSR;14024539]You were good[/QUOTE]
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Old 05-26-2010, 09:22 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Like was said the roof leak can go from being very simple to a complete interior.

As far as the fridge I would open the cover on the outside and make sure that no creatures have made homes in the chimney area to prevent a fire, and other than that fire it up and see if it works.

It will need to be level and on for a few hours before it gets cold so be patient. The thing is with a fridge that old the inside of the cooling units tend to rust out so it may work now then the next time you go camping it just up and quits and a new fridge is around $700-1200 and cooling units aren't cheap either if you can even find one for a fridge that old.

The water system is pretty simple but when leaks pop up they are usually a bitch to get to to fix, being a 79' it could have either an air pressurized system or just a standard water pump.
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Old 05-26-2010, 09:26 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I think it's a standard water pump, it's bolted to a shelf in the cabinet below and left of the sink, with water lines running to/from it.
[QUOTE=Mrs.CSR;14024539]You were good[/QUOTE]
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Old 05-26-2010, 07:10 PM   #6 (permalink)
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1. Try to find a used generator if you want an RV generator, or use a 3000 watt Chinese generator like the Champion if you want to save money. New RV generators are very expensive but used aren't that hard to find.

2. Like jam000 said it depends on how much damage/wood rot there is/was.

3. You shouldn't have to use this switch often unless you are jumpstarting yourself.

4. Light the fridge and see if it will light. Just because it lights and holds a pilot doesn't mean it actually cools. If it won't light try electric but that takes longer to get cold. You might have to blow out the tubes of spider webs and make sure the chimney isn't blocked with wasps/etc. Let it run overnight at least before you decide if it is working or not. 12v uses a lot of battery power so I wouldn't ever use that. I always run propane on the fridge even if I have hookups because it works so much better. If it is shot I'd pull it out and put in a dorm fridge. A new RV fridge is ~$1000

5. Like jam000 said get a carbon monoxide detector and propane leak detector. If the heat exchanger is rusted then it will fill the living compartment with combustion gasses which can kill you. Again you might have to blow out passages to get it to light.

6. Try them out and see if they work.

7. pplmotorhomes.com or I go to a local place called Russ Dean RV. Camping world has some stuff too and they have a website.

8. The chassis mounted and horizontal tanks didn't change and really 1979 isn't all that old. I am not saying nothing is wrong with it, but there is nothing wrong with it solely due to age. Take it to a real propane distributor when you get it filled and they will tell you if it is modern or not.
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Old 07-05-2010, 03:10 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I just acquired a 79 Minnie Winnie with full documentation and manuals. As soon as I can I'll scan everything so you can download it from my site.

A good place to find stuff is mobilemart.com.
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Old 09-05-2010, 07:42 PM   #8 (permalink)
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New to RVS, just inherited a old 79 Winnie, could you possibly get me a copy of the manual ? Not looking for freebies, just some information..Thanks..RC
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Old 09-08-2010, 11:01 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Buddy of mine has one of almost the same specs. Has plenty of power, tows his rig with it (Toyota). He uses a Honda generator-the 2000watt model and yes it runs his a/c fine. If your a/c is an 11kbtu unit it should run yours too. You might wanna try


There is a company that has all those latches and they have a huge catalog that they will mail you. I've got one somewhere, but I can't think of the companies name right now, if I find it I'll post up. One place I have had good luck with used parts is:

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Old 09-12-2010, 12:50 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Interestiong this was just brought up again... Dad called yesterday to say the title was located and is being mailed to me so I can work on getting it on the road again.

Once I am back with the RV, I'll be able to determine more. Hard to do or know anything when it's sitting behind a wall with a dead battery. Gotta replace that and go from there.
[QUOTE=Mrs.CSR;14024539]You were good[/QUOTE]
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Old 09-12-2010, 01:11 PM   #11 (permalink)
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The roof is the main priority to fix first to make sure you arent throwing money down the drain I bought a rv with the same issue as yours a little spot in the roof that was starting to seperate one 300 mile round trip to little sahara in it and the entire ceiling was falling down in the front over the bunk where the little spot was. The generators are pricey but if you check craigslist you can pick a complete unit with the mounting plate up for around 500 in my area at least you can put a cheap regular style generator in but you have to figure out a way to route the exhaust out of the compartment and lose your remote start capability. The water lines and pump just hook them up to water but make sure you use a pressure regulator so you dont over pressure it and then check for leaks if thats good then just turn a faucet on and let it run to flush it out. After you determine if the system is good then you can check the holding tanks out for winterization they sell a fitting that hooks to the water supply and you use compressed air to blow the system dry make sure to pull the plug on the water heater also. For the propane the best way I have found is to light a top burner on the stove to purge the system then check the other appliances. The refrigerator will work a 100% better on propane as far as cool down time but if it doesn't work you are looking at money to repair or replace it with another 3 way fridge a similar sized electric only will be alot cheaper. The in dash switch is just for the isolator to keep you from draining your start battery all you really do with it is flip it if you mess up and run the primary battery dead or to charge your deep cycles while driving. For the heater the best thing to do is check all the duct work to be sure no critters have made it there home then fire it up once you purge the sytem. Little parts like latches can be had at rv stores fairly cheap. Other than that it is just a regular vehicle chassis as far as working on it goes just alot more expensive and free usually ends up being the most expensive thing you can buy.
01 TJ A bunch of parts
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