94 Roadtrek facelift

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by MrPulldown, Feb 25, 2014.

  1. MrPulldown

    MrPulldown Long timer

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    My in-laws left we with a 1994 Roadtrek 190, built on a Dodge B350 van. It is parked on our property and used as my "in-law" unit on wheels. I have taken it on a couple of camping trips and it does well. What is the most impressive thing about this little rig is that it is fully self contained. Short of having a washer/dryer, it has everything a big RV does. Heater, stove, fridge, sink, microwave, toilet, shower, water heater, and everything works (kind of). The in-laws are thinking about letting this hulk of 90's American steel go and I am thinking about becoming the new official owner. I have never been the RV type. I can camp out of a back pack, motorcycle, truck, heck just what I carry in my pockets will allow me to survive in the woods. But now that I have two young children (youngest just turned 6 months), it is so much easier to get out and camp from a little class B RV.
    [​IMG]
    This picture gives you an idea of the beast I am dealing with. Not mine just a stolen web pic.

    Being that it is from the 90's it needs some work. I wanted to get your guys's opinion on a couple of items that need attention. I want to see what I am getting myself into. I am capable of doing most of the work myself, though have very limited time. This isn't going to be a "struggle van" type rebuild.

    Leaks-One of the biggest issues is that the fiberglass roof leaks. Where exactly is unknown. Every possible location has been caulked and rubber spray sealed yet it still leaks. The front windows can use a re-caulking. What I suspect is that water is leaking from the rear AC vents[​IMG] My thought is to remove the vent and seal it off with a plate. If this works I will remove the AC unit entirely. I nor my in-laws have ever used the AC. With it deleted I would have a large area inside for storage.

    Lose Steering-There is a lot of play in the steering. When driving, I look like one of the Duke boys, sawing the steering wheel back and forth. I can move the steering wheel 20 degrees (?) with no effect on steering input. Makes driving mountain roads difficult. What is most likely the culprit? I have been into the suspension and replaced the front springs as well as given it a decent inspection. http://mrpulldown.blogspot.com/2009/11/road-trek-lifting-94-dodge-van.html Nothing looks to be amiss. I have jacked it in the air and given most of the components a good tug. Nothing seems to be loose or have play. I suspect it is one or more of the steering/suspension components. However I do not want to replace all of them. Is there one that is more likely to be worn. Steering tie rods, center link, pitman arm, gear box, steering shaft u-joint, ball joints, control arm bushings, wheel bearing??

    OD/Tach-on the dash is a over drive button. However pushing the button at highway speeds does not seem to do anything? I suspect that the OD is not working. The button is connected and the wires run off into the depths of the dash. I would really like to have this, as the 10 MPG average could use a little help. Any way to test or fix? On the same note, it would be nice to have a tachometer. At least I would know for sure if the OD was working. How does one go about installing a tach. What does one use as a signal pick up/where? Where would be the best place to mount such a tach, A-pillar, steering column?

    Transmission cooler/temp gauge-When I first took possession of the van I noticed that the bottom of the Tranny pan was a little "wet" upon checking the ATF level it seemed quite a bit low. I filled it. However I believe that I never got the ATF to the proper working temp. Upon climbing Tioga Pass road, I over heated the ATF causing it spew out all over the exhaust and caused quite a "spy hunter" isk smoke screen for the cars which were piled up behind me. Seems like it would be nice to have a AT temp gauge. Is the a readily available port/bung which to thread in a temp sensor and gauge. A quick look up shows several ATF coolers. I am sure a rig like this could benefit from a heavier duty cooling unit. Thoughts experience??

    Trailer Hitch-Due to the rear storage box a conventional B350 trailer hitch will not work. Roadtrek use to make a trailer hitch specific for this rig. Though they no longer do so they will supply a "napkin" sketch of it. Scary. I would primarily want a hitch so that I could...you guessed it... carry a motorcycle carrier. The way which the tounge load is support is minimal. So I thought, what about a front mount. No off the shelf hitch is available for a B350, but there are plenty for the 350/250 and 150 dodge trucks. Will one of these just bolt on to the van.

    Thank you gentlemen for reading this. If you have any answered or experinace to these questions, Dodge Vans, Road treks, that might help me with the above mentioned issues. Please share.
    #1
  2. DriveShaft

    DriveShaft Long timer

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    IMO, if you can convince the SO to do the Class B, you really get alot of value in having the living space accessible on the road. It's a great balance of convenience and versatility. Easier to explore & move around when you're not draggin a trailer, or limited to parking arrangements for something as big as a bus. Its compact size is *crucial.*

    It is tight, though. I couldn't convince my SO to live quite that small, so the Class B isn't in my near future. Knowing how my kids crash at night, though, they could be *anywhere* and be fine crashing on anything even remotely flat and level. Class B's usually accommodate kids on platforms that lay on reclined seats up front, which looks absolutely fine up till maybe the teens. At that point they may or may not enjoy being in an auxiliary tent more than being in the van. Have fun with it while they're young!
    #2
  3. PaddedHat

    PaddedHat Been here awhile

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    Leaks. Head to rv.net and do some searching for "leak detection". You will find several threads from sharp folks who create DIY pressure testing devices. Typically the objective is to make a temporary opening into the RV, like a plywood temp. door that fits in place of a window or storage door. You then rig a leaf blower or other fan through the plywood and pressurize the interior. Next you give the exterior a nice soapy bath and watch for the results. Much like looking for an air or propane leak on a piping system, the bubbles tell the tale. Good luck.
    #3
  4. Ed_in_miami

    Ed_in_miami Cubicle Traveler

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    Nice. Been looking for one of those myself. Good luck on your project!
    #4
  5. MrPulldown

    MrPulldown Long timer

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    Thanks for the input on the leak tester.

    Seems like a 94 could be had for about $5k. This of course is one of those cases that the more you pay the better you get. Mine was free, thus the laundry list of repairs above.

    Seems like the "bath tub" shower option was not available on all of the road trek. I guess I lucked out. Really the tub is just for storage.
    #5
  6. Gummee!

    Gummee! That's MR. Toothless

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    another alternative is a smoke machine like you find in costume stores. Start the smoke machine, pressurize the interior, look for where smoke's coming out.

    M
    #6
  7. WebMasterP

    WebMasterP n00b

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    This is very likely the Steering Box. I bought a 1996, and I've replaced just about everything in the front suspension (not exaggerating, one piece left not brand new). Finally, I gave up on thinking it was something else after I read that these vans are notorious for having slushy steering boxes over time. I picked up a steering box from Redhead and I'm going to be installing it soon.

    If it's the same as the 1996 model (and I'm pretty sure it is), that button *TURNS OFF* the overdrive. I use it when I'm towing my race car to keep it in a lower gear and protect the transmission. A light should light up when overdrive is OFF, it's dark otherwise. For what it's worth, my van with the 318 gets about 8-10 MPG Towing 4000 lbs

    Mine had one installed when I got it (which I didn't know and purchased one, only to have to send it back). I change my transmission fluid at the beginning of every race season to see if I can get as much life as possible out of it.
    #7
  8. SkunkWizard

    SkunkWizard recycle crime scene tape

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    #8
  9. MrPulldown

    MrPulldown Long timer

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    Thanks for the replies.

    Still have not done any work on it. Forecast of upcoming storms makes me reluctant to take the tarp off of it.

    I did buy a tube of some sealant to start the chalking process.

    Thanks for the heads up on the steering box.

    I can't seem to get to projects as fast anymore. Right now I am trying to get my bike together before the USFS roads opens so I can start my dirt commute again.
    #9
  10. MrPulldown

    MrPulldown Long timer

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    Ah ha. No light ever lights up.
    #10
  11. MrPulldown

    MrPulldown Long timer

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    Pulled the tarp off the Roadtrek this last weekend. Connected the battery and she fired right up. Blew up the flat tire and took her out for a cobweb clearing lap around the neighborhood. The engine sure purs.

    My mistake the OD off light does light up. Did not get to any highway speeds to test the OD.
    #11
  12. Snapper

    Snapper Long timer

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    Great project. Love RTs - I have a 170 and spent ~7 weeks living out of it on a Nat. Park tour last fall. Class Bs are perfect for what I want to do.
    #12
  13. MrPulldown

    MrPulldown Long timer

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    I set to address some of the leaks this last weekend. Last week we had a couple of thunder storms roll through and I did not have the camper trapped. There were standing puddles all over the place. i think that I have found all the leaking areas. I just need to clean out the old silicon based caulking and reseal. Here are some pictures.


    I think I have found the rear leak. The bottom louvered panel joint was all corroded. OP tried to seal it up from the top but missed alot of places. I plan on cutting some galvanized sheet I have lying around and jsut make a solid plate. I have never run the AC.
    [​IMG]

    Check out this gaping hole. It was under a bunch of caulking that was laid in the corroded gutter. I actually do not think it was leaking as the silicon was in decent shape. But it was pretty easy to remove. Stuck a screw driver in the hole and it plunged down to the "hilt".
    [​IMG]

    Not sure what kind of cancer lives under there.
    [​IMG]

    Wife says she doesn't want me to send time on this rig. We are not camper kind of people. I think that I at least need to shoot a tube of caulk on it.
    #13
  14. MrPulldown

    MrPulldown Long timer

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    After sitting for a while and used a couple of times (spare bedroom over Christmas in the teens, a trip by the in-laws to the bay) this past year, we thought that the ol Roadtrek deserved a little love. Spent MANY hours scrapping and sealing. Used some polyurethane caulking and some Kool Seal for sections of the fibergalss
    [​IMG]
    Changed the engine oil, rotated the tires, put in a new house battery, new air filter, added a mini tach, bleed and inspected the brakes, adjusted the e-brake, swapped out several interior lights to LED. 166K miles.

    This last weekend we took her out to Yosemite for a camping trip with some friends. The first couple of days it RAINED hard. In fact all entrances into the park were closed except for 140, due to snow. The first night the walls weep a little but we stayed relatively dry. This spring has been cold and wet so it has been difficult to find time to seal. Weather needs to be warmer than 50, No moisture for 36 hours, no sealant past 3pm due to dew... These requirements didn't allow me much time to work on sealants.

    The thing that I really want to address next is the transmission. It is a A518 4 speed overdrive with a lock up torque converter. It is not shifting into overdrive. The mini tach I installed was for my motorcycle and set up for 1 cylinder small engines. The RPMs is not correct but with it I can tell that it is not shifting into OD. I think that I need to drop the pan and service the tranny.

    Side note. The falls were flowing but not PUMPING like they should be this time of year especially after a rain storm.
    [​IMG]
    #14