Upgrades to an old motor coach

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by Sasquatch, Mar 3, 2010.

  1. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Banned

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    This is a spin off to NWGS's old motorhome thread rather than cluttering it up with my build.

    My wife and I have owned our 1976 26' Executive motor coach since 1996. Before that my father owned it for about 10 years. Before that, my grandfather was the original owner. It is a one family owned rig. It has always been used, cared for, and tastefully updated through the years and we have no intention of getting rid of her any time soon. Paid for is a good thing.

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    She looks good for an old coach and still draws attention at the RV rallies I used to attend with my previous employment.

    A bit of history on the Executive coach. Executive Industries made coaches from the early 70's until Monaco bought them out in the 80's. The Executive line is now owned by Monaco. I was told by numerous "old timer" RVers at various rallies that the Executive really was something special. It was the king of the class A gas powered rigs in the 70's. One gent told me that the Executive is what they all dreamed of owning when they were getting into RVing, but all they could afford was Winnebagos.

    That quality of build is still evident today. She drives pretty nice. The quality of the interior is better than many coaches built today. Solid woods, high quality finishes, and many touches that were ahead of the times like large refrigerators and central vacuum systems.

    Over the years there have been many updates to this coach to keep it current.
    -Flat screen TV/DVD player
    -New upholstery, cushions and curtains
    -New captains chairs
    -Updated electrical systems
    -Updated battery capacities
    -Air bag suspension upgrade
    -Bilstein shocks
    -Radial tires
    -Vorad collision avoidance radar system (yes, I am serious)
    -GPS system w/Sirius satellite radio
    -Many power improvements to the Chrysler 440 engine.

    So many more updates that would take pages to list. Which brings me to now. I have a few main goals to accomplish with this major service.

    1. Replace the cam. About 30k miles ago my father had the heads rebuilt and under the advisement of a friend, installed a Crane RV cam. Big mistake. This cam starts to produce torque at 2500 rpm, which is much too high. It cackles and lopes at idle. Sounds like a dragster. It already has Thorley 1 5/8 long tube headers, Edlebrock intake/carb, and a MSD ignition.

    So the cam is being replaced with a Comp Cams unit that builds torque from 1,000 rpms. Hopefully that will help with low end power. While I am getting to the cam, I am replacing all hoses/belts, water pump, thermostat, gaskets, seals and checking the rod and main bearings. Did a compression test and all holes are hovering between 120-133 psi, so I do not need to re ring it yet.

    2. Replace the steering box to get rid of the wander caused from a worn box.

    3. Pull the fuel tanks and flush them. Using the opportunity to replace all fuel lines, and do a better job installing the axillary fuel pump.

    4. Install a TripTek Tire wireless tire pressure/temperature monitoring system.

    5. Replace the front brakes, and all flexible brake lines. Pack the front wheel bearings.

    Let the wild ruckus begin:

    Pull the coach into the shop and wash it down. Nice to have a temperature controlled shop to use (thanks Dad!).

    [​IMG]

    Start pulling the front end apart. Boy they built things like tanks back then. Nothing light weight here. The radiator probably weighed 50 lbs alone.

    [​IMG]
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    First major removal project is the steering box. It is kicking my ass. The way it is mounted you can not get a pitman arm puller on the arm to remove it. Not that it would do any good. That sucker is on there and I still dont know how I am going to get it off.

    I have it rigged up that the nut is off the arm, and the box is unbolted. I am using the hole in the 3/8" plate that the shaft goes through as a kind of bearing separator, and am using a 20 ton jack to press the shaft out of the pitman arm. Nothing is working as of yet. I have applied a lot of heat, force, and cussing with no success.

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    The nut is backed off on the shaft, I just left it on so that when it gives it can only move about 3/16" so the steering box does not go flying off the mount.

    I will update more later.
    #1
  2. rallybug

    rallybug Local Yokel

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    Nice rig :thumb Love the one family owned stuff :nod
    #2
  3. Whitey1

    Whitey1 "Whitebread"

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    Sounds awesome! Keep us posted!
    #3
  4. subvet

    subvet Long timer Supporter

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    the Executives are beautiful rigs. I remember looking at them with my Dad in the 70's and thinking they were the pinnacle of luxury at the time. we wound up with a smaller cab-over RV and had alot of fun with it but it was fun to dream about trips in tht kind of luxury.

    good luck with your updates/repairs.
    #4
  5. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Banned

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    Success! Finally, with the right combination of heat, pressure, and gentle persuasion of the 3lb speed wrench kind, the pitman arm is free. I am letting her cool down so I can pull the box the rest of the way out and get it shipped off tomorrow.
    #5
  6. Motomedic

    Motomedic Over-caffeinated Raconteur Supporter

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    Sounds like a solution worthy of your name....
    #6
  7. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Banned

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    NWGS,
    I might bring her to wetfest so I can ride the KTM this time. Getting too old to sleep on the ground.
    #7
  8. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Banned

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    Will do. May just dry camp over by the camping area/ gazebo if it is just me in there. (less distance to do the John Wayne stumble) I have the genny to charge the batts and plenty of water on board.
    #8
  9. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Banned

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    Friday, March 5th.

    Last night I inspected a rod bearing and a main bearing to see what needed to be changed. The coach has 103k on an old carburetor equipped 440, so I was not holding out any hope that I could just run it as is. It has been lugging around a 14k lb coach it's whole life.

    The main bearings looked perfect. :clap :clap

    The rod bearings, well, they were in need of a change, but all in all, they were not too bad. Can someone explain the spotting like this? This was the #4 bearing, and the #5 was the same. All the others showed various levels of 'normal' wear.

    [​IMG]

    All the crank journals looked beautiful, and since there was no real issues with the bearings, I just slid in a set of new standard ones.

    [​IMG]
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    Next project? Camshaft.:deal
    #9
  10. Motornoggin

    Motornoggin Two-Bit Throttle Bum Supporter

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    Spotting looks like deposition/corrosion. Not uncommon in engines used occasionally with long periods of no use. If the crank looks and feels good then you're good to go with fresh bearings.

    Nice project!

    One of my good costomers has one like yours. I haven't seen the interior, but the exterior looks like new!

    The new cam sounds like a good idea. Comp makes good stuff and the sooner it builds power, the better it'll feel and the better your economy will be.
    #10
  11. oldmanb777

    oldmanb777 Just say NO to socialism!

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    Nice project. I have a 1976 Redale on a Ford E350. The upside, it's paidfor, and works well, in nice shape etc. The downside. Very inefficient. The Carbed 460 is old school. Low compression, so lacks power and gas mileage suffers as a result. And no overdrive, so very slow on the highway. It really wants to run 50 mph. Gas mileage goes down rapidly faster than that. The 460 with 4:11 gears, just doesn't like high rpm. But as I said, it's paid for,a nd the coach is in good shape. Best furnace i have ever seen. No battery needed:clap
    #11
  12. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Banned

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    I have 4:50(ish) gearing with a torqueflite 727 3 speed. It cruises nice at 65. I have gotten as high as 7.5mpg towing only my 3 rail MC trailer with dirt bikes, or as low as 5.2 with a 20' enclosed race trailer full of sport bikes and a coach full of guys.

    But the current cam was really limiting it. It did not start to build power until about 2800 rpms. Below that it just went flat. This new cam should cure that and hopefully get another MPG or two.
    #12
  13. Gimpinator

    Gimpinator Core Dumper

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    Nice project Sasquatch! Color me green (and white) with envy.

    Comp Cams makes good stuff, but be sure to add ZDDP additive to the oil when breaking in the new cam. I assume of course that you'll be using fresh lifters as well. That is a must with a new cam, even if the old one doesn't have many miles on it.

    Current motor oils don't have enough ZDDP (Zinc) additives for flat tappet cams to break in correctly. You can thank the EPA for that one...

    Good luck and may the Executive roll in style again.
    #13
  14. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Banned

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    Bought the cam/lifter kit.

    I have the stuff that the cam came with to smear all over the cam, I will also be breaking it in on diesel oils (Delo 400), which have much higher zinc content. Once done with break in, I will switch to Rotella T synthetic diesel oil. It is all this rig has run on in the last 10 years.

    I have not read the packet of info that came with the cam yet, but I will follow their procedures to the T.
    #14
  15. Gimpinator

    Gimpinator Core Dumper

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    Sounds perfect. Diesel oil will do just fine. This is especially true given the moderate spring pressures on that engine. That 440 should really pull nice with the new cam!
    #15
  16. viverrid

    viverrid not dead yet

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    Lord knows ya wanna stay away from worn, loose boxes...
    #16
  17. premix927

    premix927 Been here awhile

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    My first M/H was a 28 ft Midland with a 440 and torgueflite. It had been in storage for 16 years when I bought it in 95. Had a thermoquad carb. 440s are hard to kill. Watch the thermostat. In the truck based motors, the thermostat has a much larger opening then cars. I learned the hard way, spending lots of time trying to solve over heating issues. Headers and hemi mufflers made some great sounds. Enjoy and have fun not being like everyone else.
    #17
  18. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Banned

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    I put up with a thermojunk for years before finally putting on the Edelbrock combination intake/carb. Starting the TQ was a chore. 4 pumps of the pedal, no more no less. Crank until it caughs. 2 more and she will fire perfectly. Any more and she would flood worse than the Titanic, any less and she would not even try to start.

    Edelbrock.... couple of pumps and hit the key. Boom, idling perfect.

    The 440 likes the high flow thermostats. The problem is that any thermostat you buy today is virtually junk out of the box. My buddy who owns a shop says that thermostats are his number one issue. No matter what brand, he gets about a year out of them. Same with radiator caps. Whoever the manufacturers are these days they have really cheapened them up.
    #18
  19. Anorak

    Anorak Woolf Barnato Supporter

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    Have you given any serious thought to swapping in a Dodge Cummins drivetrain? I suppose it would take a lot of refueling to amortize the cost of a swap.
    #19
  20. Nailhead

    Nailhead Inclusion Rider

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    One thing to take into account when considering a diesel swap is the added noise and how to suppress it or live with it: if that moho has a doghouse, it might be difficult to abate it.

    Living with it sucks.
    #20