Journey with Confidence RV GPS App RV Trip Planner RV LIFE Campground Reviews RV Maintenance Take a Speed Test Free 7 Day Trial ×
 


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 08-06-2022, 08:05 AM   #1
Winnebago Camper
 
unaffiliated's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2022
Location: Coosa, GA/Cottondale, AL
Posts: 6
Go easy on me, 1987 Winnie Chieftain 31

Good morning everyone, Chris Fett here,

Exactly 2 weeks ago today, I bought my first RV, a 1987 Winnie Chieftain 31 footer. It is in great shape with only 27,000 miles but it has been sitting quite a while.

I had it towed to the storage lot at the RV park where I am currently staying in our Sooner Horse trailer with living quarters and converted to haul steel horses (Harley Davidsons) instead of real horses. I work at the Mercedes plant in Vance, Alabama but live in Coosa, Georgia outside of Rome.

I am currently in the process of getting the coach running so I can move it up to my site. Plus I have to bring the truck down to move the horse trailer. It doesn't need to be roadworthy yet as I will be living in it while working this contract job. I can sort out all that later. I did try the air conditioners prior to purchasing and the front one cools so I wont be living in an oven. Hopefully everything else works on it. Of course the previous owner said everything works but you know how that goes. He bought it new so I am the second owner.

I have a ton of questions already but I will save those for another post.

We had an old 65 Model Open Road RV (Chevy pickup cab type) growing up in the early 70's and mom bought another one in the early 80's. I think it was an 85. Ford van front with about a 24ft box. We also took a rental RV, similar to my current one, all the way to New York city for the re-dedication of the Statue of Liberty in 86 so I am familiar with all that can go wrong. I think something broke down every day of that trip and we had to be towed twice. What an adventure it was.

I am a mechanic by trade, 44 years and still at it, so it shouldn't be too hard to get this coach sorted out.

Sorry for the long winded post. Looking forward to getting this thing going. Hope to see y'all on the road, Chris F.
unaffiliated is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2022, 08:41 AM   #2
Site Team
 
creativepart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Spring Branch, TX
Posts: 5,978
Welcome Chris.

The very first thing to learn is that you’re working on a truck AND a house.

As a mechanic you’re thinking “truck” and that seems knowable to you. But there are no service manuals, very limited parts lists and plenty of oddities in that chassis. You’ll likely prevail and get it running. Most RV chassis are reliable and generally “the easy part.”

It can be the house that’s the most difficult to sort. These are not built like a sticks and bricks house. So lots to discover there.

The two most important things to fix right now are the tires and batteries. Tires on a motorhome age out in 5-7 years. The mileage doesn’t matter. Especially if the rv has been sitting. A blown front tire driving your rv back to GA can be deadly. Rollovers from a blown front tire are a real thing.

You have two battery banks, chassis and house, both banks are vital to the operation of your RV. Not just to start the motor but to run all manner of things behind the scenes. If the rv is old and sitting it’s likely the battery banks have been ignored and must be replaced, first thing.

Lastly, like a house, water intrusion is the enemy and you need to learn about how you roof keeps water out and then how to inspect your roof and the way to seal your roof connections and openings. Start by watching AZ EXPERT on YouTube.

Best of luck to you and enjoy the ride.
__________________
2017 Winnebago Adventurer 37F
2016 Lincoln MKX Toad
creativepart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2022, 08:46 AM   #3
Winnebago Master
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Elk Grove, CA
Posts: 3,214
Welcome, as a mechanic you're in good stead for dealing with the "truck" issues that can develop from sitting so long. The major priority as far as the "house" part goes is to ensure that there are no leaks anywhere and all the roof fixtures are properly sealed (see the sealant link below).

If you're not already aware of it, Winnebago makes a lot of information available online to owners at:

https://www.winnebago.com/owners/owner-resources

Unfortunately, some of the year/model specific information doesn't go back past 1990 and some not even that far, but the 1990 plumbing and electrical diagrams, etc. should be helpful. Fortunately the parts catalog does and it contains some helpful diagrams. Often overlooked are the Service Tips, especially the one on sealants:

https://www.winnebago.com/Files/File...t%20Sheets.pdf

Assuming that your converter/charger is original, another top priority is to replace it with one that has a modern multi-stage charger. This is what I purchased for my 2002 Itasca:

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Just match the amperage as close as you can so you don't have to re-cable it. When I replaced mine, the wire colors were either non-standard or faded so be doubly careful with all the connections. I misconnected mine but, fortunately, the only damage done was blowing the internal fuse in the new converter. I suggest removing the wires one at a time and labeling them as you do.

You also might want to set up a signature block similar to mine so we always know your exact year and model even if you forget to mention it. You can do so via the User CP in the toolbar. Note that, there will be some letters in your model designation. It looks like there were two versions of the 31' Chieftain in 1987, the M-31RT and the M-J31RT.

Have fun and keep us posted on your progress.
__________________
Bob C
2002 Itasca Suncruiser 35U
Workhorse Chassis
BobC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2022, 08:59 AM   #4
Winnebago Camper
 
unaffiliated's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2022
Location: Coosa, GA/Cottondale, AL
Posts: 6
Thanks creativepart,

The tires are original to the coach. They are beyond dry rotted. It was a little scary towing it over here but it was only 3 miles and the wrecker driver only went about 20 mph the whole way. He brought a really big wrecker because he figured the tires would be old and wanted to be able to control it if things went south. Fortunately the tow went very smooth and only knocked off the drain valve for the waste tank. Easy fix as it is just a rubber hose and clamp. The valve is all cracked up and needed replacing anyway. I wont be driving it back to Georgia for several months so I can shop around for the best tire deal. I can mount them myself if I take 2 wheels home at a time on my off days.

As for the batteries, the starter battery was missing and the house batteries were not original but VERY old. I have new batteries for it. I went with deep cycle marine batteries for the house. I read several threads on this site that recommended them for house batteries. Standard Group 78 for starter battery.

The roof is in good condition overall. I can only see a couple very small areas where it has leaked. We had a gully washer the other day and the coach is dry. I plan to seal everything up, once I get it up to my camp site. What is the go-to product for that? The previous owner said it was stored indoors in a warehouse up until January of this year but people will say anything when selling a vehicle.

I am sure I will run into all kinds of surprises but I think I got a good enough deal on it to offset the cost of those surprises. I got if about half od NADA value and already a guy at work offered to buy it from me if I decide to sell it when this job is over.

Thanks again. CF
unaffiliated is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2022, 09:05 AM   #5
Winnebago Master
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Pflugerville/Austin, Tx
Posts: 5,007
As a guy that has done some oldones, Two things to keep in mind. One you likely know about and that is the way wheels cylinders tend to rustwhen notused. That means if you use them, there is a good chance the rust will score the cylinders.
You know what I'm getting at from there!

Second is much more confusing formany as batteries seem so simple!
You have the 110 Ac from plugging in or generator that runs the higher power stuff like microwave, air conditioner and outlets. Often not too hard to figure. (once you find all the parts!)
Second and likely thingsyou know very well is the chassis/start system which is much as normal trucks, only with afew added connections to the other 12 volt system.

Last and most headaches can be the coach 12VDC as it connectstot ehstart at timesand not at others. When engine is running there is a solenoid that connects both 12v together to get some charge into the rundown coach batteries after camping. But it does not keep them connected when stored, so be aware that both systems WILL have drains on the batteries and kill them if you don't use something to keep them up.

Here on the forum, I would say batteries and how to helpthem last is the number one question, so be alert!

Welcome to the group and we can certainly use lots of mechanical advise on the stuff you may know most about!
Forums are like slot machines? The more you put in, the more likely to get good stuff out!
__________________
Richard
Morich is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2022, 09:11 AM   #6
Winnebago Camper
 
unaffiliated's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2022
Location: Coosa, GA/Cottondale, AL
Posts: 6
Thanks for the info and links BobC. I read on this forum that the info on the Winnie owners site did not go back past 1990 but it will still be helpful. I set up a signature line. Let's see if it worked.
__________________
Chris Fett
1987 Chieftain WCN31RT
Chevrolet P30 Chassis/454/TH400
unaffiliated is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2022, 10:06 AM   #7
Winnebago Master
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Elk Grove, CA
Posts: 3,214
Quote:
Originally Posted by unaffiliated View Post
The roof is in good condition overall. I can only see a couple very small areas where it has leaked. We had a gully washer the other day and the coach is dry. I plan to seal everything up, once I get it up to my camp site. What is the go-to product for that? The previous owner said it was stored indoors in a warehouse up until January of this year but people will say anything when selling a vehicle.
Your best bet is to go by the Service Tip on Sealants that I posted. Assuming your roof is fiberglass, it's best not to use Dicor, which is the most well known self-leveling sealant (see video link). You'll probably find that your fixtures have globs and globs of self-leveling sealant on them, sometimes several different applications extending out a couple of inches. This isn't productive and you should remove all the old sealant and sparingly apply new. If you see that the sealand under the fixture is dirty and compromised, it's best to remove the fixture, remove all the old sealant and re-seal with Winnebago's recommended sealants. Some of us, including me, cover the edges of our fixtures with Eternabond tape after sealing between the roof and fixture. Here's a link to some good info on this:

https://chaos.goblinbox.com/rv-repai...and-roof-item/

__________________
Bob C
2002 Itasca Suncruiser 35U
Workhorse Chassis
BobC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2022, 09:45 PM   #8
Winnebago Camper
 
unaffiliated's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2022
Location: Coosa, GA/Cottondale, AL
Posts: 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobC View Post
Assuming that your converter/charger is original, another top priority is to replace it with one that has a modern multi-stage charger. This is what I purchased for my 2002 Itasca:

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Just match the amperage as close as you can so you don't have to re-cable it. When I replaced mine, the wire colors were either non-standard or faded so be doubly careful with all the connections. I misconnected mine but, fortunately, the only damage done was blowing the internal fuse in the new converter. I suggest removing the wires one at a time and labeling them as you do.

Where in the coach would I find the converter/charger?
__________________
Chris Fett
1987 Chieftain WCN31RT
Chevrolet P30 Chassis/454/TH400
unaffiliated is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2022, 10:19 PM   #9
Site Team
 
creativepart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Spring Branch, TX
Posts: 5,978
It is usually below the fridge but on a 35-year old motorhome I can’t be sure where yours is. If your 12-volt house fuses and 110-volt circuit breakers are in a spot below your fridge then it’s likely that your converter is built into it or behind it.
__________________
2017 Winnebago Adventurer 37F
2016 Lincoln MKX Toad
creativepart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-07-2022, 10:16 AM   #10
Winnebago Master
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Pflugerville/Austin, Tx
Posts: 5,007
I wish there were more info on the older as there are somany stillrunning but we have tomake do with what we have and there may bemore info out there than first thought. Looking at the parts catalog is one place to try to find what and where things are located.
So on the parts here:

https://catalog3d.winnebagoind.com/menu/Parts.htm

It does list clear back into the '70's but then I ran into a problem as they do not list your exact model, so a bit of guessing may be needed? But since I would be strictly guessing with no idea of what you are looking at in real time, I will let you see what you might find of value?
Then there is some hope that things on your 87 may not have changed a whole bunch by 1990, so a look at the wiring info which does start at 90, may be "some" help as Winnebago has always been known for keeping things that work on future models!
Possible some help here on wiring?

https://www.winnebago.com/Files/File...ram/Wiring.htm

Or plumbing drawings?
https://www.winnebago.com/Files/File...m/Plumbing.htm

I would expect the converter to be built on/into backside of the load center as a guess, but do check all those ideas for being right or wrong!!

Changing out the converter may or may not be worth it, depending on what you find when you get there. The majorproblem with the older converter is that they do not taper off the charge voltage as well as newer.That can make a big difference when itcomes to how you maintain the batteries while stored as the older dotendtoboil them dry faster, etc.
It worked well at the time and was considered fine, but we have improved a
fair amount since, so it can become a question on valuefor the time, effort, money?
One way to work around the problem is to use a newer model battery charger when storing, rather than leave the converter doing the job. Cost benefit thinking involved!
__________________
Richard
Morich is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-07-2022, 10:31 AM   #11
Winnebago Camper
 
unaffiliated's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2022
Location: Coosa, GA/Cottondale, AL
Posts: 6
It actually does list my model but I was a bit confused myself because they list it as WC/WJN31RT. When I click on that parts catalogue, the opening page shows the two models separately as WCN31RT/WJN31RT. It has been a big help. I am back in Georgia for a few days so I will not be able to look behind the electrical panel for the converter. I will check into that next week. Meanwhile I will keep researching. Thanks.
__________________
Chris Fett
1987 Chieftain WCN31RT
Chevrolet P30 Chassis/454/TH400
unaffiliated is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-07-2022, 11:57 AM   #12
Winnebago Master
 
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Pflugerville/Austin, Tx
Posts: 5,007
WC? WJN? Winnebago Canada / Winnebago Japan???
The bigger question is if you can find anything that matches what you have!
Good luck on the trek!
I did a couple old rebuildsway back before there was an internet and info was just not there! I'm amazed that I was everable to get anything done without all the info that I consider VITAL!
__________________
Richard
Morich is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Full Time for a Short Time RVwithDogs Winnebago General Discussions 9 07-21-2020 08:52 AM
Long time voyeur, first time poster (Winter Trip) WiscoTim Welcome Mat 2 01-22-2019 12:17 AM
Need help as first time buyer - Sun Cruiser? Racemosa Winnebago General Discussions 8 06-05-2011 01:25 PM
First time jitters HELISKIER Winnebago General Discussions 8 04-01-2007 05:51 PM
First Time MH Owner dylansmom Winnebago General Discussions 17 09-23-2006 04:52 AM

» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Winnebago Industries or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 11:39 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
×