The Shaggy Story
The Shaggy Story
I wrote this story for a technical writing class I was taking at Ivy Tech. I got an A.
I used this picture for a comparasion to the almost complete Shaggy below.
This Technical paper will show the process of Motor home restoration. A Motor home is a large truck or bus chassis with a house built on it. The Chassis must be able to haul the house and the house must be able to withstand an earthquake.
The restoration of a Motor home starts with the search for a possible restoration candidate. The criterion for this restoration is that the chassis must be a Dodge because I am a member of the Dodge Chassis Chapter of the Family Motor Coach Association. The house needs to be in fair condition. Fair condition means that it will not need major structural repair. The Chassis must be able to move under its own power. The 440 cubic inch engine is preferable because when Dodge made the industrial 440-3 for the Trucks and Motor homes. They made the heads suitable for unleaded gas. Almost every Motor home made in the 70’s and early 80’s was on a Dodge Chassis. There are plenty of potential projects out there. For Example,
A 1970 Airstream with a Dodge 413 engine. This nice coach is out of the running because it would require converting the engine to unleaded fuel. My meager restoration budget does not have enough money for the engine teardown.
This 1973 Starcraft is in pretty fair shape, but it also has the 413. This 1975 Sportscoach looks good, but the owner wants way too much money. We have budgeted $2000 for the purchase of the coach
This 1975 Silver Streak was highly desirable, but the owner thought that it was still new. He wanted $7500.00.
The search was still on.
This 1969 Lab is what we really wanted, but it did not have an interior or a 440 engine. Although highly desirable, it would have cost us way too much to restore.
Here we have two Travco’s that can be purchased for $1600. One looks nice on the inside and the other one is gutted. It would be nice to have the spare for parts. They both run. The 1970 has the 413, but, the 1974 has new brakes and exhaust. The appliances seem okay. It has not been used in a long time. The owner wants to sell fast.
The interior of the 1970 is shot. The interior of the 1974 looks okay.
The engine looks okay; it is the industrial 440-3. Just what we are looking for.
The house battery is shot. I know it’s not original, but it will need to be replaced. The deal is made and we buy two Travco’s. A 1974 for restoration and a 1970 for parts. I think we did good. The restoration of a Motor home first requires inspection. A pre restoration inspection of the chassis consists of the following systems;
1. Front and rear axles 2. Parking and Service Brakes
3. Cooling system 4. Chassis electrical system
5. The Engine 6. Intake and Exhaust systems
7. Frame Structure 8. Fuel System
9. Propeller Shaft and Universal Joints 10. Springs and Shock Absorbers
11. Steering 12. Transmissions
13. Wheels and Tires 14. Body
15. Heaters and Air Conditioners 16. Emission Control System
The Pre restoration inspection of the Travco house will consist of;
1. Instruments and Controls 2. House electrical systems; 12 V DC, and 120 VAC
3. Generator 4. LP Gas system
5. Water System 6. Drainage system
7. Gas Furnace 8. Range and Oven
9. Refrigerator 10. Roof Air Conditioners
11. Water Heater 12. Interior Furnishings
The Chassis inspection showed us the following problems.
The battery and alternator wiring was corroded and would need replaced.
The instrument panel and under dash wiring was in need of rework.
The exhaust manifold was installed incorrectly and was very loud from the exhaust leak.
A very poor job creating a lot of work for this restorer.
The engine was leaking oil from a badly rusted valve cover that had a shade tree repair of epoxy.
One good find was that the engine was free from sludge.
The inspection of the house showed the following problems;
The Generator was missing.
The bathroom does not have a toilet.
The Water Heater is Missing.
The roof air conditioners are missing.
The box for the starting battery and the power cord is badly corroded.
The fresh water tank looks questionable.
The Furnace is right by the door and could be a hazard. It also smells of propane when it is running. We may want to relocate it to exhaust on the other side. The fumes are enough to require replacement.
We found a cracked holding tank during the inspection.
The fiberglass is pulled away from the frame and will need to be reset here.
The windshield seal looks old and rotted. A problem we will have to deal with sometime.
We gave the motor home project a good going over. During the inspection, we discovered that the refrigerator was AC power only. This was unacceptable. We would have to replace it with a propane-electric refrigerator to be usable in what we RV’ers call boon docking.That is when you camp without 110 power using your batteries, generator, and propane appliances. This suddenly made the cost of restoration very expensive. A new air conditioner was over $600.00. A refrigerator was over $1500.00. The cost of a new furnace was also about $600.00. A good generator was going to cost us over $1000.00. That’s $3700.00 in appliances. That does not count the cost of cabinet repair and paint.
We gave this a lot of thought. My High School friend runs an RV repair facility in Middlebury, Indiana. I decided that a trip to Fox RV was the next step in my budget restoration. It must have been my lucky day because he told me he had a 1996 Georgie Boy on a Chevy chassis that had all the appliances that I needed. It would only cost me $800.00 plus the tow bill. It had been damaged by an engine fire and was not road worthy anymore. The fire had caused the front windshields to pop out causing very little smoke damage to the appliances.
This is the 1996 Georgie Boy that had the engine fire. No one was injured because the owners were able to get out safely through the driver’s side bedroom window that pops out for egress in emergencies.
The refrigerator and furnace look good. The air conditioner is unharmed. We removed the cover to get a good look.
Restoration is started by removing the smelly old furnace. We install the one from the Georgie Boy under the refrigerator just like it was in the 1996. Not original, but a lot safer.
The refrigerator is transferred from the Georgie Boy to the 1974 Travco that we have decided to name Shaggy. The original interior was orange. We are using orange to stay as original as possible.
Holes are cut into the side to allow placement of a propane refrigerator and the new location of the furnace. We had to get the exhaust away from the front door.
We removed the holding tank, tested it for leaks, cleaned up the water drain pan and installed a 1970’s era piston pump.
We install a new electric water heater. We wanted propane, but did not want to cut another hole in the side of Shaggy. We did install a nice water heater switch in the bathroom
The next thing we tackle is the repair of the distorted side. We pull out all of the damaged floor and window sections and use rusty metal primer to protect the steel. We install some new flooring. There used to be a dinette set under this window. We are going to put the sofa out of the Georgie Boy there instead.
We start on the bathroom by removing of all of the old floor covering.
A new checkerboard floor is installed. It is winter out side and we have to wait till spring to install the black water tank. This tank needs to be installed before the toilet because we cut the hole in the floor and the holding tank at the same time. We need to get under the motor home to do it and its too cold now. We will continue to work on the inside.
We remove the old dark colored cabinets and install the oak ones from the Georgie boy.
We start painting the dirty surfaces. The ceiling is so brown; we assume that the previous owners were heavy smokers. The cabinet is being painted with the brown that the color matching computer at Ace Hardware said is a match. It looks almost the same. The large cabinet is a little too rough to suit us, so we are looking for something to take away the distracting scratches.
We find some ornaments for the cabinet on eBay and a stereo to fill in the hole where the furnace used to be. The decision has been made to install some of the newer equipment into Shaggy even though we want to stay original. We are going to use the microwave oven and the oak cabinet over the sofa. It’s not original, but very practical to the modern traveler. The sofa is going to be installed where the wrong dinette used to be.
We finish painting the cabinets. It’s cold outside. Shaggy’s furnace works and is keeping us warm.
We advertise for orange shag carpet and a man from Knapp Lake calls and said that I can have the one that he’s been parking his car on if I give him another one. We made the deal and it took about ten shampoos to get his old carpet clean. The driver’s compartment panels and the dashboard are being reupholstered orange. I got a great deal on orange vinyl at Bontrager’s Surplus in White Pigeon, Michigan. It is starting to look pretty groovy.
The cleaned carpet took almost eight hours to install in the driver’s compartment. The orange vinyl came out a lot better than we anticipated.
The power cord used to come out by the drivers side battery compartment. It ran down the whole drivers’ side to the Generator compartment back to the electrical box shown in the picture on the right. The center picture shows the new opening to the power connection. It is right below the power box. This one upgrade eliminated 30 feet of power cable. We removed a built in voltage drop. We made a short power cord that can be plugged into an extension cord for shore power or a generator power outlet. We installed the outlet just below the power box. It is assessable through the access door shown in the center photo. We install an Onan Emerald 4000 Generator that we purchased it for $200.00 from Fox RV. It came out of a fire damaged 1995 Class C Winnebago.
It is now spring and we are able to get out side to install the holding tank. This enabled us to complete the toilet installation. It is so nice that we decide to do more outside work.
The door leaks around the frame so we remove the door to reseal the frame. The door is put in the garage to clean it up and install some oak paneling. I found three sheets of oak paneling at Dutchman Manufacturing in Goshen. They sold them to me for $3.00 each. The only problem was that it started raining as soon as we had the door off.
We use a bucket truck to take the air conditioner from the Georgie Boy to Shaggy.
The interior air conditioner cover is painted with plastic paint to hide the smoke damage from the fire. The door is reinstalled and it did not leak when it rained again.
We found some free orange counter top from a kitchen being remodeled in Avilla. The original top was white, but with a name like Shaggy, orange was much better.
We spent a twelve hour day with a thirty percent chance of rain and painted Shaggy with a sealer and three coats of GM bright white paint. Now we are going to let it cure for a few days before we paint the orange stripe.
The weather is getting better, so we tackle some of the problems that require the doors to be open.
We find some good plastic polish and shine up all of the fiberglass surfaces. The right photo shows how it brings out the original luster.
We repair the under dash wiring by replacing all of the corroded connectors with a terminal strip.
We finish installing the carpet and some flowery curtains that we found on eBay. The large flowered curtains came all the way from the United Kingdom.
We had to pull the steering wheel to replace the turn signal mechanism. The other one would not stay on. The plastic tabs were broken off. We found four of them in the local salvage yard for $3.00 each. We have spares now.
We add more furnishings. It is getting so groovy that a company called Dizzy Blonde Graphics talks us into putting some graphics on the side. They tell us that it’s the grooviest thing that they have ever done. The following pictures show what they meant;
My daughter’s family comes by to check the progress. We need to hurry up now because there is a Travco Club Rally being held in Santa Claus, Indiana in June. It is the first part of May and the rain has not come as often. It’s great to only work on the weekends. I devote about ten hours a day now for the completion.
We use a chalk line to mark the line for the stripe and then mask it off. It took longer to mask off the stripe than it did to mask off the whole body for the white paint.
We put on four coats of Kubota Orange. We did this because Kubota Orange was the same shade as our graphics. The cost of paint was a little over $500.00. A shop would have charged over $5000.00 for the same job.
Here’s a comparison picture to show you what we started with. The new chrome mirrors were $250.00 from Elkhart RV Salvage. An expensive addition, but well worth the cost.
We finish the interior and I convince my daughter and grandson that they need to go with me on Shaggy’s maiden voyage to Santa Claus, Indiana for the rally named Travstock 2004. The photos were taken at Cloverdale RV Park. Shaggy’s first overnight stay.
There were twenty-three Travcos at Travstock 2004. Shaggy was the brightest one. The only trouble we had was that Shaggy ran hot. It never boiled over, but we were concerned.
Stock Water Pump
Racing Water Pump
We got home after that first trip and took Shaggy apart. We replaced the coolant housing with a larger one and the paddle wheel water pump like the one on the left with a racing pump like the one shown in the picture above. We replaced the radiator with a new one. The cost for all of this was $600.00. It takes time and money to keep these old machines on the road. Shaggy ran a lot cooler after this.
The next trip was to the Howard County Vietnam Veterans Reunion in Kokomo, Indiana. Shaggy was a hit with all of the veterans. The only real problems now were that the old windshield seal was leaking and the brakes were very weak. The windshield leak was a problem that needed fixed as soon as possible. Anything that was on the passenger side floor got wet whenever it rained. During the restoration, we thought that all of that water was coming through the bad door seal. Shaggy broke down on the way home from Kokomo. I stopped for gas and when I restarted the engine, the ammeter gauge went to zero. I pulled away from the pump and shut the engine off while I was waiting for my passenger. Shaggy would not restart. There was no Chassis power. The house was doing fine. There was power to the refrigerator. We messed with it to no avail for two hours. It was decided to have Shaggy towed home. The tow bill was $300.00. Later investigation found that the main power wire from the alternator had been patched with the wrong gauge wire and melted in two. A wire we missed in the original rewire.
These pictures show that the window does not set in the opening like it should and the seal is so deteriorated that there are large holes around the window. A situation we could tolerate no longer. Summer was over and Larry Fox of Fox RV said to bring it up and he would fix it for us. It was a hard job and the estimate was $600.00.
Here is Larry Fox and Shaggy. It took Larry and his crew three months to reseal the windshields. They did it during the slow periods. It still took many hours and the bill was $1000.00. It was a great job and well worth the extra expense.
The new resealed windshield looks great. It was a great improvement. Now it’s another summer and Shaggy is scheduled to be at a Family Motor Coach Association Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. The brakes are now a concern. There are mountains between here and Charlotte.
We have the boosters rebuilt. The Vacuum Chambers leak. The price was $250.00 each.
The front disc brakes were in good shape. The rear brakes have two wheel cylinders and are very difficult to get to. We remove the backing plate, clean it up, repaint it, and install the new wheel cylinders and install the brakes as an assembly. The rear drums are turned and reinstalled. It is a very difficult job because of the size of the hubs.
When we take off the inner tires, we discover that they are dry rotted. They were not safe for the trip over the mountains to the rally.
We finish the brake job and install some new rear tires. The total cost of the brake job was $1000.00. The new tires were $700.00 from a tire shop in Angola, Indiana. The tire man talked me into installing balance powder in the new tires. Shaggy was now all together again and ready for a road test. A short trip was planned to ensure that all of the bugs were out of Shaggy before hitting the road to Charlotte, North Carolina. The above picture shows Shaggy ready to go to Dearborn, Michigan for a visit to The Henry Ford Museum. A short trip was needed to check out the new brakes before going over the mountains. We hooked up the toad (tow car) and headed north on Indiana Highway Thirteen.
These pictures are taken at a gas station just ten miles into the trip. Shaggy has already stopped running. We were lucky enough to coast off the highway. The problem was that that the small nut plate you see in the above picture came loose from the ignition module disconnecting it from the system. We installed the new one and were back on the road in ten minutes.
I know that this has nothing to do with this technical paper, but I must share this picture of the Ypsilanti, Michigan water tower. A Different Design.
The rest of the trip to Michigan and back was trouble free. Shaggy ran great. The balance powder in the rear tires gave us a smooth ride. We did not realize how much Shaggy vibrated until this trip. The ride was smooth and quiet. The new brakes were smooth and effective. We were more than pleased with the results of our labors. Shaggy was running like a new one and averaged seven miles to the gallon. She was ready for the ultimate road test.
The trip is on. Here is the first day showing the price of gas at $3.05 a gallon and the first stop at Metamora, Indiana, Where the Hospitility House bed and Breakfast has Rv parking in the rear. It,s staying in your bed but having their breakfast.
Here Shaggy is at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Charlotte, North Carolina. This restored Travco made that 2200 mile trip trouble free, except for a $130.00 speeding ticket in West Virginia. We are proud of our restoration. I love to travel in this classic and will as long as I am able. The last few pages are pictures of Shaggy that we consider our best shots.
I would like to take this space to thank the man from Knapp Lake who supplied Shaggy with the Orange Shag Carpet that helped give Shaggy her name. He’s the man in the blue shirt. My father is the man in the black jacket
All clean and ready to go.
Here is Shaggy at North Carolina. She is the oldest and most unique Motor Home in this line-up
Shaggy at The Family Motor Coach Rally in Berrian Springs Michigan
Here is the engine compartment of the current restoration. We learned a lot from Shaggy. All the newer restorations will benefit from what we learned doing Shaggy
This is going to be Scooby Doo. The inside is done. The engine is blown.
The inside of Scooby Doo has all the new appliances installed. This is the current restoration. But, that is another story.
Oh By The Way,
For Those of You Who Are Asking,
How Much Did The Restoration Cost?
As Of Today, November 8, 2006,