Long Lasting Dodges
News & Updates


I enjoy going to your website and can see that you have put a lot of effort into it. It is a great resource for people that are interested in vintage motor homes, weather they own one or are thinking of restoring one or just love the history.

I don't know if are aware but I am the owner of two places of business, Soapstone Valley Equipment is a truck and equipment repair shop, with myself and three mechanics since 1994, and next door Classic Motorcars of Ellington, where we have a show room with 20 - 25 antique cars for sale, we also offer repair service and parts for old cars and trucks.

The reason I tell you all this is because after being in the truck and antique car repair bussniess for 35 years, I have a few thoughts I would like to share with people who are thinking of restoring a vintage motor home.

I'm sure you have seen other web sites or blogs about Travcos. Some have done wonderful jobs and inspire the rest of us. Others seem to jump into a total restoration project without sitting down first and counting the cost. I have seen this many times when it comes to old cars.

I tell people the most expensive car (or in this case motor home) is the one you can get for free.

The real cost of a restoration is staggering.

People start with good intensions, tow home an old Travco and rip out the interior, try to get it running, after a while reality sinks in, the list starts getting longer and longer, rust issues, fluid leaks, wood rot, glass, electrical, paint, brakes, tires, exhaust, interior, etc. and all they wanted to do is take a trip in a cool old motor home. Sadly some get frustrated and give up.

I really admire those who stick with it and end up with beautiful rigs even if at a great cost.

I would encourage wannabees to consider buying a vintage coach that has had most of the work done, this has proved over and over to be the most cost effective way to enjoy the hobby.

Good running, driving Travco can be bought for $5,000 - $7500 and is far less than the cost of a restoration.

We that have old vehicles know that there is always things that need attention or find that even a good unit is a continuous work in progress. Or better said, we get to use out rigs and are always tinkering with them too.

It is my hope that someone reading this might give it some thought and that more people would be able to enjoy this great hobby.

Thanks Arlo Hoffman


Steering Play

I normally start my search for steering wheel play with a large pair of Channel locks.  I saw a mechanic use them to squeeze the  tie rod ends to check for movement.  It's very effective.  So thats what I did.  I found that the drag link and drivers side outer tie rod end was worn.  I decided to change the Drag link first because I had to replace the steering gear anyway because it was leaking.

drag Link
I used a Fork and it took a lot of time to get it to break loose.  But as the picture shows it will not seperate because it is too close to the frame.
Pitman arm Puller
I had to remove the pitman arm to remove the drag link. I had to remove it anyway because I was also replacing the steering gear.   It took a lot of force on this puller but it did finally drop off.  It dropped so fast that the drag link hit me in the head before I could move.
Now That Hurt.  It was good that I did that when I had a job with health insurance.  They told me that there was no permanent damage, but to please be more careful in the future.  A couple of years before that while putting new mufflers on my Winnebago, I dropped a muffler on my glasses.  It cut me above the eye and took several stiches.  I must really be careful now because I am unemployed and only have VA.  I must pay a surcharge whenever I use them.  I am Retired Air Force, but I am not close enough to a Military Installation to get my Free Care.
Drag Link ComparasionDrag Link Comparasion
You can see in these pictures that the new Drag Link has a bend in it.  That's a better design because there is a angle involved when it is installed.  this new one should last longer.
New Drag LinkNew Drag Link
These pictures show that when the new link is connected the tie rod is flat.  The original link had a constant angle to it.  I think that the new one is a better design.

Drag Link Part Number
There is the NAPA part number for the 1976 M500 Chassis Drag Link.