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New Old RV Questions
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Posted 2012-01-18 11:57 AM (#7276)
Subject: New Old RV Questions

I've found an old Grumman that I've absolutely fallen in love with. It's small and needs work, but for the price I'm willing to take the chance.

Of course, I've never worked on any type of motorhome before, so I have some questions.

1) It has no ceiling in the back room. The insulation is sagging but has no water damage--it's just gravity from years of being simply shoved up there. What would be the best way to fix it? It's only about two to three panels worth that's missing.

2) It only has a porta potty. My husband wants a real toilet if we get something like this. I know how much all the equipment costs and how to do it, but how hard is it to hook up a permanent toilet?

3) It has no water hook up for camping. It has a water storage tank and hot water heater, so is this really going to be a huge problem? Would it be possible to add a water hookup?

4) It has a small leak around one seal. There does not seem to be a lot of damage to anything since it appears the seal has simply degraded over the years. (It's a late 70's model.) How bad is this really?

5) The heater isn't really anywhere... Like, the back room is unfinished and the heater is just *there* in the floor with the wires coming out. It works though, so should it be kept or replaced? The AC works, but being so old, I'm a little concerned with both of them and the wiring.

So, on top of all those questions, I have to ask: What would you estimate the cost of all that repair work? I have an idea from what I can do, but not on the other stuff.
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Posted 2012-01-18 8:44 PM (#7280 - in reply to #7276)
Subject: Re: New Old RV Questions

Hi tiws,
welcome on board. I do not now the Grumman, but in basic the are all similar.
Lots of old RVs had a wood frame, which could have taken a toll over the years. First and most important is is making sure it has no water leaks, or ever had on. If it did make sure you know the extent of the damage and what you are getting into. Expect more time and money to go into the project as you thought. Don't want to scare you, just know in what you are getting into.
Any repair will have several different ways of doing it and how extend.
1) Check the studs for weakness and use new installation.
2) Yes you can change it, but will require piping a black water tank. This is do able, I like to look into the marine world for good reasonable parts.
3) Somewhere it should have a fillip. To add that, would be easy. If you are talking about a water hook ups with pressure, that will easily become more involved. Don't for get everything has to withstand the pressure.
4) It could be very min or very expensive. How long has the leak been their? Until opening it up you will not really know it. Press against the walls and see what movement you have.
5) Heaters are pretty easy to replace or add. Don't forget the wiring is most likely to be from the original build.

Cost: You can spend a couple hundred dollars or thousands and thousands. This is hard to tell with out seeing the rig in person, knowing what you can do yourself and how intensive you want/have to rebuild the rig.

Good luck with your decision, just make it wisely.

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Posted 2012-01-20 8:43 AM (#7282 - in reply to #7280)
Subject: Re: New Old RV Questions

Thanks much. As I have it figured, it'll cost at minimum a few thousand dollars to fix it up. If I can get the price down, I'm fairly certain it'd be worth it even if we didn't want to keep it later on.

My only real issue is going to be that leak... The guy has had it for four years and says it's just a small leak in the seal, but I'm afraid that it'll end up being much worse. The roof looks good and it does seem like it's just from the seal being old and no one doing anything about it. :/

Would a stud finder work inside an aluminum RV? I'm tempted to go poke around the seal, but I don't know if he'll let me before we buy it.
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Posted 2012-01-21 8:02 PM (#7283 - in reply to #7282)
Subject: Re: New Old RV Questions

Stud finder should work from the inside with wood studs, not sure if the studs are Aluminum.

If you like the Model, just do a search for that Model with less work.
Make sure your you know what you want. A Project or a RV or both.

Good Luck
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Posted 2012-01-29 8:58 PM (#7305 - in reply to #7276)
Subject: Re: New Old RV Questions

I'd love to get a different Grumman that's in better shape, but this one is a convert from an old city bus. I adore the look of it! There just aren't a whole lot of them around, let alone in this area.

We actually went out today and checked it out thoroughly. My husband I'm fairly certain hates it. He thinks the only good thing is the engine and transmission.

The water damage is very little--thankfully! It looks more like someone left the roof vent open and it rained rather than it leaking. Still, I'd definitely want to tear out that entire panel and replace it, just to fix it permanently.

Bathroom = small. I already knew that though. It has a linen closet in there, which could be removed and then I'm fairly certain it could fit a small bath in, rather than the little stand-in shower that it has now. (Plus I know that my husband is hating the idea of not having a bathtub!) Admittedly, I don't see a whole lot wrong with the porta potty because it's an older yet fairly nice model.

The back room is small. It's max six feet long and the entire width of the motorhome. The last people added another closet--I don't know why, because it has TONS of storage space--that would have to go. It just ruins the back by being there and taking up room. Also, there is a back door/stairs that need to be completely covered up, along with the walls and ceiling.

Strangely enough, the paint is all pale blue and white/cream, yet the kitchen sink, stove, and refrigerator are all red. The guy has never used the stove, but everything else he had and it works just fine. (There was no gas to try out the stove anyway.) All of the stuff in the kitchen is adorable and the one thing I was super worried about--under the sink--looks great! All the piping is brand new and there is no sign of damage to the cabinets or flooring. (Ditto with the sink and everything in the bathroom, btw.)

The sofa is what I was hoping for: Wood with foam on top. I wanted something like that to rip out and put in more storage with a sofa/bed. That's a definite possibility for sure. The bunk over the cab lowers with a rope over the captains chairs. Not what I was expecting, but very unique/interesting never-the-less.

In any case, the back room size is a bit of a bummer. I could still get two queen sized bunks in there though. Then the couch, plus the drop-down bunk up front. So, I think that's plenty of sleeping area!

My husband is bummed out about there being no table. Okay, there's no table... Yet. One could easily be put in that folds up, but he doesn't like that idea. He wants a table that stays out, but I don't see that happening unless we replaced the couch/bed area with a dinette. Having a foldaway table would save a lot of room too!

It sounds fine, mechanically. We have to come out next week without the kids to give it a test drive. A belt squeaks, but it sounds a hell of a lot better than our car. My husband didn't like that the belt squeaked. He has a bad feeling about it... Well, I have a feeling that our current car is dying too, but that's beside the point.

There is a huge AC unit on top, along with this weird round thing that looks a lot like an old satellite. The lights all work, but one of them on the ceiling needs a new cover because it's cracked. It's plastic and old and yellowing, so I don't think that'd be something we wouldn't replace anyway. Some of the cabinets don't close quite right because the hinges need tightened. One of the knobs (out of about 30) is missing the center wood so that needs fixed.

I think the ceiling is a little low and has really thick, old insulation. Honestly, I'd rip the whole ceiling out and get thinner insulation to give my husband some more clearance because he's fairly tall. He isn't hitting his head on the top, but I'm sure it would feel a bit confined if I was that tall and close to the ceiling!

Replace the captains chairs up front. They're fine now, but the carpet really needs to be cleaned. I like how the entire dashboard is super padded and I doubt you could hurt yourself on anything but the huge control box that's on the driver's door. It needs to be finished, as there are extra buttons to add for a TV and stuff like that if you are willing to hook them up.

Certainly, it has potential. Everyone that looks at it seems to hate it though. Maybe it's because they don't know anything about it? I know the engine, the transmission, the brakes and all that good stuff. I know how to fix houses, so this really doesn't seem like a big leap.

We can afford to buy a cheap fixer-upper, but not a newer model that's already in good shape inside and out. I'm just glad this one runs and everything under the hook looks good! I can't fix things like that.

Storage on the back looks nice. Has a partial rack on the top for more. Tires are good. No body damage. Radiator has a few dents, but I've rarely seen an older vehicle that has a perfect looking one. All lights on the outside work and look great. Antenna is missing. Some rusty screws on the top around the bathroom vent, but are sealed. The body is all aluminum, so no other rust. Underneath no real rust, though it could use a cleaning and sealant. There is a rusty old Masterlock on the gas tank cover. That thing has got to go, as it looks horrible and probably doesn't function very well anyway!

Husband's cons:
- ceiling
- lack of room
- outside seals need replacing
- loose belt
- heater
- console on door unfinished
- back door and steps

My cons:
- ceiling/insulation replacement
- finishing back room (walls, floor, ceiling)
- replacing couch with hide-a-bed
- repainting (inside & out)
- removing linen & back closet
- replacing light fixtures
- adding bathtub
- replacing lock over gas cover
- fixing rusty screws over bathroom vent
- finishing console & rewiring box
- moving heater and/or fixing older one
- replace belt
- undercarriage sealant
- seal wooden storage rack on back
- new tires (if needed)
- adding bunks to back room
- adding fold-out table
- replacing captains chairs with swiveling ones
- making back steps into storage
- finishing cabinets under sink (they are incomplete currently)
- replace gas tank with new one
- buy generator & figure out where to put it (on top? covering?)
- fix antenna
- add television & possibly satellite

Any thoughts? Questions? I'd love to hear some ideas.

We're planning on going out again next weekend and I'll be remembering to take the tape measure to double check some size issues I keep having in my head.

Yep, seems like more of a project right now to me. But, my husband is thinking the same and that it might be worth it to fix up and then sell, but I wouldn't want to do that if I put so much effort into it...
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Posted 2012-01-31 6:48 PM (#7311 - in reply to #7276)
Subject: Re: New Old RV Questions

Well, I guess I am in what is considered "middle" Indiana!!! SO.... Happy Dance smiley face!!! Welcome to the board!!!

I will get back with you more in depth in a bit... (Gotta run to the store for last minute specials) But i would check the gear ratio of the bus. I have heard that a city bus is really low geared and will have a hard time doing 55mph let alone freeway speed. We almost bought a beautiful bus conversiion. So I have a little bit of info I could give.
Again welcome to the board!
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Posted 2012-01-31 9:57 PM (#7314 - in reply to #7276)
Subject: Re: New Old RV Questions

Spent 27.00 on 4 bags of groceries and saved 30.00. I can do a 52% savings!!!!!
We had a diesel pusher RV and it was quite expensive to maintain. A bus conversion went up a notch to PROFESSIONAL $$$$$ maintainance and from what I gathered on places like BUSNUT, the good pros were few and far between. I was complaining that tires on our RV were 250 ish each.. BUS=400-600 each, and there were 8 of those puppies. They have quirks that you have o find and follow, or they wont run for you.
How much do you plan on driving it? f you don't drive a diesel, they dry out, (air bags, hoses, lines....) and that is EXPENSIVE! And could be hard to find.
It sounds like he bus doesn't have any holding tanks. That is generally easy to fix by taking one of your storage bays and placing a tank or 2 in there below the toilet area. Then threaded piping should connect them together. and a plunger valve to hook to the sewer hose when you need to dump. If you can't connect water to the toilet, you can always add water to the bowl with a container. Of the busses I have seen, another bay is dedicated to storage batteries. I would be EXCEPTIONALLY CAUTIOUS about the wiring . Not anything to mess with and cause a fire.
(food for thought.) There is a slight possibility that you could face a problem with the age of your home, trying to stay at different parks. Check places that insure busses and get a quote. I have heard whispers that it is harder to find. Some states require visual safety verifications before you can get tags. (I don't know about Indiana offhand).
I don't know what your travel and living plans/needs are, but the smaller the bathroom, the bigger the other spaces can be made to be. I looked at a church used bus conversion that had no shower or bathroom sink, and I think a portable toilet. But it made room for 4 bunks and a back living room/bedroom. I could see changing it again to make 1 of the bottom bunks a washing machine and closet. Since we were on the road doing shows, showers didn't matter, because we were near showerhouses 99% of the time. Water is a scarce commodity, so we don't even use ours in the RV now and walk to the . (IMHO what a waste of space!!!) It just was too far to go and look at, and it had a Spicer transmissin I think I would have had trouble shifting.
I met a sweet family that stopped at my campground a few summers ago, traveling to Washington I think Their set up was so primitive that they cooked on a coleman stove OUTSIDE.
Anyhow, hope that gave you a little to think about. NOT trying to discourage you IN ANY WAY.
Hope to see you on the road soon!!!
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Posted 2012-01-31 10:08 PM (#7315 - in reply to #7276)
Subject: Re: New Old RV Questions

PS. if you dry camp or travel. Bathtub = lots of water, and if it goes in your holding tanks, it wont take long to fill them up... Something like a plastic storage box that you can fill up, but walk outside and dump when you are done, AND place all the bath toys, soap, and towels inside is a "dual purpose" thing. My daughter LOVES getting a tub bath. She puts on her bathing suit and we sit outside and she plays. (well... NOT IN THE WINTER!!!!!)

OK. I am done.... :-) for now!
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Posted 2012-01-31 10:20 PM (#7316 - in reply to #7314)
Subject: Re: New Old RV Questions

Awesome savings! I love shopping and getting money back. ;D

This bus was one of the old Evansville METS buses. (You might know something of Evansville since you're also from Indiana... It's about the only thing we have down here!) An old METS bus was, in the 70's when they started, little more than a glorified box truck. This one is a Dodge truck with duelies, has a big block 350 and 727 transmission, both having just been rebuilt in Jasper about 3,000 miles ago. If a belt is all I have to worry about under the hood, I'd be more than happy!

This company actually made motorhomes, but there are more box truck conversations of theirs than those in existence. This one was a custom bus which is now a custom RV. It's completely aluminum on the outside and I think looks much better than their RVs which were mostly fiberglass on the outside. Yuck.

The last people that owed it ripped out the seats and just built in a cute kitchen, small bathroom, custom couch and handmade cabinets, but then sold it before finishing. Sort of sad really. The guy that has it now wanted to fix it as a project, but he has other projects and would rather just get rid of it.

It does, surprisingly, have clean and gray water tanks. No black though. It has electric hookups for campsites too but nothing for water pressure, you'd just have to fill up your clear water tank. Doesn't have a generator, which sort of sucks, nor does it appear to have double batteries. Just things to think about for if I can manage to get my husband to let me have it.

I'm good with working on houses, know how to do basic rewiring and stuff like that--everything else my husband knows how to do, thankfully. He is huge on taking baths and all of the places we've ever camped at only have standing showers. (Not that I'd be one to jump into a community bathtub anyway... Icky.) I know even if it was a small bathtub, he'd be happy. Ditto with a working toilet. Now that I think about it, he could probably just live in a bathroom if he could cook in there!

Oh and the mere thought of cooking something inside while out is astounding to me. We're campers. Primitive campers. (It's called we're too damn cheap, honestly. Lol.) We lived in a tent for a week this summer. Having any type of RV would be like being at home... Which I'm fairly certain is the whole point? X3
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Posted 2012-01-31 10:58 PM (#7317 - in reply to #7276)
Subject: Re: New Old RV Questions

Well, hello again!!!
Honestly, I originally came from California. BUT My husbands family have been in Indiana 8 (uh huh EIGHT) generations, but we blew into town in October when he was offered a job, so I am not too familiar with the area, except the grave yards on ancestry research, but I will have to say, if you know anything about anything about Indiana, is it is the RV central of the world.

We have a city hook up spigot, but it leaks so bad, we always use the water pump to pressurize the line. Besides, in the winter times, the hose is more than likely to freeze, as will the black water tanks, sewer lines, etc.

The wonderful thing about a bus conversion, is the chance to make it exactly what you need it to be!!! I am going to try to send you an email. I have a couple money savings ideas that have worked pretty good for me in Indiana.
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Posted 2012-02-01 6:31 AM (#7319 - in reply to #7276)
Subject: RE: New Old RV Questions

just thought I will give you some more input.
We have built a 4x4 Semi Truck as a RV, but due to US Regulations could not take it with us. I do miss the Truck, but lots, lots, lots of work. Yes we did build from scratch, but with everything you are listing, you are not to far away from it.
Insulation, look around. I personally liked the spray in kind. As Example[/url] There are companies out their doing the spraying for you. This gives a even seal and will cover uneven areas just as well.
For the Bathroom, less is mostly more. A Bathtub is nice, but you said your Husband is pretty tall, which says you need a big Bathtub. Like said before you have to carry the water to fill it and also the holding tank to empty it. Lots of water being used, showers are the same thing, but not as bad. I our 4x4 Rig we only had a outside shower and just used campground showers or where out boondocking.
Getting parts is pretty easy here in the US for such a build. Camping World, eBay and also look outside the box (Marine supplies, mostly inexpensive and very good items).
Other then that, check around other Forums which build RVs to get a idea what has to be all done.

Have fun deciding.


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Posted 2012-02-07 10:59 PM (#7325 - in reply to #7276)
Subject: Re: New Old RV Questions

I know my husband would prefer to just get an RV that is in decent shape and has little to no work to do, but there is no way we can afford one! Plus, I love the thought of getting something that we can make "our own" and not just something that some company made to get people to buy. (Yuck.) I think downsizing everything would be the biggest problem, for the whole family. I just wish there was enough room for our comfy-as-hell eight foot long couch...
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Posted 2012-02-08 10:33 AM (#7327 - in reply to #7325)
Subject: Re: New Old RV Questions

I can understand your Husband. How much does the Camper cost, then start adding all the parts needed and Labor for item you can't do yourself. This will not even included your time or anything.
If you look at a "standard" RV. Yes it is like lots of other campers out there, but who says you have to leave it like that. Paint the Bedroom or Kidsroom. Hang Pics or Decoration, make it your home on the road. Yeah the outside will look like a standard unit, but that does not have to be a bad thing. Self-build RVs have sometimes problems with some Campgrounds (so I have read and experienced). Want to have different Stickers on the outside. Heatgun, some time & energy. Stop by a Sticker place and they can make you something, is you stay within a set size (just how wide, like 20-24" it will be pretty cheap.
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Posted 2012-03-09 10:04 PM (#7379 - in reply to #7276)
Subject: Re: New Old RV Questions

Sorry it's been a little while! Sort of busy lately, but good news is we are planning on trading the car (which we have no use of since we just got a van) for the motorhome. Too bad my husband hasn't been working very much, otherwise I'd have a lot more plans for it. :/ We'll just have to deal with what we can afford right now until work picks back up. (He just got paid for the first time in nearly a month--and he had been working the entire time!)

Certainly will have to post some photos soon, then plans. I have ideas but without exact measurements I don't want to do a whole lot in terms of layout yet.
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