Classic Winnebagos & Vintage RVs!

Topic Boards => Dodge - Chrysler Chassis => Topic started by: tschotland on November 24, 2021, 11:34 PM

Title: 1977 Winnebago D23C Chieftain Rewired by Satan Himself
Post by: tschotland on November 24, 2021, 11:34 PM
Hi, I am trying to get a friend's 1977 Winnebago Chieftain D23C running again.  It appears to have been rewired by Satan himself, starting with the fact that some genius replaced the battery wiring with a red wire for ground and black for +12V.  This led my friend to inadvertantly install a new battery backwards.  Now nothing works at all - no relay click, no starter cranking, no nothing.  I am trying to systematically debug things.  So for instance, I would like to jump the starter relay and see if the engine cranks.  My handy manual says I need to disconnect the ignition control module first.  The trouble is, as far as I can tell, this vehicles doesn't have one.  Or if it does have one, it is so cleverly hidden as to elude all my attempts to find it.  According to the wiring diagram there should be a pair of wires running from the distributor to the ignition module.  These wires do not exist.  Instead there is a single wire running directly to the coil.  So I am pretty sure this beast has no ignition module.

There are plenty of wires and tubes and cables and chains that are just dangling in the breeze, so many that I am astonished the thing ran at all.  But run it did, until the new battery went in. Oh, when I first started working on this, I found a dead short between the +12V battery wire and ground. It turns out that there was a thin wire connecting the two battery leads.  I removed it - I figured it's probably why the battery went dead.  But maybe this peculiar vehicle depends on that wire being there to run!

Has anyone ever seen anything like this before?  It's like somebody's Franken-RV!  I don't work on cars much, and what I did is 25 years in my rearview mirror, but I do know electronics really well.  I am hoping that someone has seen something similar and can suggest some shortcuts to testing every part and tracing every wire.

Title: Re: 1977 Winnebago D23C Chieftain Rewired by Satan Himself
Post by: Elandan2 on November 25, 2021, 07:47 AM
The ignition module, if it's there, is mounted to a plate bolted to the back of the engine. But with only one wire running to the coil, it seems to me that the PO switched the ignition system back to a breaker point type ignition. Why, that would be anyone's guess...
Title: Re: 1977 Winnebago D23C Chieftain Rewired by Satan Himself
Post by: tschotland on November 25, 2021, 10:22 AM
Oh that was the first place I looked!

Why anyone did any of the things I am seeing is really hard to imagine...

Thanks for your help.  Happy Thanksgiving!
Title: Re: 1977 Winnebago D23C Chieftain Rewired by Satan Himself
Post by: skloon on November 25, 2021, 11:43 AM
I know your pain- had a Fiat 124 that had been completely rewired using white lamp cords and marr connectors- you have to go one system at a time and a wire tracer may be handy
Title: Re: 1977 Winnebago D23C Chieftain Rewired by Satan Himself
Post by: Mlw on November 25, 2021, 01:47 PM
Yep, Know your pain all to well too, I was (or maybe still am) on exactly the same road like you.

My former  $@!#@!  did exactly the same to the chassis wiring of my Lovely RV Betsy. But also completely ruined the coach wiring, So just a little warning in advance.

You give one big  !-! your friend switched polarity which means he probably burned a lot of things to smithereens and hence the reason the RV isn't starting anymore. Good luck with that because it probably means you will have to check every relay and electrical part exept wiring if it still is functioning (the correct way).

You Didn't say what Chassis the D23 is build on or which engine it's got but as it is normally Dodge 360 or 440 your Ignition module is probably one of those:,1977,b300,5.9l+360cid+v8,1074901,ignition,ignition+control+module+(icm),7172 (,1977,b300,5.9l+360cid+v8,1074901,ignition,ignition+control+module+(icm),7172)

Rock auto really is your friend here when you look for certain parts as every part has pictures.

Also a youtube video series that helped me a lot: (
Maybe the editon 1978 Dodge RV Restore #2 - Valve Covers & Ignition  and 1978 Dodge RV Restore #3 - Electrical and Drivetrain helps.

A MAJOR help for me. I strongly advice to buy it when you haven't got it:;sa=view;id=203 (;sa=view;id=203)

As for all the loose wiring, Find out if the RV is a California edition. It's easy because your carburetor will look like something monsterous with all the extra's added.


If so, there will also be a tremendous amount of extra sensors for emission control. With me it was exactly the same, loose wiring hanging everywhere making me wonder exactly like you: How the hell this RV is still running? In the picture I've wired and connected everything back the original way, but all wires were as seen in the picture above.

What helped me out Big TIme was the Wiring Diagram, eventough the colorcoding didn't seem to match here and there so then doublechecking with my multimeter makes me now understand most of the wiring that is there.

So good luck. Your friend should praise himself lucky to have you.

Title: Re: 1977 Winnebago D23C Chieftain Rewired by Satan Himself
Post by: LJ-TJ on November 27, 2021, 11:12 PM
I suspect this is a silly question but did you check the fuseable link? i?? Once again another silly suggestion. Take the wiring diagram to Busness Depot and have them blow it up as large as they can. Then go to the back and pick up a package of coloured sharpies. On the wiring diagram it will tell you the colour of wirers. Take the red sharpie and mark/follow the red wire while colouring it red. Do that with the green etc,etc,etc. You will be amazed at how easy it is to trouble shoot your wiring situation doing this.
The first thing you do is start at the battery. Make sure the black cable is the ground and a good ground. Then do the red and follow it back to the starter solonoind. Make sure you have power to the starter solonoind. Follow the red wire to the starter and make sure you have power to the starter. If the fuseable link is good try and start her. If not jump the starter to see if she'll turn over. If she does. your on your way to checking things out up to the ignition switch? Make sure she's in park or nutral when you try to start her.? Hm?