Strykersd's 1971 C20 Brave

Started by strykersd, November 01, 2016, 04:14 PM

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Anyone else have the issues of your cabinets swinging open while going down the road?  After further review I realized that the latches on our cabinets have worn down over the years.  I looked online but didn't have any luck finding replacements.  Thankfully at my work we had to burn some of our budget so we recently purchased a 3d printer.  With the use of a pair of digital calipers, Google Sketchup free edition and the 3d printer I was able to design and build new latches. 

Here's a pic of the design in Google Sketchup

The new piece on top and the old on the bottom

And the new pieces placed back in the latch's housing.  New one the top, old on the bottom.


My rig uses automotive 5/8" heater hose for the bends, than the long straight stretch in the middle of the coach is copper tubing with a barbed end for getting a good seal on the rubber hose. I have rear heat and auto heating on my hot water heater. Definitely put shut off valves so you can kill the system if needed.
Never get crap happy with a slap happy pappy


Ideally stainless tubing but realistically probably copper plumbing pipe. Stainless would resist all of the elements of the road like salt and calcium but then how often do you go out in that? Copper is much cheaper, easier to work with and much easier to access and find fittings for.  Do not use PCV, the water is far too hot for that, you are talking about engine coolant that can get up to 220 and possibly 240 degrees on a long hard pull. Needless to say you want to keep the lines away from your fuel line or insulate them.

What is under mine from the factory looks all the world like EMT electrical tubing! Wouldn't surprise me, cheap and light and galvanized. Who is ever going to know W% ?


The concept of having hot water right when I pull into a campsite sounds nice.  If you guys were going to run lines for the coolant heat exchanger, what kind of lines would you  use?  I wouldn't want to use rubber lines that far. 


Adding valves also gives you the ability to isolate any leak that may occur in the lengthy lines to the rear heater.
It is not our abilities that show what we truly are - it is our choices.
Albus Dumbledore


If you take the time to run the lines for the coolant heat exchanger it is nice to have free hot water on the road and also as soon as you get to your campsite. I put valves on my lines since they also go to the rear heater and there is no way to turn the hot water off to the rear heater so I now turn it off at the engine. I will eventually run separate lines for the heater and the hot water and put another heater valve inline on the rear heater to work in conjunction with the vehicle heater. This way you don't have a hot heater core under the bed during the summer.


The biggest issue I've had was my broken water heater.  I pulled my old water heater tank and found my leak. 

I started weighing my options on what to do next.  I could replace just the tank in my water heater for $190, replace my whole water heater for another manual-pilot light unit for $250, replace my water heater for an electronic pilot light unit for $340 or replace my water heater with a water heater with an electronic pilot light and an electric heater exchanger for $400 so that I don't always have to run it on propane.  On our last trip there was a time we were up at 7,000ft altitude in Utah, in 20 degree weather and 20mph winds where I had  to light the pilot light of our water heater outside out RV and would pay to never have to do that again.  After lots of debate I decided I want something completely new and thinking about how I hope to keep this RV for a long time I should put the best water heater I can in it.  So I bought the water heater that has an electronic pilot light, electronic heater and even an engine coolant heat exchanger (that I don't plan on using). 

I don't have a pic of the water heater installed on the RV, but it looks like every water heater on an RV so you get the picture.  Here is a shot of the controls for the water heater right next to my water control panel. 

Although I haven't used it on a trip yet, I love it so far.  It's so nice not having to use propane when I have electricity at a campground and to no longer have to manually light the pilot light.


That is a funky looking fan. :D Looks like the clutch has been replaced in the not too distant past. Should do the job for you depending on how hard the engine is working. Be sure to check all of the fan blades around the rivets for cracks, do that with your other one too just in case you decide to use it again. they have a bad habit of shedding blades at higher rpms, mostly an issue with the flex fans but I have seen it with the clutch fans also.


Life has been hectic lately so I haven't had much time to work on the Winnebago.  In the last three months I've house sat for seven weeks, moved, totaled my car in a crash and got a new job that I start in a few months.  Starting a new job means an opportunity to take some time off between jobs and take the Winnebago on a trip so I have some work to do! 

I've been debating what to do about my cooling fan.  My solid cooling fan is robbing me of a ton of power and although a electric fan would be more efficient I decided I like the simplicity of a clutch fan.  What Rick said about airflow around the engine stuck with me and I figured it wouldn't hurt to always have some air moving around the exhaust manifolds.  From talking to other classic Winnebago owners, everyone with Dodge 440s or Chevy 454s dog houses are warm to the touch.  With the little SBC in my engine bay, my doghouse is cool to the touch and I want to keep it that way!  I just stopped by the local junkyard and picked up a used clutch and fan for just $20! 

I was hoping for a seven blade fan but only found five blade fans.  If it's an issue I'll purchase a seven blade fan to replace this one.


After taking a few months off from working on the Brave to get caught up on my Jeep and drag racing truck, I'm starting to tinker with it again.  I bought a reverse camera for it in January but never got around to installing it.  The camera kit comes with a 7" screen and infared LEDs for night vision.  I was originally drawn to it since it was wireless but to use the wireless option you'd have to manually switch inputs on the screen each time you use it.  It's not a huge inconveince but I just want to have a user friendly RV so anyone could hop in the driver seat and drive it without instruction. 

Here's a shot of the screen on my dashboard

I repainted the camera white and installed it way up top so that I can see past my spare tire carrier

And the whole setup in action!


The advantage of an electric fan are much more than MPG or power.  It is QUIET.  The stock cooling fan on my 440 with the fan clutch was very loud.  Went to silent with electric.  That made the drive much nicer.  And, when you are figuring HP lost through the alternator, you need to remember that the fan only kicks in when needed.  Very rarely should it ever kick in at above 35-40 mph as the air being forced through the radiator is more than the fan can pull anyway.

The one thing not factored into the modification payoff equation is the joy that the mod brings you.  My fuel injection system alone will probably never be paid off at the pump.  But, and it is a big but, it was paid off in pure drivability the first trip.  It ran perfectly everywhere.  More power, smoother, easy starts, etc.  Worth every penny in my book.

Love what you are doing with the old girl.  Save it from an early grave.


Belt drag, which is surprisingly high. I have gained tenths at the dragstip by losing the belts.
And the other thing you need to consider is airflow over the engine and through he engine compartment. Without that clutch fan constantly turning slowly there is no airflow over and around the engine. Those exhaust manifolds are just blasting heat at the dogbox and radiating it throughout the wiring and rest of the components in the engine compartment. It is not like a car or pickup where there is a lot of open space under the hood.


A fan around this size would probably pull around 40 amps on startup and about 20 amps while running.  With alternator efficiency and belt slip we can assume the system is about 50% efficient, so let's say my alternator needs to make 40 amps when the fan is running.  While the fan is running it's consuming 40 amps at 12 volts, which is 480 watts, which is about 2/3 a horsepower.  Plus if I'm driving during the day I normally combine the batteries so my solar panels contribute electricity too.  This is just theorizing but am I missing anything?



Yea, but how much do you lose when the alternator is making up that 20 amp draw? They don't test that!


Do any of you guys subscribe to Motor Trend on Demand?  Their show Engine Masters just did an episode on cooling fans on a small block Chevy and I was shocked by the results. 

SBC with no fan
Torque: 406.9 ft-lbs
Horsepower: 349

OEM Clutch Fan
Torque: 400 ft-lbs
Horsepower: 335 hp

OEM Steel Fan
Torque: 388 ft-lbs
Horsepower: 318.6hp

I could definitely use that extra 10-20ft-lbs in torque.  Definitely worth the $100-150 cost of converting to me.  Off to start piecing this together!


Bingo! The only good point is the extra power you get with the upgrades which is what gives the better mileage but in turn when you use the extra power you lose the better mileage so in the long run you pretty much end up in the same range as before but with more power. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.


I work best by examples, it tends to make complex scenarios easier to understand.  That's why I included the example above:

$2000 upgrade (that's cheap for any major upgrade)
7mpg starting (that's typical)
12mg final (that's optimistic)
$2.50 gas (that's on the high side to account for some increase in time)
Result:  13000+ miles to break even

13,000 mile break even ?!   That's like 10 years for me!  And will I actually get 12mpg? No.  So the break even is probably going to take even longer!   Better to just keep the engine in tune; spark plugs, wires, distributor, air filter, oil and filter changes, keep tires inflated properly, etc and run it as is.   

Concentrate on smiles per mile instead of miles per gallon.

Long story short, it would take very expensive gas, or a miraculous change in mpg to make any major upgrade worth it.


And to carry that equation one more step figure how many miles per year you drive the vehicle and divide the total miles to the breakpoint by the miles per year to get how many years to break even. then you know whether it is worth it or if you plan on buying a different vehicle before that point.


And remember, with gas prices always changing that formula get complicated. It is best  to project a higher gas price into the formula just to be on the safe side since gas seldom goes down.



Here's the formula for figuring out how many miles someone would need to drive in order for the cost of an mpg improving upgrade to pay for itself, ...the break even point.

If we let:

M = the number of miles to break even on the upgrade
C = cost of the upgrade, $
G = cost of gas, $/gal
E1 = efficiency before upgrade, miles/gal
E2 = efficiency after upgrade, miles/gal



As an example, using the formula above, if gas costs $2.50/gal and the upgrade costs $2000, and mpg went from 7 to 12mpg, the break even point would be at 13440 miles.   If the mpg went from 7 to 8mpg, then the break even point would be 44800 miles.


Not MY wife! 12 MPG in a Honda Civic!!!!!!! I get 33 in the same car and I don't really baby it.

There was a MPG thread on here somewhere, That is the one you need to find and wake up for this discussion. I think on it I mention dollars per mile as a reference for how long it takes to pay off an upgrade or modification before you actually start seeing any actual savings. It is many, many miles. Usually many years before you even break even on the modification.

M & J

That sounded like the voice of experience TJ..
M & J


So here's my two cents worth. Classic Winnebago 1966 to 1978 flat faced. I've been around here since 2003. I've followed it all from headers to ignition systems to tires you name it. All the modification I herd might have gotten the owner a mile per gallon or two more on a one time deal. Never Constant every time they've gone out. In many cases it cost more for the carb etc than if they had of just paid for the gas. The best your going to get out of these old girls is on average 7 to 8 miles to the gallon. Sometimes 5 sometimes 10. The best milage you'll ever get and piss yourself off at the same time is LET THE WIFE drive. They seem to get better mileage than any of us guys. D:oH!