1972 Winnebago Brave - Seattle or Bust!

Started by BigAlsVehicleEmporium, April 14, 2023, 08:24 AM

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BigAlsVehicleEmporium

Eyez Open,

That's a cool thread on SmokStack! I have always liked that forum. And glad to hear that yours fired up without having to tear into the engine too much. I like the Onan engine style and hefty build quality. They're cool old machines!

For my purpose though, I want something that's quiet, efficient, and won't be an oil burner. The noise difference between a CCK and a Predator 3500 is night and day. The Predator burns about half of the gas that the Onan will and Predator parts are easy and cheap to obtain. The Predator has been around for nearly 20 years now long term reviews have been very positive on oil consumption. From what I've read on SmokStack, the Onan's will always use a bit of oil and I know that my particular one burns quite a bit, judging by the fouled plugs. It is also 240 lbs lighter than the Onan.

When I get back from Seattle, I'd like to see what it would take to get the Onan running again and find someone who wants it. If I can get $1k for it in good, running condition, all the better!
1972 Winnebago Brave D20 - 413 V8, A727, Dana 70
"That leaves only me to blame, 'cause mama tried!"

Eyez Open

Ohh I get it, I too would have a predator but I am going the battery direction. Those old Onans are quite something, pull off the fuel pump clean it little WD40 on the inner workings..prime it and poof mine worked, I've never seen that happen to a fuel pump. Pulling the exhaust manifold will reveal just how much carbon build can occur in those old engines it can be eye opening. After 5 cans of CRC contact cleaner the amarture and bushings were like new.

The whole genset reminded me of the old style GM starters with a big motor attached. Odd your going to Seattle those old sets are highly prized in the wooded areas. I got 2500 for my 6.5, once the guy saw it start run and power the RV..I'll take it cash came out no drama.

WinneBaby

Between the aluminum/fiber gaskets, BB&K auto, and a few other things you mentioned, it seems like this forum has been really useful with the helpful tidbits  :)clap  I was wondering what you did to fix the exhaust leak, for a second I thought you cut one of the copper gaskets we were using! And Damn  the generator is huge! time is running out, when are we getting that predator?
YOU NEED TO POST MORE UPDATES!!!
SEATTLE or BUST baby!!! :)  :)ThmbUp  :grin:  $@!#@!

BigAlsVehicleEmporium

Haha the Predator is on the schedule! Maybe this weekend...

And more updates coming soon! I've got to write up the electronic ignition upgrade and the inverter installation! Not to mention the auxiliary fuel tank that's going in today!  ;)
1972 Winnebago Brave D20 - 413 V8, A727, Dana 70
"That leaves only me to blame, 'cause mama tried!"

WinneBaby

Hey all! Winnebaby here, giving a brief and impromptu update on behalf of Big Al. At around 11AM this morning, Sept. 18, Big Al and his dad Otis rolled out in the Brave and are on their way to Alberta, British Columbia, and finally Seattle. So much has happened since the last update that there just hasn't been time to write it all down for a post. Long story short is, who knew replacing the transmission last minute would take up all available time remaining before departure.  $@!#@!
Big Al may have time to update but there's been so many ups and downs, I'll be impressed if he can get it into just one post.  :)clap  :)clap  :)clap :)clap  :)clap

SEATTLE OR BUST, BABY!!!

BC300E2A-6BA3-42F4-B83B-D5A612BCC685.jpg

BigAlsVehicleEmporium

We made it 690 miles from Atlanta to Quincy, IL! It took almost 14 hours so our average speed, including stops, is about 50 mph. That's about what I figured when I planned this trip. Tomorrow I'm going to drive a little slower but we hopefully won't have to stop for an hour and a half at a hardware store, so hoping it'll even out!

Okay, here's the status of the RV. Since my last post I:
-Installed an inverter to power the 120 VAC fridge while going down the road or parked.
- Converted the ignition from points to Pertronix Ignitor III ignition, Flamethrower III coil, and 8.5mm plug wires. Spark plugs are happily gapped at 0.045".
- TIG welded a new bottom on the rear 50 gallon tank, had it sealed, and installed it. It now has  fuel sensor and pickups for the engine & generator. I plumbed both tanks into a dual circuit fuel valve so the engine and generator both pull from the selected tank. This valve also switches the fuel sending unit so the single gas gauge can be used to see the level in whichever tank is selected.
- Added slides rated at 450 lbs to the generator shelf and plopped a Predator 3500 down on it. I put a 30A twist lock plug on the end of the wires going to the old generator and it powers the A/C nicely! But that's it. I haven't wired in any remote start capabilities to the dash switch, it doesn't pull fuel from the fancy fuel valve mentioned above, and I don't have any forced air ventilating that cabinet, so I don't feel comfortable running it with the door closed. Fortunately the weather cooled off the day before the trip and we likely won't need A/C at all.
- Cleaned, flushed, painted and reinstalled the dash heater along with new hoses and a new heater valve. Unfortunately, the heater valve doesn't seem to do much to prevent the flow of coolant no matter the position. Good thing it's been cool and getting colder!
- And lastly, the big one. I swapped the 727 for a 518/46RH. The overdrive version of the 727. This was a huge undertaking, much more than I'd anticipated, even with Sasquatch's great thread on the swap to serveaas a warning. I wouldn't have done it if I'd have known what it would take to get it finished. Even with taking the week before the trip off work to get it done I still had to delay departure by 3 days. That being said, overdrive is AMAZING. It's everything I hoped it would be and more honestly. I used to get 6.5 mpg at 58 mph. On this first leg of the trip I kept the pedal down and averaged 67 mph while getting 6.8 mpg. And it was so much quieter!

Major things that didn't get done:
- Plumbing (at all)
- 12V converter - the only way to charge the house batteries is with the alternator.
- Generator integration - as is it's difficult to use and I probably wouldn't run it while going down the road.
- Door/front passenger side wall repair - The wall forward of the door flaps in the wind. If the passenger drops their cell phone just right it could end up on the highway. The door is attached to the frame with 1.5 hinges.
- Propane appliances - Furnace doesn't work and the oven doesn't work. The water heater doesn't either but that's not important given that there's no water. The stove top does work if lit with a lighter.
- Emergency back up vehicle - I was planning on rebuilding the engine in my 1975 Honda CT90 and bringing it on a carrier on the back. That way if I broke down I'd have a way to go get parts! Alas there wasn't time to get it running.

In the morning I'll post an update on how the trip went, but for now, good night!
1972 Winnebago Brave D20 - 413 V8, A727, Dana 70
"That leaves only me to blame, 'cause mama tried!"

RockwoodMike

Quote from: BigAlsVehicleEmporium on September 19, 2023, 02:32 AMI swapped the 727 for a 518/46RH.

I know you are plowing down the highway right now, but what troubles did you have?? The biggest concern for me is the drive shaft..Did you have to change out the front yoke..or shorten it because of the length of the overdrive being longer?
The best mechanic is the one that can make it run with the least amount of parts!

BigAlsVehicleEmporium

Both! If you don't have the transmission parking brake you can get away with just shortening it. I want to do a full writeup soon while all the details are still fresh.
1972 Winnebago Brave D20 - 413 V8, A727, Dana 70
"That leaves only me to blame, 'cause mama tried!"

BigAlsVehicleEmporium

Okay! I've got my first real break this trip while my dad is driving. The day was great. Loaded up all the food and supplies and set off around 11 AM eastern time. Overdrive was fantastic. In my testing around Atlanta I knew it would be great, but it really makes a huge difference in comfort alone on the really long drives. And now, if we need to, we can keep up with traffic around cities and other congested areas for safety. The maximum speed seems to be 82 mph  :)clap

I only did that once, but I'm certain that's the fastest this rig has ever gone.

The first part of the trip was largely uneventful. I filled up both tanks before we left and found that I couldn't fill the rear tank up easily over halfway. The vent in the top that connects to the fill spout is too restrictive and today's faster gas pumps can't run slow enough (even lightly squeezing the handle by hand) to let it fill smoothly.

About 6 hours in, the speedometer started screeching periodically and pegging at 110 MPH. I figured the lube in the bushing between the speedometer drive drum and the needle likely had dried out. The friction heat must have melted some of it though because it cleared up pretty quickly.

At our first stop we couldn't get the door open. Thankfully it happened while we were inside because I was able to kick it open. If I'd had to pull that hard on the handle, something would have broken. What appears to have happened is that the screws holding the latch in worked themselves out a bit and got caught in the latch opening. Kicking it open removed enough material so that shouldn't happen again. When we're going to be someplace for more than a day I'd like to fill all the screw holes in the door with wood glue and toothpicks and re-drill them.



I've known that the front passenger lower wall was weak ever since our first trip, but it rapidly deteriorated during the drive. If you dropped your cellphone just right, it could fall between the wall and the floor and out onto the interstate. When you go down the road it flops around and has expanded to include the door frame, likely contributing to the sticking earlier. Since it seemed to be getting worse, we stopped at a Menards and picked up some 4"  wood screws and countersunk machine screws. I used the 4" screws on the door frame to securely attach it into the wood of the step cutout. Now the door frame is rock solid. This alone really stabilized the wall, but I used the two machine bolts to replaced the two bolts at either end of the beltline. They'd pulled through the aluminum so I used 1/4" washers on the new bolts. Now the wall is anchored at either end into the metal angle iron of the body frame! What it really needs is for me to remove the middle piece of skin on that side and replace the wood in the wall where it joins the floor. But de-skinning a wall is a little beyond a roadside repair so I won't get that far into it unless it becomes necessary.



We made it to Quincy, IL the first night and decided to stay at a Fairfield Inn. I'm drowning in Marriott points because I travel for work, so I figured we'd stay the first night in luxury.

1972 Winnebago Brave D20 - 413 V8, A727, Dana 70
"That leaves only me to blame, 'cause mama tried!"

RockwoodMike

Looking forward to the write up..I was wondering about the control of the transmission..Does it need a computer to control the shifting??

My pickup has a Ford 460 with the C6 trans and it is possible (Lot of work) to install the 4 speed overdrive that replaced the C6..E4OD..but it is computer controlled..So maybe not..but that overdrive is .74-1 in comparison to 1-1 for 3rd gear on the C6
The best mechanic is the one that can make it run with the least amount of parts!

BigAlsVehicleEmporium

I'm not sure if it's a factory tank or something that someone added later on, but the rear tank in Winnie was rough. The bottom was rusted out, it was connected to a valve under the drivers floor with about 20' of fuel hose, and there was no provision for a fuel sending unit. I'm guessing you just drove until it started sputtering and then reached down and turned the knob on the floor.

Bringing this tank back to life, along with a few upgrades meant welding on a new bottom, and welding in mounts for a fuel sending unit and pickup tubes.

First I had the tank professionally cleaned to make it safe to cut and weld on. Then we cut the bottom off and ground out all the loose rust inside.



I got all the supplies from Tanks Inc and a coworker helped me weld in the mounts and the new bottom plate. It was my first time TIG welding, but when I took it to the shop to be sealed, they said there were no pinhole leaks!

I used a roll over vent from a '70s Ford and drilled a hole for it in the top. I used a 3/8" pickup for the engine and a shorter 5/16" pickup for the generator. Unfortunately, I didn't take many pictures of this install, but it is similar to how the front tank is laid out.



Then Sara and I mounted it back into place with a floor jack and lots of verbal coaxing. I found that there was nothing in the rear that the tank pressed against, so it could just flop up and down in place. I built some wood/rubber shim blocks and put them between the tank and floor. Now I was able to tighten up all the mounting bolts and the tank felt snug!

1972 Winnebago Brave D20 - 413 V8, A727, Dana 70
"That leaves only me to blame, 'cause mama tried!"

BigAlsVehicleEmporium

To switch between the dual tanks, I wanted a better setup than a manual valve on the floor and no gauge for the rear. I bought a Standard Motor Products FV5 valve, which let's me electrically switch the tanks. It has dual ports so I could use the 3/8" ones for the engine and the 5/16" ones for the generator. I put a Wix fuel filter before each inlet, making for a bundle of filters all in one place. Wix 33002 for the 5/16" and 33003 for the 3/8".



I bought a used Winnebago Aux/Main fuel tank switch and wired it to the FV5 using a pair of relays. The Winnebago switch is just an on/off switch but the FV5 needs to have switched polarity on its two feed wires. The relays let me do that. When I get a chance, I'll post a wiring diagram.

The two fuel tank sending unit wires connect to the FV5 and then a single wire goes back to the gauge. That way, the dash gauge shows the level in whichever tank I'm currently switched to.

I added some fuel to the rear tank and switching between them worked great!
1972 Winnebago Brave D20 - 413 V8, A727, Dana 70
"That leaves only me to blame, 'cause mama tried!"

BigAlsVehicleEmporium

Day #2 of the trip was eventful! We left Quincy, IL and planned to stop and meet a friend in Minneapolis that evening. Halfway through the trip, the speedometer started screeching again, but this time it didn't let up. My father was driving so I reached under the dash and disconnected the speedometer cable. The screeching stopped immediately, so it looks like I'll need to clean & relube the speedo head - hopefully that's all it needs. We were passing right by a JoAnn Fabrics so I stopped in for some sewing machine oil, the preferred speedo head lube according to a guy on The HAMB that rebuilds them.



We pulled into a parking lot in Minneapolis and met with a friend of mine for a while. When we went to get back in he asked "Is it supposed to have that puddle under it?"  :shocked:



I crawled under it and the rapidly growing green puddle was due to the coolant streaming out of the water pump weep hole.  $@!#@!



These 413 five-hole water pumps have been unavailable for the past couple of years. When I first got Winnie, this part was top of my list of concern and I spent months trying to find an affordable spare. The only one I could find was a rebuilt unit on eBay for $500  :shocked: . That is until someone posted on the Facebook CWVRV group back around June that 440source had gotten a batch made! At $220 shipped, I considered that cheap insurance and bought one to keep on board as a spare. I'm so glad I did to. I just wish I'd taken the time to paint it  :grin:



If you buy one, make sure to get the gasket they sell, it's only $10. I didn't, so I had to cut one by hand. Fortunately we were in a Home Depot parking lot so my father picked up a compass to accurately scribe the large center hole.



After draining the coolant into a Home Depot bucket, loosening the alternator belts, unbolting the fan and water pump, scraping the gasket surfaces, installing the new pump & gasket with Permatex #2 on the pump bolts, filling it back up and tightening the belts, we were ready to roll! Including a break for dinner, we were only stopped for 2 1/2 hours.

My father and I were both exhausted by this point so we reserved a room in St. Cloud, MN and hit the sack. When we came back out in the morning, Winnie looked ready to go. And no leaks!

1972 Winnebago Brave D20 - 413 V8, A727, Dana 70
"That leaves only me to blame, 'cause mama tried!"

BigAlsVehicleEmporium

Before I set off on this journey, I tried to think of things that might give me issues on the trip that I hadn't already addressed. Considering this rig had points ignition and I hadn't touched that side of it aside from spark plugs, I decided that an ignition tune up was in order. This was around the 4th of July and I saw that I could get a Pertronix Ignitor III electronic ignition conversion kit and accompanying Flamethrower III coil for 20% off through Autozone. I had never found an excuse to do an electronic ignition conversion before, as they're fairly pricey, but I could finally almost justify it!



Specifically, I bought the Pertronix p/n: 71381A Ignitor III and p/n 44011 Flamethrower III and the total came out to right at $193. I also ordered a new BlueStreak distributor cap with brass contacts (p/n: STD CH409) and decided to reuse my rotor as it looked practically new. Plus, the rotor I had had brass contacts and I couldn't find a replacement that did. Lastly, I ordered a universal set of Summit Racing 8.5mm plug wires (p/n: SUM-881022).

Installation of the Ignitor III was mostly straightforward. The points plate comes out easily enough and the Ignitor holes lined up like they were supposed to. The only wrinkle is that the ground strap that is supposed to go between the movable plate and the fixed plate couldn't go as illustrated. The screws at each end of the ground strap were supposed to go in from the top, but once assembled and clocked to the vacuum advance can, the screw holes on the bottom, fixed plate were covered up.



I solved this by removing the Ignitor unit and installing the fixed plate ground strap screw from underneath. This got the job done and still allowed for plenty of rotational movement of the upper plate.



I put the distributor back in, clocked how I'd removed it, and connected up the wires for the Ignitor and new coil. I then set about cutting & crimping the ends on the new wire set. I've done a set like this before and it was a paint to use the crimp die they send with it as it requires a vice. A while back I'd bought a hand held crimp die for my standard frame crimper that also did spark plug wires. This made a world of difference and the job went much faster! Strongly recommend.

Once I was done with that, I turned the key and it fired right up! Satisfied that the new system would work, I shut it down and Sara (Winnebaby) and I re-gapped the plugs to 0.045", ten thousandths over stock. So far I've put 3k miles on it that way and it hasn't missed once, as far as I can tell.

Lastly I set about dialing in the timing. Earlier, I had verified that with the timing mark lined up to TDC on the timing cover plate, the #1 piston was indeed at TDC, so the balance hadn't shifted. Seeing those marks while the engine is running is asking to get scalped however. So, I used a boroscope camera to see the timing marks for me and watched the video on my phone. Before I started all this I checked the timing and it was 2 degrees AFTER TDC  :shocked: . Now I set it to 7.5 degrees BTDC, the max per the manual. I also verified that the mechanical advance and vacuum advance were working as expected. They weren't curved exactly how the book says they're supposed to be, but it was close enough that I didn't sweat it.

NOTE: The advance numbers for the vacuum advance and mechanical advance that the service manual gives are in DISTRIBUTOR degrees. This has been touched on before, and I'd even read the thread by Dave where he talks about it, but I still missed it and was worried that my advances were only working to half what they should. Double the degrees in the manual and that'll give you what you should see at the crankshaft.

Once it was all buttoned back up, I took Winnie out on the road for a spin. I could definitely tell a difference in off the line power! I was really hoping that advancing the timing by 9.5 degrees (not to mention all the other ignition upgrades) would net some serious fuel economy gains. Instead, mileage went from 6.4 mpg to 6.8 mpg. A definite improvement, but I was really hoping for consistent numbers in the 7+ mpg range at 55 - 60 mph.

I packaged up all the points gear and stowed it in the back to serve as a spare if the Pertronix unit ever gives out. The Flamethrower III coil has too low a resistance to work reliably with points, so I packed the original coil as well.
1972 Winnebago Brave D20 - 413 V8, A727, Dana 70
"That leaves only me to blame, 'cause mama tried!"

Eyez Open

Dave's thread on ignition advance is very well articulated and has solid foundation.Dont sweat the curve rate at this point, your timing settings/curve is very conservative.

Once the engine is fully warmed up can you close down the idle mixture screws and starve the engine off? Getting a carb to run right on the idle circuit can be extremely easy...or be a hair pulling time. Running on a idle circuit alone greatly improves response and big economy.

That carb is a thermoquad correct?

BigAlsVehicleEmporium

It's an Edelbrock 1405 that I added an electric choke kit to, making it a 1406. It's a 650 cfm four barrel. And yeah, if I dial the idle mixture screws all the way down it'll die. I tuned it with a vacuum gauge before I left and I think it's dialed in decently enough. But I'd really like to put an air fuel ratio gauge on there to see what's really happening.

Plus, I've definitely got to replace the intake valve seals. Get the characteristic blue puff on startup and it seems to smoke a bit at idle...
1972 Winnebago Brave D20 - 413 V8, A727, Dana 70
"That leaves only me to blame, 'cause mama tried!"

RockwoodMike

I remember back in high school auto shop class, the teacher had this white Ford Thunderbird and he tinkered with it constantly trying to get as best mileage..He claimed he was getting 18-19 with a Ford 460!!

What he did with the distributor was add a cable similar to a manual choke cable..But it was attached to the base of the distributor..And from the cab of the car, he could pull or push the cable causing the dist. to rotate as he was going down the road..When he was just cruising, he would rotate the dist till the engine just started to ping..Then back off slightly..A hill would use an adjustment..so on..

I thought that was a pretty good idea!!
The best mechanic is the one that can make it run with the least amount of parts!

Eyez Open

Can you adjust the timing on this dizzy of yours? Such as 36 degrees at 3000 rpm or 15 initial? I assume there is no vacuum advance its all electronically controlled advance curves.

Eyez Open

What he did with the distributor was add a cable similar to a manual choke cable..But it was attached to the base of the distributor..And from the cab of the car, he could pull or push the cable causing the dist. to rotate as he was going down the road..When he was just cruising, he would rotate the dist till the engine just started to ping..Then back off slightly..A hill would use an adjustment..so on..

I thought that was a pretty good idea!!

NOW that's living in the moment. Back in the 70's engineering really came up with really odd strategies to address pollution issues.

Forward that to today's understanding and much has changed. Fuel in itself has been reformulated to burn much cleaner, but it "Burns Much Slower". Once upon a time splashing a cup of gas on pavement and lighing it could have been a life altering event, today's fuel while still dangerous is a ho hum event. It takes more time to burn off modern fuel.

Big blocks thrive on advanced timing, 15 initial along with 35/37 at 3000 is quite common. As much as 50 at cruise, it appears your shop teacher found that out long ago. He was advancing the timing at cruise.If one has a points style dizzy or a hei dizzy those can be setup to do so without that choke cable..lol innovative to be sure but filled with hazards.The choke cable that is.

Eyez Open


RockwoodMike

Another thing my Auto shop teacher did to his T-bird was a couple of electrical switches on the dash...

The regular key ignition switch had to be turned on in the run position after starting the car..

The first installed switch was a toggle switch that shut off and on the power to the ignition coil..Flip the switch and it would kill the engine..But leaving the Key ignition switch in the run position would keep his brake light working, turn signals, etc..

So as he rolled up to a traffic signal to wait out a red light, he would kill the ignition..sitting there without the engine running..Traffic Light turns green..

He would then flip the power back on...And with the second push button switch, that energized the starter solenoid and started the engine and off he went in traffic..

I asked him what all this was and to this day I remember him saying "you get zero miles to the gallon when you are stopped and idling.."

Maybe 1-2 ounces of fuel to keep the engine spinning while you are stopped would add up after a few stops!!   
The best mechanic is the one that can make it run with the least amount of parts!

BigAlsVehicleEmporium

Quote from: Eyez Open on September 27, 2023, 01:46 AMCan you adjust the timing on this dizzy of yours? Such as 36 degrees at 3000 rpm or 15 initial? I assume there is no vacuum advance its all electronically controlled advance curves.

Sure can! All the Pertronix module does is replace the points with a more powerful and maintenance free electronic ignition. You set the initial timing the usual way by rotating the distributor body and then tightening down the clamp. The stock vacuum advance can hooks to the movable plate as usual and the mechanical weights still advance the distributor cam. The Pertronix can sense the rotating cam loves and that's how it knows when to fire the spark, no electronic controls beyond that. At low rpms it also functions as a multiple spare discharge unit, similar to the popular MSD boxes. I can still adjust my vacuum advance curve by turning the allen head in the advance can nipple and adjust my mechanical advance curve by changing the springs.
1972 Winnebago Brave D20 - 413 V8, A727, Dana 70
"That leaves only me to blame, 'cause mama tried!"

BigAlsVehicleEmporium

Quote from: RockwoodMike on September 27, 2023, 05:37 PMMaybe 1-2 ounces of fuel to keep the engine spinning while you are stopped would add up after a few stops!!   

That's impressive! It's more work than I would go through for my daily driver, but I really admire people who do that - have a passion and chase it!
1972 Winnebago Brave D20 - 413 V8, A727, Dana 70
"That leaves only me to blame, 'cause mama tried!"

RockwoodMike

Big Al..Are you still out there..?? Coming up on 2 months since your last post!!

Hope everything is Okay?!?..Did you make the full trip?
The best mechanic is the one that can make it run with the least amount of parts!

Scottyb43

I love your story it reminds me of mine. I have a 73 Dodge M300 Mcnamme Harvest with the 413 Wedge the 727 trans and the Dana 70 rearend.
This thing was a beast it hadn't run since 2005. I bought it out of town in Payson AZ. As I said it hadn't run since 2005 and I needed to get it home with an estimated tow price of $900. plus It would drive home or it would stay. Well after 4 trips, 164 miles round trip. My theory was just 83 miles to home and off I went. couldn't exceed 56 MPH on the flat but to my surprise, it would do 50 MPH up the hills. Got it home and started tearing it apart. Just like you I spun it by hand and something didn't feel right. Guess what it was 2 bent pushrods. Now those things are 10.18" in length, and they were hard to find. I got them through Summit. Racing I thought you would like that. Thanks for taking the time. Updates when you can.p