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RVing message boards => Motorhomes => Topic started by: Bigmike323 on February 12, 2020, 11:54:51 PM

Title: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: Bigmike323 on February 12, 2020, 11:54:51 PM
Hi
I am considering buying a 1997 safari trek with a 6.5L GMC diesel (20k Miles) not sure of the transmission but I am assuming itís a Allison.

Motorhome has been parked in Southern California in outside storage for six years. And hasnít been started since. Owner said it ran drive perfect when he parked it.

wondering if anybody can help me out with some info and what to expect?
Should I just try to put some new batteries and crank it over see if it starts?
Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: Lou Schneider on February 13, 2020, 01:51:18 AM
Welcome to The RV Forum, Bigmike!

In a 1997, the transmission is most likely a GM 4L60E, not the Allison, the same as they put in their pickups with the 6.5L diesel.  It's a reliable transmission.  4 speeds with overdrive and a lockup torque converter.

I'd be prepared to put some algicide in the tank and carry a couple of spare fuel filters until you run all of the old diesel out of it.  Diesel doesn't degrade over time, but it does support algae growth.  Southern California doesn't have the humidity common in other parts of the country so this won't be as much of a problem as a diesel stored in the humid south, but it's best to be prepared.

So yeah, put in a fresh starting battery and see what happens when you crank it over.  But be prepared to catch up on maintenance before driving it any distance.  Change all fluids, grease the chassis and drivetrain and replace the tires.  Motorhome tires don't wear out, they time out, especially when they sit motionless instead of flexing to release the preservative chemicals in the rubber.

Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: Bigmike323 on February 13, 2020, 02:14:47 AM
Thanks for having me bud! Thank you for your quick response.
How far you Think I can travel before having to do maintenance?
Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: Back2PA on February 13, 2020, 05:05:19 AM
How far you Think I can travel before having to do maintenance?


No further than the nearest tire store. Seriously.  No matter how much tread is left they need to be changed.  Beyond that there's no way to tell. Every fluid should be changed ASAP as Lou suggested. Likely hoses and belts also
Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: Isaac-1 on February 13, 2020, 07:05:43 AM
The transmission will be a Chevy 4L80E, before buying I would suggest doing some research on the 6.5L engine, it was not the greatest diesel engine design, and some parts are becoming unobtainable, like the exhaust manifold where the turbo charger mounts in RV applications (differs from the pickup truck manifold).  There is a lot of information on these over on the Trek Tracks, Trek owners message board.

Ike

p.s. partial correction, this assumes that the Trek is a front engine model, they built a few rear engine models in 95-97 that had the 6.5L and an Alison transmission
Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: Boat Addict on February 13, 2020, 07:22:14 AM
The first big question that should be addressed is how much are you thinking about spending on the raw vehicle before getting it to some shop?  But I would ask around for a capable diesel mechanic that's worked on those engines and have them look at it first, IMHO. And that's not a lot of miles for the years. So you may encounter a ton of issues after you obtain ownership. That's the heart of this before spending a dime. There has been some upgrades and updates on diesel fuel since 1997 too. Of course a bunch of local miles before taking out across country will be needed. Algae in the tank is possibly an issue and check the fuel lines too.

All your mechanical equipment inside like the frig and ac, water pump, has potential problems too. So the starting price should reflect an opening bit at the gambling table.
Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: Great Horned Owl on February 13, 2020, 08:58:51 AM
Don't be surprised to find frozen brake calipers. In a more humid location, I would bet on it.
Joel
Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: Gary RV_Wizard on February 13, 2020, 09:30:47 AM
Moisture (from condensation of humidity) and the algae that grows in water-contaminated diesel can be a big problem for long term storage, but I would expect that the dry southern CA climate minimizes that risk. Having a couple primary fuel filters on hand will be wise.

Tires are almost surely bed due to aging, even if they've been replaced once (with that low mileage, they might even be originals). The risk of an almost immediate blowout(s) is high and even a drive to the nearest commercial tire shop will be risky.

Plan on spending a bunch of money to bring chassis maintenance up to date (all fluids & filters, chassis lube, etc). A lot of money is you will need to use a shop for all of it; not so much if you can DIY at least some.

New batteries for both house and chassis.

I'd take Isaac's advice to heart. The 6.5L was not the greatest diesel ever built, though it is an improvement over its 6.2L sire. The old Trek diesels were/are popular, though, and you can get help from the Trek owner groups.
Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: Roy M on February 13, 2020, 10:25:12 AM
Seriously, I would walk away from it. It is probably attractively priced up front but as others have said it's going to need work to make it roadworthy and reliable. I have considerable experience with the 6.5 in light trucks and wouldn't touch it.
Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: A Traveler on February 13, 2020, 04:39:18 PM
Itís a 1997 and has only 20,000 miles? I wouldnít touch that one with a 10-foot pole. Every piece of rubber on that thing (hoses, suspension parts, etc,) will be toast.

This will be a huge money pit. There are too many other good ones out there to waste time on this one.
Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: ArdraF on February 13, 2020, 06:43:17 PM
We just replaced the turbo boost in our 2003 DP because the rubber inside it had disintegrated.  Something like that costs thousands of dollars to replace so I agree, an unmaintained vehicle that old with that few miles (less than 1,000 miles per year) probably will be a money pit.  Some people love the challenge of rehabbing something like that Trek, but you'd better be prepared to sink both time and money into it.  We've had people who have grossly underestimated both their abilities and their costs when buying a cheap RV and have regretted their purchase.

ArdraF
Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: Isaac-1 on February 13, 2020, 07:52:38 PM
There is one of those fully refurbished '96 Trek 2830's for sale on the Trek Tracks board right now (7.4L gas, not 6.5 diesel).  Asking price is $26,000, with probably $25,000 in recent upgrades, 1,000 watts of solar panels, full banks exhaust with headers, mini-split air conditioner (to make room on the roof for the solar), lithium batteries, new brakes, hoses, water filtration system, synthetic vinyl plank floor, ....  (seller upgraded to a similar vintage Country Coach last month)

There is also a completely gutted and redone 2004 Trek with an asking price of $130,000, about all it retains from the original trek is the magic bed in the ceiling, this one has an actual bath tub in the bathroom with continuous water heater, marble counter tops, big tv on televator, etc.  Gutted and redone by a professional cabinet maker https://www.rvtrader.com/listing/2004-Safari-TREK-2610-5009945484
Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: cerd on February 14, 2020, 06:06:49 AM
You will probably need some new shocks too. My 91 was driven on a semi regular basis before I bought it, but they shocks were original. They didn't even expand when I took them off. When changing fluids, don't forget about the axles. Differential fluid can become sludge just like any other oil over time.

Regarding the living area, I would for sure inspect all of the trim channels for rusty screws. Water damage comes from the inside, so if they are rusty, there was water in the wall. Also look for delamination on the siding and the roof. You should plan to replace all seals on the exterior; windows, doors, vents, and storage doors alike. Don't forget about the seals around the furnace, fridge, water vents, and all of the corner trim and roof seam trim.

If it has been sitting, I wouldn't trust that they kept up on maintenance on the cabin.
Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: Gary RV_Wizard on February 14, 2020, 09:24:13 AM
The sum-total of all these comments is a very negative picture. It is doubtful that all the dire predictions will come true, but odds are at least some of the major ones will arise in the first few months of ownership. And a few of them almost immediately. This will be both daunting and expensive for a new owner, and particularly so for someone who is not experienced in RV repair & maintenance.
Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: LarsMac on February 14, 2020, 04:31:21 PM
I would expect that your upfront costs to get it roadworthy will equal or excede the asking price. And, you could expect to spend the first several months just learning all the "FUN" things that await you. If you're prepared for that, Go! Do it! have fun with it.
But if you think you're going to drive off with a bargain, and live the Life of Riley, I suggest that you just walk away.

And, we could all be wrong, and it is truely the bargain you hope for. Are you a gambler?

I once bought a 62 Caddy that had been sitting in El Monte California for almost 8 years. Paid 100 bucks for it.  Changed the oil, bought four used tires, flushed the gas tank and refueled it. and drove it all the way to Ft Lauderdale without a hiccup. Put 60K miles on it with only normal maintneance and repairs.  Sometimes you get lucky.

Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: Old_Crow on February 15, 2020, 04:21:09 AM
I would expect that your upfront costs to get it roadworthy will equal or excede the asking price. And, you could expect to spend the first several months just learning all the "FUN" things that await you. If you're prepared for that, Go! Do it! have fun with it.
But if you think you're going to drive off with a bargain, and live the Life of Riley, I suggest that you just walk away.

And, we could all be wrong, and it is truely the bargain you hope for. Are you a gambler?

I once bought a 62 Caddy that had been sitting in El Monte California for almost 8 years. Paid 100 bucks for it.  Changed the oil, bought four used tires, flushed the gas tank and refueled it. and drove it all the way to Ft Lauderdale without a hiccup. Put 60K miles on it with only normal maintneance and repairs.  Sometimes you get lucky.

It happens with motor homes too, although probably not as often.   About 9 years ago, I bought a Sportscoach that was 21 years old at the time for $5000.  Coach had 10,000 miles on it and basically looked brand new...inside and out.  Had been sitting under one of those carports it's whole life.  Tires had 2 years left on them.  I ended up driving the coach for 5 years, put another 10k miles on it, and turned around and sold it when we sold all the stuff to go full time for $7500.  So, yes, sometimes you do get lucky.
Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: SeanAndKaty on February 19, 2020, 05:00:52 PM
WAY too many unknowns in that scenario for my taste!
Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: Deano2002 on February 19, 2020, 05:52:18 PM
I wouldn't worry too much about all the negative comments, everyone can have their opinion and this could very well be a good choice for you. If you are mechanically inclined look it over closely and weigh out some of the comments that  have been made and get the price down to where it should be, being that a lot will need replacing. If you don't buy it someone will and they will be where you are :))
Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: cerd on February 20, 2020, 09:23:01 AM
I wouldn't worry too much about all the negative comments, everyone can have their opinion and this could very well be a good choice for you. If you are mechanically inclined look it over closely and weigh out some of the comments that  have been made and get the price down to where it should be, being that a lot will need replacing. If you don't buy it someone will and they will be where you are :))
Agreed. Mine needed some moderate repairs from water damage, but tires, new leaf springs, and shocks all around didn't cost as much as I thought they would. After 7 new tires this spring, I will be up to about $4k including the purchase of the rig, but the powertrain has a lot of life left in it and we will probably have it for another 5-10 years, unless we upgrade to something larger. But mine is only a 20 ft class C gas, not a Class A Diesel.
Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: TheBar on February 20, 2020, 09:27:35 PM
X2. For every horror story there is a success story. One of my hobbies has been restoring cars and trucks of all ages. There are old myths about everything needs replaced on an old vehicle that haven't been true for decades. The saying "they don't make 'em like they used to" is true. Many things are made better now.

The first things I always do is drain the radiator and gas tank, purge and replace the brake fluid and oil, replace the fuel and air filters, belts, hoses, tires, and reseal the roof on an RV.
Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: nvrver on February 21, 2020, 12:57:21 PM
following, hope BigMike lets us know the outcome
Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: wae on February 21, 2020, 01:45:09 PM
You say "luck", I say "careful inspection"  ;D

Yeah, the tires are likely to be aged out and should be changed pretty much ASAP.  I'm not too nervous that a tire that's 7 years and a day old is going to explode if it rolls more than 35 degrees and then sneak off the rim and murder your kitten, but I would be especially careful to set the pressures and not attempt a hundreds of miles journey home with it, either.  If it's at all possible, I would want to swap out the oil and filter before starting it up and then after about 300-500 miles, change the oil and filter again.  Changing the transmission fluid wouldn't be the worst idea in the world either.  On something that has been sitting for a while, I like to put a breaker bar on the engine and give it a couple turns by hand to make sure there's nothing preventing it from spinning freely.  If that works, then disable the fuel pump and let the starter crank it for a couple rotations and make sure you're building oil pressure before firing it for reals.  Fresh coolant is a good idea as well.

I'd check the hoses and belts and see if there's any signs of dry rot.  If they look okay, I wouldn't go too crazy replacing everything, but I would make certain that your temperature gauge is operational.  I always like to throw new belts on new-to-me vehicles of any type because it's pretty low-hanging fruit.  Carefully inspect the engine compartment to make sure nothing took up residence in there and left a nest that could catch on fire or gnawed at some wires that could cause a spark.  And then also carefully inspect the rest of the coach for the same thing!  Then do all that for the generator as well.

Some of the smaller moving parts might be at risk for having some corrosion build up over time, so check the wiper motors, brakes, parking brake, fresh water pump. anything cable-operated, that kind of stuff.  You're going to want to do at least one sanitizing cycle on the fresh water system and also use that time to make sure no leaks have developed in that system.  Go around and put the correct lube on anything that's supposed to move.

I will second the statement that "they don't make them like they used to" is a Good Thing!  Pretty much all the components are better than they used to be and last longer.  That said, buy yourself a new notebook and a whiteboard so you can keep a punch list and cross things off as you go along.  If you're planning to send it out to a repair facility to fix things then you're probably going to spend more than it would cost to buy one that was a little...  fresher.  But if you enjoy a project and have the appropriate inclinations, you'll trade your time for some monetary savings..
Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: wae on February 21, 2020, 01:57:53 PM
Welcome to The RV Forum, Bigmike!

In a 1997, the transmission is most likely a GM 4L60E, not the Allison, the same as they put in their pickups with the 6.5L diesel.  It's a reliable transmission.  4 speeds with overdrive and a lockup torque converter.


Would it have been that one?  I thought they used the 4L80E for the P chassis with all the engines?  It's also a reliable transmission, but it's about double the weight and has a higher design limit as far as how much torque it can handle.
Title: Re: Old diesel motorhome been sitting for years
Post by: Henry J Fate on February 21, 2020, 06:22:32 PM
I think bigmike was scared off from anything rv related. I think a fitting expression from the old west would be a "Boulder Dash" :-))