My first, please help

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.


New member
Aug 3, 2021
3 days ago I purchased my very first RV& not only did I purchase my very first RV ,it was the first time in my life that I ever stepped inside of an RV/mobile camper van. I couldn't pass up the unbelievably low price. But now that I own it ,I don't know the first thing about anything inside ,or how any of it works. This is what I think I've learned so far about my purchase. It's a 1978 Ford chateau camper special...I think. I've included some pics. Does anyone have a manual I could buy or even I could buy to have the pages copied? Like I said I don't know ANYTHING about how any of the inside of this RV works. How does the stove work? The furnace? The water pump,or where I even put the water in...or where does the propane refill. Please help.


  • 20210803_224044.jpg
    108.7 KB · Views: 33
  • 20210803_223747.jpg
    53.8 KB · Views: 34
  • 20210803_223820.jpg
    95.6 KB · Views: 33
  • 20210803_223831.jpg
    92.1 KB · Views: 32
  • 20210803_223932.jpg
    71 KB · Views: 30
  • 20210803_223934.jpg
    74.6 KB · Views: 33

Rene T

Site Team
May 20, 2011
Farmington NH
Welcome to the forum.
Is the seller still around? If not, I would highly recommend to get someone who knows a little bit about rv’s and have him go over everything. Where are you located? We may have a member here that lives close by who could help you.
Most rv’ers are willing to help others all you need to do is ask.
Last edited:


Well-known member
Nov 17, 2018
Albuquerque, NM
I guess the first question to ask is if it runs. Something that old you can't assume that.

No one intuitively knows how to work all the stuff in an RV. A book helps and ideally it'd be the one for your RV but odds are excellent you're not going to find one. The good news though is the vast majority of RV's are all made from the same equipment, so instructions you find for most any RV will likely have details and information you can use for what you have.

Getting on the google and looking up the specific brands and models for the various appliances and equipment you have may reveal a lot, and would be part of my information gathering process.

Don't discount the idea of snapping a photo of something and asking about it here. There are hundreds of folks that between them have seen and done everything. Take one thing at a time, learn, try and do. Make lots of notes, take lots of pictures and over a relatively short period of time you'll find it's not that difficult.

Discovering nonfunctional, failed, damaged or otherwise problematic stuff is something you should prepare for. There's a reason you got this thing cheap and there's a reason you don't see many 40 year old RV's running around. Just setting the expectation that beyond just figuring out how something is supposed to work is one thing, having it actually work is another.

Meanwhile, don't sweat the details. Messing around with it can be a fun learning experience and hopefully you'll get some utility out of it for what you put in.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM

John From Detroit

Well-known member
Apr 12, 2005
Davison Michigan
There are or were two books
The RV owner's handbook
The RV book
One is carried by Camping world. Independent dealers, at least the larger one will have one or the other.
I have one of them (Forget which) or had one... Not sure it survived,,,, The books are both generic "owner's manuals" the one I had in a couple places was better than the Factory manual.

Second. You know how to care for walls, Floors, both inside and out, The Roof you treat like the kitchen floor (Mop, Bucket, Spic and Span. Garden hose) mop and rinse at lest spring and fall.
That's the only "Special" thing

All the other stuff. Toilets, Sinks, Water system, Microwave, _____
Google; Make Model Manual

Odds are you can download the manual to your hard drive

IE... Dometic CDMW12B Microwave Manual
And you get the manual for an LG CDMW12 microwave (The B means Black) with a Dometic Door

If you happen to have one of those I can tell you how to fix it (LG products do not always work)


Well-known member
May 30, 2018
Central NY in summer beautiful Casa Grande AZ in w
The very first thing you should do is find the date codes on the tires. IF THE DATE CODE IS OVER 5 years old CHANGE THE TIRES. Even if they look new if over 5 years old change the Tires. RV tires age out because of sitting around in the sun undriven. Usually 7-8 years is recommended when you take care of the tires BUT you do not know the history of the tires. A blowout at 55 may cause so much damage you RV may be undriveable or worse yet need a part that is no longer available.
Do not buy the tires at an RV dealer any good tire shop should be able to replace them. BUT CHANGE THE TIRES


Well-known member
Mar 4, 2019
SE - Mich
Welcome to the forum. (asylum?)
Your are not the first one to have a problem like this, but fortunately there are some of us that were born knowing what we needed to know about RVs. (RIGHT!!)
First thing, the Ford chassis is something E-350 or 450, look up the service manual for that. Buy it.....
Now, even a coach that new (from my POV) will have age problems. Tires have been mentioned, but all of the rubber parts should be suspect at this time.
Then, there is the issue that the cooling system has depleted the anti corrosives, and the brake fluid is probably "wet" so both of those should be replaced. This make an easy time to replace those hoses. Take advantage of that. If you do this yourself it is not difficult and one of the few things a guy can do for less that a kilobuck.
A vehicle that old was most like not built to be compatible with what gets sold as "motorfuel" these days. Change everything you can for new and be sure it is all E-10 compatible.
When you can form specific questions, come back here and we will give it a go....


Well-known member
Nov 8, 2009
Best thing I can recommend, either find someone locally who is very knowledgable on RVs to show you stuff for a small fee, or hire a mobile mechanic to come to you and explain it all to you.


Well-known member
Aug 16, 2016
There is a heading ACROSS THE TOP on this forum called "RESOURCES". Click on it and then look at the left side and you'll see a list of topics dealing with just about everything RV related - electrical, propane, water systems, waste etc. The articles probably won't answer all you need to know, but reading through will begin to familiarize you with systems and terminology and what to look for and identify (gauges, batteries, monitors, water fill port, GFCI outlets, water pump, battery shut-off etc.) in your RV. Read the acronyms article for sure.



May 28, 2021
paulden az
replace the tires if they are over five years old.
change all the belts and hoses.
grease every zerk fitting you can find along the drive line. if it wont take grease, heat the zerk with a lighter for a minute. that normally works.
change the engine oil, transmission fluid, and replace the rear end lube.
change the fuel filter, or filters. there is usually one in line, and most have one either in the throttle body, or near it.
if it has set for a long time, drain the gas tank and fill it with regular gas, not e-10. add a can of sea foam fuel treatment to the gas.
repack the front wheel bearings.
check the exhaust pipes for rusted spots. coaches that have set for a long time can have holes rusted in the pipe. carbon monoxide is a real danger. check those pipes!
once you get the chassis checked out. the rest is is there to do. start with one system at a time. dont jump all over the place trying to fix everything. just take your time, and do it right the first time. nothing there is rocket science.
. there are service manuals out there for any appliance you have.
and lots of knowledge here on this forum. take advantage of it. use it.
if you need help. email me at [email protected], or call me at 602 549 3638.
i have worked on all brands of rv's since 1967, maybe i can help.
paul maddox

John From Detroit

Well-known member
Apr 12, 2005
Davison Michigan
Did it come with a manuals bag? If not then I have some suggstions
There are two books, I can not recommend one over the other as they are both roughly equal
The RV Book, and The RV Owner's Handbook.. Your bigger RV stores or Camping world will have one or the other or both.
Camping world is a good spot to find most everything.. but not at the best price and I'd not go there for service save as a last resort... .They screw up an oil change two ways.

Now a Motor home consists of 3 main parts
A Truck.... the owner's manual for the chassis is very nearly a Chliton's book from Auto -parts- are - us type stores..

Body inside and out.. Outside of a motor home is a lot like the outside of a car, Wash, Wax, Automotive paint finish.
The inside is like your sticks and bricks for the most part. NO problem there.
The roof. like a kitchen floor. INSPECT but wash with spic & span. Mop Bucket and garden hose with sprayer (Rinsing is easer) then DO NOT WAX. then wash and wax sides. I do suggest wash and wax more later.

Next you have "Stuff' this includes steps, mirrors, Awnings, Windows, Microwave TV and assoicated stuff, The wall plate with the switch, light and antenna connector, the toilet, water pump and so on basically everything that is not floors, ceiling or wall inside or out.

FInd the make and model then type something like
Dometic Microwave CDMW12W manual
Into google (NOTE this is an example you will use the make and model of your stuff)
And save same to your hard drive
Oh by the way the dometic CDMW12W is also a LG CDMW12W which is a POS that does not work (I'm no fan of LG products) however moine is a CDMW12B-YXM
The B means black, not white
The yxm means I did a bit of work on it so now it's a great microwave. (Well I am a certified electronics technician with additional engineering training and a degree in science. Somedays it helps)

That's the best advice I can give that has not already been given.
Top Bottom