Feel free to let me know how I've done on my first blog! I look forward to hearing from you.
Sunday, June 3, 2007
Feel free to let me know how I've done on my first blog! I look forward to hearing from you.
This is about my 1971 Dodge Travco 270 Motorhome on a Dodge 413. It is a brief story of how I found her abandoned in a field where she had been left to rot for about 15 years and how I brought her home with the help and love of several friends and how we all brought her back to life.
Yeah! The Bathroom is Now Finished!
- Foretravel Motorhome 1978
- Denver, Colorado, United States
- Some of you may remember me from my previous Blog, http://travcomotorhome1971.blogspot.com/, well I'm back and with a coach built by a company that bought out Travco. I grew up in a small town called Lima, Ohio. Graduated in 1988 from Bath High School. Participated in Marching Band, Drum Corps, Winter Guard in the Rifle Line. I love reading and writing, movies especially the classics with Betty Davis and Joan Crawford (yes, I'm family). I now live in Denver, Colorado after living for about 10 years or so in Flint, Michigan. I love Denver and it's many seasons in one day, it's great. I am an RV fanatic and I cannot even attempt to try to put into words my love of the RV lifestyle as well as my love of vintage and classic motorhomes. I am now on my 12th coach. I hope you enjoy just a peek into my world and my newest motorhome, a vintage 1978 Foretravel Motorhome on a Dodge 440. Enjoy and welcome!
My 1971 Dodge Travco 270 on a Dodge 413
The journey home January 2007
After about two months or so, after I'd recovered from shock disappointment and anger I found the courage to move forward and begin a search for a new coach. It wasn't long after I saw a 1971 Dodge Travco 270 advertised on Craigs List for here in Denver. There she was in all her faded glory.
I had seen Travco motorhomes many times before on the road, in campgrounds or rotting away in someones field, but here was one for me. The price was hard to pass up, $1200.00 and the person selling it was kind enough to let me make payments on it until I paid it off. I thank him too.
January of 2007...she was paid off. Just three short months and she was now mine. Now...how do I get her from Longmont back to Denver, some 35 miles?
I will agree, that 35 miles isn't a long ways away, but upon beginning the moving the motorhome process, we immediately discovered there were no brakes. We learned quickly that there was no brake fluid. The coach did start right up though after my friend John, the mechanic through all this poured a bit of gasoline into the carb and we poured several gallons of gas into the tank. I'm not a mechanic type person and I was stunned that after 15 years it started.
To access the brake fluid, those of you that own a Travco know how difficult that is. We figured out a way with a baster and a hose attached to that. Upon getting it filled, we learned that we were going to have to pump the brakes to get them to work. Fine.
So, after paying the last of the installments, we started the coach and were on our way. First stop, the gas station up the street.
The coach performed very well to the gas station. We put in about $30 of gas and then began to head back to Denver.
Upon the first stop light things began to quickly go down hill. At the first stop light, in a busy intersection, the coach died and wouldn't start. It would turn over but wouldn't start. My heart fell into my lap and I could feel the tears begin to weld up in my eyes. The last time something like this happend was in my 1980 37ft Allegro Triple Door coach smack dab in the middle of 5 O'clock rush hour DOWNTOWN Denver. That was an experience I'd rather not have repeated. Thank God however that John and Carl were both in the car behind me this time.
John and Carl jumped out of the car when they noticed I wasn't moving and came to see what was going on. The engine wasn't getting gas or enough gas to keep it going at a stop. So, John decided he would drive the coach he knowing how to keep it running while at a stop. To do that, he had to keep his foot on the brake while keeping the gas pedal pressed down while at a stop to keep it from stalling.
Now, we were in the middle of the worse traffic I'd ever seen. John did a great job, however we were all seriously frustrated, nervous and scared and traffic was everywhere. The brake issue was scary and we almost hit a school bus while it turned in front of us and we were going about 40mph. After that shock we discovered that at 45mph there was the worst shimmy I'd ever felt in a vehicle in my entire 37yrs on this planet. The entire coach shook like we were in an earth quake.
We pulled over on the shoulder while the rest of the traffic flew by us at well over 65mph and after we picked up our teeth off the floor, said a couple of hail marrys, ventured out of the coach to see what could have happened expecting to see the worse. Carl, driving behind us in his car pulled over to all of us expecting one of the wheels to be practically off. It turned out that it was coming from the front drivers side due to an unbalanced tire. Whew!
Well, but this time we had only gone some 10 miles maybe and our nerves were completely done. Totally done! Both me and John were shaking badly and were now more afraid than ever. It would be one thing had we not just narrowly missed a school bus just a mile back but now this. No. We needed to stop.
We got back in the coach and decided to pull over in the next shopping mall and call it a day until the next morning. We found a mall just five more miles up the road, pulled over, got out and kissed the ground.
Upon stepping back and looking at her, even though we are going through hell now getting her back home (the cost of a tow from Longmont Colorado to Denver was out of the question) we knew she was going to be something special. Not one of us doubted I had made the right decision. I cannot tell you the gratitude and thanks I owe to both John and Carl for their dedication in the rebuilding of this coach, not to mention this drive home from her grave. It about sent us all to ours.
Carl had a friend just a mile further that agreed to let us park the coach there until morning. However this friend lived in a subdivision that had a book of CC&Rs about a mile thick and parking a vintage coach such as the Travco in his driveway was not appropriate. We found this out no sooner had we driven back to Denver with Carl with the coach in Carls friends driveway.
So, it was back up there we went. It was now dark and cold so we decided to park it yet again back in the parking lot of the mall we had stopped in the day before. All of us terrified to drive her any further. Keep in mind, the coach hadn't been registered or tagged or insured at this point. All I had was the title from the seller.
So, that night we let her sit. I remember looking back at her as we pulled out of the parking lot back to Denver to rest up for the early morning trip back out to the lot to retrieve her in the morning for the drive back to Denver. She looked so peaceful yet there was a hint of a grin on her face. As if to say, it's ok "Dad" I'll be ok. I need to rest anyways. I felt assured she would even though I hated leaving her there. But I couldn't ask John or Carl anymore favors that day.
The next morning, 4:30am we headed out back to get the coach from this lot. Me having not slept a wink. However, now...it was snowing. I don't mean a little bit of snow, but another one of the snow storms Denver had been plauged by in 2006/2007. One of the worst snow histories in Denver. When we got to the coach , we discovered that the battery was dead. We had no cables so we were off to find cables at 5am. After we got the cables, jumped the coach, got her started let her sit and idle for about 20mins., checked the brakes we were headed out. The windsheild wipers were not able to be used because the wipers were rotted from sitting on the windsheild for all those years. So, we were off.
This morning, the coach performed better than it had in the days previous. John had mastered the driving of the coach with the brake pedal and excelorator pedal and the coach did quite well on this day. It was freezing, snowing like a banchee and we were determined to make it home.
As we were driving though, much appreciation for the old coach was shown with every single driver that passed us the snowy mornng. People waved and smiled as we plugged along as if to give the motorhome the respect it deserves. Like seeing a senior make their way across a busy intersection, much respect is given. I had never noticed that before with other coaches, but this was amazing. Drivers of Dodge vehicles were the most entertaining. They would wave and smile frantically and point to the huge Dodge insignia blazened across the front of the coach. I loved it!
We made it home in one piece. Once we rounded the corner of my place were relaxed and fought back the tears. She was home! Thank God! We were home...at least for now.
Now the cleaning process begins.
Moving the coach again...
A moment of Silence - Death by Arson - August of 2006
Now, back to work - February 2007
The driving and engine compartment - March 2007
The step up area
The floor of the driving compartment and dog house
Replacing the ceiling
June 2nd, 2007
July 29, 2007
The Bathroom is Now Finished!
Blanche had to be towed
How did I get started with my love for vintage and classic motorhomes?
Keep in mind this is the very early 1970s and motorhomes were EVERYWHERE and the love of the RV lifestyle was shared by alot of people even silently in lieu of the gas crisis.
Then after everything had been done (followed by a brief prayer blessing over the coach for the season) Granddad would then back it all the way down the driveway with the assistance of just about every neighbor in a five mile radious and then drive it around the block (he said to make sure the fluids were evenly dispersed) but now as a grown man, I know why. Pride!
Even at that young age, I knew that owning a brand new motorhome was a big deal for most people, but for a black family in the early 70s it was far far more than that.
My grandparents had raised my mom and her five siblings in almost near poverty with both my grandfather and my grandmother working, even back then, living in a one room shack on the outskirts of Dayton, Ohio. Then, after my grandfather worked many long hard years as a preacher and working for Wright Patterson Airforce Base he and grandmother had finally reached a place where they could aquire such a luxury as a brand new motorhome and a much larger house in Lima, Ohio (the city where the Superior Motorhome was built).
The Islander was 25ft of 70s luxury. It was a great coach with a great floorplan. Kitchen behind the drivers seat with the frig behind that then twin beds and rear bath. Behind the double passenger seat ( a seat that flipped to face the other direction) was the dinette, the entry door, closet then the other twin bed rear of the coach a really nice large rear bath. To me, a kid, it was like the most amazing thing I'd ever seen. A house that you can drive. A little home you can take wherever you please.
When I think back on it now, the Travco would have been everywhere back then and considered high luxury in many ways. From what I can tell, Grand only paid then a mere $8500 brand new for that coach.
At the tender age of 5 years old, I began reading. Not see dog run, but Motorhome Life. My mom and my grandmother both taught me how to read by Motorhome Life. It wasn't just the glossy pictures I liked, but the stories too. I was hooked.
I didn't get my first RV until I was about 19. It was a 12ft Truck camper with a side entrance and built in the early 70s. So, it was insanely huge! I loved it and drove it everywhere and then soon afterwards got an early 70s enourmous Coachmen Truck Camper. Then as time progressed I moved into my first coach. A 1976 24ft Globestar Class C followed by a 1970 Winnebago Brave 26ft then followed by a 1978 26ft Cruise Air, 1985 28ft Holiday Rambler Presidential, 1986 Winnebago/Itasca 32ft, 1987 34ft Double Door Bounder, 1980 37ft Triple Door Allegro, 1982 33ft Triple Door Allegro, and now my 1971 Dodge Travco.
Why so many? Well, there are just so many 70s coaches that I love! It's hard to just settle with just one when there are so many left to fix up, own and pass on. I found myself quickly getting into the 80s with my coaches and began to get bored. The 80s coaches weren't bad, but the character was beginning to fade in those coaches and I loved the character of the 70s units. So, back to the retro coaches I went. Although, driving a 37ft Class A coach through Denver was a treat. Difficult, but fun none the less. I find that I can drive a 37ft coach far easier than I can a car. As a matter of fact, for many years, well even now, I have a motorohome and not a car. My family and friends tell me that's not practical, but they don't have the "bug" of owning and caring for such a marvelous feat of engineering as that of a little house that goes where you go, anytime, anywhere and anyhow. Go figure.
My grandfather passed away after a long battle with Alzheimers 8yrs ago and my grandmother still talks about the motorhome and all the memories that had in that coach and all the plans my grandfather had made with travels and living the RV lifestyle. However, when his disease set in back in the early 80s, the coach was sold. Since then, my Uncle, one of granddads sons, who lives here in Denver also, became a coach fanatic as well. He's on his second coach, a 1996 Fleetwood Southwind 35ft. He and his wife are avid RVers. You never know where they are going to be from one weekend to the next. Even fulltimed at one point in Arizona to see if living together fulltime in a motorhome would work for them. It didn't, at least not now.
I have worked for Northwoods RV in Mt. Morris, Michigan as a warranty and service writer. Nolans RV in Denver, Colorado as a sales person and Windish RV Center in Lakewood, Colorado as a warranty writer and B&B RV as a rental agent.
Sometimes I Really wonder how these new coaches will hold up to the test of time. What will they look like, how well will they hold up 37yrs from now? It's really hard to say. The Dodge Travco will forever go down in history as one of the most durable, most well built coaches of all time. For that, I'm proud.