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Old August 2nd, 2013, 01:39 AM   #1
Heliarc
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Frankenstein a Dodge RV. Need advice.

So I heard about this camper that was in decent shape. I went out and took a look at it, made sure it ran and drove and I paid $300 for it, got it home and I cleaned all the junk out and really looked at it. I know the previous owner thought it was ok but once I opened up a few of the interior walls the steel struts, top, and bottom plates were rotted beyond repair.The roof was just as bad. Anywhere I opened a small section up, the "rafters" were about rotten through. Anyhow no biggie since I could always demolish it and still come out ahead. I was still bummed of course but make lemonade and all that.

Then I got down to the bare chassis and what was left of the cockpit. It's a Mopar 318, 3 speed auto tranny, and a frame and running gear with only 60K miles and it was killing me to think about junking it and sending it to China to come back as junk tools. By this time I had already made my $300 back and more even including the cost of gasoline to the scrap yard.

So, I now have a running chassis of a 1978 Dodge Champion 25' motorhome. I believe it to be a class A since it's a cabover and the chassis is a much heavier build than a typical pickup truck. The title lists the GWVR as 12,500.

What I'm wondering is, what model of truck would this have been had it not been an RV and what vehicles would I look for in order to scrounge myself a front drive differential.

My plan, since this will not see action as a camper again is to splice a standard shift transmission and transfer case behind the original automatic allowing me to gear this thing way down such as a guy named Bill Whitaker did with his home made tractor. I'd also like to find a front differential that would pretty much bolt up to the front end. After that, the rear axle will be relocated five feet forward of it's present position, a cab will be built upon the remnants of the current cockpit, and flatbed, dump bed, or panel body will be installed/built on the rear end.

So far I've turned up a few things. Mainly I think the chassis would be similar to the W-300 except for the cab over design and the fact that it's appreciably longer than a W-300. Also I believe the axle that I am looking for would be a DANA 60 which was, and in some cases is, still used by most if not all major American auto manufacturers.

Here is a video of the chassis itself but I think there's enough left that many of you should be able to identify it. The front end, dashboard, controls, gauges, and seats are all still there and I intend to leave them even after completion as a nod to it's heritage.


After it's done though I should be able to have it road legal since it's only titled as a truck, not a motorhome. The government shouldn't care what form it's in. It will still be able to attain it's original top speed and it will have turn signals, brake lights, running light, headlights, and all the other goodies it used to have.

So despite the fact that I bought a bomber of a camper, I now have the opportunity to turn this around and have just about the most original road going tractor/hauler around. In my opinion that's miles better than cutting a perfectly serviceable chassis to pieces and having it melted down oversees like a common backyard shed.

I appreciate your time and any help you can offer. Thanks.

* This post was edited 08/01/13 11:27pm by Heliarc *
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Old August 2nd, 2013, 01:35 PM   #2
firehawk
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Sweet
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Old August 2nd, 2013, 01:38 PM   #3
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Sweet
might as well just said "K"
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Old August 2nd, 2013, 01:44 PM   #4
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Old August 2nd, 2013, 01:46 PM   #5
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might as well just said "K"
I'm not rude
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Old August 5th, 2013, 05:43 PM   #6
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after watching the video

Advice uhmmm ! please PM a guy name cerial


even better, come get my 81 Champion Motor Home, looks the same, and it dont LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK then you would have 2

Last edited by XJcoupe; August 5th, 2013 at 05:51 PM.
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