The Battle of Serenity [Valley]

KenTexian

Member
May 17, 2020
108
24
18
Greenville Texas
I have wanted to start a build thread for some time. I've posted a bunch of questions on here and facebook (before I deleted that account), but I am overdue to just consolidate the goings-on in one place...so here it is, I will do what I can to keep it chronological but it may not appear so. Turns out I can't maintain focus on any one thing for extended periods and so I jump around.

Thanks for reading the initial post, I will get the story started with pics shortly....
 

KenTexian

Member
May 17, 2020
108
24
18
Greenville Texas
The Battle of Serenity [Valley]: Where we are and how we got here...

The driving motivation for purchasing the GMC is that my wife loves our house in Texas. Being military, I get new orders to move every 3 to 4 years. I have one last tour before I will retire, so living in the GMC will allow my family to stay behind in the house they love. While I don’t know where I will be going next I am hopeful that it will be within a few hours of our home so that I can come home on the weekends. What this boils down to is that I have about 12-17 months before I will need to live in this thing. I do not have the financial resources to complete a mechanical overhaul and living area renovation in this time frame. So I will need to approach this in phases.

Project overview:

Vehicle Info:

1978 Kingsley
79,000 miles
Onan 6k installed
Dual roof A/C units (originals)
Has sat for two decades in the woods
leaks and pests ruined the interior
Purchase Price: $500.00

3 phase concept of effort:
Phase 1: Make the vehicle safe and roadworthy. (2020-2021)
Phase 2: Make the interior as comfortable as possible for as little $ as possible (2021-2024)
Phase 3: Begin a complete Restoration/Upgrade (2025-????)
 
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KenTexian

Member
May 17, 2020
108
24
18
Greenville Texas
Here she is the first time I saw her...for those who know the show firefly, the episode where Mal first sees Serenity...that's exactly how I felt. Some may say that the interior doesn't look as bad as I had previously said. To that I say: pictures do a poor job of conveying smell.

 

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KenTexian

Member
May 17, 2020
108
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Greenville Texas
Phase 1 episode 2: Get Her Home & See What We’ve Got (spoiler alert, we got a lot of poop)


I wish I still had the pictures of getting the coach on the roll back and bringing it home, what a day!

Once it was in my driveway I felt the first step in seeing what I had was getting the old girl cleaned up before I pulled it into my workshop. This meant pressure washing off all the grime to reveal the gem underneath. I wish the paint had been in better shape. Had I known then what I know know, the coach would have stayed outside my shop until disassembly was complete...it got nasty.

A friend with a 1 ton truck towed the coach into my shop, thanks to the previous home owner for building a pull-through workshop! Once the coach was in I put it on jackstands and removed the old rims. Then the disassembly started, everything needed to come out because I wasn’t sure where the rodents had chewed through wires and I didn’t want stray ground worries in the back of my mind for as long as I owned the coach.

Disassembly was slow due to “poop patrol” there was sooooo much! I knew some rodents had been living in the dash, so I was especially worried about that harness. As I opened it up I was surprised to find that the harness was in decent shape but what I found was the air conditioning mixing chamber was FULL. It was awful. At least two of the previous inhabitants were entombed in the layers of filth. Honestly, it was 4 inches deep at the bottom. It got so bad that I am considering replacing the motor’s intake manifold just to avoid whatever smells will be released at it heats up...some smells never leave your nose.

The running theme of this coach has been rodent poop and corpses. Several times when I thought I had cleaned up the last of it more would reveal itself. Until the floor is up I will continue to expect more.

Now that the aft panel is removed the closet, bath module, generator/LPG cabinets will be coming out. This will allow me access to pull up all the flooring and the rebuilding can begin. Posts will likely slow down as this has caught us up to current day. I've been accumulating parts in preparation for the rebuild, but with so much access I will want to refinish/paint several areas before I get to bolting up my new shiny parts. I expect the next posts to be on the entire brake system, Rear suspension air bags/clean up, 1 ton front end, and electrical wiper installs.

Thanks for reading!
 

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RF_Burns

Active member
Oct 3, 2019
164
91
28
Ontario Canada
First time I had the Murray out camping was in Algonquin Park at the end of June... high insect season. The mosquitoes and black flies found lots of ways into the coach.
I quickly added screens over both the fridge vents and the oven vent.
 
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KenTexian

Member
May 17, 2020
108
24
18
Greenville Texas
First time I had the Murray out camping was in Algonquin Park at the end of June... high insect season. The mosquitoes and black flies found lots of ways into the coach.
I quickly added screens over both the fridge vents and the oven vent.
Why on earth weren’t they vented from the factory?!?
 

KenTexian

Member
May 17, 2020
108
24
18
Greenville Texas
I hope everyone enjoyed their Easter weekend. I spend mine getting the bathroom module and closet removed. It was slow going (the rear flange nut on the aqua magic toilet resulted in a few choice words) but the reward at the end was pressure washing the bath module. Before and afters in the pics...thanks for reading along and all the great tips, keep them coming!
 

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dsmithy

Member
Oct 27, 2019
30
13
8
Ken,
I so love what you are doing to rescue your coach. Age and infirmity puts it past what I'm able to do these days.
You can, however, truthfully say: "Our classic GMC Motorhome sleeps 54 (mice) comfortably."
Strength to the Sword Arm brother, you are down a path many have done, and some of us can just envy. When you get it done we'll meet on the road and I'll serve and toast your effort with any adult beverage you desire.
 
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KenTexian

Member
May 17, 2020
108
24
18
Greenville Texas
Ken,
I so love what you are doing to rescue your coach. Age and infirmity puts it past what I'm able to do these days.
You can, however, truthfully say: "Our classic GMC Motorhome sleeps 54 (mice) comfortably."
Strength to the Sword Arm brother, you are down a path many have done, and some of us can just envy. When you get it done we'll meet on the road and I'll serve and toast your effort with any adult beverage you desire.
What a fine message and motivation. Thank you Sir!
 

KenTexian

Member
May 17, 2020
108
24
18
Greenville Texas
My welder finished up with the rework for my one ton kit. That meant it was time for three hours of a flap wheel and media blasting in preparation for paint.

my initial thought was to powder coat them, but I am concerned about chips. The lower control arms show some significant impacts on the bottoms.

the other option I have readily available is POR-15 and top coat in my chem cabinet. At least then chips could be sanded and touched up.

what do you all think? Powder coating or save some cash and POR-15 them?
 

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LarryW

Active member
Oct 14, 2019
185
98
28
Menomonie, WI.
Wow, excellent job of cleaning up bad welds...doing it right. Now keep in mind the environment that these parts exist in. Water, snow, dirt, stones, -10* to +110*, OIL and GREASE. My control arms have been on the coach since 1977 and exposed every imaginal element. Excess grease from greasing ball joints, engine, power steering and trans oil leaks. At most, after some 44 years, there is minor surface rust on a few spots. You can do all of this cleaning up, painting, powder coating, or por15, and one year from now if you use the coach as it is intended, you won't recognize the work. So, IMO, don't get carried away. On the other hand, if it makes you happy......
 
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KenTexian

Member
May 17, 2020
108
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Greenville Texas
Wow, excellent job of cleaning up bad welds...doing it right. Now keep in mind the environment that these parts exist in. Water, snow, dirt, stones, -10* to +110*, OIL and GREASE. My control arms have been on the coach since 1977 and exposed every imaginal element. Excess grease from greasing ball joints, engine, power steering and trans oil leaks. At most, after some 44 years, there is minor surface rust on a few spots. You can do all of this cleaning up, painting, powder coating, or por15, and one year from now if you use the coach as it is intended, you won't recognize the work. So, IMO, don't get carried away. On the other hand, if it makes you happy......
Can’t take credit for those welds...that goes to Joe at Kent’s metal craft in Greenville Texas. I know exactly what you mean, the original control arms from my coach looked great. I just want a hard durable corrosion prevention so cleanup is easy in the future. I don’t plan to have them off again, so doing it right the first time matters.
Thanks for your thoughts, very sound points you made.
 

pvfjr

Active member
Oct 3, 2019
349
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37
Mehama, OR
When I read your post, I was thinking that you were overthinking it. I was going to say something snarky like, "you've already thought about this harder than the factory did, and they've lasted this long already...". But then, I looked at the pics of the control arms you're cleaning up. They actually look a little rough. Where did they come from? The midwest? Those don't look like Texan control arms.

If the coach will be driven in salty areas and parked in grass, I'd say POR-15 plus something else of your choosing on top. If you're going to keep it in Texas and park it in a carport, than some store-brand spray paint is probably sufficient. Either way, nice job cleaning those up. That's a lot of work when the pitting is that deep.
 
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KenTexian

Member
May 17, 2020
108
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18
Greenville Texas
When I read your post, I was thinking that you were overthinking it. I was going to say something snarky like, "you've already thought about this harder than the factory did, and they've lasted this long already...". But then, I looked at the pics of the control arms you're cleaning up. They actually look a little rough. Where did they come from? The midwest? Those don't look like Texan control arms.

If the coach will be driven in salty areas and parked in grass, I'd say POR-15 plus something else of your choosing on top. If you're going to keep it in Texas and park it in a carport, than some store-brand spray paint is probably sufficient. Either way, nice job cleaning those up. That's a lot of work when the pitting is that deep.
The control arms that came off my coach look great, so your point is valid. I got these control arms in a one ton axel kit. I am none too pleased that I am having to go through all this to clean up “fresh” bought parts.

I have a limited amount of time and a prodigious amount of work to do, this has already cost me three weeks getting the welds fixed, now another week for paint before I can install...every project has its set backs I suppose.

Ultimately I don’t know where all I’ll be taking her so I’d like to over do it once so I don’t have to do it again.
 
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