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Old 03-31-2018, 01:36 AM   #1
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Default Is this FREE 1987 Dodge Xplorer worth fixing up?

Hi All!

New here and currently researching what approach I will take to van life. A friend told me he has a camper van he would give me for scrap value so obviously I went to take a look and its been sitting outside since 2005 or so. Window seals in the high top are compromised So there has been water intrusion for a while. He has the original records, and said everything ran fine when he parked it, but obviously will need attention to get on the road. He runs a business that requires almost all of his time so it probably was out of sight out of mind. It has 118,000 Miles. I would expect I would need to totally gut the interior and rebuild everything.

My question is... based on this communityís experience is it worth the trouble, or is this truly scrap?

Thanks for your input!
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Old 03-31-2018, 03:57 AM   #2
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Any rust? None of the interior stuff would scare me. It's pretty easy stuff. Just make sure you can remedy the mold or mildew if any and it isn't toxic.

The main thing would be the VAN part. Can you get it running, what repairs will that need? How much of it can you do yourself and what will you have to pay for. Safe vehicle should be priority number 1 in my opinion and then you can work on the interior/cosmetics.

You'll have to weigh how much money and time you will have to put into it vs just buying a good cheap B. I bought (stole) both of my Bs for under 8K. Neither NEEDS much work, I just like rehabbing them and making them more modern. So if I had to sink 10K into that Xplorer, I think I would pass. Xplorers are in high demand though...look at resale and see if you will have equity when you're done with the build out and mechanical work.

My 2 cents.
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Old 03-31-2018, 04:35 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saenzm View Post
Any rust? None of the interior stuff would scare me. It's pretty easy stuff. Just make sure you can remedy the mold or mildew if any and it isn't toxic.
Iíll be looking in more detail tomorrow. Hopefully get it up on ramps to see beneath. I didnít notice any Ďmetastasizedí rust on first blush.

Funny that you mention mold. Canít go into much detail due to potential legal implications but exposure to toxic mold is part of the reason Iím doing this in the first place. So Iím aware, and would intend to fully gut, sterilize and rebuild the interior with all new materials for this very reason. Question is, are there hollow areas within the fiberglass that will be inaccessible and potentially seed the rebuild ? I have ozone generators on hand for the process.


Quote:
Originally Posted by saenzm View Post
The main thing would be the VAN part. Can you get it running, what repairs will that need? How much of it can you do yourself and what will you have to pay for. Safe vehicle should be priority number 1 in my opinion and then you can work on the interior/cosmetics.
Iíve wrenched on cars quite a bit since 16, so Iím confident in pretty much anything outside of automatic transmission rebuilding. I agree on safety - this thing will need to be reliable to serve my needs in the long run.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saenzm View Post
You'll have to weigh how much money and time you will have to put into it vs just buying a good cheap B. I bought (stole) both of my Bs for under 8K. Neither NEEDS much work, I just like rehabbing them and making them more modern. So if I had to sink 10K into that Xplorer, I think I would pass. Xplorers are in high demand though...look at resale and see if you will have equity when you're done with the build out and mechanical work.

My 2 cents.
Well considering a couple weeks ago I was convinced I would end up buying a $28k Eurovan Camper, I figure as much as $12k into this thing would allow ample budget to make it reliable and modern. Though Admittedly I need to diligently build a cost estimate. I do NOT want to be way off mark on my estimate and turn this thing into a boat.

I appreciate your input! Are there things youíre aware of specific to xplorers (even when theyíre in good shape) that theyíre notorious for or I should be mindful of?
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Old 03-31-2018, 01:02 PM   #4
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Basically, you have a 31 year old machine that has been outside for 13 years in Illinois (?) subject to weather, (extreme hot, cold, rain and snow) and rodents.

Age and lack of use, not condition, is the major factor here.

Any rubber, including hoses, bushings and seals will have hardened and are probably not doing their job and will need replacing.

Getting the engine running will involve draining all fluids and checking the condition of the gas tank. Will the engine even turn (by hand). There may even be internal rust in the engine.

Interior replacement is doable, but you have already raised questions about mold.

Brake system will need replacement, especially if water has settled in the brake fluid has created rust inside of brake lines and brake cylinders. Caliper pistons may be frozen and I'm sure roots are severely rusted.

Having everything sit for 13 years creates a myriad of problem and its always more work to get it going that its usually worth, unless its a rare vehicle and you want to do a total restoration. Your RV is never going to be worth as much as you put into it due to its age.

Availability of parts for a 30 year old vehicle does pose a problem for some systems, especially ones relating to the RV section.

Even if you do restore it and then use it, its still going to age. As you use it and get it rolling and moving more problems will appear. In 5 years it will be 36 years old. In 10 years it will be 41 years old.

A 1987 vehicle is very behind in technology and efficiency, something to consider. Rolling this down the highway at 60-65mph with the rest of the modern cars will put you at disadvantage. Once completed, how safe will it be and how comfortable will it be to drive?

Having said all that, anything is possible. If it was a car, I'd say get it running and drive it till it dies, but an RV is both a car and a house.

My advice: move on and look elsewhere. At least get one that was not been stored outside so long and has been run occasionally. There are other and newer bargains out there.

Good luck.
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Old 03-31-2018, 09:37 PM   #5
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First, ignore people who say it's too old or too expensive. They don't have the knowledge or experience with older vehicles. Since you stated you have mechanical aptitude this makes life cheaper than the "lets take it to a mechanic" crowd.

Parts for that van are cheap and plentiful. You can replace the complete steering, suspension and brake system for less than $2000 and you would essentially have a brand new vehicle with upgraded parts.

The 318/360 is near bulletproof. If you have battery power and fuel it will likely start. Do yourself a favor and rebuild the carb, that will save you some future headaches. Or throw on an aftermarket carb like a 600CFM Demon. If you're really adventurous go to a wreckers and pick up a magnum engine and 4 speed trans from a 93 or older dodge truck or van. That gets you fuel injection and an extra gear for added mileage.

A bushing kit for your van is $80.

Note - It is usually not good to post VIN's on the internet. Just something to consider

From the VIN it is a 1987 base model B250 with a 318 powered by CNG. CNG? If this is a CNG vehicle you might want to talk away. CNG has Multiport Fuel Injection which is nice, but also has massive compression in the tank which after sitting so long will likely no longer hold pressure. You would be looking at complexity with the CNG and as a lover of old vehicles, this complexity isn't worth it. Unless of course you swap it out for the magnum engine mentioned earlier
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