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Old 05-21-2011, 05:20 PM   #1
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Default Semi-proud owner of a 1984 Esquire

Hello all, I only joined recently.

I had been looking into getting a campervan for a while now and even considered converting my 1990 econoline at one point.

Relatives in Michigan happened upon this 1984 Esquire for sale and more or less brokered the purchase for me.
It was a hectic few weeks getting paperwork ready so that I could go get it, there's a real disconnect between Michigan and New Mexico regarding title/insurance/plates.













As you can see, it's a little bit of a fixer-upper.
It has very little rust on the body, I need to reseal the windshield, replace the skylight, and clean a little mildew where water had ran down the inside of the roof due to the busted skylight and bad cover job the previous owner did.

I had a little trouble on the way home, in addition to the rain a good chunk of the trip, I lost the v-belt to the alternator/water-pump two hours into my trip and was stuck in Holland MI for a few hours.
Just before I hit Tulsa OK it started overheating and I ended up running water through it every hundred miles until I replaced the radiator cap in Amarillo TX as I noticed it was leaking due to a torn seal.
So far the overheats have been minimal, but I'm probably going to need to check out a few things as it's possible the replacement belt not being tensioned properly for the first several hundred miles may have put excessive wear on the water pump.

I am looking into replacing the freshwater fill spout with a hose hookup but I need to check if the side door will clear ok, it's not looking like it will and I may need to add a second water tank on the other side, which considering I'd like to add a small shower unit means I'd need to fit a water heater over there anyhow.
Most likely that couch/bed unit will need to be modified to fold up and house the extra equipment, as well as adding safety restraints.

My uncle had tested some of the plumbing so I'm under the impression that it mostly works, though I still need to test the propane system and check out the fridge.
Also he had assumed the tv/microwave were bolted down so they were damaged in transit from the seller's location to my uncle's place, but I had planned on replacing them anyhow and will probably secure the replacements.

You may see me popping up occasionally in the tweaks/mods area, and I might end up posting some of the work done.
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Old 05-22-2011, 12:18 AM   #2
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Default Re: Semi-proud owner of a 1984 Esquire

Congrats, you are going to enjoy that B. Having things to update, repair, replace, etc, are half the fun of owning them. You mentioned having a problem coming home.....not bad when you don't really know how long it had been laid up. I believe I would start with the front end and change out belts, hoses, change all fluids - to include that radiator. Between you and Marko we will have some interesting reading on new projects, etc. Keep us posted. Safe travels.
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Old 05-22-2011, 12:48 AM   #3
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Default Re: Semi-proud owner of a 1984 Esquire

Welcome to the forum Malysoun

The body does look to be in good shape and it is nice and bright inside. Sounds like you have a good understanding of the mechanical side.

Re: the freshwater fill spout - if it is too small to allow you to insert a hose then you can buy or make a fill extension with a shut-off to screw onto a regular hose.
Maybe there is a city water connector somewhere else on the van. Most units I've seen have a gravity fill for the tanks and a city connection to run off pressurized water.
I might not understand exactly what you want to do but just in case you were considering it I wouldn't pressurize the fresh water tank because it could burst if the venting is too small.
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Old 05-23-2011, 03:50 PM   #4
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Default Re: Semi-proud owner of a 1984 Esquire

I checked and if I get an angle attachment or something I will probably be ok though I may need to tie it up along the side, I might be able to pick up the pvc plumbing supplies and fab something using an elbow if there isn't already something like that for sale. I would probably end up putting a couple T-joints and valves between the fresh water tank and the rest of the system so that I can monitor it while filling since it's translucent and bypass when it's not needed. If I was feeling really ambitious I'd run electric regulator valves allowing me to select the bypass and fill modes.

It's definitely sounding more and more likely that the loose v-belt caused the water pump to start failing, I'm occasionally hearing metal on metal squealing coming from the front end while driving, though it hasn't overheated again so far. I already picked up a new pump/fan-clutch/thermostat, just need to find the time to install.

A few minor things that at least improved my mood about it was replacing the torn paper speakers with a still new in the box set I had from several years ago, cutting out the post mounts in the dash and installing a modern receiver since I don't have many cassettes anymore. :P

The electrical was a little odd as they had patched a few things in for the previous receiver, I went back and rewired a bit using shielded crimp on disconnects.

An on-dash mounting bracket for my droid2 to run gps came fairly cheap so I've started installing that, the new receiver also has a USB port so I can probably run/charge off that.
I also need to dig out one of my CB radios and see if they're still any good, there was already a mirror mount bracket in place and a cable partly ran under the dash.

I would have patched the exhaust but it started raining on me and I don't have a garage or car-port. If the weather is decent today I might get to that windshield seal since it's fairly critical.

Didn't mean to sound so depressing on the title but I was a bit moody from having to work saturday (I have to pull an extra day every other weekend), plus I still find the things I need to repair a little daunting at times.

I'm also not really a fan of red. But at least it's visible.

Thank you for the welcome.
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Old 07-07-2011, 09:06 PM   #5
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Default Re: Semi-proud owner of a 1984 Esquire

As some of you may have heard, we had a nice little bonfire here in Los Alamos New Mexico which caused an evacuation of town.

I had loaded quite a few things into the Esquire and headed south planning on storing some of my possessions at my parents house down in Las Cruces five hours away.

Unfortunately three hours into the trip the van started it's overheating problem again after having been running fine for just over a month. I hadn't had the chance to replace the water pump beforehand.

After contacting family and limping the van the rest of the way, I got in 13 hours later.

I've left that vehicle down there and ended up taking out a small loan to purchase another class-b while I was there so that I had a way to get home and still had use of a camper in case the house was no longer livable.

This time around I spent a bit more and got a 1985 Fiesta built on a Dodge B350 1-ton chassis that was in much better shape. It also has a few more amenities than the Esquire had.

I seem to be cursed with bad luck however, a set of aux coolant lines I hadn't noticed previously, which are either for the generator (which the Esquire doesn't have), or a heat exchange on the water heater (which the Esquire also doesn't have) were not secured to the undercarriage and were rubbing against the driveshaft.

One of the lines burst on me about an hour into my drive, and it appeared to have had a prior (and very poorly done) splice as the damaged portion was not even cut back before the 'plastic' coupling was hose-clamped in place (slightly off the edge of the coupling I might add).

I cut back the damaged area and used a brass garden hose coupling to replace the deformed piece of plastic and then used nearly a dozen tie-wraps to secure the hoses and what I believe to be a 'hot' wire for something above the driveline.

I had left around 7-8 pm Monday the 4th, and arrived around 8am Tuesday morning, I was expected to report to work at noon but did not think that was wise and so had to take vacation time.

I plan on going back and using a more robust piece of copper pipe and some plumbers tape to do a better job of my fix later.

Aside from that, the engine needs a tune-up.

The air is still rather smoke filled up here, ash was drifting in this morning, and the fire is currently 40% contained.

I've kept the rv mostly packed and have been living out of a duffel bag at home the last few days in case we get booted out again.

If I get a chance, I'll get some pics of the Fiesta posted.
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Old 07-09-2011, 12:40 AM   #6
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Default Re: Semi-proud owner of a 1984 Esquire

Tough luck all around with all the RV repairs you've had and now the fire and evacuation. Hang in there. Things get better.
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Old 07-18-2011, 05:27 AM   #7
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Default Re: Semi-proud owner of a 1984 Esquire

Thanks, they've got the fire 63% contained last I checked.

Anyhow, here's some pics of the Dodge Fiesta










Yes, the cabover extends.














Pardon the clutter, I haven't completely unpacked, though I'm making some slow progress, I held off a bit in case I had to re-pack.
I recently installed the speakers and receiver. Just got the CB hooked up. And I've done minor tune-up stuff (plugs,wires,cap,rotor,air-filter), and hung part of the exhaust back up.

Of course after the work was done, I had to take it out and drive a bit see how it ran, my co-pilot insisted on visiting the park, or driving herself if I didn't.
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Old 07-18-2011, 05:48 PM   #8
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Default Re: Semi-proud owner of a 1984 Esquire

This is a great adventure to watch.

Keep us updated on your progress.

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Old 07-21-2011, 04:29 PM   #9
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Default Re: Semi-proud owner of a 1984 Esquire

I was having a slight issue with the vehicle battery running down. And previously I had more or less narrowed the problem down to two possible explanations.

The passenger door was having problems shutting, this was leaving the door ajar light on and possibly dome lights. When I managed to get the door latched that seemed to clear up.
Of course I then had trouble opening the door, the root cause of that is the strap that keeps the side double doors on the forward door had broken and a previous owner had just bent it downwards and it had been denting the door frame shifting it slightly out of alignment.
I adjusted the latch post on the passenger door frame so that the door properly closes (most of the time).

The second possible cause of battery drain seemed related, the automatic power locks would occasionally start jittering and generally going nuts at random. I believed this was due to that door not latching properly.
After it was acting up recently while I was driving, and it was also doing it while I was getting ready to install the door speakers, I decided to reach inside the door and find the wiring harness. As soon as I touched it the solenoid started it's locking/unlocking repeatedly so I ended up just disconnecting the wiring from both doors for now as it seems the drivers side may be shorted. The connector on the drivers side also seemed a bit loose.
I've had it parked the last few days as it's easier getting finding the car a parking space at work. I need to check if it held the charge otherwise I need to look elsewhere for trouble.
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Old 07-28-2011, 02:54 PM   #10
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Default Re: Semi-proud owner of a 1984 Esquire

Well, it looks like the isolator is junk.

There are three poles, and one has no continuity to either of the other two. The remaining pair of posts has bi-directional flow which is bad.

To make matters worse, the chassis battery wire was on the dead post, but that wire has continuity with the wire I'm assuming is the house wiring, it appears that there was a black wire on the B+ post coming off the alternator, that wire was cut and the isolation block spliced in to either side.
So whatever is bridging the two batteries has to be coming off that line since it was the only one getting supply from the alternator.

I think I'm just going to replace all that with a relay and override switch, I may have to tear out a good chunk of wiring between the two batteries, the dc converter, the alternator, and the generator in order to hook things up the way I'd like.

I'm planning on wiring it such that the alternator goes directly to the chassis battery, the ignition accessory will provide the relay a charge that will bridge the two batteries for parallel operation and both will get charged, this would also if the house battery is dead allow the generator to start from the chassis battery when the accessory is on.
An override switch would be added that would when flipped on allow current from the house battery to energize the relay and would allow the engine to be jump started from the house battery should the chassis battery die. This switch when flipped, would also allow shore power to charge both batteries.
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