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Old 04-20-2014, 03:07 PM   #1
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1972 27' Overlander
1981 28' Airstream 280
Knoxville , Tennessee
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 4
New '81 Motorhome, old gas

Hello all,

So I just bought a little (well, 28') treasure in the form of an 1981 Excella Motorhome (rear-bath). She is beautiful and a welcomed member of the family, but she has been sitting in a driveway for about five years, unstarted. So I am currently in the process of getting her ready to be started again after a long hibernation.

So far this is what I have:
  • cleaned up the engine (it was covered in a serious layer of oily dust and mouse droppings)
  • replaced the batteries
  • got the power working (mice seem to have left the wiring alone)
  • oil looks good (clean and still half full - no apparent water)
  • transmission fluid looks clean with no water
  • belts and tubes look and feel good - no cracks or serious hardening
  • radiator is clean of signs of corrosion
  • cleaned out air filter (carb looks good)
  • air bags pump up and hold pressure well
  • spark plugs look good
  • sprayed a little bit of oil in the cylinders to help them out a little.

It's not much, but its a start.

So here is my problem, once I got the gauges working (and they seem to be accurate) I noticed the gas tank appears to be about 7/8ths full (by my calculations, thats about 70ish gallons of super unleaded, 5 year old gas). The PO rarely let the gauge fall below half and did not put anything in to preserve the fuel. The engine is the 350 Chevy.

Here is what I plan on doing, please critique and add your 2 cents:
  • posting an ad on Craigslist to see if anyone wants to pick-up and buy 70 gallons of 5 yr old fuel. (Can't hurt to try.)
  • siphoning a sample from the bottom of the tank to test the quality (looking for sediment, water, etc.)
  • if it looks/smells dirty, pump the rest out and try to recycle it (fire dept.)
  • if it looks/smells clean then pump out as much as I can (50 gallons?) and store it
  • add a revitalizer (if I can find some)
  • dilute it with as much good gas as I can
  • pray
  • try starting it (with the help of some starting fluid)

I am open to just getting rid of all of the fuel, but I hate to waste it.

I am also trying to decide if it is wiser to change the oil and filter before trying to start it, or to start it with the current oil and then using an engine cleaner and then changing the oil. Thoughts?

Anything I have missed?

If it helps at all, the motorhome has been and is currently parked on the Western Slope of Colorado.

Thanks for reading to this point, I would love to hear your thoughts.
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Old 04-20-2014, 03:27 PM   #2
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bugtussel , South Carolina
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change fluids before cranking and then again at 500 miles. DON'T use starting fluid it is horrible on an engine even diesel engines. Use straight gas and pour a little down carb to crank with. Hey try the old fuel if it cranks and runs on it you got 70 gals. free fuel if not the worst you will have to do is siphon out the old fuel and replace fuel filter and then replace with clean fuel. Not going to hurt the engine. If it runs it runs if it doesn't then replace. I have cranked cars sitting longer than 5 years before with the fuel left in them and they ran fine and then I have had some that would spit and sputter and not run on the old fuel. It is worth a try.
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Old 04-20-2014, 03:42 PM   #3
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I agree change the filters and fluids first, carry a spare (or 2) fuel filters and if it cranks and runs go for it, add gas as soon as you get to 3/4 or 1/2 tank.

The gas is going to smell bad but will still burn, the big question is what's in the carburetor that gas has a tendency to gum up and look more like paint than gas. You may have to pull and rebuild the carburetor just to get it to start.

However; do not expect more than 4 1/2 to 5 mpg for the first 3 tanks I did this with one that had set up for over 3 years. By the 5th tank I was getting 8 mpg.
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Old 04-20-2014, 04:01 PM   #4
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Knoxville , Tennessee
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Thanks guys.

I'll change the fluid and filters before. I'll still try and dilute the gas as much as I can still, but I'll try and run it. And I guess I am returning that starting fluid.
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Old 04-20-2014, 04:13 PM   #5
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If you are fortunate to get it started and take it home plan on as you go through it to change pretty much anything made of rubber ie. all belts, hoses, vacuum lines etc. Even if they look good they have deteriorated with time. It will save you sitting at the side of the road. As you look you will be able to identify which are most in need and those that can wait a little.

Good luck with this project.
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Old 04-20-2014, 04:23 PM   #6
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This one has a carb and as Garry said they gum up, if it doesn't start most likely gummed, starts but runs bad probably needs cleaning. I would disconnect the fuel in line which you might have to do anyway to service the on carb filter, and try using seafoam in high concentration in new gas from a temp source. Shorter time and effort than dismantle and rebuild. I also have had success with backing out the needle valve and sqirting carb cleaner in, count the number of turns and remember the number of turns to close then open. so you can reset after cleaning.
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Old 04-20-2014, 04:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverBuddah View Post
Hello all,

So I just bought a little (well, 28') treasure in the form of an 1981 Excella Motorhome (rear-bath). She is beautiful and a welcomed member of the family, but she has been sitting in a driveway for about five years, unstarted. So I am currently in the process of getting her ready to be started again after a long hibernation.

So far this is what I have:
  • cleaned up the engine (it was covered in a serious layer of oily dust and mouse droppings)
  • replaced the batteries
  • got the power working (mice seem to have left the wiring alone)
  • oil looks good (clean and still half full - no apparent water)
  • transmission fluid looks clean with no water
  • belts and tubes look and feel good - no cracks or serious hardening
  • radiator is clean of signs of corrosion
  • cleaned out air filter (carb looks good)
  • air bags pump up and hold pressure well
  • spark plugs look good
  • sprayed a little bit of oil in the cylinders to help them out a little.

It's not much, but its a start.
Yep. You will want to either replace the coolant soon or confirm using a test kit that the corrosion inhibitor is not depleted.

Quote:
So here is my problem, once I got the gauges working (and they seem to be accurate) I noticed the gas tank appears to be about 7/8ths full (by my calculations, thats about 70ish gallons of super unleaded, 5 year old gas). The PO rarely let the gauge fall below half and did not put anything in to preserve the fuel. The engine is the 350 Chevy.

Here is what I plan on doing, please critique and add your 2 cents:
  • posting an ad on Craigslist to see if anyone wants to pick-up and buy 70 gallons of 5 yr old fuel. (Can't hurt to try.)
  • siphoning a sample from the bottom of the tank to test the quality (looking for sediment, water, etc.)
  • if it looks/smells dirty, pump the rest out and try to recycle it (fire dept.)
  • if it looks/smells clean then pump out as much as I can (50 gallons?) and store it
  • add a revitalizer (if I can find some)
  • dilute it with as much good gas as I can
  • pray
  • try starting it (with the help of some starting fluid)

I am open to just getting rid of all of the fuel, but I hate to waste it.
If it will run, just drive it and use up the fuel. I use starting fluid if I have to and would in the situation you're in. There may be some accumulated rust flakes and other particulates in the tank which will plug the fuel filter. I would carry several spares. On older trucks I've gone through 3 or 4 fuel filters in the first tank of gas. Draining the fuel won't necessarily get rid of the particulates so just run what you have.

Realistically you may need a fuel pump and carburetor by the time you're done but, as long as you aren't trying to meet California emissions, there are plenty of suitable carbs available.

Quote:
I am also trying to decide if it is wiser to change the oil and filter before trying to start it, or to start it with the current oil and then using an engine cleaner and then changing the oil. Thoughts?
It doesn't really matter much. I myself would run the existing oil for a couple hundred miles to be sure that some other repair that will require an oil change isn't needed.

Quote:
Anything I have missed?

If it helps at all, the motorhome has been and is currently parked on the Western Slope of Colorado.

Thanks for reading to this point, I would love to hear your thoughts.
It's a stretch for me to believe the belts hoses gaskets and seals are all a-ok but maybe the previous owner replaced them. My advice is to find the leaks and fix them before they lead to serious problems and aggressively replace belts and hoses that show signs of deterioration. I would use a cooling system pressure tester to find leaks.

Pay particular attention to the engine and trans oil cooler lines as a burst hose will cost you dearly
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Old 04-20-2014, 05:12 PM   #8
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If it is like my '83 310 you will have an inline fuel filter on the frame rail, about mid way. It is a bit hard to find but if you follow the fuel lines from the tank to the engine you will see it. Buy several, and replace as needed. Mine needed at least once a year, sometimes more. Even a little bit of water would saturate the filter material and nothing would go through it. I cut several ones open, they were not plugged at all, just wet.
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Old 04-20-2014, 05:45 PM   #9
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I would drain the gas if your tank has a drain (mine does). You can use this gas in your lawn mower all summer. If you can't drain, Fill it with some high octane gas. Use high octane for your next couple of tanks too. Add some good gas treatment to each tank. This will help clean out any gumming of the carb. It will take several bottles of treatment per tankful as most bottles only treat 20 gallons. New filters are also good advice. Be sure to change them all. GM likes to put one right in the carb where the gas line goes in as well as any in the line between tank and carb. Take note if you have an electric pump inline as well as the mechanical one on the engine block. It's usually near the tank.
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Old 04-20-2014, 06:53 PM   #10
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Palomar Mountain , California
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No one has mentioned using 'gas stabilizer'. I use it on all my equipment that sits for a long time between use - seems to give new life to old gas in tanks - the stuff I use from PepBoys says it raises the octane and cleans out carbs.
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Old 04-20-2014, 07:59 PM   #11
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1972 27' Overlander
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Knoxville , Tennessee
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Thanks again everyone. This is super helpful. Ill post an update here as things progress. Ill also keep an active eye on the device here as I work.
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Old 04-20-2014, 08:11 PM   #12
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Put 2 cans of Sea Foam conditioner in the fuel tank and drive on. You can find it at any automotive store or WalMart.
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Old 04-21-2014, 06:21 AM   #13
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You have gotten a lot of advise ,as a 33 year auto tech (foreman ) the worst thing for a engine is no lubrication on start up, #1 you did put some oil down the cylinders now there are lots of other parts that need oil so the best thing you can do is before going any further can you turn the engine by hand ? If so next get that old oil out change filter,then I would put in thinner oil like 5w30 (the reason is thinner oil gets to all parts faster to lubricate),also when you put your new oil filter on make sure to fill it up with fresh oil,now some have said turn your mixture screws out (yes you can,)if there are no anti-deterrent caps but this only enriches the mixture at idle to slight off idle 1/2 turn out is all you need, Myself I would just leave them were they are, remember fuel washes oil away so for first start leave them alone, some said use starter fluid ,no don't ,some said poor gas down carb ,not yet, now you want to disable the engine from starting on the back left side of distributor there is a red wire with a white plug on the distributor it's marked bat this is the batterie power to ignition unplug it ,you have to use a small screwdriver to release the lock connector, don't pump the accelerator pedal ,don't touch it, now crank the engine for ten seconds ,stop let starter cool down for a minute or two,now put the bat wire back on the distributor that you took off earlier,now crank the engine another 10 seconds if it doesn't start on you ,remember your goal is to get the engine to turn over and let the oil pump lubricate the engine before starting and not to flood the engine of fuel! Ok now if it didn't start now you want to push the accelerator twice to the floor this is to set the choke and pump some fuel into the intake from the accelerator circuit of carb,then crank the engine max 10. To 15 seconds then let starter cool down for 2 minutes,if it didn't start,if it did start don't rev the engine let it idle for 2-3 minute to get the oil to lub the engine , if the engine still didn't start now you can pour a bit of fresh fuel into carb ,crank again if it back fires and flames are present crank the engine it will suck the flames into engine and put fire out in most cases ,always have a fire extinguisher on hand, if it runs now but runs bad and stalls ,try again with a bit of fuel again down carb,remember to let starter cool between cranking, now if engine runs good ,you will want to run it until operating temp then change oil and put correct viscosity in then change oil again in 1000 miles ,for the fuel if the engine runs fine I would use the fuel up like others have said and change fuel filters ,or you can drain the fuel and use it in your lawn mower if it's not to degraded ,if it's dirty don't use it in anything as now you have a problem somewhere else, if the engine did not run in the r.v. Because the fuel is really bad you maybe will have to overhaul the carb , some parts get gummed up and the accelerator pump rubber gets dry and can crack,but if it run ok but not perfect after you use most of the bad gas in the tank ,you can put some ethanol 10% max mixed with fresh fuel check your owners manual most cars and trucks can take up to 10 % ,this will wash the dirt in the fuel system it will plug your fuel filters so keep some on hand and replace them! Good luck! Hope it all works out!


Don
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Old 04-21-2014, 04:27 PM   #14
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Good advice from scamp.

When I first got my TV, it had been sitting for 2 years without use. I sampled the oil (Amsoil) and sent it in for analysis. The analysis showed that, while still useable, the oxidation level was elevated. I changed the oil, as it is less costly to do that than shorten the engine's life.
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