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Pretty Interstate Machine

Nerd buys Travelmaster, now the fun/repairs begin

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Hi everyone,

I'm a musician, museum curator+docent, and huge nerd, and I'm the new owner of a 1986 travelmaster savannah. I plan to take it on tons of adventures and do other fun stuff with it, like weird upgrades. I've got some weird ideas, and also I thought someone might be interested in following a noob's adventures or hearing about my hopes and dreams for the thing, so kablam, here I am. 

Oh, whenever I use "we", you can pretend I'm using the royal we (as long as you don't say it all snooty-like), but that's something that I've deduced with the help of a mechanic as I am technically-minded but at best I am beginner-to-intermediate in car/RV skill. Hopefully that improves with time!

Things I know about my RV:

  • It's mostly (?) original
  • Engine is amazing, and low (32k! couldn't believe it until we drove it) miles
  • Transmission was swapped out a year ago (unsure what was wrong with the last one), now it's 4spd OD auto.
  • Tanks seem to be in good condition! (though my dump valves seem to leak slightly?)
  • Water pump and sinks are good.
  • Propane works.
  • Water Heater works.
  • Roof A/C is cold (yay!) and needs some of the rotatey bits tightened up
  • We think the regular heat works.
  • We are pretty sure my generator works.

"Major" repairs required:

  • Fridge - it's a dometic 2-way, we are guessing it's a control board but there is a bit of a smell, could be suffering the ammonia angle issue thing
  • Toilet (Aqua Magic IV) valve needs forcing open and/or shut. Perhaps a spring or a catch? Toilet itself is in one piece, rinses ok, etc. 
  • Leak in the top driver side corner overcab, and rear window on the left. We're gonna make with the sealant like whoa.

Things done so far:

  • Replaced all marker lights up top (5 front, 5 back, 2 side) with LEDs. 
  • Replaced interior lights with some very nice soft white 1141 LEDs I found, will report back on how they fare since I hear lots of stories.
  • A/C - my compressor was fine but a hose exploded. Got some guy to fashion a new hose+clamp that will hopefully work for years to come.
  • Speakers were factory and the previous owner upgraded the stereo but not the speakers. Fixed!
  • Picked up a brand new water pressure regulator, freshwater hose, water filter, 
  • Uninstalled clock face in storage cabinets, not sure what to put there, though

My todo list, in no particular order:

  • Solar.
  • Low flow shower head (this one looks nice)
  • Low flow sink aerator (perhaps this one?)
  • finish LED'ing everything-else: dome light en route. brake, back-up, parking lights, maaaaybe headlights?
  • cell booster (which one? seems wilson weboost 4g-x is the best?)
  • wifi booster (which one?)
  • low-power always-on file server for music&movies, I will probably have to build this from scratch
  • integrate aforementioned fileserver into dash for music on the go
  • possibly overhaul entire dash into something completely customizable, think prius information display
  • sensors, sensors everywhere (proximity, gravity, altimeter, level, weather/temp/humidity, etc)
  • front/back/side cameras for the road and security
  • logging all of the data that I possibly can from dash+sensors
  • fashion a better rear bumper mount thing for my generator, perhaps something with some storage
  • remove TV antenna, probably run solar/booster cables through that hole

Stuff I'd like to figure out:

  • If my tank meters work
  • How should I log my places travelled? lots of people get bumper stickers and stick them to their wall/door/plaster their vehicle in them.... maybe I should get a removable sheet that I hang from the wall? I want to be able to take that with me...
  • Paint job for the RV?
  • What's the deal with interior lights (or is it interior 12V perhaps?) only going on when I have ignition on
  • Do I have an inverter? I don't think I do. I should probably set one up.
  • Should I upgrade my house battery?
  • Should I get a sewer solution?

Routes I'd like to travel:

  • Entire length of US-1
  • Entire length of US-101
  • Entire length of Interstate 10
  • As much as possible of at least one Trans-Canada route

Anyhow, this isn't yet a project log so I figured it belonged more in here than that forum (feel free to link me to good threads about my questions)! Aside from figuring out all of my stuff and things, I'd love to meet some folks, especially nerds and toyhome owners. I'll be full-timing once it's fixed, though!


Hope to chat meet some of you soon!

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Long distance traveler...you have the 6 bolt rear and 5 bolt front wheels. Spare tire situation.

1. Carry 2 spares

2. 5 bolt spare for front.  Rear flat,  limp on with with 3 rear tires and fix flat  ASAP. Most owners do this..I gone 100mi on 3 tires. Remove flat, inflate single tire to max psi, drive slow.

3. Find a "friend" and order a set of the 5/6 adapters from Custom and Commercial Tires, find a 6 bolt rim.  Flat in rear just change the tire. Flat front, bolt on adapter and 6 bolt rim.

4. Buy a set of adapters and 3 6 bolt rims. Mount adapters and rims full time, have one 6 bolt  spare .

These Toy MH use a ODD size tire, a lot of tire jockies say they don't exist. So buying a replacement tire on the road can be chancie.

Tire LT185R-14C...  "8 ply", "Load range D", "Load index 100/102".

Custom & Commercial...https://www.customandcommercialwheel.com/


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Option 5 (sort of): buy and carry an unmounted 185R14 LR D tire while you figure out options 1 - 4. At least you'll have a good tire ready for mounting rather than being forced to pay a premium price if stuck in the boonies. :)

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Thanks for the tips, @WME and @Derek up North

So, I have a spare, and that's a really good point that I should figure out which one it is so I can figure out what I need to do.

Potential noob questions follow:

  1. Are you suggesting I find a "friend" that can get truck things, or might work in the industry? Just to make sure I catch your drift... (maybe that's not the best term to use since there will be no drifting in my toyhome ?)
  2. Are adapters safe/reliable? Do they put extra wear on the axle? A cursory google search shows me a bunch of people that are like "of course it's safe!" and then you realise they're selling them, and surprisingly performance plus tire is like "5 to 6? pretty much out of the question" - I don't want to start a debate/holy war, just curious if there are any reports of one vs the other.
  3. I know all about the debacle and recall with replacing the rear axle and how much of a pain in the behind it was, but that's because the toyota is RWD, right? would it be easier to just swap out my front axle with a 6-lug axle?

Thanks for the suggestions, I'll check out my spare and report back on that tomorrow.

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C&C only sells pairs of 5/6 adapters, so you need a "friend" in the same situation as you are to split the costs of a pair. The side benefit of this plan is you only need 1 6 bolt rim. Buying your own pair means you need 3 6 bolt rims, 2 for the front and a spare.

With your 5 bolt front the center of the tire and the weight is carried between the 2 front bearings on the front hub. With the 5/6 adapter the weight is the same place because the 6 bolt rim is flipped around and the deep dish and adapter work together to center things.

P.S. Toyota uses a similar adapter on the later model MH chassis.

P.P.S. If you can find a wrecking yard U-Haul Toyota box truck or a newer Toy MH you can easily swap the complete front end and gain the factory 6 bolt with bigger brakes. At the right yard this might be cheaper than 2 adapters and 3 rims

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OOH. So for a second there I thought you meant I needed 3 adapters and uh, obviously I just figured it out. I didn't get to check out my spare today but I will do it ASAP. 

Nice junkyard tip. I'll definitely take a look next time I'm near a yard. Nicer brakes seem like a good thing to have. I temporarily considered asking if anyone had done an ABS conversion on a toyhome but decided most might not be terribly amused with the question. 

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aaaaaaaaaaand the verdict is:


yup, you're right.

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