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1986 21ft Mini Cruiser Automatic - Project Restoring and Exploring


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Hi all!

 

First a huge thanks to everyone who contributes so much helpful info,¬†advice, and general enthusiasm¬†on this forum!¬†ūüôŹ¬†ūüôĆ

 

In November of 2020 I purchased a 1986 Minicruiser with the a blown engine. The interior had been somewhat redone and the cabin is pretty livable. It was priced appropriately (IMO) and I figure after the engine replacement it's still a decent deal.

 

The rig (photos from CL add)-

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Pros:

 

-The interior is pretty cozy already

-New water heater less than a year ago (found the receipt in the glove box... $1000+ professionally installed¬†ūüė≤)¬†

-I have a dry place to store it through the winter (in my home town, about 2 1/2hrs away from where I live currently)

-all original appliances (or is that a con?)

-Its a Toyota Motorhome!

 

Cons:

 

-Blown engine threw a rod through the block so not a rebuildable core... I've gotta find a rebuildable core or pay a core deposit.

-Normal water damage on the corners... previous owner said leaks were fixed and water damage repaired, but it looks like a quick fix with eternabond/dicor tape and a lot of caulk. 

-AC unit doesn't blow cold and the type of freon is uses isn't legal anymore (or so said the previous owner)

-all 12v lights have been removed... previous owner ran everything off of 110v or rechargeable LED puck lights 

 

The Plan:

 

-get it running by summer 

-get it water tight

-paint the exterior (any suggestions, dos/don'ts are welcome... I'm just going for a clean white, DIY)

-get interior more suited to my needs

-add solar at some point

 

What's been done since November:

 

I was originally planning to work on the engine replacement myself, with all this new found free time thanks to COVID. I ended up getting some part time construction work where I have it stored so I've just tinkered a bit and stayed in it when I'm in town for work. In the meantime I sourced an engine which is local here in Oregon. 

https://www.oregonengines.net/

I went with their 22RE Super Stock. I figure a slightly more robust engine will be a good way to go with the extra load. They also recommend a mechanic that can to the install for a reasonable price and I'm going to have it professionally installed. 

 

I was able to keep the RV plugged into 110v where I was parked and soon realized the converter and battery charger were cooking the battery, so I installed a new electrical distribution panel which has 12v converter and charging wizard all in one unit. I should add a picture, but here's the link to the unit. 

https://www.etrailer.com/Battery-Charger/Progressive-Dynamics/PD4135K.html

 

I traced some of the 12v wiring and added an LED reading light for the sleeping bunk, an LED light over the cooktop and a wired LED puck light. 

 

What I've learned so far:

 

-As cute as the rear cook nook is, I really want more space to cook. Just a little bit of counter top and having the counter higher than they are now.... might move the cook area to be galley kitchen along the driver side wall under the window

-These RVs were designed for hobbits. I'm 5'10" and can sometimes feel my hair touch the ceiling. The little corner shower pan is a slight step up so I have to hunch over a bit to shower. I definitely want to create more shower space. We'll see what I come up with. 

-In my tinkering I found that the walls are aluminum framed (yay!) Here's hoping there's some of that incorporated in the roofing as I dig deeper.

-the overhead bunk is goin to need some attention/possible rebuild

-I need to replace the roof membrane...Just received the EPDM membrane

-I keep hitting my head on interior AC housing.... that thing has to go... Maxxfan will replace that

-The termination rails on both sides are installed upside down? Shouldn't the gutter be on the bottom and the awning track be on the bottom?

-The awning anchor points look to be a main source of water penetration. 

-THIS GOING TO BE A BIGGER PROJECT THAN ORIGINALLY PLANNED.... but I'm really enjoying getting into it. 

 

 

That's all for now. I'll add more when there is more. 

 

Thanks!

 

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Own a '87 Mini C also with the same setup. They are good rigs and I'm pretty sure you will find aluminum framing in the ceiling/roof also. I've been dealing with serious leaking and have sealed the front seams as well as the roof. What caught my eye, was your statement about the awning and gutter. I have what I believe to be an awning track but no awning. Where could water seep in at the points? What do you mean by anchor points? Thanks and be sure to post your progress.

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On 4/27/2021 at 7:20 PM, RitaP said:

What caught my eye, was your statement about the awning and gutter. I have what I believe to be an awning track but no awning. Where could water seep in at the points? What do you mean by anchor points?

I've attached a picture for reference. Pretty sure there's a couple things wrong here... looks like the rail is installed upside down and the lag bolt looks like its pulled the rail away from the side a bit (saw a spider crawl up in the gap). Second pic is the driver side termination rail which also looks to be installed upside down... the gutter shouldn't be on the top, right? 

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On 4/27/2021 at 7:20 PM, RitaP said:

They are good rigs and I'm pretty sure you will find aluminum framing in the ceiling/roof also.

So far, I've found aluminum in the walls and a combination of steel and 1x3 wood in the ceiling. Happy to have only found isolated water damage. 

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Bit of progress... she's been towed to the mechanic for the remanufactured engine to be installed!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_10ba.jpg.066a59f21753d9d44e71ee69d1259adb.jpg

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As I familiarize myself with this little rig, I'm realizing it's actually 1985. VIN search brings that up, but it's titled and registered as an 86... kinda confusing. Build date on drivers side door says June 85, Motorhome manufacturer info says July 85. My mechanic immediately called it out as an 85. I'm assuming it was sold from the motorhome manufacturer as part of their 86 inventory/model year? I dunno... just trying to sort out all the little nuances in this thing. It's both super interesting and kinda frustrating. 

 

Anywho, this is slightly challenging as there seem to be some quirks in 1985 year build. 

 

Check out those leaf springs... helper springs rather than a larger spring pack.

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And it appears to have air shocks? Note the little inlet on the shock in the pic above...

 

I found this little valve on the rear generator mount when I was removing it. One line goes to each rear shock. 

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Another interesting quirk is I found a spec sheet that shows 3.9 rear gear ration for the 1 ton and commercial chassis options

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Sooooo.... I'll be adding a rear gear swap and new leaf springs to my to-do list. 

 

This is what exploring has looked like so far with this rig. Looking forward to exploring more of PNW when I get it on the road (soonish!?)

 

Fortunately it looks to have either been manufactured with the proper FF axle or was retrofitted as part of the recall...

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I have the same awning rail as you. It appears to have been installed correct and the circular channel on the top accommodates a bag type awning like those found on a pop up. I have one installed on mine. A plastic cable on top of the bag awning slides through the channel. 

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19 hours ago, linda s said:

Not quite correct. Some get done in only a few months and some states require it be titled in the same year as the chassis. 

Linda


Some, sure. Maybe I over blanketed that comment. But it is a common enough issue that when I used to service them all the time, we specifically had to look for it.  Worked in a little Mom and Pops tire and service center in Oregon. We did a lot of semis, RVs, and other big stuff nobody else would. In fact it is where I discovered the world of Toyota micro RVs. 

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On 5/4/2021 at 11:50 AM, Scott iv said:

I have the same awning rail as you. It appears to have been installed correct and the circular channel on the top accommodates a bag type awning like those found on a pop up. I have one installed on mine. A plastic cable on top of the bag awning slides through the channel. 

I'm familiar with how the awning fits in the the channel... I've only ever seen that channel on the bottom of the rail before. It's all getting replaced eventually.

Edited by jimiflow
typo
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On 5/4/2021 at 11:00 AM, linda s said:

Not quite correct. Some get done in only a few months and some states require it be titled in the same year as the chassis. 

Linda

Yeah, this one was built a month after the chassis. Still titled in 86 though. It's been an interesting learning process.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Update/the saga continues....

 

Thought it would be a good idea to have the transmission serviced while the RV is in getting the new engine installed. Turns out, the transmission also needs to be replaced or rebuilt. Mechanic found totally cooked fluid when he drained and dropped the pan along with some metal pieces that indicate the transmission is toast.

 

At this point I'm too far into this thing to stop now. At least I won't be left wondering if the transmission is going to be an issue later down the road, so just gonna bite the bullet now and get the transmission rebuilt if it's salvageable. 

 

Guess that's what I get for taking on the risk of buying an RV with a blown engine.¬†ūü§∑‚Äć‚ôāÔłŹ

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On 6/4/2021 at 7:14 PM, jimiflow said:

Update/the saga continues....

 

Thought it would be a good idea to have the transmission serviced while the RV is in getting the new engine installed. Turns out, the transmission also needs to be replaced or rebuilt. Mechanic found totally cooked fluid when he drained and dropped the pan along with some metal pieces that indicate the transmission is toast....

 

Tough call...  If it wasn’t already apart in the shop I would say flush the CRAP out of it. Then do it two more times...  And see what happens.  Mine only had 30k on it. Burnt to hell fluid, shiny specs in fluid, and wouldn’t go into reverse.  I have a whole thread on it...  I ended up filling and dumping the fluid 3 or 4 times poking and prodding at it.

 

I thought I was going to need a transmission too. 

 

End result? ¬†It backs up now, fairly well too. ¬†I do have to gun it a touch, it isn‚Äôt‚Äô ‚Äúperfect‚ÄĚ yet. The last fluid refill, I accidentally put the wrong fluid in it. ¬†Merton IV I believe. ¬†Higher detergent fluid. ¬†It likes it better. ¬†I suspect it will keep getting better when I start putting some more miles on it. ¬†

 

I will I‚Äôll likely change the fluid and filter after the next couple road trips. ¬†Cheap insurance. ¬†Might bring it to the shop and run 4-5 gallons through it with the flush machine. ¬†I have two ‚Äúfree‚ÄĚ 55 gallon drums of fluid not in the inventory. ¬†

 

Sucks that you don’t know how well it did or didn’t work...

Edited by thewanderlustking
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