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Gutted & Down to the chassis

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So in Early June I bought an 85 Dolphin, did the research on the axles, and decided to go for it on this $3,000 buy. Figuring I would have some damage to repair, I truly did not realize that the entire house was rotten. My mechanic gave me a decent tune up, and it seemed to be doing fine, until I really started to get into the remodel. I completely took the thing apart. I think the only original pieces will be the seats, the dash, and some wrought iron from the decoration. With the demolition work that was happening, I occasionally turned over the engine to hear that beautiful 22re purr. Eventually I had to start charging the car with my turbo engine if I wanted it to start. and that's when I started to notice the engine fixes that my mechanic missed, and I am now questioning. On top of doing a complete house rebuild from the chassis up, I think I need a new alternator (starter is new), I'm going to need to update my leaf springs (shocks are new from prev owner), I'm going to need to replace the fuel sending unit (gas gauge doesn't work), and the exhaust doesn't pass smog, and I didn't realize that the previous owner had been using a fluid to fudge the results, but there are obvious holes in the exhaust system I did not see when I purchased.


I guess I really just came in here for some help, or encouragement. I won't be able to start work on it again until March, and its had me thinking is it worth it? do I attempt to see just the stripped machine to someone for some money to recoup my losses, allowing myself to have the space for another project, that isn't in as deep of water, or do I carry on? 


for those of you still active, What would you do? would you rebuild your entire rig, or just get another one? one with more horsepower, weight capabilities etc?


I liked the idea of the 85 22re because I knew it would be a rig I could learn mechanics on, really take my life into my own hands, get dirty, and learn. I've always wanted to learn, and newer machines are too complicated at 22re's really have the books & forums to set you up for some great DIY. I just think the more I rest on not moving forward, the bigger the project seems, and I'm beginning to feel overwhelm and question if it really is worth it. I'm probably looking at $6000 to get the engine and chassis up to the snuff I want it at (with paid labor), and not to mention the $10,000 I had allotted myself to have a really nice build. 


Any advice / thoughts for a pal that just saw stars & a fun project?

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Know yourself. It is a large project and will require many skills. It will take considerable time and care to complete from start to finish. There are people here who have been working on rebuilds for years. There are many here who have come and gone. The question of "worth it" only you can answer. Were you planning on camping in a few months or was your plan all along to build an old toyota motorhome with that being the fun? Your mention of the limits of the toyota motorhome capabilities (weight, power) are realities of ownership. Your pricing for getting the motor up to snuff is highly inflated unless it was all hired labor; even then inflated unless the chasis is bent and the motor needs replacement. Is your alternator bad or is it the battery itself? If the catalytic converter is alright, the rest of the exhaust won't be very expensive. 


Big job, but doable for the right person.  If your not the right person you could get money back by selling and use the 16 grand + sale money on something newer. 

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“Know yourself” I couldn’t have said it better. The prices for the engine/chassis  work, I agree, are HIGHLY  inflated. I could replace the engine, transmission, brakes, and pretty much everything mechanical for that amount. But that’s doing it myself. 

And I’m one of those guys that has been rebuilding mine little by little for 2-3yrs. And mine was also in pretty fair condition.   I don’t know exactly how much I have in mine  now, but it is probably around 3k with tires and upgrades I have made. 

$16,000 is a budget that could get you a much nicer Toyota, or another RV. BUT having worked on plenty of random RV’s over the years I can qlmost guarantee you you won’t find anything easier to work on. Everything in the engine bay is simple and readily accessible. 

The alternator on the 85 is a mild pain. But it is very DIY-able for anyone with basic mechanical abilities and 10 minutes watching YouTube videos.  I think the alternator cost me $50 and took an hour. 

Make sure it is actually bad first though. If you start it and let it idle, the light will stay on. You have to rev it up once or twice to kick the battery light off.  

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