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Please help compare 1983 vs 1985 Toyota Dolphin


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Good evening.

I am considering purchasing a Toyota Dolphin for a cross country adventure. I will plan several local trips before beginning the adventure.

I want the rear dinette model for better light, better seating, and less weight in the back. I know to check for leaks and to make sure the rear axle has been upgraded.

I have found a 1983 Dolphin (107k mi) and a 1985 Dolphin (61k mi) both of which seem to be in good shape, both under $5k.

What gotchas should I look for besides axle and leaks?

What are the differences that ought to be considered?

What are the most important upgrades that I'm likely to want? I've heard about LED lighting, a backup camera, and extra cooling what else?

And if there is a different year that I should be looking for, please point me in the right direction!

Thanks in advance for all or your help.

cheers,

Ellen

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Ellen,

I have an '85 Dolphin, rear dinette model and I like it a lot. I've had it almost twenty years and have rebuilt most of the walls from the bottom up to about thirty inches. I removed the roof air, but otherwise this is a fairly stock Toyhome. No generator, but everything else works and is more than adequate for me. I don't know much about the '83 Dolphin except that it has a slightly different engine. Some of the interior arrangements may be a little different, too.

The four cylinder engines are really pretty stout powerplants that seem to just keep going and going and going...The biggest problem that you're likely to find is wet, punky wood in the walls and the cabover portion of the coach. Water leaks may not always show themselves right away but eventually something will start to look a little "wavey" or feel damp. Leaks aren't necessarily deal killers if you can live with a leak here or a stain there. When you look at these RVs, bring a small, powerful flashlight and look in every cabinet, under every bunk (lift up all mattresses), in every nook and cranny. Stick your hands in there and feel for dampness.

LED lighting is nice but expensive and not really necessary. Extra cooling (fans?) is always nice! To me, a back up camera is sorta' an excuse for not looking where you're going when you're backing up, but thery're not too expensive if that's what you want. Check that all the appliances work. Make sure the tires aren't more than six or eight years old. An awning is a great thing to have!

In short, use the KISS principle. Keep things as simple as possible and you'll spend more time enjoying your Toyhome and less time working on it.

John

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Well definately go for the newer one with lower miles. 85 Dolphin is more likely to have the axle upgrade and it will probably also be fuel injected instead of carburated. When traveling that means less loss of power at higher altitudes. Some parts for an 83 might be getting harder to find too. Something as simple as a new fuel tank. Impossible to find for an 83 but tons of them available for the 85. Then the main thing to look at is possible damage in the coach from water. Check carefully for soft walls and water stains. Look at center of overhead from the front of the truck to see if it sags in the middle.

Linda S

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Thanks for the quick responses. Trying to arrange to go for a test drive soon.

Just got an update that the 1985 is actually a 1986. Same engine? Anything quirky about 1986 that anyone is aware of?

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Thanks for the quick responses. Trying to arrange to go for a test drive soon.

Just got an update that the 1985 is actually a 1986. Same engine? Anything quirky about 1986 that anyone is aware of?

Nope only issue with the 86 is it has left hand thread nuts on the drivers side. Only year they did this but mine is an 86 and I have never had a problem with it. Just never have anyone take your wheel off without telling them or they will likely snap of the lug bolts trying to turn them the wrong way. Definately wil be fuel injected, good thing. Good axle was put on at the factory, not an upgraded one. So now check appliances. They are expensive to replace.fridge, water heater, furnace, holding tanks must not leak. water pump. Your buying a house here so you need to check everything you would in a home

Linda

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85 Dolphin . . . will probably also be fuel injected instead of carburated. When traveling that means less loss of power at higher altitudes. .

Linda S

I find that hard to believe. Power loss at higher altitudes is due to air temps and less oxygen. An EFI system cannot do anything about that in regard to power loss. It can't make air out of "thin air." It can cut back on fuel delivery and change the timing to prevent some fuel mileage loss, but also makes less horsepower. The only engines I know of that use electronics to compensate for power loss at higher altitudes have ECU controlled wastegated turbochargers. Turbrochargers (or other versions of superchargers) were originally called "altitude compensators."

Mercury-Marine has a chart with Toyota-sized engines showing the various levels of power loss at different heights. Loss is the same regardless if carbed or EFI. The addition of supercharging makes the difference.

If there is some new device out there that restores lost power due to the lack of oxygen without supplying more oxygen (or other gas) - I'm interested in hearing about it.

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