1977 Dodge RV sitting since 1995

I am getting a 1977 1977 DODGE COMMERCIAL ESTABLISHMENT Sportsman RV. It has a Chrysler V8 “B” engine, 350 or 360 Cu in. It has under 15,000 miles on it and it has been sitting since 1995. What things should I do leading up to starting and running it and then after that?

Remove the gas cap, and take a sniff of the gas tank.

If the smell almost knocks you to the ground, that’s just the beginning of the problems.


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Since you are here asking I think you should find a good shop that can do this restart properly . The list of things that need to be done before you ever turn the key is long . The fuel tank should be drained and cleaned and that is not something to do in your driveway.

You can do a web search ( How to start a car that has been setting for years ) and read several article and watch a few videos . That will help you decide if you can do this yourself.

Don’t worry about sniffing the gas because without a doubt it’s bad and all the rubber fuel lines are also shot and you’ll need to start there.

It would be worthwhile to take close look at everything from the upholstery to the plumbing to the chassis and brakes before spending any money on it. If there’s no rust damage, rot or collision damage then it might be worth attempting to get it running. If you have access to an outboard fuel tank you could connect it to the engines fuel pump to test the engine and then if the engine will run clean and repair the tank and lines. It will be a long fun project. Good luck.

Replace oil & filter, coolant, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, engine air filter, battery. Getting the fuel system clean and working correctly will probably be the major engine challenge after that. But remember that properly working brakes and tires are more important than a running engine, so focus on the those even more than the engine. Need the brake fluid replaced, and each wheel’s brake parts taken apart for a look-see for what’s needed there, and you’ll need four new road tires and a new spare. I wouldn’t replace the spark plugs off-hand; but after you get the engine running properly and a few hundred miles of driving, good idea to remove them all to see what they look like. If ok, put them back in. Rubber parts and liquids don’t age well. But spark plugs don’t care much about the passage of time. Best of luck, seems like a fun project. I presume this vehicle is carb’d, so might as well order a carb rebuild kit for it. You’re likely to need it or at least some of the parts.

Dollars to donuts, the carburetor will need to be rebuilt.

Don’t hire me for that. If I started tomorrow I wouldn’t have it done before the end of the year … lol .


Before I spent a penny on anything I would remove the spark plugs, squirt some 10W=30 into each cylinder and see if you can turn the engine over with a breaker bar and socket on the crank bolt. If it turns, then you can proceed with all the rest. If you can’t get it to turn, you will have to decide if you want to try and find a used engine. A 350 is a “b” engine, the 360 is not. B and raised B engines came in 350,361,383, 413,426,and 440 displacements.


Getting this vehicule roadworthy will probably cost you an arm and a leg. Look for something newer and safer.

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With the cost of RVs and travel trailers this might be a worthwhile project. If all the necessary work is done by a shop I would not be surprised at spending easily over $4000.
The entire fuel system needs to be rebuilt/replaced with ethanol compatible materials.

I’m going to have to agree with what everyone has mentioned thus far including the fact that it will be prohibitively expensive to have someone else do this work for you. So get comfortable with the tasks that need doing and hopefully you will tackle this yourself. You will appreciate the vehicle that much more when you successfully get it running all by yourself.

A '77 motorcoach sitting since’95?? If the former owners didn’t PAY you to take it away, you paid too much.

Used RV’s go for peanuts. 20 cents on the dollar in some cases.Why? Because they deteriorate like toilet paper in the rain.

Just getting the chassis roadworthy, as others have clearly and accurately posted will be a BIG job. Getting the interior features working/fresh smelling/pretty/comfortable will be just as big.


Yep, you’re basically restoring a car and a house. One auto blogger had a rule to never buy a used RV, just because of the many systems that can and do go bad. Renting is what we do, the few times we needed an RV.

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might have 2 fuel tanks. twice the fun. 1 leaked on ours. dropped it several times and went to campground and the darn fuel line to the generator had come dislodged so we had no a/c in 90f+ temps. than gen board blew out the next yr and we took out the onan gen unit and put in a no name unit and that never worked right. than the roof leaked and we had to have it resealed twice. and so on

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