Carbureted 1974 Dodge Tioga RV dies while idling and put into drive or reverse

So I have no idea what I’m doing. You know that yellow plastic thing that opens up the - I don’t know what it is - the choke or throttle plate, and the adjusting screw that hits that little yellow plastic thing? The yellow plastic thing has steps on it, like stairs, and when the screw is at the bottom of the stairs, the car dies. When it’s at the top of the stairs, idle is really high and the car doesn’t die. So guess what this genius did (that’s me). I literally took scotch tape and taped the thing so that the screw would rest at the top of the stairs. Fixed the dying at idle thing, lol. Obviously this was wrong, but I literally just need to get this thing to move two hundred miles to a fixed location spending as little money as possible. And hey, if it works, it isn’t stupid, right? Only problem is it didn’t work, lol. The RV can idle without dying now, but that’s all it can do.

So I thought, “Yeah! I’m in the money!” Then when I put my foot on the brake, and shifted into reverse (it’s an automatic transmission if that matters), car dies. Wild goose chase - I tried turning the distributor clockwise and counter-clockwise, started the car at different timings, shifted into reverse, and dead. Now, my friend drove this wicked thing home for me yesterday when we bought it. Guys a savant or something. His carburetor Baja Beetle used to die at idle too so he had some experience. On the highway it was no problem but when we hit traffic, he’d shift it into neutral, and feather the throttle to keep it alive. Mentally unstable/insane skills, lol.

So a few YouTube videos here and tinkering there, I have no idea what I’m doing. The yellow plastic thing, if the tape wasn’t there, I could start the car fine with the screw resting on a middle or top stair. Then when I hit the throttle, stairs fall down all the way to the bottom, and the car dies unless I feather the gas, or manually place the screw back on the middle or top stairs. I’ve got both adjusting screws screwed all the way clockwise, as deep/tall as they can go with the screws compressed.

So did I mention that I literally used scotch tape to tape the thing stuck so that it wouldn’t die at idle? Man I’m a genius. Lol. Just so absolutely amazing. I have no idea what I’m doing.

Forget the yellow plastic thing, that’s the choke fast-idle cam and it sounds like it’s working fine. On the opposite side of the carburetor, where the throttle cable connects, you will find the idle speed adjustment screw that acts as a throttle stop. On the front of the carburetor, facing forward down near the bottom of the carb, you will find 2 idle mixture screws…Remove them both, buy a spray-can of carb cleaner and using the extension tube, spray a liberal amount of cleaner directly into the ports where you removed the mixture screws from…Install the screws until they bottom (please, no great amount of force here, just snug) then open them both 1.5-2.0 turns. Look for and correct any vacuum leaks. Start the engine and see if it will idle now…Check the points and adjust if necessary. Set the timing with a timing light, you have undoubtedly made a mess of that critical adjustment…

So I put a vacuum gauge on and adjusted the ignition timing to where it got the best vacuum, which I think was about 18 in. Hg. Now I don’t know if if it was because of the timing or something else that I did, but the car can now shift into drive and reverse without dying! Awesome!

But now the brakes don’t work.

Lol. I have no idea. When we drove this thing home, feathering the throttle to keep it from dying, shifting into neutral and keeping it alive with gas, we had brakes. Good strong brakes. Real real firm.

Now I can push the brake pedal all the way down as far as it’ll go with absolute ease, and the car still has trouble stopping. I had to just shift into park to stop the car. Now with the car shut off, with the brake booster or whatever it is off, the pedal is stiff again. It’s not air in the brake lines obviously. I don’t know. There are some weird knobs and buttons around the driver’s seat I tinkered with, putting on and off. Maybe that did something? Other than that and the tape on the plastic yellow thing, lol, and the ignition timing, I literally touched nothing else.

I’ll add some pictures and maybe someone can help me identify what these knobs and buttons do and if they could have affected the brakes at all. Last resort, I’d like to somehow disable the brake boosters and go back just like it was in the old days; needing a brick foot in order to press the brake pedal without brake booster assistance or whatever it is that makes braking easier. Lol fixed one problem, and another one pops up right away. Car dies at idle, fixed that. But then it dies in drive or reverse. Car now somehow doesn’t die in drive or reverse, maybe the timing fixed that but I know nothing, and now I have no brakes. Lol, I love it.

So here are the mystery buttons:

Look behind each wheel for brake fluid leaking out of a drum. If no leak is indicated remove the master cylinder to see if fluid has leaked out the back. And I would strongly advise you not to leave home in that RV until all 4 wheels and brake drums have been removed and the brakes inspected thoroughly.

The button in the floor is a dimmer switch. The others can only be determined by operating them to see what happens or tracing the wires.

I can’t get the hood to pop. The carburetor is inside the car, right in the center, but I can’t get the front hood to open to check the brake cylinder.

Got the hood to pop! Hit it with a rubber mallet over some rags. Still made a dent though, lol! When I disconnect the brake booster line, the brakes seem to go nice and stiff. But I’ve got to test it further. They say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It was kind of broke, but it worked for the time being. I took off the tape holing the yellow plastic step idle thing that controls the choke plate, and now I can’t get the car to even start. But I didn’t know that hitting the gas pedal actually pours gas into the carburetor, as opposed to fuel injected cars today that just open the throttle plate, and the PCM orders the fuel injectors or whatever the heck it is. Lol, so I think the carb is flooded now or something. Can I just wait for the fuel to evaporate? Does gasoline do that? Or am I going to have to start pulling wet plugs? I have no idea what I’m doing or if anything I’m saying is even correct.

It’s 39 years old…Every moving part, every rubber hose, everything, will have to be replaced…How old is the fuel in the tank? When is the last time this vehicle was on the road?

I have no idea. I bought this thing two days ago. It got to my home a hundred miles from the place I bought it from with a little skill from my friend.

So update! I fixed my brakes!!! It just needed to be bled! I went though a whole large bottle of brake fluid. The master reservoir was empty when I checked it! Now my brakes brake beautifully. So so happy. Oh man it’s so beautiful. That’s one of the most satisfying things in the world, next to peeling off plastic on new stuff and bubble wrap and all green lights. Having a completed dead soft brake, to a beautiful strong firm pedal. Oh the joys of life. This is better than marriage.

So my friend is a genius. After the brakes were fixed and I reconnected the brake booster, car would die when I put it into gear. He said maybe the brake booster is taking all the vacuum, whatever that means lol. So I taped the plate thing, whatever that is, so that it closed off more than it was open, letting less air in, and the idle shouted monsterously at me, as if to say, “YOU DARE WAKE A SLEEPING GIANT?” Put this beautiful thing into drive, and it didn’t die. Thank you scotch tape, lol. You know, there’s really no difference from this old RV than a new $50,000 rv, when you really think about it, abstractly, philosophically. Lol, nevermind.

So I just need to get this thing 150 miles to a permanent location. Hopefully this does it. If I were really trying to fix it permanently, I wouldn’t be using scotch tape, lol. Hey, you know what they say, if it works, it isn’t stupid. And when you think about it philosophically, scotch tape is more advanced technologically than carburetors. Lol. Stone age technology. Oh they’re amazing. We literally have Briggs and Stratton carbureted lawnmowers built in this year of 2013 still to this very day. Even the Amish are like, “Really?” There are literally uncontacted tribes living in the Amazon that have never seen a cell phone or a television in their lives, and when they see a Briggs and Statton carbureted lawnmower, they’re like, “Wow. Can we give -you- money? Who has made you do this? You don’t have to live like this. It doesn’t have to be like this.”

So now when I want to get this beast started, I manually choke the plate, maybe give it one step on the gas, and it starts up. Then I tape the plate to that position. Then I put the air filter on. Lol. And that’s all I need for now.

But if I were to properly fix this, where would I start?

So here is where the two pieces of magical tape are:

And is this where I put the motor oil?

You’re good to go with the oil fill tube but that piece of tape on the choke plate will not be there long and the tape seems to be preventing the choke from fully opening. At cruise speed the air flow and the flapping of the choke will be more than 3M can handle. And the screw in the photo is not for mixture control. That screw is the “fast idle” screw. The stair step plastic piece is the fast idle cam. If you want the engine to idle faster look next to the screw that rests on the “steps” and you will find a similar screw, also having a spring on it shank which is the idle speed adjustment screw.

My recommendation to pull the drums and inspect the brakes stands.

“At cruise speed the air flow and the flapping of the choke will be more than 3M can handle.”

Lol. I love you. But the other screw doesn’t seem to do anything! It’s practically worthless! I’m telling you, the yellow thing must be broken, because if it’s not there, and I have both screws all the way screwed in, car dies at idle. Throttle’s gotta be held a good amount open by the screw in the picture or else it’ll die! And the other screw doesn’t seem to do anything! I’m sure I’m an idiot! But I’m sure the yellow bit is broken or something else is! Like maybe the things controlling the choke plate! Which I think is what it is! And my brakes work beautifully now after bleeding them. Oh I enjoy them so much it hurts. So absolutely satisfying. It is a dream come true. I’m so happy. You know there’s very little that’s different from this forty-year old RV I got than from a new 50 grand one. Philosophically. Philosophy - it makes a crappy life seem kind of less crappy. And perspective is so much cheaper than fifty grand.

Anyway, man tape is so much cheaper than a new carburetor. I might attempt rebuilding the carb if I didn’t think I’d make everything so much worse. Maybe one day when it’s at it’s permanent location. Which, after I try and rebuild the carburetor, it’ll stay forever! LOL! GET IT? CAUSE I’LL MESS IT UP SO BAD it won’t be able to drive anymore. I try to be clever to give myself some sort of self-worth or self-esteem. I don’t like myself.

Could it be the float? I don’t even know what a float is. As far as I’m concerned a float either has root beer or Spongebob! Hah! Oh I hope it makes you cringe. I hope it hurts.

Contemplate this: You found the master cylinder empty…Brake fluid does not simply dry up…So where did the brake fluid go? I hope you don’t find the answer to that at 60 MPH as the pedal sags to the floor…

The choke plate and scotch tape…You could at least use duct tape…

Here is how it’s supposed to work…When the engine is cold, the plate should be closed after you pump the gas pedal ONCE…The engine should start and run at fast idle…Fairly quickly, the choke plate will open and the idle speed return to normal…If it won’t run (when warm) with the choke wide open, then the carburetors internal passages are plugged up, blocking normal fuel flow, OR you have a massive vacuum leak somewhere, allowing air into the engine without any gasoline mixed in…

Is this thing powered by a 318, a 360 or the wonderful 440 cu. in. engine?

Time to bring in somebody who knows carbs. And ignition. And brakes. And everything else this antique needs right now.

It’s a 360. Dodge B300 Sportsman 5.9L if that helps. Caddyman that makes so much sense. I’m starting to understand it a bit more. Can you find a vacuum leak using a vacuum gauge? Right when I start the car, the vacuum reads at 19 in Hg. Real loud, monstrous idle, When I shift into gear, it gets real quiet. And I don’t remember exactly but I think when I’m in gear the vacuum gauge goes to around 10 or something? I’d have to check again. Does that mean anything? What should it be in gear?

Now this might be normal or it might be a byproduct of the tape, but if I cruise down the road without stepping on the gas at all, I can slowly get up to 40 mph. Maybe that info might help diagnose what’s wrong with the carburetor.

Car idles and drives and reverses and brakes fine now with the two pieces of tape. But yeah, it’d be nice to get rid of the tape and have it proper. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were clogged internal passages. Isn’t that quite a common occurrence with carburetors, especially with today’s fuel? I had a riding lawnmower that sat over the winter once. I finally got it started again after cleaning out the carb and replacing a leaking fuel line and taking out the old gas and adding fresh, but it still ran really jerky. Gave me whiplash. Wasn’t smooth. I put a bottle of fuel cleaner in there, put it at top speed, not sure what to expect, and surprisingly it cleared out and ran like so smooth after that. Maybe a fuel cleaner might help in this situation?

What makes the 440 special?

And thank you for that contemplation. It is terrifying. I want to properly check out my brakes before I go on this trip. How should I properly check out the brakes? How would you condemn a master cylinder for instance? I could get a re-manufactured one for $15 from O’Reilly’s.