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PostPosted: June 11th, 2017, 3:42 am 
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Joined: May 14th, 2017, 4:32 am
Posts: 9
A good friend down the road advised me that we always have a "buyers remorse" stage when we make a major purchase. He was helping me not to freak out, kind soul. I'm still darned worried. I fell in love with this Chinook that is in amazing condition with only 53K miles. It has a 350 V-10 Triton engine (maybe they all do).

Upon driving home from Pennsylvania to Maine this week with my new wonder camper, I had some problems: a shimmy in the front end, a slight exhaust leak smell in the cab, and the engine sometimes but not always skipping when there is a load (uphill). With the bubble of magic "great condition" popped, now I'm facing repairs and feel like a sitting duck waiting to get ripped off by the Ford Dealers. I have an appt. this week, but am looking for an independent mechanic now to keep me away from dealerships. This one already went off on how it could cost $2500 to replace the exhaust manifolds, as did another mechanic at an RV place saying how notorious the 350 Tritons are for expensive manifolds.

I am looking around this website and getting more alarmed by the minute by how naive I am with such a fancy dooded-up camper. I'm about to retire on a fixed income and know that I'm over my head here. I can see that the maintenance is BIG and I am clueless. I'm thinking I may not be able to keep this incredible find.

I could use some voices of reason, and advice! Sorry my first post is a call for help, wish I'd posted when I was still in la la love land. I'm trying to get back there. :shock:


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PostPosted: June 11th, 2017, 7:33 am 
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Joined: December 31st, 2016, 6:54 pm
Posts: 51
I recently purchased a 2003 Chinook Concourse. Although I am feeling somewhat overwhelmed by all that I don't know one thing I did know was that the purchase price was just the beginning. I have an appointment at a service center this week. I am anxious about it. If you look at the thread maintenance checklist, you'll see a guide that a member here posted for reference. That should be very helpful. Good luck, have fun and don't get too stressed. Lots of wisdom on this forum.

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2003 Chinook concourse
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PostPosted: June 11th, 2017, 9:40 am 
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Joined: October 20th, 2015, 6:57 am
Posts: 592
Location: Northern NJ
It's gonna be okay. You bought a low mileage, fairly late model Chinook. So you've got an excellent vehicle and coach with good bones, and that's the important part.

It's just been neglected a bit and also has common Ford problems of that era. So yeah, it might take some money at first to get it to where you're happier with it.

The good news is that you're nowhere near the first to be in this common situation, so you'll get lots of advice and stories to help out. :D

Myself, I bought mine already figuring on new tires and batteries, alignment work, generator service, new LCD TV, etc. After all, those are common reasons people sell their units. (What I didn't expect was spending a ton on new ball joints right away. Darn. But that's only a distant memory now.)

Hang in there, maybe make friends with a neighborhood gas station mechanic.

Cheers, Kev

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1994 Concourse dinette, Ford 7.5L, wood & tile floors, tin ceiling, custom lighting


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PostPosted: June 11th, 2017, 10:41 am 
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Joined: December 31st, 2016, 5:57 am
Posts: 133
+1 on what kdarling said. The big picture may be overwhelming at first but just chunk it down into manageable modules then prioritize these according to safety, comfort and convenience - constrained by your time and budget of course.

I will say the previous decade’s vehicles like your 2001 are more practical to own and repair than the latest generation where most everything is interfaced through a computer that removes the owner’s autonomy with ludicrous technical complexity and gimmickry, in part to comply with increasingly stringent mileage and emissions requirements. Good luck on fixing those!

The oldies have a well established track record with sound body of knowledge to keep them running a long time to come. Keep the faith…

P.S. Remember service centers usually put their own business interests first and may try to ‘scare’ you into unnecessary work. Reminds me of the old caution about walking into a barbershop and asking the proprietor’s opinion if you need a haircut.

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"The Blue Chook" 2002 Concourse Dinette on 2001 E-350 chassis w V10


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PostPosted: June 11th, 2017, 1:47 pm 
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Joined: May 14th, 2017, 4:32 am
Posts: 9
Thanks to all of you, it's comforting to know that I'm not alone. I'm not sure I can afford this camper, but I'm going to try. It's so great to know that there are wise Chinook sages here to help! I'm afraid I'm going to need it.

I used to live aboard small wooden cruising sailboats and consider this to be my land yacht. It is surprisingly similar in every way, with constant things popping up and needy this and that as a priority to stay safe. This is surely going to be a trip!


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PostPosted: June 11th, 2017, 4:28 pm 
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Joined: August 10th, 2014, 6:06 am
Posts: 135
That shimmy in the front end may just be the steering stabilizer,which is an item that needs periodic replacement often not replaced,and inexpensive.As for the manifolds,leaking i cant remember another post here or on the other forum where this is posted,.2 comments you may indeed be experiencing a buyer freakout,i took my 2001 premier Not to a Ford dealer but to a shop that specializes in Fleet vehicles,which are often built on the same cutaway.2)many sellers are honest folk and if you do indeed have a $$$$ mechanical issue they may if contacted help or pay for necessary repairs.My personal educated guess,is that on a 53k vehicle the manifolds are likely fine.but by all means get it checked out.Actually before buying my chinook,i did get it checked out although this may not be the norm.Mechanical issues are not my expertise,but like i said i have been an owner for and member of both forums for awhile now.Rooney


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PostPosted: June 11th, 2017, 5:29 pm 
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Joined: December 31st, 2016, 6:54 pm
Posts: 51
Oh Hanna....I'm so glad you're here.

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2003 Chinook concourse
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PostPosted: June 11th, 2017, 6:40 pm 
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Joined: July 31st, 2014, 1:01 am
Posts: 1956
Location: 1999 Concourse
Welcome!

Well, the Chinook may not be for everyone, but they are really nice RV's if they suit your purposes. Not to minimize your potential issues, but just think how you'd feel if you'd bought a big fancy Class A. They are wonderful machines, no doubt about it, but just a set of tires is like $5000! (vs. $1500 for our wee Chinooks). And the list goes on.

So let's look at your issues.

Slight miss under acceleration.
Could be a number of things (and I'm not a mechanic), but when I bought mine it had that issue, and it was the plug coil boots (or whatever they are called). I could look back to see the cost, but I don't remember it because it was part of a number of repairs I rolled into the purchase offer. Still, I'd remember if it had been huge. These engines don't have a distributor and spark plug wires to carry the spark to each plug; rather it all happens right on top of each plug (so it's not wires).

Exhaust smell in cab.
This *could* mean you need an expensive manifold replacement (although I always thought the main symptom was loud ticking on acceleration as you hear the leak). But it could also just mean that the "doghouse" was not seated correctly the last time. You will have a console (cup holder) in between the seats. That's a decorative bit that slots down onto the "doghouse," which is the actual engine cover. Yes, half the engine is in the cab with you (but not as much as the old days). If you search for a thread I made that's called something like "console options for 1997 and newer) you will see the doghouse and how the console attaches to it. Once you have the console off (easy), then you can look at the rubber seal at the bottom of the doghouse. Sometimes it gets twisted or has a gap. The doghouse has two latches on the floor and two on the side (by the side of your ankle). Counterintuitively, I have found it works better when putting it in place to do the side latches first, then the bottom ones. There are some year variations, but mine has two "ski boot type" latches on the sides, and the bottom ones sort of look like butterflies. The way the butterfly ones work is you rotate them 180º. You will see a raised metal lip on the floor where the doghouse rides, and the bottom of the doghouse has a rubber seal that has lips. IIRC, the bottom lip rides on the metal lip, and the upper one goes over the carpet. Main thing is to make sure it's sitting in place correctly.

Shimmy in front end:
A few different things could cause this, but the first thing I would do is check the date code on the tires. If they are near six years old (or older), then they really should be replaced (it's all about age on RV's), so you could start there and that might fix your problem. My previous camper van (basically the same, but an E-250) shimmied horribly the whole way home after I bought it. It was the tires. If you Google you can see good descriptions and illustrations about how to read the tire date code, but just so you know it's only on one side of the tire (hopefully the side you can easily see) and it has a format of week/year. So for example 4911 would mean the 49th week (December) of 2011. Time to replace.

If not the tires, then we can go on. Could be other suspension components, but at around 50k that's less likely. One other problem Ford steel wheels can have is being bent (but if you get new tires that should show up). (Or you may have Alcoa aluminum wheels if a PO has added them.)

I agree about finding an independent mechanic. I "had" to have a Ford dealer do some of the initial work on my rig (I was away from home, plus it was rolled into my deal with the sellers), but geez, they were expensive and they muffed up a bunch of stuff (and that dealer got good reviews!). If you want to let us know your general location, someone here might have a recommendation [edited to add: I see you are in Maine, missed that on the first read through].

Oh, just so you know, the chassis is an "E-350" (E means Econoline van and 350 means one-ton) and the engine is a V-10 (also known as 6.8 liter). Just mentioning that as the engine has nothing to do with the 350 in this case). You also might need to specify that it's a dually for some parts (dual rear wheels), as the E-350 can also have single wheels (usually in a regular van).

So glad to have you, and I hope you will enjoy your Chinook as much as I do mine :)

We have a nice and helpful crew here, so bring it on!

BG

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PostPosted: June 12th, 2017, 2:42 am 
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Joined: May 14th, 2017, 4:32 am
Posts: 9
Wow, this forum is amazing, thank you BG and all of you. My overwhelm is like a wave on the shore coming in and out. The level of detail helps enormously but also overwhelms. Keep it coming! I'm going to cancel my Ford garage appt. (he didn't know what a Chinook was), and proceed to find a local mechanic. I did get a local recommendation that I'm following up on today from a Chinook brethren.

I really didn't know there was an engine inside the cab! That's good news for engine access. Maybe I'll tackle getting the hood off and looking at the seal today...or tomorrow. I have to get up the gumption for such things. I like the "fix" though. The manifolds are a big deal, as is the catalytic converter. I made the mistake of noshing around estimated prices of things. Yikes!

I sincerely hope I don't need a new set of tires, these have a lot of life left in them, or so it seems. But the Ford garage that checked out the front end before I bought it said it was an "out of round" tire. That is my most immediate need to fix as it's awful to drive over 55 mph, and the 400 miles that I drove it didn't help a bit.

So here's a couple of questions from a newbie: The rear tire and cover are pretty darn heavy, in the way, and the mount is one of the only rusty places in the whole camper. I'm thinking of taking it off and just using a tire repair inflator, which is also kind of risky in terms of actually needing the spare. I've seen that some of you put it on top with some kind of rooftop reinforcement, or up front. Hmmm. Recent opinions from those who have done it or taken it off?

Also, I'd dearly love to get the carpet out of there and replace it with a vinyl or wood floor. In terms of resale, does that put off the Chinook purists who want everything original? The carpet is musty and has some stains, not to mention MORE of the green that is pretty overwhelming - and that I will get used to because the carpet isn't the priority.

Lastly, I didn't even look at Chinooks for my camper (was pretty informed about Road Treks and Rialtas) because I wanted a bed made up permanently, hopefully in the back. Once I saw the Chinook I was hooked and that idea went out the window. I plan to take out the fold down Flexsteel couch (and keep it for resale) and replace it with a real mattress, a nice cover and pillows to lean on behind. Has anyone done this? I was thinking of using the settee/table, but I like it too much and want to keep it. Another non-priority right now, but looming large. I find this couch wholly uncomfortable and have been putting the table down at night.

My oh my. So many questions, new priorities, and a community of very nice people to help. I am so grateful!


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PostPosted: June 12th, 2017, 7:10 am 
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Joined: December 31st, 2016, 5:57 am
Posts: 133
Just a few comments off the top of my head:

Engine access - OK for routine maintenance fluids and items, but difficult for top end work like spark plugs, coils, PCV… Fortunately these don't need frequent attention.

Tires - go by age as well as tread depth. Recommended life is 6 years. The last 4 digits of the sidewall DOT code indicate manufacture week and year, so you don’t really want anything before 2011 (May 2011).

Tires get “out of round” or more correctly develop flat spots just sitting a long time. They usually recover after freeway driving a while. The spare tire is too heavy for me to ever consider storing it on the roof.

Inflation pressure - the Chinook’s tires run around 60 psi that is a bit much for a 12V compact inflator. Get a good pocket digital gage, air up at a service station then recheck cold at home. Recommended pressures should be on the driver’s door sticker; I run 65/60 front/rear with a full load of water, propane and gas.

Floor - use the site search function for refurbishing the floor - others have done it.

Finally, you might find the following article helpful to find an honest and competent mechanic:

https://ericpetersautos.com/2017/06/12/avoiding-underhood-quackery/

Cheers, TC

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Ted C. / SW Arizona
"The Blue Chook" 2002 Concourse Dinette on 2001 E-350 chassis w V10


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