"No More Projects!", says I. And then...1972 Superior 2200. Couldn't pass it up.


Tail-End Charlie
"No More Projects!", says I. And then...1972 Superior 2200. Couldn't pass it up.

So yea. About 20 years ago I swore off projects. Put in too much time wrenching and not enough time using and got tired of it. Long time ago, I picked up a 1976 Ford E-250 RB camper van for 200 bucks and swore I wouldn't put a dime into it that I didn't absolutely have to. And I didn't. I figured it wouldn't last long. But here we are, many years later, and the stupid thing just won't die. It's become a contest of wills to see who will kick the bucket first, me or this bloody worn out beat up old Ford.

Oh sure, I've thought about restoring it. But it would need a complete "Overhaulin'" treatment. It's got a rusty quarter panel, the door locks and window cranks are all shot. Hinges, seals, etc. etc. Name a part - it's worn out.

So I'm at the point I have to decide...put money into it, or get something else. And truth be told, it's big enough for one guy, but still...pretty small. That's good for parking in the city, but spending a few weeks out on my buddy's acreage in the desert, or my other buddy's acreage in the mountains starts to make me long for something just a bit bigger. But not much. Just a bit. Okay, fine. I'll check out Craig's List and see what's out there.

Decided right off the bat, nothing over 24'. Period. Less than that, even better. Been checking the CL RV ads once a week or so for about a year because I knew this day was coming.

Then one day a couple weeks ago...lo and behold! A 1972 Superior... I want it. But, crap...it's a project and I don't want a project. But, I want it. Because, well...


Yup. Built by Superior Coach. As in "Body by Superior". As in, SCHOOL BUSES! All steel jig-welded framing, with a steel skin. And the whole works zinc galvanized to last forever. On a Dodge RM-400 chassis (I think. Pretty sure. Anyone knows better, speak up.) It's a frigging TANK. RAMMING SPEED!

Called the guy up, he says it was an out of state vehicle, got impounded and he bought it at auction. He's asking $1300. Hrmm. Interesting, but...not that interesting.

Then a couple weeks later, he drops the price to $1000. So I give him a call and arrange to go check it out, and...

IMG_20171016_114228327.jpg IMG_20171016_114211556_HDR.jpg IMG_20171016_114255378_HDR.jpg IMG_20171016_114235943.jpg

Ugh. Well, it's dirty, that's for sure. But, it's remarkably complete. The only thing missing that I can see, is the generator. Empty compartment with wires and fuel line just sitting there. Also, it's been vandalized. Just a bit. A big of tagging, a broken headlight, and someone drove a knife through the wall of the head a few times. And of course, the upholstery is all fully dry-rotted. There's a few dents here and there, but mostly it's pretty straight. A couple of external hatches bent from being pried open, but so what...it's all steel. Any body and fender shop can straighten it out.

But the thing I noticed most - it's dry as a bone. Like it just got dragged in from 30 years sitting in the desert or something. I can't see any leaks anywhere, except where the two roof vents are broken. Who cares if water got into the head, it's a wet bath anyway.

But again, it's complete. Even has the overhead drop-down bed over the cockpit (apparently missing on quite a few Superiors) and the flip-and-fold dinette arrangement.

I ask if it runs. He says they couldn't get fuel to the carb, thought maybe it was a bad fuel pump, so they disconnected the mechanical pump and temped in an electric. Still no go. But spray some ether in there and it does run. So we did and it did. Ran pretty smooth actually. Got the Dodge/Chrysler "413 Industrial" engine (later version of the "RB" block was bored to make the 426 Wedge and eventually, the 440). The water pump on this thing is amazing. Prolly big enough to irrigate a few acres if need be.

And, it has no brakes. Probably a bad master cylinder. I spent quite a while under there with a flashlight, and it's again, remarkably, clean. Well, not clean, but not rusty. Muffler looks new. Or new when it was parked anyway. I couldn't find any rot or leaks, except the plate under the holding tanks was somewhat corroded (they came with insulated heated holding tanks). Even has the spare up under the back. Couldn't see any signs of brake fluid leaking, so I'm thinking he's probably right - bad master cylinder. But I don't care, I'd have to do all new brakes anyway or I'd never trust it.

Well...crap. It does run, it is complete. It doesn't really need anything I wouldn't do anyway. So I got the auction paperwork and called the DMV. They don't have it in their system, so it's either out of state, or been off the books long enough to disappear. (I don't think it's actually from out of state. It has one of those decals from a quicky lube place in Inglewood, Ca. (too faded to read the date). So I think it has always been a SoCal vehicle.) They quote me approx $120 + tax to reg it, and I'll have to get them or the CHP to verify the VIN.

So...what the hell. I bought it. Bill of Sale says a buck. DMV actually charged me $93 for the reg plus a buck sales tax. Geico applied a bunch of discounts (good driver, Class A commercial, etc.) and I got 6 months of liability only insurance for a grand total of $54. Yes, $54 for the whole six months. They say after it's fixed up, if I provide pics and reciepts so they can value it, they'll be happy to issue a full-coverage policy. NADA thinks it's worth between 8 and 10 grand:


I'll take that with a grain of salt.

They guy says it's okay to leave it where it is. Been there a while already. So this weekend me and a buddy head down there with a trunk full of tools and a DMV temp operating permit to tape in the back window. Here we go...


And there's the image limit (10 per post)...more to come!


Tail-End Charlie
Still going...


Got some shots of the roof my buddy took. But they're all upside down. I'll have to rotate them before I upload them, and I need a break.

But, just one more... :D


BOOYAH! Dunno if that's 38k or 138k, but from the condition, I strongly suspect it hasn't rolled over yet. :D :D :D


Tail-End Charlie
So yea. It has factory cruise control with the control on the turn signal lever. Has a/c (condenser on the roof like a commercial truck). Hell, it even has a complete set of original hubcaps in decent condition. Like I said, complete.

So I pulled the master cylinder. Nasty with a capital NAST. Had to order a new one, no one had rebuilts. $70. Haven't installed it yet. Next weekend.

Inspected the fuel system. I think the tank is 40g. But there's a second fuel gauge on the dash, so there might be a second tank somewhere. Maybe for the generator. Coming out of the top of the main tank is a threaded brass ninety, with a metal fuel line flare fitted to it. The line runs down the frame to just behind the right front wheel, then for some strange reason, there is like a 4" rubber fuel line, then more metal line along the frame to the mechanical fuel pump. That little 4" piece was dry-rotted and cracked all the way through. I couldn't get to it without pulling the wheel, and I didn't bring a big enough jack. So my buddy, who is a bit smaller than me, spent about an hour changing that one little bit of hose with one hand. I owe him. Hooked the mechanical pump up and ran a new fuel line up to the carb (with a new filter in it). Sprayed some ether and cranked it over and within a few seconds, the filter filled up with nasty smelling 30 year old varnish that must have been broken loose by the fresh gas we added. But it started right up. Ran nice and smooth too. But it would only idle. If I tried to goose it a bit, it would starve out and die. Which is just as well, since the carb was dumping about a gallon of gas onto the intake manifold. Shut it down right quick.

By this time, we were ready to call it a day. Went back this morning by myself and pulled the carb. Carter AFB. The secondary butterflies are locked in the closed position. I couldn't budge 'em even with a touch of dead-blow persuasion. Carb shop quoted me 200ish to rebuild it. Dropping it off in the morning before work. Also picked up the new master cylinder from the parts place.

So maybe next weekend, it'll actually be running and have brakes.

We'll see.

And before some wiseguy asks...yes, 4WD is on the table. I'm undecided, but it's already got a leaf-sprung straight axle in the front. I think it's a Dana 70 or 80 in the rear. Drum brakes all around. But I've got a couple years of resto-modding to do before I even consider 4WD.

Damn...another project...

Nice score.....I would give me left nut for something like that here in Oz....
Goin g to follow this rebuild big time .....

Cheers Fugly


Tail-End Charlie
Thanks. I am pretty stoked about it. But meh...projects. Hopefully this'll be the last one. (crosses fingers, knocks on wood, sacrifices a goat)

Whack. The roof pics image previews are all upside down on my computer, but when I open up an image program to rotate them, they are rightside up already. And they seem to upload rightside up here. Friggin Microsoft.



Tail-End Charlie
The TV antenna will be gone. I don't watch TV. Can't decide on Fantastic Fans or just new vents with the galvanized steel lids. Kinda leaning toward the galvanized since the whole damn truck is galvanized. Gotta decide soon though, "Winter is Coming!" and it rains in SoCal in the winter.

Looks like plenty of room for my 300w solar panel. Probably room for a lot more than that. Haven't been on the roof yet - don't trust that rear ladder.

And I'm seriously considering removing the a/c and patching the hole. There's a hatch in the back that is certainly big enough for the external part of a mini-split...might not be deep enough though. From a quick look I took, I think it's maybe 5" or 6" from the hatch to the rear wall of the bedroom.

Things I've read on the net makes me think it has a 40g fresh tank and a 40g combined grey/black tank. Haven't had time to really look it over though so I'm not sure. But I LOVE the macerator on my camper van. I will certainly be adding a macerator at some point. I'm wondering if maybe that toilet is a macerating toilet. There is a fuse in the aux fuse block labeled "toilet".


Tail-End Charlie
Dropped off the carb at Canoga Carb & Fuel Injection Monday morning. Aram is a guy who has been around and doing it for decades. Pretty much all the old timers in the San Fernando Valley know to goto him first. Watching him work is like watching a watchmaker from the old country. Disassembles the carb and soaks it in the cleaning machine overnight, then sitting there with a towel in his lap, he details every part with a Dremel. After putting it back together with whatever it needs, like all new shaft bushings and whatnot, he then he hooks it up on his flow-testing rig and gives it a thorough going through and initial adjustment.

He called me Wednesday and said it was done. I picked it up Thursday morning. $250 out the door. Cash only. Worth every penny. Sure, I could have gotten a new Edelbrock Carter AFB replacement for $450, but this carb is now better than new and fully detailed and dialed in by the master.

(FYI: He also does fuel injection and rebuilds diesel injectors and such. Has the test rigs for those too. Bring him the vehicle, he'll even dial it in for you.)



Installed it:




And it fired right up. Ran nice and smooth. Let it warm up a bit, choke works perfectly, of course. (And all the dash gauges worked as well). Set the idle rpm and adjusted the idle mixture screws. Then chased down a few vacuum leaks. Finally got it running nice and smooth. Vroom vroom a few times. Smoked pretty heavily for about 10 minutes, but eventually stopped. Then it started missing. Badly. I figure I fouled out about half the plugs waiting for the rings to re-seat, but I didn't bring new ignition parts and didn't have time to mess with it anyway. Screw it, it runs...good enough to get it home anyway. Cranked up the idle speed to keep it running.

Set the parking brake (hey, it works!) and put it in gear. Went immediately into reverse, but lagged going into drive. Had to goose the throttle a bit. Okay, it's low on fluid. Left it in gear a while to warm up the tranny, then started adding fluid. Took 2.5 quarts to top it off. But then it was going into gear right snappy. And surprise surprise...nothing leaking and dripping on the ground.

Then it was time to install the new master cylinder. Of course, I bench bled it before installing it, but probably shouldn't have bothered...the lines were bone dry. Did the two man "Down" "Down" "Up" "Up" bleeding thing for a while and was getting no love at all. Finally decided to try the pump pump pump pump and hold, then crack open the bleeder method. After a while, chunks started coming out. Turns out one of the rear and one of the front lines were plugged. Finally got all that crap broke loose and started getting clean fluid. And large air bubbles. Took an hour and a quart of brake fluid, but finally got all four squirting out nice clean fluid with no bubbles.

During that time, also hosed the brake linkage with silicone spray. But the pedal still sticks. Ah well.

But, it was getting a little hot after running for 20 minutes or so. I figured it would, the fan clutch has basically no resistance. I had added a gallon of water before I started it, just so there would be something in there, but figured it wouldn't be nearly enough. So after letting it get a little hot, but not too hot, I shut it down while I did the master cylinder and bled the brakes. It made some chug chug noises from the cooling system as it cooled off. Typical "I can has no waters!" kind of noises. So before starting it back up, I topped off the radiator with water. I left the cap off because...well the gasket on the pressure cap was crumbling into pieces so, meh. Started it back up. Took a lot longer to get hot than the first time, but eventually started to get hot. And then...Old Faithful erupted from the radiator fill. The thermostat finally opened (musta been stuck) and a two foot high stream of steaming rust with water in it blew out the front of the truck. After it dried, it had left about an 8' x 8' red stain in the road. Great googly moogly, that was some of the nastiest radiator crap I've ever seen in more than 40 years of wrenching. But what the hell, not surprising. After it quit erupting, I slowly added water until it stopped belching rusty gunk, and more or less clean water was spilling out. It was still a bit hotter than I'd prefer, but not alarmingly so.

The power steering pump was bone dry. Since I had the front end up on jackstands anyway so I could get to the front bleeders, I topped it off and while letting the engine warm up, ran the steering back and forth to the stops about a dozen times. Worked fine and nothing leaked (at least not immediately, I'll have to let it sit a while and keep checking underneath, but so far, nothing).

Sorry, no pics of all this. Me and my buddy were hot, dirty and sort of under a bit of time pressure. See, I really REALLY wanted to get this thing out of Compton (yes, I bought it off a brother in Compton) before dark. A few of the locals were strolling around and giving us the eye, and I figured if I left it there overnight, the new parts would be gone when I got back. So get it running, and get "Straight Outta Compton". (I grew up in Inglewood, which, along with Compton and Watts is sort of the "tri-cities" area of South Central Los Angeles. I wasn't worried for myself - I was in my hometown - but I sure wasn't going to leave that truck there overnight with new parts in it.)

So we had it running (badly), moving, steering, and stopping. Sweet. Time to drive it home to The Valley. With it missing like it was, the freeway was out of the question (woulda been anyway, I didn't actually trust those brakes). So 27 miles of city streets, through South Central L.A., then through East L.A. (yo, homies! waz up foo?), through Glendale (GPD is known for being intolerant of grubby looking old motorhomes), then through Burbank (BPD is even worse), and finally into The Valley proper.

Time to rock and roll (in this case, quite QUITE literally...the shocks are shot and the thing drives like a tank and rides like a boat).

Stopped to put some gas in the tank. The 5g I dumped in to get it running might have gotten me home, but I wasn't going to count on that. No gas cap...of course. The filler tube leaked a bit...of course. Gas gauge worked. Also squeegeed the front and side windows (ha ha Mr. Gas Station Man, now your squeegee thing is full of mud). Kept wanting to stop in East L.A. Seemed like every taco joint had their outdoor BBQ fired up. Man it smelled good, and I was mucho hungry. But no, this thing ain't stopping.

Well, it stopped, but every time someone cut me off (about once a minute for an hour), I had to stomp the pedal to get it unstuck, then the brakes would grab and yank the thing half a lane to the left. Wahoo! Ride 'em Cowboy!. All the lights worked except the left front headlight that someone had broken out at some point. My buddy followed along in his car with his hazard lights flashing.

Missing like it was, it could get up to 20mph fairly well, but getting from 20 to 30 took a while. Only got over 30 a couple times. Downhill. It was running a little hot, but never quite got into the "I better pull over and shut this sucker down" zone. I had gotten into the habit of shifting into neutral while waiting at lights, and that was working well, but one light in Glendale took a looong time and even in neutral I was watching the temp rise and starting to get a bit concerned, but then the light changed and off we went and it cooled down a bit.

Took an hour, but it made it. Actually, considering how badly the engine was misfiring, it moved along quite well.

The oil pressure went down a bit, but I pulled over and checked it and it was still full. The gas gauge worked. The ammeter worked (and the alternator was working fine). The temp gauge, obviously, worked. The dash lights worked, though I think a couple bulbs are burned out. The high beam switch worked. The wipers worked, but the blades are, of course, dry-rotted. I didn't try the heat...the valve looked pretty crusty so I didn't even mess with it. I turned on the a/c, which blew air, but, of course, didn't get cold. Even the radio worked.

Since I had hooked up a battery to start it, but didn't hook up the split-charge relay (yup, factory installed) or a house battery, I haven't tried any of the RV systems yet. Well, when I was messing around underneath it, I did do a push-pull on the holding tank dump valve. It was open, and I pushed it closed, open and closed again with ease.

I found a brochure for sale on Amazon, for a 1972 Superior 2000 (20', mines a 2200, 22'):

(click to enlarge)


Has some interesting tidbits, but especially, the very last thing at the bottom of the right hand "options" column: "65# permanently installed LP gas container with gauge in driver's compartment (mandatory in California)".

Well my truck has a pretty good sized propane tank between the left frame rail and the driveshaft, with some lines leading to the left side of the truck. So I think I've discovered what the second gas gauge is on the dash. A 5g bottle is a 20 pounder, I guess a 65 pounder would be what? 17g? 18g? I guess I'll find out eventually. :) Gonna need as much as I can carry if I can get that 6cu' (!!) fridge working. At least until I eventually get around to replacing it with a (6cu'!) 12v compressor fridge.

Also, it seems that my truck has damn near every option in that list. I'm thinking the toilet is the recirculating toilet, not the marine toilet (and not a macerating toilet like I thought at first). One of the options that caught my eye - the Thermasan waste destruction system. Same as the old GMC motorhomes had. I have no idea at this point if my truck has that, and I'm not sure if I'd even want it, but I thought it was a GMC only thing, and now I find that Superiors (Dodge chassis) could be had with it as well. Weird.

A guy on Craig's List had one listed for sale a while back for $12,000. In one of his posts he posted a copy of an equipment list that he had. It only listed the 2200 and 2500 models. It said the 2200 came standard with a 318 engine, 413 optional. The 2500 came standard with the 413. The options list above shows the 413 as optional as well.

Next up is a tune up with new plugs, points(?), cap & rotor and plug wires. Might do a new coil at the same time just for the hell of it. Then a trip to the DMV to get the VIN verified and get the plates for it.

And a LOT of cleaning and poking around. And that bloody heavy plywood/fiberglass/carpet doghouse cover is getting some frickin' grab handles...

Then the new roof vents. In keeping with the whole "galvanized antique" motif, I decided to go with the low-profile galvanized vents. Broken too many of the bloody plastic ones anway:

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Tail-End Charlie
Random thoughts...

If it's got a recirc toilet, it probably doesn't have a Thermasan system. Sorta seems like they'd be mutually exclusive to me.

One of the options on the list is, "Auxiliary engine heat water heater". I wonder. I suppose if it has that, then that might explain the megaloads of rust that blew out the radiator fill.

The shower does have the powered vent option, though the fan blade is missing from the little electric motor. Still, there is power run to it so I suppose I might try to add a computer fan to the new vent. There is no mention of a powered vent in the rear bedroom compartment, so there probably isn't any wiring run to it. That kind of sucks, since I'd actually prefer a vent fan in the sleeping compartment instead of the head.

I gotta measure the head compartment. I'm thinking I might be able to just strip the whole thing out, install a normal house type shower pan, like maybe 30" x 48" with 3 wall wraparound, and then put the toilet and a small wet bath corner sink in it. I can fit in there now, but it's pretty tight. Dunno what I'd do for a door though.


Tail-End Charlie

After spending some time this morning staring at it and looking at the underside, I'm revising my milage estimate. The speedo did work when I was driving it, so now I'm thinking it did roll over...at least once.

So for now my working hypothesis is 138k miles before it was parked long enough to disappear from the DMV system (at least 10 years).