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|I recently purchased #1008. It was originally bought in Spokane, WA by a wealthy business owner with a quirk about getting the best mileage possible by minimizing weight on all of his vehicles, this included the FMC. Though he put 28k miles on it, he eliminated weight by never putting water in the tanks, thus using it like a tent on wheels. The sinks, toilet, shower and oven have never been used. He removed the double tables and power entry step too. He kept it stored inside his huge shop until his passing and then his step son moved it to a cover storage facility and had it shrink wrapped where it had been for the past 10 years. The tread on the 19.5 Michelin tires is like new, but their sidewalls are cracked from sitting so will be replaced. The brake cylinders also need to be repaired or replaced, driving it home was an adventure. Engine runs well and transmission shifts as it should. The interior is like stepping into a time capsule. Even the original throw pillows are on the barely used couches/beds. Fortunately the blender is still in place too. Nothing has been modified or added, it's just like it was the day it was sold. The exterior is pristine too. The plastic wrapped tables had been located by the step son and placed inside and I was able to buy replacement legs, but the entry step is still missing. If someone has a used one, or a suggestion as what I should buy to replace the missing one, I'd appreciate your help. Thank you, Ron in Idaho|
Location: Victoria, BC. Canada
|Welcome Ron! |
Sounds like a score you made there. Did you find it on Cr. List?
Can't wait to see pics if/when you can post some in the Album/Gallery section.
On the step, if no one here (or try the Fbook forum, too) comes up with a suitable OEM unit they'd sell you, I don't see why you couldn't use a single electric unit from some other mfg. The wiring diagrams in the Parts/Service manuals will be your best friend here.
|Hello Terry, |
Thank you for the reply. I will see what I can find on a replacement step if a member doesn't have an extra they wish to part with. I have a bunch of photos of the FMC that I will submit to this site, some prior to me owning it and many after. I restore mostly vintage vehicles as a hobby. When I obtain a new treasure I generally document its history for future reference and the FMC was no exception. Hopefully I don't bore you with this.
History of the FMC as I know it:
Erwin was an eccentric old guy who lived about 2 miles from us on the river. He was a collector of many things, especially automobile related. He would do anything possible to lighten a vehicle in order to increase fuel efficiency. I obtained 2 VWs from him and both had the rear seats removed so they were lighter. Family said if more than one rode with him in his cars they were sitting on the metal floor in the back. He owned a VW dealership in Spokane and other commercial properties. When he retired and started to sell them he was flooded with money. According to him he "pissed away millions of dollars" on bucket list items and enjoyed every minute of it. He often spoke of how much fun he was having with his money.
In 1976, he decided he wanted the best motorhome money could buy and did his research until he found the FMC 2900R. He was able to buy a fully loaded model through the Vagabond dealer in Spokane. Though he put 28,000 miles on it, in order to save on weight he never put water in the water tanks, never used the oven, toilet, sinks, shower, any of the beds except the twin beds in the very back, no dishes in the cupboards, ashtrays and lighter were never used. Basically he used it as a tent on wheels. He increased the size of the wheels and tires from 17" to aluminum 19.5" with hopes of increasing fuel mileage through its Chrysler 440 engine with torqueflite trans. He babied it. Always parked inside his shop. He showed it to me once 15 years ago. I remembered it being very 70s colors with green and gold interior and wood cabinets. Exterior white with green and gold stripping. He liked it so much that he bought 2 others, both used, one with a Detroit Diesel conversion and another for parts if ever needed. They sat outside, but the one he bought new remained inside.
When he died and then his wife a year later, her 2 sons became the benefactors of both estates. They quickly started selling things and keeping what they wanted. The youngest son kept the FMC. Got it running with new batteries and moved it to a storage yard 10 miles away where he worked as a handyman. This was in September 2011. The day it arrived at storage he parked it under an enclosure and had it shrink wrapped. It was too long to put inside any of the units. In the beginning, because he was an employee he paid reduced storage fees. When he quit the fees increased to $100 a month. This went on for 10 years. The owner of the storage place knew what it was and attempted to buy it several times, but it wasn't for sale.
I knew it was still in the family through the owner’s older brother. A friend was looking for a classic motorhome so I contacted the owner about 5 years ago, maybe longer, but it wasn't for sale. The friend bought something else. Time went on and during a conversation with the brother a year ago I told him I would be interested in the FMC if it ever was available, only because of its rarity and originality.
Last January the owner text me saying he had decided to sell the FMC and I had first right of refusal. His price was reasonable and I agreed to buy it, but I needed to look at it before I could totally commit to the purchase. Because of him this needing to connect drug on for 9 more months while he continued to pay $100 per month storage fees. Finally when his storage fee increased to $135 a month he text to meet at the storage yard on September 5, 2021.
By now I had pretty much blown him and the motor coach off as something not worth bothering with. I went there with the attitude I need to look at it, but likely not going to buy it. He hadn’t been able to find the keys, but fortunately a small window on the driver's door was unlatched so we were able to get in to see what was inside. He hadn't been in there since it was shrink wrapped, so we cut an opening in the plastic covering to access the driver's door. Inside was like stepping into a time capsule from the 1970s. Not one ding anywhere. Not even dust and most importantly no signs of mice. The refrigerator still smelled fresh, shower never used, etc. The only visible dirt was on the carpet where Erwin walked through with dirty and likely greasy shoes from inside the shop. The carpet will need some attention, not worn, just dirty.
The more I looked the more I liked. It has a system that pumps the holding tank contents into the exhaust system where it burns and goes out the tailpipe as you drive down the road. Cupboards are carpeted so dishes won't rattle. AM/FM 8-track. Even has a new motorhome cover still in the box. This was the nicest survivor vehicle of its age that I have ever seen, especially one that was designed to be used and abused. I couldn't resist.
The owner/seller said the brakes pulled a little to one side when he drove it to storage 10 years prior. That may have been then, when checked now there were no brakes. Thinking the gas would be rotten and batteries dead I went there the next day to siphon out the old gas and remove the batteries. Also put some fluid in the dry master cylinder to see if I could get brakes. I siphoned 15 gallons of gas from the tank and realized there was more than twice that amount left in the 60 gallon tank. As the gas was coming out it appeared clear and smelled fresh instead of the usual rotted from vehicles sitting for years. Turned out he had put non ethanol with additives in it. Being under cover and away from sunlight the gas was still perfect, as is the gas tank. I brought the batteries home and both took a charge.
When the employees of the storage place found out the FMC had been sold and I was working on it to drive it out of there, several showed up to see what it looked like. None of them had seen what was under the cover, to them it was like watching someone open their birthday gift. All wanted to take photos and tour the inside. The women were amazed at the 70s colors and condition. The owner of the place said her husband had been trying to buy it for years, but was never for sale. She said he was pretty upset that it was sold to someone else. However; she was happy for me and said so several times.
The fuel filter was plugged so that was replaced and in the process the twisting and pulling on the fuel line caused cracks so it leaked. I brought a friend to help bleed the brakes, which took a quart of fluid. The Michelin tires were new 30 years ago, but now they have dry rot cracks, though the tread is still perfect, they will be replaced. All were still holding air. After priming the carb the engine fired immediately, then died. Once the filter was replace it ran, but had to shut it off again to replace a foot of fuel line. Then it fired right up and idled perfect.
As I was driving it out I stopped at the office to let them know it was leaving and again employees wanted to take photos. The owner called her husband to let him know it was leaving in case he wanted to come see it. He didn't.
Driving home was another life adventure. The storage place is called Hauser Storage located at the intersection of Highway 53 and Hauser Lake Road, on the north side of busy 53. It was 2 in the afternoon and traffic was heavy when I stopped at the intersection with hopes of crossing and then driving east to Pleasant View, south to Seltice, east to Spokane Street and ultimately to my house. The tires bounced due to sitting in one spot for 10 years and likely more than 15 years before that in Erwin’s shop. The somewhat anemic 440 slowly moved me onto 53 and at 35 miles an hour I began the trip to my house.
Traffic was very heavy, but my friend was following behind with my truck. I wish I had had him turn on the 4-way flashers so drivers behind would know there was an issue with the lead vehicle. But I didn't know there would be an issue until I was on the road. Marginal brakes, square tires and wondering front end, likely due to the tires, 40 was my top speed though 35 felt better.
A mile onto Pleasant View and traffic was backed up behind me as far as I could see. By the time I reached the 4 lane portion of the road there were some pretty frustrated drivers. One guy went by laying on his horn. I'm sure he thought it was some old raisin in his motorhome who should be in a rest home instead. Stopping at the traffic light was when I realized the right front brake locked when applied. It skidded to a stop as I fought to keep it in my lane. Scared the hell out of a utility worker standing in an intersection in Post Falls as I approached the stop sign he was near. Riverview Drive was another pied piper event, but ultimately I made it to my driveway.
Over the winter I will rebuild the brake system. The low compression 440 needs some help, but I won’t modify it much other than upgrade its intake manifold and carburetor with hopes of gaining a bit more power and mileage. I want to keep the coach as original as possible.
Location: Cottage Grove, OR
|I enjoyed reading the history! I also remember when the estate sale occurred. A friend of mine sent his brother from California up to Washington to possibly purchase one of the coaches. He ended up buying the diesel powered unit and attended the Ocean Cove, CA rally in it. That coach was subsequently sold to another person in Southern California where I believe it is today.|
Location: Victoria, BC. Canada
|Great account of your experience's with this baby so far, Ron. Thanks for sharing. You can always tell the guys that know how to type. They're not afraid to elaborate on a given subject. |
Wow, a blender AND the factory 8-track! I get why you're leaning to keep it OEM as possible.
Don't be afraid to ask questions here as there's a ton of good people that know a shit-ton about these coaches to offer help here.
Food for thought: since you're going into brake-work soon, be sure to inspect all brake lines & hoses carefully and replace as required. It's also a good time to consider the process of converting to DOT-5 silicone brake fluid. Also, check that you have the correct hydro-vac/master-cylinder combination, too. You can never assume that PO's were vigilant about that, regardless of who actually did the work on their coaches.
Yeah, it's hard not to fall in love with these old girls. It's like a 70's acid-trip charging down the highway.
|Thank you everyone for your input. I'm looking forward to starting on the FMC project, but will have to wait a few weeks longer. Living on acreage in the country in North Idaho, this time of year I'm always doing catch-up before my world turns white and ground freezes. Once those occur I focus on inside projects until spring thaw, with the occasional and sometimes often, snow plowing. I try to restore a car each winter, or at least get a good jump on it. This year I'll start with the FMC, but it shouldn't take long. It's in my unheated large building so the quicker I can finish the sooner I can move to my smaller and heated "project room". I've learned to appreciate winter as a time to relax a bit and play with inside projects. I anticipate picking the brains of many of you as I dive into the FMC. If all goes well we'd like to take it for a run to AZ to visit snowbird neighbors for a week or so in February or March. Time will tell how successful that timeline is. Thank you again. Ron |
|So far I'm not smart enough to download photos of #1008. I'm burning daylight, so will try again later. Ron|
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