Coachmen Leprechaun

The restoration

 
 
 
 
 
 
Craic Lifer
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Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 05.11.2012  ·  #1
Introducing our 1980 GMC Coachmen Leprechaun! (The restoration Project).

 

This will be a very slow project. I will only be able to work on it on weekends and some evenings, and there may be long gaps in between when life or work gets in the way, so dont expect a quick turn project here! :lol:

My folks gave us the camper as they dont use it any more. They've moved onto other things in their retirement, an the Coachment is in a bit of a state. Rust, the silent killer!.

First task was to get it running... then to get it moved to my home where I could start working on it.

2019 EDIT:
In 2018 we had a server crash on MHCraic which resulted in the loss of photos on this thread and many others. It essentially "made this thread worthless without pics"!! This event happened not so long after photo hosting policy changes on Photofuckit forced me to replace all of the photos on this thread one by one, which was a pita.
So, to avoid another repeat of that, I've decided to create a slideshow on youtube which I will have full control over and have backed up at home. I will update the slideshow every so often as I add more photos to the project library, but for now, you can click on the link below and see most of the photos that were on this original blog that I started in November of 2012... You're more than welcome to read through the pages of this thread, but there won't be any supporting photo's so a lot of the story may not make sense... If you jump to the end of this thread, you may see a continuation of the blog with photos of the more recent work done.

Bear in mind, this is a very slow burn project so you will probably find I'm still working on it years and years (and years) later... :lol: :lol:

Here's the youtube link, I hope you enjoy it:
:-)
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Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 05.11.2012  ·  #2
Introducing the main jet!! about 2mm diameter bore on this jet, and there's two of them!!! This is not an economical engine... here's why. :lol:



The next sad realisation was the fuel in the tank. The tank was practically FULL of petrol, but having sat there for 6-7 years, all of the forum experts were telling me it was likely to be gone off at this stage. Sure enough, as the forum pros predicted, it had very bad smell (turpentine) and was dark yellow in colour. Luckily the camper has an aftermarket 12v fuel pump so it was easy enough to pump the bad fuel out of the tank. All 90 litres of it :'( .

So a few weekends later it was time to have a go.

With a clean carb re-installed, a few gallons of fresh petrol in the tank... and a prayer to Padre Pio, I turned the key....
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Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 05.11.2012  ·  #3
It fired up strong after a couple of seconds!!! It sounded a bit rough at first, but after a short while it settled down and was firing on all 8. What a treat!!

This moment of joy was brief however... after a few minutes some very loud screeching started coming from the front of the engine. I traced it down to the "smog pump". California regulations from the 1980's forced manufacturers to fit various devices to reduce smog & emissions on engines running on diesel and leaded fuels. On our petrol engine there are literally dozens of pipes, tubes and widgets scattered all over the engine. An untidy mess. The "smog pump" that pumps air into the exhaust manifolds was seized up. Some web browsing of GMC/Chevy forums gave me some insight about the emissions stuff and a popular mod for older vehicles is to remove all of the smog crap!! The 80's emissions equipment was not very effective to begin with so removing it from our +30 year old camper would not be too detrimental to planet earth. O-)

Yay for that, I can handle low budget fixes! Pump removed and a new shorter belt fitted... :-) I'll clear away all of the pipes and stuff later when the time comes to clean up the engine...

So I changed the engine oil and oil filter and fitted a new air filter before starting it up again.

It started on the button and sounded sweet as a nut. First big milestone out of the way!! Yay...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESie1PUKzQg

It still needs a bit of tuning, but I'm very happy with the result so far!

Next milestone is to shift it into Drive (automatic) and see what happens....
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Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 05.11.2012  ·  #4
It moves...



Remember, this camper hasn't moved in years so this IS a remarkable moment. One I won't forget in quite a while. It even had a lot of neighbours out to see this yoke finally moving under its own power.

Chunks of rust were falling at an alarming rate and it shook a bit from the big ol V8 rumbling away, BUT IT MOVED and that's all that mattered to me... lol

This brought us to the next problem... Brakes. Well lack of brakes actually...

No brakes at all, pedal dropping straight to the floor...

This is as far as she's going until the brakes are sorted...
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 05.11.2012  ·  #5
Great post, look forward to further updates.

Love Cork! Visited Timoleague every year for the last 18 at harvest festival time while the kids were growing up.

Always stay at Con and Margaret Sextons, Got egged this year on a wild camp at Dunwhorly. Who would have thought it!!

Black Ash park and ride is an excellent facility and the staff are really friendly.

Any way best of luck with the project.

Davy

Wow that was quick, even while I typed this you have the second epistle posted.
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Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 05.11.2012  ·  #6
Fixing the brakes isn't very photogenic, so I didn't take many photos of the rebuild. I had to replace about 40% of the corroded steel brake lines to get a leak free system. I also had to buy a proportinal brake balancer from the US. Import it all the way from california was ironically the cheapest option, beating the "specialist suppliers" in the UK even... Where would we be without ebay, amazon and the internet in general eh?

Brake balancer -


I stripped the front calipers, replaced banjo bolts, copper washers & bleed nipples, de-rusted the discs and front suspension assembly and put it all back together. I will replace the remaining 60% of the metal brake lines before I can consider them safe. I'll also replace the rubber brake lines for peace of mind.

At this point I want to tip my hat to the gent who owned the camper prior to my folks. George was his name. He had the foresight to coat the chassis in some sort of underseal. On the surface 20 years later, it looked like shit and the underside of the camper was a bit alarming at first, but after tearing back the grey underseal and chunks of grease and dirt, it revealed a relatively well protected chassis!! Score for underseal!. I will eventually tear off all of the old flaky stuff and re seal the chassis and under carriage as soon as we get to that stage...



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Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 05.11.2012  ·  #7
So at this point we now have brakes. Not great stopping power quite yet, but enough to get to the next milestone.

Up to now, every weekend was spent 40 miles from home at my folks place by the sea. Mainly working on the camper and getting it mobile. Not a bad thing really as we got to spend a few nice weekends there towards the end of the summer. A lot of scrubbing and cleaning on the camper initially to get it habitable, but eventually we did manage to have a few easy days and just got to enjoy it :D.

The main plan was to move it to our home in North Cork where I have proper tools and facilities to get on with the major work. We had no intention of driving it on road at this stage. The plan was to move it safely under its own power from where it was parked all those years, to a position where we could safely load it onto a transporter.

Besides, the transmission fluid had a strawberry milkshake texture which isn't right, so water must have gotten into the transmission at some point. The fluid should be a clear ruby red colour... Water mixed with trans fluid isn't good for an automatic transmission so a rebuild is certainly on the cards...

Anyway, enough of that... The big day arrives...


I highly recommend this transport company - SOS 24 hour recovery. http://www.sos24hrrecovery.ie/
Sean is the owners name (086) 3230790 and he's based in North Cork, near Blarney. Very good rates and a previous motorhomer himself. An all round nice guy.



On the road!


Passing through the Jack Lynch tunnel in Cork...
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Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 05.11.2012  ·  #8
The shelter.

I plan on doing this refurb work in all weather all seasons. My workshop is too small to accomodate the camper so I need to build a pair of shelters that'd keep the cold & wind off the cab.

This is the cheapest temporary solution I could come up with with the materials to hand.




And wrapped in heavy duty poly-tunnel sheeting.


It works fine. Not great at keeping torrential rain out as I've left a 2 inch gap all round to prevent condensation issues. But it does the job. I may need to improve the waterproofing on it at a later date but for now its keeping my work space comfortable.

I work for a LED lighting company so lighting up the workspace will not be a problem! ;-)
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Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 05.11.2012  ·  #9
The tear-down begins.

Lets just say the sheer volume of rust was.... impressive.









My original plan was to rebuild the cab by fabricating repair panels from flat steel. But it soon became apparent that this would not be practical.
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 05.11.2012  ·  #10
Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 06.11.2012  ·  #11
I was told our camper wouldn't pass the MOT with the american format "all red" flashing tail lights for indicators so I started to browse for an alternative. Needing to bring the taillights up to EU spec.

I didn't want to add auxiliary yellow flashing lamps to the back of the camper so I started to search the interweb for replacement amber lenses. It turns out these were available at one time but the manufacturer apparently stopped making them years ago...

After months of searching, I eventually found a guy selling NOS (new old stock) in the UK!! I couldn't believe my luck and bought a pair immediately...

The original packaging was a bit tatty but the lenses were in prefect conodition and fitted the camper like a glove! I'll have to re-wire the rear lamps to accommodate these at a later stage...

Old lamps:

New amber lamps:



One step closer...
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 07.11.2012  ·  #12
Hi mate, fantastic blog, keep it up :up: I love the old girl, well done and don"t worry about too many pics. of carburetors ! :D
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Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 14.11.2012  ·  #13
We managed to remove the windscreen on Saturday evening which was a big relief. I've seen a lot of chatter on the US van forums about how difficult it is to get replacement screens for these old vans in the US. You can imagine how hard it'd be to get one here in europe for reasonable money if I broke it...

The plan now was to cut away as much of the cab as possible and then remove the engine & transmission. The search for a replacement cab now underway.



At least it'll be easy lifting out the lump and slushbox!
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 18.11.2012  ·  #14
Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 19.11.2012  ·  #15
ditto keep it coming :up:
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Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 20.11.2012  ·  #16
I'll be looking for a very good rust inhibitor once I have the remedial metalwork done.

I've heard some very good reports about http://www.rustbullet.ie/

Have any of you used it?
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 20.11.2012  ·  #17
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 22.11.2012  ·  #18
Love this thread... Fair play for taking this on :up:

I have used rust bullet and found it great. It pricey, difficult enough to get and can be messy to work with but all a small price to pay for decent rust proofing.

Keep the pics coming :D
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Posted: 23.11.2012  ·  #19
Excellent! I have to admire your skill and patience with something this this. I would not have the capability (or tools) to even think about taking on a project of this nature. :up:
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 21.12.2012  ·  #20
Pics !! We need pics :D
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Craic Lifer
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Posted: 22.12.2012  ·  #21
Quote by Swanner

Pics !! We need pics :D


And I need progress!!! :lol:

I only finished up at work yesterday and nursing a motherfu*ker of a hangover this morning, but I will resume normal updates shortly my friend.
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Posted: 30.12.2012  ·  #22
Kevin what a fantastic post. What a project. Cant wait for the next installment.
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 30.12.2012  ·  #23
Blag what a heart you have. Full marks to you for attempting such a massive task. You certainly are a gifted guy with your hands and your head. Keep at it.
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Posted: 31.12.2012  ·  #24
Quote by jacktherev
Blag what a heart you have. Full marks to you for attempting such a massive task. You certainly are a gifted guy with your hands and your head. Keep at it.


Well said, and I fully agree.
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 03.01.2013  ·  #25
Craic Lifer
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 03.01.2013  ·  #26
Quote by Ally

I looked at the first and thought WOW!! you have been busy. It shows how much you still have to do.


Aye Ally,

Lots to do.... Thank God I'm not under any deadlines... :D
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 03.01.2013  ·  #27
Wow.... I salute you sir, keep up the good work. :up:
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 03.01.2013  ·  #28
Have to admit I am very interested in watching this brilliant project unfold as well . A totally magnificent job so far . No doubt be a state of the art restoration when completed. I,ll keep watching and encouraging you with compliments on photos etc. :up:
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Posted: 07.01.2013  ·  #29
It is nice to see that some more work is being carried out on the Coachman, last time it was the engine from photographs. Be sure to let Deborah have the first drive in it when complete. Also hope Andrew is busy helping out.
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Posted: 10.01.2013  ·  #30
Looks great. really can't wait to see the finished project out and about.

Cheers for the pics. Keep em coming :up:
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Posted: 12.01.2013  ·  #31
Hi, Blag, I think it is fantastic that you have taken this large project on; well done.
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Posted: 12.01.2013  ·  #32
what a major project
really looking forward to all your updates

if that was my van i would have taken a wheel nut to a dealer and asked him to fit a motorhome to it !!!!!!! lol
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 23.02.2013  ·  #33
Well its about time we had a little update to this thread...

I've been doing some electrical work inside in the van. Michelinman has very generously sponsored me with a solar panel and regulator which was an incredible morale boost!
(Thanks again Will! :D ).



http://www.rossdowneyleisureservices.co.uk


I've been reviewing the 12v leisure system in the camper with the intention of upgrading it and of course incorporating the solar panel :D . Having had a very good look at the system, I just don't like the american wire connections. Most of the electrical connections in the camper are made with these US style "wire nuts". I found a couple of them corroded and one burned out, and so I decided to go through the whole 12v system where I can and replace the wires and connections.

Wire nuts -



:ninja:

As for the Plan B:
I spent weeks trolling the internet and making phonecalls looking for a donor Chevy van. I came across several in the UK that looked very good but the pain of having to get the ferry over and drive several hundred miles to collect them was a bit off putting, so my search was focussed in Ireland.
Well to cut a long story short, a fellow chevy vanner, Mike (Shaggy) who is also refurbishing his van Helga, was also looking out for a donor van to cut parts from, so we joined forces in our search. Mike eventually found a van in a scrapyard over in Carlow. I didn't go up to have a look at the donor van myself, I trusted Mike with the task of checking the parts I needed were there and were in good order. After looking it over, he reported back that there was little to no rust on the van, what a treat!





A pic of Shaggy's van in Mondello (before he restored it):
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Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

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Posted: 23.02.2013  ·  #34
The good old Shaggy mobile, it's a cool Cobra what with the perspex engine cover and all. Good luck with the transplanting Kevin
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Posted: 24.02.2013  ·  #35
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Posted: 24.02.2013  ·  #36
:D :up:
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Posted: 25.02.2013  ·  #37
wow that's some project to undertake well done you just hooked another follower to this thread best of luck the the remaining work. hope to see the pic's when all up and running

Patsy
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Posted: 15.03.2013  ·  #38
Hi ,Any updates on progress with the rebuild.Really love to see more snaps, Cool :up:
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Posted: 06.05.2013  ·  #39
Quote by cool

Hi, Any updates on progress with the rebuild. Really love to see more snaps, Cool :up:


Sorry all... I guess an update is well over-due on this one! :lol:

Burning both ends of the candle took its toll and I wound up strained between workload, family and the camper project. Well... the camper fell down the ranks of priorities so I stood back from it for a while. To compound that, I had some health issues which had me out of action for 4-5 weeks.. (out of work for 3 of them). This was a bit of a set back, but as they say, health & family come first...

Anyway, health now restored and I'm back to working on the camper!

So, what am I up to now you might ask???

Underseal removal. :cense:

Any of you that have worked on classic cars know EXACTLY what I talk about when I say it's a hateful job. I have about 200 square feet of underseal to peel back!! :'(
This involves days and days (and days) of laying on my back under the camper - chipping, stripping, wire brushing, cleaning & painting... hateful, 😠

I've been at it now for a week or so and I AM getting there and it's starting to look a hell of a lot better, but progress is very slow.

The joys of restoring classic vehicles eh... All good fun.

It'll be worth it. :D

I'm still waiting on the donor van to come my way but hopefully it'll be at my disposal soon... :devil:
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Craic Lifer
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Location: Tipperary
Posts: 5472
Registered: 02 / 2012
My Motorhome: Knaus Sport Ti 700 UFB Silverline
Base Vehicle: Renault Master 150 dci Quickshift
Subject:

Re: Coachmen Leprechaun

 · 
Posted: 06.05.2013  ·  #40
Great to see the project back on track, Kevin. Could you not have sandblasted the undercarrage and saved yourself a lot of work? Looking forward to more updates.
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