Thread: FC Mods
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Old 04-03-2019
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TerryF TerryF is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Round Lake Beach
Posts: 150
Default FC Mods

Ok, first I should apologize for not posting about these mods and my experience with them sooner, but better late than never eh??? Also, I apologize for no pics, they will be forth coming.

So I bought my SB/FC a couple of years ago from a fellow in Yorkville IL. it has the double sofa layout, one of which is a foldout. The good news is that it was in decent shape and mostly original and unmolested, the bad news is that it was mostly original and unmolested.

So it had none of the mods done, which was fine by me because at least they weren't done wrong and I could do them to a level of quality that was of my own choosing.

Here are my projects more or less in order:

Swing out radiator mod:

What a giant pain in the ***! I am so happy that this will never be necessary again. Unfortunately I used angle iron and hinge sleeves that were just barely up to the task so I'll probably redo this part of the project with something more substantial when I tackle the steering pump replacement (more on this later) but at least it works for now.

Replacing the water heater:

I chose to replace the original with the original and I was impressed with robustness of the unit. Honest to God it's built like a brick s-house. Along with this I had failing valves and the twist dial cable setup was only just barely functioning. So I went with electric valves which complicated the process somewhat. But really the big difficulty is finding a way to comfortably get the job done. Even though there is a ton of easy access, and everything is open more or less, it's just so back-breaking to sit Indian style and reach down 12" passed your ankles. I know I'm not the first one to mention this unique aspect but it bares repeating. It just looks so much easier than it turns out to be and you should expect a sore back. I just never found a comfortable way to work in this area and wound up just suffering through it.


I had Mike H. re-gear the rear from the 4.89 to 4.11 (not cheap) which then led to a leak from the bearing seals on the drivers side which Mike graciously fixed for free (Thanks Mike) The difference is an appreciable reduction in acceleration and climbing ability but nothing that wasn't expected. Here's the up side, 2,000 rpm is now a respectable highway speed and one that nets an absolutely insane increase in MPG (genuinely mind boggling) and the ability to run at 75MPH if you so choose, and you can run 80-85 down hill if you don't mind 3,000RPM and the possibility that a rod might exit the block and enter your body at any moment. The big girl does get very smooth and directionally stable at speed though, so there's that.

Bathroom tile:

I found a good deal of the plywood was rotted so I replaced it all. But it turns out that it was not the culprit that I expected. Not the shower or the sink nor was it the toilet which I initially suspected. Nope the rot was coming from the Kitchen under the wall and seeping in to the bathroom (more on that later). White octagon with Blue Bird blue random accent tiles. Eh, I think it looks good and it's now absolutely stable and water proof.

Rebuilding the kitchen cabinets:

This was rotted almost completely through in places. Mainly the back of the upper cabinets. Fairly straight forward tear out, rebuild and replacement. Here's what I found. There is an angle iron which helps to spread the load against the inside of the steel wall here and it supports the back of the upper cabinets. But it also makes a niffy path for the water which (I think) enters from the refrigerator vent, to access the back of the upper cabinets and then run down behind the microwave like a little spigot and saturate the area under the kitchen gas furnace which nestles up against the bathroom wall. The water simply wicks into the bathroom from under the wall.

Reducing the dinette and expanding the aisle:

I hadn't read this one on WOG anywhere, i just couldn't stand it anymore. I was getting really annoyed by the narrow space between the dinette benches, table and the other side of the aisle. So I cut them down to the size of the bases underneath the branches. This is only a gain of 6" or so but it makes all the difference in the world for livability. Of course I gave up some bench space and I have a smaller table now but I also gained a more open and easy to enter/exit dinette and most importantly a dinette that doesn't intrude so annoyingly into the aisle way.

Raising the bedroom door frame:

I'm 6' 4" so I got a little sick of skinning the top of my head on the bedroom door traveler. This is a no-brainer, it took maybe 30 minutes and raised the door frame 3-5 inches. What you will wind up with if you raise it up to the maximum, is a cut down sliver of the wood above the slider track and it will just wind up being a spacer for the track so that the track is level and just touching the ceiling on the one side. In my case I took it up as far as was possible, until it just touched, you might chose a lower version. It will raise the bottom of the door of course, so you'll have to take that into account if it's a concern for you, it wasn't for me. The bleeding and cursing was much more of a concern for me.

Power steering filter/synthetic fluid:

Makes a BIG, BIG difference, unfortunately my lines leak like a sieve and got the belt and pulley all soaked in power steering oil. So it still slips and squeals. It'll do for now but I think a new pump and pulley is in the near future. Not being able to steer when you spin around a corner and you're facing oncoming traffic is a bit of an ***-clencher eh?

Caster angle:

I did try to do this myself but I screwed with it for a couple of hours and wound up snapping my 1" drive socket wrench. So off it went to the local Mack dealer. I did have to talk them into working on it but in the end they made the adjustment for me and charged me $380. I think that's a bit high but this was their first time doing it, so it might be cheaper for the next guy or gal eh? CIT trucks in Grayslake IL. Alex is the shop foreman and their phone number is 844-223-6665. Even though $380 was a bit steep it was worth every penny to me. It's night and day how much better it goes down the road and the steering feel is so much improved it's like driving a different truck. A truck that doesn't require constant, incessant corrections and one that doesn't feel like an anxiety ridden chore to drive. It's now almost a two finger affair but there is a bit more reaction to grooves and the road surface, not necessarily in a bad way, it's just something that you feel a bit more but it's also more controlled, slowed down and predictable. Well worth it at almost any price.

You also might want to ask Mike H. about these things he's just up the road, around about Milwaukee and knows these things inside and out.

Whew, that's a lot! I guess I shouldn't wait so long to post eh?

Terry Frazer
Round Lake Beach, Illinois
1983 FC SB
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