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19 Sep 2007

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Tech Archives

Question: I just replaced all the spark plug wires, and I've driven the Clipper just a few hundred miles and the right spark plug wire at the back is already burned up. I'm sure some one else has had this problem. If so, what did you do about it?
Jerry Karnes, ACOC #2984

Answer: Jerry, the Mopar 440 engines have an inherent problem of the four spark plug wires on the right [passenger side] being to close to the extremely hot exhaust manifold. It is almost mandatory that the rear two wires need heat protection and it is advisable to protect the front two wires on that side also. The left bank of cylinders are at least reasonably [if not well] protected. There is at least one and probably other spark plug wire sets available to over come this problem. The one I refer to is the Jacobs Ceramic 2000 wire system. Available at Camper world for $180.00 plus a $57.00 installation fee. I know of one other "do it your self" method which I installed on our Clipper, five years ago. And it has been trouble free since. It amounts to installing ceramic "boots" about five to six inches long, over your spark plugs and spark plug wire. I submitted the "how to" of this project to the Clipper website six or seven months back so it should be available. With this modification, all you need for spark plug wires is any brand of good high temperature spark plug wire set, with straight on rubber plug covers. I am not saying that there is no validity of more voltage retention, etc. as claimed for the Jacobs set. But my modification works perfectly and it cost 1/3 or less money and a little time.
Bob Chaney, ACOC #2626

Question: We just bought our Clipper a few days ago we went on a small trip to the Grand Canyon. All went OK except for some spitting and sputtering. But my first question is: "Is it normal to have the rear door to be sprung. I have seen another one with the whole door frame out of square is this a problem?"
Scott Ashton, ACOC # pending, Fredonia AZ

Scott, welcome to the world of American Clippers and welcome to the ACOC! In order for you to get an answer you will need an ACOC number. Please email me as soon as you have your number. I will add it to your question and possibly one of the senior members will than answer your it. I will withhold any answers till the number is under the question. Also, check the back issues of the American Clipper Newsletter, you might find the answer there. Thanks! - Webmaster.

Question: Does anyone know what the proper vacuum advance unit is for the 1978 440 engine? Every shop I go to lists a different part. Some don't even fit, imagine that!

Also, where are the timing marks on this engine? I've looked in the hole in the bell housing but all I see are the flywheel teeth and the torque converter housing - no marks. I've also looked at the harmonic balancer, but all I see are four grooves at 90 degree intervals.

Thanks in advance (no pun intended), Brendan, ACOC #2959

Answer: Tell Brendan, he may "E" mail me and I'll be happy to explain where the timing marks
are located. Bruce.

Bruce, the idea is that the answer is published on the website so that all American Clipper owners can use the information in case they need it. - Webmaster.

I have just replaced my refrigerator with a new Dometic Classic. I have the operation instructions for two refrigerators: One is a RM 100 and a RM 3600. Don't know if anyone out there needs these, but if you do, please let me know. 
J. Karnes, ACOC #2984

Question: Subject: EGR valve. Does anyone know of any source for new or rebuilt units. I would appreciate any help in locating one.
Thanks, Dean Rinehart, ACOC #3044

Answer: Dean , your question about the availability of EGR valves is well covered in the back news letters. As some of the contact information may be outdated . I will make an effort to categorize it.
News letter #34-7 gives the original Dodge part # for the item.[#3698886] It is generally accepted that Doge no longer supplies the item. But that does not mean that some Dodge dealer does not have one in stock. Particularly a dealer that specializes in Mopar performance equipment. One such dealer is Hershburger Dodge , in Woodburn Oregon. Phone [503] 980-2000. News letter 35-8 gives information on part availability from a company named Economy Smog , located at 14325 S. Halldale , Gardena California. It also includes the phone number[800] 8263566 , which is for the California advisory board for smog related matters, including replacement parts info and exceptions to the smog regulations permitted due to the non availability of parts. News letter # 37-10 gives general info on related subjects.
News letter # 39-7 gives the phone # for a company called H.E.L.P. [800] 894 SMOG. The prices are expensive from this company. But last I heard, they had the part, new and rebuilt. But they may be the
only game left in town. I hope this will help.
Bob Chaney, ACOC #2626

Question: I just bought a 1977 440 American Clipper, Dodge chassis. This is my first RV and learning to get acquainted with my Clipper. The couple from which I bought it from ( in their late 70's )couldn't tell me how to check the transmission fluid. I couldn't find a transmission dip stick. I plan to drive it to Fresno next week and have already bought new tires, packed the wheel bearing and checked the differential, oil change, lubed it, and bought a new battery. How can I check for transmission fluid? I did notice that when I uncovered the motor covering that there was a hole on top of the transmission hull ( the size of the quarter ). Is this unusual? Thanks!
Alfred (A rookie!), ACOC # Pending

Alfred, let me know your ACOC number by email as soon as you get it from the ACOC with your badges, decals and the other goodies that come with a new membership. Did you buy your Clipper off the website? Just Curious. -  Webmaster.

Answer: If your '77 is like mine, you should find at the right rear area of the transmission a couple of wires disappearing into a rubber plug. These are connected to a probe that supposedly monitors the transmission fluid level. If the level is low, a warning that says "TRANS" lights up on the dash below the radio. (I have no idea how this works.) This plug can be pulled out like a dipstick and may have calibration marks on the probe.
Harold Potter, ACOC #0886

Question: How would I know whether or not my '77 21ft 440 ever had a generator or not? Sorry if this seems like a dense question but I am on a motor home learning curve. 
Colleen Jane McGrath, ACOC #3091

Answer: Clippers which were factory equipped with generators had a ventilating grill making up a large portion of the door on the right side (outside) storage compartment. If you have no grill, it's a good bet there never was a generator. But wiring was included for generator installations, whether or not a generator was factory installed. If you peek into the left side door where your power cord is stored you will see a metal outlet box on the left wall. The power cord can be plugged into the jack on this box which is wired into the generator compartment. This makes a future generator installation easier, but of course ventilation of the compartment must be provided to get rid of the heat from the generator engine. Personally, I don't have one and instead use a small portable Honda that is enough to run the lights and furnace. I can't spare the room for a big one...I carry too much stuff in there!
Harold Potter, ACOC #0886

Question: O.K., I told you the check was in the mail... now I am waiting for those newsletters (3 - 4 weeks?...ouch!) I am considering a Dodge Colt as a tow vehicle, has anyone had experience with this vehicle (4wd, ac, automatic) it should be pretty easy to tow......  If other new owners are as anxious as I am you do indeed have a busy job...but waiting 3 - 4 weeks is like a six year old waiting for Christmas.....
Jack Lawson, ACOC #3110

Jack, fortunately I have nothing to do with the American Clipper Journal. Keep at it and by the time you get your Newsletters you will have figured out half of it. Now for the other half you will need the Newsletters. - Webmaster.

Answer: Only the Dodge Colt AWD wagons were towable four on the ground, as they have enough frame metal to bolt a base plate to. OTH, if you are going to tow by a dolly (usually another 700 lbs.), a Colt DL will tow well. In my five years of RVing, I have had two dollies and would not have another. Last November I bought a 1989 Colt DL automatic with hopes to tow behind my Clipper. THEN I found out there was not enough frame metal. So, I closed the barn door after the colt got out. I sold the Colt two months ago for $2,500 and bought a 1990 Subaru Justy 4WD five speed five door that weighs only 1980 lbs and will tow very well. I hope this answers your question.
Sherm Anderson, ACOC # 2669

Question: My last email was supposed to have included an inquiry as to what awning has worked best...maybe someone has a good used one for sale? I learn something new every time I log on to the website; thank you for doing all the work.
Jack, ACOC #3110

Answer: After an intent search in 1996 for an awning to fit the Clipper, I had Camping World install an A & E and have been very pleased with it.
Sherm Anderson, ACOC #2669


Dear Tim (and everybody else), please write your next question in lower case letters. It is a huge job for me to retype everything. I spend between a half and one hour a day maintaining the website (sometimes more) which is OK but I don't need more work! Thanks. - Webmaster.

Answer: Tim, the optional Onan Generator the American Clippers came with in the seventies were 4000 Watt (I have one) and that is plenty to run your air conditioner on and everything else. Yes, you should be able to plug your shore power cord directly into the generator. Yours being portable might mean that it is a bit more quiet than the Onan (which is good because they are rather noisy). I abstain from any advice on the hitch. Maybe another member who has been towing trailers/cars/boats can give some advice on that.
Paul Devlas, ACOC #2905

Question: Has anyone noticed that the rear alternator belt runs very close to the top radiator hose? Mine has a notch scuffed into it and needs replacing. Any ideas on preventing this?
Brendan, ACOC #2959

Question: I am wondering if anyone can help. My Clipper is a 76 Dodge with a 440. My problem is I replaced the control switch for AC and heater, defroster. Now the cable that slides between cold and hot and goes to the hoses won't work. The mechanic told me the can't get a new one and that a guide was broke off. They told me I could raise the hood and move the lever from hot to cold. (Very unhandy.) Help!
Maude, ACOC #3064

You should have the old switch taken out for it is no good as it is. Get the part number off it. Or take it to your local Chrysler, Plymouth, or Dodge Dealer and ask them if they can find a new one. Keep the old part for identification and match it to the new one. If they really can't find one, then I would advise you that there must be some of those switches available from some of the auto junk yards. Take your old part with you. It would be found in any 1975 - 1976 Dodge Van, and the van would not have to have a 440 engine. A used part is better than no part at all.
Mark, ACOC #1077

They say it shouldn't be done! I have been to three different hitch shops, here in Boise, and two installers wouldn't do the work and the third said it would cost at least $1500 to build a low slung frame out and that I would be limited to about 2500# tow weight. I would like to be able to tow a small car, at least my 12' boat. If there is a good solution I would appreciate your assistance.
Jack Lawson, ACOC #: pending

Answer: My 1976 Clipper hitch was adjudged by a U-Haul hitch shop as a Class II hitch four years ago. The technician stated there wasn't enough frame metal to hold a Class III hitch. So, the shop would not rent me a 16' flat trailer on which to tow a 2,600 lb. sedan. 

The main concerns for towing a with the Clipper lie in weight, braking and sway factors. I towed a dolly and a 1993 Mercury Tracer wagon, and later a dolly and 1988 Dodge Aries sedan, a combined weight of 2,800. There are two Internet Newsgroups in which you might post this question for additional feedback from other RVers: alt.rv and rec.outdoors.rv-travel.
Sherm Anderson, ACOC #2669

Question: Looking for a 'harmonic balancer' for a 440 Dodge '78. We just developed a problem at 47,000 miles. My 'good' mechanic is having a problem finding a factory unit. Are there any suggestions? Most of us know Ray and Barb Simrock of San Diego. He sends his best to all and is there if anyone needs his help. At Bakersfield last year I would not of made it home if it wasn't for Ray and his knowledge of our Clippers. I sent my Thermo-quad to him for rework and it has been great ever since. Getting close to 9mpg. Am now looking to add a Jacobs ignition system with ceramic boots. These Clippers sure keep us busy.........
Jim Fontecchio (fun-tek-eo), ACOC #2982

Answer: Call Valley Auto Wrecking of Thatcher, AZ, phone 1-800-824-1465. They had a 1977 Dodge Monaco in their huge wrecking yard, from which I bought a belt tensioner for the dual alternator belts. Perhaps they can help. Ask for Eric.
Sherm Anderson, ACOC #2669


New Owner....HELP!!!...1976 821F 35,900 miles. We have sent our check for $75 to cover membership and for those most important back issues of the ACOC Newsletter... 
1. Where can I get an owners manual for my unit? 
2. If I wanted to tow a small pickup with a shell, boat roof rack, what older model mini-pickup should I be considering? Is U-Haul a good place to have a hitch installed?
3. Where is the flex hose (for dump station) stored?
4. Where is the best "deal" on an awning? 
5. Anyone added an awning to the left side over the dining window?
6. Is it against any law, membership condition or other sacred rule to get rid of the brown and orange motif? ( we \ are thinking green/gray combo)...this unit's interior is completely original but....
7. There has been some water leakage from the roof in the silicon a good choice for sealing around all those things mounted on the roof?
8. The rear door handle is very sloppy are they rebuildable or can I buy a replacement?

If you have a limit on questions please let me know....I may need to buy multiple membership to cover all my inquiries.....

Be sure that I will be reading those issues of the newsletter from cover to cover!
Jack & Linda Lawson

Answers: The check is in the mail: That's what they all say!
Welcome Jack and Linda to the world of American Clippers and the American Clipper Owners Club. I have a few answers for you:
1. There is no owners manual and there never was one. New owners got with their new Clippers a package with all the individual manuals for each appliance. I got them from the former owner when I bought my 1977 Clipper two years ago. It is too much to copy and for that reason I won't offer it to you.
2. Go to a place which specializes in hitches. It should be strong!
3. The dump hose is stored in a square tube at the right rear end under the Clipper running front to back on the outside of the chassis.
6. As far as I am concerned you can do anything you like with your Clipper. I prefer keeping my brown and orange stripes. It is a great view to see 40, 50 Clippers on a rally all with the same colors. Actually, a number of Clippers were made with blue/red and I have seen somebody with dark/light blue stripes. That could have been somebody's own creative input!
7. I am still looking for something that 100% will do the job myself.
8. I installed a deadbolt and use the original lock just for closing the door while driving. I don't have any illusions about the original lock keeping any burglars out in the day or night.

Yes, for these answers you own the ACOC six memberships plus $100 for my time and a soda (or something stronger (coffee) when we meet on a rally. I will write your name down in my little black book and will knock on your Clipper door soon in order to collect ....... Just kidding. Congratulations with you Clipper! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Paul Devlas, ACOC #2905

Let us know your memberships number as soon as you get it. I will add it to your question. Good luck and happy Clippering. - Webmaster.

Question: I discovered that my Dometic fridge in the Clipper doesn't have the 12V coil in order to have the fridge working while driving. I hate having the propane on while on the road, tanking gas etc. What do you think? Is it safe? And is it possible to have a 12V coil installed or is it more like a 12V - 120V converter deal that heats the coil inside the fridge?
Paul Devlas, ACOC #2905

Answer 1: I have always used my refrigerator on propane while traveling. I have never used the 12 volt option, for fear that I would forget to turn it off when I shut off the engine. That will kill your battery in a very short time. I have never heard of anyone installing a 12 volt heating unit into the refer.

I have traveled with the propane on for 16 years. Now I never shut the propane off at the tank anymore. I use to but I wore out the valve until it leaked propane. Now I leave it on all the time and have no leaks. Many people travel with the refer. on propane without any trouble. Remember that the gas tank filler is on the opposite side of the Clipper from the refer so I don't shut the refer off when I refuel either. I have never had a problem with this.

It is safer than having a fuel hose between your fuel pump and carburetor.
Mark, ACOC #1077

Answer 2: Paul, You better get hold of Al Crane at Crane's RV Refrigeration at 25 California Street, Vallejo. 

DO NOT DRIVE with the refer running on propane. That's just plain silly and a big hazard to the continued operation of the entire unit. If necessary, a new (reconditioned refer) is possible. The 12V function is great, and perhaps Al can find you a used unit that will take care of your needs.

There is NOTHING WRONG with running the generator while underway. In fact I have been told by the generator people that it makes more sense to cool the RV using the generator and the big AC than using the vehicle AC. Therefore, if you are running the generator anyway, why not run the refer too. Just be sure you are operating enough appliances to put a load on the generator because running it without load for a long period of time isn't good.
Paul Girard, ACOC #2559

I thought I share with other Clipper owners these two diametrically opposite opinions on running the Clipper fridge on propane while driving. Are there any more opinions about this matter from other ACOC members? - Webmaster.

Answer 3: Only part of the Clippers made were equipped with the 3-way refrigerators with 12 volt capability. There are two '78s, a '79 and my '77 in our family and only mine is a 3-way. I have used mine on 12 volts a few times, but the battery drain is quite high and I doubt the original alternator would be adequate to run it at night with the headlights on. So we run ours on gas while traveling and have had no problems doing so. If it is left on in the 12 volt mode while parked, it will indeed run the coach battery down quite fast, but of course the vehicle battery is isolated from the coach battery when the ignition is turned off, so you can still start the engine.
Harold Potter, ACOC #0886

I guess it is 2 to 1 for running on propane while driving. - Webmaster.


Colleen Jane, please write your text next time in lower case font with only the first letter of a new sentence and names capitalized. Sometimes after a full day work I am simply too tired to retype it all.... - Webmaster.

Question 1: I'm thinking of replacing the bed above the cab. Does anyone have any suggestions, on what to replace with and what size. Is it possible to put a larger mattress there. 
Question 2: I have never read anywhere about what size holding tanks are on the
clipper. Are both the same?
Question 3: Needing to replace my refrigerator, anyone have any ideals?
Jerry Karnes, ACOC #2984 (Georgia)

Question: Hello, I am a proud second generation Clipper owner. I have a 1978 21' Dodge 440 model and the charge sentry on the main electrical panel isn't working. The house battery no longer charges when it is plugged in to a wall outlet or when the engine is running. I believe the converter (from house current to 12 volt) is broken. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get this problem fixed? 
Thanks for any help, John Comunelli

Question: I have recently acquired a 1979 American Clipper and would like to find a source for spare parts and trim details such as stickers. Please would you put me in contact with someone in the San Diego area that may be able to help me. Please also mail me information about the owners club.
David Bass

Answer: David, all the information for the American Clipper Owners Club (ACOC) is on the website. From that page there is a link to a "Membership Application Form". Follow that link, print the form on your printer, fill the it out and mail it to the address on the form with a check of $20 and you will be an ACOC member a few days later. From the ACOC you will receive with your memberships number and badges a "Merchandise Form". This form allows you to buy through the ACOC a wealth of stickers, decals, spare parts, windows, mirrors, hats, t-shirts, trim details and (very important) all back issues of the American Clipper Journal with 1001 ways to improve, repair or modify your Clipper.  This will enable you to enjoy your Clipper even more and allow you to meet other Clipper owners at rallies or, by consulting your memberships list, to locate other Clipper owners in your area and meet them at local ACOC Chapter outings. Here is the link: American Clipper Owners Club. Look forward to seeing you at the next rally (which I believe is in Southern California) Good luck and happy Clippering!

Questions: Cool air duct for 440 Eidelbrock carburetor:
1. I have the Edelbrock carb/air cleaner and am not aware of this cooling duct that has been recently discussed in the tech discussions. I would appreciate it if someone can give me the issue of the clipper newsletter that it is outlined or respond by email as to the details of the cooling duct. How is it installed? What air cleaner is used? Where to purchase and price. etc.
2. Any one have source of good replacement fuel tanks, preferably aluminum?
3. I am now having problems with my frame extension for towing. It is cracking a weld and the rear frame extension and is sagging. I'm afraid I will have to have the whole unit removed and reworked. The set up used was butted up to the tube frame with channel steel. I seems to me that a proper sized steel should have been slid into the tube frame shimmed, welded and gusset plates etc used. Looking for diagrams and good frame weld shops in S.F. bay area. Any ACOC News letters with frame extension diagrams used for towing?
Chris Zahnd, ACOC #2786

Answer: Chris, Carburetor air ducts are in news letters 30-6, 55-7, 24-13 [information], and 24-7& 8 Detail drawings. This information would be applicable to any carburetor. The only difference would be the detail of fitting the air tube to your air cleaner inlet [horn]. For additional important information, see news letters 23-9, 24-7, 24-13, and, 25-6. Also see excerpts, and updates on this information from these newsletters , in recent website entries on the website section of the news letters Gas tank replacement , See News letters 25-6, 44-8, 47-8, 53-10. Also See 49-5 [tank repair], 6-3, 6-4, 25-6, 24-13 [applicable info].

Frame repair and Reinforcement. See 7-4 [basic drawing], 48-12 [detailed drawing] Because these two diagrams have structure tied to [welded] to the shock mounts, and appear to be lacking in lateral [side to side] stability. I would [and did on our coach] Use these as a basic diagram. And improve them , from your own knowledge , or from a welder frame and hitch expert you know of and trust. Also review news letters 4-6, 7-4, 13-6, 14-7, 16-11, 26-8, 33-4, 36-9, 48-7, 48-12, 56-8 and the website sections of recent Newsletters for updated and/or new information.
Bob Chaney, ACOC #2626 

Question: Engine Hood Seal: I am having problems with rainwater leaking through the top edge of the engine hood, causing undue havoc and corrosion mostly from getting the battery wet. On my Clipper, there is no rubber seal or rain gutter of any type around the hood seal. Was there ever one?
Mike Gallik

Question: We are inheriting my dads Clipper, a 77 21ft. How can a C/B antenna put on . He has it on one mirror and it doesn't work well at all. Any ideas? I know the body its a good ground so where else can it go. We are joining your club shortly as soon as we get the clipper. Your web site is great!

Answer 1: Jim asked about CB antenna for his Clipper. The best bet for a replacement is a "through the window" or glass mount antenna. They are available from Radio Shack. Mine is located on the drivers side bunk window on the small section on the left. Follow the mounting directions EXACTLY and you won't have any problems. Just remember it is going to be higher than the roof, so you have to watch it going under low bridges. The solution is published in  the American Clipper Journal which is available to (including the back issues back to 1982) anybody who is a MEMBER of the American Clipper Owners Club (ACOC). 
Paul Girard, ACOC #2559

Answer 2: Jim, regarding your CB antenna inquiry. I am concerned about your statement that "You were familiar with the body, and under stood it was a good ground." The shell is fiber glass and as such it has absolutely no grounding qualities. No offense intended, but perhaps you meant something else? As to relocating your antenna: Many Clippers have them located high on the side of the coach or on the front of the couch above or beside the window. The side location is probably easiest . Because you can come through the outer and inner walls into the upper storage area and easily route your cable. BE VERY CAREFUL TO SEAL IT TIGHTLY IN ORDER TO AVOID ANY LEAKS.
Bob Chaney, ACOC #2626

Question: We just bought a 1978 Clipper with a 440 engine and haven't used it much because we've been dealing with a vapor lock problem. It has a mechanical fuel pump, which we have replaced and that did not help. A mechanic has suggested either an electric fuel pump or rerouting the fuel line or both. Anybody had similar problems and/or solutions?
Mike Gallik

Answer: Mike, your problem with vapor lock has been experienced many times by many motorhome owners with all makes of engines. Briefly, in addition to what your mechanic mentioned: Check/replace the fuel filter(s), make sure your gas cap is properly vented. THEN, JOIN THE ACOC.  Anything that could possibly cause vapor lock has been documented in the back issues of our newsletter "The American Clipper Journal". These are the newsletter issues in which you can find answers to your "Vapor Lock" questions: 1-3, 6-3, 18-8, 24-11, 24-12, 25-14, 27-10, 29-8, 44-5, 52-15 and more under "Electric Fuel Pumps". The answer to everything about your Clipper is available in these American Clipper Journal newsletter. Join Us.
Bob Chaney #2626

Question: Hello, I have a 1977 American Clipper - rear kitchen model. When I remove my drain "cap" to attach the sewer hose, I get a substantial amount of blue (chemically treated) water leakage probably from the kitchen, gray water tank. I asked a local dealer about it and he said they'd probably have to remove the whole drain out system and replace it. I wouldn't miss crawling under to reach the gray water control handle. Probably this problem was covered somewhere in the previous issues, but is there a better alternative to replacing the system? Or is there and after market drain system that will easily adapt to my factory holding tanks? Thanks. 
Dennis & Charlotte Firebaugh, ACOC #1714

Answer: DUMP Valve repair/replacement/ gray tank extension handle. Dump Valves are well documented in back news letters. Someone telling you that the whole system needs replacing is completely unnecessary. Clip JR. still lists repair parts and rebuild kits under TWIST-LOC VALVE PARTS on the Merchandise Order Form. And there is current information on replacement valves in recent website articles. In the newsletters see back issues: 30-16 , 35-15 , 33-4 , 35-15 , 56-11. Under gray tank extension handles see back issues: 5-7, 6-4 , 6-5 , 13-5 31`-8 36-14 40-15. Under holding tanks see 2-3 , 3-5 , 9-5 , 9-7 , 13-9 , 43-6 , 47-8 , 26-13 , 27-7 , 27-12. The condition you describe of "blue chemical running" when you open the cap would most likely be from your black water tank and valve , not the gray water tank unless for some reason you put chemical into your gray water tank. It sounds like you just need to replace the valve seal and the large and small "o" rings.
Bob Chaney #2626

Question: I have a 1977 821F that recently seems to have developed a slow leak that is originating from the top of the gray water tank. Is there any literature available on how to access the top of the tank to see if there is leak in the plumbing where it meets the tank or does the tank need to be removed & how is it removed? Thanks,
David Razavi, ACOC #2854

Question: I have a 1978 Model 821F, Dodge 440. Recently I noticed a small amount of smoke coming from under the grill after parking. The smell was quickly recognized as oil related. Upon removing the doghouse, running until hot, and inspecting I noticed that the smoke was coming from the right (passenger) side of the engine, below the valve cover. I replaced the valve cover gasket as it appeared to be seeping. However, this did not stop the smoking. Because the exhaust manifold obstructs the view of the lower portion of the block, I am unable to see where the oil is leaking from. In fact, I can't even see any oil at all. It would seem that all the oil that is leaking is burning off because there is no oil dripping under the rig. Any advice out there? Thanks.
George Lehman, ACOC #2677

Answer: Valve cover gasket leaks, oil smoke from right exhaust manifold. George, consult your News letters: 6-4, 34-6, 53-11, 56-6 are either outdated, or did not work out. 53-7 is of marginal, if any value. 52-12, 52-13, 58-3 63-4 are current, accurate, and of value, as are repetitions of their content, in more recent website entries.
Bob Chaney, ACOC #2626

Question: We checked out our furnace for our 1st outing this spring, and after replacing the propane hose, everything worked great...blower and heat really working strong. Got to our destination and a cold front came through, so decided to fire up the furnace, only to find cold air. We checked the fuses and saw that one needed replacing. After it was replaced it blew immediately, so tried once more with the same result. We looked for loose wires that might be causing a short, but haven't turned up anything as of yet. Has anyone come across this problem before? Thanks for the help.
Tim & Mary, ACOC #3048

Question: My gas tank leaks on my 1976 Clipper if I fill it past 3/4 full. Has this been a  problem with the Clippers? Does any one have a remedy other than not going past 3/4 full? I was told I might be able to have someone drop the tank and replace the hoses. Any mechanic recommendations?
Thanks, Mitch

If you have a 36 gallon polyethylene tank (the black plastic one) then my guess is you probably have a cracked gas tank, which was/is a relatively common problem for Clippers. It cracks (a very small hairline fracture) right where the hose tank hose spout mold is, due to stress.  Change out the filler hose to be sure it's not the hose. But if the hose was the problem, it would leak at least a little while you're filling the tank before it gets to the 3/4 mark - which is why my guess is you've got a cracked tank - which by the way is what I had. There's a few new ones out there ($600 - $650) or so I'm told. I went to a wrecking yard and found one for $40 it's been working great for over a year. Your other option is to switch to a 55 gallon steel tank, new or used.
Horst Wolf, ACOC #2961

Question: I have just begun a search for my first Clipper and I have the first of many questions. I have noticed that Chevy chassis were only produced in one year. Why is that? Could I go wrong with a Chevy for some reason? I would like to tow a ski boat with a Clipper, will this be a problem? Will a 400 have enough power?  Thanks one and all this is a great web site. 
Future member. Dan

Answer: This an answer to future member Dan. Back in the late 70s Chrysler Corp. got into deep financial trouble, and were ultimately bailed out by the U. S. government to keep this important company from going under. But there were strings attached. Uncle Sam required Chrysler to restructure their product line to eliminate those which were not profitable. They were also required, apparently for air pollution issues, to quit making their "muscle" V-8 engines. The cut-off van chassis used on the Clippers and a host of other motor homes were suddenly taken out of production, forcing Irv Perch and other manufacturers to look elsewhere for their chassis. Irv turned to Chevrolet for the remainder of his production. Economic conditions, along with the threat of skyrocketing gas prices severely depressed the RV industry, and the Clippers went out of production. I can't speak from experience about Chevys, but with my Dodge I tow my 18 foot fiberglass I-O boat over a 5000 foot pass, and if I don't get stuck behind a slow vehicle, it often doesn't even shift down. Just be sure your hitch is beefy enough to handle the tongue weight; join the club, get the wonderful back newsletters and you will find lots of great info on hitches.
Harold, ACOC # 0886

Question: I thought that I had heard or read somewhere that a limited number of motorhomes were made using the "American Clipper" name after Irv Perch sold the business. The reason I ask if this is true is because parked about 2 miles from my house is a rather boxy looking, class A type motorhome with the words "American Clipper by Rexall" plastered across its sides. Could this be one of those ? 
Ernie, ACOC #2891

Answer: Yes, that's one of those! I am not totally sure if Irv sold the name to Rexhall or that the name was up for grabs and Rexhall thought it was a good idea to build its new A class image on the legendary C class American Clippers. They probably thought that sooner or later the C class Clipper would disappear because the Clippers would break down, fall apart etc. Surprise! Twenty odd years later the C class American Clipper is alive and from visiting a couple of American Clipper Owners Club rallies I believe that they probably will last another 20 years....... Maybe longer than the A class American Clipper by Rexhall.......  Anyhow, there is no connection between Rexhall and the original American Clipper made between 1974 and 1980 by Irv Perch and the "American Clipper Corporation" of Morgan Hill, California except for the name.
Paul Devlas, ACOC #2905

This is the information I received from Mark Smith who got the information from Irv Perch himself. 

Mark Smith: "I just read your comment regarding the American Clipper name used on the class A Rexhall. Irv looked at the class A motor home built by Rexhall and thought that it was suitable for use of the American Clipper name and then sold it to them. There were a few people who worked for Irv on the C class American Clipper who are now working at the Rexhall Corporation".

I guess that is the last thing we need to say about the "A" class American Clipper. There is a connection and there is an "A" and a "C" class American Clipper both traveling the American highways as big brother and little (half) brother. You can decide who is the big and who is the little one. For me our C class American Clipper is big in being little and the Rexhall American Clipper is big in being big (?)
Paul Devlas, ACOC #2905

Question: I am looking for the part numbers/ specifications for both the front and rear shocks for a 21' 1976 Clipper (Dodge Sportsman/440). Does anyone know? Thanks!
Doug Kreitz, ACOC #2925

Question: In ACOC Newsletter #27 (27-9) there was mention of being able to get a reprint from Dr. Bob of the installation and instruction sheet for the Holley Carburetor as a replacement for the Carter Thermoquad. Would like to know if this info is still available and from whom (e.g., Dr. Bob or
someone else he may have passed along such technical info)? Since I need to have work on my Thermoquad yet again to deal with an ad hoc carburetor flooding problem resulting in strong gasoline fumes, most notably upon shutting down a hot engine, I'm considering replacing it with a Holley which a number of articles and people all seem to think is a good idea. However, I was a bit taken aback after reading J.T. Childs' (#2555) comments in issue # 52 (52-10) about the installation not being easy. Since the work will be done by a mechanic for me am wondering if I'm getting myself into deep water by switching to Holley? Any thoughts or comments on this topic are welcome.
Paul Lindon, ACOC #1717

Answer: I have the Edlebrock thermoquad replacement carb. EDL-1905 purchased through Summit racing 1-800-230-3030 for $469.95.I have noticed equivalent mpg to the old carb. My motor is rebuilt, using a balanced crank, Edlebrock performance package idle-5,500rpm, manifold, cam, valve springs. Doug Thorley headers, flowmaster exhaust. Chrysler advance spring kit for distributor. I just passed California smog with only a low speed adjustment with no jetting changes. So far I am happy with the Edlebrock carb. I also just had it power tuned to make sure the timing was in the best position. This power tune was done while the R.V. was on a dyno (both rear outside tires removed so it would fit on the dynometer), on a smog sniffer, and a Sun diagnostic machine. The motor put out 125 HP at the rear wheels. Now that 125 HP may not sound like a lot, but according to the motor heads doing the tuning they were impressed for a R.V. This power tune was done at Pacific Automotive in Burlingame, CA. They have been in business for 70 years and are on their 3rd generation running the shop. I did not originally install the carb., but any good mechanic should be able to install the Edlebrock carb EDL-1905. I was told by Summit racing the Edlebrock carb is actually manufactured by Weber.
Chris Zahnd #2786

Question: We have a 6 Cu Ft Dometic Refrigerator, the gas thermostat is broken on it and needs repaired.

Answer 1: Sandy, call "All Seasons", Tel.: 1-800-344-0673. They do the spare parts for Dometic refrigerators. Tell them which model refrigerator you have (probably RM66E or F) and which part is broken (The spare part number for a gas thermostat for a Dometic RM66 is: #289 00 31-03/8 C or D). Give them your credit card number and "voila" in 7 - 10 days you will receive the part home by UPS. Good luck.
Paul Devlas, ACOC #2905

Answer 2: On 6/21/00 Sandy was looking for Dometic refrigerator repairs or parts. Here is a good suggestion for all ACOC members. In Northern California I have found AL CRANE'S RV REFRIGERATION in Vallejo to be absolutely the best Dometic repair station available. They are reasonable and very very thorough in what they do. He can supply you with difficult to find parts for old Dometic refrigerators, or completely rebuild what you have. Buying NEW Dometic parts is very expensive, but Al can find very good used parts. Look them up in the yellow pages or call 1-707-555-1212.
Paul ACOC #2559

Question: NEUTRAL SWITCH CONTROL. Where is the control switch and has anyone changed it? Also the indicator of the gear shift position doesn't show on the steering column. Any suggestions?
Jim Maddalena, ACOC # 0134

Answer 1: Jim, I have indeed replaced the neutral switch. By the way, the switch doubles as the back up light switch. Mine leaked trans fluid. The switch is on the driver's side of the transmission. It has a three wire plug coming out of it. My Dodge dealer had to order it. Be careful removing the wire plug from the switch, as the wires may be hardened from heat and age. When you unscrew the switch, you will lose a quart or more of trans fluid, so have an oil drain pan under there with you. The shift indicator on the dash is a jury-rigged spring deal connected via a cable to a hook that comes out of the steering column. When you move the shifter, the hook moves, pulls on the cable and causes the indicator to move. Remove the lower plastic dash trim piece to gain access and put the little cable back onto the hook. This trim piece is the one that the hood and parking brake release handles poke through. Good Luck!
Eric, ACOC #3021

Answer 2: Jim, the neutral switch or gear shift indicator is pretty simple to fix. There is a spring loaded pointer that is pulled by a string connected to the gear shift. If the string breaks, the pointer will stay over on the left side. If the pointer falls off, like mine did, you won't be able to see any indication. The indicator is available from Dodge.
Brendan, #2959

#3021 and #2959 Thank you for the information on the neutral switch gear and the gear indicator. The information is very helpful and I appreciate the answers.
Jim Maddalena, ACOC #0134

Several people have asked about where they can buy replacement curtains for their Clipper. Ref: Dave Beck, on 5/5/00, and window shades Ref: Sandy Staab on 6/1/00. No one is stocking replacement curtains or shades for Clippers.

For curtains, remove the curtains that you have and use them for a pattern to make new ones, or find someone else that can make them for you. You can find a suitable material at any fabric shop.

For shades there are many options which include using your old shade for a pattern to cut new material to attach to the old rollers, or you might like Venetian blinds and there are many other possibilities available from Sears, Wards etc. or check at your local window covering shop.

Mark, ACOC #1077

Question: How do we find instruction manuals for the '79 Clipper? Please respond to my email address.
Thanks, Nancy

Answer: Nancy, somehow, you don't seem to understand. I am a member of the ACOC: American Clipper Owners Club. In my free time as a non paid volunteer I publish on my own initiative the American Clipper website. This is not a service to which an owner of an American Clipper has any rights. Neither the ACOC or me is going to supply you with a manual for your Clipper. They don't exist and never have. If you are a member of the ACOC you can buy through the ACOC all back issues of the American Clipper Newsletter (published since 1982) with an index for $55 which contain many, maybe all questions there are to ask about problems you can have with a Clipper and those questions are being answered by other members who have had the same or similar problems and who have found on their own initiative an answer. WE ALL HELP EACH OTHER IF WE CAN TO KEEP OUR 20+ YEAR OLD MOTORHOMES RUNNING. There are no responses to individual email addresses. Again this is not a service. A question gets posted on the website and an answer might be given by somebody who knows the answer or possibly nobody will answer your question because they don't like how the question is asked or because the question has been asked so many times that the person who is asking the question should be able to find the answer in the back issues of the Newsletter. I have these recommendations for you:
1. Become a member of the ACOC
2. Buy all back issues WITH INDEX of the Newsletter from the ACOC once you are a member.
3. Come to at least 2 or 3 National Clipper rallies and participate in the technical sessions which are being held at those rallies and visit other Clipper owners when they discuss and show (off) their improvements and modifications they have made on their rigs. In two years you will be a Clipper expert in your own right.
Good luck!
Webmaster American Clipper Website

Question: Where do I get a complete tail-light for the passenger side for a 78 dodge 440 American Clipper as well as other parts new or used?
Kenny Cuddeford

This is exactly the reason why Bob Cornwell   ("Doctor Bob") in 1982 founded the American Clipper Owners Club (ACOC). The ACOC sells to members at cost spare parts such as a complete tail-light for a 1978 American Clipper. Become a member ($20/yr) and with your ACOC membership number you will receive a "merchandise form", which you can use to order a complete tail-light (and many other spare parts)  from "Clip Jr.". Clip Jr. is the ACOC spare part store which appears on the National American Clipper rallies in the form of a small trailer towed behind an American Clipper filled top to bottom with all kind of useful things for American Clipper owners. During the time when there is no rally (the other 49 weekends and during the week) one of the officers of the ACOC takes care of all the (spare part) needs members of the ACOC might have. - Webmaster. 

Question: I found the information on water pumps for the 440 to be great. But it would also be very helpful to know what the original pump part numbers were even though they are no longer available. That way we could identify and know if we had the original or correct hi flow pumps installed. Does anyone have this information? Were they six or eight bladed pumps or was it just a matter of the pump vane shape? The number on the casting of the impeller portion of my pump is 3751827. Does anyone recognize this number or know if it corresponds to what would be the proper pump impeller? 

I got my four-row radiator back from the shop....and will let you all know how much of a difference it made in pulling my relatively heavy boat in the Arizona desert heat just as soon as I have a chance to test. To have the bottom tank expanded and a new four row core installed it ran $350.00. Stelmach radiator in Prescott Valley, Arizona did the work and it has a three-year warranty.

M.D. Morgan, ACOC# 3098

Morgan, the wiring schematic for the 21' American Clipper is available from the ACOC parts store (Clip Jr.) for $5.00. I am sorry, as far as I know it is not part of the back issues of the Newsletter which you bought with your membership. - Webmaster

Question: We have a long-term problem with belts which we have been unable to solve. The belt for the water pump and power steering squeals and even has come off several times. We have heard that there may be an after-market serpentine belt which solves the problem. Does anyone have knowledge or experience with this belt problem or the serpentine belt?
Ted Baker, ACOC #3094

Answer 1: Ted: Look for misalignment of your power steering pump, a bent pump shaft or pulley. If you have a bad water pump you would have heard the noise and probably would have noticed water leaking. Or as is often the case on the 440 in our Clippers: One belt is not enough to run the proper high volume water pump and the proper heavy duty fan clutch and 21 inch (?) fan blade. To do so requires tightening the belt to the point of soon damaging the water pump and/or power steering pump. To loose, and the belt may slip/squeal, wear out fast & jump off. There is a positive, absolute, permanent fix to all the afore mentioned problems. On the website, in the Tips & Hints section, under Replacement Parts Dodge 440, there is an item titled: DUAL PULLEY POWER STEERING PUMP modification. The Pulley part number is FORD # E3UC3DE73CA This is EXACTLY the same pulley as was installed on our 440s that came with a dual pulley. And it is a CURRENTLY AVAILABLE part from any Ford dealer and it is an exact fit for our coaches. More info in News letters 
Bob Chaney, ACOC #2626

Answer 2: Ted, I have not had belts squeal and come off the pulleys. But, I have read back
issues of the newsletters and see that belt stress is a common malady with the 440.
The reason is that there is a single belt running that heavy duty water pump with
large fan, as well as the variable load the power steering pump presents. If you
haven't already, you should check that the PS pulley sheave is in proper alignment
with the others. Also check that your fan clutch is working right. If it is stuck on
all the time, it will cause too high a load on the belt. The fan will also roar
constantly at high engine speeds. In a nut shell though your problem is caused by
one of three things. 1) sheave misalignment 2) excessive load 3) worn or damaged
sheaves or belt ( including tension).

I stopped to help a stranded Clipper on highway 49 back in March. He had a broken
belt! There are two suggested modifications to improve the overall integrity of the
belt driven end of the engine. Both add a second belt to the arrangement via the
unused pulley grooves on the vibration dampener and on the water pump pulley. 

The modification I chose was to buy some readily available Dodge parts and ad an idler. The
mod works fine and will extend belt life. If I were to do it again, I'd have chosen
the other mod even though it requires removing the PS pump to install. The mod is to
switch to a 2 groove pulley on the PS pump (a back newsletter gives a Ford P/n E3UC3
D6 73CA). This would give full belt redundancy on the water and PS pumps. Once could
fail and you'd still be able to drive. Good Luck.

Eric Gibbons, ACOC #3021

Thank you both, Bob and Eric for this excellent information for Ted and all other American Clipper owners. If I had a business I would want these two guys and Mark Smith in my customer service department. - Webmaster.

Many thanks to Bob Chaney (#2626) and Eric Gibbons (#3021) for their helpful responses to our question of belt problems related to water and power steering pumps. You were a great help!
Ted Baker, ACOC # 3094