1978 Royale Update and Restoration

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Mike_H

Member
Oct 3, 2019
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Grand Rapids, MI
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Hey All

Going to use this and my website (linked in my Sig) to post the progress of my 1978 Royale Twin Bed. Its what Jim Bounds would call a survivor, I believe. Its in very good shape, and was being used right up until we bought it. The house part of the coach is very nice. Its clean and usable right from the word go. My wife has more modern tastes though, so we will be giving the interior a refresh. That is the "update" part of the title.

The restoration part of the title comes in here. The gentleman we bought it from only drove it 75'ish miles to camp at the beginning of summer and 75'ish miles home in the fall for the last few years. I don't think he did anything mechanically to the coach to maintain the drivetrain. When we bought it, we knew it had an exhaust manifold leak and needed tires (they were from 2004). The guy seemed to know his stuff, the rest of the coach was so nice and clean, I assumed the engine would have been maintained as well. It ran good and shame on me for not giving it a better look.

We made a deal (I still feel like I got a good deal) and drove it home. The coolant light started flickering about 6 miles from his house, but it went away when I turned the heat on. I limped it to the highway rest stop about 12 miles from his house. By that time, the coolant light was on solid. I was thinking to myself..."what did I just buy?" I started checking it over, and noticed the overflow bottle was completely empty. So, we let it cool down and I popped the Radiator cap. It was low. I added about a gallon and a half of water to fill both the radiator and the overflow. I asked my wife, who was following behind, "Was it blowing white smoke?" She said it wasn't. Weird. Anyway, we decided to press on. Took the back roads home and made it with no problems. 70 uneventful miles. Steering is much less precise than I'd like, so add that to the list, but she ran down the road with no issues. Brakes feel good, tracks straight, she's quiet, Drives nice.

As far as upgrades done over the years, you can see the Alcoas. Also has a Ragusa entrance step, Ramco Mirrors with blinkers (no power adjustment though), wind wings with screens, a full curtain set for the windshield, new water heater, LCD TV, Stainless Oil cooler lines, 4 wheel disks, New last year ZipDee Awning and a brand new (like within the last 3 months) water heater.

Here is our ol' Lady.
00R0R_atT2Yjrmp4Z_600x450.jpg00b0b_9vEOXhOtR1F_600x450.jpg00j0j_5XVJ7P15mvP_600x450.jpg01010_gyf79F5IAAu_600x450.jpg00i0i_7KPfu820CN0_600x450.jpg00H0H_hsCLX5q8tYs_600x450.jpg00N0N_fwSmZmvo1xY_600x450.jpg
 
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Mike_H

Member
Oct 3, 2019
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Grand Rapids, MI
mikehiler.wixsite.com
First thing we did was schedule an appointment to get some new tires. I elected to have General Grabber Commercial tires put on . Load range E and about 150 bucks a piece. I've had real good luck with Generals in the past on different vehicles, so I'm comfortable they will treat me right. While the shop had the coach, they broke a wheel stud...felt like the lug nut was screwed up. They tried to install a new one, but there isn't enough clearance to slide it in the hub without tearing apart the whole thing. Rather than pay them to do that, I decided I would just install one when I pull it apart for grease.

I also had them pressure test the cooling system. They found a big hole in the radiator. Ok, well add that to the list. I like to know when the last tune-up on my vehicles are and I didn't have any records of when the last one was in this coach, so I ordered plugs (NGK Iridiums), wires, a cap and rotor, PCV valve, Breather Tube elbows, and a thermostat. I started on the tune-up last weekend. My plans changed very quickly once I found this...
IMG_20191011_202819608.jpg


The advance cams and weights were not seized, but they didn't move freely. I'm SURE my timing has been retarded for a long time. I used some Kroil and worked them back and forth for a while and they just did not loosen up. I decided to pronounce it dead and placed a call to Dick Paterson for a new Distributor. Comes with a High output coil and custom advance curve for your gear ratio. Cost 200 bucks, which to me is cheap insurance. 30 dollar core charge for my old one.

I also pulled the radiator. It is currently being re-cored at a local Radiator Shop.
IMG_20191015_185709251.jpg

Since I have access to the front of the engine right now, I'm going to replace the fan clutch (Hayden 2747), water pump (Napa Tru-Flow), and timing chain. I guess they stretch pretty bad on these motors? Something about a plastic Cam gear. Anyway, went with the Cloyes 9-3613x9 True Double Roller Timing set to replace that.

I also have a set of Exhaust manifold gaskets to go on (Mr. Gasket UltraSeal-They are thick and soft). While I was pulling the Oil Cooler lines out of the Radiator, I noticed that the oil was Milky. Not bad, but it didn't look like what Oil is supposed to. SO...I have a set of Head gaskets and Valve cover Gaskets on order too. My next step is going to be pulling the front wheels and wheel liners. Then I'll degrease the engine as much as I can in place. I don't know that I want to get into pulling the subframe or engine...yet. Its a mess under there right now, but I don't know where the oil is leaking from, so I'm not going to go TOO nuts tearing things apart yet.

The maintenance manual says the Transmission has to come out to pull the oil pan...C'mon, really? There has to be a way to sneak that out without pulling the tranny. If not I WILL pull the subframe and just take care of it all at once.
 
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gmc260

Member
Oct 3, 2019
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hi Mike_H, sounds like a worthy candidate you have there. photos not showing here, recommend uploading them directly to the forum from your harddrive or other storage medium.


yes, these engines are the best cam chain stretchers ever! if youre not sure the oil pan is leaking, I would wait until I was sure but yeah, it certainly looks like it wont come all the way off with the transmission in place.

looking forward to seeing all the new developments on another GMC @ gmcmhforum here!
 

Mike_H

Member
Oct 3, 2019
99
10
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42
Grand Rapids, MI
mikehiler.wixsite.com
hi Mike_H, sounds like a worthy candidate you have there. photos not showing here, recommend uploading them directly to the forum from your harddrive or other storage medium.


yes, these engines are the best cam chain stretchers ever! if youre not sure the oil pan is leaking, I would wait until I was sure but yeah, it certainly looks like it wont come all the way off with the transmission in place.

looking forward to seeing all the new developments on another GMC @ gmcmhforum here!
Thanks for the heads-up on the photos. Dropping them in from Google photos is hit or miss. When it works, it's super convenient, because I don't have the added step of downloading to my laptop, (which is my preferred content creation tool).
 
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gmc260

Member
Oct 3, 2019
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I updated my photos to be directly loaded to the sight. Do they work for everyone now?

yeah Mike.. really like the interior layout on the Royals. what is that wire coming from the hood in the 3rd pic? probably temporary but curious. lol
 

Mike_H

Member
Oct 3, 2019
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Grand Rapids, MI
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Its like Tom Petty says, "The waiting is the hardest Part." I've got a pile of parts ready to go, My radiator is back from the shop with a brand new core and still no Distributor. So, What do I do in the meantime. Clean and Paint!

IMG_20191019_230034318.jpgIMG_20191019_230038576_HDR.jpg

Not shown are all the support brackets for the accessory drive, the radiator shell, Water pump, etc. Next step is to get a scraper and scrape as much oil and dirt off the engine as I can. I really have no idea where its leaking oil. It looks like EVERYWHERE right now...



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Those paying attention will notice that this engine has already had a water pump put on. My Radiator guy said its already had a recore as well. I did not see receipts for that work in the substantial pile of documentation that was transferred in the sale, so who knows when that was last done.

Also, I know its not pure, but would one of the Pontiac Blues that Duplicolor makes be a decent match to Oldsmobile Blue? I'd rather NOT pay 20 dollars a can for spray paint like the specialty shops charge. I'd rather buy a quart of "real" paint and spray with my detail gun.
 

gmc260

Member
Oct 3, 2019
151
5
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I use this for engine degreaser and much more, its great stuff but dont use it on polished aluminum.
purplepower.jpeg

I get the two gallon jugs of it locally, its at all the autoparts stores around here.
 

gmc260

Member
Oct 3, 2019
151
5
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I'll have to look for it. I use simple green as my go to, but it doesn't really cut through the heavy, cooked on stuff that I'm encountering on this engine.

purple power will soften the cooked on stuff but it wont fall off without some help. may take a few washes but its much better than simplegreen and its biodegradable too. yeah, give it a try. it also cleans soap scum and smoke stains effortlessly. I pretty much use it for everything except glass and waxed paint (takes wax right off anything too)
 

pvfjr

Active member
Oct 4, 2019
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Aumsville OR
purple power will soften the cooked on stuff but it wont fall off without some help. may take a few washes but its much better than simplegreen and its biodegradable too. yeah, give it a try. it also cleans soap scum and smoke stains effortlessly. I pretty much use it for everything except glass and waxed paint (takes wax right off anything too)
I recommend gloves with Purple Power as well. It's a strong base, and usually makes my skin peel for a few days after exposure. YMMV.
 

gmc260

Member
Oct 3, 2019
151
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haven't had skin peel from it, occasionally when I get grease an grime on my hands that fast orange hand cleaner doesnt remove I wash them with the purple but it does make them feel really slimy and the slime feel doesn't rinse off easy so I wash again with regular dial hand soap afterwards. I dont wear nitrile gloves much when wrenching but I wear them with the purple just to keep from getting that slime feel.

it is strong stuff. havnt had it break down automotive paint finishes but when I had the back hatch off I propped it up on the steel garage door and sprayed it down with purple then brushed and rinsed it off and noticed it weakened the paint on the steel door from the overspray enough that when I rinsed it also, that paint washed off a little so best to test the stuff before using it on just anything. (including skin apparently)

also washed the bath module inside and out with it while I had it out. it came out spotless with very little effort. just spray on and rinse off. love the stuff! rarely use the parts washer anymore except for really oily parts.
 

Matt Colie

Member
Oct 25, 2019
161
19
18
Mike,
Doing the engine things is a good idea. Milky lube oil is definitely a warning of trouble brewing. Not just Olds, but most V pattern engines have coolant leak issues at the front and rear manifold ports. Were I you (I'm not, I have a 455) I would look carefully when you lift the intake. You might also consider going to an electric choke and blocking the heat riser in the intake manifold.
A distributor that rusty has got to need attention. At least disassemble and grease it. That is a OE module in there, don't let anything happen to it. Be sure that the plugs are 0.035~0.040 and don't let them get wider.
If the fan clutch is working, don't replace it with anything else. The fan clutches sold for this now are notably wrong. How wrong depends on the individual part and the day. This has been a long discussion over at GMCnet.
Matt
 

Mike_H

Member
Oct 3, 2019
99
10
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Grand Rapids, MI
mikehiler.wixsite.com
Mike,
Doing the engine things is a good idea. Milky lube oil is definitely a warning of trouble brewing. Not just Olds, but most V pattern engines have coolant leak issues at the front and rear manifold ports. Were I you (I'm not, I have a 455) I would look carefully when you lift the intake. You might also consider going to an electric choke and blocking the heat riser in the intake manifold.
A distributor that rusty has got to need attention. At least disassemble and grease it. That is a OE module in there, don't let anything happen to it. Be sure that the plugs are 0.035~0.040 and don't let them get wider.
If the fan clutch is working, don't replace it with anything else. The fan clutches sold for this now are notably wrong. How wrong depends on the individual part and the day. This has been a long discussion over at GMCnet.
Matt
Matt,

Thanks for the info. I bought a new Distributor from Springfield Ignition. I might keep the old one as a backup, but probably not. I have an electric choke already. I'll have to look into blocking the heat riser. I've seen it mentioned quite a few times but I don't know exactly whats entailed.
 

Mike_H

Member
Oct 3, 2019
99
10
8
42
Grand Rapids, MI
mikehiler.wixsite.com
Got some real work done today on the my engine project. I received my new distributor from Springfield. What a nice piece that is.
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I stabbed the distributor back in my engine, and proceeded to pull the valve covers. No gasket present, just a failed bead of RTV. No wonder my engine is so oily. The rockers and the tops of the valves all look good.

After the valve covers came off, I worked on my exhaust manifolds. I broke one bolt, Driver's Side center. I've heard the center ones are not necessary? I'm planning on pulling the heads though, so I'll worry about that then. I'm also amazed that ANY of my exhaust gasses were making it out the tailpipe. The manifold gaskets were completely failed as were the doughnuts between the downpipes and manifolds. At least my manifolds are not cracked!

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I also started the timing chain project in earnest Today. I didn't want to risk moving the engine with the distributor out and having to set timing from scratch. With the Distributor back in, I could tackle tearing the front of the engine apart. Process went pretty smooth. I used a bottle jack with a block of wood to support the engine while I pulled the front motor mount off. Got the front cover off and realized how lucky I am that I decided to do this now.
1572142685425.png

I cannot believe how loose my timing chain was. It was nearly falling off! If you look at where the link rivets are compared to the tops of the teeth, it HAD to be close to slipping. Surprisingly it had not skipped yet. Both marks lined up just right. Anyway, Got the new Cloyes True double roller timing set installed and put the motor mount back on temporarily. Wife and I are going on a little overnight in Traverse City tomorrow, so it will be a couple days before I get back to it.

1572142949689.png

I should be able to get most of the front end back together before next weekend. Then I'll start tearing the top end down, pull the heads and send em out for a valve job.
 

gmc260

Member
Oct 3, 2019
151
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wow, just as loose if not more than ours was! Ive seen many high mileage V8 timing chains, many with much more than twice the miles that our 455 had but none even close to as much slack. maybe the OEM chains were just sub par?

did you use any of the advance slots on the crank gear or no?

definitely use block off plates, I think D. Patterson sells a kit with pre-cut gaskets too IIRC.
 

Mike_H

Member
Oct 3, 2019
99
10
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42
Grand Rapids, MI
mikehiler.wixsite.com
wow, just as loose if not more than ours was! Ive seen many high mileage V8 timing chains, many with much more than twice the miles that our 455 had but none even close to as much slack. maybe the OEM chains were just sub par?

did you use any of the advance slots on the crank gear or no?

definitely use block off plates, I think D. Patterson sells a kit with pre-cut gaskets too IIRC.
So...I think I already have the block off, if I'm reading the googles right. I circled a rusty plate with two bolt holes in it. Is that it? If I take the heads in to have the valves done, should I have them do it "right?"

1572144607427.png
 

gmc260

Member
Oct 3, 2019
151
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So...I think I already have the block off, if I'm reading the googles right. I circled a rusty plate with two bolt holes in it. Is that it? If I take the heads in to have the valves done, should I have them do it "right?"
possibly and probably since the choke stove port is blocked in that photo. (and you already have an e.choke) but since you have both exhaust manifolds off right now, use an air nozzel and blow through the center exhaust ports on one side and see if the air comes through the other heads center exhaust ports. that should be a good indicator. post # 30 & 31 in my build thread show photos of where they meet the intake manifold and with mondello block of plates installed afterwards.