A Running List After Our First Inspection



Andrew reminds me often that he is not a mechanic.

He says he is “only an engineer” — as if his paid career is trivial.  However, the definition of the word ‘engineer’ means someone who designs, builds, and maintains things . . . and ‘things’ are what I’m asking him to complete at home.

Yet, he retorts back that he is not a carpenter or plumber or exterminator or even my doctor.

He is lying though.  I say this because he built me the most sturdy eight-foot tall bookcase, a four-foot tall picture frame containing a massive world map that he mounted, and an eight-foot tall cat tree for our kitten — just to name a few; he’s also repaired our sinks, toilet, and shower when they were spewing water in places and ways that they were not supposed to spew; he’s killed so many bugs that I’m convinced the world is a brighter place; and he’s advised me steady and true on more health matters than I can (or should) write.

I’ve backdated this post so I’m writing it three weeks into owning our Cortez and here, Andrew and I have already hopped in and out of our Cortez many times . . .


We have replaced wires and pipes and fitted a new starter motor, brake cylinders, and brake shoes — those brake aspects, by the way, required angle grinding the exhaust due to it obstructing the jacking point so sparks (read: flames and fire) cascaded down Andy’s chest.

Essentially what I’m saying is he is my hero.

And he’s my mechanic, despite what he or anyone else says because when it comes to Andrew, I’m of the firm belief that if he simply puts his mind to it, he can do it.  I mean heck, he’s proven that so far.

Before we get into all that Andrew has done and taught me on our Cortez, I wanted to start at the beginning with — what we call — our motorhome’s first inspection.

When I told my mom the Cortez had its first inspection, she was confused.  “How did you get it to a mechanic?” she asked, knowing at the time the brakes didn’t work.

“No, mama,” I told her.  “Andrew looked it over.”

The was a pause.  “Saying a ‘first inspection’ makes it sound as if a mechanic did it.”

Well a mechanic did, everyone.  His name is Andrew.

Therefore, below is the running list of what Mechanic Andrew uncovered in our first inspection.

Full Exterior Inspection

“Let’s start on the outside,” I told Andy, directing him with a pen before posing it over the first few pages of our notebook dedicated to all Cortez notes, scribbles, facts and thoughts.

“The main thing is rust — especially on the front,” Andy said, rubbing his hands along our Cortez’s paint-chipped areas that now appeared to bleed a brownish-red. “At some stage, it’s had a bit of a bump here,” he continued, rotating his smoothed palm into a fist before repeatedly hitting the largest rusted area. There, a massive dent stretched along the vehicle’s passenger side corner.

I walked closer to investigate and realized “a bit of a bump” was code for “a significant crash” due to the fact that the thick steel appeared to be caving in as if it were flimsy foil. About half-an-inch-thick body filler was then spread over the vehicle’s front passenger’s side in hopes of masking the collision.

We would soon find the rear passenger’s corner this way as well, except here cracking filler and paint spread to resemble spiderwebs.

While we knew about both of these damaged areas based on our seller’s pictures, it was troubling none-the-less. Rust and Body panel damage and Paint — I jotted as my pen’s speed steadily increased with Andy’s observations.

He continued, reminding me to note our driving issues, such as large problems involving our Cortez’s engine not starting and the faulty front driver’s side brake — that second one we knew about before our purchase, too. Then there were smaller problems, like the cracks in the front grill, and other problems that needed further investigation, such as missing headlights and corroded wires or bulb units.

This grill, Andy opened too because we were now the proud owners of a strong Chrysler 360 V8; the factory engine is a less powerful inline-6. Thrilled with the replacement engine, we both smiled and returned to our inspection. Taking to the glass, there was a crack — from top to bottom — in both our driver’s side windshield and side glass.

The wiper blades were missing and one side mirror did not have support brackets.

My pen slicked over the page, shorthand now as Andy pointed out more: Every door and every window had seal problems — whether the seals were brittle, gapping, and/or disintegrating or missing seals entirely. Our fuel hose did not meet the filler neck. All chrome needed polishing.

Bending to his knees then placing his hands in the grass, Andy dipped to peer at the underside of our Cortez. This is where he noticed one solid wood panel — stretching the full length of our vehicle.

“Is that normal?” I asked with wide eyes as flashes of the Flintstones’s car popped in my mind. Our Cortez suddenly seemed not only rudimentary but scary and strange. We are still uncertain as to whether this is how all Clark Cortezes were built or if we have one very massive problem.

“Eh, this isn’t good,” I heard Andy say only to see him pulling on a super thing wire that was wrapped around our exhaust in an effort to hold it up. “That’s really not good.”

It was clear Cortez needed much exterior work to say the least, but there was one positive — We have new tires and even a new spare. This glimmer of happiness made us smile then, even laugh, as we celebrated the small positives seen.

Moving inside, our inspection continued. Pushing in the passenger door handle button, Andy proceeded to pull and tug against the door until — slowly and barely convinced — it opened.

Passenger’s side door (entrance), I wrote on the next line. This would soon be updated to include both passenger and driver’s side door exits as we were unable to leave our Cortez through these doors once inside. Thankfully though, we were saved by our rear door, which allowed us to enter and exit with ease.

Full Interior Inspection

Once in, Andrew combed over all with a careful eye. He started at the back where we entered and pulled open the mini bathroom trifold door. Inside, we were intrigued and pleased to discover a wetroom, which meant it should be watertight. The image of the outdated bathroom though — with its retro gold and white splatter-design walls and yellowed toilet — made us both gasp in hilarity.

There were larger concerns than the decade misplacement though — Vents were either cracked or missing entirely overhead.

Closing the bathroom door and opening others — the closet, cabinets, more — we walked forward, glancing up to find sunlight streaming in through places it should not due to cracked or missing roof vent covers. Not only this, but the ceiling itself cracked and sagged in places. We would also discover that our insulation was water-logged and far from serving a purpose.

In the cockpit, there was an additional engine cover, no doubt crafted to fit our larger replacement engine.

This makeshift big wooden box was filled with insulation, now smooshed and dirty in color. Below that, the original metal cover lay, unscrewed with two very rough holes sawed through to fit the intake pipework.

Moving further into the cockpit, Andy slid into the driver’s seat only to find it unsteady and wobbling under his weight.

Driver’s side seat brackets, I wrote in our notebook.

“Be sure to mention the fuel gauge being faulty and possibly other gauges,” Andy added as he tapped the faces of the other gauges.

Without power though, we were unable to test many electrical aspects; however, we did learn later that our heater and air conditioner was faulty, along with our interior lights. Other than that — which was a great deal — the inside appeared to be in decent condition.

Exhausted but ready for a hard course of future work, I sat down in the passenger bench seat. I have to admit, too, the burlap driver and passenger seats — with their dark brown and tan woven fabric — are my favorite part of the Cortez and I find myself owing and awing over them every time.

Andy’s most-loved part is the vintage steering wheel that is thin and large with an offset horn on a metal bar.

These two parts — and even the entire cockpit — seem to be the essence of the Cortez and we feel its soul, its heartbeat through them.

“How’d we do?” Andy asked, wanting to glance at the notebook as words of solar panels, electrical system update, water system and hoses update fell from his lips.

In the end, we know our list will continue to grow as we work on our motorhome. We also know this will be an uphill climb at times — but our Cortez feels inspiring. We are living our dream and this is the first time in life that I have been in the exact place that I want to be.

* * * *

To see and hear more on our first inspection, visit our YouTube video: IT’S HERE! First Inspection and RV Tour of Our Vintage 1965 Clark Cortez Motorhome.

Also, for more specifics on our overhaul, visit the above links for the full posts.  Along with this, we have information on what has been completed and what will be completed on An Overview on Progress for Our Cortez Overhaul.

Lastly, stay up-to-date by subscribing and following our YouTube and Instagram accounts.  Both will be updated continuously.

Again, thanks for your support — We feel like we are in this crazy adventure together so you give us another reason to smile!

Author: L

Hi there! I am the impulsive do-er, the jumper, the one tugging to move past comfort zones to embrace a life of sheer surprise. I am a writer -- a pursuer of stories -- because I believe in the destination over the journey. I am a chaser of sunrises and sunsets and cherisher of the moments between. I have an overwhelming curiosity, an insatiable desire travel, and an obsessive yearn to turn dreams into realities. For all of these reasons, the word that best summarizes who I am is "seeker" -- I am forever a seeker.

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