With RV life coming, we purchased a 1965 Clark Cortez motorhome. Our RV’s renovation story was published in a magazine and I’ve been hired to work there!
Our Cortez’s air intake system was composted of a dilapidated hose, crumbling paper-style air filter, and no heat shield, which meant it was time for fabricating a serious upgrade!
After the price of a starter motor and alternator were deducted from our checking account, we found ourselves forced to buy a new battery. This made me begin to realize the expectations of a vintage RV are that, well, there are no expectations with a vintage RV.
Our Clark Cortez motorhome’s story has had different starts: In 1965 in the frigid state of Michigan, it came off the production line before moving to the sunny state of California. However, our story with this RV begins in 2019 in the all-seasons state of Virginia.
Should we upgrade to discs and calipers — or should we stick to the original drums and restore them? This is the question L and I proposed to each other prior to getting our 1965 Clark Cortez motorhome’s braking system operational. Here’s what you need to know if you are considering the conversion.
With nearly every exterior light not working, we soon found the culprits: Wires were scattered with butt and screw-on connectors while other wires were cut without protection on the ends and therefore frayed ends splayed. Still more wires were leading to, well, unused wires. And all of this was apparently our Cortez’s norm.
Once more our Cortez refuses to fire up, leaving us on the hunt for a matching alternator, only to learn it would be our first Cortez part that did not have an exact match.
Andy and I stood back to look long and hard at our work. Even though it was a small task, this was our first job we could see, our first visual gratification . . .
Sure we could be embarrassed about admitting that we forgot to use our 1965 Clark Cortez’s choke . . . but instead, we are simply happy it means we can ditch the starter fluid and get our motorhome running easily!
It took six days — six long days — to tackle our brakes. It started with our first horror-filled rides in the Cortez then continued to a blend of wrong parts, sawed off brake lines, and angle-grinded exhaust pipes. However, it ended with us finishing the job, which I can say now — There’s no better feeling of accomplishment!
“LET’S DRIVE IT AWAY!” I yelled over the roar of our beast’s engine, pointing straight ahead to an unseen spot in the future where we would be traveling down some backcountry dirt road, following the Milky Way. Andrew honked and honked and honked the horn because OUR CORTEZ STARTED!
It’s our first stop at the Cortez since it was delivered and we learn it has a dead starter and corroded engine wires.
But we expected issues like this — and we will continue to expect this as we work on our fifty-four-year-old motorhome. But hey, we chose this because we don’t want easy. We want different.
After our Cortez had its first inspection by Mechanic Andrew, here is what was uncovered.