Well, I threatened to do it and now it is done.
In May I finally said goodbye to friends in Orlando, loaded my shuttle-van from stem to stern, top to bottom, and headed up my favorite Ocean route for the North Country. It was an unremarkable trip until I reached the last rest area on the Garden State Parkway. Returning to the van from the facilities I noticed that the right front tire was low. Mainly, it was flat on the bottom! I called my tow service, and within a half hour the wrecker arrived. The driver announced that to get the spare tire to descend from under the vehicle he needed access to the rear double doors to reach the pulley mechanism (News to me!) The only problem was that I have a cargo carrier mounted in the trailer hitch, and it was packed with a huge container carrying all my kitchen gear and microwave oven. Lashed atop were two ladders. It all had to come down into the parking lot!
Tire changed, I crossed into New York on the Tappan Zee Bridge on onto rough roadways with potholes like foxholes. Not the best feelings of confidence with a new and untested spare tire. All went well, however, and in Cromwell, Connecticut I stopped for what was left of the night in a Super 8 hotel. In the morning I turned onto I 91 and cranked it up to sixty. Almost immediately I heard and felt a huge clanking from the self-same right frontwheel.
I limped off the expressway onto US 5 and proceeded very slowly, attempting to keep the horrendous noises to a minimum, and through the light Sunday traffic of church-goers until I reached E.Springfield, Massachusetts. There I found the Firestone garage that I’d scoped-out on line. They’re open for business on Sunday, and it was determined that I had burned out a wheel bearing.
They got right to the work but couldn’t get a replacement rotor overnight, so I left it and checked into Howard Johnson’s until Monday. Repairs complete ($600. later) I resumed my journey and arrived at my daughter’s place in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
I’m still there, but looking for a place on the Massachusetts North Shore where I can resume my studio painting.
Reading the post “Repairs 101 Sect. 1 “, who would ever have guessed that my stalling problems were actually caused by a fuel filter that was supposed to be the proper replacement part ?
Somewhere along in the history of this vehicle, something was changed. Probably the type and design of the original carburetor, because the tube sticking out from the photo is a return-to-the-gas tank connection. I had it routed to the steel return line attached to the chassis, and it was just as I remembered it had been on my earlier Dodge Ram van. The carburetor on my RV is not one that has a return feature.
Problem solved! I realized that the engine was calling for way more fuel than was entering the carburetor, since a good volume of gas was going BACKWARDS to the gas tank – in situations such as climbing hills; accelerating to join merging traffic; passing vehicles to quickly get back in line and climbing slow but sustained rises (like the Continental Divide!).
The minute I blocked this return line, and provided the engine with all the petrol it needed to function the way it wanted, my difficulties vanished. I’ve never been bothered since.
You get “T” for trying.
I have always owned older vehicles. The last new car I bought was in 1968. I have never been one to change cars, or RVs simply because they have some age on them. It doesn’t make any sense, unless you are trading up, or have changing needs. Check out those ’50s cars still running in Havana!
It has been easier for me, since I do all my own repairs and maintenance. I had early training in automotive repair, and learned as a teenager that the treatment you give the vehicle directly corresponds to the time it will spend in the repair shop.
Jack-rabbit starts and stops, excessive speed, and strain on the engine in adverse conditions spell an early demise! Frequent oil and filter changes, with Slick 50 or Greased Lightning additive do help.
I have converted a number of buses to motorhomes, and in the last 20 years I have converted vans to Class C motorhomes. I had a ’76 Dodge B250 1/2 ton Ram van that I converted to my plan, and ran it for over ten years with only routine maintenance, and not many serious problems. There were a few, but that will be another posting. This is about analyzing the problem that I experienced on that old ’76, and on a newer (old to most of you,I know) 1986 Dodge 3/4 ton that I converted in 1992- through the present day.
Here’s the situation: You are driving on back roads with plenty of hills; typical New England territory. As you start up a medium gradient rise, the engine begins to stumble. If you keep giving it the gas it will die before reaching the top, so you let up a little so that you just make it up and over the top, where the engine recovers its power, and you head for the next uprise.
On one of the cross-country trips in the current Dodge, I had the same problem on Interstate 10 in west Texas, nearing El Paso, then again in southern New Mexico. It happened whenever I went up a long upgrade as I headed into Tucson. Again, as I drove north from Phoenix, through Casa Grande, toward Needles, California. It seemed like classic fuel starvation. I changed the fuel filter and fuel pump two times. I did complete tune-ups; checked the timing and anything else that could have created these occurences. I even tore down the carburetors for cleaning. Whatever I could think of…..but when I got to that next hill, same problem. Ambient temperature seemed to play a part, too. In cold weather I had next to no trouble! But when the engine was hot, it could be predicted.
On one road trip to the south I became so addled that I stopped twice at repair shops where knowing mechanics looked at the log I kept of the situations and conditions, but no one had a fresh idea. It had happened less frequently with my older Dodge that had the 360 cc engine, but was becoming serious with the newer Dodge that has the 318 cc (5.2 liter) lean-burn engine.
CAN YOU GUESS WHAT THE PROBLEM COULD HAVE BEEN??
I was at wit’s end, broken-down on the road, 200 miles from my intended destination, having installed a new ELECTRIC fuel pump and a new OEM FUEL FILTER with no improvement, when the solution came to me after all my ruminations over the years. EUREKA!
(answer in the next posting under Repairs)
On my way to Florida in November I noticed differential oil leaking out of my axle on the right rear of the RV. A bearing failure for sure! I added more oil and hoped for the best, but it continued to come out past the oil seal, and at Myrtle Beach I knew it wasn’t going to make Orlando. I had to go to get my Saturn (Don’t have a tow hitch on this RV) in Kissimmee,FL and return to do the work on the axle.
I put the RV in a storage facility in Port Royal, South Carolina (Parris Island is here), and was lucky enough to find just the right spot, and just the right PEOPLE who manage the site. Working on the vehicle was not to be a problem…..but the bearing was to be a (Port) Royal pain!! I found that a repair bearing had been installed by the last mechanic.
That means that the bearing and oil seal are made into a single unit, instead of a bearing with a separate seal. This is done when there is wear on the axle shaft, and it is necessary for the bearing to come into contact with a better spot on the axle. Odd, because it didn’t have that many miles on it.
Do you think that that thing would come out normally? Guess again. I tried blind-hole pullers with slide hammers after soaking the area in penetrating oil and “blaster”, but all to no avail. I have done this job on a similar dodge rear end (years ago) and couldn’t believe the trouble I was having. Finally, I decided that it would have to be CUT out. I took my Dremel to it, with about 20 cut-off blades before I got the wrecked bearing and race to come free. Then the oil seal part seemed welded to the axle tube.
It wasn’t going to just “pull” out, either. I kept cutting and grinding until there was nothing left.
Inspecting the axle, I could see that the real problem with the leak HAD BEEN because of excessive wear. I could not put this axle back into the differential! With the car as a life-saver, I perused the salvage yards of Charleston and environs. I could remove an axle from one rear end; if I did the job it would be $75. If their personnel did it: $100.
No- brainer. One yard that was recommended to me was on James Island, near Folly Beach, just south of Charleston. Jack, lets call him, didn’t have the right axle, but said he could get one from his contact in Leland, North Carolina. With the shipping and SC tax, the cost would be $134.38. Jack claimed that was THEIR price, he couldn’t go lower and he would only get 10% as the broker! I ordered the axle from him, gave him a non-refundable deposit, and went off to await his call.
In the meantime I continued to search for the axle on line. I came across a site called
Everdrive, which had the right part….FREE shipping, NO tax, inspected to be “true”, and guaranteed for 3 years with two day delivery! I was sick. (These little losses seem to cut me DEEP! ) This would have cost $109. total!
Now, to answer the cynic’s prayer, is the rest of the story. When I went to James Island to pick up the axle, it seemed like a good one….little wear on the shaft, and generally acceptable. I felt better about paying more, and giving Jack his 10% profit.
Then, on the way back to the RV in Port Royal, I noticed that the INVOICE was still in its envelope on the carton. I opened it and revealed the bill to Jack…..$75. ….. with NO shipping charge, and
NO tax (consumer to pay at the end-sale). His 10%……actually was SIXTY PERCENT! OUCH!
For the past three years I have travelled to New Hampshire to visit with my daughter in Hillsboro. Before that, I visited her in the upper valley of the Connecticut River. It is always a joy to arrive in New Hampshire because the highways are so good! Yesterday I was on Route 9/202 heading toward Concord to attend the Obama acceptance-speech party. There has been construction on that stretch of road for weeks, but as they carry out the paving process, you can see what a superior job this state does to insure a smooth driving surface.
In Massachusetts for instance, the “bed” of the road (that which underlies all the asphalt above) is only HALF the thickness of the Granite State’s. And as is evident today, as you travel the side of the road awaiting the new covering, the pavement is more than a skim-coat that other states try to convince their motorists will suffice. The obvious result is a level or well-banked roadway that lasts through many winters without the typical frost-heaves encountered elsewhere. This road is THICK!
Okay, there are plenty of smaller country roads here that are not in such pristine condition. There is some uneven pavement and stretches of not-well-repaired road. But compare the whole to the BEST of New Jersey and New York…..Yipes! I swear an oath every time i travel across their thoroughfares-masquerading-as- highways, that I will forever avoid subjecting my suspension system to them in the future. But look at a map! It’s not easy getting out of New England going south, without bumping into this barrier of potential break-downs. And cheap gas lives in New Jersey!
With fuel in the stratosphere, I really don’t want to go too far afield of a straight line. Then there are the *&%Z#! tolls! I currently travel in a 21 foot Class C motorhome. There are station wagons longer, and Hummers taller and heavier than some RVs. But when I pull up to the tollbooth at the east end of the Tappan Zee Bridge, the collector proclaims“TWELVE TWENTY-FIVE!” I then look around to select the portion of this bumpy ride I just bought.
The cities of southern New Hampshire cannot claim the distinction I have coveyed upon the state’s roads in general. Salem, that northern suburb of Metheun, MA has the worst stretch of road in the northeast….they’re calling it Route 28. I’m calling it the Oregon Trail without the wagons or the scenery. Go slow, friends; your springs, shocks and tires will thank you!