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)