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Everything posted by BillO

  1. I see that you don't want to drill into the back of the tail lights to add a separate bulb, but that would be my (only) recommendation -- along with a full wiring connection that includes a ground back to the motorhome circuits. I did not review the links that you offered, but every setup that I've looked at involving diodes grounds to the towed vehicle. That, in turn, requires maintaining a decent electrical ground connection back through the tow bar assembly to the MH. Given the grease, grime, road dirt, etc. to which the tow bar assembly is exposed I see that ground as a dubious connection. Adding to my ground concern is the fact that diodes can fail in a short-circuit mode potentially backfeeding into the car's electrical system. With those two concerns, the only light set-ups that I've put in my tow vehicles are completely independent of that vehicles electrical system with the exception of the extra bulb in the tail light housing.
  2. I just switched from Roadmaster to Blue Ox when I bought a new toad. I think that they both make good products but, like foretraveler above, I really didn't like all that hardware of the Roadmaster hanging off the front end of my small car when not towing. Now, the Blue Ox hook up is nearly invisible once I pull the attaching pins. That said, I prefer the Roadmaster tow bar for the sleeker design and slightly simpler operation. If I could have arranged it more expeditiously, I think that I would have bought the Blue Ox base plate and a Roadmaster towbar with Blue Ox ends. Since I have a coach with air brakes and a new car on the M&G fit list (actually a purchase criteria) I will shortly be installing an M&G auxiliary air brake in the new car.
  3. If you know the specific tire that you want -- model, size, load rating, etc. -- you can find the actual item number on the Michelin website. Then, you should be able to call the current FMCA program coordinator to get the base price plus federal excise tax in the program. You will have to add in the local taxes in your location. With that information you can call a couple of local Michelin dealers that participate in the national accounts programs to find out what their prices are balanced and mounted versus what they would charge to balance and mount under the program and add tht to the FMCA prices to compare. At the same time you can query the age of the tires are if they have them in stock. I was fortunate to find a cooperating dealer in my area who also had to order the tires from the nearby Michelin warehouse. As a result, the tires I got were all less than 3 months old. In talking with the dealer during installation I discovered that he couldn't buy the same tire for the price I paid, so I figured I saved at least $100+ per tire. Also, consider asking if they will give you anything for the tires they are removing. In my case the old tires looked good and had plenty of tread so the dealer gave me $80 credit for each which paid for the balancing, mounting and a front end alignment check. The dealer said he could make a few dollars selling them to the gravel haulers.
  4. Why not try the FMCA Magazine classifieds. I often see several of the old '70s era GM's there and those are surely collectibles by now.
  5. I agree with many of the comments above. Points that I've not seen mentioned above: I've been in too many parks where the sites are laid out exactly 90 degrees to the access roads so that you need almost 3 lanes on the access road to turn it in one swing (i.e. without unhooking, and backing to and fro to line up). Consequently, I really appreciate a park in which the sites have been laid out on a bias (like 45 degrees) to the access roads allowing an easy swing-in (both pull-throughs and back-ins). I also appreciate parks that have given some thought to actual utility use for a variety of different rigs. Placing all the utilities in the center of the site seems to me the best compromise (I really don't like those parks in which I need to run 30+ feet of sewer hose, or disconnect the car, move it to the front and back up to reach electric or water because all they expected were 5th wheels). Trees are a good thing for shade, but give some serious thought to how they might be in the way of turning or backing when they grow up. If there is a good RV service business in the area, making arrangements with them to do reasonable on-call service would be beneficial. I can't count the number of times I've seen people get ready to leave a CG and slides wouldn't go in or air build-up right or tires hold pressure, etc. For attracting Northerners (mostly from a male perspective): You might want to see what arrangements that you could make with golf courses/clubs in the area (discounts or day passes at private clubs). Two examples: In Albuquerque, NM the park had tickets for resident rates (significant discount) at the U of NM championship course. At a park in Edinburg, TX they had arranged for a "winter Texan" membership at the adjacent private country club. For evenings a small recreation room with a couple of good pool tables seems to be a pretty good draw. For me (a former Yankee) the neatest park I stayed in had a clays shooting range organized at the far recesses of the RV area within a county park. The layout and machines had been provided by a group of winter visitors from Wisconsin. Not suggesting that you put in something similar, but arranging access to skeet/trap/sporting clay ranges in the area could be a plus. Other things that might be of interest if they exist around the area would be tours/access to a Long Horn cattle ranch (maybe even some buffalo), dude ranch, western dance hall and western wear store as things they're not going to run into back home.
  6. Brett, I finally had the chance to dig out the manuals that I received from the previous owner to check the section on Rockwell axles and cam brakes. In all cases, save one, they list both clay-based and lithium complex greases as acceptable for cam brakes, including the automatic slack adjusters. I'm not sure why, other than historical sequence, but in each section they list the clay-based product first followed by lithium greases and then clay-based synthetics. The one exception is a part, rather than a complete brake. They suggest lubricating the cam shaft spline with a calcium-based grease for it's anti-seize properties. I would assume that the calcium product would be applied during a rebuild. My brakes only have two grease fittings and both areas are identified by Rockwell as the same grease. I can't see how to stage different greases in one of them to get at the spline and the manual has a footnote warning not to mix the calcium grease with other greases. To complicate matters, I finally downloaded the Meritor manual that you had referenced in another thread and looked through that for lube recommendations. For one cam brake they start with "lubricate the automatic slack adjuster with a calcium-based grease". So, while I now have functioning brakes again I'm back to another level of confusion. As a curiosity, how were you able to identify the non-clay grease in that Foretravel? I bought a tube of the clay-based at MHOT and it is the same deep red color as the lithium grease I'm now using on the rest of the chassis fittings.
  7. Wolfe10, This was for my older Vogue Prima Vista which has drum brakes, so it would appear to apply to all air brakes. The MHOT service people were the two Kieths (younger service writer and older mechanic) whom I suspect that you know. I don't know if they are simply extrapolating from Foretravel disk brake experience, but I think that the older Kieth has been around Foretravel and/or MHOT since before disk brakes were invented . I have been tied up with some other work on my coach so haven't gotten to it, but I vaguely remember a mention of clay-based grease in the rockwell axle section of the owner's manuals that I received from the previous owner and plan to revisit that.
  8. I recently had a scary experience with the air brakes on my older (1995) coach. On a fairly heavily traveled Texas secondary road (speed limit 55) I came to a traffic light turning yellow while I was about 300+ feet away. I hit the brakes hard and only decelerated very gradually, coming to a stop with my nose in the intersection just as the light turned red. I cautiously, and very slowly, made my way to a shop that I knew to do HD truck brake work. The mechanic inspected the brakes, but found no obvious problem. He then liberally greased the two lube points (slack adjuster and S cam) with standard chassis grease and sent me on my way. The brakes seemed to work better after that, but still not really well. I found that if I applied them really aggressively a couple of times it improved performance to an almost acceptable level but with some delay and grabbing. I was not really satisfied, so managed to get the coach to Motorhomes of Texas and a mechanic I respected. When I described the problems I was having with the brakes both the service writer and the mechanic had the same response -- "you've been getting lube at truck stops right". The mechanic went on to explain that most truck shops use the same grease (typically a lithium base) for all chassis points, including the air brakes and that's OK for trucks because they're used daily. However, with the more typical coach operating cycle -- run it up hot for a day, or a few, then sit for weeks, or more -- the typical lithium lube with an oil carrier starts to separate and congeal, especially in the fairly intense heat area of the brakes. The mechanics solution was to displace all the lithium type grease with a clay based grease with which they have had good experience. This necessitated a minor adjustment of the brakes for the different lube characteristics. After these steps I went for a test drive with the mechanic and there was a dramatic improvement in braking performance with him driving and I could feel it, as well when I finally drove away from the shop. The mechanic's parting advice was two points: 1. If you get chassis lube with your regular oil changes don't let them touch the brakes, and 2. the brakes do not need a lot of grease so only relube with the clay based product every 2-3 years. I am gradually getting an education in the maintenance and operation of these unique vehicles called motorhomes and pass this on for information and comment.
  9. BillO

    Algae In Fuel

    Many farmers with diesel equipment face the same issues. As a result, I've had good luck finding it at Tractor Supply stores around the country for a reasonable price.
  10. DD69, The NAPA inline filter/drier that I use is a 90-729-2 which is actually sold under their tire hardware line. NAPA specs say it is rated to 125 psi. I think I'm OK since I set the output side of the compressor to 120.
  11. I understand where the OP is coming from. My old coach has an air system that tops out at 110 psi -- exactly what I need for my tires. Trying to bring a tire up to 110 psi with a source of the same pressure is a real pain. I found an inexpensive compressor at Home Depot that goes to 135 psi. It's their house brand -- "Husky" -- and probably made in China. However, at the time it was only $100 and serves the purpose for intermittent use. Like most small compressors it does not have an air drier on it, but NAPA had some inexpensive in-line driers designed for painters that can handle the pressure. That gives me a decent dry air source for topping the tires at CGs with little effort. This particular model is a bit bulky so it takes up more bay space than I'd like and it does require that I bleed some air from the small tank to trigger the compressor start before filling the tires because the low pressure trigger is a little too low. Even with those drawbacks the price/benefit work for me.
  12. I would definitely second the suggestion of Wolfe10. I too looked at Bridgestone when I was shopping in Texas. For the same level of tire I did better with Michelins through the FMCA program. It should be the same for you unless you're also getting a preferential price due to the fire engine connection. I've no experience with Bridgestones to compare ride quality, but can say the Michelins were a dramatic improvement over the Dayton bus tires they replaced. I would confirm tire sizes between the different brands, but I also wouldn't be surprised to find that 275/80 and 295/75 are identical. There is something weird in that particular size (and some others, I suspect) that gets labelled differently depending on some US vs European convention. I also found that there were some decided inconsistencies between tire pressure versus load on different tire ratings in that size. Some companies maintain the same load/pressure curve for both G and H rated tires' while other companies (including Michelin) have separate curves with lower required pressure for the same load on their H rated tires. I started a thread on that inconsistency which you could find in the history of this section, although the results were inconclusive.
  13. I suggest that you probably need to do a little research with Cummins (or other Tiffin owners with comparable power plants) to find out specifically which engine is in that Phaeton and what torque it produces. If you have a specific Phaeton in mind, then a quick call to Cummins with engine model and serial number should give you the torque. You can do the same with your CAT engine at the CAT hotline and compare the two, making allowance for differences in MH weight. The engine makers play so many games that horsepower isn't much of a measure (i.e. smaller displacement and torque at higher RPMs yields the same HP as big displacement/torque at low RPM). They can also rate the same engine in a range of HP without significantly changing the torque. I took a quick look at the Cummins MH page here and see a couple different engines that could be rated at 360 HP with torque between 800 (ISB) and 1050 (ISC) lb-ft. The ISB would be at the high end of HP rating as would the older ISC. The newer ISC8.3 (EPA 2010 rated) would be at the lower end of potential HP rating. I couldn't find a similar page for CAT engines, but a brief internet review suggests that your C-7 CAT is at the high end of HP range and similar to the ISC (the older one I'm guessing). Just by way of illustrating the HP fallacy, my old coach has a CAT 3176 (loosely, the grandad of the C-12) that is also rated at 350 HP, but produces almost 1400 lb-ft of torque. From the stats that I've seen, newer Cummins MH engines need to be in the 450+ HP range to match that torque. That results from the fact that my engine is an older big block at the lower end of potential HP ratings that went up to around 400.
  14. I would tend to agree that $60 just to change the tire is a lot of money. However, if that charge also includes new stems and spin balancing before mounting it's not quite as bad. The other thing that you might ask, or try to negotiate with the dealer is a credit for your old tires. In my case the dealer gave me sufficient credit for the old tires to cover all the stems, balancing and mounting, as well as a front end alignment, but not the taxes. Even though the take-off tires were old and not so safe for an RV they still had plenty of tread and the dealer made an off-hand comment that he could make a little selling them to gravel haulers.
  15. The cord that I referenced above is 6/3; 8/1 SEOOW. Except for the slightly lighter gauge ground wire the difference is in the sheathing. I believe that the "J" stands for some variant of PVC, while the "E" is for this newer TPE plastic which is also billed to be flexible into freezing temps. While I have no real intention of discovering the depth of cold under which the cable will remain flexible , we did have a freeze here a couple nights ago and when I reconnected the water in the morning the cord was plenty flexible.
  16. If it is an HWH jack you can take it off, send it back to them and they will rebuild it for you. I've had to do that with both of my rear jacks and each time the price was less than one-half the cost of a new replacements. HWH is apparently quite proud of their equipment and will only do the rebuild at the factory. Unless they've changed recently they do not let their dealers do rebuilds nor supply any rebuild parts for the DIY types. If you get the model number off the jack they can give you an idea of the rebuild cost with a phone call. The only complaint that I had with their process is they leave you in the dark about when the jack will be finished and returned. One jack was with them for about 3 months and they wouldn't return any calls about its status until they were ready to ship it back. The second one came back in about 1 month. Still, if it's HWH they are the only game around.
  17. It would be a fair diversion from I-10, but the Escapees CG and headquarters in Livingston, TX has a permanent location for weighing each tire position. They do require making an appointment since it 's not staffed full-time and I'm not sure what the situation is for non-members. However, if the trip deviation is worth it to you they can be reached here.
  18. I appreciate the responses. Unfortunately, in the area of Florida where I've been this winter I couldn't find an electrical supply house that would sell anything other than full rolls (250 or 1000 feet) of cable so I continued an extensive internet search for a good solution. The result was a new cable product from the maker of Surge Guard products called the RV FLEX50A . The outer skin and inner wire insulation are made of a newer plastic (TPE) branded seoprene which is flexible at colder temperatures, as well as water and solvent resistant. In addition, while the internal conductors are standard 50 amp 6/3; 8/1 gauge wires, each wire is made up of a dense array of extremely fine copper strands (something like 32 gauge) that are more flexible than normal construction. The 30' version is also considerably lighter than the same length old Marinco power cable (however, to be fair that 20-year-old cable was carrying a lot of extra grime and probably water). The FLEX50A is new enough that it's not yet available from many RV dealers. My normal RV supplier -- Makarios -- didn't have it cataloged in their line either, but since they buy other things from the maker (TRC) they were able to get it drop-shipped to me. After installing a new Marinco coach-end connector I started using it this week. When I left the park early this morning it was in the mid-50's and the new power cord coiled up easier than the water hose. I am pleased with the initial performance, but obviously can't comment on durability. This wraps up my search and hopefully, will help others with the same issue.
  19. My 1995 coach came with a Marinco brand 50 amp power cord -- the yellow style with push-in and twist connector to the coach. I'm not sure if it is the brand of the cord (although some have said that the yellow cords are inherently stiffer) or its age, but any time the temp drops below ~60 degrees F getting the cord back in a storage bay is like alligator wrestling. Others in the same situation don't seem to have nearly the issue that I do. Would anyone offer a recommendation for a replacement cord that is more flexible and with which they have had actual experience? It would be great if a brand name was available -- maybe even a new Marinco cord if someone has also replaced an old one of that brand with good results. I would even get the appropriate size cable from an electric supply house if I could get a decent specification/brand for a truly flexible cable. It doesn't need to be arctic level caliber, but something that is manageable down to ~50 deg F. Thanks in advance for any help offered. Bill
  20. There are a couple of tests that can be done on antifreeze. NAPA and CAT dealers both sell test strip kits that will give you some guidance on the condition of the existing coolant. In addition, many CAT dealers have an S.O.S. lab that will test both oil and antifreeze. Possibly because I use the CAT ELC (long life coolant) the NAPA (Wix) strips didn't give me the same reading that I got from the CAT lab. That said, since the motorhome is new to you and older I would change all the fluids as soon as you get time/money for it. That way you can start your own time line for testing/replacing on a regular basis. When you do the antifreeze consider replacing (or at least evaluating closely) the hoses it runs through (especially those in the engine compartment subject to heat). My coach was a bit older when I bought it and those hoses were pretty darn soft. Also, when the antifreeze is changed have the thermostat (CAT calls it a regulator) replaced as well. CAT's motorhome help line told me that the thermostat should be changed every three years.
  21. Folks, Thanks for the feedback. The last two posts were especially what I was hoping to see. Brett, thanks also for the reference. I can't read it right now because of access speed with my tethered 3G connection. However, as soon as I find a decent WiFi connection I will. I am pretty sure that I do not have a limited slip differential, but will double check before changing the oil. Not knowing what the OEM used originally, I was mostly concerned by the conflicting info from truck shop "experts" (i.e. "don't put synthetic in after regular gear oil" and "don't put regular in after synthetic"). Now it looks like the safe bet is synthetic with the caveat of limited slip differential confirmation. Brett, did you do a second change at 50,000 miles to flush out any remaining old style oil (similar to what Allison recommends when changing to Transynd in their transmissions)? Thanks again, Bill
  22. Maybe my point wasn't clear. I have no idea what to use to fill it and apparently going to wrong way can be bad news.
  23. I have a 1995 Vogue Motor Coach (actually built in 1994) with a Rockwell rear axle. With 145K miles I think that it's well beyond time to drain and change the differential lube, but have been getting conflicting information from truck shop "experts" regarding what lube to use (i.e. regular versus synthetic). One shop tells me that if the oil is non-synthetic then the whole assembly needs to be taken down, cleaned and new synthetic-compatible seals installed to refill with synthetic. Another shop says they regularly drain and refill with synthetic gear oil regardless of what the original lube was, without cleanout or new seals. I can't find any information on what the original gear oil was. Rockwell says they shipped the axle dry and the OEM filled it. The OEM is out of business. Even though I received a complete set of manuals from the original owner they don't mention the differential fill at all. The only point I have is one shop that tells me no one used synthetic gear oil before 1997, for which I have no confirmation. Could anyone shed some light on this for me, either through experience with changing gear oil in the rear end of an older coach or through expertise with gear oils? Thanks in Advance, Bill
  24. New questions, do y'all travel with water in your tank? Full or just 1/2? I'm just thinking about the weight. The books say we have a 100 gallon freshwater tank. I too have a 100 gal fresh water tank and don't consider hauling 800 pounds of excess weight around unless I'm going into a situation (like a rally, or repair shop, etc.) where I know I won't have a water hookup. Traveling alone, I only carry 25-30 gals which is enough for an overnight (or two, or three depending) in Flying Js in between campground hookups. You might want to start out at one-half and then adjust after some dry stops of your own. Also, do people travel with their refrigerator turned on? I suppose that would run off the battery while going down the road and then when we stop we'd switch it to propane.... Lots of debate over this one. The most adamant on one side say turn it off and the insulation will hold it for the day's drive. I'm not sure of that, myself. In my case, with a fairly new reefer the temp will go above 40 in an hour of off time. On the other side are those who say that the propane system was designed to run while underway, so use it. I've moved over to that side too. My reefer runs on propane or AC only. Now, I can run over-the-road using the AC option through my inverter. However, the AC reefer element is listed at 700 watts which means the inverter has to pull about 60 amps DC to make that. That is an awfully big load to put on the alternator (to keep the batteries up) in addition to the other loads that the alternator has to support underway. If you also have a DC option on your reefer that might be viable while driving. Usually, the DC equipment for RVs is more energy conscious and may not need as many watts for temp maintenance, but I've no direct experience with that. If you have the reefer manual, or access to the back plate with specs, you should be able to find the wattage, or current draw, for DC if available.
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