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richard5933

Broke down in Davenport - power steering line sprung a leak.

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Just sharing a little travel joy we had yesterday...

Driving to Davenport for their big downtown street festival and about 10 miles from the exit we suddenly smelled a strong burned oil smell. No smoke, no electrical problems indicated on dash.

Got to the end of the exit and realized that the power steering was not there. Strong armed to a wide shoulder, expecting to find oil sprayed all over the engine bay from a blown hose. Nothing. Checked the front axle and steering box - no sign of a leak.

Start to add fluid to the reservoir, hoping to get enough in so I can get to a safer place, and smoke starts to fill the bus. Ran around and shut off all the batteries. Called the fire department. Smoke cleared before they came. I restarted the bus while they were there just in case, and things looked ok.

Strong armed the bus to Interstate Power Systems in Davenport. Their 2nd shift tech was able to open up the access panel after dropping the main air tank. Ended up being a near catastrophe... The main 2-0 battery cable going to feed the front of the bus crosses under the copper line for the power steering. The insulation had worn through, and when it came into contact with the copper line it became an arc welder, carving a half-moon hole in the copper line. Oil sprayed everywhere in the HVAC unit, some of it instantly vaporized and some turned to soot.

The good news is that the problem was found, the mess was contained, and hopefully after a few cases of electronics cleaner is sprayed the relays and a/c controls should be ok.

Shop is going to repair the copper line Monday and splice a new battery cable to replace the damaged piece.

I consider this a manufacturing defect. That battery cable was not properly fastened and shielded from rubbing. We came close to losing the bus, as that cable carries the full 270 amps from the alternator. If the short had been a bit more solid instead of glancing, the whole bus would be ashes now.

My second time in Iowa. Second bus disaster there. Second time leaving in a rental car. Last bus trip in Iowa for us.

 

 

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Wow, that really could have been much worse! Glad it ended up being not so serious, more of a nuisance.

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Nuisance would be a kinder phrase than I've been using.

Anyone know a good way to get the oily slightly smoky smell out of the upholstery and drspes? It's not horrible, but it will need attention once I get it back home next week.

Obviously anything washable is going in the machine. Any removable cushions or drapes will start with a day in the sun.

Maybe a few cans of industrial strength odor eliminator. The oil remnants in the HVAC unit are going to be the biggest problem in the end. That old oil has a particular smell that's hard to get rid of.

I'm going to try and add a layer of charcoal filter media to the HVAC main filter to see if it helps.
 

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The smell is something akin to the oil used to protect military gear going into long-term storage. Anyone that's handled surplus military electronics or gear will be familiar.

I'm guessing that the oil in the power steering system was 40+ years old. It smelled like it at least after being scorched.

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Servpro uses a machine like Joe described, this may be cheaper than renting a machine, especially since you can drive the bus to them.

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4 hours ago, richard5933 said:

 

I consider this a manufacturing defect. That battery cable was not properly fastened and shielded from rubbing. We came close to losing the bus, as that cable carries the full 270 amps from the alternator. If the short had been a bit more solid instead of glancing, the whole bus would be ashes now.

 

 

Your bus is a 1974 and 45 years old so I think it's out of warranty and the factory would consider it normal wear and tear for two items that happens to touch.  Sorry to hear about your breakdown.  I came close to same with a sudden fuel leak about 5 year ago.   The high pressure line on engine was recalled and not performed.  

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2 hours ago, huffypuff said:

Your bus is a 1974 and 45 years old so I think it's out of warranty and the factory would consider it normal wear and tear for two items that happens to touch.  Sorry to hear about your breakdown.  I came close to same with a sudden fuel leak about 5 year ago.   The high pressure line on engine was recalled and not performed.  

Out of warranty? Can't be! It's hardly broken in.

What I meant was that they missed this cable/hydraulic line crossing - every other has reinforcement material wrapped around the cable, but not this one. Would have prevented this.

 

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2 hours ago, richard5933 said:

Out of warranty? Can't be! It's hardly broken in.

:lol:

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Richard, Sure glad it was not worse  !!!  You mentioned that the service center was going to make a splice in the main 12 volt power feed. 

You might want to add some heavy duty shrink tubing over the entire length of the  splice.

Rich.

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13 hours ago, richard5933 said:

Nuisance would be a kinder phrase than I've been using.

Anyone know a good way to get the oily slightly smoky smell out of the upholstery and drspes? It's not horrible, but it will need attention once I get it back home next week.

Obviously anything washable is going in the machine. Any removable cushions or drapes will start with a day in the sun.

Maybe a few cans of industrial strength odor eliminator. The oil remnants in the HVAC unit are going to be the biggest problem in the end. That old oil has a particular smell that's hard to get rid of.

I'm going to try and add a layer of charcoal filter media to the HVAC main filter to see if it helps.
 

Odo-ban -   https://odoban.com/products/odor-eliminators/

Is what crime scene cleanup crews used back when I was an EMT to eliminate odors. You may either buy ready-to-use spray bottles or buy a gallon of concentrate to mix yourself.

Clean the air conditioner evaporator and condensor coils with regular spray coil cleaner, it is just an extra strong industrial cleaner in foam form,, that washes away with a hose, carrying dirt and oil out too.

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9 hours ago, richard5933 said:

Out of warranty? Can't be! It's hardly broken in.

What I meant was that they missed this cable/hydraulic line crossing - every other has reinforcement material wrapped around the cable, but not this one. Would have prevented this.

 

Hindsight is always 20 20 and quite a few people must of been under there and saw it but thought nothing about it in the last 45 years.  I know many places had service my coach and never noticed the positive cable rubbing the back wall when the battery tray is shoved in.  Yes I put a piece of heater hose around that cable.   I prevented one problem but as luck is for me will have another problem will pop up without leaving my driveway.  

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Nice to know, your still with us!  IMHO, I would replace the PS line & whole cable...I just don't trust splices & welds on something that has bit me!

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1 hour ago, manholt said:

Nice to know, your still with us!  IMHO, I would replace the PS line & whole cable...I just don't trust splices & welds on something that has bit me!

Thanks. Normally I'd replace them as well, at least back to the last union or existing junction. Problem here is that they are not accessible all way back to with out taking apart quite a lot of other things. Everything taken apart is a new potential problem.

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Lots of great suggestions for the cleaning end of this operation. I've started getting a chemical arsenal in place to tackle all the different surfaces and areas of the coach. One still eludes me. Any suggestions on how to clean the ducts which are built into the walls of the coach and which serve the over-the-road HVAC system? These would be the ducts that feed all the vents along the length of the coach and which exit under all the windows.

My suspicion is that there was a fine mist of oil vapors blown at least partially through this system. I'm not thinking much is in there, but just a little of the oil vapors could present a smell problem for some time. No way to run a duct cleaner through them like you'd do in a household system, so I'm looking for something aerosol which can be blown into the intake and which might help neutralize or breakdown things.

So far all I've seen is scented products, and all they'd do is add another layer of stink to the situation. I'm hoping that someone is familiar with a product that will be of some use here. My plan is to thoroughly clean the HVAC cabinet and internals first, and then bring the blowers back online once the controls are tested and shown to be working properly. And by controls, I mean a mechanical thermostat and a bank of mechanical relays. No PC boards involved here.

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I removed those ducts from my bus while doing the conversion, mine was nothing more than a thin sheet of micarta, with half inch spacers to keep the correct distance from the aluminum sheet metal that covers the studs and insulation. I used a custom made stainless steel channel to cover the piping through the floor and then used decorative venting next to the floor. You may be able to use some type of soft bristle brush with a long thin handle to scrub yours. Just a thought, by the way I thought there might have been some type of honeycomb between mine, but there wasn't, just empty space with those standoff's that I described.

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Richard, I wouldn't care to guess what would remove oil spray/mist from your vent piping, that sounds like a puzzle to me. If it's on anything porous it will soak into the material. In that instance dissipation time, coupled with hot moving air, would be your friend.

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Picked up the coach today from the shop. They were able to repair the battery cable and get it wrapped and anchored down for safety. They did replace a piece of the copper tubing used as hydraulic line for the power steering.

I'm not really happy with the result though - the original copper was type K, and they used type L to make the repair. In all, they replaced about 3 feet of copper with the type L tube, which has a thinner sidewall and lower operating pressure rating than the type K. They installed the new piece from a flared connection to just past the break in the line, and they brazed the new & old together where they joined.  Apparently rather than researching the copper line, they just sent a guy to the box store to buy a stick of residential plumbing copper.

The brazed connection seems somewhat sloppy to me as well, and in general I'm not sure that this was their best work. I understand that this type of repair is not their typical repair, but it still should have been done correctly. This brazing job looks like something a middle school shop class student did.

Tomorrow I'm planning to stop by the Milwaukee area location for the company, which is much larger and has some of the admin staff and a front office. Hopefully they will take steps to make it right and redo the repair using the proper materials. Odds are they'd rather redo it in their shop now than have it blow while I'm on the highway. Both for the safety factor as well as for the expense of having to deal with things once they've blown apart.

I'll let you all know how it goes.

IMG952623.jpg

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Richard, that connection doesn't look like brazing to me, but rather looks like soldering; and yes appears to be a sloppy job.

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14 minutes ago, RayIN said:

Richard, that connection doesn't look like brazing to me, but rather looks like soldering; and yes appears to be a sloppy job.

I think you're correct. They called it brazing, but I remember something about silver solder as well in the conversation. Somehow I suspect he was learning about copper hydraulic lines while working on mine. Today I spoke to my usual service advisor in the Milwaukee location, and he's going to run it up the totem pole to higher levels for me. Hopefully they'll make it right and install the proper materials and do a better job.

I was able to get the stink mostly out of the interior today - used a good deodorizer mixed with upholstery cleaner in my green machine and did all the built-in upholstery. The removable pieces I took outside, sprayed with the odor neutralizer, and set them in the sun for a few hours. Carpet was cleaned, and things are getting back to normal. I think that after running the ozone machine tomorrow things inside should be good to go.

All that's left that smells is the HVAC unit itself. Oil was sprayed into every nook and cranny, and without pulling the entire unit there is no good way to get it cleaned thoroughly. In time I'm hoping that either the oil will dry out some or drip away. Oddly, it doesn't smell while running the HVAC unit. It only has a smell when the unit is off and the coach is closed up. The ceiling fan pulls air out the roof, and the air inlet is through the HVAC system.

Tomorrow I'm going to explore putting a sheet of activated charcoal filter media across all the air intakes inside the coach, since they are the air inlets when the HVAC unit is not running. Maybe that will help.

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 Richard, What it looks like to me is who ever did the repair was using rosin core solder. The repair may hold but it doesn't look professional.

The technician should have used Sil Foss.  A lot of time Sil Foss is called Silver Solder. Sil Foss is a brazing alloy to be used when joining Copper to Copper without flux. However both parts should be cleaned. It come in several varieties 0%, 5%, 10% & 15% Silver. The different amounts of Silver depends on the gap or joint to be Brazed together. 

Herman

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They mentioned something about silver solder. Like I said, looks like a middle school shop student did the work though. Showed the picture to my regular service advisor and am waiting for their advice.

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Update on the repair progress with a few pictures. The first photo is the hole that was cut into the OEM copper when the battery cable insulation wore through. Nothing like a couple hundred amps arcing against a piece of copper carrying high-pressure oil to make a mess.

The second photo is the new repair, where the tech installed the correct gauge copper tubing.

Third photo is the repair that was done in Davenport. Quite obvious that the guy there didn't quite get the work done in a way I would consider professional - looks to me like he overheated the copper and generally made of mess of things, not to mention that he used a lighter gauge of copper than required.

All that's left is for them to double check for leaks, double check that the system is bled completely, and then road test. I'm planning to pick up the bus tomorrow.

Only concern right now is that the tech mentioned that he found some minor metal particles on the magnetic drain plug on the high-pressure line filter coming from the pump. There is a canister filter for oil going to the pump, so the metal particles likely came from the pump. I'd suspect this happened during the time the pump was run without oil when the line blew - probably about 20 minutes total including the time it took to get to the shop after the smoke cleared.

Pump still moves oil. Tech said that he can detect no unusual noise from the pump, and the steering appears to function properly. We had no steering problems on our recent trip to VA and back (after the temp repair was made). While I hope that only minor damage was done, I've asked my parts supplier to find a replacement PS pump to carry onboard. Maybe I'm being a bit paranoid, but my hunch is that the pump will fail me at some point and probably sooner than otherwise would be the case. I'll feel better knowing that I've got a replacement onboard so the repair can be made when needed.

Otherwise, I've got nothing but positive things to say about Interstate Power Systems - Butler (the Milwaukee area location). They are on top of their game and stepped up to make the repair right after the shop in Davenport let me down. Jack, the tech that works on my coach, has been doing this a long time and does meticulous work. Glad to know that such shops and techs are still out there. They do work on Class A motor homes, so if anyone needs work in the Milwaukee area this would be my recommendation.

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IMG952623.jpg

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