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

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On 7/27/2019 at 6:17 AM, richard5933 said:

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.



Richard, I'm so glad you're okay.

This is meaningful to me, since we just bought a Frieghtliner XC chassis RV, a 2019, and I'm finding a chafe/strain/flex problem every two square feet.  Your experience tells us new bus owners that it's critical to look for problems before they develop. 

Full disclosure: like you, I had a chafe issue during the last trip with my former bus, in August. A heater hose rubbed against another, developed a small hole. While it wasn't the biceps-building ordeal you suffered, I did get to glimpse the dreaded CHECK ENGINE & STOP ENGINE light combination.

Thanks for sharing, good luck.

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AndyShane,  you are indeed very lucky. That could have very easily became a fire instead of just melting/arcing a hole in the copper tubing filled with oil.

Update/correction. I replied to andyshane, but Richard was my intended quote.

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Thanks RayIN for the comment. You're correct - the fire department was actually called when this first happened since we didn't know where the smoke was coming from. We got lucky twice, actually. First time was when the cable shorted to the copper tube and cut the hole - we were lucky that the thing didn't turn itself into a torch and burn the bus up. The second time was when we went a few miles to the shop after the smoke cleared. The only thing that kept us from catching fire at that point was that the hole had gotten large enough to provide a small amount of clearance around the battery cable. Someone was watching out for us, that's for sure.

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