Friday, May 31, 2013

Steering with Power

Today was my one day off, and I really should be asleep because I was asked to come in an hour earlier than scheduled so I have to wake up at 5am. Ugh. Too early for me. I have to work the next 6 days.

Anyway, I gave up on checking the timing. Even with the power steering pump removed it was impossible to see the marks. The power steering bracket would have needed to be removed if I wanted even a chance of checking, but the last bolt for that is tied into the water pump and a river of coolant ensued so I quickly tightened it back up and said forget it.

So on to installing the new power steering pump. But wait! First I needed to replace the alternator belt. Easy and quick. Installing the new power steering pump took way longer than it should have, and a lot of cussing. I got a new PS hose installed too, even though it was quite a bit different than the original, it worked just the same and in the end I actually prefer the way it's routed now.

I had a new choke thermostat to install but the linkage is way too long and I'm pretty sure it's not going to work at all. I gave up on that project fairly quickly without looking into it too deeply.

Oh hey. I finally went to get the title transferred into my name today. And even put plates and insurance on the motorhome. More money per month for something I'm not actually driving yet. Sucks, but oh well.

I did take the motorhome for two drives today. Just short ones, but it was nice to be out on the road in it. I haven't driven it on the road since driving it home. Unfortunately my speedometer has stopped working. I guess something happened to it when I was fixing the dash lights. I'm pretty bummed about that one.

I don't think I'd mind driving the motorhome to work a few times as it is, except the brakes are still iffy. My drive to work has a lot of stoplights, and when I come to a stop my brake pedal gets soft after about 30 seconds and I have to let up and repump the brakes. Hoping it's just air in the lines still and not a leaking rear wheel cylinder.

No pics this update, a bummer. But a new exciting YouTube video of me talking was posted tonight.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend


Up front, I did not get all that I intended to get done this weekend. However, I did do a bit of being lazy and I enjoyed that quite splendidly. That said, let's go over what I did manage to get done.

First up, I got the new waste tank vent installed. The old one was busted, but really what could that do? So I get rain water in my waste tanks? Not ideal but not awful either. The main issue was all the old caulking was bad and I'm pretty sure was the source of a pretty nice leak. The new vent is one of those Camco swivel ones, and it doesn't actually swivel all the way around due to its location, so it's kind of pointless. If I wanted it to swivel I would have had to add a section of pipe to raise it up. I was mostly concerned with fixing a leak, and using what I had already bought.

Not the best or prettiest job in the world but no caulking job is set it and forget it, so I'll be checking it off and on anyway.

Next up, I put a screen over the top of fridge vent to keep the critters and bugs out. I just caulked it down around the edges and it should work just fine. I will be back up there in a while as I plan to snake my solar panel wires down that vent when I get those moved over from the van. Also, check out the picture of the NEST I dug out of on top of the fridge. Glad I put a screen up there now!

Speaking of the fridge, I'm not sure if it's working. I know the freezer portion is cooling off a lot but the actual fridge part doesn't seem to be. Maybe I'm not waiting long enough? I've waited at least an hour, I think even two hours.

The screen door got new screen too. I'm going with aluminum screen because I actually kind of like how it looks and because my cats should have a much harder time destroying it. They've always been very good around screens for me, though.

I had to step back on Sunday and work on something NOT motorhome related, just to keep myself sane. I'm a little frustrated and at a loss as to where to start to try to figure out my engine troubles. Now I have a new choke thermostat arriving on Wednesday, and I would be ecstatic if it fixed things. That being said, I still want to check the timing but need to buy a timing light.
Putting the new power steering pump on was one of the big projects planned for this weekend also but I really was hesitant to dive into that one. I started it this afternoon. The old pump came out pretty easily.
The big problem with that one being I had to pull the pulley off and put it on the new pump. A trip to Autozone to rent a power steering pulley puller and I got right to work on it. The old pulley came off with some difficulty, but I got it off. By then the drizzling rain was persistant and I had to do laundry for the week so I called it a day before I got to install the new pump. This kind of works out for me in a few ways because now I can buy the new belts I really should get installed before I put it all back together, and it gives me a chance to buy a timing light and look things over with the pump off. I think it'll probably be easier to look at all of that with the power steering pump removed.

Back to work for 3 days, and then I get Friday off. After that, I don't know yet.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Piling Up

My to-do list is piling up, even though I really should probably try to get the engine to run better before any of the other stuff gets done. Haha. Not only is the list piling up, but my supplies are too.

I've got new aluminum screen that I want to put on the windows and screen door. Also, I want to get some screen up across the fridge vent opening. That really was the main reason I bought some but I'll have enough to redo screens too.

Next up, I have some new hose for the water pump so that I can get rid of that leak. A simple 10 minute project for that.

I may or may not have already gone ahead and purchased a bit of new flooring. Vinyl planks. I need to buy more but I'm splitting that purchase up. More of a mental thing that anything else. I couldn't wrap my mind around spending that much in one swoop for flooring when I know I can just get sheet vinyl for way cheaper.

A new black water tank vent is already purchased. The old vent cap was busted off and all the caulking around the pipe up there is junk. This one is pretty high up on my list as the leak is fairly significant. I got one of those fancy Camco vents that looks like a torpedo and rotates with the wind. We had one for sale at work, and no one has ever bought one (in the entire history of the store I work at). So I figured why not. Side note about leaks, it looks like the leak by the fridge, which I assumed was from the fridge vent, has been fixed by the recaulking I did.

The new power steering pump came in today, and I got the new power steering hose in the mail yesterday. I've never done a power steering pump before so that one will take some research and looking into the situation. Plus, I have to pull the pulley off the old pump and press it on the new one somehow. Fun.

I think I'll try not to buy anything else until I can get what I've already got done. With any luck I'll knock quite a few of those off the list this weekend.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

New Fuel Pump

I got the new fuel pump installed tonight! Not bad, considering that was going to be my big project for MONDAY.

Also, I got my second subscriber to my YouTube channel tonight. Yay!

The fuel pump wasn't too bad. Tight area and I had to find different positions to angle my arms around. Very messy too, since everything in that area is covered with oil. It started up pretty easily again, and I only had one fuel leak where I had to tighten down a hose clamp better. I ran it for about 10 minutes and drove it up the driveway. While I was backing it in to park it again it died on me. No more fuel getting to the carb. I blew out both of my fuel filters in case something got clogged in there with the new pump, and then I redid one of the new rubber hoses that I think probably was getting kinked. Still wouldn't start again though. Sprayed some starting fluid in the carb a few times. Nothing. I was going to give up for the night when I decided I had nothing to lose and did the starting fluid maybe three times more, and the old beast fired up again. I ran it for another 10 minutes and shut it off.

Unfortunately, once again, I don't think my poor idling problem has been fixed. Even still, it seems like it's running pretty smooth while giving it some gas. Just as long as I'm not at a complete idle.

Work again tomorrow.  I guess tomorrow night I'll finish replacing all the vacuum hoses. Anything beyond that and I'll start really feeling like I'm just throwing money at it, or that it'll be the timing or the carb, which I know I can figure out, but is currently beyond my knowledge set.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Spark Plugs

Just a quick update for you before I go to bed, as I do have to wake up early for work tomorrow. Two nights ago after I got home from work I quick changed out the spark plugs, wires, distributor cap, and rotor on the motorhome. The above picture shows the spark plugs I took out of there. I was very surprised by how easily those came out with absolutely zero problems. Those are some old spark plugs.
Unfortunately the new plugs and wires did not help my rough idle problem. Yesterday morning I woke up, ran it for 5-10 minutes and then shut it off. Went in to take a shower, and right before I left for work I started it up. Rough idle was back. Only does it when it's warm. 

My next plan is the fuel filters and fuel pump. I actually replaced the fuel filters last night after work. One was right next to the carb, and the other was underneath about half way back next to the frame. I know the fuel pump is having issues (leaking oil), so I'd be excited if it fixes my problem. Started to disconnect that tonight and hopefully I'll get further along on that project tomorrow after work. I'm having more stubborn fitting problems, and then I'm going to run into tight spaces too.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bed, Brakes, and More

To my complete surprise I managed to get the bed built today. It's simple, and just a bed, but you wouldn't believe how great it makes me feel about the whole project now. It's even sturdy, and doesn't look half bad. For some reason it really makes my vision feel real and motivates me.

Finishing up the brake project only took about two hours this morning. I might have to bleed the brakes a little better but I've got pedal and brakes as it is now. As far as I have seen there's no leaks in the connections. I don't have any pictures of any of the brake work but there is a video on YouTube if you care to see more of that.

I caulked up the fridge vent this evening. It should fix the leak I hope. I want to make sure the leaks are all taken care of before I put down any new flooring. Which I'm pretty anxious to do, but I'll try to hold off on that until the time is right.

Just for the fun of it since I had brakes and could move the motorhome again I lined it up with the van and took some pictures of them both. They're the exact same length. Pretty cool.



Where's the Brakes?

I had fully intended to have the brakes done by the end of today. I did get a late start on the project because the cold weather returned, and it rained yesterday so I was hoping for a little sun to come out and dry the ground before I crawled around under there.

The biggest problem has actually been that nothing is going as easily as planned. Every fitting I come to is severely rusted into place. The tube nuts just end up being rounded off and then even with vice grips the nut ends up getting squished and bent instead of actually loosening up. That was ultimately why I had to order a new rubber hose. Today I couldn't get the other two lines out of the other end either, so I ended up cutting those off. I really didn't want to have to run new lines from that hose to each rear tire but that's the way it went.

I ran into more trouble trying to get the passenger side line out of the wheel cylinder. It's a pretty tight squeeze between the tire and the leaf springs so I had resigned myself to having to take off the dualies and replace the wheel cylinder, just to be able to redo the brake line. I got the tires off, and then realized getting the brake drum off requires quite a bit of work. A special socket is needed too, as far as I can tell from YouTube. Thankfully, with the tires off and being able to work from a better angle, I was able to get the old nut out of the wheel cylinder (with vice grips) so I never did have to take the drum off.

Tomorrow I have two easy connections to work with. That would be both ends of the new line that runs from the front of the motorhome to the new rubber hose at the back. I'm not too concerned about those. My new fear is that line that goes from the rubber hose to the driver side wheel cylinder. At this point, I am tempted to just put a new segment in there without actually replacing the entire piece. I'm seriously concerned that I'll run into the same problem again and then really have to replace a wheel cylinder. Not only would that delay things even longer but it's reaching the limits of my comfort zone to take the drums off of this thing.

With fingers and toes crossed, I'll have functional brakes again by tomorrow night.

Carpet in the interior is gone. Floor has been all swept up and everything. It's starting to look like the new bed platform won't be built by the end of tomorrow. I might get lucky and have time to work on it though.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Dash Lights

It's a small victory, but I'll take it. I dove into this project last weekend, as mentioned in a previous post. I put the new sockets I got from work in a few nights ago and it immediately blew the fuse. It was dark so I gave up. Then last night I gave it another go, and I burnt out 4 more fuses. Since a good portion of the rear of the cluster is apparently a circuit board, more or less, I screwed it all back together before my final try. Assuming it was shorting out on another piece of dash. Another flip of the headlight switch and nothing. So I gave up once more. Today at work I bought 15 more fuses because I figured I'd be burning through a lot more of them.

When I got home I went to tackle the project again before heading in the house at all. To my surprise the fuse never did blow the last time last night. I flipped the headlights on again and I had all the dash lights! So it remains to be seen but I think I have my dash light problem fixed. Another story for another day is that I think the actual headlight switch itself is going bad too.

When I drove the motorhome home it got dark for maybe the last 15 minutes, and that was enough to drive me crazy. I'm a big fan of having dash lights.

And hey, now at least all 6 fuses in the fuse block under the dash are brand new. Haha.

Brake hose came in yesterday. That project is number one on the list for my upcoming days off. Building the new bed platform is also high on that list.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Making a Mess

With the brake project on hold until I get that new brake hose, I just couldn't hold back any longer and started work on the interior.

In the pictures from the previous post you saw carpeting. That was the first layer. Under that was another layer. And yet even under that was the original carpet. The first two layers weren't glued or stapled or anything so they came up very quickly. The original layer is mostly glued down but not much anymore. The real problem is that most of the interior was built on top of the carpet. So I have to cut it around all the edges. Probably would be a lot easier if I was using a utility knife with a better blade. At the end of the day I had much of the carpet up. The floor underneath looks very nice for its age. Unfortunately it looks like I might have to leave the carpet that's INSIDE the cabinets and on the wheel wells. Just not enough room to tug and pull and cut, but I might give it a try if I get a better knife blade. I hate carpet in RVs, especially 37 year old stinky carpet.

The couch situation gave me a great solution today as well. I discovered I could just unbolt the actual sofa/bed part from the frame on the bottom. This leaves me with a nice, simple base to build a bed on top of. My plan right now is to install a ledge along the outer wall and part of the kitchen wall and then just lay a piece of plywood down, secure it to part of the old couch frame and the new outer ledges, and viola! Twin mattress bed installed. Will be a very quick and easy transformation.

With the couch out I had full access to the water tank. A few of the fittings to the water pump are leaking. Won't be hard to fix.

Also under the couch was the old water heater. There was only one line coming out of it, and that was a busted PVC line. The more I looked at it the more I realized the inlet line was completely gone too. I had been debating whether to leave the water heater in or not and that kind of sealed it for me. I yanked it out. I was left with a large hole in the side of the motorhome and no longer any way to secure the old door to the hole. Probably a good two hours ensued as I tried to dismantle the water heater enough to take off the front piece of metal to screw back into the hole. The thing was built well, that's for sure. It's safe to say my plan of trying to sell it cheap on craigslist went awry as it has now been CUT into several pieces. There was a lot of calcium (or something) built up in it and many of the fittings were completely clogged anyway. It would have never worked properly.

I'm not too worried about having a water heater at this point, but ideally I will get a tankless water heater in the future. They're not cheap though.

The next thing I need to figure out is if I want to paint the walls, or leave them the way they are.

It sure is a mess inside, but this picture shows how the bed will look when I build the platform. In this picture it's just laying on top of the old couch frame. You can also see some of the carpet ripped up at this point.

Looking it over

I've now had a chance to start looking the motorhome over.

I found the reason for my soft brake pedal. It was the rear brakes as expected. There was a pretty good leak in the back where the metal line meets the rubber hose. I ended up not being able to get that line out of the hose so I have a new hose ordered. The bad news being I won't have working brakes by the end of today like I had hoped. I have the new metal line already in place, I just need to find my flare tool and put the fittings on both ends.

I was able to put to rest my fears that a twin mattress wouldn't fit where the couch is. It fits perfectly, without an inch to spare. That means I'll probably be taking the couch out completely and building a platform for the mattress. I do kind of like the couch, however.

Testing of system components has started also. I've mainly been focusing on the water system so far. Water tank seems good, and it looks like all the connections to and from are good. Kitchen sink works as it should. Bathroom sink works, but it looks like the shower head part isn't working that well. I played around with the toilet and to my surprise everything looks good there too. I did find a leak underneath. It's coming from a pipe that's under a mass of insulation and undercoating, so just a few drips are coming through. I'm not sure which drain that pipe is coming from yet.

The new taillights came yesterday. And while I discovered the connections on those were NOT my turn signal problem I'm still glad for them. Much nicer looking and the lenses are all in one piece. My turn signal problem was actually from a loose and rusty ground on the front. Sanded and tightened, it all works great now.

None of the dash lights worked when I bought it either. I got that taken apart (easy, 4 screws) and replaced a bulb. The side with the speedometer has a different problem. There's two sockets on that side, one is completely missing and one is broken. Luckily work has them in stock so I'll buy two new sockets for that side tomorrow and I will have working dash lights!

Where to go from here or what to do today I'm not sure. I'm hesitant to really dive into any major-ish interior projects until I know my brakes are solid and that the engine is running well.

Here's some pictures of the motorhome mostly as was when I bought it. The only real change being the engine picture. In that picture I've already replaced the PCV valve, PCV grommets, the breather cap and hose, and also various vacuum tubes. Still more to do on that front.



Friday, May 3, 2013

Monday yet?

I can't wait to get another day off from work on Monday so I can actually LOOK at my new motorhome! How cruel it's been to get back with the motorhome at 9pm on Wednesday night, in the dark, and then have to work the next 4 days.

At least work closes early on the weekends so I should be home by 6pm, and might get maybe 2 hours each night to look at it. That's not really enough time to really jump into the thorough inspection I want to do though.

Thursday morning I woke up early and had maybe an hour to poke around. Not much got accomplished.

I'm trying to stay focused on the immediate issues, but it's hard to keep my mind from wandering and looking at getting things done that, at this point, would simply be 'nice' instead of 'needed'.

The exterior lights are one thing that I always love. I consider upgrading to LEDs but you just can't beat the warm glow of a filament bulb. I have two clearance lights out due to cracked lenses resulting in bad connections. One of my tail lights has a bad connection issue and I discovered that both lenses were badly broken so that's actually been the first thing I've ordered for the motorhome. New tail light assemblies. I'm really hoping they'll be here by Tuesday since I have Tuesday off too, but they're coming from California so I'm not holding my breath. One of my front turn signals was randomly unplugged. Plugged that back in and it works, but the side marker/turn signal on the side doesn't work, even after replacing the burnt bulb. The other side is just the opposite. The side mark/turn signal works but the main one in the front doesn't. I've already bought an arsenal of bulbs for this thing but it looks like I'll still be buying a few more.

Oh hey, a quick note. I posted my first video on YouTube last night. I'm still a bit hesitant about it, but it's part of the plan so I guess I need to get comfortable with it. The plan is to make videos regularly. In the beginning it'll mostly be about getting the motorhome ready I guess, and eventually it'll transition to being about actually living in and adjusting to living in the motorhome. Same as the blog pretty much, but with slightly different content and just two different ways to follow along! My username on YouTube is imdrivebyandy  -- Or you can just check out the YouTube widget I added to the right side of this blog.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

1977 Dodge Chinook Concourse

I am now the proud owner of a 1977 Dodge Chinook Concourse. It's what I consider, or would today be considered, a Class B+ motorhome with a Dodge van front. Not only am I the proud owner but I actually have it. It's out in the yard right now. Now I just wish I had another day off so I could look at it more, but alas, I work the next 4 days. A little incentive to wake up earlier than normal maybe.

As I'm sure I mentioned before it was 175 miles north of here. I had serious questions about whether or not I would make it home on the first try. But I did, and it did. It actually cruises pretty good around 60-65. Another good thing is I live just a few miles from the expressway, and so does the guy I bought it from. It's not an expressway anymore up by him but it's still a straight shot most of the way.

I need to work on the brakes pretty immediately. The pedal goes all the way to the floor and there's not a whole lot of braking power there. Luckily since it was a straight shot with limited stoplights this did not play a huge role in the drive home. Another fun part about stopping is the van started to surge a little when I came to a stop and threatened to stall but never did.  So there's something else to look into.

Right now I'm just relieved it made it home with no problems.

I'm also feeling the pressure to get rid of some more of my stuff now. A big motorhome sitting in the yard isn't going to go over well for too long without me ditching a few things. Like my old car. Could be a great car with minimal work, but it does need work and I don't need more projects. Feeling like I'm probably going to be sending it to the junkyard early next week when I have two more days off. Also considering selling my travel trailers. It would be sad to sell the one I used to live in, but do I really need it anymore? When I get rid of the Crown Vic I won't have a vehicle with a decent hitch on it anymore.

Changes changes changes. Like always, stay tuned.