Saturday, August 30, 2014

The First Walmart

Last night was the first time I walked out of a Walmart and back to my RV. The first of many, I hope. Haha. The scene above is typical of that Walmart. Lots of parking. Also, like normal, there's never any RVs. You don't see too many in parking lots in Michigan. I was the only one for the short time I was there.

My biggest fear of the trip was almost realized. It started very hard on the way out. So I need to figure out what that's about. Otherwise, it's still running great and I had fun just cruising around for about 40 miles. 

I felt very on display for the few moments I was hanging out in back. Obviously if I was parked with the intention of staying awhile I'd probably tuck myself along the edges or something. Still, that will be one of my biggest obstacles when and if I launch myself into the mobile lifestyle. Feeling comfortable anywhere I go. 

I realized while I was there that I had electricity, in both 12v and 110v. I had a fridge. I had a stove. And I had a shower and a toilet. I could have showered right there in a Walmart parking lot. I could have made a meal. It was a powerful moment of true freedom. 

I couldn't have actually showered though. Almost. I redid all my plumbing yesterday as well. There's not much of it. The hardest part was limited access and tight spaces. I'm happy to say all my new lines are good and they don't leak. Unfortunately, it's still leaking right at the tank. So I drained everything again and I still need to get back out there. It's one of two things. Either the vinyl tube isn't clamped down enough (probably) or the actual fitting into the tank is loose. Easy enough to fix.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


We're getting close now. So close that I can no longer hide behind too many excuses and my fear of actually doing what I've been saying I want to do is going to be shown!  

I pulled back into my parents yard 3 years ago, pretty much to the day (I don't know the exact day) with the intention of getting back on the road within a matter of months. A lot of plans came and went and nothing really happened. I bought the van and started building it out. When I got close to finishing that I chickened out and/or decided it was too small for me if I took the cats. A year and a half ago I bought the motorhome thinking it'd be a couple months before I'd move into it. Took a little bit longer, but I'm close to having a really darn nice motorhome. So many new parts. 

I don't really have a 'move in' date. I guess that seems too finite and I want to test the waters slowly and build up my confidence in the vehicle. I still don't completely trust it. 

Anyway, the motorhome is back from the shop again. Other than the transmission being sluggish (was very low on fluid, must have finally cycled all the way through after I changed the filter and fluid), the motorhome ran great when I picked it up. So, as of right now I'm calling it 'ready' mechanically. Focus is shifting back to the living space and getting things up to speed. 

My most recent plan was to start taking short trips in it as of September 1st. Which now seems quite achievable. This next week I'll probably just drive it to the store and here and there. Maybe drive to the closest Walmart and hang out for a while. Haha. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hopefully, The Last Time

Back to where I started. Kind of. Got the motorhome back from the shop the other day, must have been Friday afternoon. He did the best he could, and it did run considerably better when I picked it up. However, the intake manifold started leaking coolant. It was plain to see that it was. He also told me that the EGR Valve had a vacuum leak.

The tuning cost me $50, but I gave him $60. He said once I get those two things fixed to bring it back to him and he'll fine tune it for free. Can't beat that, other than the (minor) hassle of dropping it off and picking it up.

The picture above is the engine with the intake manifold removed once again. I did that this evening. I was really tempted to just leave it with him and pay him to do it, but I knew it's a simple enough job (now) and that it'd probably cost a good amount to have him do it.

I've already got it put back on. I used RTV on all the gaskets this time and things should be great. I torqued all the bolts down to spec. I admit, I skipped that part last time. With luck I'll have no more coolant leak and no other vacuum or exhaust leaks from the intake. 

Still have to put the carb and whatnot back on. I'm letting it sit for 24 hours before filling it back up with coolant anyway to let the RTV cure. I also still need to address the EGR valve leak.

I know all of these engine posts are boring, and far from what this blog was supposed to be. Hah. I'm fairly certain the end will soon be in sight and I can start posting pictures and stories about actual adventures. The blog is kind of the tell all. I promised myself I wouldn't make anymore videos on YouTube until I'm living in the motorhome. 

Hang in there. I'm almost there!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

At the Shop

The motorhome tucked in the corner at the shop

The motorhome took its maiden voyage with the new engine this morning. Only  about 3 or 4 miles down the road to a shop. Didn't drive too bad, really. Only had two stops. The intersection right next to the house and then a stop light down by the shop. I threw it in neutral both times for safe measures. Tends to want to stall out at idle in Drive.

I'm eager and nervous about it. I don't like shops. I don't trust them. Even though I like them and trust them a lot more now after working at NAPA for 2.5 years. It would have been nice if the store I worked at was near home so that I would have built the relationships with local shops instead of ones 25 miles away.

Anyway, I want to believe this guy will be able to time it and tune the carb to near perfection. Another part of me doesn't quite believe this motorhome can run smoothly. Just kind of the way this thing has been going the whole time I've owned it. Admittedly, it's an almost 40 year old vehicle with a carb so I'm probably being too picky with my expectations. Even with practically everything being brand new. It's still older technology.

No pictures again. How boring. I need to start taking more pictures. (I added a picture above now. The shop posted it to their facebook page and I 'borrowed' it.) 

Next update comes when I get it back from the shop. Supposed to be today or tomorrow.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Scratch That Last Post

I broke down and took the whole thing back apart. The broken piece of dipstick was just sitting in the bottom of the oil pan. Bonus, I was able to fix the gasket on the rear of the pan that I had unknowingly messed up originally.

It was all back together today and I ran the engine. It needs to be properly timed still and have the carb tuned. I'm admitting defeat on that front. I've been talking to the owner of a shop down the road and it sounds like I'm going to take it to him for all of that. I'm still wondering if there's another issue other than timing and the carb, but I'm sure he'll be able to tell me if that's the case.

I did find another RV I wanted to look at, but it's way up north. And a hefty chunk of change. I just couldn't bring myself to spending such a large portion of my savings so that's why I broke down and went back to work on my Chinook. If the shop can get it to run smoothly, it'll be quite the motorhome.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

It Messed Up

I'm literally only an hour away from this horrible thing happening so maybe I'm still thinking rashly, but I don't think so.

I got the motorhome to start today. It wouldn't start the last two days even though I didn't try too hard because I was afraid of wrecking things. There was a ticking noise but I thought maybe things just needed to be worked in or oil wasn't reaching everywhere yet. Not good, but would have went away if that was the case. The noise got worse so I shut everything down. For whatever reason I decided to check the oil dipstick. A good 5 inches of it are missing. So now there's a chunk of dipstick either in the oil pan, or already causing way more damage.

That's pretty much the end of this motorhome for me. After so much time and money invested you might think it'd be silly to throw in the towel now. But, this pretty much requires me taking the entire engine back out again, and frankly I don't want to do that. I've already had this thing for over a year and I'm just done working on it. I want to be LIVING in a motorhome, not WORKING ON a motorhome.

I might have mentioned I'm cashing out my 401k from my last job. That money is scheduled to show up in my account later this week I believe.

It's time to stop messing around and just live the dream, you know?

My current thought right now is that I'm going to start looking for a new motorhome. The best I can buy with the money I've got. Which, as always, isn't a lot. It has to be 100% move in ready. New requirements different from my current motorhome are that it has to have a side door entrance. No back door. Solid hitch on the back. And even though they leak and freak me out for a lot of reasons I think it has to have a full bed over the cab. I would greatly prefer a 20ft for parking issues, but I think I'm willing to increase to 24ft.

So buy a new one, move into it. Forces me to get a job, but at least I'll be living the dream more or less. And just get on with it. That, or find a new dream and give up on this one.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Fingers Crossed

I'm crossing my fingers tonight and sleeping on it to see if I can think of anything I might have missed.

Three months after picking up my new remanufactured engine and taking the old one out, I think the new one is ready to go. Put a good two days work into it, and redid some of what I had already done to hopefully stop a leak already. Now as of about an hour ago I think I'm ready.

Tomorrow, more than likely, will be when I fill it up with oil, put some gas in tank, and try to start the beautiful beast. Definitely nervous about possible leaks, and FIRES, and whether or not I did everything right, and very concerned about the 'break in' period. I don't want to mess this thing up. One, I don't have the money to do anything if I do mess it up and two, I'm not sure that I would want to do this project over again.

Wish me luck.