9/28/2009

Hello all, John here. Coming to you from the bowels of the grease pit in Carrollton, TX…

I woke this morning early to an 80 Degree coach. It really sucked because it was only 65 outside, and shouldn’t even have been running… The A/C was drowning and no air was flowing. Crap. It froze up again. I forgot to do the “HPotIW” trick and kill the 2nd compressor last night. As soon as 8:00 rolled around I was on the phone with RVProducts, the Manufacturer of Coleman A/C units. I ordered the Thermistors, and a new “Pillow” block (Bearing for the fan). Also got some good advice from him about cleaning it, etc. He confirmed my suspicions that it was most likely the thermistor or the condenser is plugged. I wouldn’t be surprised as the unit is 8 years old, and to my knowledge never been pulled out, so it is time for a good cleaning, and with 3 and 1/2 years of full-time use from us, I am sure it is quite dirty. Parts were reasonable, less than $40.00, and like i said, RVP is a great company to deal with, they were last time we had control board issues also. So, after that call, I was in a pretty good mood.

I figured I would Zap off a email to the jerk I bought some antenna parts from on Ebay, who isn’t responding to my request for a tracking number. Now he is playing games and just today figured out the parts were on “Back order”. You couldn’t tell me that when I ordered them? Jerk. Once I get the parts I will post some more detail, I don’t want to jinx the transaction more than I have…

The ground here is soft from the recent rain, so I figured I would re-level. I like to start the coach when I do that too, mostly just to keep things lubed up an such. Yes, I know it is better to drive it, but I wasn’t about to take antennas down for that! So I started the coach, and the engine turned over really slow. I was thinking “Great, that freakin’ relay went bad again… ” Especially since Bern and Mike are working through that exact same problem on their coach. Either way it started, then I saw this Plume of Smoke in the mirror. First I thought it was ‘Cold Diesel’ but it was way too warm for that… So I shut it off and grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran to the back. The stench of burnt rubber scared me at first, but then as I crawled underneath and saw the remnants of the serpentine belt, I was quickly relieved. That was strange, I thought, since I just checked that belt when I did the oil change and it looked almost new. Hmm, figured I better grab and spin all the pulley’s and see if one failed, or what happened. Sure enough, the alternator seized up tight. First time I have seen one just seize and not lose it’s bushings first. This was rock solid frozen. Not sure why it failed, other than the moisture we have had…

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The Rebuilt alternator. No Light weight parts here, this baby is almost 80 lbs!

I made a quick call to Frieghtliner to get part numbers, and then to the local dealer(s) to try to find this alternator. After Hours of calling different dealers and truck parts houses I finally caved, and called Freightliner back and asked for there help in locating the part. All the truck shops were telling me what a rare alternator it was. It was just a 160 amp Leece Nevil, so I was a bit taken back when they all said they would have to special order it and it would take 30 days! After the call to Freightliner I was even more disappointed. I must have gotten the one Unhelpful person I have ever talked to there, as he could do literally nothing to help me find this part. I figured I would try NAPA, I know they can get some truck parts, and their cross reference might even give me a number someone else might have. No luck, but they gave me the name of “Alternator Service, Inc” in Dallas. They handle mostly truck electrics, and rebuild on the spot. Talked to Branden on the phone, and he says “Come on down, I have three brand new ones on the shelf”. And quoted me a price $100.00 cheaper than any one else, including Freightliner. NAPA had the belt, again much cheaper than FTL, (By $50.00!) so I planned out my trip to head all the way into Dallas. Found the NAPA store, which was a different one than I normally go to here, an old cool one, like I used to work at. A “Real” parts house. The counter guy recognized my voice (good, I must still have my Yankee accent!) and ran back to grab the belt. Still enough money at $57.00. Then off to the Big D, and found the alternator shop in an industrial park off Commerce St. Awesome, another “Real” parts place, complete with the counter stools. Branden greeted me right off, and again remembered my voice. He also said that he had a rebuilt one, same warranty, all new parts, for only $225! I jumped on that. Yes, I think in certain situations a new one can be a better deal, but when there is over $150.00 difference in price, and it’s $150.00 we really don’t have to spend, I am gonna go with the “recycled” one. Really, the only difference in this case is the “Casting” is reused, so the risk is pretty minimal. They changed were going to swap the pulley off my old one, and couldn’t get it off. It must have welded itself when it sized up and burnt off the belt. The gave new a new one for no charge, and I was on my way back. Highly recommend this place, and even though i hope I don’t need to call them again, they will certainly be the first one’s I do call next time.

So I got home about 2:00, and got things all thrown back together. The hardest part of the job was again taking the entire bed apart to get at everything. The Alternator is right up on top, and was decent to get at. Only one bitch… Winnie adds on the A/C compressor for the dash air, it interferes with the lower alternator bolt by about 1/16th of an inch, all of which could have been avoided if they would have simply removed the lower bolt and put it in the opposite way. So for that 1/16th of an inch, it was either try to struggle and take down the a/c compressor, which is underneath the alternator, or cut the head of the bolt off with Dr. Dremell. So out came Dr. Dremell. Putting it back in was pretty simple, and yes, I put the bolt in correctly this time! I also replaced the wire ends on two of the connections, and cleaned up the cables on the others. Verified it was putting out a charge, and buttoned it back up just in time for Derek to walk in the door. Sigh, literally didn’t get anything else done today!

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New Alternator installed. Yes, I know the engine is dusty, and No, I didn't clean it again. I was way to tired to clean it off.

The bright spot in all this is that it happened here, when we didn’t have any plans or requirements to be anywhere else. Thankfully it didn’t decide to go on our way to or from AR a couple weeks ago, because we would have been dead in the water since the belt also drives the fan and water pump. It might have been possible to get the fan and pump to turn with a cheater belt of some sort, but we most likely would have had to be towed in somewhere, and would have to wait for days, and would have been really expensive. So for just over $300.00, we’re back to normal.

When the parts of the A/C show up that will be the next big project. I just hope it is cool enough when I decide to pull it out… Sigh, life of a full-timer I guess.

So That’s all I got, Derek says he will write about the State Fair tomorrow… Trust me, it wasn’t that exciting.

Goodnight.

John

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