Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bus maintenance

Monday, July 15, 2013

It doesn’t matter which end of the road we’re at, our life depends on a big old chunk of cast iron that is more than 30 years old.  In this case its an sloberring 8V-92; on the boat its a pair of British Fords. Either way they only keep running thanks to regular preventative maintenance.

Yesterday we woke up in Canmore and arrived in Buchanan just before 6:00.  I got the water turned on – no leaks.  We plugged in and the power worked.  We hooked up the TV and it worked.  So we had supper.  Marilyn kept telling me that I should relax but I couldn’t resist turning the key.  Fortunately the big Jimmy fired on the first turn.  It died immediately but it started right up again and the second time it stayed running so I let it build air for a while.  When I was wandering around listening for air leaks I noticed that one dual was really soft so I dragged out the air compressor that I bought last summer for painting and aired up that tire.  This morning I discovered an inside dual that was really soft as well. Neither of those are really surprising after they have sat over the winter but obviously I’ll have to keep an eye on them.

Last fall I followed Don Thompson’s invaluable advice regarding heavy equipment – “always park them with the noisy end facing out”.  So this morning I fired up the bus and turned it around.  While I was doing that it seemed like the clutch felt “funny”.  I’m not sure what I was feeling – perhaps just rust in the linkage – but I put the ass end up on blocks and serviced the clutch.  It needed the freeplay adjusted anyway.  I got lucky – the adjusting nut was at the bottom of the flywheel when I pulled the inspection plate so I didn’t need to do any screwing around to get it in the right place. 

Next job is grease.  I’ve always believed that it is important to grease your own equipment.  Not so much because putting grease on correctly is important – a trained monkey could likely do it – but because while you are injecting grease you just naturally take a good look at all the moving bits.  Assuming that all goes well then I have a 2 inch coolant crossover hose to change.  Its been puking coolant for a long time now – not much but enough to make a hell of a mess of the back of the bus and the front of the towed. 

(much later – Wednesday night)

Oh my gawd – what a day this has been.  Three trips to Yorkton in one day and maybe we’re ready for the road.  The morning started innocuously enough.  I got a lot of work done yesterday, including the grease job that I referred to but in the course of that we had a little runaway and the bus ran over my grease gun.  There was no other damage and it could have been a lot worse so I counted myself lucky to only lose a grease gun.  Unfortunately though that was my only lever type gun.  My backup is a pistol grip and I don’t like them because you can’t get enough pressure when you run into a sticky zerk, which I did on the front end.  The fitting on the back of the power steering cylinder absolutely refused to take grease from the pistol grip gun.  I took the zerk out, flushed it with weasel piss, injected more grease and even tried quite a bit of heat but no go.  So that was the prime reason for my first trip to Yorkton – to replace the grease gun so that I could try a little higher pressure to finish up my front end greasing.  The local Co-op only had pistol grip guns so that wasn’t any help.


As soon as I got back from the first trip to Yorkton I started tearing into the coolant hoses that have needed replacing since last fall.  Actually I changed them last fall but the new hoses were slightly too large and they still leaked.  The manual calls for 2-1/8” hoses but that particular size appears to be impossible to buy.  Prevost & Detroit both say to buy the hose locally but that size just isn’t available (which may explain why they say to buy it locally – perhaps its not available to them either).  Knowing that 2-3/8” leaked and that 2-1/8 wasn’t available I let the guy at Detroit convince me that I would be able to stretch 2” hose over the fittings.  It took about 5 minutes this morning to convince myself that hell would freeze over before I got those 2” hoses stretched into place so that necessitated the second trip to Yorkton for 2-1/4” hose.  In the photo above the offending hose is the one with 3 hose clamps on it.  I’d have put 4 clamps on but there wasn’t room.

Before I started changing the hoses I noticed another hose that was desperately in need of changing.  It hadn’t started to leak but I really don’t know why.  I’ve never seen a hose look so sad – it was like the whole outside cover had blown up into a balloon but despite that it wasn’t actually leaking.  Anyway, on the first trip to Yorkton I had bought a short piece of 1-1/4” hose to change that one out.  I knew it was going to be a bear to change but I didn’t realize just how bad it was going to be until I got back from the second trip to Yorkton.  It took maybe 10 minutes, probably less to get the two pieces of 2-1/4 hose set in place and then I tackled the short piece of 1-1/4” hose.  Its the short horizontal hose pretty well dead centre in the photo below.  Getting it out was a snap – it was in such bad shape that I could likely have just pulled it out but I cut it lengthwise and it was out in a few minutes.  Getting the fitting out of the thermostat housing was another matter. 


The fitting needed a 1-3/8” wrench but the largest one I had was 1-1/4”.  I thought there was a slim chance I might snag one at the hardware in Canora but really that was a faint hope because its such a sad excuse for a hardware store.  Sure enough the biggest open end wrench they had was 3/4” so there I was, third trip to Yorkton in one day.  When I got back from that trip it was still no cake walk getting the damn fitting out but I succeeded and more importantly got it back in with the new hose in place. 

Somewhere along the way I noticed that the main hot feed from the alternator to the electrical panel was in really bad shape.  So I changed that out and when I opened the electrical panel the door fell off in my hands – again.  I replaced the hinge on it three years ago in BC.  This time I tried something different.  Rather than fight with a rivet gun to put on a new hinge I used nylon zip ties to create a hinge using the old rivet holes.  I know for sure it was a lot easier than the battle I went through last time when I changed the hinge the “right” way.  Since that fix only lasted three years my boogie zip-tie hinge doesn’t have to last long to beat it.

Tomorrow morning I’ll put the front end up again and give the steering ram a few shots with the lever action gun.  I’m hoping that the combination of higher pressure and a little judicious application of propane will get grease flowing.  Maybe I’ll check the battery water too but maybe that will wait. 

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