October 25, 2013

The 2003 Coachmen Freedom 258db Is The Rig I Need

This past week while thinking about future plans, there is always one plan that consistantly shows up the most.  That plan is leaving this spring 2014, with plans of traveling probably until the spring of 2015 at a minimum. In that plan I would keep my house as a base camp, I would sell my H3 Hummer and my Mini Cooper S to reduce the cost of insurance and licenses. I would keep my 1994 Chevy 2500 pickup for local travel during the short times I would be back in Indiana. A few years ago I only had the 1994 Chevy Pickup as my only vehicle and it worked out great.

I also thought of some of the emails I had received and comments posted, after I had blogged about putting the rig up for sale after a month of ownership. I also thought back to the reasons I bought the Coachmen and why it was the perfect rig for me to start traveling in.  Everything I needed was contained, without towing anything. It runs great, has all that I need and seems quite large when comparing to tent camping or towing a smaller trailer.

During that time I wondered "what would you buy if it did sell unexpectedly" ? I had been looking at rigs for almost two years at the time I bought this one. So how would I improve what I already had, and really how much improvement would there be if I were to buy a bigger rig? I had already gone through a million questions over the past two years, and had come close to buying three different trailers and a Class A just in the past eight months. So really I had to ask myself, why am I selling a rig that gives me everything I had looked for?

There is plenty of room for the hounds and I when the weather turns bad. We have spent enough time where it is parked to know there is enough room for all of us after the sun goes down. All three hounds have already picked out their sleeping spots, with plenty of room to walk around.

So, how much better could it get?

I'm trying to simplify things instead of continuing to buy and buy and buy.  It's hard but I am making progress toward that goal.

I can leave sooner than this spring if I sell my H3 Hummer and my Mini Cooper.

The confirmed model year difference, the oil line repair within two weeks after purchase, doesn't change my plans nor my opinion about the rig. There is no damage inside, every thing works and it runs great.

So, the rig that I bought is the one I am keeping.

October 24, 2013

Winston's Vet Visit

Winston came out of the vet visit in good shape and some prednisone, 20mg for his back. He had dropped a couple of pounds since last year's check up and shots. He was told he is in great shape for a 9yr old basset. His back problem is just a stage of getting older, maybe tweaked it and is inflamed. The prednisone will calm it down a little bit and then some buffered aspirin after that on a daily basis.

We are hitting record lows tonight in southern Indiana, high 20's. It's times like these I wish I were in warmer country and traveling. The thoughts of Arizona and Borrego Springs Ca always come to the surface when it gets cold.

What do traveler's do to prevent freezing damage while they are traveling and can't winterize their rigs? You could be headed south and hit below freezing temps for an over night stay, with full or partially full tanks. Asking that question shows you how much of a rookie I am in the RV game.

As it gets colder, I realize it's nice to have a home base with heat and long hot showers available. 

October 21, 2013

The Coachmen is Up For Sale

That title could be some shocking news for some. Looking at my calender on the bottom of my monitor, it was just a month ago today that I bought the Coachmen. So what has changed?

Nothing really.

I have it listed here:  Click Here

It's kind of one of those win win situations. If it sells then I can look for something else that I think I need (more room) and if it doesn't sell by next spring, then I have a good RV I can travel in. It's just like all of the other vehicles I have, I like them but I am always looking at different cars/trucks.

Currently we have borderline low temps forecast this week, that makes it a need to winterize.

Plus my old basset Winston (9.5yrs) is having some lower back problems since late Sunday afternoon. I didn't know for sure until tonight....probably some basset hound arthritis starting to creep in. The steps into to the house are not steep. There are only 2 steps and then into the house but he needs assistance getting up the house steps. The RV steps are out of the question for him.


So we'll be making a trip to the vet tomorrow for his annual shots and an exam on that lower back.

Winston is NOT why I put the rig up for sale. Yet, in the past two years, I have thought about him as he would age in the next couple of years and wonder about the potential problems he may have as a traveler. If/how that might affect the travel plans. I have had at least one basset hound since 1987 so I am pretty familiar how bassets age and some challenges they will have.

I have no complaints about the rig, just some the times I have spent inside it for any length of time with the hounds, I have felt the need for more room. I also may go to a bigger diesel engine so I can tow my H3 Hummer out west. I believe with the current rig towing the H3 may be cause more stress on the transmission than it is made for while traveling the mountains in the western states, based on what I have read.

So its a rig that has been used but in great shape. It has a little over 80,000 miles but the past 8 years it has been driven around 3,000 miles per year.  Let me know if you have any questions and pass the info out to your rv friends in case they are looking for a great Class C.

October 20, 2013

What Makes a Person Want to Sell Everything They Own?

What makes someone have the urge to sell everything they own and hit the road full-time with only tent camping experience? Is it boredom? A need for change? Curiosity? Adventure?

I don't have the answer but I know the urge has hit me numerous times over the past two years.

Prior to my discovery of Glenn's story in October 2011 and my starting date to even think about RVing, I was planning on retiring in the same time frame (May 2014) but had no plans of selling my house or toys. I was into bicycling, have great areas to ride those bikes, lived near the town where I attended college (IU) that is a great town. I was content and happy. No confusion on what to do, no second thoughts, the path was smooth and on schedule.

2013 Giant Defy II

1984 Custom Made Romic 

Then a boring Friday at work, I tuned into Yahoo Business and there is Glenn on the front page with a sub-headline on how he was living on less than $1,000 per month traveling full-time. Not making less than $1,000 per month in income but living on the road on less than $1,000 per month. While reading the article I flashed back to a summer during college where I rode a bicycle cross country and up the pacific coast, remembering how much I enjoyed that trip. Or the the short time I lived in my VW bus in southern California on the beach while working 2nd shift. I took showers at the gym in the mornings after playing racquetball and then heading for a different beach in San Diego county that night after work. With no rent, electric bills, water bills etc....it was a great way to live.

So the travel and simple lifestyle started to scramble my brain cells. I went home that weekend and read Glenn's blog from the start date to current date. That led me to other blogs of people traveling and living full-time in RVs, trailers, Vans or Truck Campers. I read blogs all weekend late into the night or early morning. I was obsessed.

By the end of the weekend, my plans of a smooth retirement, no thoughts of selling anything and traveling when I wanted ... were gone!! All I could think about was downsizing, selling everything I had and "escaping" this rut called routine life.

What I needed to do and did, was start researching about this RV lifestyle. I never had the urge to even buy one let alone live in one. The only camping I had done in the past was tent camping, some hiking and snowmobiling in the Cascade Mts and plenty of traveling by car cross country at times from the west coast to Indiana. So I had seen a lot of great land, mountains etc but was always on a schedule needing to be somewhere at a certain time.

Still I knew nothing about RVing.

An old friend had just spent 5 years full-timing in a Class A but was back in Indiana with his MH parked. He sent a additional sites and attachments full of information. When I was sitting at home in a freezing snowing month in Indiana, I would picture the people I had read about on my blog roll and all the great places they were at that was much warmer than where I was.

The more I read about RVing, the stronger the urge would be. Then out of nowhere I would have no interest and would prefer to go back to my original plan of staying put with a little traveling when I had the time.

Then the urge to sell everything and hit the road would hit me with such force, that I downsized, listed the house, the cars, the truck for sale ... numerous times, changing my mind each time not to sell.

Each time I had doubt about selling everything I took that to mean I should keep what I had and try the different RV lifestyle first. I had the same advice from many that did travel full time or did travel full time and returned back to a house and part time travel. Even a few people that had never been a homeowner but traveled full-time suggested I keep what I had, but have an RV/trailer, travel part time or take a year to travel, then decide.

So over the two years since this RV lifestyle was discovered I have downsized and that is good even if I don't travel a mile. I have only what I need in my house and my music collection and books are probably the most I have of any one thing.

My hounds were a factor in this decision and more than a couple of times they probably kept me from packing up everything and hitting the road on impulse. They like to ride, like my current rv but they still have a great situation here with acres of land behind us for their daily walk and their recon missions when they need to work out their hound noses.

This is a place I have lived for 16-1/2 years after spending time in southern California and NW of Seattle on Whidbey Island. Still I have urges to sell everything I own.

So what makes me have these urges, as recently as this past week, of putting everything up for sale and hitting the road?

October 19, 2013

Indiana Fall - Nothing Going On

Today would be one of those days we would be camped out inside the rig, it looks like the PNW has arrived in southern Indiana today....dark, light constant rain. The coffee is hot, the hounds are back to sleep wrapped up in sleeping bags and a full schedule of college football is planned.

I feel myself slowly migrating to my own winterizing, by hibernating in the house preparing for a winter that is a month to two months away. Another words nothing is going on to blog about, besides a normal daily life. It's the job during the week, a daily dog walk in the afternoon, some reading at night, time on the internet and then to bed with the windows open in mid 40's temps.

This time of year I find perfect in Indiana. The days are sunny, clear and temps in the mid 70's. Can't feel the humidity if there is any. The leaves are turning colors slowly but this year they are a dull color, nothing vibrant, that makes people drive a lot of miles to observe the bright colors.

Last weekend was out of the ordinary for my schedule as I was helping a friend out that had a family emergency. Still besides the rig repair a few weekends ago I find myself having just enough time to finish the odds and ends around the house. It's those typical weekends when you have a job during the week and are a homeowner. There is always something that has to be done, like errands, recycling runs, dog vet trips, yard work, and maybe some preventive maintenance on the house.

The camping urge has seemed to disappeared. Is it time to winterize the rig?

After backing out of buying the Lil Snoozy trailer in September, I mentioned I had no plans to buy a trailer or any rig until I was getting ready to leave in the spring of 2014. I said and thought that because why would I buy a rig in the fall and then have to park it all winter for lack of use? I can only justify my earlier than planned purchase with a few reasons. The rig condition was the best I had seen in the used rigs I had looked at over the past couple of years. It had everything I needed, plenty of room for the hounds and I. It was local (not planned) so that saved me a lot of money in gas driving it home or shipping charges if I were to have bought it out of state. I was able to look through the rig before purchase and make a decision instead of traveling many miles to see it in person.

Those are some of the reasons that keep me from second guessing an earlier than planned purchase.

I must admit, at times I do wonder if I made the right decision in making the purchase earlier than I had planned. At times I feel like selling it. Then I sit inside the rig and think about my plans for the spring of 2014. I have re-inspected every nook and corner inside and out. It always feels good spending time in the rig. The hounds love being inside it, each of them have their own spots now. It feels good when I picture the rig moving down the back highways heading west. When I think of the places I am going to go, pictures of places of the people I follow on the sidebar and some old places I have been to in previous travels ... It's during the times I spend inside the rig that I know I have made the right decision in making a purchase earlier than I had planned.

The rig is in great shape. More than enough storage for just one person, plenty of room for two or three 40# bags of dog food, good size tanks, a TempurPedic mattress to sleep on and enough windows to enjoy the scenery when having to camp inside like we would be doing today.

Even with conflicting urges of hibernation like usual this time of year in the midwest and a slight urge of "hitch itch" .... all is good.  Patience is required right now and that's always a hard thing for me. Next spring can't get here soon enough.

It's great to see all of the movement from the travelers I follow, each going somewhere different based on their needs/urges. I just need to get out there and join them because I would feel a lot better.

Have a great weekend.

October 13, 2013

Coach Battery Switch & Thoughts

Answers to my questions came fast today as I checked the charge to my coach battery. The battery was fully charged. I changed the path of the extension cord that runs from my house outlet to the rig electrical power cable. Before I had it running out my door while home and would unhook power during the times I was at work or away from the house. With the fridge running all the time, thinking that would switch automatically to gas when the power was unhooked, could that have been the culprit to running down the charge of the house battery? So yesterday afternoon I moved the extension cord to the back of the house to the rig power cable, where I can leave it plugged in all the time.

This morning I unplugged my house electric from the rig, went inside the rig and checked what would or wouldn't turn on using the coach battery. Everything came on using the coach battery including the generator, which started right up.

So I am not sure what the draw was to run down my coach battery but with the overnight charge, it's up to speed, fully charged. Maybe it was the broken pin on the 15A-30A adapter that I found last week and replaced or the time I unplugged it while I was away from the house.

I did not find any interior battery switch to turn the coach battery on or off. What I believe the seller called the switch is the green knob pictured below. The pictures below are what the seller showed me when he described of turning off the coach battery.

Switch Turned On

Switch Turned Off
The knob was tightly screwed down to the "on" position.  So I am thinking there was something drawing against that battery while I had the house power unplugged during the 9-10 hours per day I was at work. Today I shut off the fridge, leaving the doors open and will only turn that back on a day before I hit the road for any weekend trips this fall and winter. I also have the tv unplugged while I am parked.

The more I look at the rig, the more I like it and realize I have plenty of storage even if I were to full-time travel.  Also the hounds love it, if the coach door is open, all three run inside without saying a word. The overhead bed will be used as more storage with a possibility of mounting my 46" tv from home in that area and strapped down during travel....that is way down the road though if that happens.

The oil level in the generator looks good, propane tank is 1/2 full, the Chevy fuel tank is 1/2 full and the convection stove/microwave combo, the 3 spot range all look like they have never been used. 

After a lot of thinking recently, I believe I have downsized about as far as I want to go. A few weeks ago I posted that I was moving everything into the rig as if I were leaving and selling or getting rid of everything left in the house.....but I haven't had the urge to get rid of the things left in the house which there isn't much left. Yes, for someone single, some might think I have too many vehicles (my weakness) but they each have a purpose, low mileage, fairly cheap to license and insure them. So until I decide differently I am going to keep all the vehicles I have whether if I am on the road or not. They are pictured on "The Toys" page, linked at the top of the blog.

The house?  Many readers will remember I went back and forth on selling or keeping it all summer. In fact co-workers that drive by my house to and from work said they could not keep up with the number of times I took the "for sale by owner" sign down, then would put it up. LOL I haven't thought much about it lately, so that tells me this paid off small home will stay as my base camp, one that is about 1,500 - 2,000 miles from where I will be traveling. At least if I am sitting out west somewhere and become am tired of traveling I have a place I can return to.

I don't think I will be leaving before November 2013 like I would like. Financially it's best if I leave as I planned in October 2011....leave in April/May 2014. By leaving at that time my first year traveling may be a full year simply because I do not want to come back and live in the winter's cold, snowy and icy weather in Indiana. So I might return home in the spring of 2015. That year would give me a pretty good idea if I want to be a part timer or a full time traveler.  After that, I'd leave October/November time frame for warmer temps and return in April....unless I want to eliminate the humidity, then westward I would go.

After the past couple weeks that were a little frustrating I think things will calm down a little now that I know more how this "thing" operates, plus the plans seems to be falling into place.

October 12, 2013

Learning More About the Rig

Today is a pretty lazy Saturday. I had plans to meet and camp on a fellow blog reader's land this weekend but I had to cancel Friday morning due to helping a friend with some emergency help this weekend. His news proved again, you never know what is around the corner in the game of life.

The rig looked ready for the short road trip to his property, so hopefully it can happen a different weekend before it gets colder in the Midwest.

Since the oil line repair, it's been very quiet, not much to write about as life moves on at a normal pace. I did have something new happen on the RV this week that may just be my mistake until I learn otherwise.

I have been running power from my house into the RV only when home because that extension cord runs from inside my house to the RV. While gone I need to shut and lock the door. I just had a different idea on how to run that cord, so changes may be today so I can have the rig constantly hooked up to power.

What I found is, when the rig is not hooked up to power, then I have no power inside the rig. The coach battery is dead. When I start the rig, she fires right up without hesitation. I thought while hooked up to power, there was a "trickle" charge to the coach battery. The previous owner had installed a quick disconnect on the coach battery but I can't remember that he told me I needed to do anything with that if I was parked and hooked up.

Once I am hooked up, everything works fine.

With the lack of battery power, I thought the fridge would automatically move to propane but that doesn't seem to be the case. Without hooks ups, there is no power to the fridge, no lights and no longer cool/cold inside the fridge.

While chasing possible electrical problem for the coach battery going dead I did find the 15A -30A adapter had a broken pin so I picked up a new one at the local hardware store that has a new RV section of popular brand names of RV accessories.

Even after a night of the new adapter and electrical power hook up, once I unplugged, there was no power inside the rig.

I'll look at it again Sunday morning .... but for the rest of the day and night tonight is my addiction...College Football.

Have a great weekend!!

October 08, 2013

Oil Cooler Lines Tested - No Leaks

Came home from work with clear sunny skies and 70 degree temps, it was time to finish the job.

The first clip, top of radiator was a little hard to put on at first but after I used my angled mirror to see the bottom of the connector and then a pair of needle nose pliers to pull the clip around the connector, things went pretty quick. It took a total of 20 minutes for the 4 clips but most of that time was on the first clip and the upper connector at the oil filter block underneath the rig.

I wiped everything down so there was no oil from the past, turned the engine on and then looked at all the different connectors, with my small bright LED flashlight....not a drip of oil anywhere. I increased the engine idle speed for a minute or so, then little it idle for about 10 minutes while I went inside to clean up.

After rechecking all of the connectors for leaks, I took it out for a short 12 mile run on the highway at 55mph.

No leaks.

Total cost was around $100 counting the lines and the hook tools I bought. I'm pretty sure I saved myself around $150-$200 in labor if I had a mechanic do the work. I gained a lot of experience and learned more about the rig I bought.

I plan on changing the oil tomorrow just so I can start with clean oil and will know the date, mileage and type of oil without any guess work.

October 07, 2013

Day 3 - Oil Cooler Line Clips

I wasn't sure the clips I took off the connectors could be reused even if they were not stretched out. So I thought I'd buy new ones.  I ended up buying 3 of them at NAPA but they didn't have a 4th in the same size.

Before I stopped at NAPA I stopped by my local GM mechanic where I had bought the OEM oil cooler lines. I showed him the clips I had pulled out and asked him if I could use them again. Bill said I could as long as I didn't stretch them out when I pulled them out. Then he said something quite interesting that made me wonder what was going on.

Bill said the only way I could buy new clips was to buy the new connectors. I asked him before buying the oil cooler lines if I needed to buy new connectors or could I just buy the lines and he said only the lines were needed unless my leaks were at the connectors. Today after I started to leave, he said he would recommend I buy new connectors with the new lines. I asked him why didn't he tell me that when I bought the lines because he knew what I was replacing.  Makes me curious on why the change of information.

The NAPA owner said I would have no problem using old connectors with new lines. He explained the clips would work on the old connectors and the black plastic sleeve that slides over the clips not only protests the clip from dirt but is also functional in keeping the clip lined up as the sleeve snaps into the connector.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll get the clips installed after work.  Then I'll fire the engine up for a quick to check for any leaks.

Looking at the old clips compared to the new clips there was a difference in spacing, so they had possibly stretched a little but I could squeeze them back a little with pliers to their original position.

October 06, 2013

Day 2 - Oil Cooler Lines Installed

Only 4 new clips to go.

I told you before I wasn't a mechanic but I have been able in the past to do the basic repair for trucks, VW buses and cars. So I kept thinking last night, this job cannot be that hard to do. It's 2 lines and 4 connectors with a clamp clip that is extremely tight to get under to pull out. Add my confusion with what my mechanic Bill told me last week. I was under the impression talking to him, the clips stayed on and "his" tool just turned them enough releasing their pressure to pull the oil lines out.

That was a wrong impression.

So I took off to the local AutoZone to return the "oil cooler line" tools back for a refund and hopefully talk to someone different over there that may know something or anything about what I am trying to do. After all, I have shown everyone at NAPA and AutoZone the pictures I posted on this blog and had in my iPhone. NO ONE told me to pull the clips out....they kept selling me a set of "oil cooler line disconnect tools" that would spread those clips, release the pressure and slide the old lines out and the new lines in. Only the YouTube video talked of pulling the clips out. Now that I know what the clip's purpose was with this type of oil line, it's simple why you pull the clips out.

I left AutoZone with my 3rd set of "the right set of oil cooler line installation" tools, a Haynes Manual for Chevy Vans from 1998-2010, for my own sanity. Since my rig is on a Chevy Van Express 3500 frame.....and it included pictures I felt this manual might be worth the overpriced cost. I'm good with pictures....LOL. Still I wasn't sure the pictures I needed would be in the manual. I got home just in time for the Indianapolis Colts football game on TV so I had pretty well decided that I was done with auto repair for the day, just by making my purchase. During the first commercial I started looking the the Haynes Manual and I find a picture that could have been taken from my iPhone of the infamous clip that I couldn't get off. The describe the process of TAKING OFF THE CLIP!!

While the Colts fell behind 10-0 fast, I set the DirecTv DVR to record the game. I picked up my "hook" tool that I thought wouldn't work, only a different angle and got that 1st clip off that was on factory tight in a matter of a few minutes.

I was in shock!!!!  That clip had been my hold up on this job ALL weekend!!

I moved to the 2nd clip at the bottom of the radiator and that clip lifted up and out smooth has butter. Now the two metal hoses were not moving. About the time I was going back to football and say heck with it...I tried moving, twisting the top hose and little my little it started getting lose. I took a flat edge screw driver and by twisting that flat edge against the metal line....it popped out of the connector.  I'm on a roll so I forget about football, I'm going to finish this job today.

The lower metal tube on the radiator, came out with no problem. Now I had to get a one bolt bracket off that held both hoses in place before it went underneath. The problem was I couldn't fit my arm down there at an angle where I could get a socket wrench on it. In the picture below, that bolt is in the black spot in the center. I finally got that off, pulled the bracket up to along the hoses and took it off.

The big U bracket that the two lines run through is shown below.

I got underneath the rig to pull the lines toward me but even with the black rubber material I couldn't get them to flex and move around some of the RV frame....so I cut both rubber hoses and let the oil drip/run into my oil pan I use for oil changes. I am about half way of getting these lines out, when I run onto a different one bolt bracket that later was a lifesaver when I re-installed the new lines...this bracket not only supported the lines but lined them up correctly. It was pretty easy to get to even with little room under the rig.

Two clips to go up by the filter...I use the hook tool...1st clip out within seconds. The last one of four clips turned as I pulled one end out and I thought I had lost it on the ground (grass) under the RV but there was so little room to maneuver that I couldn't just turn to see where it may have landed. I couldn't find it. The 3rd line comes out smooth as butter. I get to the last line and it will not budge...will not twist..nothing...it's like it's frozen in that connector. I'm stuck on the final line!

I go in the house to get my LED small flashlight. As I look at the final line, I see that clip had not dropped into the grass but had swung around to the back of the connector. The clip was attached enough that it was still holding the line inside the connector.

So all the lines are out, my hands are covered in black oil residue, road dirt, underneath grease gunk and everything else that comes with working on a vehicle. I was able to keep all of my fingers, wasn't missing any tools nor the two bolts I would need to put the brackets back in. I didn't have any oil drip into my eye but my old ballcap took some major oil drips as I was under the rig working.

I did this work while keeping Winston (oldest basset) away and telling him to get out from under the rig...he was determined that I needed help under the rig, so he had crawled on his stomach to get a hounds eye view of the work underneath the RV. Luckily he lost interest and scooted out backwards and laid in the sun the rest of the afternoon.

I almost decided to stop there and install the new lines on Monday but I thought there's plenty of daylight left, it's sunny  .... so I thought I'd at least get the lines pulled through the frame underneath and attach those two brackets that lined up the lines but not tighten them until I had all four lines in their connectors.

The longest part of the installation was installing these two 1 bolt brackets. Some of the time I couldn't see what I was doing. I needed to squeeze this U shaped bracket at the bottom, slide the bolt in and then find the hole on the frame that the bolt was to attach to. It took me a while but finally got the bracket bottom squeezed together with my index finger and thumb while holding the bolt with my middle finger. Once I felt that bolt fall in the bracket...I slid it over about 1/4" by feel, couldn't see anything, I feel the bolt hit the hole in the frame. It's screwed in one click at a time on my socket wrench due to space available.

Bolt in the Center Right of the Hose

Underneath Tight Space
As I was underneath the RV to put the last bracket in, I couldn't remember how the lines went. I must have spent 30 minutes seeing those lines were not going to work on the bracket the way I had them. They would have been pressed tight against the frame and I knew that road vibration would rub those metal lines into leaking. So I knew I didn't have something lined up right.

I then realized I was trying to put the bracket on the wrong side. Once I moved the bracket to the correct side, the lines lined up perfectly. When I installed each line into the connectors I could hear them pop into place, so a solid seal even without the clips. That oil you see is from the old lines coming out....I didn't wipe it clean before the picture, so the new lines are NOT leaking at this point.

I'm not finished.  I have 4 used clips but didn't install them because I am not sure if they are to be reused. I would feel better installing brand new clips and I can get them on Monday. I am going to put in just enough oil to cover the amount that I lost in this repair so I can turn the engine over and check for leaks on the new lines using old oil.

IF....IF there are no leaks after running the engine...then I am changing the oil on Tuesday and will start with new oil. The label in the engine bay showing the mileage, date and type of oil doesn't match the seller's story even though it is a recent oil change...imagine that?....I'll put in new oil and start clean.

So I didn't hit my hour prediction after getting those clips off but I estimate it didn't take me longer than 2-1/2 - 3 hours for the work I did on Sunday. My yard work ballcap took heavy oil drip hits. Better the hat than my head. At least the cap will clean up.

I'm hoping for no leaks with the new hoses installed. If there are leaks, personal counseling will be the next step because I will probably go off the deep end if that happens.

I was sold this "oil cooler line disconnect tool" three different times, different sizes and they never worked as the process was described to me. I know I followed their instructions but I don't think these are for the type of connectors I have. This set of four are going back tomorrow for a $20 refund. The one pictured was the one that would work on my oil lines. Wrong answer.

Nothing More Than An Engineer's Dream

Day 1 - Oil Cooler Line Replacement +1

You may be wondering what the "+1" is about in the title...welllllll let's see if I can keep a smile on my face as I write about it. We had "severe" thunderstorms around 6pm last night. With the torrential downpour I thought that would be a good test for my roof vents that I had left open by mistake. All the vents were open, even the Fantastic fan vent.

Rain was going sideways and hard during the thunderstorm.

Once the rain decreased to just a light rain, Sadie the bloodhound wanted out and Winston the old basset wanted out as long as he could stay under the house overhang...so I thought it would be great time to see if I had any interior rain damage in the RV.

All the walls, ceiling, the over cab bed looked good and dry and I'm thinking it's pretty amazing that all these vents could be open and the vent covers kept the torrential downpour out .... I was impressed to say the least. Just to make sure I wasn't pressing my luck, I closed the vent above the bed to protect any accidents to the new TempurPedic mattress the RV came with.

As I was standing in front of the fridge about to plug in the LED lights, I felt a big drop of water hit my head.

That's never a good thing, especially when you are inside. I glanced up for the source of the big drop of water and I saw a little water residue in the cracks of my light lens. I pulled the lens off and luckily an ocean of water didn't hit my face, I thought that has to be a good sign. Drops have to be better than a waterfall.

So I collect the hounds and head for the house to get a couple of tools so I can take the light fixture out of the ceiling to check on the leak situation. About the time I hit the coach door to walk in the RV, the rain clouds opened up once again for another 30 minutes of downpour. Back inside to watch the next football game. (Yes, I am a college football addict)

While watching football I remember that light fixture is right in back of the A/C. I wondered if that might have something to do with it.

Now forward to the update of the oil cooler line replacement.

Not a lot of success to report on day one. Between the end of my IU game (upset Penn State) and the start of the 8pm game I had enough time to crawl through the local traffic that was in town for the annual Apple Fall Festival. And a crawl it was, but it is the only way I can get to AutoZone 15 miles away. I had called earlier and AutoZone told me they had the right tools to remove the clamp that I pictured in yesterday's post. So off I went to make the purchase.

The set of 4 "hook" tools, small screw drivers with a sharp "ice pic" at 4 different angles, that I had bought at NAPA Saturday morning didn't work. This clamp is on as designed....very very tight. I couldn't get the hook under the clamp to pull it loose.  Was my mechanic Bill showing me a tool that would REMOVE the clamp or just LOOSEN it enough to slide out the oil line? I was under the impression from him, it would turn the clamp enough to open up the space for the oil line to be slid out and the new one slide in. All the YouTube video's I have seen, show the clamp being removed and replaced but like I said yesterday ... I didn't have new clamps that came with my oil lines.

So it's early Sunday morning ... coffee is a lifesaver ... and it's cool and rainy outside, it has rained for the past 1.5 hours I have been up and through most of the night.

I'll be heading over this morning to AutoZone to return the tools they sold me. They might be too big but they are designed to fit over the line, push into the connector and since they are spring loaded, they are suppose to open up that tight clamp enough to slide the old line out and the new line in. Based on the tension of the spring loaded tool and the tightness of the clamp on the connector ... I believe their tool was nothing more than a designer's dream.

So the plan for today, return the tool, maybe talk to a different sales person and find the correct tool. My mechanic Bill is closed on weekends and probably only answers calls where his tow truck is required since he didn't return my phone message about borrowing the tool he showed me. One thing though, the connector he showed me last week is not the same type of connector I am working with.

I am thinking I may need a stronger "ice pic" than the one's I have. The search continues for the correct tool. I believe once I find the correct tool to get those clamps (4) off, then I will have these lines replaced within 2 hours tops.

October 05, 2013

Day 1 - Oil Cooler Line Replacement

RAIN DELAY - pouring! at 9:43am local time.

While drinking coffee this morning as the pregame warmup, I checked intellicast dot com for weather radar that is my preference for weather radar. All rain was south of me and west of me by 200 miles. So I started THE project with sun partially showing on an overcast morning.

Opened the hood, slide back the first line dust cover and there was the C clamp just like my YouTube instruction showed me. I could already tell that my idea of just loosening a nut was not even a close guess and it looked more and more like Bill's tool was what I needed. The removal tool that I bought at the local Napa were just for A/C and fuel hoses as I had pointed out to the cashier but he insisted those were the tools he used to remove the oil cooler hose.

The YouTube video showed using a needle nose hook tool that got under the C clamp and pulled it out enough that you could grip the clamp with the needle nose pliers and then pull the stretched clamp complete off the connector. His hoses came with new clamps, mind didn't. So, I attempted to pry my hook tool under the clamp but I am not sure that is the correct procedure for the clamps that I have. I believe now that Bill's tool is used like he described, with the tool releasing the pressure of the clamp just enough for the old line to slide out and the new line to slide in.

I am pretty sure of that because my lines did not come with a separate package of clamps as if the old ones were replacement. I think Bill would have ordered those clamps if I had needed them.

But the excitement of this morning is yet to come.

Leaving the hood up, my tools sitting outside next to the RV, sun poking through the cloud overcast and knowing no rain is within a 100 miles of me on radar ... I jump in the Chevy pickup and head to NAPA in town to return the incorrect tool and buy hopefully that hook tool I had seen on the video.

While walking back to the truck at NAPA to leave, it sure did look awfully dark in the sky and rain could be just any minute....that is the only thing I was right about this morning. Just as I closed the truck door, rain started pouring down so hard you could barely see.

My RV hood is up, tools sitting outside by the RV and it's pouring so hard I can't see?????  Fantastic.

I told you "Murphy" and I were close friends when I did house or auto repairs....or so it seems. LOL I drive my 1-2 miles back home knowing I will have everything soaked that is sitting outside. It's was strange but the closer I got to my house the highway had less rain on it and by the time I was almost to my driveway, the highway was completely dry!!  LOL

I pulled in, took everything inside that had been sitting outside next to the RV, then tried the new hook tool in prying up that clamp off of the radiator connector for the oil line hose as the video showed. That clamp is on their so tight that I cannot get the hook under the clamp to pop it up enough to take off the connector. So looking at that clamp pictured below, it looks like a tool will be needed that can squeeze that small clamp you see by the large nut, releasing enough pressure for the line to be pulled out and later, the new line slid in, with the clamp staying where it is.

While I was trying to fit my new hook tool under that pin, the rain arrived. I closed the hood and sprinted for the house.

In the meantime while writing this post and loading pictures it has rained in a steady downpour for the last 20 minutes. With the tornadoes in Nebraska and Iowa last night and the storm in the gulf heading north, it looks like it will be a weekend of rain here in southern Indiana.

Hopefully the "football gods" will prevent the DirecTv signal from being blocked due to bad weather.

October 04, 2013

Bought a 2004 but Find Out It's a 2003

Should I be concerned?

Would you be concerned, if what the RVT ad showed and what I was told by the seller before I made the purchase, was different than what is confirmed by the VIN number on the title today?

A few weeks ago I posted on an RV forum that I was looking at a 2004 Coachmen and was looking for any kind of feedback on a 5.7L engine and that RV traveling in the western states. I was then told by the seller it was a 6.0L engine, which would make a difference in buying replacement/repair parts, possibly performance. From that forum post from a couple of weeks ago, I confirmed today that I have a 2003 Coachmen with a 5.7L engine instead of a 2004 Coachmen with a 6.0L as advertised. The 8th digit from the left on the VIN shows R, which is a 5.7L. Not until 2004 did they change to the 6.0L based on information that came from two GM Tech's. The local GM mechanic told me about the 8th digit from the right of the VIN shows it was a 2002 chassis earlier this week.

So, should I be bothered that a small list of things the RVT ad showed as well as what the seller told me before the purchase is confirmed to be different that I have bought? Or, am I just on the paranoid side for buying a used RV?

As far as the oil cooling line replacement, I plan on starting Saturday morning early unless there is heavy rain and lightning. The forecast shows only a 40% chance of thunderstorms tomorrow and 50% chance of thunderstorms on Sunday.  I am anxious to see if the connectors are what I think they are instead of what I am told. That will mean no tool for my guess or using a connector tool on theirs.

October 02, 2013

Oil Leak Source Found

As scheduled on Monday, I crawled under the RV after I got home from work. It was a pretty simple and fast find. I wiped all the oil residue off the oil filter, oil pan, the hoses, and even absorbed the small spot up in the front of the oil pan where it meets the engine. Instead of waiting the 24 hours to see if I had any drips and then driving it on Tuesday, I turned the engine on after cleaning it up and within 2 minutes of idling the engine, my first drip showed up.

Those hard lines are coming from the oil filter, then the black hoses meander through and around the frame and just inside the wheel well, turning back to hard lines that go into the lower radiator...the oil cooling hoses. The 4 connectors between the black hose and hard lines are factory sealed.

So Monday night I took a quick trip to Napa Auto and then to AutoZone, both showing me an assembly for a Chevy 6.0L on a 3500 van frame...but the length's of the hard lines didn't look right, nor the angles. I came home that night and did some further internet searches without much luck.

Tuesday after work I headed for my local mechanic in this small town, "Bill's Auto Repair" that is right across the street from the small mini mart/gas station called "The Picnic Basket".....I am assuming you can read from those two business names and understand just how small the town I live in is. Which at times makes it hard to find repair or replacement parts for anything that has a problem. Even though the town is small and hard to find replacement parts at times, I felt that Bill would know where and how to get the correct oil cooler hose and/or assembly.

He told me he didn't have room above the lift in his garage to work on RVs and he was too old to crawl under an RV and have to work in his gravel parking lot to replace the hose, but he thought he ecould get the GM OEM part for me. I just had to give him the VIN of my RV and he had a site that would cross that VIN to the correct GM OEM part.

I picked up the correct hoses today and matching them with my pictures of the lengths and angles of the hard lines, they are identical.

You have understand something first before you think I am now home free on this repair job. I am not a mechanic, I'm an accountant. I do regular maintenance on my old Chevy pickup truck and use to on my old 60's VW buses I collected a few years ago but as far as doing major repairs ... not me. Also when I have attempted most auto maintenance "Murphy" shows up and makes a normal 1 hour job into an all day affair with me swearing at the end of the job that I will never buy another used car in my lifetime".

"Murphy" didn't take long to show up. Just as I picked up the hoses Bill told me "you know you will need a special tool to open those connections to your oil filter block and the radiator". No, I didn't know that, I thought from the picture I would just unscrew the nut and that would loosen the hose connections enough for me to pull the old lines out and install the new lines then tighten the nut.

I ended up going to the local Napa Auto and buying a plastic connector tool set that says it will work but it doesn't look nearly as impressive as the tool kit for different size connectors that Bill showed me in his shop. I'll try the one's I bought first. Bill said if those didn't work, I could take his set home with me to use as long as I could get them back to him the same day, because they use them every day.

How's that for service?

So as I sit here with the new oil cooler lines, I look at the weather forecast and see rain for most of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I'll wait and see how it goes but I hope to replace the hoses on Saturday with a mindset, yes, it might take me all day just because the two connections to the oil filter are in a pretty tight place. I'm not sure if I can drive it 45 miles with this oil leak to the nearest RV shop to have them do the repair, if I can't get my tool around those two connectors to pull the old lines out and insert the new lines.

These are the two places I need those tools to fit. Sorry for the blurry pictures.

One thing before I go. This repair job does make one thing evident. If this would have happened while I was on the road out in the middle of nowhere I would have either needed to tow a toad or have Good Sam's Services where they would tow my RV to the nearest repair shop where just the repair costs would have been a lot more than the $103 I have spent so far on parts and the tool.

I am now thinking of towing a toad even though I would prefer not to.