Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Detroit 8V71 oil change day

Saturday morning and the snow was melted so I took advantage of the semi dry ground and prepared to change the oil on the "Millennium Falcon". 

These highway coaches are so close to the ground that a service pit is almost essential unless you have a ditch in front of your driveway like this. Two five gallon buckets for this job is plenty. The engine takes 7 gallons or 28 qts of straight 40 weight.

The filters on this coach are shell and cartridge style so first you drain the shell and then you can remove it with the cartridge without making a huge mess. It's also nice since you can inspect the inside of the shell for any metal particles or other tell tale debris that might indicate imminent failure.  

After the filter work was done and the drain plug was back in, it was time to add the 7 gallons of oil. Since I haven't purchased a barrel of bulk oil yet, I used my old 5 qt oil can with the drain button ziptied down and the nozzle in the hungry hole. Much faster than adding a quart at a time.

Primary and secondary fuel filters were next. Same as the oil filter, drain, remove, clean, replace, refill, 
re-gasket, install.

The ears were gone from the secondary filter shell drain but pliers will still open it gently.

With the primary on the right and the secondary on the left, you can see it was well over the time they should've been serviced.

This is a closeup of one of the filter shell gaskets. It's dry, cracked and hard as a rock. Every little thing like this that I find and replace just makes me feel that much better about how reliable our old coach will be in the future if she is maintained properly.

Jess and I celebrated a great and productive weekend.

We also said goodbye to another old friend. Downsizing, while enlightening is often painful. Jess bought this truck 8 years ago and it has been loved by us and will continue to be loved by it's new owners. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Onan gets a new fuel pump.

Blended fuels containing alcohol mixed with long periods of no use finally took it's toll on our emergency generator. Normally we wouldn't be caught dead using the old Onan 6.5 but when it's super hot and you're in transport mode, theres nothing better than kicking on the roof air and chilling out down the road.

It took alot of digging but I finally figured out what kind of fuel pump Onan used from the factory then instead of paying a ripoff  "RV friendly dealer" $160, I found one on Ebay for $65. Here are some specs:
  • Fuel Compatibility: All models of the Facet® High Performance Gold-Flo Solid State Fuel Pumps are compatible with gasoline, diesel, biodiesel, blended alcohol fuels and fuel additives.
  • Reliability: The new Gold-Flo Solid State Fuel Pump is an enhanced version of our Interrupter model. It has Solid State circuitry and will meet or exceed all performance specifications and is totally interchangeable. (These pumps have demonstrated an endurance life almost double that of the nearest competitor, according to our test data).
  • Easy to Install-Easy to Service: Two bolt mounting makes installations easy. Nothing to adjust. For best results, mount the pump close to the fuel tank and below the fuel level. The pump is self-priming to 24 inches vertical fuel lift. Vertical mounting is preferred to assure maintenance of rated pressures. An installation kit is available for replacement applications. The only service normally required is a simple cleaning of the filter and fuel inlet cavity.
  • Eliminates Vapor Lock: When properly installed on most vehicles a constant, smooth, dependable supply of fuel under pressure is assured in the hottest weather or in high altitudes.

The best part was that it was a direct fit and took no more than five minutes to install and now our emergency Air Conditioning Generator is purring like a kitten again.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Solar install completed part 6

Good weather this last weekend made it possible to finish with the panels and combiner box. These 160 watt panels are almost 5 feet long so it's tough to plan exactly where they should go while keeping in mind issues like shading, maintenance, cleaning and more panels in the future. 

The roof combiner box location was not negotiable. It had to be placed directly over our utility closet inside wall where most of the coaches electrical culminates before heading into the basement compartments.

The big red and black 4/2 wire is the one coming from the roof combiner box. It will be hidden behind the closet wall panel perfectly.

Here, the closet floor panel removed, an already existing wire run into the compartment where the charge controller is installed.
Here you can see the final wiring is done and labeled with a marine grade shutoff on the panel side.

Back on the roof, all panels were connected to the combiner box using the AM Solar provided, UV protected 10/2 cable through 4 weathertight strain reliefs.

Final rooftop view. Cables are secured with stays using 3M VHB wire tie bases. 

Battery bay completed  for now. These batteries are not true deep cycle but they were new when we acquired the coach so we'll squeeze some life out of them before upgrading to four large 6V batteries wired in series.

After all was done and double checked, I threw the breaker and PV switch under a mostly cloud covered sky and was greeted by a 7.3 amp charge! With the coach parked North South, none of the panels are tilted for maximum so this is awesome! Later, when the sun did come out, I was able to turn on every 12V appliance including two TVs, all interior lights, stereo with 800 watt amp and the furnace while still maintaining +1.0 amps. Spectacular!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Solar install part 5

The temps were finally up around 40F this week so I unboxed the panels for prepping.

The AM Solar developed Rocker Foot assembly is all stainless steel and a breeze to install with supplied stainless bolts and nylock nuts.

No backup nut needed here since the first bracket has a threaded insert. The feet are three position and already come prepared with 3M VHB adhesive tape.

A photo for scale. 480 watts of solar ready for installation.

Up on the roof of our bus it becomes apparent just how much real estate is taken up by vents, air conditioners and rivet rows. All told, it looks like I will be able to run all three down the starboard (right) side with no apparent shading, leaving the port side open for three more panels in the future.

Since it's not above 60F yet, I'm only test fitting today but as you can see, these large panels turn into a very small feature on a 40 foot coach. Next, I will be installing the AM Solar designed roof combiner box and running more 4/2 cable down through the coach and into the Blue Sky Energy controller.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Solar install part 4

On the battery side of the controller I ran the 4/2 with the positive through a 50 amp weatherproof, ignition protected breaker and the negative side going to the load side of the manganin shunt.

On the controller side, the 4/2 is connected to the proper terminals. 6 feet of  4 gauge copper conductor between controller and batteries comes to only 1% voltage drop which I will compensate for during programming.  

A flick of the breaker and the IPN Blue Sky Pro Remote comes to life! It shows 12.7 V in the batteries with a 1.7 amp draw which was the basement bay light and the front TV in sleep mode. As I turned on each light, I could now measure each load accurately since all 12V loads in the coach now run through the manganin shunt and are reported by the remote.
Next step is the solar panels! Better weather will be here soon so stay tuned!


Monday, February 10, 2014

Solar Install Part 3


I had originally planned on installing the charge controller in the waste tank/battery bay but after a ton of contemplation, I moved it forward one bay to the laundry/freshwater tank bay. Since I will be using flooded cell batteries, it's a much better atmosphere for electronics. When we upgrade our Magnatek dumb converter to a Magnum hybrid inverter/charger, I will mount it in this bay as well. 

The previous owner had already added 1" styro insulation with 3/4" plywood to the inside of each bay making my work much easier. For those of you wondering, that's 3.5 inches between bays. I think he was building her to live in Alaska. I am grateful!


With the controller finally mounted, I pulled the temp compensation wire (remotely senses true battery temperature to adjust charge characteristics) and remote control wire. Next comes running the  big 4/2 wire, stay tuned....

Friday, February 7, 2014

Our mighty 8V71 Detroit




This is by far one of the best videos on Youtube explaining the 8V71. Oil leakin? Blow by? Yep, suppose to! It does so by design.  We love our Detroit and since we are considered an RV, we can still legally operate it in every state in the Union.  

Pro-crastinating for good reason


Hasn't been over 15 degrees  for a week. I want to work on her but I don't like it so much when my fingers try to fall off. GGRRRR...c'mon spring!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014