Repairs & Mods: Convection Micro Re-boot

Out with the new

Look! More Phaeton! This time we’re on a do-over mission. Awhile back we installed a new Frigidaire convection/ Micro oven in place of an oven that failed. Now we’re replacing that new Frigidaire because it’s no good. Just no good at all. It won’t preheat above 300º even if it’s set for 450º and when you put food in it it drops to 200º and sits there looking stupid at you. The thing can’t get a meatloaf to 165º so it’s basically a botulism machine

In with the newer!

The repair person came out and said the sensor and the mother board are bad, but that new parts are not available. Out of stock. Plus the oven has to come down/ out to be repaired. P.S., Home Depot does not allow customers to return major appliances even if they are defective. Bad Home Depot! Bad!

Since We’ve done this before the crappy oven came down pretty quick. Installing the new oven required moving the top support and drilling new holes. The backing plate was replaced with the plate for the new oven, and the vent fan was switched to vent outside

Glamor shot

Since this is in an RV we installed more fasteners that you would for a house install. There is a row of screws into the framing under the bottom cover all along the back of the oven, there are screws through the oven frame into the cabinet frame on both sides too

Maybe you are thinking “Hey, this is a lot more pictures than normal” and you are right. In addition to being a Repairs & Mods post it’s also the install/ uninstall guide for the next person who works on this coach

.

.

.

.

Advertisements

Repairs & Mods: Table leg

Before the new leg

We’re back in the Phaeton and this time we’re modifying the kitchen table. It’s a cool slide out table that goes from two to four seating positions. The table slides out of the cabinet about two additional feet when it’s out. That longer length puts a fair amount of strain on the cabinet that holds it so we decided it needed some help in the form of a folding leg. The leg can be down in either the short or long position, or it can be up in the short position.

Test fitting the new leg while Jimmy checks the tiny internet

The leg is made from oak, the same style and color as the cabinets (and lights we installed last summer). It has a pivot that allows the leg to swing in all the way and tuck under the table, or out about 30º so it does not break off if someone just pushes the table in without taking the load off the leg.

Finished and done! (“Done is the engine of more” – google it)

.

.

.

Repairs & Mods: Fail Edition

All the main areas are marked and ready for cutting

I had planned to install a 14 x 14 skylight/ roof vent in the area above the stove. I marked the area out, located the structure, made sure I was clear of the duct work, and cut an exploratory hole to see what was in the ceiling

Wires!

Wires. Lots of wires

The main wiring bundle from the control center by the front door runs to the power supply near the bathroom and goes right through the area I want to install a skylight in. Both the 12v bundle and the 110v line are in the way

Oops

Now I have a 2.5” hole in the ceiling above the stove and no skylight. Grrrr

I think I can still salvage the project by switching to an 8 or 10 inch porthole from a boat. The round nature of portholes will fit beside the wires and cover the 2.5″ exploratory hole I made.

Stay tuned!

Repairs & Mods Steering Edition

up and at them

I’m at it again with truck repairs. Last summer I had a new steering gearbox installed and now I’m finishing the steering system with new everything else. We’re replacing all the tie-rod ends and the idler arm in the hope that it will tighten the steering up. With almost 300,000 miles on the original parts it’s time to retire them anyway.

A lot of hammering and a pickle-fork to get to this point

When we inspected the steering system we discovered that most of the play appears to be in the new steering gearbox (new parts bad from the factory – thanks China). Still we replaced all the other bits with moving parts in the faint hope that it will cure what is probably a Dodge design malfunction. Here is a curious case: There is a mount for a steering stabilizer on the truck, but no stabilizer has ever been installed on it. I looked for one online and didn’t see where one was a stock item, but Dodge, ya know

fancy new bits

So my new friend Al (Jim & David’s neighbor) has a cool shop with a truck lift and since he is a retired Snap-On dealer he has all the best tools! I ordered the premium line of parts from RockAuto.com for truck 2.0 since I am hoping good parts will improve the steering. It took a couple hours to get the parts R&R’d and only one knuckle got busted.

More new parts

After the install we set the toe-in and took it for a drive. The low speed test (50 mph) seemed fine and the steering seemed a bit more responsive.

Clean new idler arm

The high-speed test revealed that the steering wheel was a bit crooked to the left and the steering is a bit more responsive. It feels like about 1/2 as much play in the steering wheel with the new parts. I set about fixing the crooked wheel, but I turned the rod ends the wrong way the first time so I had to crawl under there again and do it over. Seems I got it right the second time. In a few weeks I’ll have the trailer towing test drive and I hope that turns out as well as the first two tests.

If your are still playing along at home we’re up to $12,250 in truck repairs and modifications

Repairs & Mods Montage

Stage direction: This will flow better if you imagine it’s a time-lapse video blog. Imagination engaged!

Tiffin’s Rube-Goldberg device for opening the coach door

I’ve been helping my friends Jim and David fix-up stuff around their houses the past two weeks. They have a nice property with a house, an accessory dwelling unit (granny unit, garage apartment, et al), and a place to park three RV’s. I helped them spruce up the house to rent it out, we changed out the bathroom faucet, replaced the dishwasher, and fixed some electrical glitches

Yundi’s RV got new LED lighting throughout, and Jim & David’s RV got a new convection/ microwave oven, new kitchen faucet, and some decorative trim.

Tow bar stopped working so we rebuilt it
All better!
Two lights might be brighter than one. Plus foil because it’s fancy!
New entry light left of the speaker

I installed a new light in my coach near the front door plus I doubled the light output of the brake lights. You may recall I was going to install some used ambulance lights as brake lights because mine were so dim. I decided against that because at night they were weapons-grade brightness and I thought blinding drivers was a poor idea. I obtained some bulb holders and LED lamps so I installed those in the stock lens covers along side the original incandescent lamps. Now I have twice the light and a back-up in case one bulb goes out.

.

.

.

.

.

Repairs & Modifications: Plumbing Edition

New plumbing parts

A couple issues have been bothering me since the weather turned cold and they are:

1) Running the hot to get the shower ready wastes water. It takes a couple quarts to drain the cold out of the line and get the water hot at the shower head. I’d like to recapture that water and keep it fresh

2) Once the temp drops below 10ºF the lines in the coach begin to freeze. The water lines to the bathroom run outside the heated space for a few feet and they freeze around 10º. The water pick-up from the fresh water tank is below the tank, running between the tank and the insulating skin on the bottom of the coach. That line freezes around 4ºF

My previous coach was good to -30ºF and I would like to come closer to that operating ability than I am now. One way to do that would be to remove the bottom skin and re-plumb the coach, add insulation, etc, but for now I’m going to create a plumbing circuit that will address both issues.

If there is a flow of water it has to get a lot colder before it will freeze. Running streams don’t freeze as soon as still water so I built a water return circuit to get the hot water from near the shower faucet back to the fresh water tank.

Tapped into the hot line just before the shower valve

I tapped into the hot water line near the shower with a custom made T- fitting then ran a 3/8” line to a ball valve in a place accessible from inside the coach. From the valve I ran the new water line forward through the cabinetry to the fresh water fill port. I tapped into the 1/2” vent line to the tank and connected the new water line to that.

Valve to control the flow from the hot (pressure) to the fresh tank (vent)

Now when I open the re-circulation valve the fresh water pump pushes water to the water heater, then to the shower, then at the T it flows to the valve (open position) then back to the fresh tank via the vent line.

Hot returns to the vent then into the tank

This keeps hot/warm water in the hot line all the time that the valve is open heating the pipe space and keeping the hot and cold lines from freezing. It also keeps water flowing through the fresh pick-up line (keeping it from freezing) and adds hot/warm water to the fresh water tank keeping that tank a lot warmer.

This system does required a 110V connection to keep the water pump supplied with power and to keep the water heater running on 110V. It would also work with the gas water heater system and enough 12V power to run the water pump 50% of the time.

If the re-circulation valve is opened just a tiny bit the water flows and the pump cycles on and off, running less than 50% of the time. The coach has an accumulator/ expansion tank on it to cut down on pump run-time.

When it’s not super-cold outside the re-circulation valve is only opened before I jump in the shower. It flushes the cold water out of the line and pumps it back into the fresh tank so I have hot water right away in the shower.

Since I’m in warm and sunny* California for the next few weeks I won’t have a chance to test the cold weather capabilities of the new system, but the shower pre-heat part works great!

.

*. By warm and sunny I mean 50ºF and raining a fair amount. It is however so much warmer than the -2ºF I drove thru to get here

.

.

.

.

.


Repairs & Mods – Suspension Edition

After 11,000 miles of pulling with the trailer low in the front and the truck dragging its butt on the pavement I decided to get some air springs to level out the system. I made an appointment at The Spring Works in Grand Junction and they installed some Firestone Ride Rite air springs.

IMG_2162

New Air Springs

I’ve decided to set the system up so that the ride height in the rear is the same loaded as it is when the truck is empty. Then add in the tension of the Wt Transfer hitch to bring the front down to where it was with the truck unloaded as per the Wt transfer hitch instructions.

IMG_2163

I started by measuring from a grove on the hub-cap to the edge of the fender well on all four wheels. The measurements are not all the same. There is about 1/2” difference from side-to-side. I suspect age as a factor in that. The front is about 2” less than the back which is to be expected.

Before air springs the trailer caused the truck to squat about 3.5” in the rear. After air springs (with 60 psi loaded. 50 psi unloaded) the air springs get the rear of the truck back up to where it belongs. Engaging the Wt Transfer torsion bars brings the front down to within 1/2” of where it was unloaded.

On the test drive the rear of the truck stayed put. It bobs WAY less than before and the ride up front is better. The front still bobs up-and-down when we drive over a rough spot in the road, but the energy needs to go somewhere.

For those of you keeping score at home this brings the truck’s trailer-towing modifications and repairs to about $12,000.