Repairs and Mods

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Whenever I see and old truck still chugging along it gives me hope for truck 1.0

I was having some trouble with the truck not wanting to start, which I suspected was due to a fuel or air leak. I took it to Bodacious Diesel in Golden, Colorado and sure enough the fuel system was leaking in three places near the filter housing. It also needed brake work on three wheels, steering work, and front suspension work.

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Truck 1.0

I thought about just donating the old truck and getting a new one, but Jeremiah said there was nothing wrong with the 5.9 liter, 12-valve engine that some new components would not fix. He explained that the fuel system was not delivering enough fuel (low pressure at the lift pump, worn out injectors, etc) and the stock turbo is too small to really pack enough air in the cylinders. Part of that is age (24 years) and part of that was the very de-rated nature of the 5.9 all those years ago. Since fixing the current truck is about $30,000 less than getting a new one I went with the repair idea (really hoping that wasn’t my second-best choice).

That didn’t stop me from looking at new trucks though. I test drove a 4×4 Ram 3500 dually (diesel) and a 4×4 F-250 crew cab (gas). Both of them rode like a truck; bouncing down the road the same as my current truck. I had hoped suspension technology had improved to the point where a 3/4 ton or 1-ton truck could ride like a 1/2 ton, but no.

The regular cab Ram and the crew cab Ford both had the same apparent turning radius as current truck so no difference there either. The Ram is about the same height off the ground as current truck though the F-250 is much taller. The gas Ford was very quiet with no load though when towing the forums often say stuff like “the motor screams (diesel guys)” or “the motor sounds like a mustang (car guys)”. The 6.2L’s peak HP is at 4500 rpm so for diesel peeps that’s screaming. There are also opinions about it hunting/shifting, but guys who run in manual mode say that solves it. Maybe if I really need 4×4 in the future I’ll have to pony up the dough.

The current/ repaired truck will have a new and bigger turbo (58mm vs 35 mm), a FASS fuel system from the tank to the injector pump, a performance attitude adjustment system in the injector pump to increase fuel-flow, new and bigger injectors (50 HP more), and a new bigger exhaust system to get all that money out the tail pipe. Jeremiah promised that it will pull better than the 6.2L Ford and he said I could have it back tomorrow (7-working days after I dropped it off).

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New turbo charger

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FASS fuel pump and filters

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Peek-a-boo! The new electric FASS pump and filters

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Attitude Adjuster. I have it set at 4 (200 HP)

I’m really hoping I didn’t just go all sunk cost fallacy with this whole shebang so stay tuned to see what tomorrow brings!

(scene: The setting sun is bottom-lighting the clouds. Orange glow on the eastern horizon fading to pink, to gray, to black … )

The next day

(scene: The mid-day sun is beating down on the parched earth. Even the shadows are hiding under trees trying to escape the unrelenting rays of the sun.

I picked the truck up on time as promised. I’m very happy about that, so happy in fact I’m going to say it again. Bodacious Diesel had the truck ready at the time they said it would be ready. I’m happy about that!

While Jeremiah was figuring up my total bill Sean took me for a tour of the truck version 2.0. Sean had tuned the truck to run well and not smoke too much. I’m not a fan of smoke and that was something we talked about before they set it up. The attitude adjuster has a dial in the cab which changes the amount of fuel the injector pump draws on each stroke. More fuel, more air, more heat, more go.

And more go it does! There is an on-ramp to the highway where I normally would get up to 60 before merging with traffic so to test the unloaded truck 2.0 I floored it when the light turned green and was heading north of 80 mph before I took my foot off the fuel control pedal.

The power band on truck 1.0 was between 1500 and 2000 rpm and above 2000 it just went flat. The only reason to go above 2000 was on the shift between 2nd and 3rd because the gears jump too far and if it’s not above 2000 it would be about 1200 in 3rd. Lug, lug, lug.

Now the power band is from about 1800 to 2500 with a serious kick at about 21-2200. Enough kick to set me back in the seat!

Truck 1.0 was governed at about 2250 rpm even though Cummins says the peak HP on that year was at 2600 rpm. Truck 2.0 has 3000 rpm springs in the gov so it can get to the peak HP rpm.

A few things I noticed right away were the high-pitch high-speed pump sound the new FASS pump makes. It flows a ton of fuel to feed the thirstier injection pump and the bigger injectors, but it is audible in the cab at less than highway speeds. Once we’re going 60-ish the wind noise and all the other diesel truck going down the highway sounds cover up the pump sound. The new injectors don’t leak fuel so when I take my foot off the fuel control pedal the rpm’s drop fast. I’m learning how to shift all over again. Also I have to be careful not to floor it anymore because it will spin the tires on the unloaded truck 2.0

Towing Road Test with about 8,700 pounds of trailer

From a standing start at the bottom of the on-ramp we were doing 60 at the top. If there hadn’t been so much traffic I could have been going even faster at the merge point.

It seems that at highway speed – for me that’s about 64 mph (1800 rpm) – the pedal is only half way to the floor instead of the 3/4 to 7/8 it use to be. Everything spools up and revs up faster than it use to. On hills where I had to floor it just to keep some speed now the cruise control just handles it. If I use the fuel control pedal I tend to speed. It is a huge improvement!

I found some instructions for the attitude adjuster online (it didn’t come with any) and the instructions say 4 (middle of the range from 1-8) is best for towing. That’s 200 hp. The 8.5 setting puts out 395 hp.

Next week we head into the mountains west of Fort Collins and take on some mountain passes. Stay tuned!

 

Chaffe CR 194 to Wheat Ridge, CO

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Looking out the window at the nice motel

After 2 nights boondocking in the cool quiet mountains it’s on to the big city for some warranty work on the RV and a visit to the dentist.

We left early Sunday morning to beat the traffic. In Colorado you have to leave early on the day before a holiday weekend ends or you will be stuck in traffic for half a day trying to get into the city. Really sad 😦

The drive was nice. We had a big ole tailwind blowing us across South Park and up and over Kenosha pass. The winding decent down-canyon along the South Platte River was green and the river was flowing strong. There appears to be more snow on the northern mountains than there were on the southern ranges near Salida, but even at that there is not much snow on the high peaks anywhere in Colorado. News reports say 2017/18 is the fifth-driest winter on record.

The boys (all 4 of us) are a bit freaked out that we are in a Motel instead of the RV. The RV needs a roof repair and we can’t stay in it while the shop works on it. In addition to the warranty work (which I might say more about when I write a long-time review of the Outdoors RV) we’re getting a Maxxfan installed.

We checked into the Pet-Stain Motel 6 near where the RV is being repaired and didn’t like it one bit! The area seemed like a good place to be robbed and the motel was so bad I didn’t take my shoes off. Everything was sticky! Long-story-short I moved the RV to a better area for the night and took it to Ketelsen Campers the next morning. We got a much better room at the La Quinta in Westminster for the remainder of our stay. MUCH nicer motel! King-size bed, fridge, microwave, aahhh.

One of the first rules of RVing is if the area gives you the creeps – Get Out of There!

 

 

Expedition Vehicle

Tom’s Expedition Vehicle Build:
Part of the reason I came to Arizona in May was to see Tom’s truck. While I’m here mooching electricity off of Tom’s family I though I would chip in on the Expedition Vehicle Build. This post is mostly about cutting in the windows. If you want to follow the whole build you can see it at https://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/2009-chevy-medium-duty-4×4-kodiak-ambulance-conversion.191535/

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The door window stays. The other window will be removed.

The house-part of the truck had only one window on the curb-side to start with and it was in the wrong place for the interior design. Tom planned the windows so a person standing inside can see out without needing to crouch down (A feature most coaches lack in every way). That meant the windows needed to be placed high on the walls. First Tom cut in the rear street-side window, then we cut in the forward street-side window. We needed the cut-out from the forward street-side window to plug the hole left behind when we took out the factory curb-side window which was too low and in the wrong place.

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Removed the window and plugged the hole with a cut-out from the other side

Once we plugged the factory window opening with the cut-out we could cut in the new window openings for both curb-side windows. After the new window openings were cut in we added structural supports on the inside to carry the roof load to the floor and mitigate any diagonal-load issues.

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Cut two new openings

The end result is a very spacious and airy living space with ample cross ventilation. The windows are at eye-level when standing inside and also at eye-level when sitting on the raised dinning area. Given the height of the truck and the raised windows it’s also very difficult for someone outside to look inside without standing on a 6-foot ladder.

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Two new windows in the correct place

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Tom and his dad cut in the window on this side

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Tom admiring his handy-work

Projects and Modifications in Oracle, AZ

We’re here visiting friends and working on vehicles. Tom is building an expedition vehicle and has chosen a 4×4 ambulance as the staring point. More on that later

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Tom’s expedition truck and my ’95 Dodge

Tom told me about a trick to save water and propane so I’m going to install that while I’m here.

Plus we’re going to ride Mountain Bikes! How fun is that!?

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Tom’s truck is 23′ long, about 10″ tall

First up, the Water Heater:

Before we get into this here is something I recently learned (04/19). A water heater that only gets to 100*F can harbor bacteria. Bad stuff too. If you do this mod you should heat the water over 140* on a regular basis. Here is a link to the details: https://www.treehugger.com/green-food/is-it-safe-to-turn-down-your-water-heater-temperature.html

There is a 10-gallon water heater in my coach that can run on either electricity or propane gas. I suspect it heats water up to about 120/140* F before it shuts itself off. Of course 120/140 is too hot to be comfortable on my skin so I add some cold water to get the temperature just right. Seems simple enough.

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There are two issues in my coach about hot water. First is that the shower faucet (mixer valve) has a cruel habit of sending cold water to the shower head when the shower head switch is off. When I switch the shower head on to rinse I get a shot of cold water before the warm comes back. I though it was a back-flow issue so I installed two check valves, one in the hot and one in the cold supply lines to prevent any cold-feeding-to-hot water flow. That did nothing to mitigate the issue so it’s probably a fault with the design of the mixer valve.IMG_1821

Anyway, one solution to the problem is to just run only the hot water and no cold. That saves the shot of cold water going to waste. The way to create just the right temperature of hot water is to put a temperature probe on the water heater tank. I choose a digital thermometer with a wired probe to sense outside air temperature. I inserted the probe between the tank and the insulation at the top (hot water out) connection and mounted the readout nearby.IMG_1822

I turn the water heater on and watch the temperature rise to about 100* F then shut the heater off. The water temperature rises about another 5* after the heater is off. Partly because of sensor lag and partly due to the time it takes water in the tank to mix and stabilize at the same temperature.

The second issue I’m trying to mitigate is propane use. I don’t fancy the idea of heating water up beyond what is useful and wasting propane to do that. By switching the heater off at a lower temperature I save a fair amount of propane. For example, with low temperatures in the 50’s and highs in the 80’s it only takes 5 minutes to heat the water up to 104*. The benefit of this set up is that I save both propane and water – Plus I don’t get zapped with a shot of cold water at bath time!IMG_1823

• Side note: You could use a wireless system and the sensor is going to be much bigger. That requires cutting the insulation away and replacing it over the sensor. Also if the probe is wireless they update about once a minute so there will be a bigger delay in reporting the temperature so it will get hotter after shut-off •