The Tale of A Generator part 2, or how to become really really discouraged in humanity.
So picking up where we left off we had reached home in Alpine Texas, done some interior work, and fixed the transmission, go team! First thing I needed to do was tear out the old hoses, which was actually a bit of a pain in the butt.
After that was done I had to order new ones, let me tell you those hoses are not cheap, surprisingly the best price I found was at Wal-mart.com. I actually sat on this project for a while, just couldn't get motivated, plus there were a ton of other things to do. But after some time had passed and we were getting closer to leaving Alpine again, I figured I better get going on it. Took a weekend to get it all back together, filled the system with distilled water to flush the system and noticed the weep hole on the water pump was leaking. For those that don't know a weeping water pump means that you need a new one.
Took a while to track down a new one how many Yanmar dealers do you know. Actually Yanmar motors were used in a lot of equipment including John Deere. But it still took a bit of google searching.
After draining the system again and installing the new pump, I went back to flushing the system, after a significant amount of flushing I drained it again and added a 50/50 mix of coolant and distilled water. While I was getting everything up to operating temperature, all of a sudden there was a loud metal grinding sound and smoke started to pour out from the rear of the generator compartment. I immediately hit the kill switch and wept for a bit.
By this time we needed to get ready to hit the road, no time to fix it in Alpine. We needed to get going to Brady TX, and start our "Adventures". So we packed up our stuff and headed to Brady for the first leg of our new adventure. While in Brady I installed a new inverter/battery charger combo and made an appointment at a generator shop that had worked on Blue Bird Wanderlodge generators before, and seemed to have good reviews. A few weeks later we were in San Antonio. We dropped the bus off at the shop for the day so they could diagnose the problem.
Turns out the rear housing was shot and they couldn't find a replacement anywhere. The generator head (the electricity making part) was made by Kohler and they didn't make it any more. The shop owner talked about maybe getting a machine shop to fix it, but he never followed up with it. I suggested getting a new head. There is a company in Georgia that makes a head that will bolt right up to the Yanmar, sort of. The shop didn't show any desire to do that. So I took the bus to the RV park we where staying at in San Antonio. Well that made it official we were going to Alaska without a generator, at least there are plenty of RV parks so we won't have to worry about power the whole trip there and back. If you haven't read it yet you may want to check out "The Lost Voyage" to see how that worked out for us.
Now its time for another shop story, hold on to your britches.
The Shop that Didn't
So while we were traveling to San Antonio I noticed that the batteries weren't charging which is bad because the refrigerator runs off the batteries while we are traveling down the road. Plus it turns out we had a new problem. When we got to the RV park in San Antonio I only had one leg of power (usually there is two). I tested the power pedestal and cord and everything checked out. So I got on-line and found a mobile RV place just down the street, gave them a call, and they sent someone out right away. The guy got there and did the same tests as I did and concluded that the pedestal and cord were good, thanks buddy I already knew that. So next was check the plug on the bus, which meant tearing into the bus itself. We found a bit of corrosion but not enough to cause any problems, we cleaned it up anyway, still only one leg. Next up was the transfer switch which is buried deep within the closet at the rear of the bus. The poor guy squeezed into the hole and started testing stuff. Oh yeah did I mention it was June and 100 degrees outside, and if you're following along we didn't have any power so no AC, FUN. While the RV guy was in the sweatbox closet I was outside doing something important I'm sure. I was messing with the cord and all of a sudden two legs again. Turns out it was the cord after all. While testing we were forcing the connection to the plug end with the meter leads, but they weren't tight enough to make contact with the bus side plug. Anyway I had a spare cord and we were back in business.
Back to the fact that the bus wasn't charging the batteries while running. I had a pretty decent experience with the guy from the mobile RV place, and they have a big shop just down the road, and there is a motel between the RV park and shop, quite convenient. Took the bus to the shop to have them replace the alternator (I assumed it was the alternator), and change the oil pan gasket (had quite the leak) on a Monday. Tuesday we get a call and they say that it wasn't the alternator, we had 2 bad batteries. Well I know it's best practice if you're going to replace 2 batteries you'd better replace them all. So 5 new group 31 batteries, but at least the charging issue is fixed right? Later on Tuesday I get a call that they can't find a oil pan gasket locally they'll have to get it overnighted from Michigan. Well alright. Then I get a call on Wednesday, um we were looking at your oil pan and it has some pin holes in it. I go over to check it out, yeah it looks like a star projector, you know, put it over a lamp and it projects stars on you walls. Well that's not going to do, and guess what, they can't find a new pan anywhere, despite the fact that GM (Detroit Diesel) made I don't know a million 8v92's over its 20 year life. Lucky for me they found one on a wrecked big rig at a salvage yard.
Finally get a call on Friday that the bus is ready. Go down to the shop to pick it up. Well they didn't disconnect the brand new batteries while it sat for 2 days and guess what they were dead dead deadski. So they had them on a quick charger, but it was fine because once the bus was started the batteries would charge. Got the bus started and noticed that the voltmeter was still showing only 12 volts (should be closer to 14 when charging), they said yeah we noticed that to we think its the gauge. BS. Anyway we needed to get on the road so I paid them ($$$$) and left to the RV park. Get to the RV park and go to plug in and realise they somehow broke the door latch to the compartment where the power plug is. I'm not sure how they managed that they didn't even have to open the door for anything. It's also not exactly an off the shelf item and was riveted to the bus. I walk around to the back of the bus and notice that one of the composite bumper corners was hanging on by a thread, apparently they used it to drag themselves around under the bus and broke it too. I was able to reattach it without too much trouble, but still its the principle of it all.
At least the bus charging system is fixed and no more leaks, right? Well 1 out of 2 is ok I guess (unless you just paid a but load to have it fixed and it wasn't) On the way to Norman Oklahoma I noticed that the voltmeter had dropped to 11 volts, son of a...
I got online and ordered a new alternator (actually 2 of them, one for backup). Installed it myself in like an hour, and now the charging system in the bus is actually working properly, and we can have stuff in the fridge stay cold, that means no food poisoning kids. YAY!
The moral of this story is, be extra cautious about shops, and learn to do stuff yourself, someway somehow.
Dang well it looks like this is going to be a three parter. Here's a sneak peak of what's to come! Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion.