The pitfalls of old RV's and poor Big Three Engineering. ( GM) to be exact.

A little history. I bought the palace in the fall of 2014 hoping to have a way to spend time with my boys as two of them had moved out of town following college. Both engineering grads and both finding careers in the auto industry. They ended up being thirty miles from each other but, 150 miles from home. I wanted to be able to see them with out interrupting their life's and the Palace was a good fit. They live in an area where there are several State parks within 20-30 miles from their new home's. The Palace for those that don't know is a 1978 Travelcraft class "C" on a 77 Chevy Van (G-30) cutaway chassis; it is powered by a HO 350 through a TH-400 transmission. The Palace is a tornado survivor and was a very well maintained one family owned RV. I am the second owner and she has just over 22 K on the clock. The Palace has served me well except for a few instance's most of witch are documented here on Good Old RV's. One of the most bazaar was on a trip home from Alum Creek Res. near Dayton Ohio; I was about 35 miles from home running around 60 MPH when it just shut off after pulling off the highway I found that a fusible link had blown on the 10 awg charging wire from the alt. via the starter. Now that in it's self isn't that big of a deal but for the fabulous engineering GM done on routing the wire through a tube that runs between the block and the manifold. I say this because there was no evidence of a short circuit so heat was the prime suspect. $11.00 for the repair part and $120.00 for a 9 mile tow. There have been many trips since and a few major up grades as well. I had a vibration in the torque converter so I changed it as well as putting in a newly remand HD TH 400 from Monster Transmission. I still have the original and there is nothing wrong with it, just 40 years old. since the change out I have made several small trips and felt that it was a good investment and that I should be comfortable with a longer trip. This brings us to the point of Today's discussion. This past weekend my middle son and I took the palace up to Lexington Ohio for the Vintage motorcycle day's at Mid Ohio Race Course about 120 mile one way trip. The Palace ran wonderfully, It still rides like new and it had all the power it needs to run around the hill's and valley's found here in Ohio. On the way home we took interstate 270 around Columbus Ohio and was about 30 min. from Lancaster Ohio when the old girl just shut off like before. now warning running at 60 or so very solid with nothing out of the ordinary. I was in the middle lane and heavy traffic and no one want's to let me over. coasting I finally just started sea sawing my way over to the shoulder; I guess the smoke billowing out of my hood was a clue that some thing was wrong and was given passage to the right-LOL.. I got her safely off the road and as quickly as I could got out as fire was starting to shoot from the grill. I grab my fire extinguisher and dowsed the fire but it came right back. I remembered that I had my small socket set under the passenger seat and was able to disconnect the battery and there by ending the source of the flames. Well here I am again only 85 miles from home on a Sunday night stranded. after the thing had cooled down enough to take stock in what had just transpired I found that the wire loom had caught fire that supplied the charge circuit from the Alternator via the starter. This time though the fusible link did not blow!! it was found to be intact just like the rest of the lead with the insulation burnt clear off. I'm really at a loss as to what has now happened twice in this circuit. There are no signs of a short to ground anywhere in the circuit the damage was relegated only to the charging circuit and wiring that came in contact with that lead. At a cost of $450.00 for towing and about 4 hours trying to get a tow through my insurance it was not a fun experience. I have all new wiring and will be removing the heat problem buy relocating the lead away from the starter. I am also going to replace a perfectly good starter just on the off chance it may have an internal fault that only comes to light periodically. I hope everyone has had a safe and enjoyable time this summer and I will be back up and on the road in a few days hoping to make it to the gathering.

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Nice update Rich. Hope you can attend the GORV's Annual Rustic Retreat camp out too. Lydia and I would like to meet you in person here at the event.

A little update on the Palace; after digging into the aftermath of the smoke and ash ending of what was a great weekend, the fire was pretty much contained to the engine bay wiring harness. After a good wash down of the motor and engine bay I think the old girl really dodged a bullet. I pulled all the burnt wiring and insulation from the hump area and was pleased to see nothing was damaged like plastic tanks and, none of the fuel , vacuum lines or other components had any sign of meltdown. I have remade the whole engine wiring harness from scratch and re done the mess that GM thought was professional grade engineering (like power wiring running between the block and exhaust manifold) wow! still scratching my head on that one for sure. Anyway I have had it running testing circuits and it seems to be no worse for ware from the fire. I am taking the time to change out all the hoses's , a full engine and radiator flush and new thermostat. I replaced the Alternator and Starter with new as apposed to remand as the price was only a few dollars difference. with the way it was wired from the factory it was just a matter of time for this to happen. The old starter is still good so it will be a spare. The Alternator looked okay and spun free  but I saw a dark spot that peek my interest so I tore it down and found the Bridge rectifier had shorted to ground and that was the cause of the melt down. It still puzzles me as to why the fusible link didn't do it's job. My only explanation is they must have put to big a link in when it failed a couple years ago. At this point I have the new harness wired in and redone the way I think it should have been done 40 years ago and have driven it around my property. I am debating if I should go ahead and replace the fuel pump and water pump while i'm in the area; they are the only other peripheral components left. Both seem to be in good working order but they are 40 years old too. Anyway I'm up beat about the repairs and really I have had fun doing the work. I'm still trying to make the retreat next week and hopefully it will all work out. That's it for now, looking forward to the retreat. 

Good on ya mate. LOL Glad you fixed your problem Rich. I like to hear good stories especially when someone takes the time to do it RIGHT.

If it were me I would replace the fuel pump and water pump. You do know:"Murphy is alive and well and living in your area".lol

Take care my friend.
Jack

For sure Jack, I picked up the water pump today and the fuel pump is ordered. the old parts will make good spare's too!

And now the rest of the story. I worked diligently on the rewire and must say it came out very well. the engine bay wasn't as big a mess as I first thought and I was able to get all the factory type connectors from the internet and completely re wire the engine bay portion of the harness. I made some significant changes in the way it was wired and the way the wiring was routed; I think it came out really nice 20180824_192233.jpg . I have owned the Palace now for 4 years and it means a lot to me because it allows me to stay close to my boys who both found jobs away from home but close to each other. They both live about 30, 40 miles apart up in the north west part of the state and the Palace allowed me to go up and camp at one of the many State Parks near them and I didn't have to feel like I was intruding. We have also made a tradition of a winter camp for Thanksgiving. We head out to Lake Hope or Hocking Hills and spend the weekend just hiking playing board games and burning a Turkey. We usually have friends join us for the day ( burning a Turkey = deep frying it) 2014%20Thanksgiving%20camp%20at%20Hocking%20Hills%20019.jpg any way enough of that, back to the present. After an event like watching flames and smoke bellowing out from your hood at 60 miles an hour it gives one pause to consider just what the hell am I doing here. For me, I was all but ready to strip the 350 short block and my all but new turbo 400 from the chassis and send her off to be turned into a Prius or a Maytag, but cooler heads prevailed and that is where we are at to this point. For the last three years I have made plans to make the Jimco jam aka Retreat and for some reason or other I was never able to make the trip but this year I decided to make it come hell or high water or, even an engine fire. So the wiring was done and I decided I was going to remove any possible reason for me to not make that trip and set about replacing all the peripherals that I could to eliminate any possible brake downs. I wanted to do a trip that wasn't going to have me on pins and needles at every bump or strange noise. I didn't want to be paranoid every mile there and back. I set out and changed everything I thought could or would be a major problem if it failed. The Palace now has a new Fuel Pump, Water Pump, Alternator, Starter ,Thermostat, all new hoses to the heater and radiator in addition to the new Transmission and Torque Converter I put in at the end of the season last year so now I think I can travel anywhere with confidence. Wednesday came and went with out me heading out so I missed day one but, hit the road Thursday afternoon. The ride up was carefree but not without a little apprehension. I chose to head up State rt. 50 east to Interstate 77 thru Akron and on to Thompson. At the interchange of 50/77 there is a backward turn up a steep ramp to inter 77 and this is where the Palace ballooned the torque converter just a year ago and as chance would have it nearly to the day! As I made the turn I kind of cringed a bit but the old girl took it in stride and never looked back. At that point I was as relaxed as I have been in some time and just really enjoyed the rest of the trip to Jimco's well, except that little detour my google maps sent me on up near Amish country. If you ever want to go see how the Amish live, skip Berlin and Holmes Co. and get lost out behind Jimco's somewhere on rt 86?... I pulled into the Retreat I think around 6;30 or so and there was Jimco to great me and take the Iconic arrival pic; that is when you know you have made the retreat. It was very nice and the members I met there was exceptionally nice. I spent a couple days there with plans to head west and visit my sister and then go south to visit my youngest son on my way back home. I felt very welcomed at the retreat and Jimco and Lydia are truly genuine folks that really are glad to meat you and offer there property for a few days to congregate with like minded folks and just relax. It's a no pressure event and I had three of the best carefree nights sleep I have had in some time. I finally got to meet up with Russ and his gal Faye they hauled me around town Friday just shopping and hitting up a fruit stand that had the best Ohio Yellow peaches I have had ever. Saturday was a good day as well Carey and I went on a day trip of sorts hitting up Sands RV ( what a cool place, I found three new hub caps there for the Palace as I lost one some where on my Amish country excursion) we found a little road side yard sale kind of stand and chatted with the couple that ran it for a while, then hit up an old gas station that had a late 50's Buick up on a lift and another one stored under the lift . I think Carey will some day be tooling around in one of those cars if he ever figures out who left them there and what a thrill riding around in the GOGO bus. Talk about rubber necks it's a wonder he isn't pulled over for neck twisting the public every one we passed done a double take and pointed. The big pot luck dinner was very good and we even had a fireworks show. Well more like firecrackers but a hoot all the same. My plan was to head out on Sunday before noon if I could but I was very tempted to stay a day or two longer. I had already told my sis I would be there Sunday afternoon to visit plus my middle son was home in case I had trouble while traveling, A nice thing to have while traveling by your self, he could come and help me out if need be. I headed out the same way I came in for the first couple miles then Google took over and I was in new territory for the first hour or so of the trip. Google must like messing with you! On my way across Ohio on Interstate 90 is when I got the first clue I had a problem. The Palace started surging or slipping or? but it went away after I got out on open highway but being the paranoid type I called my sister and let her know I was going to head back down 77 and would have to make it an other time. I also called my son and let him know there was a potential for needing him so he was on stand by. After clearing traffic in Akron I was feeling like I had jumped the gun and really felt bad I didn't carry through with my plans because the thing was running well; that didn't last long! If you have ever traveled Interstate 77 between Akron and Caldwell you know about those long down hill and up hill runs. The Palace done well going down but going back up I would feel a lugging slipping loss of power kind of thing going on and it was not a fun thing. I felt like the transmission was slipping on the top end of those long up hill runs but was fine on the level and downhill run. I noticed I was at just under 1/4 tank of gas near Cambridge and decided I would fill up and get a pop and a chip. When I jumped out to fill up I noticed a smell of hot brakes but could not really say it was from the Palace but the park brake lever was on the first or second notch because it sprung back slightly when I hit the release. In my mind the problem was solved. The brakes would heat up going up hill and cool on the flats. I pulled out of Cambridge only to find out that there was no re entry to 77 and I had to backtrack 10 miles or so and on the same trek just 1/2 hour ago there was no problem what so ever with the Palace so that was  reinforcing and relaxing a bit to say the least. Problem solved, well not so much!  There wasn't any problems that is till I hit Parkersburg. Going from 77 back onto 50 at the same place I had the torque converter problem the Palace all but shut down on me, I made the turn okay but then it spit sputtered and even backfired a couple times and I thought I was in for another tow bill. As luck would have it though I let up on the gas and then reengaged with a little finesse and she took off and ended up getting me home. What I learned? For one you can never be fully prepared if something is going to mess up it will. I felt I was as well prepared as I could be for this first after the fire trip and I feel fortunate I got home. The next couple days I spent removing the gas tank and found it to be as clean as a new one but the sock filter on the sending unit was varnished up and semi plugged. Also since the day I bought the Palace it has had a dead spot just off idle that I could live with but now I want to fix it too I replaced the accelerator pump and the old float was stuck tight down between the venture's so it got a new brass float . Once again I put in motion a plan. I don't like being paranoid every time I climb into the cab and turn the key so I decide to just wholesale change out the fuel delivery system and started by dropping the tank. I was fully prepared to replace it and all the lines plus the q-jet 4bbl. The tank being clean as new was a big positive so I replaced the sending unit and all the hoses from the tank to the fuel pump plus the filter. I had just replaced it before the trip. and to go a little farther I also replaced the plugs, plug wires, and all the vacuum hoses. I also went ahead and de-greased the motor and taped it off and gave it a fresh coat of paint. I had just replaced the valve cover gaskets and painted the valve covers but the fire ruined that paint so, I done it again. I can honestly say this has been a year of renewal for the Palace. I'm not holding my breath but I have to think that this thing is as good a shape as it can possibly be at this point. I just got it done yesterday and it is now a pleasure to drive; no drop off idle, the transmission shifts smoth and the steering is still as tight as new. I hope now I truly can get in there and just turn the key and go. I guess we will find out soon enough.20180824  

  

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