Our Travel House

Our Travel House

Saturday, November 29, 2014


11-29-14 Planning the engine change
Still in Robertsdale, Alabama at Wilderness RV Park.
I've been on the phone and internet a lot this week ! As you might believe, trying to plan an engine change this far from home can be a challenge. Locating a mechanic and an engine has taken up a lot of time. I put an ad on Craigslist for a mechanic and got a call that evening from “ Robert “. He lives about a ½ hr from us and gave me a fair quote for labor. I located a low mileage 454 engine with 33k miles on it that has been taken out of a motorhome.
My friend and neighbor, Phil, gave me a ride today to meet Robert at the salvage yard and we all checked out the engine. So far, so good ! Robert is supposed to call in the next few days to set up a date for the work to be done. He's guessing next week and 2 days.
I'm praying this all happens without any glitches.
Since we live fulltime in our rig we'll probably have to grab a motel nearby for a few days. Gonna research that soon. Might be in Loxley, Alabama for that, judgeing by my preliminary search.
I've done a lot of “wrenching” in my life so I have some knowledge of what needs to be done. If we were back home it would make all this seem so much easier. Probably would be done by now. But, be that what it may, here we are. I started out with estimates around $9K and now have it down to less than $2K..not bad !! This whole job should take about 2 to 3 short days, about 24 hrs at the most. ( at Geezzer speed ! ) Robert is, I guess, about 30 years old and seems knowledgeable. I remember being that age ! Full of confidence and brawn !! Oh, those days were crazy !!! But, we got a lot done back then !
I'm not totally without transportation. Got the Goldwing. I'm hoping the weather allows me to ride. I'll try to help out where I can and try to stay out of the way. I know how I am when it comes to having someone hanging over my shoulder when I'm wrenching. Interruptions only confuse the whole job. It takes a lot of focus to do this kind of job.
So, next up is a call from Robert to set a date for the work.


Charlie & Heather

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

11-26-14 HAPPY THANKSGIVING & we're thankful in Alabama

11-19-14 Robertsdale, Alabama
What happened to Southern good weather?? Last few days have been chilly. Night freezes. Mid 20's last night from 9PM til 9AM. The RV park had notices on everyone's door that the water would be off at 6PM. We made sure our onboard water tank was full. He water was back on at 9:30 in the morning.
There was a potluck dinner at the clubhouse last night so we went and met some more of our neighbors. Nice bunch of folks. Got back in the rig by 8PM and the walk back was cold! We had lowered the heat setting before we went to dinner and raised it immediately as we walked in the door. The furnace and the electric heater got a good workout last night. It was below freezing til 9AM, as predicted, but the sun is shining today so it'll warm up quickly. I'm looking forward to getting back to normal this weekgave.
To update our engine failure progress: I found a repair shop about ½ hr ride from here. Our new friend, Dave, gave us a ride to check out a MH for sale. It was a mess! The shop owner had it for sale. I asked him if he could replace our motor. Had a lengthy conversation with him and he said he'd research the possibility and call me in a few days with a quote. I walked around the shop and he definitely has the facility to do the work. He said we could campout there if he did the work. Time will tell. We're leaning more towards the idea of getting another MH even though I hate to do that after all the repairs and $$$ we've put into this one. Time will tell and we're not in any rush. We are in a great RV Park with FHU's and good neighbors.
The Goldwing starter has been replaced. I had to changeout the gear reciever for it too. I had a hell of a time getting that done ! When I pulled the starter a few weeks ago it came out easy, I cleaned up the armature and put new brushes in, it went back in easily. The starter then worked, but still wasn't right so I order a completely rebuilt one. Gonna be an easy out, easy in, Right? NO WAY. The new starter just wasn't gonna cooperated going back in. It came with a new gear reciever so I carefully replaced the gear. A feat in itself ! This gear is inside the case, inside a chain. My repair manual says ya gotta pull the engine to do that. HA !! Of course the repair manual say ya gotta pull the engine to replace the starter too! I held the chain by fingers and used an offset needle nose to pluck out the gear and to install the new one. I found a couple Youtube videos to show the repairs and so I proceeded. Success followed..back in business again. Some times I wonder who writes those manuals. It sure makes the dealers a lot of moola!! Hmmmm !!
11-26-14 Wednesday
Re: Motorhome engine repairs...The previous comments re: the shop I was at the other day fizzled out ! The guy never called me back and doesn't answer the phone or texts. So much for his story about wanting to make $$$ for his daughter's college bill. Oh well !! We've got an old friend that lives 25 miles South of us in Foley, Al. And he gave me a few leads. I put an ad for a “mechanic wanted” on Craigslist and a fellow named Robert called me this morning. I'll go and meet him after Thanksgiving and check it out. I've located an engine and it just so happens that Robert has dealt with the place before. I think (cautiously) that this all sounds like it may work out. I hope so.
Tomorrow is Turkey day. The RV Park has a big dinner planned. I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving. I know we have a lot to be thankful for !!
Charlie & Heather

Thursday, November 13, 2014

11-12 & 13-14 PLANNING THE FIX

11-12-14 PLANNING THE FIX !!
I've been chatting with our neighbors at Wilderness CG about our failed engine problem. Got some new leads going. I sure pray that some of them pan out! Of course I know talk is cheap.
I expect the new starter for the Goldwing to be here in a day or two. It'll only takes 1 hr to install it. Then, I will be able to chase down some of the leads I've been given..
I've located a few engines under $1000, now I need a mechanic that is priced fairly. My first few calls made me laugh at their quotes for labor ( $6 to 9K). If I was home I'd change this engine out in less than 3 days at 8 hours a day. I'd put a fair price at $2000 for labor. Not bad for a few days work. I really believe repair people today overcharge tremendously! I see the RV dealers and many mechanics charging upwards of $150+/hr. How do they expect anyone to afford their work?? Then you couple in the stupid hours they estimate. A 24hr job is quoted 60hrs. Rip off !! I've wrenched on a lot of stuff and I know these charges are robbery. Now I now a lot of people will disagree with my thinking but my logic has gotten me this far so I won't change my ways of thinking. Good, honest deals are always around the corner if you look hard enough. ( I always tip well too!)
11-13-14 Thursday
The Goldwing starter got delivered yesterday. Wow, that was fast. California to Alabama in 3 days. Now all I need is for the rain to stop so I can do the changeout. Our weather is supposed to be crappy for a few days. I'll just wait impatiently !! It's a bit cool to use the shower house ( no heat) so we'll just use our rig's conveniences. It got down to 42F last night. A bit cool for South Alabama ! It may be cooler for 4 days but it's going to warm up by Monday. Looks like a lot of reading for a few days and some TV (ukkk!).

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

11-07-14 BREAKDOWN !! Alabama

 11-07-14 I really hate having breakdowns !! They mess with the grand plan!!
We were rolling along EB I-10 without a care in the world for about an hour when suddenly we heard a weird sound. We both noticed/heard a change in road sound. I slowed a bit and we turned the radio down and everything seemed to be okay. Hmmmm! But then a car pulled up on the drivers side and pointed “ pull over” ! OH-OH ! So I did.
As soon as we stopped we noticed a blue puff of smoke. Got out and the right side exhaust was putting out a lot of blue/grey smoke. NOT GOOD !! So we put 'er in D and limped to the next exit. Alabama, EB I-10, Exit 53. I immediately saw a “truck repair” to the North. Pulled into it and a guy said pull the rig in and we'll take a looksee ! Whew!
After an hour, he started the engine, took the valve covers off and said “ do you hear that rod knock? He then proceeded to quote a repair bill of $7 to 10k TO REPAIR IT !! HA HA HA HA HA !! “ I have worked on a lot of engines and really didn't hear anything except lifter noise. So I had him put the valve covers back on ( with silicone? That'll never work ! ) and researched the area on internet. Found an RV park about ½ ml South and limped there with a lot of smoke about 5PM. OKAY Now , FHU and very good rate. I guess we'll work this out from here! Didn't do anything except hookup and pop beer! Whew...what a day !!
The next morning I had a coffee in hand and went out and sat on the picnic table. Gotta think !! Had quite a few neighbors stop over and after intro's I told them about our dilemma. Got a lot of info about the area. One of them, Dave, drove me to a store and took a scenic route. He pointed out all the thing we need to know. Stores, repair supplies, etc. , he knows the area because his daughter lives here. My friend, John Nichol, lives about a ½ hr. South of here in Foley. I called him today and he said he'd be home by the weekend from his job as a truck driver. He said he'll help us if he can.
Sounds like it'll be a busy week. Tomorrow I'll do a compression test and see what that tells me. Sure am glad I have tools with me.
11-11-14 … Took a few days off...(decompress) .. We're safe, FHU's, good neighbors..all okay !! I've been making a lot of local calls. No luck on finding an affordable mechanic yet. I found a few 454 engines nearby. Also found a few used motorhome deals too ! It's always been an escape plan of ours to just find another used motorhome if we had any catastrophic failures. We may go with that plan! One of the great things about driving an older rig is that there are a lot of good deals out there.
My Honda Goldwing has been having problems with the starter. Before we use it for chasing down a deal I decided to order a new starter. It should be here by Friday. It only takes an hour to replace. I have 4 motorhomes I'd look at within an hour of here. I found most of them on Craigslist.
I really don't care if we stay here for awhile. Wilderness CG has FHU's for $300/month and is close to shopping. Our neighbors are friendly and helpful. Ya gotta love other Rvers !
I dug out the test tools and ran a compression test today. NOT GOOD !! #4 cylinder is flatlined @ 28 #s. 120 to 165#'s on other cylinders. Kinda looks like bad news.
And the saga continues !!

Charlie & Heather.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

11-01-14Honda starter rebuild


I finally have all the parts and supplies, cleaning fluids and weather to pull the starter out of the Honda cycle. Woke up ( Ocean Springs, Ms.) to 45F, a bit chilly to start this job in the A.M. So I'm waiting for Sol to warm it up a bit.
Last week the starter decided it was gonna take 10+ attempts to start the engine. After some analyzing I decided ( guessed) the starter brushes need maintenance.
When I first checked the Goldwing Maintenance Manual it said the engine had to be removed to remove the starter. I checked on the Honda Goldwing internet forum and found out that was NOT necessary! There were some Youtube videos available showing the whole procedure from removal to repair to reinstall. It's supposed to take 2 hours so I'll guess, for me, about 4 hours. I've got the bike in back and up on the cement picnic table area. Good work area in case I drop any parts. I didn't want to be searching thru the leaves for anything.
The project finally started about 1100hrs when the temps got tolerable ( 60F). I tried to guess what tools I'd need and laid them out. Now I know some of you are laughing and I don't blame ya. I kinda use the Billy Bob method! Let's see how that plan works out.
There's only 7 screws/bolts/nuts to remove. How tough can that be?? Let me tell ya, I didn't realize I needed to be a contortionist to get to them! Sideways, upside down and inside out is the best way to explain it. I don't think there was even one of those bolts that were easy to get to but I persisted. I had to take off the left running board
( 3 nuts). The shifter arm. ( 1 bolt). Now I was down to 1 nut & 2 bolts to pull the starter. A little wiggling and prying and YAHOO, the starter was out !!
Over to the picnic table to disassemble it and cleanup the innards. Remove the brush assembly and clean up all the carbon dust with our air compressor. Sprayed a lot of electrical cleaner/ degreaser and blow it all out til it was dry. Regrease the bearings and geared drive and put in the new brush assembly, finally, put it all back together. The whole process so far was 1 ½ hrs.

I wasn't aware of time as all of this was going on. Ms. Heather made up some breakfast sandwiches and it was a good time to take a break. Yummy! Recharged !!
Going on 1400. Let's get this put back together! Bolted up the starter, tested it and put all the running board/shifter stuff back on !!
Another ½ hour. Now we're back in business !! Seems to work like new!
Now comes the Billy Bob part! Whoa !! Where'd all those tools come from?? Is someone sneaking tools out here?? No way I coulda used all those tools !! The cleanup took an hour. Gotta wipe 'em all off and put them away properly ya know!!

1500 hrs-- time for happy hour !! Gotta celebrate my mechanic's mighty fine job!!
Now I'm a HAPPY Honda owner !!

Charlie & Heather