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Author Topic: hello again, and radius arm woes  (Read 2792 times)
Buffalo SpaceShip
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« on: July 02, 2009, 07:40:35 PM »

Hey Bus Board brethren:

I've been gone from here for WAY too long.  I've stayed in touch with Craig, Russ, and a few others, but have had a LOT going on in life and had to make some changes in my online commitments. My wife and I bought a commercial building and business downtown in our town (Longmont, CO) last summer, and it's monopolized all of our time, energy, and $.  Likewise, we didn't take the bus out last year due to said commitments and outrageous diesel prices.

Anyways, we did go on one trip in the old Spaceship a month ago (a quick one to MN) and went up to Wyoming for a day last week. In preparing to leave on our annual trip to Iowa tomorrow, I noticed that the upper radius rod on the rear pax side is totally missing three nuts and two bolts. Its position is maybe six inches down and torqued way over to the side.  The entire axle is shifted crosswise to the pax side (actually sticking proud of the bus body) and the rear stabilizer bar is torqued.

Even worse, I had a local shop lined up to try to fix it tomorrow... but in my beginnings of repairs last night (drive up bus on rams, jack up each axle, mess with arm), I must have loosened the radius arm enough that the bus has severe driveline chatter driving down the road now (hmmmm...). I didn't even make it around the block, much less across town. I just can't risk burning up a diff or the tranny to have someone fix the radius arm.

Looks like I'm stuck either hiring a "roving" mechanic to fix it in my driveway or do the whole job myself.  Blocking the bus body is very doable (I've done it before), but moving the driveline in the right plane to make the repair leaves me scratching my head... come-along, chain and truck?Huh

Anyone un-jacked up their axle, made the repair, and lived to tell about it?

Here's my lovely predicament.

Thanks folks!
Brian Brown
Longmont, CO USA
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Brian Brown
4108-216 w/ V730
Longmont, CO
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« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2009, 09:22:26 PM »

Brian,

I'm not exactly sure of what I see in the photo but it appears you have two missing bolts and two missing nuts and one bolt is almost falling out. There may be more in the dark areas I can't see.

I just went throught this about a week ago with a front upper rod on my 4104. The bolts are 3/4" Grade 8, coarse thread as I remember for the rod end plates but the bracket bolts appear to be a bit smaller.

It appears to me that the rod end isn't moving in the bracket since the bolt holes seem to be very close to where they should be. I suspect that the other end of the rod is loose or a lower rod or bracket is also loose, otherwise it couldn't move as much as you say.

I think you can do this job. Roll the rear wheels up on some long 2x12"s so you can move the bus back or forward slightly with the engine if necessary to align bolt holes.. Be sure to block the suspension also. Sometimes this is a lot easier than trying to force it with a long bar. I did this with my rear rod bracket last year when two bolts fell out.

You may be able to jack up the bus body enough to move the driveline back into position but be very careful and jack only at bulkheads. Your manual will probably tell you where the safe body jacking points are.

To help getting the new bolts through the holes without destroying the threads you can grind an old bolt end to a semi-taper and hammer it into the hole just so it is even with the opposite side. then use the new bolt to drive the old one out and you won't harm the threads.vA big taper punch will help align the holes enough to drive the old bolt in first. The hardest part for me was getting the holes aligned.
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« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2009, 05:15:58 AM »

We used a porta-power to align the axle when we replaced our radius rod bushings. The two rear top radius rods do more to prevent rear axle "wrap" than they do to maintain lateral alignment.  Wrap can cause a chatter but I don't think it would cause significant lateral mis-alignment. You might want to carefully check all the rerar axle suspension.  Jack
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« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2009, 06:50:50 AM »

Thanks for the advice, folks. I'm going in! Let's see:

  • block body @ engine support and front bulkhead
  • jack up each side & remove wheels
  • dump the airbags
  • check out ALL connections
  • knock out offending radius arm
  • realign the axle
  • reconnect arm & torque
  • check torque on all other connections
  • fire it up and let the hubs spin to check for chatter, etc.
  • put it all back together and test drive

Sound like a plan?

Does anyone know about a Harbor Freight version of a Porta-Power?  Those thing look pretty handy to have around for doing some "heavy lifting".

Thanks all,
Brian
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Brian Brown
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« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2009, 06:55:23 AM »

Quote from: Buffalo SpaceShip
Sound like a plan?

Does anyone know about a Harbor Freight version of a Porta-Power?  Those thing look pretty handy to have around for doing some "heavy lifting".

Thanks all,
Brian

Yes Brian it does sound like a plan!
And yes I have a "Harbor Freight version" of a porta power! It works great! It's way cool all the goofy things you can think of to use it on! :just because you can!" LOL!

By the way glad to have ya back we've missed ya! Grin  BK  Grin
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« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2009, 07:00:07 AM »

Welcome back Brian!  Glad to hear you are getting back to being able to use your bus (other than this problem).

I don't have the HF porta power, but I haven't been dissapointed by their tools yet for the limited duty cycle they will be used.  If I was using it everyday to earn a living that might be a different story.  But for occaisional use, they are cost effective and always seem to get the job done.
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« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2009, 07:13:18 AM »

Brian, good to have you back.  You may also want to have a long alignment tool that may help you lever in the last fraction of an inch.

When you get a chance, you might want to post in the "should I block my bus" post, on page 1 or 2.  If I recall, you have a quality story to tell about an experience in Texas.

Arthur   
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« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2009, 07:31:49 AM »

Yup Brian. What is you blocking up the bus story?

Expiring minds want to know?

God bless,

John
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« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2009, 09:22:02 AM »

That reminds me, the opposite of a porta-power pushing is a come-along pulling...

A few pieces of heavy re-bar should be set deep into the corners every busnut's new concrete pad/floor, same as the body shops do. Increases your attraction to the market looking for a shop like yours, when the time comes to sell. Without floor hooks, just another garage/driveway.

You chain up the body to one side, the axle to the other, and the come-along does the heavy work.

Running a chain from one floor hook to the other, and then chaining onto that, gives you great ability to adjust for exactly the direction of brace or pull you need.

Watching an experienced body man straighten out a bent Honda is a wonder to behold!

happy coaching!
buswarrior

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Buffalo SpaceShip
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« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2009, 09:25:17 AM »

Arghhh... I busted off an inner nut getting the last wheel off.  Any "quick and dirty" secrets to get it to budge off w/o the square head?? And I don't have a welder, unfortunately.

Thanks,
Brian

p.s. Oh, I'll look for my "trapped under the bus" saga when I get a spare moment. It's here on the BBS from like Nov. 2007.

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Brian Brown
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« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2009, 10:07:32 AM »

Thanks guy, I found it. Kinda interesting. I do know that if our bus came all of the way down (without blowing a tire Grin) I would still have room to finish up what I am doing, and get out Grin.

I hope that you get her up and running soon. If you don't have a welder, why not call one out? Make sure to disconnect all of your computers on board, but then call a mobile welder. They usually aren't real expensive. Shoot, if I lived near you, I would just take my welding rig trailer, out to you place and fix you up.....Sorry but I live to far away Grin


God bless,

John

http://www.busconversions.com/bbs/index.php?topic=2433.60
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« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2009, 10:14:53 AM »

Brian,
To remove the 13/16" stud Blue Point Tool number BWS1316 13/16" stud remover for "Budd" wheels will do the trick every time. Grin
jlv
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« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2009, 10:18:19 AM »

Brian,

If you twisted the head off an inner, I doubt that you could weld anything strong enough to twist the rest off. I would take a torch and start cutting right at the wheel and just take the side of the lug off for an inch or so, then twist it off with a pipe wrench. Its possible to cut the lug and not the stud because the heat won't immediately transfer to the inner, leaving the threads OK. I have had good results doing this in the past.
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« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2009, 10:31:42 AM »

Brian,

If you twisted the head off an inner, I doubt that you could weld anything strong enough to twist the rest off. I would take a torch and start cutting right at the wheel and just take the side of the lug off for an inch or so, then twist it off with a pipe wrench. Its possible to cut the lug and not the stud because the heat won't immediately transfer to the inner, leaving the threads OK. I have had good results doing this in the past.

Brian I agree with this method been there done that! And at worst you'll have to replace the stud!
Grin  BK  Grin
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« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2009, 11:01:40 AM »

OK, I got lucky. I used some penetrating oil on the broken lug and cinched down the two inners beside it and then was able to get it off with a pipe wrench and hammer.  Whew!  Goes to show you that not over-torquing those lugs and taking the wheels off periodically is good medicine.  I have no idea why it broke to begin with. I think I must have had the angle wrong on my beast 1" impact.

OK, the bus is all blocked up and ready for some gentle axle massaging to the driver's side. Maybe 2" to move it...  Wish I had a set-up like Coachwarrior suggests with the implanted hooks/rebar.  There is a light pole on the street... wonder if anyone would see me using a come along with it?

Stay posted for pics...

Brian
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Brian Brown
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« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2009, 11:09:47 AM »

Good job
Light pole will work but be careful it might cause a power failure at your house! Tongue
jlv
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« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2009, 02:13:46 PM »

Good job
Light pole will work but be careful it might cause a power failure at your house! Tongue
jlv

Or worse ... pull the bus off it's blocks  Embarrassed

weclome back Brian  Grin
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« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2009, 02:17:15 PM »

Brian,

I'm not sure these three steps are necessary except maybe for better access to the rod ends;

>remove wheels
>dump the airbags
>knock out offending radius arm (Why remove it if it is just missing bolts and nuts?)

I didn't do any of these but, of course, our GMC buses and problems may be a bit different.


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« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2009, 02:38:22 PM »

Gus, while maybe not completely necessary, removing the wheels has given me a much better vantage point to assess the situation. It's also a lot less weight on the axle now. And I'm pretty sure that I had to dump the airbags in order to be able to jack the axle separate from the body weight of the bus.

OK, so I'm still having a heck of a time getting the axle pulled back into alignment. I greased up my double 2x12 block-beams and tried a come-along and even trying to pull it with my van, and it just wasn't enough oomph. I maybe moved it 1/2" before it quit.  I still have about 1-1/2" to go.  I think that the messed-up rod end at the body must be preventing travel... but I can't get that off either. Even the axle side is just sitting there, with the plate and bolts pulled out it doesn't want to come off.

The whole assembly is in a real tight place.  I even removed the rear pax airbag to get some wiggle and eyeball room to help me get to the back bolts. The propeller shaft and muffler are in the way too.  There won't be 'nuthin left but a bunch 'o bus parts when I'm done!

I guess I'll get back to it.  We're having fun here!
Brian
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Brian Brown
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« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2009, 02:55:21 PM »

I am not a GM person but did see a shop in Texas use a large turn buckle and a racket type chain binder to align the rear on a GM for bushing replacement and he was a GM guy.     good luck
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« Reply #20 on: July 03, 2009, 03:08:48 PM »

Brian, I know the reason why you are having so many problems................It's because you have not been active HERE! Roll Eyes

Good to see you back..............Good Luck and Be Safe!

Paul
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« Reply #21 on: July 03, 2009, 10:19:46 PM »

Brian,

By now I see that your problem is far worse than mine ever was. Luckily I was able to let my bus roll just a few inches and apply the brakes so the holes lined up.

Obviously now that you have the bus apart you can't do that!!

It sounds as if something is sprung and I feel for you because I know how hard it is to work on the rods, they don't seem to want to cooperate very much.

Please let us know how you finally solve the problem.
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« Reply #22 on: July 04, 2009, 06:17:46 AM »

Gads, what an awful, messy, cramped job that was.  Good news is that we're packing up the bus and heading to Iowa this morning. Once we get there, I'll upload some pics and details on how the job went. One pic in particular I'm certain everyone will find humorous.

Bad news is that I'm beat. Sore. Cut and bruises. Sleep deprived. Pretty much sums up a busnut, eh?

Thanks again for all the help, advice, and encouragement folks.  You're the best!
Brian


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Brian Brown
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« Reply #23 on: July 04, 2009, 06:35:34 AM »

Allright! A bus nut happy ending - being able to take the bus out for trip after successfully doing a difficult (and physically painful) repair. Congratulations on fixing it!
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« Reply #24 on: July 04, 2009, 02:37:46 PM »

Brian,

I'm pretty impressed that you were able to do that very tough job and in such a short time.

I'm looking forward to the blow by blow!
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« Reply #25 on: July 06, 2009, 08:04:04 AM »

Hey Busnut Brethren:

We're here having fun in Iowa. We had zero problems on the ride out after fixing the radius arm... thanks to all of you lovely people.

I was under and around (and cussing at) the bus from 8am on Friday through 1am the following morning. Ughh.  The most time-consuming part was moving the axle over and getting the stupid bolts lined up in the bracket and plates and then finally hogging the bolts down.

Moving the axle over I used a combo of greased-up 2x12s and bottle jacks that I tried to "slick-up" and make unstable.  We used our van and a tow strap to provide the leverage.... until it snapped, and then a pull-chain until my van almost quit under the strain.  My neighbor has this massive 1 ton diesel that they use to pull their fifth-wheel... but I was reticent to ask since he didn't offer anything but encouragement (and that's enough when you have a bus up on blocks, wheels off, tools scattered about, and a man covered in grease and grime running to and fro).

But the axle moved over, slooowly, 1/8" by 1/8" and, and we watched the radius arm bracket slowly begin to line up. We moved the axle a total of 2-1/4", I think.

Back up "in the hole", clearance in that are of the coach is crazy-tight.  The back bolts hit against the muffler, the front nuts are hemmed in by the aftermarket tranny cooler, and the back access (to get a wrench on the bolt head) was through a bulkhead hole where an airbag had to be removed.  My wife was none too happy about getting greasy and banged up fishing bolts through the assembly and then holding the bolt side while I used ratchet on the nut side back behind her between the axle and the engine.  The fine-thread bolts from the OEM took forever and a day to cinch down compared to the coarse-thread bolts I bought (almost $50 for the grade-8 bolts, nuts, and lockwashers).  It was her first (and hopefully last) bus repair experience as my helper.  Momma's a lot happier in the bus than under it.

Oops, speaking of.... Ok, my wife is telling me to get off the laptop and back to vacationing... but here's the promised pics:








Thanks again for all of your help, folks.  I appreciate the advice and encouragement.

Brian
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Brian Brown
4108-216 w/ V730
Longmont, CO
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