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Author Topic: Coach a/c repair or . . .  (Read 3438 times)
Steve102C3
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« on: July 26, 2006, 06:14:04 PM »

For adequate cooling during the summer in hot climates while traveling on the road, what would you do and why? What are the pros and cons?

1989 MCI 102C3 with 3 roof airs and an 8kw generator. I can only run 2 airs at a time.

(1)  I can repair my coach a/c for a minimum of $3800 (estimate from a reputable bus shop). This includes converting to 134a and replacing the condenser fan. More expense can be expected right off the bat; the question is how much. When I bought the coach 2 years ago, I had the a/c charged up and the system worked, but it leaked down within 2 days.

(2) Upgrade to a larger generator and add a roof a/c if necessary. Minimum is the cost of the a/c (approx. $750 for what I would install) and the generator which would be $8500 or so, plus my labor to soundproof and install. I could sell my current quiet diesel and offset some of this cost.

(3) Travel only in the cooler months.

Of course, (3) is not a viable option.

What do you think?

Steve
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Steve
1989 MCI 102C3
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Nick Badame Refrig/ACC
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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2006, 06:42:48 PM »

Hi Steve,

I'm assumeing you expierenced your coach air for 2 days. That should have been enough to tell ya that the coach air is powerful....

You can run 4 roof airs and still wont match the Coach air's ability while in motion. Given your presant setup, I would repair the coach air.

Call me sometime, I can guide you through the repairs!

Nick Badame
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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2006, 09:30:00 PM »

Course Nick will always suggest you keep the coach A/C since he is in the business.  While Nick doesn't believe me, this is how my coach performs.  I have 3 Coleman 13,500btu A/C's with the front one close to the driver's seat.  Also have a 10kw that comfortably runs all three with room left over.  In any weather up to 100 degrees, two works fine.  If overly humid or hotter than 100, kick in the third.  Mind you I have 6 large windows (76x28) plus two smaller and the huge transit windshield.  My wife especially hates hot weather and hasn't ever complained about it being to hot-on the other hand usually have to turn up the thermostat so the compressor kicks off around 72 to keep from chilling to much.  I have 2.25" of sprayed in foam that helps.  Now here's the most important part.  In the 12 years that the 3 Colemans have been on the roof with averaging 30 days a year using them and every time I work on the bus, I have had ZERO problems with them!  I don't think even Nick can say that about his own A/C system.  So an initial outlay of $1,500 (a bit more now) and that's that.  Spend a little now on the bigger gen and the third or even fourth roof top and you'll be set for years.  Stay with the bus A/C and you'll have a genuine land yacht-a black hole you'll be thowing money into and never get it to be as reliable as a roof air.  Plus if a roof air does go down, another $600 or so and about 2 hours of your time to replace it.  How much to dip into the bus A/C?  And Nick, I mean no disrespect to either you, your bus, or your business.  Thank you, Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2006, 09:43:10 PM »


Though there is no question that older OTR A/C systems improperly maintained - are  a bottomless pit - there is no evidence that a reasonably sound OTR system properly maintained is not an ASSET - to each his own - YMMV and all that chit - why are you denigrating the contributor and NOT the facts? - many of us have OTR Air - Are we all idiots? - I think not - I've never condemned anyone for scrapping their OTR - don't denigrate anyone for keeping it - Live and let live - FWIW
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« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2006, 10:06:15 PM »

Just rode this train yhe other day. Went yesterday and picked up a new compressor. Hate being without bus air. 90,000btu cooling.I have an almost new gen that just happened to quit one day. Got running in a few hrs didn't take but about 5 mintes of 95 temp to smother. I don't like heading out just depending on a gen set. Fat boys sweat a lot!
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2006, 04:27:30 AM »

How do you use your coach? How much of the time in your coach is spent on the road? In our case, most of the use of our coach is 3 day weekend trips with no more then 2 hours travel time each way. So out of approx 72 hours in the bus, no more then 4 hours of usable bus AC time. For us this small amount of bus AC time was not worth the expense and space required the the bus AC.  If we spent more time on the road, our plans might have been different.  Hope this helps, Jack
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2006, 04:35:16 AM »

Have you had your genset checked? How many actual amps does each A/C unit draw? I would have thought that an 8 kw unit would run three roof air units, but really do not know.
Richard

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1989 MCI 102C3 with 3 roof airs and an 8kw generator. I can only run 2 airs at a time.
[/size]
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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2006, 05:32:45 AM »

When I bought a bus from a company with over a hundred buses for sale (out of 1400 buses on the road) I developed a relationship with the shop foreman by going to him to see the maintenance records.

After the sale, and before I started the conversion, I asked hime two questions. What is the most frequent maintenance problem and what is the most expensive maintenance problem? His answer to both questions was the air conditioning. On that basis, I removed it and went to basement air on that bus and roof airs on a subsequent bus. Removing the air ducts along the walls made the interior construction simpler and made the bus interior six inches wider at floor level.

The size of the original system probably makes it a superior system if cost and locating maintenance are not considerations.
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« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2006, 05:48:27 AM »

If you want to pay for and maintain TWO A/C systems then go ahead and make the down payment on repairing the OTR system. If, however, you want to just enjoy the cool with NO easy payments get a larger Gen set. The cost of the gen set, less selling price of the old one will be a lot less. My Eagle gets along fine with two basement airs in all kinds of weather. Foam in the roof, fiberglass in the walls. Do about 15K miles a year and never have a problem.
Your mleage may vary.
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Steve102C3
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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2006, 06:38:21 AM »

Nick - thanks for the offer. If I decide to keep the bus air, I'll take you up on it.

TomC - Thanks for the input. I didn't strip my ceiling down to the metal, so what I have is factory insulation. I also have 4 large windows in the front. It's a work in progress and will be for a while.

Niles500 - in our cars and trucks, we just get in and go, never thinking about the a/c until it doesn't work. In other words - zero maintenance. What do you do to keep your OTR a/c properly maintained?

Beatenbo - skinny guys sweat, too.

Jack - Good advice. We take several long trips a year (as long as we can afford diesel) that may require a couple of full days driving, plus many shorter trips. The long trips in hot weather are the main reason I have an interest in using the coach air.

DML - I thought an 8kw would run 3 airs as well,  provided they don't all cylce on at the same time. What I've found, though, is if I run 3 for very long, the 35 amp breaker on my generator trips. Each a/c draws under 15 amps if I recall correctly. They are Duo-Therm lo-profiles - one 15,000 and 2 13,500.

I have each 35 amp circuit from the generator feeding one leg of my breaker box, so when all 3 a/c's are on, 2 are being fee from one 35 amp circuit (of course). Maybe my genset circuit breaker is weak. Of course I'm careful of what is running at the same time. What do you think about the genset circuit breaker?

Stan - I've heard the same from several people, too.

JimH - I know I can make it work with the genset and 3 or 4 roof airs. I just trying to decide which way is better for me in the long run.

Thanks to all for your contributions. As one who reads more than I post, I can assure you what you put on here helps many more people than just the ones who participate in the discussion.

Thanks again.

Steve
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Steve
1989 MCI 102C3
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Nick Badame Refrig/ACC
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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2006, 06:44:23 AM »

Hay,

We can all argue to no end about this subject... Huh!  LOl  Grin

Everybody has a different outlook on this. But, That's good! That's life.....

Good luck Steve, If ya need to call me: 609-263-2296
Nick Badame

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« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2006, 07:23:49 AM »

I have to assume a couple of things. If you have two 35 amp circuits, then the genset may be connected up for 240/120 volts. Or I seem to recall one of the Onans had a circuit like this with two separate 35 amp circuits.
If it is really a 240/120 volt connection, then I would suggest re-connecting it for straight 120 volts. That is unless you are using 240 volts for something.
Otherwise, I would have no hesitation of increasing the size of the Breakers 5 or even 10 amps. Just keep a close monitor on the actual amps and do not continuously exceed the specified rating. Momentary overload for starting current is not a problem to the genset and I suspect starting current is what is giving you a problem.
Richard


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I have each 35 amp circuit from the generator feeding one leg of my breaker box, so when all 3 a/c's are on, 2 are being fee from one 35 amp circuit (of course). Maybe my genset circuit breaker is weak. Of course I'm careful of what is running at the same time. What do you think about the genset circuit breaker?

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« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2006, 07:57:05 AM »

DML - I've read my installation and owner's manual for this generator and I've seen nothing about 240/120, so I assume it's 120. The one breaker on the generator controls both circuits, so I guess it's a 35 amp 2 pole. It's probably a proprietary Onan part ($$$).

I'll research a little and see what I can come up with.

Thanks.
Steve
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Steve
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« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2006, 08:36:45 AM »

I would try a temporary 50 amp breaker and monitor what the amps are with both units running. As long as it stays below 35 amps in normal running mode it will be OK. The gennys are rated to handle the starting current overload and it will not hurt it.
Richard

In fact in some situations like this I have simply shorted out the circuit breaker to see what the actual running current was.

DML - I've read my installation and owner's manual for this generator and I've seen nothing about 240/120, so I assume it's 120. The one breaker on the generator controls both circuits, so I guess it's a 35 amp 2 pole. It's probably a proprietary Onan part ($$$).

I'll research a little and see what I can come up with.

Thanks.
Steve
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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2006, 08:57:23 AM »

Steve,

A couple thoughts on the Genset;

Verify that you are really on two poles.  I just found out on my 7KW that was tripping the generator breaker,

that the two 110 outputs were on the same pole(marked as seperate)I was using the 110's since I had an abundance of that flavor of twist locks.

My 220 output was correct and I switched to that.

Second, If your genset compartment/area is getting too hot it will make the breaker belieive it is paasing more current and cause the breaker to trip at at

lower amp draw.  If thats the case a simple fan added to the compartment may solve the issue.

Just a couple of ideas from my own adventures.

Best of luck

Cliff
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« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2006, 12:41:06 PM »

Steve, another twist.

   Here's how it works- take the opinions and experiences of everyone who replies to your thread and form your own opinion. Any thread, any subject. I said this on my radiator technogoly question last week. Nobodys right and nobodys wrong. The guy that rides with his head out the window has a viable opinion...just not my way.(Unless its dangerous, like bad air brake advice or electrical misinformation, In which case it's not OK, but that's not the case here)
     
  $3,800 is Mucho Dinero, so before I plunked it down, consider these options-

 Heres a couple things that you may be able to use If youre genny's just a lttle short of juice, an inverter such as a Trace SW4024 with your house batteries will sense the genny overload and come on to help start the A/C unit. Its sweet all the time.

Next, You could ditch the factory  bus air (nobody throw anything!) which is what I'd do and what I did- Install a Welch Industries system that uses a Sanden Air Conditioning compressor that will hook to your dash air and make it work. I also have a second Evaporator in the salon of my bus.  Google "Welch Industries" in Jonesboro Ga. They install it all, or you buy components and DIY. They cool great going down the road and are not usually a continous fix once installed properly.

Last but not to be ruled out would be to replace your roof airs with more efficent new ones that use less electricity.

I have 7.5 Onan Marquis and run both (2) roof airs and my Trace, fridge and whatever else I want- sure would like to have your quiet diesel!

I reccomend  first that you have the generator output wiring and the relationship of that to the bus 120Volt load center is checked by a qualified RV electrician. It may cost $100 or so.......but that is the right place to start, regardless of how one feels about any suggested remedy........This could fix the whole shebang....I have found that another pair of eyes reveal something that I have looked over many times....

just my $3.00 worth (Hey, our opinion should be worth as  much as a gallon of diesel!)



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« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2006, 06:40:45 AM »

Thanks again to all who have provided input.

The two options I'm going to explore first are the larger generator and repairing the coach air. Wrico has a 20kw for $7220 plus another $500 - $1000 for insulation, fan, etc.

Chuck, thanks for the link to welch industries. They may be a valuable resource.

Nick, you can expect a call from me soon.

Steve
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« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2006, 06:56:01 AM »

Steve, based on your previous posts, 20,000 watts (20kw) is way way overkill for what you need. Probably double, and that is bad for a genset to run very lightly loaded. Bad for the engine really.Unless you are running a total electric coach with electric cooking and electric heat, you should look for a much smaller unit. I am extremely surprised that Dick Wright would offer you that large a unit unless he knows something that the rest of us do not.
Richard


 
Thanks again to all who have provided input.

The two options I'm going to explore first are the larger generator and repairing the coach air. Wrico has a 20kw for $7220 plus another $500 - $1000 for insulation, fan, etc.

Chuck, thanks for the link to welch industries. They may be a valuable resource.

Nick, you can expect a call from me soon.

Steve
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« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2006, 07:18:48 AM »

Steve,
I agree wholeheartedly with your statement that the opinions expressed on this board help more folks than we realize.  Obviously, many of us are merely reading from the peanut gallery (telling my age) than are actively posting in any given discussion.  Man, you wouldn't believe the volume of stuff I've printed and filed in appropriate catagories, just for future reference!  I'm still a wannabe, shopping for the right bus.  Following this BB and visiting the chat room provides some intellectual knowledge, based on the combined experience of all you guys.  The way I see it, when I get my own bus, my own practical experience might be just starting, but at least you all will have given me a leg up in many ways. 

Yeah, Nick, everybody has a different opinion or takes a different approach.  I said it once and I'll say it again; if we all agreed on issues, the second opinion wouldn't have any value at all!

Thanks everyone,
Dennis
Hi Yo Silver!

P.S.  One more thing; frequently when I read a post, I find myself wondering where the writer is located, and what kind of bus he owns.  I wish more owners would put that info on their profile.  I keep hoping to find an MCI owner close by so I can check out some clearances, see how he has done some things, etc.             
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« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2006, 08:42:52 AM »

Thanks everyone,                Dennis     Hi Yo Silver!

P.S.  One more thing; frequently when I read a post, I find myself wondering where the writer is located, and what kind of bus he owns.  I wish more owners would put that info on their profile.  I keep hoping to find an MCI owner close by so I can check out some clearances, see how he has done some things, etc.


Hi Yo Silver, I too agree it'd be nice to know where other members are posting from and what type bus they have ! Some of us list that info in our profiles, some of us brag about where we are or what coach we have so often that everyone knows where we are and what coach we have ! I tried to learn to put that info in the spot below my user name but was unable to make it work so I just left it alone !

Now I usually avoid the OTR/roof air issue because as everyone knows at this time our coaches are still in charter service generating revenue so OTR air is  a must for US! However I tend to side with Nick when I do convert one of our buses (right after having the company do a major overhaul on the A/C system) I plan to keep the OTR A/C ! If a unit is fixed properly in a conversion it should last forever with minor maintance up keep, no more than it would be used!

Steve- If it were me (I don't know where you are located or who told you $3,800.00 just to convert & change the motor) I'd check out Welch Industries as Chuck recommended, but before taking the OTR A/C out I'd have Welch tell you what it needs and how much $ ! Welch Industries are very well respected in the Charter Industry as they have a very good reputation for fixing it right the first time where it lasts almost forever with proper maintance which in the long run makes us $ by keeping our coaches on the road with cool and happy customers! BK Grin Just my 2 cents worth which with $ 3.00 will hardly buy you a gallon of diesel to stay cool with! LOL!
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« Reply #20 on: August 16, 2006, 03:33:17 PM »

BK,

You said the magic words!

[If a unit is fixed properly in a conversion it should last forever with minor maintance up keep, no more than it would be used!]

Theese systems are designed to last a million miles or so... nothing else needs to be said!

Nick-


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« Reply #21 on: August 16, 2006, 07:47:50 PM »

BK,  You said the magic words!
[If a unit is fixed properly in a conversion it should last forever with minor maintance up keep, no more than it would be used!]
Theese systems are designed to last a million miles or so... nothing else needs to be said!
Nick-

Nick, I usually try to stay away from the A/C subject (along with some of the other conversion specific subjects) because I do believe in OTR A/C as a very useful item while traveling ! But I get flamed enough without sticking my head out of my fire proof suit since I have no conversion experince or expertise to lean on ! LOL!  BK Grin

If enough people put on their registrations that they are interested in having a great (the BEST in my opinion) Bus A/C man look at and discuss their A/C's with them I'll invite my A/C specialist to the "TN Fall Bus Bash"


But ya gotta register and put it on the registration form, so I know there is enough interest in it to ask him to take time out of his schedule to come over for a day! BK Grin
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JerryH
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« Reply #22 on: August 16, 2006, 11:22:42 PM »

I have (3) basement air and OTR air.  No regrets about having the OTR air.  The coach is easily and fairly quickly cooled with the OTR air.  Can't say the same about the basement airs.  On the #2 bus, we took out the OTR air and have installed (3) roof airs.  The jury is out on that -- but I am already having my concerns and reservations.

Jerry H.
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