Stats: Miles driven: 808. Fuel economy with Toad: 7.375mpg. Consecutive hours without sleep: 31. Generator run time: 19.9 hours. Gen fuel used: 10 gallons of diesel.
The list of things to get done for this trip was too long to begin with. I had months to get ready, but that really boiled down to a month of evenings and two weekends. That didn’t happen, though. Try as I might, I couldn’t get anything done with the kids home. Then the down pipe broke on the commuter TDI at 426k miles after driving through a partially flooded section on the highway. Then the backup/hobby car fried the alternator. The rebuilt alternator lasted 42 miles. Now I’m using the motorcycle to get to work in 95 degree temps while I fix downpipes, alternators, all while working 13 hour days. That same week I also replaced the front and rear shocks, lower control arms and bushings, ball joints, front wheel bearings, inner and outer tie rods, steering boots, and sway bar bushings on my friend’s car when she only asked me to look at a “noisy” front wheel on her car.
Meanwhile the bus isn’t getting ready by itself.
Since I was at the alternator rebuilding shop several times I decided to have the spare starter rebuilt for the bus. The one on engine was getting a bit weak. It took 4 hours to get the old starter out. (Major Hint: a short 15/16 12 point socket and a wobble extension are required tools for every starter changing 4106 owner). I put the new starter in and…. It doesn’t work. At all. I called the rebuilding shop and oops, they put the wrong solenoid on it. I asked if they were certain the starter is Counter Clock Wise rotation. OOOPS. They don’t know!!! I bring the pulled starter to them to rebuild. The next night I pull the newly installed starter and realize something is very wrong. The solenoid is baked. Fried. I left the batteries connected overnight and the bad solenoid took down the start batteries to nothing and the starter was too hot to leave your hand on it for more than 10 seconds! I put the batteries on charge, switch to the house batteries to the start the engine starts up. (Advice: install a switch to use the house bank to start the engine in case the start batteries need assistance). After the engine started I spent a couple hours removing icky fiberglass insulations from the rear deck, taping up every seam and hole with metal tape, cutting and fitting 1” metal filmed foam insulation inside the deck where the insulation was. Ok, good. Progress. What should have taken 2 hours actually took 3 nights.
Since it’s been in the mid 90’s for last two weeks I decided it was most important to install the generator so we can run the two roof AC units over the road. I have been collecting all the parts for a while. The install went relatively smoothly and my measurements were spot on. I needed to fabricate some fancy exhaust solutions due to the close proximity of the water lines, battery cables, fuel lines, etc. I used 1.5” pipes and elbows. I was stuck using a 2” muffler, no one had a 1.5” muffler in stock. I had wired the generator for 240v and used it at my house during the last couple of major storms. Ran everything in the house perfectly. After I figured out a way to bleed the coolant (remote mounted radiator) the generator would not run both AC units! One on each leg, each leg showing 126v, when the first AC would start the second leg would drop to 60-89 volts. If I started both AC units at the same time, it worked fine until one AC cycled. I decided to rewire the generator head to 120v. I needed to move wires around in the circuit breaker panel to use one hot leg. Everything worked fine on 120v, both ACs, inverter, fridge, etc. Good to go. Pulled 19.9 amps with both ACs running.
At this point I had taken a 4 hour nap over last 44 hours and I was ready to leave at 11pm. I started the generator, fired up the AC units, hit the starter button and “click click click”. No running engine. I measure the battery voltage at 13.3vdc. What?? I have Karin crank the engine and I measure the switched side of the solenoid; 2.7vdc. I remove the battery cables, clean all connectors, tighten posts, re-clean cables, etc. No start. I look for the hydrometer to check the start batteries. It’s broken. I finally remembered that I can start the engine off the house batteries. I flip the switch, hit the starter, she starts up. Good enough, she starts on the house batteries. At this point is 3am. We connect the car dolly, load up the Jetta, FORGET to put the pin in the dolly pivot. We pull out of the driveway at 3:30am and realize something is way wrong! The dolly ramps tilt back on the first hill and drags on the road making up for Fourth of July fireworks I missed! I stop the bus at 3:34am, unload the Jetta, drive back to the house, find the forgotten pin, drive back to the bus, re-load the Jetta, install the pin and hit the road at 3:48am. We make it to the highway at 4:42am, shift into fourth and hammer down! We pull into our camp site in Lancaster PA at 12pm, a full 18 hours later than planned. At this point I’ve been up 31 hours straight. I walk off the bus and my camp buddy hands me a cold beer. That was a well earned beer if I say so myself.
A little about 8V71 oil levels; over the last few weeks there was a thread here on the proper oil levels for these engines. I check my oil level after the engine has sat for at least 30 minutes. The issue I’ve had after installing the new engine is that it gets hot, oil pressure goes down, from there it cycles up and down every hill I hit. Sometimes oil pressure is as low as 35 psi on the hills. After a good few hours the inside back of the bus is extremely hot. The area over the engine radiates heat for hours and hours, heating up the bus. This trip I added oil to about 1-1.5” inches over the full mark on the dip stick. Temps ran 180-185 degrees and oil pressure 50-55psi! Temps were the low 90s outside. Success!!! All this time I was running too little oil in the engine. I assume as the oil pressure drops, the torus fan drive slows down, the engine get hot. Since there was almost no oil on the back of the bus and Jetta, I’m guessing there wasn’t too much oil in it. For this particular engine it seems like 8 to 8.5 gallons of engine oil is the trick. After 7-8 hours on the road the inside back of the bus wasn’t even warm! The cooler engine temps and added insulation made a huge improvement in general comfort.
Repairs; the only repair needed was to the generator. The gen died just as I pulled into the campsite. I noticed the voltage was around 10.5vdc. The alternator on the gen died and the radiator fan pulled down the battery to the point the run solenoid shut off. I wired the bus batteries into the generator DC system and problem solved. I replaced one ground cable on the generator that was showing 44 ohms when it was running and 5 ohms when shut off. That was weird but easy to fix.
I'll post a thread on the generator install......