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Author Topic: Music Weekend in PA  (Read 937 times)
Lostranger
Sophia
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Gillig Low Floor


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« on: October 03, 2014, 04:03:32 AM »

Usually I'm not sure how it takes so long to get on the road, but this time offers no confusion. I've spent the past six weeks in preparation and process of reskinning Sophia. Started with a trip to Elkhart for windows and tanks. Since then it's been a maddening marathon. We'd known all along that the reskin would also involve gutting the interior. So be it. We left late Thursday because I was still fighting to install a few luxuries. Like seats for five passengers.

We're headed to central PA with a band made up of dear friends and family to play Bluegrass Gospel for a few appreciative audiences. This trip is a shakedown for the rest of this month. Sophia made our planned stopover at Kingsport, TN without a hitch. Wally's overnight accommodation was as good as ever. On my way now to pick up the rest of the band and head up I 81. I'll keep you posted.
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Jim Huskins
Marion, NC
1999 Gillig H2000LF
Yes Virginia,
You CAN convert a low floor.
digesterman
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« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2014, 05:44:47 AM »

Be safe
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Lee
Le Mirage XL 45E
Detroit Series 60
470HP
97,250 original miles (10-2014)
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Sophia
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« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2014, 05:50:27 AM »

It's an interesting trip so far. We had trouble getting Sophia started after a meal stop in Harrisonburg, VA. Finally started, and I kept her running until we stopped for another meal at Carlisle, PA. Had to get a service truck out to charge batteries. Figured out that alternator is probably not putting out even though gauge says otherwise. Drove on to Duncannon PA in the dark, pouring rain, weak headlights. Stopped at large convenience store, asked permission to park for night, got rides for everyone except Kora and me, went to bed after arranging for wrecker to arrive early Saturday morning. We were about 1/2 hour from destination.

When wrecker arrived, Sophia had enough battery reserve to start. We decided that I would drive her in with wrecker following. I kept lights and all accessories off. Made it with no problem to a heavy truck repair shop that belongs to a friend. I'm there now waiting for his mechanic who does electrical work to come in at 9:30.

This trip is being a great adventure. Could not have happened at a better place since we have many friends and connections here. I'll report more when I can.
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Jim Huskins
Marion, NC
1999 Gillig H2000LF
Yes Virginia,
You CAN convert a low floor.
Lostranger
Sophia
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« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2014, 06:39:37 PM »

It's now Sunday night, and our guest band members are nearly home in a rental car. DW and I have had a long afternoon nap, and my brain fog is beginning to clear. In the morning, we'll top Sophia's batteries once more, and then I plan to drive her to a capable automotive electric shop for diagnostics. We'll have the alternator rebuilt, but that almost certainly will not cure the underlying problem with our charging system. A specialized shop should find the issue faster than I can even working with the truck shop mechanic. He has already told me that he feels out of his depth on this one, but everybody at this shop is anxious to help.

Our music events went well, and we've visited many old friends and made new ones. We're staying in a lovely home with good friends in one of the most beautiful places in the world. We have unlimited use of a good automobile while we're here. All in all, this is the best place for us to break down, and we have the rest of this month scheduled as vacation.

Oh yeah, we're thankful that this problem showed up when it did. We look forward to the process of getting it resolved and learning more about our bus.

I'll post some photos of this part of PA tomorrow.

Jim
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Jim Huskins
Marion, NC
1999 Gillig H2000LF
Yes Virginia,
You CAN convert a low floor.
Lostranger
Sophia
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« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2014, 04:14:39 PM »

Tuesday evening near Wytheville, VA. On Monday we became 95% convinced that our problem is a bad Vanner equalizer. We slow charged the weak battery yesterday and left this morning before eight. We've been advised that we can drive a long way as long as we don't run lights. Rain forced us off road at around three. We're staying at a truck stop and running a charger from our house system. I'm pleased with the trip so far. More tomorrow.
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Jim Huskins
Marion, NC
1999 Gillig H2000LF
Yes Virginia,
You CAN convert a low floor.
digesterman
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« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2014, 05:13:45 PM »

On Monday we became 95% convinced that our problem is a bad Vanner equalizer.

Jim when you test a vanner you should turn your headlights on high, then test ground leg to 24 volt terminal, then ground leg to 12 volt terminal, the 12 volt side should be exactly one half that of the 24 volt side. Turning on your headlights just settles the numbers down, they won't be jumping up and down which makes it hard to get the second reading to determine if it is EXACTLY half. Turning on the headlights was a little tip from Vanner, good people to talk to. Complete Coach has some decent prices on used tested ones, or at least they did.
Good luck.
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Lee
Le Mirage XL 45E
Detroit Series 60
470HP
97,250 original miles (10-2014)
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Sophia
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« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2014, 05:09:55 PM »

Thanks, Lee. I'm going to Atlanta tomorrow to pick up a good used Vanner and an alternator. I'll use the technique you describe to test both the old one and the new one. I did not find an ammeter I could borrow today, but I have a Fluke multitester.
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Jim Huskins
Marion, NC
1999 Gillig H2000LF
Yes Virginia,
You CAN convert a low floor.
Lostranger
Sophia
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« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2014, 04:08:51 PM »

Great news! All my electrical issues are apparently resolved. I got back from Atlanta at 8:00 P.M. yesterday after driving over 500 miles and spending a couple hours in a scrap yard that has some busses. Also got to meet an incredibly helpful fellow in person and tour his fine conversion based on a 2000 Model Gillig Phantom. Connected with him on this BB. Thanks again, Darryl.

I came home with a used-but-guaranteed Delco 50DN belt drive alternator and a late model Vanner 100 amp battery equalizer. The Vanner had not been tested, but it was the only one available, so I had no choice. The only issue with my old alternator is that it leaks some oil. I bought the newer one as a spare since I was there and it was cheap enough. I plan to replace the front seal in my old one after October.

Today I started at daylight, but it took most of the morning to pull/clean/treat and reinstall wires at the starter and rear positive buss bar. It might have gone more quickly if the air was up. A low floor is a challenge to get under even with air, and Sophia has not wanted to start, even with charged batteries, since we arrived home Wednesday. Pushing the starter button resulted only in a click as the solenoid energized. I had to wiggle starter wires a couple times on the PA trip even with charged batteries. AFAIK, this is a separate issue from our charging system trouble.

Clean, tight wire connections not only fixed the starter issue, it also made the tail lights and rear half of the side marker lights come back on. This also started on the recent trip, and I have no idea how to explain the connection. I suppose it was an issue at the rear positive bus bar. Now we're up and running within a second of hitting the starter as it should be.

The best news of the day is the charging system. Thanks to Lee, I have learned the process of testing a Vanner without an ammeter. I don't have the numbers from the old unit in front of me, but it was more than 3/10 of a volt off. That meant my old Vanner was bad as I had come to suspect. The new (used) unit read 24.51v and 12.25v with the headlights on. Motor was off for both tests. This 1/100 of a volt is within the limits of my meter which only has two decimal places. With the new unit installed and the motor running, voltage at the batteries read 13.75 and 13.72. Much better than before. Best of all, the headlights do not look dim with the motor running. That was driving me crazy before all the other stuff started last Friday.

Now for the down side, and it's not horrible. I noticed after I had the motor running with the new Vanner that the squeal I had previously thought was alternator was in fact the belt tensioner. A shot of lithium grease in the tensioner pulley changed the tone of the squeal. When I looked more closely, it was obvious that the tensioner pulley has some slop and was allowing the serpentine to slightly rub a steel cover on the front of the engine. I wouldn't leave town with a tensioner in that shape, much less start an 1100 mile trip.

I couldn't find a tensioner anywhere within driving distance. Ended up ordering one from Mohawk Mfg. in Illinois. Darryl made that connection for me. I had forgotten about Mohawk even though I had purchased a few things from them for our Flx Metro. $72.44 plus UPS and we should have it on Tuesday. Fleet Pride wanted $90 and Wednesday delivery. Car Quest wanted $108 including shipping with Tuesday delivery. NAPA quoted $180 and the end of next week. We wanted to head toward Ocracoke on Sunday, but I guess we'll wait until Tuesday. Won't hurt me to have some extra time to do plumbing and carpentry.

With this post I'll close my trip log, but I'll start another as we get closer to leaving for Ocracoke to spend the rest of the month.

Thanks to all who followed this situation and offered help and encouragement. Especially Lee.

Jim H
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Jim Huskins
Marion, NC
1999 Gillig H2000LF
Yes Virginia,
You CAN convert a low floor.
somewhereinusa
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« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2014, 06:52:32 PM »

Good to hear you got it all sorted. Not much up here in the way of surplus awnings. That's one thing I haven't really seen good deals on.l
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