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Old 11-29-2013, 02:00 PM   #1
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Factory Defect '97 American Eagle - Check your air intake box for leaking access door

I have now owned my 1997 Fleetwood American Eagle for three years. Upon purchase, I performed ALL the required maintenance. About six months later, I installed a pyrometer, then about a year after that, I installed a boost gauge. My engine is the purely mechanical / electronic-less 325 hp c8.3. To make a long story short, my pyrometer always seemed to run up very quickly forcing me to back off the throttle. And, this was even on interstate highways without significant grades. After installing the boost gauge, I found I was only able to get up to about 18 psi. Part of that initial maintenance was installing a new filter minder gauge (and it's supply hose) along with a new air filter. Well, that filter minder gauge never showed any significant restriction and after three years and 20,000 miles on that three year old filter, I decided I was just going to change it - and, I found it to be VERY dirty! After test driving with a new air filter, my boost went easily up to 22 psi and my exhaust gas temperature remained below 1200 degrees! I cannot believe the difference. My coach has never run better, nor have the EGTs been so low! *****!!!!!! Now here is something for owners of my era coach to check for!!!!!***** I believe my filter was in very bad shape due to a leaking access door cut into the side of my black plastic stock air intake box just before the filter. It can be seen from the rear of the engine looking toward the filter. It appears Fleetwood cut a square access door in the side of the air supply box and only covered it with a piece of matching black plastic secured with only four screws. The lack of any seal allowed dirt, water, pine straw and other junk to be sucked in the filter box from underneath the coach. Sure wish I had observed this three years ago! I sealed it tight with double-sided 3M tape and several more self-tapping screws. P. S. - my filter minder still appears to be in like-new condition, including its hose. Not sure what a better replacement would be. Any suggestions much appreciated!
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Old 11-29-2013, 06:59 PM   #2
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Since you have not owned this from new is there any possibility the access hole was made by a previous owner? Either way it's got to be upsetting to find it after all this time.
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Old 11-29-2013, 07:12 PM   #3
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Good question John. I thought about that and concluded it was done at the factory, probably so they could reach inside to install the little vent nipple that is mounted inside right there and hangs below. Also the screws holding the door appear to be those used elsewhere in the coach. And, you are definitely correct about wishing I had observed it when I installed my first new air filter three years ago! If they had installed a sealing gasket of some kind, or used more screws, it would not have been an issue. But because the plastic was not flush against the box, it had a large enough openings between each screw which allowed the most filthy stuff churned under the coach to be sucked up from below, defeating the near roof top vent opening where air should exclusively be drawn into the system. Will be interesting to see if anyone else finds the same issue. What made it not stand out is that it is on the back side from where one would typically sit / work to install a new filter. At first, I could not believe what I was seeing as the gaps were so open. The real reason I spotted it this time is due to the fact I used a mirror and flash light to look around inside the duct work. Had I not done that, I believe I would have missed it again.
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Old 11-29-2013, 11:38 PM   #4
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Mine is a 1992 Eagle our minder did not work either. We just thought it wasn't dirty. But in ours was one of those lifetime filters, I can't think of the brand right now, have to look it up. I'm wondering if yours had one and they changed it back to a normal filter and can.

I ordered the filter cleaner and sprayed it on, then washed the filter in hot water. I did that 3 or 4 times till the water ran clean. then we dried it with a fan running on it. the thing was filthy, was only supposed to have to clean it every 50k according to the manual.

I thought there was something wrong with the engine or tranny and my husband kept saying there wasn't, but I'm the one that drives it all the time. Well now we think the engine was getting starved for air. Even though its a small engine 300hp and a 4 speed transmission after cleaning it it picked up speed better.

I don't know but just a thought on it.

By the way we lived down by the Woodlands for 20 years, we just moved back to our home state of Indiana to retire. I'm getting some things done to my old motorhome, planning on taking off the end of January.

By the way mine is 38ft and I believe the J model as it has the wine cabinet and the bathroom all on one side.

It explained about the filter in our manual they added it. If I had the manual here, its in the motorhome, I could tell you the brand.
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Old 11-29-2013, 11:43 PM   #5
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It's a K & N
It doesn't shine like that right now, I had put 5 coats of wax on it. I need to wash and wax it again, I keep it under cover but to cold up here to wash it.
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Old 11-30-2013, 09:04 AM   #6
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Thank you for your reply. I think I will now change my air filter every other year despite what the filter minder indicates. Thank you for posting the pick of your coach. I really like our vintage era coaches. They look so happy. P.S. - You sure saw a lot of growth during the time you lived in The Woodlands!!! Amazing how busy it is there now when it used to be a sleepy little community.
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Old 11-30-2013, 12:38 PM   #7
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The filter minder has worked for trucking fleets for decades, the only real downfall they have is a false bad reading when the filter gets really wet and the prescribed cure for that is to just let the filter dry out. Of course what happened to you is a different senario.
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Old 11-30-2013, 01:00 PM   #8
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We found out the minder doesn't work with one of these lifetime filters period.

Our motorhome is a work in progress it had sat for 5 years at least we think. We changed out filters, fluids hoses. All new AC's, vent covers, skylights, and put on ourselves liguid roof. Added a dome, stationary not in motion. That liquid roof is great stuff.

My husband can do a lot but his time home is limited and it took us a year to move back to Indiana. He is gone 8 weeks at a time. His mom is getting alzenheimers and I was not successful moving my mom down so we decided to move back home after 30 years.

We have put in a new microwave/convection oven, W/D, 2 batteries, and did work on the electrical switch, the heavy cable was just falling out, hubby fixed that and added a surge protector, that he mounted permanently inside the bay. We unhooked the inverter and changed those to be used for regular electric. Added a battery minder, 2 new flat screens. New radio, added Sirius, new AC and hoses, windshield wipers.

I scraped all the old insulation out from over the engine and under the bed and replaced it with the sound deadener and heat blocker stuff. When we get time next summer going to cover the genny and replace all that over it too and the rest of the engine back where I couldn't reach, its old and flaking.

I just replaced 2 front tires with Michelin XZA2 275's I think that's the right number. Before we take off end of January 4 new ones are going on the back too.
Right now its in to have the tranny fluid and filter changed, I only put 6k miles on it but hubby said not knowing its service history its a cheap maintenance item. Also 2 new filters on the engine, he changed all the other fluids and replaced a fan on the genny radiator. I'm also having a front levelor replaced. And the drivers side windshield lost its seal at the bottom, I think I 55 or 57 down there beat it to death, since it had a crack they said will break a new windshield is going in.

The old thing runs good, everything works, genny works and I love driving it. He is never home hasn't retired yet, works overseas. I had a 2006 with slides and sold it for this old one. The other was to light. He said I will get you one that isn't and we like redoing old things. Looking back sounds like we rebuilt it!! He said we could get a newer one but if we did we would probably just be starting all over again with fixing. The engine is only a 300hp and the tranny 4 speed so no jack rabbit but long as she runs good I'm not complaining. We have a mentally challenged daughter and since its she and I traveling this really serves our needs. She has a bathroom available, we have food and drinks and our 18 year old cat goes with us too.

You know anyone that wants to buy a house on a couple acres in the country? It's 3 miles from Oak Ridge schools, its an older one that has been updated but still a nice house with plenty of garages and a RV cover plus rental. Just pass it on.

I have sold 3 rentals so far, a duplex will be sold eventually, but has good tenants so not now and our house remains to be sold.
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Old 12-01-2013, 08:31 PM   #9
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Received email reply back from a friend who also has a 1997 American Eagle who checked his coach and found the same un-sealed air box access door, so no doubt Fleetwood cut the doors and failed to re-install them with any type of gasket, allowing junk from under the coach to be sucked up into the filter. At least it was before the filter
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Old 12-01-2013, 11:24 PM   #10
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You didn't ask for my dissertation there, got started and kept writing, sorry about that.

I'm glad you found out what it was, but really seems odd doesn't it?
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Old 12-02-2013, 10:40 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jd956jd956 View Post
I have now owned my 1997 Fleetwood American Eagle for three years. Upon purchase, I performed ALL the required maintenance. About six months later, I installed a pyrometer, then about a year after that, I installed a boost gauge. My engine is the purely mechanical / electronic-less 325 hp c8.3. To make a long story short, my pyrometer always seemed to run up very quickly forcing me to back off the throttle. And, this was even on interstate highways without significant grades. After installing the boost gauge, I found I was only able to get up to about 18 psi. Part of that initial maintenance was installing a new filter minder gauge (and it's supply hose) along with a new air filter. Well, that filter minder gauge never showed any significant restriction and after three years and 20,000 miles on that three year old filter, I decided I was just going to change it - and, I found it to be VERY dirty! After test driving with a new air filter, my boost went easily up to 22 psi and my exhaust gas temperature remained below 1200 degrees! I cannot believe the difference. My coach has never run better, nor have the EGTs been so low! *****!!!!!! Now here is something for owners of my era coach to check for!!!!!***** I believe my filter was in very bad shape due to a leaking access door cut into the side of my black plastic stock air intake box just before the filter. It can be seen from the rear of the engine looking toward the filter. It appears Fleetwood cut a square access door in the side of the air supply box and only covered it with a piece of matching black plastic secured with only four screws. The lack of any seal allowed dirt, water, pine straw and other junk to be sucked in the filter box from underneath the coach. Sure wish I had observed this three years ago! I sealed it tight with double-sided 3M tape and several more self-tapping screws. P. S. - my filter minder still appears to be in like-new condition, including its hose. Not sure what a better replacement would be. Any suggestions much appreciated!

As an owner of a 97 Dream I would like to look into this. Not sure of the location to look. You said "It can be seen from the rear of the engine looking toward the filter." can you post a shot further away that shows the location to give reference with the rest of the engine compartment?
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Old 12-02-2013, 10:51 PM   #12
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This is the only photo I have at home right now that will help. Below and to the far right of the antifreeze tank, you will be able to see the air filter. The cut out can be seen from this angle. Just look at where your air filter attaches to the black hard plastic fresh air supply plenum. The cut out will be facing you just inches toward the rear of the coach FROM WHERE the air filter attaches to the plenum.
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Old 12-02-2013, 11:00 PM   #13
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This is the only photo I have at home right now that will help. Below and to the far right of the antifreeze tank, you will be able to see the air filter. The cut out can be seen from this angle. Just look at where your air filter attaches to the black hard plastic fresh air supply plenum. The cut out will be facing you just inches toward the rear of the coach FROM WHERE the air filter attaches to the plenum.
This area looks very different from mine (I added the terminal block and converter for trailer lights). I have a Gillig chassis

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Old 12-03-2013, 04:14 PM   #14
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I have a friend with a 96 Eagle, also on a Gillig chassis, and he said this does not apply as the filter and plenum is totally different. Attached are two additional photos taken today.
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