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Old 03-09-2018, 01:38 PM   #1
cwk
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Our "New" 1991 American Eagle - A Work in Progress

Our, new-to-us DP, is a 1991 American Eagle. For those of you who do not know the history, back in 1991 Fleetwood started a luxury line of coaches called American Coach. The first model that they built was the 1991 American Eagle. It was a Diesel Pusher with lots of upscale amenities (for its time period).



The Eagle (I decided to give it a name) is a 38', non-slide coach. It has a 6CTA8.3 300 HP Cummins engine with an Allison MT643, 4-speed automatic transmission, on a Spartan chassis.

We purchased it and brought it home in February 2018. The PO (Prior Owner) did point out a number of issues before we agreed on the purchase. It ran pretty well on the 325 mile trip. Since getting it home, I have discovered additional maintenance issues. That being said, there is a lot of work to be done before I believe the coach will be ready for travel and camping.

Since I have learned so much from the irv2 forums, I decided to chronicle the upcoming work similar to what others have done. I thank them for their sharing of knowledge and for the inspiration. I hope that I can repay their efforts.

This is our first Class A. This is my first experience with a diesel engine. So, some of the questions may sound like newbie questions.


My goals are:

1) Be able to operate and drive the RV safely.
2) Learn how to routinely inspect the coach to identify potential problems.
3) Learn so I can perform some basic troubleshooting in case of a break-down.
4) Learn so I can perform DIY maintenance and repairs as appropriate.
5) Possible remodeling/refurbishing on the interior sometime in the future.

A bit of my background:
I have prior mechanical experience with autos, although a lot of the engine work pre-dates modern systems like HEI (High Energy Ignition: no points in the distributor) and fuel injection. I have experience driving fire trucks, fire engines, school buses, and large straight-body trucks. I have experience towing various cargo trailers with our SUV's and vans.

I have DIY skills for S&B remodeling and maintenance. I have a shop full of woodworking tools for cabinet-making. I have worked with residential plumbing and electric (both existing and new work). With my penchant for research, a DIY attitude (when appropriate), and the great resources of fellow RV'ers on irv2 and youtube, I expect I will be fine. Most importantly, I believe I know when to call for help. And, if I don't, I am betting that someone will let me know!


I invite readers to join in with comments and suggestions. Or, to just follow along.

Well, the first "project" is underway. I will start that in a new post soon. Please come back to visit.
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Old 03-09-2018, 03:25 PM   #2
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Ignition Switch Replacement

The first project is a minor one, but one of necessity.

When we went to test drive the coach, Lloyd (good friend and volunteer test driver) turned on the ignition switch to start the coach. It started fine, but none of the accessories worked. That included the power seats. When he quickly mentioned that, the PO asked to get behind the wheel. He shut the rig down, jiggled the ignition key a bit, then started it back up. The accessories now worked. PO mentioned that he had to do this sometimes. Hmmm...

During the trip home I was very reluctant to turn off the ignition. I did not want to get stranded hours away from home. It turns out the windshield wipers were needed as I hit heavy rain part of the way. It may have been overkill, but the idea of "jiggling" the switch and hoping the Accessories worked "this time" was beyond my comfort level. Fortunately nothing bad happened. But, this was not a risk that needed to be taken in the future.


The solution was easy: replace the ignition switch. Actually doing it was a bit more complicated. How to get to it?



There is no way to access the switch from underneath the dash. The front seat is in the way. There is no driver's door to open to make access easier. So, let's try the top. I could see two screws on the front of the dashboard. Neither looked original (one was a zinc sheet metal screw), so someone has been back here before. Lifting up some rubber trim by the windshield revealed about 5-6 screws that held down a piece of metal trim that kept the dash cover in place. Removing all of that allowed the cover to be lifted up and out of the way. The wiring behind the dashboard is now accessible.



The next step was to remove the key lock cylinder. Some research on youtube revealed that this can be done by placing the key in the lock, turning the lock to the ACC position, inserting a paper clip in the little hole next to the key, and turning the key some more to the left. Simple. Once you know how!

This then allows the bezel (trim ring) around the lock to be unscrewed. The ignition switch then fell out of its hole behind the dash.



Disconnecting the ignition switch from its connector. The switch:



The connector:



The next step was to find a replacement. Well, that took some digging online. One suggestion was to visit the local auto parts store. Since it was after hours, I visited several on line. After digging for a bit, comparing photos, etc., I finally found them at several stores. However, no one had them in stock. So, I looked for a source that could ship them to my door. That took more time, but I finally found 3 manufacturers of the switch at RockAuto.com. I selected one and had it shipped direct. Total cost with shipping about $20.

Old and new. Can you tell them apart? The switch is enclosed so the problem contacts are inside.



The metal bodies of these are made from what appears to be (at least to me) cast aluminum. I tried to simply insert the new switch into its mating piece in the dash. It would not go all the way. I had to remove the mating piece from the dash, perform a tiny bit of filing, then the two pieces fit together. Then, put the mating piece back in the dash, connect the switch to the connector, slide it together (one hand in the dash, one hand in front of the dash), and screw the bezel back onto the aluminum threads. Not fun, but got it done.

Finally, the lock cylinder needed to be replaced. I also found out that the outermost piece of the lock cylinder keeps the bezel from being removed. A bit of theft prevention that thwarted me at first. I thought I could remove the bezel with the lock cylinder in place. Not true. Since the lock had to be moved from the old switch to the new, it was a step that needed to be done anyway.

After photo looks identical to the before picture, so I will not repeat it.


While I was in there I found a lot of interesting things. For example: the extra wiring a previous owner (several back) had added to the aftermarket stereo for XM radio. It was not active, but a lot of wiring is in there. At this point it stays. I am not sure what I will remove and/or replace with the stereo system, so I will leave it alone for now.


Some of the other items that can be accessed from above the speedometer/odometer and generator hour meter. There are some known issues here (they don't work correctly), but that is for a future project.

The new ignition switch is working fine. Project closed.
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Old 03-09-2018, 04:00 PM   #3
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Nice job! Never good to jiggle an ignition switch!
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Old 03-09-2018, 04:14 PM   #4
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Nice job, welcome to the the world of repairing RV's. This is true weather it is a 91 or a brand new RV. They constantly need attention.

I like the lines and paint.

I'm sure when you post and ask you will get plenty of responses.

There is an index of repairs I have done on my 97 on the first page of my thread.

Again welcome.

Glenn Lever
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Old 03-09-2018, 07:32 PM   #5
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Congratulations on the coach, and on the first repair.

Some repairs will be a bit more complex, others less so. IMO we can do any of the repairs if we have the patience and time.

Looking forward to following the refurbishment and upgrades that you post.
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Old 03-09-2018, 07:45 PM   #6
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Nice job Charles, both on the repair and the explanation. You know that we are here for you. Looking forward to the upgrades and repairs.
Frank
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Old 03-09-2018, 08:39 PM   #7
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Great looking coach Charles. And you already have your first project completed. IRV2 has been invaluable to me with questions answered and suggestions and links on remodeling and repair. Looking forward to the process.

ron and emmett


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Old 03-09-2018, 08:56 PM   #8
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Great job, Charles! We are looking forward to more projects also! Welcome to the DP family! Rail!
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Old 03-10-2018, 05:54 AM   #9
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Hey Charles!

Great job on the first repair. 1 item off the list!

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Old 03-10-2018, 07:00 AM   #10
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Do all old GM ignition switches of that era wear out easy? Man, the one in my coach, an old 89 Suburban I used to have, really any GM of that approximate year the switches wear out pretty bad. Hard to get the key in just right, and once it's in and started you can pull the key out haha. Mine's very sloppy but at least works ok, need to replace it one of these days once I figure out what it's out of.

Good job on the fix!
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Old 03-10-2018, 07:08 AM   #11
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Diesel Fuel

Thanks for the support and compliments guys!

I did mention that I am new to the diesel world. Just about everything I know so far has been from reading, not doing. Simple things like truck stop protocol: Fill up the tank, pull forward, then go inside to pay so the next truck can start filling. Well, I have done that once now!

The Eagle has fillers on both sides. What I didn't know was to use the pump on the side with the display. I was wondering why just inserting the nozzle and squeezing the trigger wasn't doing anything. The trucker on the next island got it sorted out and taught me.

Anyway, it's all part of the learning curve and the experience. Didn't my first post say something about "newbie questions?"


Well here are a few more.

The Eagle has a 150 gallon fuel tank. I filled it up with #2 Diesel at a Love's truck stop right after we picked it up. Well, I did not try to top it off. When the nozzle clicked off it spit a bit of fuel out the filler and down the side of the coach. (We hit rain a few hours later, so that should have rinsed it off. I didn't see any way to get water to rinse it off immediately. Should I have found some?)

The trip home was approximately 325 miles (the odometer doesn't work, but that's another project). Estimating 8 MPG, that would be about 41 gallons used. That leaves 109 gallons in the tank. And, about 41 gallons' worth of air space.

A number of questions:

1) What to do about fuel spilling on the side of the coach?

2) The PO said he only used #2 Diesel. Never biodiesel. I am not sure what the truck stops in my area have. I have read that biodiesel will supposedly run cleaner, but not until a few things happen.

a) the biodiesel will "clean" the insides of the tank.

b) the stuff that is cleaned off will most likely clog the two fuel filters.

c) I better purchase some extra new filters to have in the rig and learn how to change them when they clog and leave me stranded.

What is recommended?

3) I have read conflicting reports about truck stops vs. mom & pop stations. I know that the turn-over at the truck stops is quite high, so the fuel should be fresh. That may or may not be true of a small station. Evidently older diesel can cause problems. The local stations may be less expensive. Also, maneuvering at some small stations can be hazard prone. It's hard to mess up maneuvering The Eagle at a large truck stop.

What is recommended?

4) Algae. Back to that 41 gallons of "empty space" in the fuel tank. The Eagle now lives in Florida. Florida is known for heat and humidity. Evidently these are the conditions that algae in diesel loves. One of my friends here (he has a CDL and has driven OTR for years) recommended a product called Diesel-Kleen.

A quick search online revealed a few products: Diesel-Kleen, Diesel-Kleen with Cetane Boost, Bio Kleen Diesel Fuel Biocide, etc.

Also, how important is it to always store the coach with a full tank of fuel (leaving less room for air)?

What is recommended?

5) Freezing weather. The Eagle will spend most of its time resting in FL. But, we do get freezing weather here in north FL during the winter months. This includes temps in the 20's and sometimes even the teens. My friend also mentioned something call Diesel Freeze. I could not find it online. It may have a different name now? He has been off the road for over a decade or more. Also, we have some potential winter trips planned. Family resides further north (where they do get snow) and the holidays and birthdays are during that season. I don't plan on driving in the snow (although DW and I both grew up and learned with autos), but The Eagle may be spending some time there, possibly a few days or more while it is cold.

What is recommended?


That's about all the fuel questions I can think of at the moment. The generator does run on diesel as well. So, any fuel additive in the main tank will reach the genny also. I just might want to exercise the genny after adding any fuel additive to be sure it circulates up to the genny. I believe the genny should be exercised monthly (under load) anyway to keep it healthy. But, generator maintenance will be a future topic.


On a side note, I have ordered a number of LED bulbs for changing the interior incandescents. I did find a helpful post from Curtis recommending some 1156 replacements. I have them on order. Thank you. I will save this topic for a later post.

Thanks!
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Old 03-10-2018, 07:32 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idoxlr8 View Post
Do all old GM ignition switches of that era wear out easy? Man, the one in my coach, an old 89 Suburban I used to have, really any GM of that approximate year the switches wear out pretty bad. Hard to get the key in just right, and once it's in and started you can pull the key out haha. Mine's very sloppy but at least works ok, need to replace it one of these days once I figure out what it's out of.

Good job on the fix!
The lock cylinder is a separate piece from the ignition switch I replaced. I kept the original lock cylinder and key. I did have to use the paper clip trick to remove the lock cylinder during the switch replacement. Then I put the lock cylinder back in as the last step in my replacement procedure.

Replacing the lock cylinder should be about a 5-10 minute operation and all do-able from the driver's side of the dashboard.
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Old 03-10-2018, 07:34 AM   #13
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Just a few notes about topping off the tank. You'll find it far easier to get that last 1/4 tank full at a "Mom & Pop" station that has the small nozzle. The big rig large nozzles are really hard to slow down enough to fill the tank slowly. I assume your tank is the same as mine, and I have to trickle it in that last 20-30 gallons to fully top it off. Just the design of the filler necks I guess. I've checked my vent no problems there, so beware when you do top it off, you got to do it slow or it'll spit back at you.

Another pain in the butt thing is the big rig pumps often shut off totally when they click off, and you have to go back inside and / or swipe your card again to have them restarted. Unlike small diesel pumps that just just pull the lever again to restart.

Should not need to worry much about the fuel spillage on the side, I've done that many times and it's not harmed the paint. Also with the tank totally topped off some will get out of the cap vent and splash out FYI..

I've not had any fuel problems, but I think it's a great idea to carry extra filters. Spare parts while on the road is never a bad idea!
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Old 03-10-2018, 08:17 AM   #14
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Diesel fuel gelling happens when the paraffin usually present in diesel starts to solidify when the temperature drops. At 32 degrees, the wax in liquid form will crystallize and leave the fuel tank clouded. At 10-15 degrees, it will finally start to gel and clog the tank and fuel filters.

When we head north in the spring it is still fairly cold. I start with a full tank in the south and fuel frequently as I head north. Refineries change the fuel mixture to compensate for the colder temperatures "winter fuel". We have never had an issue with fuel gelling during our trip north or subsequent trip south in the fall when it is also starting to get cold.
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