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Old 06-24-2015, 03:00 PM   #1
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1984 19ft Mobile Traveler/Ford E350 V8 7.5l 460ci Meltdown

Hello everyone, just wanted to throw our situation out there and see if anyone smarter than us might be able to help us figure out our next steps. If you’re interested in hearing a little more about our background story, check out our new member post by clicking http://www.irv2.com/forums/f61/young...ml#post2618576 , or just skip all the extracurricular drama and get to the real issues below:

Our project for the last 6 months caught on fire. Below I have recapped the problems I encountered over a 2 day period while I attempted to get to the tire place and back, unsuccessfully.

In chronological order, for your expert analysis, I present the following ulcer inducing recollection of events:

After finishing renovating the whole interior of my rv, tires were the last thing on the list and had arrived at the tire center I had them delivered to, 18 miles from me. I drove there to pick them up, on the way I smelled a faint plastic burning smell and pulled over and found the solenoid melted but the RV still started and I was close to the tire place so I forged on and made it to my destination.

1. Solenoid Issues
-When originally cleaning all the contacts for the relays and solenoid, one of the posts on the original solenoid broke off. I could not find an exact match and ended up going with a 4 post from Advance, was advised it would work just fine. My suspicion is maybe I needed a solenoid specifically for isolating the battery? Or maybe I need a 3 post solenoid like it originally had? -Possible the original may have been all metal, while the replacement was made of mostly plastic

-The one from advanced is based on their computers results for an ’84 ford E350, is it possible it had a RV grade one installed by mobile traveler? Something similar to this: Amazon.com: New Db Electrical Spl6007 Solenoid For Golf Cart Marine Winch 12 Volt Heavy Duty: Automotive
Or
Camdec 97226-WR Solenoid - 3 Post : Lighting and Electrical

-The other main issue I noticed was, when I first drove the RV home, I was unaware of the solenoid switch under the dash, and did not need it to start the RV. Then after a couple weeks it wouldn’t turn over at all, unless I held the switch. It proceeded to continue to only start when the switch was held until I went to take it to the tire place right before the fire, and I noticed that I no longer needed to hold the switch to start the RV.

-Also do I need to look into PVC vs Crosslink wiring for this area, could that be a possible cause of the solenoid melting?

Picture of rewiring from battery to grey solenoid that melted

Close up of solenoid before meltdown

Melted Solenoid


2. Overheat Auto Engine Shut-off
-Once I arrived at the tire place, I parked the RV and went into the office. I was advised to pull around to the side of the building. The engine sat for about 3-5 minutes before I restarted it to move it around the building (approx. 300 feet). ¾’s of the way there, the engine died out and I had to coast the rest of the way. A person at the tire place advised me that it was probably a kill switch that engaged due to the engine overheating, and that my carb sounds a little high and to check the radiator fluid levels

-After letting sit for 15 minutes I was able to start it, at which point I moved it and parked it Overnight. -Next day I returned and added ¾’s of a gallon of distilled water to the radiator, as that much had fallen since the flush and actually driving to the tire place. It is worth noting I was at about a 3/2 mixture of antifreeze to water, I have recently read that I maybe should have used straight antifreeze instead?

*At this point I proceeded to drive back home with my new tires installed*

3. Carburetor Issues
Some background history on the carb. The RV came with a Holley, which was all sorts of beatup and had a crack through the bottom plate. I ended up buying a hardly used Edelbrock 1406 online, looked real clean and the guy said it had only been ran about 5 hours or so. I did the swap myself after some research but as far as tuning it, I’ve been suspect something with the vac hoses just wasn’t right or properly tuned, did seem to be running a bit higher than it should.

-When I was at the tire place and moved the RV to leave it overnight, it “diesel’ed” on me and tried to stay on during shut off.

-During driving, you have to rev the engine quite a bit higher than it should be to get it to drop into the next gear, and when it does, it often lets off a backfire with depression of the gas pedal.

-In the pictures below, I am trying to point out a piece that was attached to the Holley, but does not come with the Edelbrock. It had some kind of tube that attached to the engine block. This was all rusted out and had to be drilled out to be removed, due to this and my research, the best answer seemed to be to JB Weld the metal cover back into place since screwing it in wasn’t an option. After the fire happened, I found this same cover piece had broken off, could this have happened and cause oil to spit out all over the engine and start the fire?

The original holleybrook carb with the piece I had to JB weld back into place

Here is a close-up of the piece that goes into the engine block. I cut away the broken metal pipes and JB welded the cover back onto the engine block.

Close-up of the piece post-fire

The oval shaped hole on the engine block, directly next to the carb, that this piece was covering pre-fire

4. Fire Issues Driving back from the tire place, aside from the backfiring issue and carb running high (issues I assumed I could just fix once I got the RV back to the house, as well as the solenoid), I was feeling pretty good about the grueling 6 months of work we just put in on this moneypit. Although a simple paint and refloor turned into a near complete overhaul, I was feeling confident about some last minute tweaks and hitting the road. Next thing I know the engine died out on me, power steering was gone, and white/grey smoke started to come out the right side of the hood. I pulled over as fast as I could and grabbed the fire extinguisher. Popped the hood and put the fire out. Proceeded to call a tow truck and fall into a spiral of depression. After a week of putting it out of my mind, here I am looking for advice on where to get this thing back running again, figure out why it caught on fire, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

-Fire doesn’t appear to be electrical, despite the melted solenoid, no other wires on that side of the engine are burnt or affected and fire seems to be contained to the opposite side of the engine

-Hard to pinpoint a specific ignition source, but the bulk of the fire seems to have been burning and done the most damage in the back right corner of the engine cover area. Basiclly on the opposite side of the firewall where the passengers left foot would be.

-I have some pieces of hardware that looked to connect vac/emissions hoses and lines, and I am unable to identify whatever this item is, so any help is greatly appreciated





-Air filter melted into tray. This one didn’t specifically fit the edelbrock as the bolt for the wingnut wasn’t tall enough. Can I just clean this up and reuse it with a taller bolt through the carb? Or do I need a edelbrock specific air filter tray?

-After putting out the fire, the radiator gave out a small puddle through the overflow hose, not a lot, but enough to be noticeable



Other random pictures for reference:

Misc. Issues: Some other things I’ve noticed and other thoughts of possible additional problems or causes.

-The a/c has never had a belt on it (I assume it doesn’t work) and also the hosing to connect from, I believe the blower, which goes to the air filter above the carb, the middle piece of hosing never existed.

- The gauges have been a little quirky, especially the gas gauge, but this could just be a corroded connection in the fuel tank

-Radiator seems to have a tiny pinhole leak at the very top Bad voltage regulator or alternator? Possible cause of Solenoid issues?

-How much do I have to replace, especially in relation to the smog and emissions stuff, can I get by without some of this stuff, and if so, how? Block hose lines?

I have read about numerous recalls for this specific vehicle and engine fire problems. Appears to be too big of an engine in such a small space and it gets too hot? Possibly spews out fuel from the carb? This with the combination of backfiring on deceleration makes me susceptible of this being the source of the fire.


The flames had started to reach into the front of the engine bay and got some of the top of the wiring harness pictured below. Can I rewrap this or do I need to hit some junkyards to find a another wiring harness to replace it with?


Thanks in advance for any help. We have put a ton of time, effort and money into this beast and I just want to make sure this is salvageable, and safe before dumping anymore time and effort into it. Thanks again. -WeGotNoSpare
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Old 06-24-2015, 03:05 PM   #2
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Sorry about the formatting and spacing, the text editor is giving me lots of issues and everytime I preview post it resets it and smushes it all back together. :(
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Old 06-24-2015, 04:03 PM   #3
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I haven't looked at all the pictures in details but I am leaning towards a gasoline leak and pooling fuel on top of the intake manifold, and on a hot engine, it will vaporize, ignite at any electrical connection, and flash back to ignite the fuel pool.

All the emissions stuff can be plugged off, someone knowledgeable with specific engine to determine which vacuum lines are emission related. I am more concerned about the electrical wires, they all have to be returned to working condition. Replacing complete harnesses is a long tedious process.

Very frustrating position. I feel your pain; had one do the same thing to me (engine fire).

Bad experiences make good judgement.

I commend you for your initiative.

Brian
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Old 06-24-2015, 04:34 PM   #4
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That piece from the Holley that you don't have on the Edelbrock is the heat tube for your choke. It's a steel tube that actually goes into the passage inside the manifold that connects to the exhaust ports in the heads. The purpose of it is to heat the bi-metal spring inside the choke housing and open the choke when the engine warms up. Note that the passage is conducting exhaust gasses, right out of the engine. Those temperatures will make short work of JB Weld and almost all other 2-part epoxies. I suspect that after the JB Weld burned off, hot exhaust was blowing on the components on top of the engine and melted/set them on fire. As bad as things look, they could have been a lot worse!


Without actually seeing and following wires, I can't offer any help with the solenoid problem. However, it does look like the plastic solenoid might be a starter solenoid, and not one rated for continuous duty.


Keep your chin up! When you figure this all out, and you will, you'll have an RV that's just the way you wanted it! You'll also be able to fix anything that comes up, because you'll know how everything works.
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Old 06-24-2015, 04:53 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by SilverBob View Post
That piece from the Holley that you don't have on the Edelbrock is the heat tube for your choke. It's a steel tube that actually goes into the passage inside the manifold that connects to the exhaust ports in the heads. The purpose of it is to heat the bi-metal spring inside the choke housing and open the choke when the engine warms up. Note that the passage is conducting exhaust gasses, right out of the engine. Those temperatures will make short work of JB Weld and almost all other 2-part epoxies. I suspect that after the JB Weld burned off, hot exhaust was blowing on the components on top of the engine and melted/set them on fire. As bad as things look, they could have been a lot worse!
Any recommendation on how to repair that? I'm hoping you don't say tap and rethread the screw holes. Also any idea how hard it would be to get a replacement piece like that, as the original cover had some flakes and breaking off due to rust, so it doesn't sit flush against the hole anymore, thus the liberal amount of JB Weld applied.
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Old 06-24-2015, 04:57 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by BrianGlenn View Post
I haven't looked at all the pictures in details but I am leaning towards a gasoline leak and pooling fuel on top of the intake manifold, and on a hot engine, it will vaporize, ignite at any electrical connection, and flash back to ignite the fuel pool.
I used double clamps on each end of the fuel hose for the carb, which I had replaced and double checked the connections when I installed it. Thankfully the fire didn't burn all the way through the hose or I don't think i'd be writing this post at all. I'm wondering if from the backfiring if it was spitting gas out the top of the carb?
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Old 06-24-2015, 05:05 PM   #7
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Any recommendation on how to repair that? I'm hoping you don't say tap and rethread the screw holes. Also any idea how hard it would be to get a replacement piece like that, as the original cover had some flakes and breaking off due to rust, so it doesn't sit flush against the hole anymore, thus the liberal amount of JB Weld applied.
Are the old screws broken off in the holes? If they are, you may need to drill down the center of each one and use an Easy-Out to get them out. If not, just run the appropriate size tap in the hole by hand. That will clean out any rust, corrosion, etc. that might be in there. If the old threads are stripped out, you'll need what's called a Helicoil Thread Repair Kit. It involves drilling the holes oversize, tapping with a special Helicoil tap, and installing a new threaded insert in each hole. Somehow you're going to have to make a mechanical connection to hold the cover plate on. Glue ain't gonna cut it!
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Old 06-24-2015, 05:14 PM   #8
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Are the old screws broken off in the holes? If they are, you may need to drill down the center of each one and use an Easy-Out to get them out. If not, just run the appropriate size tap in the hole by hand. That will clean out any rust, corrosion, etc. that might be in there. If the old threads are stripped out, you'll need what's called a Helicoil Thread Repair Kit. It involves drilling the holes oversize, tapping with a special Helicoil tap, and installing a new threaded insert in each hole. Somehow you're going to have to make a mechanical connection to hold the cover plate on. Glue ain't gonna cut it!
I have already drilled out the old bolts, however I never did check the condition of the threads in there as I had already read online elsewhere to just JB Weld the plate on there, and didn't think to second guess it. I kind of assumed that the JB Weld would be better since it would help fill the gap where it wasn't flush anymore from deterioration. I guess my next step is to find a replacement piece that should be flush and try to get that screwed down. Should I even bother trying to use the red loc-tite on the screws?
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Old 06-24-2015, 05:36 PM   #9
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If you don't need the heat tube for your choke, then you can just use any old flat piece of steel with a couple holes in it to cover the opening in the manifold. If there's enough thread left in the holes for the bolts to grab, then red loc-tite might be helpful. Go to the local hardware store and buy some asbestos gasket material and cut a gasket to go between the plate and the engine. You don't have to really torque this down, it just has to hold tight enough to prevent the exhaust from getting past it.


What type of choke does your new carb use? You mentioned that your engine was "running higher than it should". Does that mean too high RPMs? If so, it's likely either the choke setup that needs adjusted, or you have a vacuum leak. Without a heat tube, it must either use an electric choke, or heater hose thermostat type. Is it hooked up correctly? A vacuum leak could also cause the problems you were experiencing with the transmission not shifting right.


You really need to stop and study up on carburetors for a while. I know they seem like ancient technology, but they can be made to work reasonably well. The key is in understanding what each part does and how it affects everything else. There's nothing on them that's expendable. It all has to work together or it won't work at all.


The Autolite carburetors that came on the mid-80's Fords were really bad! That's why there are so many aftermarket carbs available for them. You might be money and time ahead to buy a complete new replacement carb kit from Summit Racing or someone like that. That way, you'll have instructions and documentation to work with, instead of trying to figure everything out from scratch.


Good luck, and keep us posted on your progress!
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Old 06-24-2015, 07:43 PM   #10
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For the solenoid it looks like standard Ford type starter solenoid with a blown coil.

Follow the wires and see if one goes to starter or not.

If it is connected not to starter but as a battery disconnect then it may be a Diy modification using a Ford starter selenoid.

The starter selenoid is only intermittent duty for coil and if left on the burn up just like that one.

Factory carbs are garbage and Holly makes a great one.

Locate a dealer who can supply a brand new one specific to your need.

Contact Holly if needed.

Also get a Haynes or other aftermarket service manual for the chassis.

Many auto parts stores have common ones.

You may need to contact Haynes or other publisher.
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Old 06-24-2015, 08:47 PM   #11
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The solenoid you took off was a continuous duty style. It can stay activated all day


You replaced it with a starter solenoid, designed to activate for 30 seconds or so.


If you want to salvage what you have, you will need to do some quality repairs. Get the Book that TQ60 suggested.


Any wire harness needs to be inspected carefully and re taped and secured from chafing or hot engine parts. The burnt vacuum lines and what they connect to can be found in Junk yards.


Block off the choke heater opening with bolts and gasket or replace the whole manifold.


Get the right carburetor, and get someone with experience to put it on and adjust it. Don't drive it until it's running right.


Maybe you can find an old Van, the same year for parting out the parts you need.

You may want to list all the costs, associated with getting this MH running right. Decide if it is worth it.


You can't take shortcuts with, under hood, stuff or the electrical system. When you do, this is what happens.


Any time you have a question, like the solenoid or the choke plate, ask here. Pictures help.

Between the many opinions, on this site, the correct answer can be found.

Good Luck with your project.
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Old 06-25-2015, 08:23 AM   #12
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Thanks for all the advice everyone! We're still learning so it all helps. I was going to edit the post to take off all the things we have gotten answers to so far but it appears I can't.

Does anyone know what parts are only needed for emissions and what parts are necessary?
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Old 06-29-2015, 04:24 AM   #13
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Well the advice you got from SilverBob, TQ60, and twinboat is top shelf, and I X-2 it all!
I also think that finding a mobile mechanic that you can make friends with, and get advice from, could be in your favor! You can have him advise you what to do, how to do it, and then have him come in, check your work, and do the final tune and all the settings that will need to be done.
I also think you need to look at this set back as a good thing!? Just take a minute to think about this? What would have happened if this happened in Roswell, N.Mx. or somewhere in between Clovis and there? This has happened when you were close to home, so you can sleep in your bed at night, and get it fixed right! And after you get it running right, you will be glad you fixed it right, and will not worry about the mechanicals on your great adventure!
One other thing you need to get right is the cooling system, and the heat problem under the hood/hump that you talked about! You are heading out west, where temp's get really high, and you will want to have that baby running cool, no matter what the temp is outside! Pull the radiator out, Take it to a good shop, have it tested, re-cored if needed, and if doing that, have them add a row to it, does not cost much more, and you will not have to worry about your baby running hot again! Also a couple of fans placed in the right spots, blowing down the sides of your motor, may help exhaust some of the heat out from under the hump, may not need this after the radiator re-core, but just a thought?
What you have already done to the inside looks great, so get the driveline in just as good of shape and you will have a MH that you will be proud of for many years to come! Good luck! And keep us posted with updates!
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Old 06-29-2015, 07:21 AM   #14
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A diagram of the vacuum lines will be helpful , and I would suggest just replacing all of them, as they do get brittle with age. This will prevent you from chasing problems down the road. Also any wiring that has the insulation burned off should be cut back into good wire and a new (same gauge wire) piece spliced in. The copper wire inside the insulation will be damaged beyond where the insulation is burned off. Just take one wire at a time and repair it, it will take time and don't rush, before you know it the harness will be repaired. If you can't figure out where a wire goes, as others have suggested, go to your local salvage yard and look at another van of that year. As you dig in and get a specific problem, give a shout and one or more of us will try to help.
Frank
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