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Old 02-04-2009, 06:51 PM   #1
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Being new to motorhomes I have a couple of questions.
I have it figured out that I get the chassis serviced at Freightliner, I get the engine (a Cummins 5.9L) serviced by a Cummins place.
Here is the questions:
I suspect these are going to be original tires on this used coach since it only has 23K on the odometer. So question, where do you get your tires done? Costco won't do tires 19.5 or bigger. A truck stop? Do you buy the tires on line like tirerack.com or does Discount tire or Big O or somebody do these RV tires? I am pretty much convinced that Michelin XRV or Goodyear G670 is the way to go. So point me in the right direction please.
Batterys? Golf cart 6VDC or 12VDC? I know the golf cart batterys are good for the deep cycling. But I suspect I won't ever be in a place to use the batteries until they go completely flat. Is the a special size/wattage/cycle time? Are Wal-Mart batteries as good as Interstate Deep cycle RV battery?
Suspension components like steering stabilizer or shocks. Is this something I can do under the shade tree? Or is this done by a service dept?
I figure Camping World has a lot of the specialty tools but I do not have a "black" Visa card.
I have done all the work on my F350 but much of this chassis is way too big for a teardown in my driveway.
Thanks in advance
Chet
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Old 02-04-2009, 07:31 PM   #2
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We have a very good truck tire dealer that I use. You probably have 22" tires. Expect to pay ~$400-500 / tire, mounted and balanced, for Michelin or Goodyear.
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Old 02-05-2009, 01:22 AM   #3
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Chet, do you have 6 volt or 12 volt batteries in the coach now? Take a picture of the house battery bank so you will know and can refer back to it when you change out the batteries. To keep it simple and you are not going to be boon docking, stay with the same type and size batteries you now have. The batteries should have a data tag as to the type and style they are. Write it down and call around for good prices. You might want to think about Interstate or go to some place like Batteries Plus.If you have to identify the cables with masking tape as to polarity. Make notes as to how the batteries are placed in the rack if you need to.
Not knowing of your mechanical skills, the tools you have and the extent of problems or maintenance you plan on trying to do make it difficult to determine if you can handle them yourself or if you should farm them out.
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Old 02-05-2009, 03:58 AM   #4
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CyberVet65, congrats on the "new" coach.

Quote:
Originally posted by CyberVet65:
So question, where do you get your tires done?
Any place that sells truck tires will be able to handle a motorhome, although a some don't want to bother. Call ahead to make sure. I know Michelin has a section on their web site that will give you dealers who specifically handle RV tires, or you could call their customer service number. Goodyear will probably also give you the same info on RV tire dealers.

Quote:
But I suspect I won't ever be in a place to use the batteries until they go completely flat. Is the a special size/wattage/cycle time? Are Wal-Mart batteries as good as Interstate Deep cycle RV battery?
You should never run lead-acid batteries until they are completely dead. Most experts recommend not going below 50% (about 12.2 volts) before recharging. Batteries shouldn't be a big deal if you're not going to do a lot of boondocking, especially if you have a good converter or inverter with a 3-stage charger built in. The easiest thing to do would be to replace your existing batteries with the same size and voltage - unless you want to upgrade to do a lot of boondocking.

As far as I know, Walmart sells starting batteries and marine batteries (for trolling motors), not true deep cycle batteries. Starting batteries have thinner plates that are designed for short bursts of high current and won't withstand the constant charge/discharge cycling that deep-cycle batteries are designed for. You can find good info on batteries at Batteries and Other Electric Stuff by Phred Tinseth or at The 12volt Side of Life by Mark Nemeth.

Quote:
Suspension components like steering stabilizer or shocks. Is this something I can do under the shade tree? Or is this done by a service dept?
A lot of those kinds of things you can do yourself, but many nuts can be badly rusted and difficult to remove after the motorhome gets a few years old. This coupled with the fact everything is generally bigger and heavier duty than cars and pickups makes things difficult for do-it-yourselfers. Freightliner or a truck service center should be able to handle suspension work. A lot of forum members do their own oil changes and other maintenance, but disposal of the used oil may be a problem for the large quantity that a diesel engine uses.
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Old 02-05-2009, 01:23 PM   #5
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Thanks for all the feedback. I did all the maintenance on the F350 and my Cardinal 5er. It is that the physical size of many components under the frame are a little intimidating. Then I hear about air suspensions and being under the frame when it "settles". Could be ugly.
Changing oil in these things is just logistics. Ten gallons of oil is a little hard to recycle. But I guess I need to get my face in there. I have most of the standard tools and even have some air tools.
I don't want to try to rotate the tires. It was tough enough on the F350!
Just trying to be an informed consumer.
RVwizard: I am electrically proficient. I have the DVM and know all about DC and AC and polarity issues. Battery wiring is not the issue. Just trying to get a handle on the reason for 6VDC vs. 12VDC units. I think I understand there is a larger capacity with the 6vdc and they take up the same space. Thanks for the info and help.
Chet
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Old 02-05-2009, 04:11 PM   #6
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Quote:
It is that the physical size of many components under the frame are a little intimidating. Then I hear about air suspensions and being under the frame when it "settles". Could be ugly.
Changing oil in these things is just logistics. Ten gallons of oil is a little hard to recycle. But I guess I need to get my face in there. I have most of the standard tools and even have some air tools.
I was more than a little intimidated at first, too. Unlike you (with your 350 experience), the biggest thing I had ever worked on was a conversion Econoline 150.

A couple of points:
1. I bought a pair of 12 ton jack stands at Northern Tool. I lift the frame with the jacks and then stick the jack stands underneath.
2. My 5.9 holds 4 gallons of oil. I bought a Fumoto valve and, during oil changes, can drain the oil right back into used gallon containers by turning the valve on and off. No muss, no fuss. The worst part of the oil change is lifting the pre-filled oil filter into place and screwing it on There is only room for one arm to do that on mine. I do my oil changes without any lifting at all because the chassis is just the right height for me to slide under to work there. For recycling, O'Reilly here accepts up to 5 gallons of oil at a time. It has been no problem at all. Another tip: Cummins here has the cheapest price on oil filters - $5 cheaper than O'Reilly's Wix equivalent.

I've done hoses, belts (that can be an interesting experience on a 5.9), repaired blown jack hoses, put on new shocks, etc. I'm pretty comfortable around the components now, having worked on it myself for a number of years. I'm sure that you will get that way, too. For me, it was all about tacking one area at a time and becoming familiar with it.

You probably already have a square drive bit for your drill but if not, I've found that is the tool that I need the most. Everything on mine seems to require that bit.

Good luck
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Old 02-06-2009, 12:53 AM   #7
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Chet, to try to reduce a lot of good battery info into a couple of sentences. The main difference between 6 volt and 12 volt batteries it that with 6 volt (3 cells) in the same physical space the cells are larger. The larger cells offers more amp hours of current and larger, more durable plates can be used than in a 12 volt application of the same size. There is a lot more to it than just this but this is the biggest differences.
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Old 02-06-2009, 06:48 AM   #8
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Wow! I thought all diesel pushers are ten gallon oil sumps and magical dessicators and huge air filters and four or five fuel fiter/seperators!
And this is the reason that the oil/filter/chassis lubes cost around $1100.00!
So this must mean that that the larger 8.3L engines have that capacity?
I guess I am going to have to look into the maintenance process a little deeper.
What is the thing about working under the coach and the air suspension settling? Does the air bags lift the coach that much? Are the air bags mounted on the frame between the coach body and the frame rail? When you bleed the air off is that for the brakes or everything that holds air?
Learning every day.
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Old 02-07-2009, 04:44 AM   #9
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Chet, I cannot discuss air suspensions because we don't have one and I'm not familiar with them. Whatever happens with them does not bleed off the air in the brake system. This topic does bring up a good point, however.

All of us who have air brake systems are well advised to learn more about them. I don't believe that a mandated air brake endorsement, as they have in Canada, is required IF all of us take the time to study our systems and understand their correct and safe operation. I recommend that you do some research on this forum and through Google to find diagrams which describe air brake system components and how they operate. More important,you should find the air brake system checkout procedure (I find mine on the Discovery Owner's website) and regularly perform it. It only takes a couple of minutes but it will take you through the major points of your air brake system's operation from filling to holding to discharge, including alarms and emergency brake application. I personally believe that the air brake system is better than normal passenger car systems but they do have to be maintained. There are lanyards which need to be pulled periodically to check for water in the tanks. Water can be bad news and may be an indicator that the desiccant filter needs to be replaced.

IMHO, some shops charge such outrageous prices for maintenance because their techs are unfamiliar with MHs and there is a learning curve. Others charge those high prices because they can. Some customers, like just about all of us when we start out, are unfamiliar with what actually is done during maintenance or simply don't worry about the costs, writing them off as the price of doing business. Educated consumers, whether we do the work ourselves or not, are the best defense against that overcharging.

Here is a great example. I was afraid to try to deal with the volume in changing the coolant on our RV. I took it to a shop. They charged me $500. I winced but paid it. Then, I started looking at the bill. Their shop rate was $85. They put in two gallons of coolant at $20 each. So, parts and administrative fees aside, I paid $425 in labor for them to do the job. At the labor rate, that's 5 hours. Later, I discovered that my system capacity is 10 gallons. At a 50/50 mix, that should mean that 5 gallons (not 2) should be used, assuming that the system is completely dumped. In addition, distilled water should be used for the final fill. I assure you that if the shop would have used distilled water, I would have been charged for it but it wasn't on my bill. My conclusion is that they charged me a premium price for a half baked job and I've never been back. This year, I changed my own coolant...and all of the hoses. I ended up with 26 gallons of used coolant (because I refilled and dumped it twice) which I was able to recycle through my town. My labor to do the coolant flush AND put on all of the hoses wasn't 5 hours and this was my first time doing it. I had about $250 is parts, including two complete fills with distilled water. I was changing coolant types and wanted to make sure that all of the old stuff was out. BTW, they also charged me $450 to replace the oil in my front wheel bearings. They told me that the wheels needed to be pulled. By checking scratches that I put on the wheel lugs on both wheels afterwards, I found out that the wheels hadn't been removed. The service manager told me as much when I picked it up. So I paid for them to pull the drain plugs on the reservoirs on the hubs, drain the old oil and refill them. Yep, that was worth $450 all right - NOT!

Sorry, I got carried away..... This is a passionate subject for me.
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Old 02-19-2009, 12:25 PM   #10
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Well the bus is in the shop. It is a local shop that is highly recommended by so people in the know.
It will have the coolant system flushed and the extended life coolant installed. The trans filter changed and fluid checked. Engine oil and filter, air filter, hubs checked, diff oil changed, gen set serviced. So I expect this will run a couple of tons. But then I can run the wheels off it.
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Old 02-20-2009, 08:15 PM   #11
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Chet-

I hear you on the shops. I began taking mine to a Freightliner place and it was insane the prices they charged. I take mine to a local shop and I hang loose and watch what is going on. The shop is used to working on farm trucks, so he is used to doing it rught. (Otherwise the farmers will string him up)

I take them a chart from FL showing where all of the zerts are, I make sure they have the correct number of empty oil jugs when they are through.

It may sould like I am picky, and I am!

If they screw it up, they say, "I'm SORRY." them you have to pick up the pieces.
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Old 02-21-2009, 12:53 PM   #12
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Well, sometimes a low milage motorhome is a deal and sometimes you have to pay for it. I got a call from the shop. Air compressor is leaking and needs to be replaced. The trans pan gasket is leaking. The exhaust manifold is warped and leaking and needs to be replaced. Possibley the rear brakes are gone.
I have my doubts on a couple of things but I will be adding a couple of gauges to prevent the manifold warpage and make sure this rig does not sit as long as it has. Only 23K miles in almost 10 years. I did expect some gaskets to leak but
I think with the oil change, gen service, coolant flush and all replacement parts I am up to about $5K to get this bus running. But I did plan on some expenses and once this is done it will be just normal maintenance. I hope.
Chet
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