Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Sarasota, Florida
Thanks to the old timers and tips for the first time DP owners
I published this on another forum. I thought it would be applicable here also.
First of all, I would like to thank all of you that post helpful information on this forum. Many of your posts are very helpful and some have frankly scared the hell out of me. This post is rather long but hopefully it will help other first time DP owners. I am a retired mechanical engineer. I have never worked on a diesel engine.
On January 25, 2011 we purchased our first DP. We purchased a beautiful repossessed 2004 Damon Escaper 4076. Freightliner chassis and Cat 3126E diesel engine. First thing we did was change all six of the old sidewall cracked Michelin’s to Toyo’s. Next we added a TST TPMS to all of the coach wheels and the Buick Rendezvous we planned to use as a toad. We installed a Remco pump in the Buick so that it could be towed four down. Without you guys and gals posting information on this forum I would have been lost.
Over the last 7 months of ownership I have replaced two analog TV’s with flat screens, installed a Onan EC-30W generator auto-start system, got my TracStar In-motion Satellite operational with DirecTV, cleaned the rear radiator, inspected the hoses and serpentine belt, added an inline filter to the icemaker, learned how to flush and sanitize the fresh water tank. I have researched and cross referenced the air filter, oil filter, fuel/water filter separator, Haldex air dryer, the Onan filters, the Allison transmission filters. I found out the various oils you use and recommend. And the list goes on.
We have logged about 5,000 miles to date, most of the miles pulling the Buick toad. I had never towed a vehicle 4 down. I have also driven in the mountains with the toad. Again, your posts guided me through and gave me the confidence to try.
Last week upon examining the opertion of the Filter Minder I found that the air filter should be changed. So, I ordered a filter and did some more reading about the replacement. The filter arrived, I opened the box and thought to myself, “oh crap, am I really going to do this.” I went to the storage facility where I keep the coach with the filter and my tool box. I opened the cargo access door and inspected the mounting of the filter and the connections. I removed the hoses from each end of the filter and removed the filter from its mounting brackets. The large end of the filter has an adapter that attaches to the filter. But, the filter does not have the mounting holes drilled in it. I made a trip back home, drilled the mounting holes and returned. The re-installation was a snap.
Tip #1 – make certain you have nothing obstructing you from removing the filter.
Tip #2 – make notes or a sketch or take a picture of the installation of the filter before you remove it
Tip #3 – make sure you have a drill motor and drill bits at your disposal. Just in case you need them.
Tip #4 – Be confident, you can do it.
We are leaving for Key West on Sunday so I brought the coach home today for a couple more maintenance issues I have dreaded to do. Change the Fuel/Water separator filter and drain the air tanks. I decided to tackle the items today because it is Thursday. If I get into a bind or have trouble I will have Friday and Saturday to hopefully get things straightened out. I have read a lot of posts about changing the fuel filter and frankly, I was scared to tackle the project. I had read the horror stories about losing the prime, or the engine starting and then dying, pressurizing the fuel tank, and on and on. But somehow, I knew I could do this. As I unscrewed the old filter fuel began to spill. I unscrewed the filter a little further and found that fuel was really trickling from under the cap of the filter assembly. There is a rubber hose attached to a fitting on the top of the cap where the fuel was leaking. First thought, “oh $hit, losing fuel, getting air in system”. I re-tightened the filter and re-inspected it. I found that the rubber hose attached to the fitting went to the fuel tank as best as I could tell. I dedcided that I needed a way to stop the fuel flow. I cut a couple of clamp blocks that were about 1/2” wide x 3” long x 1/4” thick. Sort of like a 1/4” thick popsicle stick. Next I took vice grips and set them so that I could put the clamp blocks on either side of the rubber hose and then use the vice grips to squeeze the hose, cutting off or severely reducing the flow. Again, I unscrewed the filter and the fuel flow was down to a small trickle. I examined the bowl of fuel on the bottom of the filter and found no water so I poured the fuel from the old filter into a clean quart glass jar. I opened the package containing the new 2 micron fuel/water separator filter. There was a small rubber ring, not an O-ring but a rubber ring that is 1” I.D. x 1-5/16” O.D. x 3/16” in width. I thought this was possibly used for another application so I left it on my workbench. I took the new filter, and carefully poured the fuel from the glass jar into the outer ring of holes in the filter. But during the transfer I had lost some fuel and I didn’t have enough to refill the filter which I knew was very important. In preparation I had purchased a couple of quarts of lamp oil. Yep, I read that it was easy to carry the lamp oil along with a spare filter. Now with the filter full, I manage to sneak it back into position and screw it on the fixed filter cap assembly. I released the vice grips and clamp blocks, wiped everything down stood back and thought to myself, “that wasn’t all that bad, but is this mammy-jammy going to start.” Before I headed to the cockpit I looked at the fuel that I had spilled on my driveway. In the wetness, I see a black rubber ring like the one I left on my workbench. I utter another “oh crap”. Then it hit me, the black rubber ring goes on the tube that the filter screws on to. So I repeat the steps to take the filter off, place the rubber ring on the tube, slip the filter back on, hand tighten it and wipe everything down again . I head to the cockpit, cross my fingers and turn the key to start the engine. She started right up, not a sputter. I gave myself a couple of fists pumps and prepared for the next challenge, draining the air tanks.
Tip #5 – find a means to restrict the fuel flow BEFORE removing the fuel filter.
Tip #6 – purchase a couple quarts of LAMP OIL and a SPARE FUEL FILTER. You never know when or where you may need to change it.
Tip #7 – Don’t forget to use the small rubber ring if your filter comes with one.
Tip #8 - Be confident, you can do it.
I have never drained the air tanks of water. I have an auto-dump that is used on my auto leveling system. I was told that I should not need to drain the tanks manually. On this forum I was told otherwise. So today, I crawled under the coach and spot the halyard’s all neatly coiled up and secured near the end of the air tanks with a wire tie. My thoughts are, “I’m just going to cut one tie and uncoil one halyard. Then I will crawl out from under the coach pull the halyard pray that only a little water blows out of the valve." But somehow in my mind I knew that a frothy mixture of water, rust and God know what else was going to spew from the valve then clog it open. With a slight tug I pulled the halyard. I heard a psssshhhhhh as the air escaped the valve. That was it, no water, no gunk. I cut the remaining halyards from their nests and tugged each one of them to open the other two tank drain valves. Again, nothing but the sound of psssshhhhh and no water. I secured the halyards in the fender well, stood up and threw about a half dozen fist pumps. I had overcome the demons of the diesel pusher.
Tip #9 - Remember Murphy's Law says, "anything that can happen will happen."
Tip #10 - Be confident, you can do it. If something bad happens, as defined by Murphy's Law, just be grateful that all of the good folks on this forum are standing by ready to help you out.
Thanks again for your help, your words of wisdom and your horror stories.
As Sir Francis Bacon said, “Knowledge is Power.”
2004 Damon Escaper 4076