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Old 02-28-2017, 12:45 PM   #1
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The Tale of the $3,668 Hidden and Undocumented Fuel Filter/Strainer

I (the author of this tale) am a Michigander hiding from the Michigan weather in Casa Grande Arizona. I was patiently waiting for the departure of a hometown friend, as he was making the same journey a few weeks later than me. He began the 1,800 mile journey with good traveling weather. That's when the good part of this story ends.

About 200 miles from home his 2003 Coachman Elite Cummins 5.9L ISB started to run terribly. Struggling to maintain 45 mph while it is stumbling and way down on power. He was feathering the throttle to maintain any semblance of speed. Any more and it stumbled badly any less and just slowed more. Assuming something serious, he stopped at a Kenworth dealer where they changed the fuel filters.

Service invoice #1 $85

The coach ran great. For about 90 miles. Same symptoms.

Not wanting to cause damage, down to 35mph and getting dark, he stopped driving and called a wrecker for towing to a nearby service center.

Wrecker call $500

The service center cleaned the fuel system, ran diagnostic and determined low fuel pressure (as low as 2,200psi). They said it needs a lift pump. They're closing now, come back in 2 days.

Service invoice #2 $583

The coach ran great. For about 4 hours. Same symptoms. Searched for a Cummins service center and struggled down the road to get there another 300 miles. He convinced them to replace the lift pump and they did. It took quite a bit of arm twisting since they originally said they could get to it in 2 weeks.

Service invoice #3 $600

The coach ran great. For about 2 hours. Same symptoms. He babied it 250 miles to a Freightliner service center a long way away, but finally got there. After waiting for a day to get in the service bay they finally said it needed an actuator. Don't have one, maybe tomorrow. The next day, a new actuator and a fuel tank flush.

Service invoice #4 $1,150

The coach ran great. For about 4 hours until dark. The next day 6 hours. Same symptoms. He struggled for hours at 40 to 45 mph to find yet another Freightliner service center.

By this time I had been searching the web forum after forum looking for possible solutions. I came upon threads about hidden fuel filters. Seemed likely, given the symptoms. I notified my friend about that possibility and to be sure and pass it on to the mechanic. He did. The mechanic said he had heard about that, but had never seen one. Regardless, he said he'd look for it.

Once they got the coach into the service bay, there was yet another delay since there was a leaking fuel hose, damaged by the lift pump installation. Great. Now fixing fixes that were unnecessary fixes in the first place. Another day for that part to arrive. It came in and got installed and they ran some diagnostics. Guess what the mechanic found after going hand-over-hand tracing the fuel line? A hidden fuel filter/strainer! It had been there since 2003. Completely unknown. Servicing at his local Freightliner dealer apparently didn't know about it either.

Removing the strainer revealed a totally plugged filter/strainer. Some sort of black particulate resembling coffee grounds in size. The mechanic asked if it is to be replaced or eliminated? My buddy chose to have it eliminated entirely and just put a bypass pipe in its place. Back to OEM Freightliner filters only.

Service invoice #5 $750

The coach ran great. And continues to run great.

The whole purpose of this thread is to thank those people that helped prompt for the hidden fuel filter/strainer, as well as advise others to the same fact. The story also conveys how quickly a problem can get out of hand with an undocumented part, hidden from plain sight.

The photo below was copied from a previous thread because it is the exact same filter/strainer. Sorry, but thank you.
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Old 02-28-2017, 01:12 PM   #2
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The Black Particulate is most likely the stuff coming off the sides of the fuel tank from using ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel.

Too bad Coachman RV doesn't do a better job of documenting their coach components. It would have saved your friend hundreds of dollars.

Better yet it doesn't make any sense for Coachman to use such a strainer when there are two excellent fuel filters just prior to the engine fuel injection system.

I also highly recommend having you and your friend sign up with Coach-Net Emergency Roadside Service. It would have saved your friend spending $500 for a tow.

Dr4Film ----- Richard
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Old 02-28-2017, 06:27 PM   #3
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I believe I have read of other companies having this same hidden filter problem, i.e. this is not purely a Coachmen issue. It seems to be more related to the Cummins-Freightliner combination. It's hard to say whether Cummins called for it to be installed as part of installing their engine, or if it's a Freightliner artifact that simply 'got installed' as routine business.
I've been reading a lot of loose articles and publications on this. It appears the '3rd fuel filter' is no longer installed on a Cummins-Freightliner combination, but I have not been able to find a definitive cut-off date or year. Did it go away when the 5.9's went away?
Does anybody know more details on the 'border' around these hidden/undocumented filters?

Thanks for your time!
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Old 02-28-2017, 07:39 PM   #4
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I replaced all of the flexible rubber fuel line from tank to pump on my last 1997 Freightliner chassis coach and did not find that small filter. I did find there the flexible rubber fuel line had internally separated and when the pump was sucking fuel the internal part of the line would collapse and block the flow of fuel. Just something else to put into your memory for those times when all other fixes fail.

Your thread will make me look on our current 2006 Freightliner chassis to see if there is a 3rd filter dating back 11 years ago. THANKS for posting
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Old 03-09-2017, 10:42 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bydnar View Post
I (the author of this tale) am a Michigander hiding from the Michigan weather in Casa Grande Arizona. I was patiently waiting for the departure of a hometown friend, as he was making the same journey a few weeks later than me. He began the 1,800 mile journey with good traveling weather. That's when the good part of this story ends.



About 200 miles from home his 2003 Coachman Elite Cummins 5.9L ISB started to run terribly. Struggling to maintain 45 mph while it is stumbling and way down on power. He was feathering the throttle to maintain any semblance of speed. Any more and it stumbled badly any less and just slowed more. Assuming something serious, he stopped at a Kenworth dealer where they changed the fuel filters.



Service invoice #1 $85



The coach ran great. For about 90 miles. Same symptoms.



Not wanting to cause damage, down to 35mph and getting dark, he stopped driving and called a wrecker for towing to a nearby service center.



Wrecker call $500



The service center cleaned the fuel system, ran diagnostic and determined low fuel pressure (as low as 2,200psi). They said it needs a lift pump. They're closing now, come back in 2 days.



Service invoice #2 $583



The coach ran great. For about 4 hours. Same symptoms. Searched for a Cummins service center and struggled down the road to get there another 300 miles. He convinced them to replace the lift pump and they did. It took quite a bit of arm twisting since they originally said they could get to it in 2 weeks.



Service invoice #3 $600



The coach ran great. For about 2 hours. Same symptoms. He babied it 250 miles to a Freightliner service center a long way away, but finally got there. After waiting for a day to get in the service bay they finally said it needed an actuator. Don't have one, maybe tomorrow. The next day, a new actuator and a fuel tank flush.



Service invoice #4 $1,150



The coach ran great. For about 4 hours until dark. The next day 6 hours. Same symptoms. He struggled for hours at 40 to 45 mph to find yet another Freightliner service center.



By this time I had been searching the web forum after forum looking for possible solutions. I came upon threads about hidden fuel filters. Seemed likely, given the symptoms. I notified my friend about that possibility and to be sure and pass it on to the mechanic. He did. The mechanic said he had heard about that, but had never seen one. Regardless, he said he'd look for it.



Once they got the coach into the service bay, there was yet another delay since there was a leaking fuel hose, damaged by the lift pump installation. Great. Now fixing fixes that were unnecessary fixes in the first place. Another day for that part to arrive. It came in and got installed and they ran some diagnostics. Guess what the mechanic found after going hand-over-hand tracing the fuel line? A hidden fuel filter/strainer! It had been there since 2003. Completely unknown. Servicing at his local Freightliner dealer apparently didn't know about it either.



Removing the strainer revealed a totally plugged filter/strainer. Some sort of black particulate resembling coffee grounds in size. The mechanic asked if it is to be replaced or eliminated? My buddy chose to have it eliminated entirely and just put a bypass pipe in its place. Back to OEM Freightliner filters only.



Service invoice #5 $750



The coach ran great. And continues to run great.



The whole purpose of this thread is to thank those people that helped prompt for the hidden fuel filter/strainer, as well as advise others to the same fact. The story also conveys how quickly a problem can get out of hand with an undocumented part, hidden from plain sight.



The photo below was copied from a previous thread because it is the exact same filter/strainer. Sorry, but thank you.


This happen to my brother dutchstar with the same Cummings. The same pattern or work and no fixes. He finally called his son back home and had him ask his mechanic Had he experience these problems before. Back up a little the call to Spartan chassis about any unknown filters they said no not in that model.
The mechanic back home call the service manager and told him exactly where the unknown filter is located. the tanks drop sterilized fuel was polished put back in the same scenario as above. His bill was little over $5600 total from all the different service areas he went to.
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Old 03-09-2017, 11:00 AM   #6
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It might be time for a Sticky!

Perhaps someone could convince the Mods to provide this in the form of a Sticky for all to see.
"The hidden Fuel Filter"
Symptoms and cures.
Lynn
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Old 03-22-2017, 10:55 AM   #7
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Hiddin fuel filter

BYDNAR,
In your attached picture is the 'hidden' filter located on the LH side of the frame rail just above the front LH airbag?? AND, where did you source the replacement # of the 'non-existent' filter - I assume there is no part listing for a filter that doesn't exist?
Great info!

Thanks for the follow-up
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Old 03-22-2017, 11:05 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Team G View Post
BYDNAR,
In your attached picture is the 'hidden' filter located on the LH side of the frame rail just above the front LH airbag?? AND, where did you source the replacement # of the 'non-existent' filter - I assume there is no part listing for a filter that doesn't exist?
Great info!

Thanks for the follow-up
"My buddy chose to have it eliminated entirely and just put a bypass pipe in its place. "
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Old 03-22-2017, 12:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Team G View Post
BYDNAR,
In your attached picture is the 'hidden' filter located on the LH side of the frame rail just above the front LH airbag?? AND, where did you source the replacement # of the 'non-existent' filter - I assume there is no part listing for a filter that doesn't exist?
Great info!

Thanks for the follow-up
Please remember that stated in the original "tale" I acknowledged that the photograph was plagiarized from another source. That was not for location, but the appearance of the filter/strainer. My apologies.

The filter/strainer on this particular coach (not all are in this location) was located above the right rear axle. It is advised to find the fuel line coming out of the tank and physically uncover ever single inch to verify the existence or non-existence of the filter/strainer. The subject filter/strainer is not large and can be hidden.

In this coach the undocumented filter/strainer was removed and a piece of steel tubing was cut and properly fitted to ELIMINATE it.
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Old 03-22-2017, 12:36 PM   #10
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Here is a pix of that fuel filter on my '06 Journey with a Cummins 5.9L. The OEM supplier of that filter is RACOR and their part number is 025-RAC-10. It is not a filter per se. It is 104 micron fuel strainer. In laymans filter speak, it's a bird catcher. Its job is to stop the larger contaminants before they get to the primary element. In my case the strainer is located on the inside of the passenger frame rail just above the right rear air suspension bag. According to Cummins, they want that strainer replaced about every 20,000 miles or 2 years whichever comes first. I replace mine right around the 2 year interval.

Dan
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Old 03-23-2017, 09:59 AM   #11
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Thank you all for additional info. As always with the contributors on this forum - very interesting and helpful.
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Old 03-26-2017, 10:57 PM   #12
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Same hidden filter

I had the same problem with a2007 Allegro Bay FRED with the Cummins ISB. Had to go thru Birmingham, AL a 35MPH on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Made it Meridian MS and the Freightliner dealer would not even talk to me when I mentioned motorhome. Called Freightliner and was told where to look for the fuel strainer and given the part number. Had my wife call that Freightliner dealer and ask for the parts department. I asked for the strainer by part and was told they could have one for me in a couple of days. Didn't wait. Coach ran fine until about 30 miles from home then back to 35MPH. At home, called Baton Rouge Freightliner and was told they had 2 in stock at a price of around $13. Bought both of them and replaced the dirty one. Problem solved.
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Old 03-29-2017, 11:36 PM   #13
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I think that was my original post about the hidden filter!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bydnar View Post
I (the author of this tale) am a Michigander hiding from the Michigan weather in Casa Grande Arizona. I was patiently waiting for the departure of a hometown friend, as he was making the same journey a few weeks later than me. He began the 1,800 mile journey with good traveling weather. That's when the good part of this story ends.

About 200 miles from home his 2003 Coachman Elite Cummins 5.9L ISB started to run terribly. Struggling to maintain 45 mph while it is stumbling and way down on power. He was feathering the throttle to maintain any semblance of speed. Any more and it stumbled badly any less and just slowed more. Assuming something serious, he stopped at a Kenworth dealer where they changed the fuel filters.

Service invoice #1 $85

The coach ran great. For about 90 miles. Same symptoms.

Not wanting to cause damage, down to 35mph and getting dark, he stopped driving and called a wrecker for towing to a nearby service center.

Wrecker call $500

The service center cleaned the fuel system, ran diagnostic and determined low fuel pressure (as low as 2,200psi). They said it needs a lift pump. They're closing now, come back in 2 days.

Service invoice #2 $583

The coach ran great. For about 4 hours. Same symptoms. Searched for a Cummins service center and struggled down the road to get there another 300 miles. He convinced them to replace the lift pump and they did. It took quite a bit of arm twisting since they originally said they could get to it in 2 weeks.

Service invoice #3 $600

The coach ran great. For about 2 hours. Same symptoms. He babied it 250 miles to a Freightliner service center a long way away, but finally got there. After waiting for a day to get in the service bay they finally said it needed an actuator. Don't have one, maybe tomorrow. The next day, a new actuator and a fuel tank flush.

Service invoice #4 $1,150

The coach ran great. For about 4 hours until dark. The next day 6 hours. Same symptoms. He struggled for hours at 40 to 45 mph to find yet another Freightliner service center.

By this time I had been searching the web forum after forum looking for possible solutions. I came upon threads about hidden fuel filters. Seemed likely, given the symptoms. I notified my friend about that possibility and to be sure and pass it on to the mechanic. He did. The mechanic said he had heard about that, but had never seen one. Regardless, he said he'd look for it.

Once they got the coach into the service bay, there was yet another delay since there was a leaking fuel hose, damaged by the lift pump installation. Great. Now fixing fixes that were unnecessary fixes in the first place. Another day for that part to arrive. It came in and got installed and they ran some diagnostics. Guess what the mechanic found after going hand-over-hand tracing the fuel line? A hidden fuel filter/strainer! It had been there since 2003. Completely unknown. Servicing at his local Freightliner dealer apparently didn't know about it either.

Removing the strainer revealed a totally plugged filter/strainer. Some sort of black particulate resembling coffee grounds in size. The mechanic asked if it is to be replaced or eliminated? My buddy chose to have it eliminated entirely and just put a bypass pipe in its place. Back to OEM Freightliner filters only.

Service invoice #5 $750

The coach ran great. And continues to run great.

The whole purpose of this thread is to thank those people that helped prompt for the hidden fuel filter/strainer, as well as advise others to the same fact. The story also conveys how quickly a problem can get out of hand with an undocumented part, hidden from plain sight.

The photo below was copied from a previous thread because it is the exact same filter/strainer. Sorry, but thank you.

I hope that my original post with the image helped your friend out those "rock catchers" as Freightliner calls them get funky I replace mine every year or so and carry an extra one along with a additional lift pump! If you add a fuel pressure gauge to your coach or your friends you will see it when the "rock catcher" gets clogged up. I have several friends with the same issue and the local "big" repair shop said it was a "air line filter" okay and I have ocean front property for $100 a acre for sale in Tennessee!
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Old 04-16-2017, 09:34 AM   #14
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As Paul Harvey might have said: "And now for the rest of the story".

The last we heard about my brave friend, he was gleefully driving from a repair station to the resort. About 90 miles. The coach ran perfectly. Well, all good things must come to an end. It finally became time to return home. After a fun-filled month and more they were all set for the relaxing and trouble-free trip home. North on I-17 Phoenix to Flagstaff up those tall and long grades all went fine. Turned east on I-40 and all was well. Until about 340 miles into the long return trip home. Same old running crap. Stumbling and stuttering, lack of power, speed reduced, going to what seems like a limp mode. He babied it to a campground, set-up for the night, in frustration.

Day 2. Coach starts up just fine. OK, let's try. Moved out quite well, OK, let's get on the highway. Just fine. For 340 miles. What? Is there some sort of odometer trip-wire here? Sheesh! Found a campground and setup for the night.

Day 3. Again, same scenario, except for the "limiter" kicked in at 250 miles. Pulled off the road safely and opened all the engine bay doors. Does it have something to do with heat soak? Cooling seemed to help, it ran fine again, but not for long.

Day after day. Same scenario, but each day the shutdown kept getting sooner and sooner. Finally in mid Illinois it would not even cross the street without stumbling and sputtering and no power. What ever it was finally broken 100%. Or so he thought.

Has the coach towed to a so-called Cummins/Freightliner service center. In the meantime he had a friend come down from near home with a pickup to latch onto his trailer and personal belongings for the final leg home. Order to the service center "Don't call me until it's fixed".

Well, they called. They said they couldn't figure it out. Come and get it...unfixed. What? You're kidding, right? No, please come and get your property. We do not know what's wrong. There are no active codes, so we can't diagnose. We've driven it and it seems fine.

So, I drove down the 300 miles to help my buddy retrieve his coach. After paying the ransom of another $400 for doing nothing, we left. Didn't even get out of their parking lot before my buddy knew we were in trouble. They drove it? I call BS on that one. We tried on. It was down on power right from the start. Could manage about 60mph on the flat. Down to 45 on a bridge going over another road or railway. Then it got worse. 40 on the flat. Then 35 on the flat. Good thing traffic was low and we were on a 3 lane highway. When the road narrowed to 2 lanes and we couldn't muster 30 any more, we pulled off the road and called for another tow (3rd). Oh boy, we knocked off 50 miles!

The one and only good thing the last "service center" did is provide a contact to a real Cummins repair shop. We called that center and they provided a tow truck that has a lot of experience with motorhomes. The Cummins shop will be closed by the time we arrive. Joe's towing came and Kevin was spectacular. What a class setup. He got us to the Normal Illinois Cummins repair center. We dropped it off and returned home. All receipts were left in plain site for their use. We talked with the service guy on what to expect. They'll get to on Monday (the next business day).

Monday, they called my buddy to review the history and symptoms. So they went to work. They called back later on Monday announcing that they'd found the cause...The fuel line supplying fuel to the lift pump was completely plugged with a black, coffee grounds kind of particle. Sound familiar? By the way...Where is your in-line screen? My buddy responded that no one seemed to even know about it and once found it was removed. Cummins said "That's been a requirement (by Cummins) since 2004, you MUST have that strainer and it MUST be replaced with every oil change".

As it turns out, the in-line strainer is before the lift pump. We were led to believe that the next device after the strainer is the filter. Therefore, the decision of great regret, to remove the strainer.

So, the strainer was put back in, the fuel lines flushed. They drove the coach and deemed it ready. $1,750, please.

Again. I went down with my friend to return it home. This time it was flawless through the entire 250 miles. Thank you to Cummins Crosspoint in Normal, Illinois.
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