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Old 12-03-2021, 03:34 AM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2021
Posts: 3
How I Lost My Muffler

I've owned my 2000 Itasca Horizon 36LD diesel pusher for only a year, but I've had to do exhaust work twice.

On this rig, there's a U-shaped section of conduit that joins the turbo charger exhaust to the muffler. Based on what I know now, I'm pretty sure that section was badly corroded when I bought the rig, but I'm dead certain that somewhere in the 500 miles of westbound driving leading to Oklahoma, in November 2020, it completely failed.

All I know is, when I made camp, 50 miles east of Amarillo TX, the shore power bay had been cooked by engine exhaust, enough to slightly melt the insulation on my 50A power cord and cause a short that tripped the pedestal breaker and the power protection in the coach. That was easy to repair with electrical tape, but when I rolled under the coach and saw there was nothing connecting turbo to muffler, I knew I was in trouble.

I was able to drive to the Freightliner shop in Amarillo without setting things on fire. The KOA in town is only 4 miles away, so the shop manager put me in line for work but let me drive to the campground and sleep for the night. "If you can be here within 15 minutes of me calling you, we're good." Sure enough, 3 PM the next day he calls, I disconnect everything, leave my family in camp to keep an eye on the car and the tow dolly, and drive to the shop. 90 minutes later I have a new section of flexible conduit, a new chrome tip to replace the 20 year old tip that had the structural integrity and strength of aluminum foil, and I was on my way. So much quieter!

This year, my troubles were so much bigger.

In August 2021, we left Bar Harbor ME on our way to Buffalo NY, working our way along multiple state highways. There's one route in particular that runs through a small town in Maine; near as I can tell, the town engineer achieves "traffic calming" by allowing the road to deteriorate to the point that 25MPH will clobber your chassis. Somewhere along the way, most of the hangers attaching the tailpipe to the frame broke.

We stayed at a campsite in western VT halfway between Bar Harbor and Buffalo; that night, as I climbed into bed, I heard a loud THUNK. The sound freaked me out, so I got dressed again, went out with the headlamp, and looked at everything; couldn't see anything amiss, so I shrugged and went to bed.

The next day, as we drove past Syracuse NY, I drove through a patch of slightly rough pavement. Immediately thereafter, the sound of the coach exhaust got REAL LOUD. Like, unmuffled loud. I knew that sound from experience in 2020. Pulled off at the first rest stop, stepped out, and saw the muffler hanging on the ground. The forward end of it was dragging, so I'd already chewed a little out of the metal.

I thought I was gonna have to get a tow, or at least some quality time with a wrecker. The guy I talked to, after I explained it to him, suggested I just wire the thing up off the ground; it was only 20 miles back to Syracuse.

When I really looked at things, I realized the whole thing, muffler to tip, was balanced on top of the full-width mud flap; nothing was still connected. Turns out the THUNK was the last hanger, at the chrome tip end of the exhaust, snapping. And when I went through that rough spot, that U-shaped conduit (the one that I replaced in Amarillo) gave up and fell out.

So I wrestled the thing out, measured it at exactly 7 feet, then measured the inside of our tow car; 7 feet 9 inches, diagonal, from rear left corner to front right corner. It fit! So my wife drove the car to the Freightliner shop in Syracuse, and I drove the bellowing behemoth.

Freightliner needed three days to get the parts ordered and shipped in. They were awesome; the weekend crew did the look-see and ordered parts, and the Monday folks did some browbeating to get a muffler shipped via air freight.

I'm kinda hoping I'm done with exhaust work for a while. But when I'm ready to upgrade to a somewhat newer used rig, I do know what I'll be looking at underneath.
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Old 12-03-2021, 05:04 AM   #2
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Damon Owners Club
Join Date: Sep 2020
Location: FL
Posts: 236
That story sounds familiar. The original owner of my 2002 Freightliner warned me to watch the exhaust system carefully as he had the same fire you described several years ago resulting in $11,000 or wiring and repairs. A tow was needed as well.

Glad this is behind you. Hope you have lots of trouble free miles ahead.
2002 Damon Escaper (Sassafras). 3126E Caterpillar, Allison 6 speed.
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