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Old 04-04-2022, 08:31 AM   #1
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Me and my MT55

Bought a Freightliner MT55 that was used as a state DWI checkpoint. It has the Morgan Olson body and converted by Farber.

This thing is built for stout. I don't understand why more conversions for RV aren't done on this platform. Well, there might be one. Ear plugs wouldn't be out of place at the front. It's not bad, but there is more noise than one would expect. The other would be the engine, a Cummins 5.9. She is a tough one but a little on the low side for HP. A cummins 8.3 or similar would be nice. The gearing is nice though, 65 mph is right at 1900 rpm. Just not enough umph.

It has the Allison 2000 tranny. This does not have the parking pawl. So when you park it you pull the parking brake. When shifting the selector you don't put it all the way to the top as you would a vehicle in park, cause that is reverse! Only took me a couple times to remember this one, the backward movement got my attention quick.

I have the electrical schematics. Without those this thing would be a nightmare. There are so many wires. After looking at this I understand why people have so many problems with their electrical. Loose wires everywhere. Stuffed here and there or out of sight out of mind. People need to understand as these get older the wiring gets brittle. I've been doing a lot of zip tying. But this '03 looks like it still has the original electrical equipment and a/c's so I figure it is planned pretty well. 70k miles on the rig which is not a lot.

Has one heck of a generator, an Onan 12.5 Kw with the Kubota 3 cyl engine. Consumption is supposed to be .1 gph at idle, 1.2 at full load.

So I've been going through regrounding all the wiring that is corroded and taking care of maintenance things.

Parts are still available for the most part. The aluminum body is heavy stuff. Not the flimsy stuff I expected. From the diagram, the roof and sides are insulated with 3" insulation. Over the scale weight was 19k lbs. at the dump. Still need to take it to the truck scales to find rear/front weights.

One other thing, the zinc plated fasteners don't stand up to the corrosion very well, they corrode then break. I'm in the process of changing out zinc plated stuff for stainless. If you put a stainless screw through the aluminum you better make sure it is the right size hole, the aluminum is thick enough it will break the screw, and I've been using anti-seize on these installs.

Oh, and one other other thing, no fiberglass. The roof is one piece front to back aluminum.
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Old 04-04-2022, 08:41 AM   #2
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Nice rigs. We used the same platform with Utilimaster bodies for network service rigs at the PUD I retired from. Had a fleet of about 30 of them.
So much better than the old P30 gas units we used to use.
Dynamat around the engine cover and front floor is your friend.
Should make a very nice camper, enjoy.
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Old 04-04-2022, 05:00 PM   #3
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I've thought about a cover for the doghouse. I'm sure it would reduce some of the noise.

This rig has the spring suspension. I was curious how this was going to ride. The GVW is 25k lbs., the van weighs 19k lbs. The ride is not bad at all, I don't have an air suspension rig to compare it with but there won't be any maintenance on the springs except for the grease zerks.

Another thing I like is the tires are 22.5. They roll over expansion joints and cracks without too much fuss, unlike the smaller tires.

It's also a 24' box, which I don't think they make anymore. Plenty of room. 33' overall length.

And no tandems, and I didn't want any slides.

And being able to walk throughout the thing, from the drivers compartment to the rear without having to duck is so nice.
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Old 04-05-2022, 04:43 PM   #4
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And solid cast brass door strikers. Much better than the cheap steel stamped pieces.

And no air brakes. I was surprised how well the brakes work on this. It does have an assist if the engine dies I think there is an electric motor that helps.
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Old 04-20-2022, 06:28 PM   #5
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This project is a project. Thanks to Alpine36, he's answered some of my questions and made the stress a little less. It's hard to tell what the normal operation of something is if I don't know what normal is. I can see the complications of buying these older rigs and getting them to be reliable. This thing was owned by the state, is a well built platform and the conversion was done well, but it still has issues.

One thing I found funny was the schematics don't match how the actual wiring was done. 20 yrs and I don't think they ever noticed. Not detrimental but I think it will operate better when it is corrected.

And the wiring is hanging all over the place. People need to understand these things get old and the wiring gets brittle. I've seen on the repair sheet multiple times something was fixed and I look at it and the wiring is still hanging loose. Zip ties are cheap.

Replaced the Napa Gold fuel filter with a Baldwin number. Baldwin is much better made.

The fluorescent lights eat a lot of battery. I'm going to replace them with LEDs.
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Old 04-20-2022, 06:33 PM   #6
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How the hell are we supposed to jealous if we don’t have pics?
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Old 04-20-2022, 07:50 PM   #7
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Lol. I’ll try. Usually the pics are too big. Or they’re sideways.
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Old 04-21-2022, 05:57 AM   #8
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Yesterday I finally pulled the engine cover off. Everything is right there. And behind that is the tranny cover. Everything is right there. See if I can put up some more pics.
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Old 04-21-2022, 06:05 AM   #9
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In the above pic is the smallish refrigerator. It is a compressor style with AC or DC with AC taking precedent. I fired it up empty and it went down to 20F pretty quick, much better than the evaporative type and didn't draw a whole lot of lectric.

Here is above the overhead in the cockpit. Everything is on a switch. On the left is the AC panel, to the right are two DC panels.

The AC panel has a sliding piece over the breakers in the middle that lets either shore power or generator be on, but not both at the same time. Readout above left is input voltage, above right is amp draw. In the middle is a switch that lets you choose which leg for readout, right side or left, each leg being 50 amps.

On the entry step are two cutoff switches, one for the chassis batteries, the other for auxiliary.

Rejected the pics, I'll have to take some later.
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Old 04-21-2022, 07:33 AM   #10
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Try a couple pictures.
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Old 04-21-2022, 07:35 AM   #11
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50/50 is not bad. The two bottom pics are halfway looking back and halfway looking forward with the engine cover off to the side and the engine you can see.
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Old 04-23-2022, 06:37 AM   #12
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The diagram shows 1/2" plywood for the ceiling with 1 1/2" fiberglass insulation and 1" foam. The sides are the same except 3/4" plywood, and the floor is 3/4" plywood also. Not OSB, but real plywood.

The fuel tank is advertised as 65 gallons, it is actually 63 gallons, with 61 being useable.

Still going through the electrical connections, mostly grounds that are corroded.

Think I might have found my tachometer dilemma, the needle would swing to a higher number at random, sometimes doubling. The ground wire on the back was a little loose, not a lot but I could wiggle it. So hope that is the fix. Electrical goings on are magic anyway, I can deal with the mechanical, the electrical is voodoo especially when it comes to tracing a short or bad connection.

I was wondering the other day, the aircraft industry is so regulated, they are supposed to have fewer accidents than transportation on the ground. Made me wonder why the automobile industry is not regulated similarly since the death count for automobiles is higher.

My opinion, these things are engineered well, it is the interpretation that comes up short.
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Old 04-25-2022, 04:32 PM   #13
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Found one of my electrical issues.

There are two 90A convertors on board.

One is set up to charge both batteries through a splitter.

The second is set up to run the two DC boards separate from the batteries when the AUX switch is off, or run the DC boards and charge Chassis and Aux batteries when the AUX switch is on. The second part where the AUX switch was off was not running current through the DC boards when the #1 convertor was running. So if I was hooked into shore power I couldn't run the DC circuits without using the batteries which I didn't think was right and wasn't shown on the schematics.

One wire mislocated and 20 years later it is corrected This also cured running the power through a couple other circuits that causes a buzzer to alarm and a light for the chassis batteries. Must have been annoying but they probably didn't hook into shore power often so maybe why the issue was never corrected.

I hope this was also what was causing the drain on the aux batteries.

Also got the fluorescent tubes replaced with LEDs. Big difference in the amount of power they use. 32 T8s 18" long. I'm pretty good at it now, and the conversion is pretty easy, just takes some dough.
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Old 05-17-2022, 08:24 AM   #14
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So I'm pretty much done with the maintenance stuff. I think there is still a front wheel bearing regrease in my future. Didn't feel the need to do it at this time and become acquainted with all the other stuff before that level of dedication is needed.

The dash a/c needs a recharge so that is coming up soon. Ran it with and without the a/c running, there is a difference with the 5.9. Probably easier to run the gen and the roof airs. It has 3 roof airs, there really needs to be a vent up top, without ventilation the hot air doesn't move out very well as there are not a lot of windows for ventilation. There is an outside vent down by the drivers legs that works real good.

Try to post a pic of the electrics down below. After tracing some wiring I labeled what I could. On the left is the Xantrex 40 amp charger, can be used for chassis or aux or both, the 2000w inverter, then the 75 amp convertors which is funny because the schematics show a 90 amp, so somebody did a little short cut. On the top is the 2nd splitter for the convertor/charger to the batteries which is where the one wire was misplaced and rerouted. On the right are the 4 6v golf cart batteries. It is nice how everything uses receptacles and is easy to access.
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