Sunday, August 21, 2016

Time to drive

It has been a while since I have worked on Retro, but most of my distracting tasks have been finished and I am getting back to the bus.   Since I have not really driven Retro much since I got him home,  I thought I should take him for a drive before putting him in drydock for a while.   I need to pull the radiator and get it rodded out,  and with the front of the engine compartment open I think I will be doing lots of little jobs on the front of the engine

     1.    Re-work the electric radiator fans to get more coverage of the radiator - maybe add 2 more fans.,
     2.    Work on the wiring for the alternator / regulator -  Retro's ammeter jumps all over the place when I am driving.  I think the load and alternator output should be relatively smooth.

     3.   Re-work the wiring for the various gauge sensors - maybe add a few more things to be measured.   The trans temp gauge does not work for example, and it seems kind of important.

     4.   Evaluate the possibility of an engine driven air-conditioning system.

     5.    Evaluate the possibility of a swing out radiator.

Anyway,  I figure Retro will not be drivable for at least two months.   I wanted to get him moving and let all the fluids circulate and heat up etc.    So, I disconnected the power cables and secured all the loose gear inside Retro and opened the gates.  

Retro started up easily and we eased down the driveway.   I took him around the block and then parked in front of the neighbors house while I closed the gates and garage.    Retro has no real parking brake, only a Mico brake-lock,  so it is not trivial to park him on a sloping street.   I always put chocks on the wheels, even with the Mico activated.

Gates and doors secured,  we got back underway.   I had filled the wastewater tank (retro has only one) and thought I would head out to Tracy, Ca.  and hit I5 south.  There is a rest-stop with a dump station a mile or so south of the merge onto I5 S.   I made it almost a mile before Retro started grumbling.  He was acting fuel-starved.  I was operating on the rear fuel tank, and the gauge said I had half a tank of gas.    I  had also put some gas in the front tank, but only perhaps 4-5 gallons or so to test the generator.  I was on a twisty turny bit of 2 lane road when the motor quit,  but there was a driveway into a school facility 50 yards ahead of me and no on-coming traffic,  so I managed to coast into the driveway (which is a gravel wide spot in the road with the driveway perhaps 100 feet off the road)   and stop and think a bit.    I played with the fuel pump selector switch a bit and then tried the starter and sure enough,  he started up.   I turned him around and headed back toward town quickly deciding that I could empty the tanks at the RV park at the local fairgrounds, or maybe just go home.

Retro was cooperating so I passed by the cross street back to home and headed toward the fairgrounds -  I really wanted to empty the tank before starting a big work session.   After a few miles, Retro started getting balky again, eventually stalling out on a 2 lane 35mph surface street.  Fortunately,  it was an easy spot for cars to go safely around me,  and with the emergency flashers on, there were no close calls.    I decided to switch to the front tank, which the gauge said was empty, but I figured 5 gallons out of 55  probably does not move the needle.    I switched the fuel selector, and the fuel pump switch and Retro started right up.   I circled a block and went back to Safeway and got in line for some gas.  I put about 25 gallons in the front tank,  and 30 in the rear.   I switched back to the rear tank  (which I trusted more because it was the one that got me from Los Angeles back up to the S.F. Bay area) .   I then proceeded to the fairgrounds to use the dump station there and discovered that the fancy Thetford swing and extend sewer hose thing had a broken hose in it.   I discovered this by inspection rather than flooding the area,  and I got an extension hose from the storage bay and rigged it into place - I had to move to a different area to get close enough to the dump pipe, but managed to get it emptied without making a mess.   I will have to replace the dump valve, but that is a chore for a different day :)

When I got in to leave the fairgrounds,  Retro was again acting fuel starved.   I switched back to the forward tank and went home.   I will add an inspection and re-work of the fuel system to the list of chores for this work cycle.

I hope to be working on Retro more regularly,  though I do have some competition for weeknights - My two welding classes  ( 2 nights of actual welding  and one of book-learning ) started last week, and the classes run from 6:30 - 9:30 ish,  so no work on the coach those nights.  (not that I am much of a night worker anyway,  I  am more of a night-comfy-chair-holder-downer given a choice).

Till next time....

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