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Old 07-06-2004, 03:43 PM   #1
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Smog Pump Removal & Header Info.

We have recently acquired a 1989 Airstream 370LE that is in extremely good condition and has very low mileage. It has a Ford 460 V8 w/Holley carb and California Smog Pump on a Gillig bus chassis with front/rear disc brakes, driven by a 3 speed automatic transmission.

I was told we may expect 10+ mpg, however that would be significantly better than the economy we observed driving from Sacramento last fall. I've been told to strip off the smog pump and get a riser for the carb.

QUESTION: Has anyone had experience removing a California Smog Pump? Where one can find instructions for removing that stuff that is strangling the engine, wasting power and gas.

We will never take it back to California, unless just driving through, and will save the parts in the chance it may someday find another home back there.

What about a riser for the carb? Do they really improve performance/mpg?

And exhaust headers, do they deliver more power and/or fuel economy? How long does it take to pay off their added expense in the form of fuel cost savings? Which ones are best? I keep seeing references to Thorley.

Can we make it run cooler? Possibly by channeling incoming air directly into the radiator as it comes in through the grill assembly or by installing an auxiliary fan to move hot air out or cooler air in?

Any methods or thoughts on shielding engine and chassis electronics over the engine (at the frontal area) from heat build-up in that area?

I truly appreciate all your input, and hope this is the right forum on which to post these types of questions. If not, please let me know. Thank you.
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Old 07-06-2004, 06:38 PM   #2
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Welcome to the Forum!

89_370LE:

This is indeed the place to ask questions.....coach, chassis, and camping...and pretty much anything else Airstream.

You posted in the correct section for Motor Home mechanical questions.

It would be difficult to estimate a payout for headers, but you might start your research at this thread:

http://www.airforums.com/forum...motor+home+mpg

and this one...

http://www.airforums.com/forum...motor+home+mpg

Use the "search" (advanced) option at the top of the page to find more threads specific to your problem.

Most of the engine info here relates to Chevy 454, simply because there were so few of the Classic MoHos manufactured with the Gillig chassis.

Certain questions will certainly be generic - for example, heat removal is a problem we all have.

The good thing is that no two units seem to be exactly identical, so we all offer advice to each other. Sort of a communal "Shade Tree Mechanic" gathering sipping on a six pack of Adult Beverage......except without the tree....or the six pack....

I, for one, am anxious to see pictures of your new baby.

Again, welcome...hope to see more posts from you soon.
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Old 07-07-2004, 01:49 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 89_370LE
I was told we may expect 10+ mpg, however that would be significantly better than the economy we observed driving from Sacramento last fall. I've been told to strip off the smog pump and get a riser for the carb.
10+ mpg is good to shoot for but I doubt you will ever see it with a vehicle this large, especially with a carb.
Quote:
QUESTION: Has anyone had experience removing a California Smog Pump? Where one can find instructions for removing that stuff that is strangling the engine, wasting power and gas.

What about a riser for the carb? Do they really improve performance/mpg?

And exhaust headers, do they deliver more power and/or fuel economy? How long does it take to pay off their added expense in the form of fuel cost savings? Which ones are best? I keep seeing references to Thorley.
If you are talking about all this you need a plan. Headers will help, but I don't know if they will pay for themselves before burning out. Banks are loved by the Class A crowd but extremely expensive. Thorley and Hedman are good and much cheaper, but I still doubt if they will make it to payback. If properly sized they will increase power and mileage.

A riser probably won't do much good. First thing I would do is check clearance from the air cleaner to the dog house cover. I changed manifolds and had to raise the dog house 2" (Chevy engine), and this was a low rise manifold.

Right now the fuel-air mixture goes through a couple of radical bends in the manifold, first is beneath the carb where it goes from vertical to horizontal, second is at the head where it bends past 90 degrees to get into the cylinder. A riser will help if there is a pretty straight shot from the carb base to the head, i.e. a very high rise manifold. The riser gives a little more volume in the intake and helps straighten out the shot to the cylinder.

The AIR pump does nothing more than pump fresh air into the exhaust manifolds. If you are going to change to headers, dump the AIR pump at the same time. Other than unbolting it (and all the plumbing) the only other thing to do is get a shorter belt.

Quote:
Can we make it run cooler? Possibly by channeling incoming air directly into the radiator as it comes in through the grill assembly or by installing an auxiliary fan to move hot air out or cooler air in?
How hot is it running? I put aluminum sheet to channel air through the radiator, there is a lot of open space and the air sees the radiator core as resistance compared to an open hole. Fans will help, make sure the clutch on your fan is good.

Quote:
Any methods or thoughts on shielding engine and chassis electronics over the engine (at the frontal area) from heat build-up in that area?
While an engine is running there is air circulation from the vehicle movement or fan. When it stops moving and is shut off heat builds quickly, the shielding could work against you and hold it in the electronics. I was taught the worst 2 enemies of electronics are heat and vibration.

John
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Old 07-08-2004, 06:41 PM   #4
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Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate your all know-how and experience. I called a Ford dealer and they gave me some general info but ducked on the possibility of doing the work due to Fed. Regs. Wouldn't even recommend a shop to call...?

I've read several other posts on all kinds of stuff, man...! One thing of interest is reference to using a coolant mixture of 50% coolant (any type?) with 50% DISTILLED water (what's that about, as I doubt the shop used distilled water when I had them flush the radiator last winter?) and CRC.

What is CRC and what does it do? Is it a anti-corrosive or a cooling enhancer? What temp range should this motor run at in 90° weather? What is a recommended hiway speed, it seems to get in a groove at about 65ish but I think it was running warmer. like 200°-205° which would make me nervous.

A couple posts re: the CRC mixture, indicated they were running at 170°-185° in 90° temps with the A/C running, is there more to it that what the posts seem to allude? That sounds like a mighty cool running 15,000 pound torpedo.

Thanks, Alan
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Old 07-08-2004, 07:11 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 89_370LE
......What is CRC and what does it do? Is it a anti-corrosive or a cooling enhancer? What temp range should this motor run at in 90° weather? What is a recommended hiway speed, it seems to get in a groove at about 65ish but I think it was running warmer. like 200°-205° which would make me nervous.

A couple posts re: the CRC mixture, indicated they were running at 170°-185° in 90° temps with the A/C running, is there more to it that what the posts seem to allude? That sounds like a mighty cool running 15,000 pound torpedo.

Thanks, Alan
What CRC is referring to is a "water wetter" to help with the water/radiator/air heat exchange. Other products with various name brands may be purchased at an auto parts store.

Read this thread:
http://www.airforums.com/forum...ad.php?t=12036


Also, do a search on "Radiator" -- several threads have discussed various heat related problems.

The cooling of your engine depends a lot on the ambient air temperature and the setting of your engine thermostat. Without pulling and verifying the thermostat setting, you really don't know if your radiator is suspect or not.

By the way, I would LOVE to get my cruising temp down to 205° .

The use of distilled water precludes introducing certain ions into the cooling system. Certain reactions may occur with mineral laden water which might lead to salt deposits being deposited in the tubes and corrosion attacks in various places.
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Old 07-09-2004, 08:06 PM   #6
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A fella could get smart hanging around here.

Thanks for the info on the coolant, I'll try picking up some water wetter this weekend before we hit the road on our upcoming excursion.

Here's a couple recent discoveries. When we originally picked-up the MH, in Sacramento, we got a bit of stuff among which were a couple rings of keys including a Schlage that I assumed was for the deadbolt lock...wrong.

It wouldn't turn the tumbler, so I called a recommended locksmith to have it re-keyed only to be advised he could not do so because he can't access the tumbler from the front and he would have to remove it from the back which would entail cutting a hole through the interior wall panel. Bad idea.

Will someone please tell me that isn't true? What the devil was Airstream thinking to design/install a lock that requires tearing into a wall for getting a the tumblers. There has to be some other way; right?

The other has to do with the black water tank (50 gallons) that I think was okay. However, the slide valve on the toilet wouldn't close. I had scraped the track which helped but still wouldn't close properly, so took it into the RV dealer here for a new one (Thetford, as you all probably know) but they suggested that it probably only needed a good cleaning to clear the debris.

That made sense, so why not? I should perhaps interject that they have had it in their possession for a month as of today for a spring get ready and to fix a few odds and ends (primarily replacing the BW waste dump valve).

We have a major excursion planned for next week and we want it in ship shape to show off to all those nice folks who can't wait to eyeball it each time we pull into a camp area...fun isn't it. We met some really nice and helpful folks when driving it back last Thanksgiving and got stuck in Reno.

Anyway, we made the appointment for the service work 3 weeks earlier, and today at the 11th hour they call to inform me that the flange or ring or something on the black water tank is fractured and we won't have use of the toilet on thie excursion.

If they had started the work the day (or week) we dropped it off they would have discovered the problem long ago, ordered a replacement tank and we would be "happy campers". Perhaps, you can imaging my sentiments.

How likely is it that that ring/flange thing could be fractured and how could that happen? It didn't seem to be broken last fall? More importantly, where can I get an exact replacement, or am I kidding myself? Any suggestions?

Maybe I should actually post this in a different forum, but you are such a great bunch of guys why would I want to leave? It's kind of nice here.

Thanks again.
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Old 07-10-2004, 08:39 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 89_370LE
only to be advised he could not do so because he can't access the tumbler from the front and he would have to remove it from the back which would entail cutting a hole through the interior wall panel. Bad idea.
Bad idea but it might be the only way. Before that I would try another locksmith, I have had keys made and they didn't pull the locks. You can also contact Schlage, they might be able to help or suggest a locksmith that is more familiar with their products.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 89_370LE
The other has to do with the black water tank (50 gallons) that I think was okay.
The toilet and dump valve both are mounted into flanges and the repair shop is working on both ends. The toilet flange does not have to come out to repair the toilet so I would think they are talking about the drain. The valves are pretty much supported by the plumbing and tank. If the valve was hard to close from a build up of crud in the seal the PO could have damaged this by pushing harder and harder to stop it from leaking. If AS doesn't carry this there are companies that will build anything you want, All-rite is one.

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Old 07-10-2004, 09:47 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 89_370LE
Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate your all know-how and experience. I called a Ford dealer and they gave me some general info but ducked on the possibility of doing the work due to Fed. Regs. Wouldn't even recommend a shop to call...? Thanks, Alan
Alan, they didn't want to do it, or give you a reference, as it is indeed a violation of Federal law to remove any emission control equipment. The penalties for a shop caught doing this is pretty severe. I haven't heard of anyone getting caught doing this lately, but the possibility exists.
One of the reasons your coach gets relatively bad mpg is all the smog stuff. CA certified vehicles have less power, run hotter, and get worse mileage than 49 state emissions vehicles. Removing the smog pump, catalytic converter, if equipped, and possibly even changing the carb and intake manifold to Fed emissions certified engine, should help a lot. Timing the engine to Fed settings may help, too. Most CA vehicles have different timing settings, and even different advance settings in the distributor.
The Gillig bus chassis is a city bus, designed to run efficiently at a lower speed around town. It is usually geared lower than other A/S MH's, with the result that the engine revs higher and runs hotter than the P30 chassis units. Probably the best thing to do is to replace the thermostat with a 180 degree thermostat, and keep your speed to no more than 60 or so.
Gas mileage for this unit would most likely be in the 6-8 mpg range. If you are getting between 8-10, I would leave it alone.
Good luck with your unit, and let us know how it goes.
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Old 08-04-2004, 10:52 AM   #9
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Thanks for the feedback and info. Boy, would I love to get 8-10 mpg... happy day!

I know everyone is on the edge of their seat waiting for a recounting of our road trip a couple weeks ago. Overall, it all went pretty well.

The A/S coach stuff all worked pretty good except one thing that I can't figure out, maybe you know the answer—before we left we decided to fill the fresh water tank. We connected a hose/filter from a household tap to the city water connection on the MH and began filling. We raised the mattress to keep an eye on it and noticed that after 5 minutes the tank didn't appear to be filling, although water was definitely filling something, about 5 minutes after that my wife asked me why there was 2" of water standing in the shower pan...?

Good question. The city water connection had filled the gray water tank instead of the fresh water tank. Is that normal? What does that Autofill button on the Control Panel actually do? I had turned it on to start the fill flow but maybe it's not hooked into the right tank or something. It routed water to the sink faucet.

Here are some observations after driving it at about 60 mph in 90° temps for about 4 hours. The temp guage read a low of 190° for about an hour and then rose to about 210°-220° or more; at 65 mph it seems to run hotter than at 60 mph.

The Low Coolant indicator comes on occasionally, but goes off after a few minutes? There is a Water in Fuel indicator light that does the same thing, but I can't imaging what it may be sensing as the fuel is fresh; where is that sensor located? Anything of consequence with those indicators?

Some items of concern: (1) when pulling up to a Stop sign raw gas fumes seep out from under the doghouse, (2) it seems to want to choke or flood out when accelerating away from a stop (unless you mash the pedal half way down), (3) has an occasional but slight backfire (with the raw fumes could pose a fire hazard), (4) requires starter fluid from a cold start crank or you'll run the battery down, (5) the air compressor runs immediately at power-on at the ignition switch instead of delayed until after the motor is running, plus (6) I've noted that lately the alternator (it's a brand new Gillig unit from the original mgfr) never charges/delivers more than 12v. Is that normal? For a while I thought it was ranging between a low 12v to maybe 13v.

Other than that it is one hard starting son-of-a-gun (except when it's still warm).

By the way, I installed a new Gillig voltage regulator too. All the cables are firmly attached and it charges all the new batteries (1 chassis & 2 coach marine/deep charge) properly, or so it says on the Control Panel read-out. I haven't put a meter on them lately but last December they were fully charged at 12v or above— I believe about 13.5v, fresh from a heavy service (50 amp?) trickle charger.

And perhaps last (a real discomfort at 90° temps) is the dash A/C only delivers cold air when I am decelerating/coasting (?), under acceleration or a steady throttle it won't blow or it just trickles coolish air. It was charged a few weeks ago but "they" thought there was a leak as they had to add more freon (?) a couple times, so they decided to empty the system and replace it with some new refrigerant that is much cheaper than the old stuff and said afterward it was holding. Is it a power availability issue or what?

What happens when driving at night with the lights and A/C running? As of yet we haven't been on the road in drakness, but I'm curious if there is adequate power from the alternator/electical system to keep everything running and have bright headlight illumination? Do we dare turn on the driving lights? Does low alternator voltage decrease engine performance?

I saw another post about dash A/C but that problem is a bit different than this one. I saw a reference to shutting the heater off, what's that about? Is there a ball valve somewhere? I presume that's supposed to be controlled by the dash buttons/temp slider. Is there a way to insulate the A/C ducting and/or increase the fan speed? Even on Hi fan speed and A/C Max cool the air flow is less than impressive. Are all A/S MH dash A/C that way? I can't imaging driving with the generator running and the coach A/C on, but maybe that's what you have to do...?

On that note, gosh I guess there is more than I remembered, the main/rear A/C had been running pretty good, until the second day when it started fine for the first cycle but didn't want to kick the compressor the second cycle—just kinda hummed. So I turned it off and tried it again, just hummed that time so I turned it off and used the front one instead. Was told it is probably a bad start capacitor; is that something I can competently replace myself? The guy at RVcomfort made it sound fairly easy.

With regard to the generator, is there a low fuel cut-off at the tank? It seems that it doesne want to run (starts for a moment) when the Low Fuel indicator comes on; however, I observed that it has a similar problem when the gas tank is 3/4 full, in that instance I've had it run for 10 or 15 minutes at a time just fine before shutting it off but a couple days ago when I started it it ran for about 3 minutes and quit and wouldn't restart more than just a brief wrap when holding the chock lever to the right? It had a tune-up (so I was told) and on occasion had run fine, it seems like a fuel delivery problem but there is no way to tell if the fuel pump is running because of the noise the starter motor is making. Any ideas; take it in to the Onan guy?

Being new to forums, I don't know if I should have continued this post or thread (?) or posted a fresh message. Is this the right way to do it or should some of this be in a different forum? This post may cover way too much ground anyway? Thanks all.

Alan
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Old 08-04-2004, 11:06 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 89_370LE
Being new to forums, I don't know if I should have continued this post or thread (?) or posted a fresh message. Is this the right way to do it or should some of this be in a different forum? This post may cover way too much ground anyway? Thanks all.
Alan:

Waaaaayyyyy tooooo lonnnggg.

It's best to ask only one (maybe two) questions at a time, and then try to tail them onto a thread that may already address the issue.

ie - Motor Home MPG, Engine Hard to Start, Generator Won't Run, etc.

That having been said - it's great hearing about your trip - I'll attempt to address your questions one at a time.
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Old 08-04-2004, 11:09 AM   #11
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Mileage

Quote:
Originally Posted by 89_370LE
Thanks for the feedback and info. Boy, would I love to get 8-10 mpg... happy day!
Yeah, so would we all.

I have a range of 4.5 to 8.5, mostly around 6 to 7 - I'm hoping a new carb will help.

Remember that Truck shops will have a whole lot more experience with the engine and chassis than an RV shop will, so direct chassis and house repair to different shops.
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Old 08-04-2004, 11:26 AM   #12
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Temperature and Idiot Lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by 89_370LE
.......at about 60 mph in 90° temps for about 4 hours. The temp guage read a low of 190° for about an hour and then rose to about 210°-220° or more; at 65 mph it seems to run hotter than at 60 mph.

The Low Coolant indicator comes on occasionally, but goes off after a few minutes? There is a Water in Fuel indicator light that does the same thing, but I can't imaging what it may be sensing as the fuel is fresh; where is that sensor located? Anything of consequence with those indicators?
The temps you indicated are about normal, but the fact that it ran hotter at 65 as opposed to 60 might be an indication that the coolling system is maxed out. On the Chevys, most are fitted with an additional electric fan mounted in front of the radiator....mine is hooked to the AC switch and a sensor (high temp) mounted in the radiator - either one will turn the aux fan on. Also on the Chevys, the fan is connected to the engine drive via a temperature sensitive clutch - these need to be replaced periodically - difficult to check when stationary, though......and hard to get to.

As far as the "Water in Fuel" and "Low Coolant" lights -- welcome to the club.

Some would blame ghosts, others Gremlins - or Leprechans if you're Irish.

Bottom line is that almost everyone has these problems - I, for one, am glad to see they are also generic with the Fords (all Airstreams) - not just a GM problem.

The Dash set-up used by the Airstream Factory is the same for both Diesels and Gas burners - therefore the Water in Fuel light. I will bet a 6 pack you do not have a water-in-fuel sensor installed. I have traced out the wiring on mine, and it terminates around mid-engine drivers side with a pair of bare plug-in connections - even they are not touching, the light comes on from time to time - this is a shared problem here on the Forum.....my advice......unless you have a diesel, just ignore it.

Likewise the "Low Coolant". The sensor(s) are located toward the bottom of the "overfill" reservoir, probably on the curb side in front of the radiator. Even though mine are disconnected (aftermarket reservoir), I get the "low coolant" ghost signal from time to time - on for a few minutes, then off for a while.......I plan to reinstall the probes, but in the meantime, again, I just ignore the light.
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Old 08-04-2004, 11:47 AM   #13
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Gas Fumes, Air Compressor, and Charging

Quote:
Originally Posted by 89_370LE

Some items of concern: (1) when pulling up to a Stop sign raw gas fumes seep out from under the doghouse, (2) it seems to want to choke or flood out when accelerating away from a stop (unless you mash the pedal half way down), (3) has an occasional but slight backfire (with the raw fumes could pose a fire hazard), (4) requires starter fluid from a cold start crank or you'll run the battery down, (5) the air compressor runs immediately at power-on at the ignition switch instead of delayed until after the motor is running, plus (6) I've noted that lately the alternator (it's a brand new Gillig unit from the original mgfr) never charges/delivers more than 12v. Is that normal? For a while I thought it was ranging between a low 12v to maybe 13v.
I would be really concerned about the gas, fumes, backfire, and starting issue. If it were mine, I would make it a very high priorty to get a good mechanic to address these issues as soon as possible. It wouldn't surprise me if they were all related, but a good diagnosis computer could be invaluable. I would make an appointment with a Ford truck dealer with a good reputation.

Make sure the mechanic checks the pressure output of the elecric fuel pump mounted in front of the gas tank......too much pressure could be as bad as not enough fuel pressure. This rear mounted fuel pump has been a problem for many of us here on the Forum.

On the Air Compressor - is yours mounted under the bed? It may well be switched in the ignition key just like some headlights and radios (all circuits go dead when the ignition switch activates the starter, and come back on as soon as the ignition switch is released to the "run" position. When the air compressor developes a problem, it seems that each "RV Technician" has used a bit of creative wiring to solve, bandaid, or bypass the problem.....I ended up rewiring mine with a #4 wire from the main breaker terminal back to the compressor.....

The Air Compressor has been discussed at length in several other threads. I would suggest you trace out the wires, become familiar to where they are tied in, understand how it is supposed to work, and progress from there. Please document how much amperage your Air Compressor is supposed to draw, and insure you have the appropriate sized wire for the current capacity and length of wire.......my bet is that a #10 wire is not nearly large enough.

On the alternator - you really need to get a reading of both the amperage and voltage when running.......the three way dometic fridge kicks into the 12 volt cooling mode as soon as the board senses a 13.1 voltage (IIRC), and the heating element in the fridge draws a pretty hefty current, helping to keep the overall voltage down. Your batteries may also be bad - anything over three years old should be suspect - sometimes sooner. When you have a mechanic look into the fuel problem, have him do a draw down test on the batteries......one bad battery could be eating all of the voltage.....if it's your starting battery that is bad, it could be part of the hard start problem. Unfortunately there are a bunch of other things that could complicate the analysis - corroded terminals (lots of these), battery/charge splitter/isolator, various relays, partially cut wires, etc.
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Old 08-04-2004, 11:59 AM   #14
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Engine AC problems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 89_370LE
And perhaps last (a real discomfort at 90° temps) is the dash A/C only delivers cold air when I am decelerating/coasting (?), under acceleration or a steady throttle it won't blow or it just trickles coolish air.
Could be a power problem related to the vacuum system (again, a good engine diagnosis shoud reveal any anomalies).....could also be a vent/air/heater/defroster vacuum controlled diverter plate opening or closing due to the lack of a good vacuum source.

Mine was also (as most units here on the forum) converted to 134A freon - most seem to work adequately under the circumstances.

Check the air ducts in the front (engine bay) area - these are sometimes disconnected by mechanics, and not replaced or secured properly......also check the ducts for holes - it doesn't take long for a vibrating duct to wear a hole causing most of the internal air to be lost to the engine compartment.

In hot weather (interpret that to be most of the time around Houston), most of us run with the generator and at least one if not both of the coach AC's operating -- just plain miserable if you don't.
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