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thenewkid64 05-19-2003 08:31 PM

Repairs on the road ( Or on the shoulder )
Peter, you would be proud!

We left Friday on a 1600 mile 2 rally trip to Willamsburg, VA. I expected the coach to perform perfectly (I can justify the $$ and time if it does, right Edie?). Just my luck, Murphy was along for our trip, and had to get his licks in.

Friday was a simple 2 hour hop to the first rally site. The genset started, ran fine and after a while conked out. So I stop to look at it and I cannot get it to run right. So after 30 Min I give up and tell Edie it is going to be a Dash AC only trip. While I was trying to get the genset fixed I left on a high draw cooling fan and killed the engine battery. Boost switch to the rescue and off to the rally. Some where on I-75 I caught a piece of road debris with the Saturn (Our Toad). From the marks on the paint and HOLES in the body panels it must have been a hunk of steel from a semi. I notice the holes when we stopped to fill up prior to the rally site. Rear door and rear quarter panel with golf ball sized holes in both. :mad:

The Unit rally is great, I even have time to go to a local auto boneyard and get the 2 panels in the right color to repair the Saturn. I also pull my engine battery and charge the heck out of it. The engine battery holds a good charge and the panels only take 2 greasy hours to swap. 2 out of 3 items fixed, so lets go to Willamsburg!

Sunday morning we pull out and all is good. Engine temps in the normal range, Oil pressure good, charging system good, Dash AC cool. We are fine!...................... Until we get 42.5 miles into Georgia. :mad:

I start to hear a funny harmonic in the drivetrain. It sounds like I am going to lose another carrier bearing. I can live with that but it does grate on the nerves. For about 5 miles I am trying to find the best throttle position to keep the harmonic at a minimum when all h*ll beaks loose. My purring engine lurches and sputters and it sounds like all of my belts have come undone on the engine???? I shut off the key and steer to the shoulder, that is when I smell it. Coolant.

What has happend is I lost my water pump............... Thank goodness I read all the threads on belt replacement.

Now the other members of my WBCCI unit were varying distances behind me, so they stopped to offer assistance. I had tools, and a cell phone, so I told them to go on and leave us we will try to make it in but not to count on us tonight. The only member that did have a water pump had one for his Izusu Diesel, and I do not think it would have fit. So it is noon in Georgia, and I am dead along I-95.

We unhook the recently repaired Saturn and Edie goes to do some recon on the next exit up and last exit back to see if there is any kind of a service facility. while she is driving she tries to get a wrecker out. The only one we can find says that he can try to get to us by 6:00 PM.

I look under the hood and see that the belts are just causing the fan and water pump shaft to wobble, so I decide to get the beast off of I-95. I cut the offending belts (I was not going to chance radiator damage too) filled the coolant as full as it would go and we babied it 3/4 of a mile off to the next exit, where there was a wide pull out that got me 16 or so feet off the road. Recon paid off big!

Edie went on a parts run for pump, belts coolant and some gasket cement. I waited for the engine to cool. 45 min and $78.00 later I have the parts, now it is time to get really greasy:p

I do not know what book rate is on the water pump replacement, but unless you like getting scraped, bruised and dirtier that you can imagine, leave it to a pro. You have to take EVERYTHING off the front of the engine. Sounds simple. You cannot get to the FRONT of the engine, unless you are 24 inches tall and less than 12 inches thick:mad:

The only access is by sliding under the coach and getting behind the front passenger wheel. You can reach almost everything to remove it from here or by feel from inside. It took 3 hours to get the old pump off. At this point I am toast, and I still need to put it back together. I am able to do so only through sheer willpower, and the fact that if I don't get it back together and tested by 6:30 I cannot get access to parts until tommrow. I do not want to spend the night here!

The hardest part was deciding that I had put it all back together right even though it looks like the pulleys do not line up for the belts??? Just put the belts on and test it, if it gets me to a campground where I can have AC I will be able to figure out what I did wrong tommrow. After tightening up the belts I see that the Power steering belt is now loose. There are 2 belts for the power steering one for just it and the AC Compressor belt. The AC belt must have been a bit too short, no time to deal with it now, one belt will have to do. I should mention the fact that the Power steering belt is the innermost belt so I would have to undo the others to pull it off. Wrong, out comes the snips and I cut it off!

Filled with coolant and fired it up, all is good, no belt shredding, no leaks, so time to hit the showers. Did I mention that in the last hour of reassembly I saw the dark clouds forming to the West and could hear the thunder and see the lightning, even though it was bright and sunny where we were parked?

30 Min. and alot of go-jo and hot water later we are on the road. BTW we burned the clothes due to the flammable status from the grease. I drove through one of the worst rain storms I have ever been in and we made it to our intended destination, Rocky Mount SC that night. We got in around midnight, but the trip was not without mishap. The high winds liberated my CB antenna, and I caught a piece of a shredded tire and thru it into the saturn and chipped some more paint and left an ugly mark on the front of it. I decided to leave it that way for the rest of the trip. I was concerned that Murphy would break something else if I fixed the Saturn again.

The trip from SC to Willamsburg was fine and the trip home was too. I even bought a new set of wrenches so next time I can shave time off the fan clutch removal. I had an old cresent wrench that would not hold a size to take off the 4 bolts that needed to come off. That took an hour alone!

Any one else have a story? I hope I am not alone:p

john hd 05-19-2003 08:44 PM


sounds like you need a vacation from your vacation.:D


p.s. tell your better half the tomatoes are in!:D

femuse 05-19-2003 09:15 PM

We have a friend with a big MH (not AS). The cam shaft died somewhere in the neighbourhood of the Washington beltway. A holiday weekend.
He fought with the cops not to get towed out of there. He is a big and big mouthed Pennsylvania Dutch, with a thick accent. Looks really mean. A very sweet guy, not that young.
The cops gave him a deadline to be out of there, they did not believe he was going to do that repair.
He did..

Now us:

we had a busted water hose on our van, 454, really hot engine, really crowded.
We had to change the hose at a rest stop on I-81 in NY. Same story, the cops gave us a deadline to be out of there.

You cannot get to the FRONT of the engine, unless you are 24 inches tall and less than 12 inches thick
That's what it looks like when you are trying to repair anything in this engine.
After waiting hours for it to cool, Mike ended up re-cutting a screw driver first. In order to get his arm in there, he had to turn his back to the engine, and, my hands being smaller, we worked as a team to change that hose.
I asked him how long it took: "A while".

PeterH-Airstreamer 05-19-2003 09:17 PM

Brett, wow, what a story and what a difficult yet successful roadside repair! Congrats!!
When I had my radiator out and saw the waterpump grinning at me, I quickly decided to replace it.
Take a peak at your waterpump mounting bolts and make sure that they don't leak coolant. I have seen some where the thread was drilled all the way into the waterpassage. If it is you can take them out one at a time and put some goo-stuff on the threads.

thenewkid64 05-19-2003 09:19 PM


Funny that you mention the police. Considering that I was parked on the shoulder for an hour and then at the the exit for 6-7 hours you would think I would have at least had a Trooper stop by. I saw not a one! That was one of the reasons for not wanting to spend the night. :(

thenewkid64 05-19-2003 09:22 PM


Your radiator saga and the fact that you had to have one custom built was what led me to cut the belts. I knew it would not be on a shelf waiting for me if I needed it. :) The mounting bolts were clean and did not have any oil or coolant on them when I removed them. I can get 3 of them back out if necessary, but the fourth is a bear because of the PS pump brackets.

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