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Old 01-30-2004, 04:02 PM   #1
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How to Scare a FlyingJ Tanker Driver to Death

So I'm on this trip from H$%^ and I'm filling up late at night at the Evansville, IN FlyingJ. I had just fixed my rear air (twice) and was thinking a lot about my front air. I has assumed that since my front air lines were T'd into a single line that ran rearward that someone at some point had added them into the main air system. But I had been reading all of these air system posts lately about how these are manual fill and was having my doubts about my setup.

So with about 20 minutes of fuel-fill time to kill I started tracing the line. Turns out it runs up to the dash into an aftermarket gauge and then into dash-mounted schrader valve. I assume this was so you could fill the bags from the comfort of the driver's seat????

Anyway...OK so I've never filled them. Hey, there's an air hose. This should be easy...

Meanwhile, across from the RV fill/dump/service station there was a FlyingJ tanker driver dumping about 12,000 gallons of gasoline into the fuel farm. I used to drive a JET-A and AvGas truck years ago so I know that you get a little jumpy when you're around that much raw fuel. We politely waved at each other just as I started adding air to the front left bag.

Ten seconds into the fill and BOOM! I mean the loudest damn thing I've ever heard. Blew up the bag and nearly killed the FlyingJ driver from heart failure.

Anyway - what do you think of these replacements from JCWhitney - Trash or Treasure?

P30 Airbag Kit
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Old 01-30-2004, 05:00 PM   #2
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Lightbulb Enquiring Minds Need to Know!

Steven:

Gotta ask.

What do you think the pressure was when you launched the bag?
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Old 01-30-2004, 05:07 PM   #3
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There is a similar set on a 1974 Scout at my shop now. The owner says they have been in there since the mid 80's or so. If they last as long on your MH, you should be okay. But they only lift 1000 pounds? Or do they give an additional 1000 pounds lift?

I can relate to your Flying J driver. I was charging the air conditioner on a van Thursday, when one of my co-workers tossed a lit M80 under it. I was inside a metal building, and inside the van, at the time. The hospital says that in time and with enough therapy he will be able to walk again...
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Old 01-30-2004, 05:09 PM   #4
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Steven,

I have to say I think you may have done yourself in on this one! I use a 120 Volt 120PSI Sears compressor and it takes less than 10 seconds to fill my bags from 10 LBS to 55 LBS. The volume is soooo small. Max pressure is supposed to be 90 PSI, so to make it go BANG you had to have a weak one or over 100 PSI in it.

My understanding on the aftermarket bags is that the Airlifts come with a lifetime warranty. Others do not. This is also one of the fixes that anyone who has done swears they will pay to have done next time. Take that for what it is worth. If only one is bad, you could just order a single replacement from Airlift.
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Old 01-30-2004, 05:11 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by argosy20
I was charging the air conditioner on a van Thursday, when one of my co-workers tossed a lit M80 under it. I was inside a metal building, and inside the van, at the time. The hospital says that in time and with enough therapy he will be able to walk again...
Terry
Would this be the same genius that lowered the jack instead of raising it, and left you holding the tranny???? If it was I am surprised you let him live
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Old 01-30-2004, 05:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by thenewkid64


Would this be the same genius that lowered the jack instead of raising it, and left you holding the tranny???? If it was I am surprised you let him live
That is him. Umm... without trying to sound racist, or making fun of people from other countries, I feel I should tell you he is Polish, from Poland. Has lived here six years. May live to see his seventh, but at the rate he is going...
Maybe he thinks we are promoted by assassination, or he was just peeved that I ordered him to install my transmission by himself, or else polish everyone's trailer at the rally.
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Old 01-30-2004, 06:59 PM   #7
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I have no idea what the pressure was when I started. The dash gauge has read "0" since - well always. But it's hard to believe given the 10 seconds of fill and the sound it made when it blew that it wasn't inflated at some level.

Despite this failure I did not notice any difference in ride quality on the return leg. So who knows what the deal was.

Brett - I am not looking forward to this project at all as I've been reading posts all day about it. But it'll be a warm day in Kentucky before I get under there again so this one will wait a while.

I left off the other quality moments on this trip like changing a destroyed starter in 10 degree weather at 10:00pm in the parking lot, replacing (recently purchase but incorrect) check valve on the rear air system and the brown smoke coming from the generator. All is well now but this was definately Murphy's trip not mine.

The blown bag was the last straw of this lousy trip. But the look on the FlyingJ driver's face made me laugh for a good 30 miles afterwards.
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Old 01-30-2004, 07:12 PM   #8
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Steven:

You da man!!

First starter change out in the parking lot...hmmmmm

Listen to someone who has been there and done that. Bite the bullet and buy a "racing duty" starter from Summit or Martrand.

Expensive, but worth it - mount the solenoid "down", away from the manifold.

I assume you have a 110 voltmeter plugged into the coach?
I would be concerned about the Genny smoke. Especially if you were getting high or low voltage.

I feel your pain.

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Old 01-30-2004, 08:32 PM   #9
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do that starter on gravel with rain. been there done that but wasnt cold. had my front air bags replaced at camping world in boling green kentucky. after taking a look just decided i wasnt doing that one.
i wont fill up next to one of those tankers. i will wait. too many accidents with those guys. that is why he almost died on you. lots of static electricity when it is cold.
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Old 01-30-2004, 08:39 PM   #10
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Al - you're sooo right. I noticed that he didn't ground his rig. We were nuts about grounding our little 2,000 gallon fuel trucks before hooking up to a plane. At least once a year we'd hear about some poor guy that got burned because a static charge ignited the fuel vapors between the nozzle and the wing.

Dennis - I bought the "lifetime warrantee" starter from AutoZone ($55). Didn't really have a choice as they were the only guys open and I needed to get on the road. What exactly where they thinking running the exhaust RIGHT THERE? I give it a year before it goes. That old 454 starts up on the first crank now.

I knew the old one was on its way out but was in denial. Here's the blow by blow of departure day - mostly because I think it’s funny [now]:

12:00 - announce to staff I'm leaving at 3:00 to get to our customer in St. Louis - I still need to pack, get LP and about 20 - 30 gallons of water on board.

2:40 - Customer in PA has a failed process and I'm the only one who knows how it works.

4:15 – Customer is fixed. Remind my assistant that we need to train someone else on this process.

4:20 – Announce “now I'm leaving - no really”.

5:30 - Walk out the door.

5:40 - Batteries on, walk around check, start the RV, no air pressure. What? I just replaced the valve. Co-worker comes out to check on me. Do you hear that noise? What noise? Sounds like air leaking.

6:00 - Pull [newly installed] "check valve" and realize when I said "check valve" at Grainger he thought "relief valve" Oops. Curse myself for not checking getting this up to pressure sooner as I think it opened at about 80 psi.

6:10 - Start calling truck places. Three no’s; got a yes at number four.

6:20 - Drive across town show up at GMC trucks - oops not in stock, he begins calling around.

6:30 - Drive another five minutes to the other place that does have one in stock. Purchase new Bendix check valve for $17.50 (Happy again)

6:40 - Since I'm near my house now, I stop in, pack, eat a "standing dinner" kiss the kids and wife - I'll get water along the way.

7:40 - Back at the office. Figure I'll get the valve installed and be out of here by 8:00 I'l be fine.

8:00 - OK, we have air. Leave the key on to build up pressure while I go in and map the route and check for a FlyingJ along the way for LP and water.

8:20 - Get in ready to go - won't start - drained coach battery. Work the frozen locker open where I keep the jumper cables and have jumped the house batteries into the coach battery. (I've been working the battery all week with my air pressure woes)

8:30 - Engine cranks then stops then cranks then SNAP - WHIIRRRRRR. Ooops, Back under the AS.

8:35- Find a piece of the starter gear. Back into the office and start calling and searching online for starters.

8:40 - The guy at AutoZone say's they are open until ten and he has one in stock.

9:20 - Arrive at AutZone with the old starter - basically I shattered the gear off. BTW - AutoZone is about 1 mile from the store where I got the Bendix - just for fun I think

9:30 Back at the RV. Pull the flywheel cover, recover the missing piece of the starter, check the flywheel for damage (I was lucky), install the new starter, bolt everything back up.

10:05 - Start the AS. Breathe

10:15 - Pull out for St. Louis.

Does this always happen when you absolutely need to leave and be somewhere? Seems like these old gals "know" and try to mess with you. But - as I put her back in her spot today I still looked back on my way into the office. She may be old and tired with a lot of broken gizmos...but...well ya know.

You already heard the bag story and the smoke from the generator is of enough concern that it's worthy a seperate post.
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Old 01-30-2004, 10:01 PM   #11
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Steven, GM makes a heat shield for your starter, if you don't have one. It Consists of a bent piece of sheet metal, a clip to hold it to the solenoid, and some kind of metallic insulating material. If you don't have one, I will try to find you a GM part number on Monday. An alternative would be to go to the nearest boneyard and see if there is one kicking around in the dirt.
As for the brown smoke, if you have a diesel generator, which you probably don't, brown smoke is an indicator of water in the fuel, never a good thing, but truly bad in a diesel.
If it isn't a diesel, sounds like some insulation inside the generator burning, as in a short. Even worse.
If it wasn't for the problems, you would never know how good the good trips are.
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Old 01-31-2004, 08:57 AM   #12
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Next "Starting Circuit" Issue

Steven:

After the third starter change out on mine, one of the Forum members reminded me that the problem might be in the Park/Neutral permit start switch. I don't think I have a problem with this, but I DO have a problem with the "start" function of the key switch.

This has been progressively getting worse, to the point that I have had to get under the coach and "hot wire" the starter solenoid (SO much easier to do since installing the "racing" starter). I choose not to replace the switch, since everything will be changed out at the panel redo.

Just food for thought the next time you get the "turn the key, no click, no start, aw sh@#" blues.

BTW, the '87 came with a switch controlled solenoid to jump the coach batteries to the chassis battery for starting.

The momentary switch is located in the roof (top) of the glove box, close to the fuse box. The solenoid is located on the back (chassis side) of the battery box (drawer). I had to replace both the momentary switch and the solenoid on mine. Switch is standard off the shelf, and the solenoid is a Ford type starter solenoid.

I'd be surprised if your unit is not similarly equipped.
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Old 01-31-2004, 09:57 AM   #13
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Dennis,

Are you planning on having a 3 position ignition switch with a push button start function like some of the old trucks and newer sports cars?

Just more fuel to add to the panel redo
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Old 01-31-2004, 06:32 PM   #14
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my autozone starter lasted until the solenoid burnt through. They said the warranty didn't cover it-- I was not surprised , The small hi torque starter I put on also has a thermal wrap from thermal-tec...cost as I recall was 10 or 15 bucks. I also wrapped all nearby wiring with stuff from the same company.
The starter head rotated down away from the manifold helped also.
I hopefully have fixed my last starter on the fly...laid in the lane by the dump station prior to installing this one in my driveway.
Got my 135 amp alternator from the same folks.
www.4alterstart.com
while we are mentioning heat-- I got a set of new Accel extreme heat plug wires off ebay for 35 bucks...80 at Jeg's.
The directions say to remove the plug heat shields if aluminum.Not sure why anybody think this applies to our older 454?
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Old 04-23-2004, 12:31 AM   #15
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Talking Starting problems

Dennis, There is a fusible link on top of the engine leading to a round terminal post. My '84 MH 310 had this fusible link break due to age and heat embrittlement, foreman at the 3 monkeys in Ca spliced the fusible link and got me going. It failed to start about 6 starts later. I too crawled under to jumper the starter. It continued to repeat this 6 starts 1 no start/jump start cycle. Two weeks later and 1000 miles later, I told my wife "I hope it starts because it is raining and I dont want to crawl under again". You guessed it, the power of suggestion, it did not start. Suddenly it dawned on me that the mech was working on the fusible link--pulled the doghouse wiggled the fusible link and it started. Used this technique once more on the way home. Replaced the fusible link when I got home still going great 8 years later. Do not just reconnect this fusible link wire as it is still brittle and will break again.

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Old 04-28-2004, 07:04 AM   #16
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Front Air Bag Changeout

Last night I installed the Driver's Side Front Air Bag. I purchased a pair of Air Lifts from PPL ($90, as opposed to Camping World's $67). I will not say how much PPL quoted for the labor for the change out, only that they said their shop was booked solid for 3 days, and their price for labor reflected a sellers market.

Many thanks to Ray Clay, who described his change out below.

From the Camping World Web Site

QUOTE
Hints to a fast install (Front Air Lift Bags - Chevy P-3X) - May 11, 2003
Ray Clay from Coon Rapids, MN

Removal 1: Drill out valve while you have 20-40psi in the bags and before you lift the vehicle fully. SAFETY NOTE: The vehicle will lower during the drilling out of the valves. 2: Raise the vehicle until there is no pressure on the springs. 3: With a serrated knife about 14 inches long cut ¾ of the way around the air bags at each opening between the springs. 4: With the airbag now being more like a long rubber corkscrew than a bag, spray the rubber down with soapy water. Lock onto the airbag with a pair of vise grips and twist the bag through the lower hole. 5: If your old airbags have clips on the top holding the top protector in place, cut completely through the top of the bag. Flip the top over after removing the rest of the airbag and cut the clip off with a pair of wire cutters. Installation Helpful hints not listed in the instructions. The string doesn’t work well to hold the airbag tight. Use wide hose clamps to squeeze the bag down to the size of the hole. Be careful not to let the clamp dig into the sides by using three clamps in conjunction. Remove each clamp just before it would enter the lower hole. Use soapy water and twist the bag slowly into the hole. To place the lower protector, inflate the airbag so that it will resume its “bag like” shape. Let any air out after the shape is reformed and push up through the lower hole using the back side of a screwdriver onto the airbag to allow the lower protector to be slid through the lower gap of the springs. The whole process only took my wife and I, 45 minutes after we had figured out this process. Figuring out the whole process took 90 minutes. END QUOTE

Mutilating the old bag with the knife certainly helped in removal, spent about 45 minutes getting the old bag out (learning curve), did not fully cut the top off, it all came out the bottom hole. I could not get the "twist and screw" thing to work, pried the old bag out with a 12" pinch bar.

I did not have clamps of sufficient size to compress the new bag as Ray suggested above, so I tried the "tie with a string" trick as suggested in the installation instructions.......and failed miserably. All close by parts stores were closed by the time I yielded to common sense and gave up for the night, I lost about a half hour by attempting to follow the Air Lift instructions.....space forward to next day.

After purchasing three 3" hose clamps, the new bag was in place with about a half hour's effort. Not a bad cost vs. time payback when compared to what PPL quoted me for installation. Also take into account that my hands had been abused by several days of pulling wrenches installing a prelube system and a secondary absolute flow finite filter on the Xilver Xeppelin.....gripping strength significantly compromised.....it's a b*tch to get old --- definitely needed some of Granny's Patented Rheumatiz Medicine these past few nights.

Hope to shod the 345 with Centramatics all the way around this week.
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Old 04-28-2004, 07:43 AM   #17
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Dennis,
I'm getting ready to attempt this myself in the near future. I really appreciate the practical advice from Ray Clay and yourself. Gaining knowledge in information that takes what could easily be a long and frustating process down to a single Saturday afternoon is one of the things that I love about this forum. - Thanks!
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Old 05-12-2004, 07:58 AM   #18
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It Works!

Dennis,
Thanks for finding and posting Mr. Clay's procedure. I replaced both front bags last night using this method and it really wasn't that bad. I think both bags took me about 2 1/2 hours. The spiral cut really made getting out the old bags pretty easy.

Love this forum!
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Old 07-12-2006, 10:45 PM   #19
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My experience replacing front airbags

First, I had the misfortune of not having the Truck jacks and jack-stands required to get the rig up off the ground high enough to get the front wheels fully in the air. I managed to get-er-dun, but in my opinion, one really needs to get the front springs fully extended for this job.

Removal of the old front bags was the easiest part of the job for me.
I used an AC-powered dremel type roto-tool made by Ryobi to rip into the old bags.
An earlier post recommended using a serrated knife to cut the old air-bags up. My experience using the roto-tool was superior to using a knife by a long-shot. The roto-bit that I used is the same as is used to cut drywall. I suggest that you pretend that the old bag is someone you have the greatest animosity for, then disrespect it, rip into it, stab it and defile it with no mercy until it is shredded to the degree that you can grab the pieces with a pliers or channel locks and rip the thing out through the sides of the spring. (Which takes a bit of pull-power.)

To install the new bags:
I used two different sizes of radiator hose clamps to compress the bags to an installable size.
I folded the bag as per the instruction sheet, then tightened three 4" hoseclamps to the max to maintain the fold. then I used (3) 2-1/2" hose clamps to further compress the bags so they would fit into the ridiculously small holes at the bottom of the spring-control-arm.
I can’t imagine how much harder this would have been if there was slippery dishwashing liquid all over my hands and or the bags themselves. I really needed a good grip on those bags to muscle them up through those holes. It was not easy.
I un-tightened the hose clamps while the clamps were inside the spring.
I used a battery powered screwdriver for the clamp tightening & un-tightening.

I was unsuccessful in getting the provided black plastic air-bag seats installed due to the lack of clearance on the top and bottom of the bags. (probably because my rig was not jacked all the way up and my springs were not fully extended.) I assumed that not installing the seats would limit the life-span of the bags, but I was unwilling to further work the issue by that point.

At the end of the job my hands were hamburger.
And I for once was kicking myself for not hiring Camping World to do the work for me. They quoted a most reasonable rate: parts plus 80.00 labor.

By the way I purchased the bags at Jeg’s for only 10.00 less than Campin wurld.

Best of luck to you all.
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Old 07-14-2006, 02:56 PM   #20
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I had the same experience cutting out the old airbags, and stuffing the new ones in that incredibly small hole in the bottom. I can't imagine doing it without the springs fully extended.

Someone mentioned that it was much easier to remove the spring from the suspension to do this job. I don't know how to disassemble the parts neccessary, but it has to be easier than the way I/we did it.
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