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Old 12-28-2005, 10:22 PM   #1
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Thumbs down Water Pumps, Hydroboosts and Automobiles

It's a first for us. We had to leave the motorhome in OH on our way to CT from Louisville.

We left Monday afternoon at about 1:00. Somewhere outside of Columbus I noticed a strange vibration but at a fuel stop everything "looked" fine. Outside of Akron I heard a louder noise, pulled off at a rest stop and again - everything seemed normal. About a mile later I heard a high pitched whine (metal on metal) squeeling belts and a pop, the gauges showed a drop in voltage and a slow rise in water temp....must have thrown a belt.

Pulled off into BP and dumped a lot of coolant everywhere. Obviously not just a belt. Pulled the doghouse, saw the serpentine belt wrapped around everything and the fan sitting at a funny angle. Seems as if we broke the shaft on the water pump.

We decided to pack it in for the night so Suzanne made dinner and got the kids into bed while I removed the brackets and the old pump. The next morning I was at AutoZone at 6:50 waiting for them to open so I could be a new pump. Got the new pump and five hours later everything was re-installed.

I thought in a few minutes we'll test fire it and we'll be off. But when I was tensioning the belt for the hydroboost pump I push a little too hard with a large screw driver that is normally perfect for belt tensioning and I poked a hole in the side of the pump. After the alloted 20 minutes of swearing I started calling around for a replacement. Turns out these things are hard to get. Three hours driving around in the toad visiting five part stores and no luck. Ended up coming back to the BP and made some temporary repairs to move it across the street to a storage yard (the owner let us park there for the week if we needed the time - very nice guy).

Finally was able to get a pump ordered from AutoZone but since it would not be in until Friday we decided to rent a car for the 6 hour drive to CT. Got here a few hours ago and immediately decided to party.

We're headed back on Saturday and the store manager should have a reman. pump for me, complete with the pulley and hoses switched over and ready to bolt in.

So here are the things I've learned:

1. Changing out a water pump from the top of an engine is a terrible process.
2. Just because you replaced a water pump two years ago as a preventative step does not necessarily improve reliability
3. Don't push on your hydroboost pump with a really big screwdriver.
4. Part guys are nice if you explain how you've managed to strand your family in a BP gas station on your way to a family holiday party.
5. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just can't fix everything.

I have mixed feelings about leaving the Airstream and the VW in Ohio while we wait for a part. On one hand I worry about it but on the other we needed to get out of there and hanging around waiting for a part would not have been the best marriage decision I could have made.

I know in the grand scheme of things it's just a $50 water pump and a $65 hydroboost pump - but man this one was a big mental bummer. In the past when things when wrong we could always coax her into making it the rest of the way. Leaving it behind felt terrible.
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Old 12-28-2005, 10:27 PM   #2
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Sorry to hear about your troubles. On the bright side, thank goodness you knew how to fix it and didn't spend several week waiting for someone else to figure it all out....let alone have the tools with you to do the job.

As for the alloted 20 minutes of swearing, that one made me grin as I too have spend several hours in 20 minute intervals doing the same thing with my repairs.
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Old 12-29-2005, 01:03 AM   #3
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What a a bummer......I feel for you.....even tho i don't have a mh!
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Old 12-29-2005, 05:38 AM   #4
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Steven, I guess now is a little late to tell you not to pry on the reservoir. Most power steering pumps have a bracket with a 1/2" square hole for a 1/2" drive breaker bar to be inserted for tightening the belt. The ones that don't have a flattened area on the front of the pump, behind the pulley for a wrench to grab. Have fun at your party, and good luck on the install when you get back.
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Old 12-29-2005, 08:11 AM   #5
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Bummer!

Steven,

That's a bummer pal!

Is this the vibration problem that you thought was in the drivetrain or something differnt? Just Curious.

Regards,
Henry
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Old 12-29-2005, 08:30 AM   #6
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Thanks for the sympathy. It certainly was a trying experience, even with the tools and knowledge of having replaced the water pump once before. Doing it from the top of the engine instead of the front added about three hours to the job. Not fun.

Terry - saw the tab on the bracket once I removed the bad pump. It was just sitting there, mocking me. Now I know better for the re-install.

Henry - I don't know yet as I haven't been able to drive it more than a 1/4 mile at slow speed. It certainly crossed my mind and in a way it would be great if this turned out to be the mystery vibration.
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Old 12-29-2005, 09:08 AM   #7
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Could have been worse...

I've always enjoyed reading your posts, even though I'm a trailer person. I do hope this turns out to solve your mystery vibration, and I'm relieved that there isn't a "crate engine" discussion going with this thread. WHEW!

Hope you get it fixed and on the road again soon.

Tin Lizzie
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Old 12-29-2005, 12:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swebster
saw the tab on the bracket once I removed the bad pump. It was just sitting there, mocking me.
Definately a good reason to add another 20 minute session in my book!
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Old 12-29-2005, 03:18 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie
Definately a good reason to add another 20 minute session in my book!
I agree. I discovered that you can reach a maximum allowable level of anger. After you get there you just can't get any MORE ANGRY, rather you just continue your anger a little longer.

BTW - I would like to speak with the GM engineer who designed the bracket for the ps pump on the P30. He or she is obviously friendly with the engineer at Airstream who decided a simply pump replacement required at least two hours of shop labor to disconnect a belt, three hoses and three bolts. It had to have been planned as a labor rate generator for dealerships. No seriously - I want to talk to both of them.
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Old 12-29-2005, 04:05 PM   #10
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Reminds me of when I replaced the water pump on my 80 Olds....requires the whole front of the engine to be taken apart (powersteering, A/C, vaccum, etc). After the second replacement I was down to just under 5 hours when an Olds mechanic in the complex I was living in walked by as I vented my stress by jamming a pipe through my toasted radiator and told me if it took him more than an hour and a half, he'd turn in his tools......

I finished killing off my radiator as he walked away.
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Old 12-29-2005, 05:55 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie
Reminds me of when I replaced the water pump on my 80 Olds....requires the whole front of the engine to be taken apart (powersteering, A/C, vaccum, etc). After the second replacement I was down to just under 5 hours when an Olds mechanic in the complex I was living in walked by as I vented my stress by jamming a pipe through my toasted radiator and told me if it took him more than an hour and a half, he'd turn in his tools......

I finished killing off my radiator as he walked away.
Of course, he didn't tell you about the short cuts that made that time possible. I would tell you, but then I would have to kill you...
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Old 12-29-2005, 06:24 PM   #12
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It wasn't me!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by swebster
BTW - I would like to speak with the GM engineer who designed the bracket for the ps pump on the P30. He or she is obviously friendly with the engineer at Airstream who decided a simply pump replacement required at least two hours of shop labor to disconnect a belt, three hoses and three bolts. It had to have been planned as a labor rate generator for dealerships. No seriously - I want to talk to both of them.
I was working for Ford at the time that bracket was designed.
(one of the few times I am glad I was...)
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Old 01-01-2006, 09:09 PM   #13
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Hey - we made it home tonight. Three hours to install that %$#^ pump. I'll post more tomorrow.
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Old 01-01-2006, 09:32 PM   #14
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Steven, loved your story but sorry to hear your tale. Have you noticed how bleak Ohio looks this time of year?
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Old 01-02-2006, 06:42 AM   #15
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break down

Steven, kudos for doing the repair yourself! Imagine what it would have cost to have a shop do it. Personally unless I had what I call "stupid" money (millions and millions) I would not have any motorhome. If I had "stupid" money I would pay someone else to work on it!
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Old 01-02-2006, 09:19 PM   #16
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I think I can talk about this now. As I mentioned, we made it home Sunday night. It took about four hours to install the new pump in the motorhome. About two hours of that was spent figuring out how to get one bolt installed. Now referred to as "The Bolt that Almost Beat Me" This bolt is a simple little thing that supports the front of the pump in the accessory bracket. Just for fun, it was cold and wet and I was lying in a pool of power steering fluid at 8:00am in the morning in a junkyard in Northern Ohio. Not my idea of Airstreaming. Needless to say, this was definately not in the brochure at the dealership.

For those that have the misfortune of replacing this pump yourself here is the trick to saving yourself two hours of work. If you need the following steps, I'm so sorry to hear it, but it it helps you out of a jam, use it well and pass it along to the next generation so that they may benefit from it as well:
  1. Remove the lower fan shroud and driver's side front wheel for access.
  2. Sitting in the wheel well, loosely bolt up the back of the pump in the bracket, this is tricky as the back bolt (stud actually) sits in a slot in the bracket so it wants to slide down and out.
  3. Loosely tighten the bolt that is used to hold the pump at tension (passes through a curved slot in the pump mount and bolts into the block)
  4. Now, position the pump so you can see the threads for the front bracket mount through the hold in the bracket. This is best accomplished when lying under the motorhome, looking up through where the lower fan shroud would normally be located.
  5. Once you can see it lined up, finger-tighten the bolt into the block to keep the pump from sliding around.
  6. Lastly, with one hand inside of the frame rail and the other outside (no kidding) slide the bolt that hold the front of the pump up behind the pulley sideways, then turn it slowly placing the threaded tip into the hole in the bracket. At this point use your other hand to catch the head of the bolt and using a finger from each hand (seriously) begin turning the bolt while praying to the almighty bolt gods over and over "let it catch a thread, let it catch a thread". It's important to pass the bolt up behind the pulley sideway because it won't fit any other way. The pulley actually covers the threads in the pump so you have to use the space behind the pulley like the inside of a bowl, then maneuver the bolt down and into the hole.
  7. One you catch a thread, stop immeadiately and celebrate as this is the high point of the installation.
  8. Grab your 1/2" wrench and tighten the bolt the rest of the way.
  9. Go back and tighten the rear nut.
  10. Lastly, hook up the high pressure line and the two low pressure return lines, install the belts, tension belts (using a breaker bar in the slot provided by the GM engineers ), tighten the last bolt, add fluid and check everything about ten times before starting up the engine.
Really, it took my 2 hours to figure out just how to get the bolt up in there, let alone lining up the thread and starting the bolt. I now understand how people can spontaneously self combust.

Terry - if you have a shortcut for this you might want to keep it to yourself or I'll be forced to come "visit" you soon.

While I was there I replaced the low pressure lines back from the power steering and hydro boost units. I have pictures, but its still too painful to look at them. Maybe I'll post them later, after a lot of therapy.

Seriously, the only thing that happened after this was that I had the belt rounting once row off on the AC pump and I flipped the belt. I stopped often and checked everything so I just corrected the placement and we kept on going.
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Old 01-03-2006, 12:08 PM   #17
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Steven, kudos for doing the repair yourself! Imagine what it would have cost to have a shop do it. Personally unless I had what I call "stupid" money (millions and millions) I would not have any motorhome. If I had "stupid" money I would pay someone else to work on it!
72 - It's actually not that expensive to own a classic motorhome if you can work on it yourself. The parts are generally cheap and plentiful (basically chevy trucks) and all in all it's still saving us money over flying and renting cottages or hotels. I do think if you had to pay a mechanic or dealer every time something broke you would be better off buying something newer. I'm tempted to do the math from time to time (payments made to the bank vs payments made at the parts counter) but that might be more disclosure than I want right now. Besides, even on this trip from %$# people were tooting their horns and giving us the thumbs up on the road which is worth a lot in my book. Of course whenever this would happen my wife would say - "if they only knew".

Having said that I sure do wish I had a bag of money to hand someone else to do that job. No fun working under that kind of pressure in those cold conditions.

Chaplain Kent - Northern Ohio is definately bleak this time of year, especially from where I was standing
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Old 01-03-2006, 02:39 PM   #18
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Steven,
Thanks for the step by step instructions. I stayed with you all the way up to #2. Then the vision of my body sitting inside the front wheel well started me chuckling and I was unable to continue. For the betterment of all people I promise to never crawl inside a wheel well.
I am happy you got everything put back and had a safe trip home.
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Old 01-03-2006, 08:43 PM   #19
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Steven,

I feel your pain. I did the water pump alongside the road, but I had to do it from below on my '76 Argosy. The doghouse was not as well engineered as it is on your 325 and my '78. I will take the hydro boost information to heart so I do not have to practice my constructive swearing.
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Old 01-04-2006, 04:04 PM   #20
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So tell me about the water pump part...how tough to replace it alone? I suspect I might be doing this soon, although it has not yet failed it is inevitable. I have been VERY lucky (read- blessed) that my mechanical failures have been few, but then again I don't do the miles that some of you guys do.
It was almost 70 here today...changed my oil and filter and refreshed the coolant then went for a local cruise to shake things out. My dog loved it, he thought we would end up in a park...but ended up back in the driveway.
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