Friday, June 28, 2013

Greetings, Patient Friends,

I know it's been a long time since the last posting.  While I've been busy, most of what I've been doing with Manny would have been of little interest to non-GMCers, so I didn't bore you with it.

We did have an interesting (???) trip last Monday:  A couple of our GMC friends, enroute from Orlando to their home in Oregon with a newly-acquired GMC called Manny, from 200 miles south, on Sunday to report that their transmission was making a terrible noise.  Manny agreed to bring them a replacement transmission and install it.  Since my planned departure on Monday wasn't urgent, I "volunteered" to go with him.  By the time I found out he was leaving at 4:00 AM it was too late to back out.  So we did it.

By noon, we'd replaced the transmission and discovered that we hadn't cured the problem.  Well, actually, the replacement transmission had the same problem as the one we removed. :-(  With no good alternative, the owners spent another night in the disabled coach and then had it towed, on Tuesday, to Mannys.  On Wednesday we removed, and Manny repaired, the transmission, which we then re-installed.  That time it worked!

With that final chore completed, and my 3-day welcome having degenerated into 3 weeks, I left San Jose yesterday morning headed North -- immediate destination unknown.  My tentative plan was to reach Fort Bragg, about 200 miles up the coast, via US-101.  As it worked out, I made it as far as Cloverdale on 101, then turned onto CA-128 toward the coast.  That turned out to be a beautiful drive, though VERY crooked & hilly.  It passed through a redwood forest which had apparently been logged MANY years ago.  While the standing trees are huge by GA standards, the old stumps are humongous:

That size comparison is only slightly distorted by perspective -- the stump really is about 8' in diameter!  The standing trees are something to see, too:

CA-128 took me to US-1 just south of Mendocino, which is south of my Ft. Bragg destination.  No question, this is one of the most beautiful parts of the US.  Here's a typical scene:

Since it was still early in the afternoon and I wasn't impressed with what I saw of the RV parks around Ft. Bragg, I continued north, hoping to find a more attractive park.  Here's one of the scenes I passed:

Immediately past there, I spotted a 40' Country Coach motorhome with 3 slides out on a large flat gravel pullout from the highway.  There was also a small RoadTrek class B motorhome there.  I pulled in between them and asked each of the occupants if overnight parking was allowed.  They didn't know, but saw no signs and intended to try it.  Looking at the scenery, I decided to do the same; here's the view of that area above after the fog rolled in at dusk:

And here's what I saw when I woke up this morning:

That was followed within a couple of hours by:

And here I've stayed all day!  I had a few computer chores to complete, including learning how to wirelessly transfer photos from my new camera to Elaine's Nexus 10 computer, which I'm mostly using on this trip.  Plus, I was just in the mood to relax and enjoy the scenery.  While the sun was hot, and I enjoyed a lot of sunbathing, the temperature was a pleasant 75*F or so -- cooler in the shade, with a constant ocean breeze blowing.

Since no one ran us off last night, and it was VERY quiet -- probably only half a dozen cars passed on US-1, 50' away, all night (see the photos above for a good reason), I'm staying another night.  The Roadtrek's still here with me, but the big rig moved out this morning.  Surprisingly, none of the numerous rigs which passed today pulled in here.  Tomorrow I'll move further north, into the BIG redwood forests, hopefully finding places I'll want to spend a couple of days.  I expect to reach Bert & Faye Curtis' place in Kneeland, CA by Monday afternoon.

I'm going to create a mailing list of those whom I think may want to look at the blog, so you should be notified when I post in the future -- no need to check if I don't post. :-)


Monday, June 17, 2013

Surprise!  I'm baaack!  I've been having too much fun with Manny to bother telling Y'All about it.  I can't believe it's over a week since I posted -- and that I've been here for 10 days already.  These photos of Manny & Deo's place should explain how easy it is to forget:

That's my GMC at the left in Manny's driveway.  The shop's to the right of the other GMC, on which he's installing 1-Ton and Manny Brakes.

Here's the view from the window of my GMC; how could it be any better?:

And here's a view of San Jose from their back yard:

With the Honda's brakes repaired, I've been able to hang around in Manny's shop enjoying myself.  After a few days, he even let me play in the grease a little bit.  And finally, after much cajoling, he actually let me install some bolts and turn some wrenches.  He even let me install the chain cover bolts in 3 freshly rebuilt transmissions and even torque them down!  Can't tell you how honored I was, 'cause he don't like nobody fooling with his stuff! :-)

Whatever you've heard about Manny being a workaholic, it's true.  Since Ive been here, he's finished rebuilding 3 transmissions and completely rebuilt 3 more.  All but two of those have been delivered, in one

way or another.  On top of that, he's packed and shipped at least one 1-Ton kit, rebuilt 10 sets of lower A-arms for 1-Ton kits, modified drawings for several parts, ordered the material for and placed shop orders for those parts, checked into the shop's progress, entertained me, and worked on more upgrades.  Dawn to dark seems to be his schedule.  I'll tell you GMCers more about all that on GMCNet, many who follow this blog won't be interested.  But here's some of the in-progress work:

A-arms with old tips cut off.

Here, the first 1/2 of the new tip has been welded on and the second 1/2 is about to be:

All finished and ready for lucky GMCers:

Finally, last Thursday, he and Deo took off for a family GMC outing for the Father's Day weekend.  I'm sure they had a great time with their kids and 8 grandkids.  I chose to stay here and catch up on chores like cleaning the coach and doing laundry (and catching up on my rest).  But I did get out and do a little sightseeing.  This photo was taken from the road a couple of miles past and above their home:

Just a few miles further, there's almost complete wilderness (sometimes interrupted by the hillside mansions of some of the Silicon Valley nouveau riche).  It's surprising how easily one can get away from the 1,000,000  or so folks in San Jose.

That's enough for now.  We've got a big day ahead tomorrow.

Ken H.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Time for me to report in again.  On Wednesday I took Dennis to SFO, arriving about 3 hours before his flight departure time.  Since there was almost nothing to do there outside of the TSA-secured area, he got in the long line for that agony.  I stood by and watched until he'd cleared, then went back to JimK's, where I spent the night again.  Dennis reported being in the car with his family headed to Macon, GA at about 9 PM.

A long-time GMCNet friend came for a short visit on Thursday morning, then I headed to Manny's.  He'd warned me that road construction in his area would not be cleared until 3:30 PM, so I should delay my arrival.  To avoid the heavy afternoon traffic, I decided to go head to San Jose and park in a shopping center until that time.

The mile or so from Applied GMC toward the interstate went well; everything seemed normal after my engine repair, which hadn't been road tested.  But when I merged into interstate traffic, it was only with the cooperation of other drivers -- I could hardly accelerate to 55 mph!  Californians, because of the always-dense traffic, are not in the mode of  "merging is entering traffic's problem" -- because they do so much of it, the through traffic will yield to merging traffic -- thank goodness, in this case!

It was only a mile to the next exit, so I took that and headed back toward Applied GMC.  By the time I covered those couple of miles, the engine seemed to have warmed up better and there was no problem, so I didn't pull into the lot (I'd have had to disconnect the toad to turn around if I had), but proceeded toward another interstate on-ramp.  With everything now seeming normal again, I got back on the interstate, this time with no problem.  After 10 miles or so, things deteriorated again -- the coach seemed to lose power -- I could hardly keep up with traffic.

So, I exited again, and searched for a shopping center with space for me to park and troubleshoot.  That didn't work well.  Most lots were too small, constricted, and full.  Finally, I wound up stopping in a little-used merge lane at the exit from one of them, right beside the "No Stopping at Any Time" sign.  One of the first things I saw after I got out of the coach was the flat tire on the LF of the Honda!  And wisps of smoke from the brakes.  Guess what, I'd somehow tripped the "dead man switch" cable and had driven all those miles with the brakes applied.  I have a readily visible warning light on the GMC dash that's tied to the toad's brake lights; I'm sure it never came on -- I think.

The toad's rear wheels didn't seem too hot, but the front ones were really steaming.  The normally aluminum-colored wheels were almost gold colored for 6" around the hubs.  The plastic hub caps were loose in their sockets over the spindles, and the valve stem caps were drooping.  REALLY hot! :-(

So, I replaced the LF tire with the spare and turned off the dead man switch.  With those fixes, the GMC suddenly regained all of its power and I proceeded to Manny's.  To get the toad up his hill, he had to use the still-functional parking brake on the CRV, while I drove the GMC.  The front wheels squeaked a bit in one spot, but otherwise his hill was no problem for the GMC; it's now parked in his driveway with a beautiful view of San Jose spread out below.  It's quite a place they've got here!  The only "work" I did that day was to unload the several crates, TH-425 and Manny Brakes, that I'd hauled from GA.

On Friday, I removed the ruined front calipers and rotors and found replacements at AutoZone.  Using Manny's account there, the cost of replacements was only $189.  After bleeding the brakes, the pedal seemed normal, so I didn't test drive the car.  Manny let me watch him dash around the shop and even allowed me to help assemble crates for the shipments he wants to get out on Monday (running me around fro parts meant he didn't make the Friday shipments planned).  Karen Bradley came over for a first-time meeting, and to discuss features of the Manny Brakes.  The lovely lady is just as sharp as you'd expect from her outstanding documentation of the 1-Ton and Manny Brake installations -- nobody's been ghost writing for her!

Saturday morning I needed to run some errands but when I pressed the CRV brake pedal hard before moving, the pedal dropped most of the way to the floor! :-(  And a puddle of brake fluid appeared around the LF tire. I soon found that the hose to that caliper had burst right at the caliper fitting -- heat damaged.  We found the replacement at a large parts store in Fremont, and the hose for the precautionary replacement on the other side at the local AutoZone.  It took only a few minutes to replace both hoses and bleed the brakes again.

My errands included a trip to a Cooper tire dealer (I expected to have to replace the flattened from heat LF Cooper.  Nope.  A new valve stem and proper inflation all around put the tires back in good condition.  After I returned from my errands, Manny actually let me remove the sheet metal from 3 transmissions he'd set up on his work bench for overhauling.  That utilized all of my transmission expertise.  But he did let me put the pans in the wash cabinet and turn it on!  His generosity is overwhelming! :-)

All that strenuous labor, in the heat San Jose's been having, had really worn me down by late afternoon so I retired to the GMC, only to find that I had no water for a shower.  Manny and Deo had departed for a dinner engagement so I had to find the sewer and water connections Manny'd told me were available.  Using all of my extension hoses, I was able to hook up, dump, and fill the H2O tank.  It wasn't long after my shower that I passed out.

This morning, I drug out late to find Manny, whom I thought was leaving early for a family function, working away in his shop.  After watching for a while, I came in to finish this posting.  It's now time for me to leave to visit HER cousin in San Mateo, who's promised me the soul food dinner I missed last week because of the GMC engine failure.  Wish me luck on this excursion with the recently crippled Honda. :-)

Ken H.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Seems I've been somewhat preoccupied or something.  I didn't realize Dennis hadn't posted since 29 May.  Since he returned to Georgia today, I'll have to try to update y'all a little -- but I won't go into a lot of detail and don't have any photos to post.

From the Beckmans', we went straight to Jim Kanomata's Applied GMC in Newark, CA and parked in the yard there with a dozen or so other GMC's in various states of repair or awaiting repair.  Their new facility is considerably larger than the old one -- and still FULL.  Jim always says they've got everything for the GMC. That's not quite correct:  They've got SEVERAL of everything!  Y'All get your orders in now! :-)

We spent the afternoon of our arrival taking care of chores, such as laundry and coach-cleaning.  But the next day, Saturday, we went to downtown San Francisco.  Things have changed quite a bit since I was last there in the mid-'70's, but we finally found Fisherman's Wharf -- after parking (at $25 per day) a mile away and riding the streetcar the rest of the way.  The most exciting part of that visit was touring the WWII submarine tied up at the wharf there.  We also rode the cable car -- a frustrating experience.  With several empty cars available, each one was S...L...O...W...L...Y move into position for L...O...A...D...I...N...G.  Then, the loaded passengers had to W...A...I...T until someone finally decided it was time to climb the hill.  Meanwhile, hundreds of people, with tickets purchased, W...A...I...T...E...D... their turns to go through the same routine -- as even more cars arrived to W...A...I...T...  But the ride was fun -- including the W...A...I...T... when the operator stopped in the middle of an intersection and said as he departed "'ll be here a while if you want to make pictures...".  Eventually his replacement did arrive and we clanged along toward the end of the route.  Unique...?!

Sunday we were due to visit HER cousin (and Maid of Honor at our wedding 54 years ago) in San Mateo.  They have a neighbor with 50' of level street in front of their house.  We've parked there before and had permission to do so again, so that's where we were headed.  It's about 40 miles from JimK's to their place.  About 12 miles short of there, on I-280, climbing a 5%-6% grade at 65 mph, the engine suddenly went "pop-pop-pop-pop":  Here's the posting I made to the GMClist:

"... a short series of "pop-pop-pop"'s came through the cockpit floor -- sounded like mild exhaust backfires.  Then the engine ran fine again.  When I recovered enough from "...what th...!!!" to check the instruments, there was no oil pressure -- down from 45+ psi.  Fortunately we were passing an area with a wide shoulder to park on.

Finding no visible explanation beneath the coach, I raised the hatch and still found nothing.  Since I still have the LOP switch protecting the "pusher" pumps, I put a voltmeter on it and started the engine to a few seconds -- no oil pressure.

"It's been 2:15 since I called RVRoadHelp/Allstate (India).  About 1:30 with the first guy brought a promise of wrecker by 1:30 PM  MDT.  Followed immediately by another Indian announcing that "...they can't do it today...".  He eventually found another service which promises to arrive by 2:00 PM (ain't gonna happen before 3:00).
Nope, the lifters never started to rattle -- I probably shut down <30 seconds after whatever the failure was.  The only explanation I can think of now is that the oil pump shaft broke, making thep"pop-pop...".  We'll just have to tear into it at JimK's and see.  Any similar experience reports appreciated."

Well, the tow truck did arrive, with a very capable driver.  He had us bacj at Applied GMC by about 4 PM.  JimK suggested that he'd once had a very similar failure which proved to be one of the valve rocker supports.  My diagnosis was that the oil pump's shaft had failed.  Manny Trovao arrived shortly after we did, having learned of our situation while we were awaiting the tow truck.  He offered Dennis a "real bed" and a shower at his place and received an immediate acceptance.  It was too late for me to get greasy, so Jim and I went to dinner and I had to spend the evening and night alone in the GMC.  The next morning, I pulled the external (Thank Goodness!) oil pump and found absolutely nothing wrong there.  So, I pulled the plugs on the left, easy to reach, bank of cylinders.  The compression on all those was 160+-2 psi.  Same for the first cylinder on the right bank.  But the second cylinder (#3 by Cadillac's scheme) had only 100 psi on the first test and 75 psi on the second.  Somethin' rotten about that!

So, I pulled the rocker cover and, lo & behold, there was the problem:  Cadillac mounts the two valve rocker arms for each cylinder on a stubby little "T", with a bolt through the pedestal and a rocker on the capital to each side of the pedestal.  Both rocker arm supports were broken off and the exhaust valve push rod was nowhere to be seen.  With no alternative, I removed all the plumbing and wiring and pulled the intake manifold.  There lay the missing push rod in the tappet galley.  The exhaust valve tappet was standing beside the bore in which it should ride on the camshaft.  The intake tapped was still in its bore, but far enough out that it would not obstruct the oil passage which should keep it functioning.  There's the explanation for the total loss of oil pressure:  Those open oil ports dumped all of the oil, leaving no pressure for the oil pressure sender, at the end of that passage,to sense.  The rest of the engine would have still had some, though greatly reduced, oil pressure -- thank goodness.

While Jim had a generous (well, over-whelming) supply of replacement parts for the busted pedestal and the bent intake pushrod, the composite intake manifold gasket I wanted was not available locally; Jim had to order it "overnight" from CadCo.  That left Monday afternoon free for us to visit India and Jay Gay, the cousin in San Mateo.  We didn't get the fine Sunday dinnered we missed, but we did have a great, short, visit with them before returning to Applied.

On Tuesday, we finished up Dennis' too-short sightseeing in SF:  He got to drive down Lombard Street (the famous multiple switchbacks down the hillside).  We then visited Ghirardelli Square and had some chocolate milk (for me) and sundae (for Dennis) before going to the Presidio.  We walked most of old Fort Point, a very impressive Pre- and During- Civil War fort, in exceptionally good condition, and with nice exhibits.  Directly beneath the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge!  Don't miss it.

After crossing the Bridge, we stopped in Sausalito for lunch in one of the quaint little restaurants along the waterfront.  Expensive, but not as much as most of our stops over the past week.  Continuing North, we crossed the Richmond bridge southbound, which has no toll in that direction.  Since the GG has no toll northbound, we avoided those two tolls.  The 40 mile run back to Applied was crowded, but the traffic moved pretty fast most of the day; probably only took us an hour.
This morning, Wednesday, I took Dennis to SFO and stayed until he successfully cleared TSA.  Then I returned to Applied and reassembled the GMC's engine.  It was a simple process, but a little tedious since I removed just as little as possible from the top of the engine when removing the manifold, with throttle body attached.  Re-positioning that heavy piece without disturbing the gaskets nor the RTV seals at the end bulkheads required about all the strength left in this old 76 yo.  It would have been much easier if I hadn't had to lower it almost home, then slip it forward under the still-installed wires and radiator hose.  But it worked, so that's what counts.
After tending to a couple of other minor maintenance issues, I tried to start the engine -- no fuel spray!  JimK walked up while I was contemplating the situation.  When he walked away, I tried again, with no intervening changes -- it started!  Oh no!  Now I'll ride in fear of a sudden silence!
After pulling the now-mobile coach to the dump station and down & up loading liquids, I finally had a GOOD shower -- my first in 3-4 days (remember only Dennis went to Manny's).  After a few 'phone calls and a simple supper, here I am, about to call "Lights Out".  Tomorrow morning I'll try to get laundry done, visit with an old, un-met GMCNet friend, and then move on to Manny's for a few days.  Then I'll head North, since I've run out of  West.

Ken H.