Wanderlodge Owners Group  
BuyByeBlueBird.com
Donate

Go Back   Wanderlodge Owners Group > Mechanic's Corner > SP (Single Axle Pusher Unique Issues)

SP (Single Axle Pusher Unique Issues) If you have a unique issue with your SP model coach and it can't be answered in one of the other forums here, then this is where you can list it....List your SP parts here too.

Site Search:
Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #101  
Old 02-05-2012
Mike Hohnstein's Avatar
Mike Hohnstein Mike Hohnstein is online now
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: NW Milwaukee Metro Area
Posts: 4,512
Default

That's doing a REAL GOOD JOB Woodie, real good.
__________________
Mike Hohnstein
FMCA 97824
'83FC35rb
Germantown, WI/Myrtle ID
www.AutoTransDesign.com

http://s767.photobucket.com/user/mhohnstein/library/
Reply With Quote
  #102  
Old 03-31-2012
Jim Magowan Jim Magowan is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Anchorage
Posts: 114
Default

I have been off the forum for a while. In reading the comments from all of you, I guess I should clear up a few things.

1. While there are always a few 'minor' things with the SP, that is true of anything mechanical. When it works the SP is, in my opinion a great coach. It is truly painful to think I may not be able to get the engine fixed due to the cost.
2. I am not trying to condemn all SP's. I do think that Wanderlodge failed due to its long time cultural history and due to very poor management. I also think that the last people running the company ran it into the ground.
3. A big problem with our coach seems to be that the frame mounted circulating pump for the heaters was incorrectly plumbed in. It was not installed as the factory diagram showed it should be.
4. I don't know anything about the original engine. After we decided to buy the coach the owner burned up the engine when a radiator hose blew and they didn't realize the problem until the engine seized up.
5. What I do know it that the mechanic at Ringhaver in Naples was more than incompetent. The short block overhaul had 1000 miles on it when we picked the coach up in Naples. The hydronic heaters didn't work on the trip back to Anchorage and haven't since. Right now is looks like we have the heaters working after re-plumbing them to the diagram specs. Can't be 100% sure because with the head (gasket) leak we get too much air in the system and lose so much coolant it seems the heaters don't get coolant to them.
6. Because of the problems with the short block reman CAT agreed to replace it. Because Of the things Ringhaver did (missing engine mount, clamp left off on turbo-charger, leaking radiator hoses, improperly adjusted throttle control - to name a few- I wanted to 'get Ringhaver out of the coach' so I paid about $6,000 additional to have a full factory reman installed.

7. Looking back, I suspect the reman had a bad head gasket right from the start. Unfortunately with the improperly plumbed heater lines and my lack of understanding of how a properly running engine would perform (temps, etc.) I focused on the heating system and no one, including the Blue Bird factory at Ft. Valley and the local CAT dealer was able to figure out the problem. The shop that finally found the pressure build up in the heating system (after re-plumbing the heater) initially didn't think there was a bad gasket or head. Knowing what I know now, I think the bad head gasket and incorrectly plumber heating system would be identified immediately because I now know the system very well and I have a much better idea of how things should run.
8. As I hope you can see, I think I simply ran into a 'perfect storm' of poor work by Blue Bird and CAT.
9. I too have heard the praises of the 3208. When it is installed correctly and taken care of well, it is a great engine, but it is not built to be overhauled. It is actually a modified gasoline engine design.
10. A defective installation in the hands of a person who is not familiar with how a proper installation works can be a disaster.
11. In 2004 we had the coach in the factory at Ft. Valley, after the RIV, to have the heating problem corrected. After working on it for several days we were assured it was fixed. We found out otherwise when we tried to get heat several hours after leaving Ft. Valley. We called BB and because we were running short on time to get back to Anchorage they recommended we take it to Buddy Gregg in Texas, which we did. Several days and $1,300 later we were on our way north with a heating system we soon found out was not working. The service manager at BB said he would refund the $900 we paid to have the system fixed. They fired him and refused to make the refund.
12. The fact that the way the heating system was plumbed in prevented water from circulating to the heaters masked the fact that the head gasket was leaking and pressurizing the cooling system. One we corrected the plumbing problem and the heat still did not work and the coolant was still blown out they did a proper pressure check on the cooling system and found (I assume) what the problem is.
13. The shop I took it to is a Detroit shop. They also are a dealer for Webasto which is why I took it to them. When they decided it was the gasket they advised me that they could not guarantee a head gasket replacement on a 3208. They could only quote a short block replacement ($14,000 + labor). The total would be about $20,000.
14. At their recommendation I called the CAT shop here in Anchorage. They need to look at the coach to see how many zillions of hours it takes to pull the engine because it can't be worked on in the coach, before they can give me a quote to do the heads.
Before I could get the coach to them it snowed and the coach has been, literally, snowed in our driveway since then.

We will soon be able to get it out of the driveway so I can see what it would cost to have the heads and gaskets checked/repaired.

I have just about decided that if I can't find an affordable fix, I will just run it until it quits.

Lance offers a bit of hope so I am going to look into the 'canned fix.' What is sad to me is that I think I have finally gotten to the bottom of the problem, about $50,000 too late.

Hank, it's good to hear from you. You may remember we were both at the Bird's Nest when you bought the SP and they were trying to take care of my heating problems.

One thing I would mention, if I had it to do over again I would look carefully at how the Detroits are installed in the bigger coaches as well as considering an FC. The SP rear engine is not the best for winter camping in Alaska. I have said many times that Georgians are not the best at designing things for Alaska winters.

One think that I really do love about the SP is that as long as heat is kept on and the Webasto, which is in the bay with the water pump, is used to heat it, the water system does not freeze so we have running water even in cold weather. We were stuck in Destruction Bay on Kluane Lake for a day and a half when the air lines froze so we had no brakes. The Webasto kept the coach warm and the water did not freeze. It was 30f below. The Webasto works well as long as I topped off the coolant so there is coolant to the heaters if the engine is not running.
__________________
Jim Magowan
90 36 SP
Anchorage AK
Reply With Quote
  #103  
Old 03-31-2012
Randy Dupree's Avatar
Randy Dupree Randy Dupree is offline
Forum owner
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Port St Joe,Fl
Posts: 36,208
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Magowan View Post
I have been off the forum for a while. In reading the comments from all of you, I guess I should clear up a few things.

1. While there are always a few 'minor' things with the SP, that is true of anything mechanical. When it works the SP is, in my opinion a great coach. It is truly painful to think I may not be able to get the engine fixed due to the cost.

Sell it,as is.

2. I am not trying to condemn all SP's. I do think that Wanderlodge failed due to its long time cultural history and due to very poor management. I also think that the last people running the company ran it into the ground.

Your opinion
,cultural history?

3. A big problem with our coach seems to be that the frame mounted circulating pump for the heaters was incorrectly plumbed in. It was not installed as the factory diagram showed it should be.

Which could have been changed after leaving the assembly line,or when the webasto was installed.

4. I don't know anything about the original engine. After we decided to buy the coach the owner burned up the engine when a radiator hose blew and they didn't realize the problem until the engine seized up.

Shut down system in-op?

5. What I do know it that the mechanic at Ringhaver in Naples was more than incompetent. The short block overhaul had 1000 miles on it when we picked the coach up in Naples. The hydronic heaters didn't work on the trip back to Anchorage and haven't since. Right now is looks like we have the heaters working after re-plumbing them to the diagram specs. Can't be 100% sure because with the head (gasket) leak we get too much air in the system and lose so much coolant it seems the heaters don't get coolant to them.

So,you bought the coach with a new engine and never tried the heaters before the engine was changed?

6. Because of the problems with the short block reman CAT agreed to replace it. Because Of the things Ringhaver did (missing engine mount, clamp left off on turbo-charger, leaking radiator hoses, improperly adjusted throttle control - to name a few- I wanted to 'get Ringhaver out of the coach' so I paid about $6,000 additional to have a full factory reman installed.

7. Looking back, I suspect the reman had a bad head gasket right from the start. Unfortunately with the improperly plumbed heater lines and my lack of understanding of how a properly running engine would perform (temps, etc.) I focused on the heating system and no one, including the Blue Bird factory at Ft. Valley and the local CAT dealer was able to figure out the problem. The shop that finally found the pressure build up in the heating system (after re-plumbing the heater) initially didn't think there was a bad gasket or head. Knowing what I know now, I think the bad head gasket and incorrectly plumber heating system would be identified immediately because I now know the system very well and I have a much better idea of how things should run.

I suspect the head gasket was fine when the engine was installed,and something about the cooling system,heating system damaged the engine'
Air pockets,bad circulation etc.

8. As I hope you can see, I think I simply ran into a 'perfect storm' of poor work by Blue Bird and CAT.

All the problems your talking about seems to be from Cat,how did BB get involved?

9. I too have heard the praises of the 3208. When it is installed correctly and taken care of well, it is a great engine, but it is not built to be overhauled. It is actually a modified gasoline engine design.

Not true,millions of 3208s have been overhauled with no issues.

10. A defective installation in the hands of a person who is not familiar with how a proper installation works can be a disaster.

This can be said of anything,from tires to roofs on houses.

11. In 2004 we had the coach in the factory at Ft. Valley, after the RIV, to have the heating problem corrected. After working on it for several days we were assured it was fixed. We found out otherwise when we tried to get heat several hours after leaving Ft. Valley. We called BB and because we were running short on time to get back to Anchorage they recommended we take it to Buddy Gregg in Texas, which we did. Several days and $1,300 later we were on our way north with a heating system we soon found out was not working. The service manager at BB said he would refund the $900 we paid to have the system fixed. They fired him and refused to make the refund.

So,if we go back to the bad head gasket which you say was bad from day one,them maybe BB was not at fault?

12. The fact that the way the heating system was plumbed in prevented water from circulating to the heaters masked the fact that the head gasket was leaking and pressurizing the cooling system. One we corrected the plumbing problem and the heat still did not work and the coolant was still blown out they did a proper pressure check on the cooling system and found (I assume) what the problem is.

maybe,maybe not.
Maybe its still screwed up and thats overheating the engine?

13. The shop I took it to is a Detroit shop. They also are a dealer for Webasto which is why I took it to them. When they decided it was the gasket they advised me that they could not guarantee a head gasket replacement on a 3208. They could only quote a short block replacement ($14,000 + labor). The total would be about $20,000.
14. At their recommendation I called the CAT shop here in Anchorage. They need to look at the coach to see how many zillions of hours it takes to pull the engine because it can't be worked on in the coach, before they can give me a quote to do the heads.
Before I could get the coach to them it snowed and the coach has been, literally, snowed in our driveway since then.

Woody and i and my helper Glen pulled the engine from his SP in 4 hours.

We will soon be able to get it out of the driveway so I can see what it would cost to have the heads and gaskets checked/repaired.

I have just about decided that if I can't find an affordable fix, I will just run it until it quits.

Lance offers a bit of hope so I am going to look into the 'canned fix.' What is sad to me is that I think I have finally gotten to the bottom of the problem, about $50,000 too late.

Hank, it's good to hear from you. You may remember we were both at the Bird's Nest when you bought the SP and they were trying to take care of my heating problems.

One thing I would mention, if I had it to do over again I would look carefully at how the Detroits are installed in the bigger coaches as well as considering an FC. The SP rear engine is not the best for winter camping in Alaska. I have said many times that Georgians are not the best at designing things for Alaska winters.

I know of many Birds living in Alaska with no issues,maybe the Ga. boys did something right?

One think that I really do love about the SP is that as long as heat is kept on and the Webasto, which is in the bay with the water pump, is used to heat it, the water system does not freeze so we have running water even in cold weather. We were stuck in Destruction Bay on Kluane Lake for a day and a half when the air lines froze so we had no brakes. The Webasto kept the coach warm and the water did not freeze. It was 30f below. The Webasto works well as long as I topped off the coolant so there is coolant to the heaters if the engine is not running.
no comment
__________________
DO NOT SEND PM
email me at randy@randydupree.com only.

Randy Dupree
2000 LXI 43
Bainbridge,Ga.
Port St Joe Fl.
www.buybyebluebird.com

randy@randydupree.com
Reply With Quote
  #104  
Old 04-01-2012
Hank Hannigan's Avatar
Hank Hannigan Hank Hannigan is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Drouin
Posts: 109
Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Dupree View Post
no comment
I do nothave a WEBASTO?? in my wonderful 90 SP with some clearcoat peel and 2004 Bridgestone tires with 1300 hours on the engine clock..............looks like I will be keeping it a while longer with ADs like this....good luck in AK.
Hank
__________________
Henry Hannigan
Drouin, Victoria, Australia
90SP36
Reply With Quote
  #105  
Old 04-01-2012
Crit Bliss's Avatar
Crit Bliss Crit Bliss is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Cape Cod
Posts: 4,171
Default

I thought this thread was closed
__________________
Crit Bliss
'80FC33
250T
Cape Cod,ma
Reply With Quote
  #106  
Old 04-01-2012
KingBiscuit KingBiscuit is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: DeLand
Posts: 1,185
Default

My wife and I have been looking at RVs for a couple of years. I can tell you some of the "name brand" units, new or old, are **** compared to BBs. Since I've never owned an RV, you might take my opinion with a grain of salt but I do know good solid work when I see it. Back to this thread...I'm wondering why the OP has spent tens of thousands of dollars on a engine rebuild. I know things are more expensive in Alaska, but I found this site and it looks like you can buy a refurbed 3208 for around $10K...for the whole engine. Is this correct? Here's the site:

http://www.pilotengines.com/servlet/...ged/Categories

As a soon to be BB owner, these "horror story" threads make my blood run cold....I'm sure anybody that is about to spend a substantial amount of money on a 20 or 30 year old RV would feel the same. As I learned in the boating world, you have to take a hard, realistic look before you buy...new or old. Our last boat was a 1978 CSY 37. We bought it in 2002 and sold in 2007. It had the original Westerbeke 4108 diesel in it. As we were cruising and living aboard, we never had an engine/transmission problem. Many times, we cringed as cruising friends on much newer and more expensive boats had problems. I changed the oil and all filters religiously at the specified intervals or before. I did visual inspections on the engine, belts, etc. pretty much daily if we were moving a lot. I would check the oil every day before we pulled the anchor. When moving, I developed a habit of scanning the gauges every minute or to make sure all was OK. I'm a firm believer that if you take care of these older diesel engines, they will take care of you. Does this thread concern me? Yes, I'd be a fool if it didn't. Will this thread stop me from buying a 1990 SP? No, I'd be a fool if it did!
__________________
Dan Dial
Deland, FL
1990 SP "Wild Blue Wander" (sold)
Reply With Quote
  #107  
Old 04-01-2012
RGloverii's Avatar
RGloverii RGloverii is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Linden, MI
Posts: 1,556
Default

I still love my SP. no regrets whatsoever.

No matter what the topic, there's always going to be a 'horror story' out there about something that somebody bought that turned into a nightmare. It's inevitable. The trick is to ensure that the 'horror story' is a fluke, and not part of a trend.

Unfortunately for Jim, I suspect that his experience is the prime example of a fluke. I know of no other SP experiences nearly to the extremes that he has endured.
__________________
Robert Glover, II
91 SP36
"SilverLining"
Linden, Michigan
Reply With Quote
  #108  
Old 05-19-2012
Jim Magowan Jim Magowan is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Anchorage
Posts: 114
Default

The snow finally melted back enough to move the bus. We took it down to Kenai and Greg is going to poke around and see if he can find out exactly what he problem is.

First, I agree that this coach has had a lot of idiosyncratic issues most of which go back to the original owner 'burning up' the original engine when the radiator hose blew. I think a lot of the problems came with the replacement of the engine by Ringhaver in Naples.

It hasn't helped that since then I have not been able to get decent work done on the engine. I had the Ringhaver short block replaced with a full factory reman engine by the CAT dealer here in Anchorage. The cabin heat has never worked and the new engine didn't correct that. The engine has always run hotter than what is normal from what I have seen on the forum.

I paid Blue Bird over $900 to fix the problem when we were down for a RIV. When we tried to use heat late in the day we left we found that they had not fixed it, they made it worse because the front blowers banged so loud you couldn't hear the radio when they were on. And there was still no heat. We took it in to Buddy Gregg (at Blue Bird's recommendation) and paid them over $1,300 to not fix the problem.

From what we are seeing now, I believe the problem has been a bad head gasket or a cracked head on the reman.

Pacific Power here in Anchorage re-plumbed the heating system. They identified the problem as a leaking head gasket or cracked head. For $2,000 the main 'improvement' we have seen is that the heat exchanger for the hot water no longer works.

The guys at Pacific Power wanted to put in a short block reman which they estimated would cost $14,000 for the engine plus about 40 hours to take out the old one and install it. I have had a great time with factory trained mechanics.

If we were somewhere where we could get to someone who knows how to work on this thing (like Randy DuPree) I have no doubt it could all be straightened out but right now, unless Greg can figure a way to do something with it, I don't think there is a mechanic within 5,000 miles that can do a decent job at a fair price.

From what I have seen the 3208 is a great engine if you don't have a problem, but if you have a problem and don't have access to anything except CAT dealers, you have a problem.

When I contacted CAT about the Ringhaver engine, it was burning a quart of oil every 300 miles, an increase in consumption from when we drove up from Naples (500 mile per quart) they said that was within spec. When we went up a hill the smoke was so bad cars behind us couldn't see the bus. I offered to wait and see if the oil problem cleared up if they would extend the 1 year warranty a few months. They refused. Then I knew I had a bad engine.

I had factory reps tell me that the engine was not bad and they just replaced it to keep me happy. The engine had 7,000 miles on it with a clamp missing on the turbocharger intake. Maybe that was why the blow-by a 'a little' above normal.

When I asked CAT if they could identify which connections were coolant intake and output for the heating system a rep called and said that was an easy question, he would get back to me with the information. That was four or five years ago. I guess he is still looking; I haven't heard from him.

We found a book called 3208 Service Manual which has adequate photographs and identifies the inlet and output connections. CAT has no knowledge of this book. All they could offer was a digital manual for hundreds of dollars.

If I were doing it over I would not buy a coach that has had an engine replacement before the engine was run enough to assure it was good. I would also check to make sure the heating and cooling systems were working.

I had wanted a Wanderlodge since first reading about them when I was in grad school in the mid 60's. In many ways the SP is a great coach for us. It is the only coach I know that is fully functional at 30 below. Our air lines froze up and we spent a couple of days in 30 below weather at Destruction Bay on Kluane Lake. The Webasto kept things warm (the heat worked as long as the ignition was not turned on) and as long as we have heat in the coach the water system does not freeze.

If I had it to do over again would I buy a Wanderlodge? Yes, but not this one. Knowing what I know now, I would know a lot more about what to check out.

In fact, Greg who has been helping me with the maintenance on our SP is thinking about getting a Wanderlodge, I am going to suggest he check with Hank when he is ready to get serious about it. Incidentally, Hank suggested that our coach might be a Friday Lemon. Impossible; Wanderlodge only worked from Monday through Thursday.
__________________
Jim Magowan
90 36 SP
Anchorage AK
Reply With Quote
  #109  
Old 05-19-2012
Randy Dupree's Avatar
Randy Dupree Randy Dupree is offline
Forum owner
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Port St Joe,Fl
Posts: 36,208
Default

Jim,no need to rehash the old problems,just let us know what fixes it.
Thanks.
__________________
DO NOT SEND PM
email me at randy@randydupree.com only.

Randy Dupree
2000 LXI 43
Bainbridge,Ga.
Port St Joe Fl.
www.buybyebluebird.com

randy@randydupree.com
Reply With Quote
  #110  
Old 05-19-2012
Rick's Avatar
Rick Rick is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Bellefonte
Posts: 13,226
Default

Thats what I was thinking. Keep looking for something new but the same stuff with no fixes. Although not the most powerful beast on the road my 3208 gets the job done. If I needed to replace mine I would use an aftermarket rebuilder. No reason not to rebuild the 3208.
__________________
Rick Shawver
1SG Ret
2000 LX
Vise Grips
Bellefonte, AR
F127656
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Web Search:

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 02:01 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions Inc.