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Engine Discussion of preventative/corrective maintenance and other technical issues regarding your coach's engine.

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  #11  
Old 03-31-2008
Jim Magowan Jim Magowan is offline
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If God meant for CAT mechanics to know anything about CAT engines, they would. After the engine in our SP was changed I took it in for the recommended valve adjustment, after the first year, which I was told was included in the install cost. The foreman told me that they would not do the adjustment as part of the install price because the only way the valves could be adjusted was to pull the engine. I was also told, by the foreman, that the adjustment really wasn't necessary unless there was a problem witht the engine. I have good reason to believe this was not his personal opinion, but, what he was ordered to say.

After the engine was installed I returned to the dealer a number of times because the belts squealed loud enought to be heard in Texas when I turned the steering wheel. The 'Factory Trained' mechanics tightened the belts each time and the belts continued to squeal.

I was referred to a guy who had a full time mechanicking job and his own business on the side. He adjusted the valves with no problem.

A friend and I finally went in last year and tightened the belts and they haven't squealed since (knock on wood).

Then I heard somewhere (maybe on the forum) that on the 3208 you couldn't overtighten the belts, just get them as tight as you can. In my case that seems to be the case.

When I was in graduate school we had our first new car, a 62 Ford. I had all the manuals and did everythig right, including tightening the lugs with a torque wrench so I had the wheels on correctly. That was the first and last time I had a wheel come loose and ruin the lugs and the wheel.

Back then auto warranties were usually 36 months and the manufacturers used ,The Price is Right' approach. If a vehicle stayed together 37 months, it was not put together right. If it stayed together 35 months it was also not put together right. The perfectly build car required major surgery withing two weeks of its 36 'birthday.'

Keep in mind that manufacturers have a different agenda than owners. If they can save $1.00 in manufacture costs but it adds $0.50 in warranty repairs, saving the manufacturing costs is good business. Also, keep in mind that if they can pass the $0.50 on to the dealer, that's even better. If I had to bet, I'd bet that torque settings are not the setting that simply minimizes hte chance of a fastener loosening, it is the setting that meets a loosening (failure) rate that is less than the cost of stripping or breaking fasteners witht he equipment and personnel they use.

With some items, such as wheels, I am willing to take the time to minimize the chance of loosening by going to the maximum of the range they use. For example, if the recommended torque is 450 and their equipment consistantly comes within 50 pounds of it's setting, what they accept is anything between 400 and 500. If I hand torque with a wrench that has a precision of +/- 1.5% I can tighten to 500 indicated and be within 7.5 pounds every time.

I have dealt with CAT reps from the local, regional and national offices. With the exception of the one foreman who I believe was ultimately ordered to give me the party line, the universal aim seemed to be to avoid warranty claims by any means possible, including stringing me along until the warranty ran out.

I have also found that many truck and heavy equipment mechanics do not like to work on RV's. It's just too difficult to get at things and they don't like it.

To be fair, I have also seen and heard the other side of the story. It is incredible what some owners will do to a piece of equipment and how creative they can be in trying to make the result a warranty claim.

My recommendation is to find someone who really knows your engine to work on it and advise you of what maintenance is essential and desireable when you can't do it all yourself. If you can't find someone like that, take it to a 'Factory Trained Expert' and hold your breath.
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  #12  
Old 02-21-2009
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innovative1 innovative1 is offline
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Default Valve Lash Adjustment 90-SP

Have any of you done a valve adjustment on a SP with a CAT 3208? Do I just pull the radiator just a little, drape my legs over it and hang upside down, use an long extension and a swivel or is it just easier to pull the engine? I really have no intention of doing this myself but more want to be educated when dealing with a "highly trained CAT Tech with 20 years experience".
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J. and Regina Virden
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  #13  
Old 02-21-2009
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RGloverii RGloverii is offline
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I had the valve lash done on my 91 -SP a few months ago at the local Cat dealer.

They accessed the engine from the doghouse under the bed. The technician told me afterwards that it was 'rough' getting enough access to remove the covers.
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  #14  
Old 02-21-2009
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Default Valve Lash Adjustment 90-SP

I've been using a smaller independant Diesel Service to take care of a lot of the engine and chassis maintenance. The foreman that they had in there was more talk than action. He was of the don't adjust them at 100K mentality I think mainly because he was going to be the one to have to adjust them. They have a new guy in there has a few more miles on him. Old enough to be working on CAT's in the 90's. Had worked for Yancy for several years. Yancy is both CAT and Bluebird service around here. Sight unseen he was describing going in from under the bed and said it was a pain as well but definitely suggested I go ahead and do it. Estimated 3.5 hr. One of the better shop rates at $88 an hour. Most of the Dealer and RV shops around here try to get $150 an hour. A couple of things I really like about the shop is if it's not a CAT or NAPA part they would prefer you bring it with you. They swaped out a leveling jack for $44 and frankly for $44 I'll let them. The down side is they are a diesel shop in not an RV Service so you sort of need to be sure to put the plastic down before you go up there. If they do a good job this time I will give them a shout out on the forum.
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  #15  
Old 02-21-2009
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Crit Bliss Crit Bliss is offline
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When I had it done on our FC, I pulled the dog house out of the coach to save time and money; the mechanic did not cry regarding the difficulty. They cracked me $700.00, but the motor did run a bit better and he mentioned several were pretty far out. It had no symptoms going in, just miles. He is a "factory trained tech" btw.
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  #16  
Old 02-21-2009
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NH Bill NH Bill is offline
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If the $700 included removal and replacement of the doghouse, that's understandable to me.

Two places here in NH including Milton Cat estimated roughly 3 hours for the valve adjustment. This did not include removal and replacement of the doghouse.

I ended up removing the doghouse myself and was fortunate to have a certified CAT mechanic work on it at the house for 50% of the the $90/hr shop rate. I have known the guy for years and he let's me help too

Here is what it looked like inside after 74,000 miles. All the valves needed a little tweaking but only one was out more than half a turn.
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Last edited by NH Bill; 02-21-2009 at 08:22 PM. Reason: clarification
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  #17  
Old 02-21-2009
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I've got a question. Has anyone here done their own valve lash adjustment on a 3208 and is there any reason why someone with some mechanical aptitude and experience adjusting valve lash on gasoline engines shouldn't be able to do it? I've read the Cat service manual and it looks like a pretty normal proceedure to me.
If I had a buck for every knuckle I busted on a Blue Bird Schoolie in my younger days I'd buy a new one.
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  #18  
Old 02-21-2009
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Mike Hohnstein Mike Hohnstein is offline
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It's a 4 cycle engine, so you can do it easy with a bump starter button, feeler gages, allen wrench and of course a 9/16" combination wrench.
The mantra, exhaust almost open, adjust the intake. Intake almost closed, adjust the exhaust. One cylinder at a time, make sure you are working with the appropriate valves for each cylinder, don' screw with the injector nozzle stop nut and do not drop any thing in the engine with the valve covers off. In that vein, do one side at a time to minimize the amount of time the valve covers are off. Or you can do the Cat technique if you want, too much like work to me. If any of this confuses you, don't try it.
MH
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  #19  
Old 02-21-2009
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Thanks Mike,
Nothing confusing about that.
I have a real aversion to paying somebody else to do something when I have the ability and tools to do it myself. Guess I have just seen too many shops of all kinds that didn't actually do the work they were paid to do.
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  #20  
Old 02-21-2009
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i did my sp from the bottom-but we changed my mtr and trans and never opened up the bedroom-dont like grease on carpets!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i also did my fc and its not a bad job IMO --new carpet after that!
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