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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 12-29-2008
fxdwg fxdwg is offline
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Raleigh,
As Shane has already indicated, Ralph is the guy to get to know. He's down in Duncan most of the time. I'm in OKC and have contact info when you're ready. I don't think I'd trust McClain's, Lee's, Walker's or Floyd's with my BB. They won't have a clue how to PROPERLY repair our vehicles.
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96 WTOS 42'
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  #12  
Old 12-29-2008
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gcyeaw gcyeaw is online now
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Raleigh,
As far as a Detroit Diesel engine, I would go to a Detroit Diesel shop to get it repaired. The RV dealers aren't chassis and engine guys, they are more of the appliances and RV part of the structure. They can do an oil change, but for most RV dealers, engine diagnosis is above their expertise.
You could wind up with a lot of expensive guess work.

The previous suggestions should be investigated if you can, and might save a bunch of money if you find the problem. It will also familiarise you with areas of the coach that will be of a great help on the road when something goes wrong.
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86 PT-36 Golden Memories
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  #13  
Old 12-29-2008
fxdwg fxdwg is offline
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In terms of a Detroit facility, United Engines was recommended by the owner of one of the BB's I looked at while looking for mine. He swore by them and felt they did a good job. But, Ralph can probably handle most of that end as well. He's really good at electrics and the like, but does the mechanical stuff as well.
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  #14  
Old 12-29-2008
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Randy Dupree Randy Dupree is offline
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Sir,if your coach is at a dealer,and has been there since sept,you need to get it out of there as fast as you can.
they are not working on it,and they never will.
either they are scared of it,or just lazy,either way,you need to get someone to work on it now,before it becomes grown into the pavement!
replace that K&N with a paper filter,replace the fuel filters,change the fluids and get driving!
if you can't do those simple things to an 85 silver 92,then you are right,you may not be able to afford this coach!
get yourself a notepad,and start asking questions!
the guys on this site could rebuild the space shuttle with bailing wire and duct tape.they will lead you through this job!
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2000 LXI 43
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Archer Fl.
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  #15  
Old 12-29-2008
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NH Bill NH Bill is offline
1983 FC 35 "Casa Billisa"
 
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Location: St. Petersburg
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Raleigh,

Some of the guys who already responded to this thread have forgotten more about these coaches than I will ever know. But from personal experience, I too strongly suggest you get that Bird out of the RV Dealership without delay!

We have owned our 83 FC for a little more then one year. Like you, the first thing I did was to bring it to a "reputable and qualified" RV dealership for some PM. Three individuals there assured me they knew about vintage Birds and what I had asked them to do was well within their ability.

To make a long story short, pretty much everything they did was wrong!

• Oil change - overfilled
• Transmission service - it was leaking when I tried to drive it away.
• Coolant service - never fully drained it all or flushed it and got solder on the cap so it was leaking on the ground with the tranny fluid as I TRIED to drive it away after what was supposed to be a 3-day stay ….took 3 weeks!
• Failed to diagnose a simple linkage (accelerator cable) problem which resulted in not being able to exceed 15mph. For this one, I had to call a mobile diesel mechanic and the cable ended up costing me $800! OUCH!!

Needless to say, this little baptism of fire scared the S..T out of me.

After some very carefully written letters to the owner, I got much of my $ back. I was lucky, no real harm done just a lesson learned the hard way.

Today, I realize all the above is simple stuff that I can easily handle myself or closely monitor should I choose to have the right service center do the work.

I believe these forums and rallies are the place to learn about these machines… its not rocket science, but you have to want to learn and take some time to think things through.

What you have is a HEAVY TRUCK /BUS with a very nice first class apartment attached to it. Treat the chassis power train like a heavy truck / bus and the other stuff as you would a fine home.

I can remember just how overwhelmed I was in the beginning. I never owned anything like this before. Good luck.

Bill
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2006 Jeep Liberty CRD
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  #16  
Old 12-29-2008
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peteaeonix peteaeonix is offline
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Bill and Lisa --

You've made some very good points. I've had good luck by finding qualified mechanics who know about heavy equipment (and are willing to work on RVs). For example:

I had some heating problems (found enroute home on my maiden trip -- Texas to No. Calif.). After making about a dozen phone calls, I found a radiator shop that had a contract with a local transit district to work on the transit busses -- they were very knowledgeable about cooling issues with rear engine coaches -- although expensive (SF Bay Area labor rates being a factor) they did an excellent job -- and in the 2+ years since the radiator was fixed (I had the core replaced), I haven't had any cooling issues since.

I found a heavy duty truck service center that did an annual service/preventative maintenance on the coach. They were OK and not unreasonably priced -- but I was annoyed that they overfilled the power steering reservoir causing it to make a big mess in the engine compartment. I've subsequently found another (and closer to home) heavy duty truck/bus/RV service center for a future annual service. (The oil change cycle is about 10,000 miles (or so) on the DD Series 60 -- and I'm putting about that distance on the coach each year.)

Last spring I used CCW in Riverside. I had a regular service needs -- but mostly I had a longer list of more RV related issues that I needed help with. The primary mechanical item was the need for a new muffler. Lesson learned: CCW is good -- but it takes time. I'll not stay with the coach if I happen to take it to CCW for another service. While the Riverside staff was not as familiar with Blue Birds as I might have liked, they were able to communicate regularly and frequently with Ft. Valley to clarify various non-intuitive items. (This puts them way ahead of any non-authorized service center.) We were able to cover every item on my list -- and a couple that weren't but were found as needing attention upon inspection. I'll use them again, but I'll probably reserve them for complex or subtle problems that I can't handle locally, if for no other reason than that they're about 500 miles away, so they're not very convenient, especially if I'm going to leave the coach with them...

Camping World (or similar RV oriented retailers). I've used Camping World to install replacement ACs (I had to replace two of the three OEM units) and I had Camping World install the Remco transmission oil pump in my toad. They also installed the toad/RV brake light wiring (as they had to install wiring for the Remco pump) as part of the service. Their prices were reasonable for the work done, all things considered. One of the ACs failed, and I was able to get a CW in Denver to "certify" the failure so that I could get it fixed (actually, they chose to replace it) under warranty when I got home. Since CW is national, that's a plus. My only complaint about CW is that they seem to have more work than they can handle, so there's usually a long wait to get an appointment for an installation. I would use them again for things like ACs or TV satellite domes, etc. I doubt that I'd trust them do to a service on a Blue Bird, although they're probably OK with the more popular brands.

The point is, look for service providers who are expert in the systems or subsystems requiring maintenance. Even then, you may not get a "right" answer -- there are far to many subtleties with these coaches. For example, while at CCW, I asked about some weirdness with the Jake Brake system on my coach. I'd noticed that the 3 position switch had been rewired to give only two positions (2 cyl or 6 cyl -- the "medium" 4 cyl option was cut out) -- they didn't have a clue why it was set up like that -- and the computer got a "fault--contact DD" message in the Jake Brake circuit from the DDEC computer. Only later did I learn that there was a recall on the Jake Brake system on the '95s (and possibly some other years) and that the rewiring was done to resolve the issue -- and that the "fault" in the DDEC was related to the recall. The oddity in the operation of the Jake Brake turned out to be an operational situation (that makes no sense, so I'll call it a bug in the system) that if you turn off the Jake Brake while it is in operation (that is, providing braking energy), then it will not turn on again until the engine is shut down and restarted. However, if you turn it off while the Jake Brake is not engaged, then you can turn it on again later, and it will work as expected. These items relating to the Jake Brake were learned on this (or another WL) list -- not from any "official" service provider.

So, the last suggestion -- pay attention to this list. It can be extremely helpful.
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(former) 95 WBDA 42'
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  #17  
Old 12-30-2008
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warbucks13477 warbucks13477 is offline
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As a new owner or even a long time one there is something that you need to learn FAST! And that is NEVER and I mean never take your coach to a repair facility and tell them to fix things and not have a printed and signed list of things you want repaired before you leave. When you leave a coach at a repair facility with an open ended list to repair or look at you are escentially just opening your pocket book and asking them to take what they want.

I am not saying that all repair shops are crooks, far from it, but many of them start guessing and replacing expensive items in an attempt to repair a problem they probably dont understand anyway. But when you drive in a coach that looks expensive they just take it for granted you have deep pockets and money is not problem. Its the old buyer beware my friends. And learn to do simple things like preventative maintenance, oil changes and above all else READ those factory manuals so you know what every gauge and alarm does in your coach. If you drive that big complex coach without doing that you are just asking for trouble and maybe a very expensive repair bill.
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  #18  
Old 02-23-2009
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wrsexton wrsexton is offline
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Default Been awhile - need more info

Hi all, Bird is still at the repair shop. They've fixed a number of things, but haven't done much about the drivability issues. Called me today and said the exhaust brake valve appears stuck in the closed position, and speculated that might be causing the lack of power. Anybody got any good jake brake advice?
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  #19  
Old 02-23-2009
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Randy Dupree Randy Dupree is offline
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Raleigh,i hope you miss typed the message.
because a 92 series detroit does not have an exhaust brake.
it may have an engine brake,or a jake brake,or a jacobs engine brake,all 3 being the same.
now,its possible that you coach has a jake brake,some of them did,some had a tranny retarder.
so,does your coach have a switch near your left knee (while sitting in the drivers seat) that says jacobs brake?

i have seen a jake brake malfunction before,one time only.
is the coach still at the same repair shop?

does the repair shop know the diff, between a jake,and an exhaust brake?
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2000 LXI 43
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  #20  
Old 02-23-2009
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wrsexton wrsexton is offline
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Default I don't know Jake, obviously!

I thought they were all the same. Yes, it is at the same shop. It's been so long since I sat in the coach I don't know, I'll have to go up there and look! Don't think it has a retarder, I remember seeing something labeled brake, but I guess that could have been the air brake. Shop says it has a valve in the exhaust that has a controller on it, but that it won't move.

Sorry to sound stupid, but I've driven the coach exactly twice, and both of those times were last fall. On the good side, they've fixed all the electrical problems, water problems, and just about all the propane problems. Batteries stay charged now!
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