On to Gulf Shores . . .

Well, if the Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, we’ll be on our way again down to Gulf Shores.

When we left Northgate RV Travel Park about 8:30 Monday morning, we were first headed about a mile and a half down the road to fill up with diesel at a Texaco station. Unfortunately we only made it about a mile before our coach diesel just up and quit. Just like I’d turned the key off.

Luckily I was able to pull off the road and into a long turn lane leading into an apartment complex.

Even though my Silverleaf said I still had about 40 gallons left, due to my problems a couple of months ago with a clogged fuel tank vent tube, and the resulting vacuum crushing in part of my fuel tank, I thought I might actually be out of diesel.

So, using my 5 gallon can, I put in 15 gallons of diesel (the amount Cummins says to use if you run out) and ran the priming sequence that Cummins recommends.

With no luck.

So after talking with Spartan, I checked the 4 fuses for the Engine ECU and the Fuel Pump.

Again with no luck.

So finally it was time to call Coach-Net Emergency Road Service to get us towed in to a service center. It almost two hours for them to locate a wrecker heavy enough to tow us, and then almost an hour to get us ready to tow.

But finally we were on the road following the tow truck in our toad, heading over to Bankston Motorhomes in Huntsville. We finally got parked and checked in there about 2:30, but it was about 3pm before a tech started looking at our rig.

But since the shop closed at 4:30 he only had time to run through some basic checks and tests before time ran out. But after trying to prime and crank several times, we still had no luck, and that was it for the day.

We had planned to stay in the rig since we had power available from the shop, but around 9:30 our power suddenly went off. So after thinking it over we headed over to a nearby Holiday Inn Express. We had been invited to stay with my Aunt and Uncle in Athens, if we needed, but as late as it was, and since we wanted to be back at the shop before 8:30am, we decided to stay local.

However it was about 9:30 before the tech got back on the job. The delay was caused by the fact that he wanted to use the computerized scanner and it was in use on another coach.

And when he finally got to use it, it didn’t really help. There were no codes and everything seemed to be working fine.

It still just seemed like fuel wasn’t getting to the engine. So the tech decided to try to just “brute-force” it.

Fill both filters with diesel and just crank it until it starts. Of course you can only crank it for about a minute at a time to keep the starter from overheating. And since we had been cranking off and on for a good while, our batteries, even using the AUX START switch, were getting too weak to do much more cranking.

So the tech went and got the Start Cart, a heavy duty wagon with 8 12volt batteries in it. The tech was also going to use a little ether. This is normally not a good idea because the intake air pre-heater can ignite the ether and cause things to go BOOM! But we pulled the fuse for the pre-heater to eliminate that problem.

This first time we tried this, the engine cranked for about 15 seconds and then caught. But it only ran for about 5 seconds and then died. So after letting it cool off for about 30 seconds, we tried it again.

This time it ran for about a minute and then died. And the third time was the charm. The engine caught the first thing and just ran. And ran. And ran.

Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, I immediately ran to the office to pay so we could get on the road. But it still took about 20 minutes before we were pulling out.

Since it was really too late to head toward Gulf Shores, we just headed back to the RV park in Athens. On the way we stopped off at Kroger’s and took on about 90 gallons of diesel at $3.75 a gallon.

The rig ran fine all the way back to Athens, and restarted with no problems after fueling up.

Tomorrow we’ll try again for Gulf Shores.

Stay tuned.

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Thought for the Day:

"Sometimes paranoia is just having all the facts." – William S. Burroughs

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3 Responses

  1. Was the original problem actually caused by lack of diesel ? I’m adding up your numbers – 15 gallons and then 90 gallons. Does that mean you lost about 35-40 gallons of tank capacity due to the crush ? Having to reset the Silverleaf to 100 or 105 gallons is not too bad,of a fix, and hopefully you could remember where the new “E” is on your dashboard gauge. I sure hope it’s that simple. Glad you are rolling again.

  2. That’s pretty stressful, but hopefully the problem is solved. A pretty easy fix, I guess. It sounds like the tech knew what he was doing. Good luck getting back on the road. 🙂

  3. Breck,

    That’s what’s confusing.

    When we left our Gate Guarding Gate August we went directly to the GGS yard where we parked for the night. Right before we parked, we topped off with diesel.

    There was no indication of a clogged vent on the fuel tank.

    We headed out for Celina OH the next morning.

    Our first stop was at a Thousand Trails south of Dallas. The next morning the engine stopped running a couple of times while we were warming up, but ran fine on the road.

    On this trip it was hot enough to need the coach air, so we ran the generator. But it only ran for about 30 minutes before just shutting off. I had still had almost half a tank of diesel so I knew it shouldn’t have stopped because of that.

    The next night we stopped in West Memphis AR. The engine also stopped once while warming up, but ran fine on the road.

    At the time I was blaming this on the fact that when we filled up at the GGS yard I dumped in a bottle of Diesel Kleen for the first time. I thought maybe it had loosening up some gunk/varnish from the fuel system. When I talked with American Coach, they also agreed this might be possible.

    Our next night was in Sikeston MO. Thinking the generator problem was maybe a clogged filter due to the Diesel Kleen, I found a new one at a local Cummins dealer, crawled under the rig, and replaced it. And after a little cranking, the generator ran for 30 minutes with no problem, and ran fine the rest of the trip.

    Also at this point I noticed my dashboard fuel gauge was showing full and never changed.

    However while replacing the filter, I noticed there was air rushing when I disconnected the fuel line to the filter. At the time I took it to be pressure venting.

    Having traveled 930 miles since we left Texas, we drove about 100 yards down the road to top off with diesel. According to my Silverleaf, I should have been able to put in about 100 gallons, but I was only able to put in about 75 gallons and this was right up into the filler neck. But the big thing was when I unscrewed the fuel cap I could feel the air rushing INTO the tank, not out.

    At this point, a light went on. I had a clogged fuel tank vent and it had to be on the tank, since the filler caps are not vented. So my temporary fix was to just leave the filler cap very loose for the rest of our trip. This seemed to fix the problem since I never again had a vacuum when I checked the cap.

    At this point I was down about 25 gallons from my original 150 gallon tank and that’s what I allowed for.

    When we got to the Indian Lakes TT park after Nick’s rally, I crawled under the rig to take a look at the tank. I found the rubber vent tube hanging down, and by using a piece of coat hanger, discovered it was stopped up by an insect nest of some sort. In talking with Spartan Chassis I discovered I seem to be missing part of my vent system.

    They said there should be a tee at the bottom of the rubber vent tube that leads to two rubber hoses that extend to both sides of the coach and end up near the filler caps, thus eliminating the possibility of a single point clog screwing things up.

    I can find no sign that I ever had any of this on my coach.

    In looking up at the tank I was surprised at how crumpled it was. That must be a really strong lift pump and fuel pump to create this much vacuum.

    What gets confusing is my last fill up before Alabama was in Latta, SC. When the engine stopped the other day, we had gone only 650 miles on that tank. According to my Silverleaf I had 65 gallons left. Mentally subtracting the missing 25 gallons, I figured I had 40 gallons left.

    I was heading down the road to a station about 1.5 miles away when the engine stopped on Monday.

    So if I filled up in SC, how come I only went 650 miles before I ran out of diesel? The only thing that makes sense is that I didn’t get the tank completely filled up.

    After talking with Spartan I going to try and pop the tank out somewhat by using an air compressor, but I’ll wait until we get back to Texas to try it.

    So it does look like I’ll have to now assume that I only have a 100 gallon tank until we get back to Texas.

    Sorry this is so long.

    Greg

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