Thursday January 14, 2010
First of all, I want to wish everyone a great 2010. Unfortunately, ours has not started out all that well.
It has been almost a month since I last posted. I had hoped that I would be able to post something positive about the bus replacement engine project many days ago. That did not happen.
Yesterday I drove the bus for the first time since the engine replacement project began. It did not go well!
When I talk about the Love/Hate relationship of our bus, I have to recall that we have thoroughly enjoyed our travels in this unique vehicle. It is a great way to travel in and we have always felt very cozy, safe, and comfortable in it. It is fun to drive and handles/rides much better than a commercial RV. It is not very fancy, but it has everything we need to live comfortably for weeks on end. Our travels in the bus have been almost trouble free for the three plus years and 550 nights spent enjoying distant and fun locations (over 53K miles).
The hate part has reared it’s ugly head again as a result of our engine problems. I have to say that building the bus was not the fun/rewarding project it should have been. I have always enjoyed my various car projects (several major frame-off projects), but I can’t say that about the bus. The conversion has consumed well over 2000 hours. Most of that work was done under pressure to meet some sort of deadline. The components are very large and often hard to get to. The engine replacement project is much the same. I have not kept good track of my time, but since I picked up the engine parts on 11/17/09 and started the installation process, I estimate that I have spent at least 150 hours on the project. Add to that, the time spent removing the damaged engine and this project approaches 200 hours!
Every component I worked on, had some sort of complication. I did spend a significant amount of time improving many of the component designs from the original conversion, but the majority of the work was fighting some issue with the multitude of components comprising the complex engine/transmission system.
Perhaps the fact that the engine and transmission have very sophisticated computer control systems, complicates the issue. I am having significant issues with the transmission control system.
The test drive yesterday revealed a very low turbo boost pressure and a transmission control problem. Neither of these issues appear to be a major costly problem, but they will need a lot more work. In addition, they really add to my lack of confidence that the system has been made robust again. I will need to resolve the problems and take a number of test drives to build up my confidence.
I have been fighting what has become a very tight schedule in order to be able to travel to Arizona for a huge bus rally next week and then on to Yuma for a month or two of relaxation. The troublesome test drive has now eliminated any possibility of taking the bus on that trip. I am considering driving the service truck down to Quartzsite for the rally and a seminar that I am scheduled to do. I will finalize that decision in the next day or so.
In addition to the bus problems, we have had some very serious health issues in two of our daughter’s families. Each family has had more than one health issue. One daughter just had surgery and one appears have serious enough back problems that she may require surgery in the near future. In the latter case, Judy has documented her family health issues in her wonderful blog (here). Pat is very concerned about leaving the area when these families are struggling right now.
I apologize that this post may sound a bit whiny. I try to put a positive spin on my posts, but this one does not lend itself to that approach.
I will try to be better about posting and perhaps I will have a real travelogue to write (that is the purpose of this blog) in the near future.