the

Nice drive to Reno, Nevada yesterday.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Reno, Nevada.

Where are they going next? South, towards Death Valley National Park.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Sherman's mechanical repair saga continues...

Yesterday morning at 7:45am (when the sun comes up around here!) I tried to fire up Sherman. I had changed all the spark plugs and plug wires late Sunday afternoon, and hadn't yet tested to see if it did any good.

He fired up fine, and idled fine to warm up. After 10 minutes or so, I put him into gear... moved about five feet, and he promptly sputtered and died. Arrrggghh. Trying to re-fire him immediately didn't do any good.

I went in and explained the situation to the Home Depot manager. We had been there two nights without moving, and didn't want to overstay our welcome. She was fine, although I could tell she didn't want us there a third night.

I called O'Reilly's Auto Parts and asked if they had a MAP (manifold absolute pressure) sensor. They did, and I walked up there to buy it.

Got it installed and fired him up again. He ran perfect, and I took him for a spin around the parking lot. Everything seemed good to go, so we got on the road and drove about a mile to a gas station where I put in about $60 USD worth of gas.

As we pulled out of the gas station, he coughed and sputtered. All along, the problem has been very intermittent.

The sputtering continued and we limped him to an empty lot beside the O'Reilly's store.

I went inside and asked if they knew a good mechanic. All three people behind the counter promptly said "Attwood Engine Services".

I called them up and spoke to Jamie and explained the problem. He said he would be able to look at it in the afternoon. I said that Sherman seems to run better cold, so we would let him sit and cool off for two hours and then we should be able to make the 1 mile (1.6 km) drive to his shop.

Made it to Atwood Engine Services with a bit of coughing and sputtering just as we arrived. Eventually, Jamie came out to have a look at things, and Sherman was on his best behavior! We could not get him to recreate the problem! Until we took him for a drive around the block... and it began again.

Jamie did some poking around and started thinking it was a fuel issue. I explained that to my knowledge the fuel filter had never been changed... at least while we've owned it. Which to be honest is not very proactive on my part!

Anyhow, that was the first step here. Got the filter changed, and I didn't mind paying to have someone else do it. It's bolted to the inside of the frame rail underneath the motorhome, and the guy didn't have an easy time of it.

The muddy looking stuff he poured out of the old filter... I'm surprised Sherman was running at all! Ran great, idled fine... until we went for a spin and the same coughing and sputtering returned.

Next thought was the fuel pump. They hooked a connector into the fuel line and were able to attach a pressure gauge to it. There is a steady 30 psi, just like the specs call for (28-32) and the pressure remains steady even when he is coughing and sputtering. So, at least we don't have to change the fuel pump which would have involved dropping the gas tank.

It would seem this in not a fuel related problem.

The next decision was to change the entire distributor. He thought it might be the pickup coil which if you're going to change it you need to remove the entire distributor anyhow. Plus, I had read that if your distributor assembly has over 100,000 miles on it, you should really just change the entire thing. And, Sherman's did have a fair bit of corrosion on the inside.

So we ordered a new distributor assembly. It arrived, and Jamie went straight to work changing it. This didn't take very long, and then they had to time the engine. Got all this done, and took him for a spin, where he promptly died on the road in front of the shop. Had a hard time getting him going again to get him back into his spot.

This time, there was a strange buzzing noise coming from somewhere in the engine compartment, and this has only happened once before, about 3 days ago.

This made Jamie think that it's the ECM (engine control module), and he ordered one. He says he can return it if it doesn't fix the problem.

And that's where we stand at the end of the day. Spending the night parked outside the shop. We're running out of things to replace! It could still be the engine temperature sensor, or the EGR valve. I guess we'll find out today!

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25 comments:

  1. I had an intermittent issue just like that with an older Jeep Grand Cherokee. Finally replaced the ECM after trying lots of other things like you. That did the trick.

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    1. Ended up it wasn't the ECM either, luckily that was a part that was able to be returned.

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  2. Well at least all the things you replaced needed to be done anyway. Hope you don't have too many more. We just found out we have a leak in the main brake line. We were heading up to Mont Ste. Marie and didn't even get out of the storage parking lot. The day before we talked about roadside assistance but figured we were putting Rudy away for the winter so we didn't need it. Ha! $175/hour for the tow to get it to the garage. Yikes!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. That is the way we are looking at it. No, we didn't have to purchase any more parts thankfully.

      Yeah, after our issue last year in Mexico we decided to purchase the roadside assistance package. We haven't had to use it but after the last few days here with Sherman's troubles we felt much better knowing that we had it.

      Sorry to hear about poor Rudy and the fact that you had to be towed. :-(

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  3. Well crap - at least everyone agrees who the best mechanic is in town, that is worth something. Plus you managed to drive to the mechanics versus towing - have to think of positives about this.

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    1. We could not have been happier having Jamie and his team working on our problem. He was really thorough and talked us through his thinking of what could be the issues and why certain things may have caused the issue. He was really patient and finally got it all figured out.

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  4. Wow this is better than a mystery novel...sitting at the edge of my seat wondering what the heck could be wrong? Meanwhile, I'm learning about things that go in RV & maybe trucks and cars too. Patiently waiting for next episode....

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    1. We could have done without all the suspense but luckily Jamie finally figured out what our problem was and got Sherman all fixed up. We learned a lot through this process as well.

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  5. You'll eventually get this figured out. At least at this point some of the more obvious things have been ruled out, and replaced as needed. (that fuel filter?...)
    Good luck. That's all I got.
    Cheers.

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    1. Yep, Jamie finally figured it out and it ended up that we didn't need to replace any of those parts. At least now Sherman has had a really good tune-up, just a little sooner than it was needed except for that fuel filter, it should have been changed a long time ago.

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  6. Kevin. You may have two different issues. One is the missing and another one is the sudden stalling of the engine. I had a miss problem that was very difficult to find. Multiple shops looked and could not find it. Finally, I just started looking at wires around the engine and distributor. Finally found a wire laying along the valve cover which had a hole in the insulation from rubbing on a retaining clip. Simple, but it caused a miss.
    My fuel pump issue was more difficult to find. The Chevy would run perfect, but then suddenly die, running highway speed or slow traffic. I would coast to shoulder and it would almost immediately restart and would run fine for a week, a month or a couple of days. Finally, it died and would not restart and I had to be towed. Finally, it was a failed fuel pump, and yes, the tank does have to be dropped to change it. In my case it was about $400 USD.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Luckily it wasn't the fuel pump, Jamie tested the pressure in the fuel line and it was perfect. Neither he nor us wanted to have to replace the pump, so that was a relief.

      It ended up being a few bad wires that were shorting out and as you said causing more than just one problem. Thankfully that was an easy fix and we are up and running once again. :-)

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  7. More good luck from here, sometimes you just keep replacing parts until it is fixed, Back in the 50's and 60's and even before the vehicles were much simpler.

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    1. We found the problem and luckily it ended up being fairly simple.

      We are lucky at least that Sherman is still a relatively easy to work with, he doesn't have have all the electronics that these newer units have. As Kevin says, you can open him up and still recognized the different parts.

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  8. Do you think Sherman was listening when sitting inside him, I casually mentioned he was old? Oops. I may have pissed him off! Hope you find out the issues and get the resolved!

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    1. Ha, maybe he was! Anyways, he is now all fixed up and behaving like a teenager again. :-P

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  9. The older Mopars had Ballast Resistors that were easy to replace but Ford's built theirs into the Wiring Harness. Not sure how the Jimmies did it but the symptoms sound right. They ran cold but when they warmed up the Risistance increased enough to stall the engine.
    You are definitely running out of things to change. You can still fix the older engines yourself but the newer ones you can find the problem by simply plugging in a Diagnostic Reader.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Nope, Sherman doesn't have a ballast resistor.

      Kevin would still rather have an older motorhome than a new one.

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  10. I vote for the ECM, but did anyone check the resistance and condition of the plug wires? It sounds like an ignition problem - runs poorly under load, which is when the highest voltage is needed to fire the plugs. Plug wires can develop weak spots, from which current can escape to ground (the engine block, etc.) causing a misfire. A couple of these "leaks" results in a carbon track being burned - these conduct electricity. If you can run the engine at night and see much, seriously look for stray sparks. Distributor caps can develop carbon tracks also, but you replaced that. If it's not mechanical (you have good compression) and it's not fuel, then it has to be ignition related. Best of luck!!! Mac

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    1. Oh, having now read through previous entries... I see you've eliminated that stuff already... OK, I'm stumped! How frustrating!

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    2. Yep, we were stumped too! Luckily Jamie finally found out the the issue was.

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  11. This guy has some great videos where he compares fuel additives effect on engines.
    Search youtube for "Project Farm". Seafoam, Marvels Mystery oil (yes really!)and Techron seem to be the most effective. He compares lots of other things too like oil additives etc etc etc. Its a OK time waster.

    Looks like your in good hands with Atwood now Kevin. May the gods of mechanisms have mercy on your wallet.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. It ends up that none of these things would have helped stop the problem or correct the problem.

      Yes, we were definitely in good hands. Jamie was excellent, we were really confident the he would figure out the issue and he did. Our hats go off to him. :-)

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  12. Wow, that is really fustrating. Sounds like Jamie is trying hard to fix it. Good luck!

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    1. Yep, it was frustrating but Jamie did a great job and got Sherman all fixed up again. :-)

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