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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

MOTORHOME MODIFICATION - *D* Dash Air Conditioning and Replacing Compressor

I am going to start off the new year with posting some of our motorhome modifications, a few at a time. I will post repairs, modifications, or neato things we have found for RVing.  I have lots of pics in my files so I will do them in alphabetical order.

Underneath that stuff, I will post my regular daily stuff..... kinda sorta fun, eh?

So here it goes, we are up to the letter D now!


Dash Airconditioner Freon:
This was done in September of 2015. Steve had re-charged the system a few times over the years with cans of R134a freon, but this last time it would not take in any more freon, sadly it would not cool or kick in the compressor.  That usually means that there is too much air in the system.  It needs to be brought in, get hooked up to a machine to evacuate the remaining freon, and then have it pressurized to check for leaks.   We had this done once about 9 or 10 years ago and we were good until now. (remember our rig is 22 years old) Time to do it again....

We found a nice local garage able to do it locally:

Automotive Source Inc. Service Center
61 E. Chestnut 
Chilton WI 53014

We pulled the rig around back, and we were about 10 minutes early for our appointment.  We were taken around back right away, and our mechanic Eric was right on the job.  He let us stay and watch by the rig, and allowed me to take photos.  (we hesitate to ever leave our rig unattended at a shop after a VERY bad experience up in Oconto that caused us a lot of money, pain and headaches)    So we request that we can observe as long as we promise to not get in the way. 

Eric brought out the evacuation machine, and said he has been working for this shop for three years now. 

Eric had to remove the little caps on both ends of the dash air system. Ours is a Acme brand model 191633 and has both an inlet and outlet openings.  Eric hooked up the machine and set it to work.  It first has to suck out all the freon and the old oil stuff in the system. 

Then he pressurized the system and watched the gauges for any leaks for a period of time to be sure.  Next it was time to add the proper amount of freon and also some new dye and oil treatment fluid.  Our system capacity is 4.6 pounds, and Eric wrote it right on the case of the unit so we know in the future what it takes.  Here is my Steveio waiting patiently during the testing process for leaks....

Now it time to fire it up and check the coolant from the dash vents.  Steve went back to check the compressor unit at the engine and noticed that one long rib of our serpentine belt has come off!  The belt is still working, but with one piece missing, we will soon see more of it destroyed. 

Soooo, now we ordered a new belt, and it will be in tomorrow.  Good thing he checked!  He is thinking the tensioner pulley is causing some grief too, and it helped shred the belt. We we will also replace the tensioner at the same time.  Steve has an extra one on hand in his box of replacement parts.  Usually Murphy's Law is that if we have a replacement part on board, then the part in working action never breaks!  LOL    So while he changes the belt, he will put on the new pulley and keep the current one as an emergency spare. 

Now... it's time to PAY THE BILL! 


 Steve looks pained.
Tom looks happy (or so he says) ~!

The bill wasn't so bad afterall! 
It was $78 freon
$4.50 dye/oil
and $75 labor

The serpentine belt will be in tomorrow and that is an additional $54 
Steve will take care of installing that himself.

 Now Fast Forward a year later in 2016----

Dash Airconditioner Compressor:
Our Cat engine has a large Seltec air conditioning compressor unit in the back that runs the little Acme box up front to cool the dash vents. A while back, Steve noticed that our compressor clutch hub was broken into bits!  He can still let the belt run on the pulley, without the clutch hub operating. We just went without any dash air the last few trips.

If you know anything about Steve, you will know that just will NOT do... he needs to fix it!  

In the meantime, if driving in hot weather, we can run the rooftop air conditioners with the generator powering them. But you know Steve, he will fix this, toot sweet!   He did some research and some conversations back and forth with a few folks on the Safari Yahoo Group we own:  SafariMotorhomes  

It was difficult to determine which unit we had, as various ones were used over various years during the Safari manufacturing.  There is a label but its way up high inside the engine compartment. He got the model and part numbers off the unit with my help.  I had to lay on my back under the rig, scoot myself into position and then I could get my arm up inside there to aim the camera at the label.  It took five or six photos before I got the full label in the frame. 

Now to find the replacement parts for a 20 year old unit.....

He found a great place to order from (thanks to fellow Safari owner John Ruff)  and the air compressor was ordered toot sweet.  In his talking with Richard, the guy in charge of sales, he mentioned that the drier unit should be changed at the same time.  We ordered that too, and it was shipped free of charge because of the shipping on the big compressor when it fit in the same box.  Nice! 

For the technical guys queries and also in case someone googles up my blog post for the part numbers, here they are: 


4526121 8 Groove Clutch New TM-16 AC Compressor
NEW Seltec 4526121 8 Groove Clutch 12 volt Vetical # 8 & 10 fittings 10 cubic inch.435-56121, 2521196, 10046121.  TM-16
$225.00 plus $23.50 shipping

4103052 Drier 3/8 x 3/8 male o-ring fittings.
Replaces: 4103050, 4103052, 4107316, 804-297, 085266-00 , 054-00001.
3/8 male o-ring drier with female & male switch ports.
$38.50 free shipping

The parts arrived in two days! 

First step was to rip out the old compressor.

We are very fortunate that our whole king sized bed lifts up to access our engine compartment.  Motorhomes with slides do not offer that ability, and you can only access the engine from small trap doors here and there in the bedroom floor or closet.  That is why many diesel repair places charge higher rates of labor for the motorhomes.  Why charge more?  If it takes longer to work on those kind of motorhomes, the repair place makes more money!  But for rigs like ours that take less effort, why not charge us like the trucks and get it done faster?  Hmmmmmmm??

Here is my hero, busy at his task

While working on removing the old one, Steve had previously applied some PB Blaster spray fluid to help loosen the fittings on the two high pressure lines.  He applied the spray three times a day, during the two days waiting for the parts.  Now the time to tell if it worked? 

No such luck. 
 He had to cut off both lines to get the old unit off.

We have a local guy who is going to make up two new lines with new fittings next week. Then we can drive the rig over and he will install them, and evacuate the system of any debris before filling it back up with freon.

Speaking of debris....  It is a good thing Steve checked the tiny expansion valve for any debris.... 

OH MY!  
Seems the dessicant bag in the old drier unit broke
and all the little BB particles made their way into the valve!

Sure is a good thing he checked it! 

We got the call on Thursday that our newly found semi mechanic had gotten in the ordered ends for the hoses on our AC compressor unit.  He came recommended to us by the faithful parts guy at a local business.  When Steve talked to him on the phone, Chris Fritsch really seemed to know his stuff, and was willing to do the job for us when the new parts came in. Steve had previously drove out and met up with him and he knew what to do for the job, and understood the job we were asking about.

Here is the guy we hired: 
C & F Repairs   Chris Fritsch
W4096 Moore Rd
Hilbert WI
920 418 1858  or  920 439 1858

Thursday night, as soon as Steve was done with work, we brought the motorhome out to the country location. I followed in the car so we could leave the motorhome there.

Chris and Steve got the main ideas taken care of, such as where the engine access from inside was available, and where the controls were inside for the jacks and how to get in the front compartment by the freon fill fittings etc.
The guys finished up their business so we hopped in the car and left our rig in their care.  We do not often do that, but felt confident that his rural location it was fine.  Plus they have a massive doberman protecting the yard and a big Great Pyrenees dog out in the shop. 

Friday evening Chris called and had already flushed the lines out, pressurized them to check for leaks, then evacuated the AC system and refilled with new freon.  While he was doing that, he noticed our passenger side rear hub was leaking... the seal was bad!   We had redone the drivers side 2 years ago, so having the passenger side go bad now was no surprise to us.  Thankfully, he had time to repair that for us too!   We are glad he noticed it for us and it was not in any way to pad the bill.  We had our own choice to take it as it was and get it fixed elsewhere.  Steve asked if he had time, and he was able to locate the seal part and get it done by later Saturday morning!  

We drove on out to pick up the rig on Saturday....

The guys settled up on the bill:
2 AC hose fittings  29.00
3 electric connectors 3.00
1 wheel seal  48.00
refrigerant 30.00
zipties for the lines 5.00

remove and replace fittings on air compressor
pressure check for leaks, evacuate and refill
check fan, remove and repair fan connections
remove and replace rear right wheel seal

labor 6 hours @ $60 per hour!   *that is very reasonable!*

The total bill came to just under $500 which is very good in our eyes.  Of course it is tough to ever pay anyone for work on our meager budget, but we felt confident that the work was done well.  As Steve drove the rig home, the dash air was blasting icy cold.  Perfect! 


Today was the Big Moving Day for Steve's dad, Pops.  Steve and his brother Pete went to help with the movers, directing what went where and unpack enough for him to be comfortable... ya know, set up the bed, find the coffee maker etc.  I was under the weather yet suffering fever and chills, so I bowed out. They got a lot accomplished and the moving company that his dad hired to get all of his things packed, moved and unpacked did a great job. 150 miles one way, and not a thing was broken or damaged or lost. Whew! Steve is back home now, exhausted and enjoying a hot shower.

We have bitter cold temps, but the sunshine that was coming in today sure feels good.  The doggies appreciate it as they position themselves on their little footstools, covered with sheep skins.  This big south facing window is in my loom room, and that is one of my table looms right there in the middle. 

They can keep an eye on the world outside... watching Frank the neighbor dog come out in his backyard, keeping an eye on the mail lady and barking furiously if a squirrel dare enter the side yard!

From time to time,
I have to wipe the spit off the window
from their barking.....

I think it will be an early night for both of us.  I dosed myself well with Airborne and Tylenol, took some cold meds and soaked in a hot steamy tub for a while. I sure hope I am not heading down the hill facing Round Two of this horrible cold & flu season.  I don't think I have recovered from the bout of pneumonia from January, just to get sick again in February.  I have only been out of the house once to the stores and wore gloves and used hand sanitizer.  Ewwwwww

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