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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

MOTORHOME MODIFICATIONS - *T* is Transmission Fluid and Filters Change and Storms

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 T now!


Transmission Filter and Fluid Change:

Let's start with our unknowingly running our diesel motorhome on 16 year old transmission fluid and filters!  

Yup, you read that right!  16 years old transmission fluid and filters!!! 

In 2012, Steveio was out draining our tranny fluid and removing the old filters...  We had put on just over 32,000 miles since buying our used rig in 2006. 

Did you know tranny filters have dates on them?? 

That is important because of the next part I am going to write about.

When we bought our used rig in 2006, our sales slip states we have NEW transmission filters, NEW 6 gallons of tranny fluid and $95 labor charged for completing the job.   It was included as part of the deal we negotiated from Al's Motorhomes in Rockford, Illinois. 

and here is the labor charge;

Hmmmmm but the dates on the filters Steve removed have printed on them 3/96  ---- yes ---- you read that right,  1996!   That makes them the original filters that came with our rig, which was made in 1996.   

Obviously we thought we got NEW filters and tranny fluid when we bought our rig, according to the sales slip.  But now with this revelation, that makes the filters, and most likely the tranny fluid, SIXTEEN YEARS OLD!!!!!

Lesson learned ---  see why we insist on doing ALL of our own work now, instead of trusting someone 200 miles away when we are having them "prep" the rig for our purchase?   

Gotta do it yourself or else be allowed to look over their shoulders---  "insurance regulations" or "shop policy" be damned.... or set up a video camera to see if they do the work they promised they are doing? 

Looks like Al's Motorhomes of Rockford are out of business now, or else they would get an earful from me for sure!   

Steve took care of our tranny fluid and filters by now doing a better service to our Allison transmission by putting in synthetic fluid called Transyd.

When Steve was buying the filters and gasket kit, the Allison dealer said many motorhome manufacturers will change the size of the pan, (low sump or high sump, 2" or 4")  and it's best to buy BOTH kits and return the one not used.   That way your rig is not sitting wide open susceptible to dirt intrusion while you run back to get the other kit if you purchased the wrong one!   What a great idea when you live 80 miles round trip like we do!

The first step is using a special hex head to remove the bolt that will drain the old tranny fluid.  Steve looks quite pleased that it came out easily without having to contort or twist himself into a pretzel to remove it from underneath the rig.

We drain the fluid into a big flat tote 
that we later pour into buckets 
to bring to our mechanic friend Lyle.  He recycles it for us.  

Our diesel motorhome takes five gallons of transmission fluid. 

Once the pan is drained, then it's time to remove the filters.  
Even more fluid comes out as he removes them.

(this is where we discovered the dated filters were from 1996!) 

He has to remove the old gaskets from the filter base. 

He carefully assembles the two new special O rings 
onto the base section, 
making sure everything is spic and span clean! 

One spec of sand or grit can mess up the transmission, 
so he is extremely cautious in doing this.

Next comes the gasket, and yes, it's a perfect fit. 

Now both of the filters slip firmly into place and are ready to be reinserted back onto the transmission.  Keeping clean during this part of the process is important. 

Using a special torque wrench to be sure of the bolt-tightening on the threads...   with the filters back in place, the new Transyd fluid is put into the motorhome.  

The amount of old fluid left in the tranny cooler is able to mix with the new and the two are said to be compatible. It will not need to be touched again for 300,000 miles.   Yearly testing can be done with analysis of the chemicals helps to determine wear and tear, and viscosity of the fluid.

We added the amount of fluid we felt was close to the calibrated dip stick fill line at cold.  Then we started up the rig, and took it for a ride to warm it up and check the levels again when warmed to 170 degrees.  

Once the tranny was warmed up, we checked the levels with both the calibrated dip stick and the electronic transmission shift pad which has a digital diagnostic readout of the levels. All was just perfect!

Again, I am so glad that Steve is able to handle this tranny fluid and filter change for us.  I shudder to think of the cost of having it done, and done correctly, and paying for labor besides the costs of the supplies! 

I don't want to go out and wade through the snow to get the exact part numbers and costs... but we bought 6 gallons of Transyd about $50 a gallon, the filters were another $50 or so and the gasket kits about another $30?  so all in all about $400 to do this job on our own.   If you are planning to have it done by a mechanic, I would choose an Allison shop for semi trucks to do the job, and do it right. 


As many have heard on the news, we got hit with a whopper of a three day storm over the weekend.  We were prepared with groceries, battery lanterns, oil lamps, flashlight and our gas log fireplace (doesn't need electricity to operate).   With the high winds and ice coating everything first, there is a real danger of falling trees on power lines and outages.  Towns to the west and south of us were out of power for hours on end.  We were lucky throughout it all and kept the power on. 

On top of the ice, then we got snow, snow and more snow!  I think our official rate was 12" from the weathermen, but it was blowing so much the drifts were much higher.   Steve went out a couple times to clear the snow from the street that the plows shove across the end of the driveway. If you don't remove it quickly, it becomes rock hard and unable to get through it later with the snowblower.   As it was, he had to take a small slice at a time to keep the end of the driveway open.

Our daughter was driving home after work and did a grocery shopping late on Friday night. She works second shift so this was about midnight. She has a long trek of about 35 miles to home and got stuck during the last mile or so in her Jeep! 

Even with a 4 wheel drive Jeep, the roads and winds were treacherous.  She called a tow truck, who delayed and delayed getting to her. Due to the high volume of accidents, she was waiting and waiting.  She kept the tailpipe clear so she could run the engine to keep warm.  But she waited so long that she ran out of gas!  She was sitting in the freezing cold temps in the middle of the night.  Her husband Jesse was stranded at home with only a mini-van unable to get through that kind of snow...  and they had two sleeping children plus a HUGE 5 foot drift across their driveway so he couldn't even get out if he wanted to.  I am sooo thankful she didn't try to walk it the rest of the way. Fortunately her friend Randy was able to come in the middle of the night and rescue her and her groceries before she froze to death!  The tow truck didn't make it there until about 9 or 10 am the next day! 

The tow truck towed it as far as 
the bottom of their driveway,
 and left it there. 

The drifting was sooo high!  In their area, they got 30 inches of snowfall.  And the drifts were much higher due to the winds.  Here is the entrance to their local YMCA in Marinette/Menominee.

The news stations have stories now yesterday and today of roofs collapsing on various businesses and factories. The Econolodge Motel in Green Bay had some people swimming in the pool. They heard some weird noises so someone reported it to the desk clerk. He cleared everyone from the pool and the whole roof collapsed in soon after everyone had gotten safely out! Whew!   

We stayed inside safe and sound, watching the storm out of our windows.  It was cozy to stay home for three days and not have to go out anywhere or do anything.  

We watched some movies, I did some sewing, and Steve is starting on a new Our Old Project (details to come in the next blog).  We had food, water, heat and lights.  Not too bad.  Steve did run out of gas for the snowblower, but we looked out and saw our neighbors daughter using her snowblower and she came out and did the rest of our drive in front of the garage. Thanks Lori! He later walked on down to the gas station two blocks away for more gas, and he was able to finish up on Monday.  

I shot a little video for my friends in Tennessee and MIssouri
who both like to see the snows that we get here in Wisconsin.

Our grandkids were all having a blast with a day off school, and their parents took a day off work on Monday as well.  They got to play and sled and slide and make forts.  Heather gave her little Whitney 2 year old some hot cocoa for the first time.  Whitney declared it "Chocolate Soup!"  They are all going to remember the snowstorm of 2018, with fond memories and family fun. 

Yup, looking out my windows
while the weatherman is now saying ---

I think of my pretty little blue starbrite crocuses that came up last week along the south side of the house.  They are now buried under the snow and probably gone again until next year.  Will Spring ever come? 


  1. My friend lives up there somewhere and she also sent pictures the first picture you could still see the top of the railing of the deck then next one was take 2 hrs later and not a speck of the railing could be seen and it was still snowing. Just happy your daughter made it home safe that must have been awful

  2. Hope all is well I enjoy your blog and always share with my husband.


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