Thursday, August 16, 2018

Getting to know you..

We made it back from Lake George and I immediately drove the RV into the Parameter shop to have them check the brakes. This was after I had them do an alignment for me at really short notice. Got me in and out on time for the trip. After a check of the system they said it was "immaculate" so my fears that some previous owner goofed up my brakes was put to rest.

Ring and pinion: what makes your RV go in the back. Be kind to it at all times.

Now, with that positive result I gave the go ahead to prep for the rear end gear swap. I've debated on this a long time since the first year of trips and wanting to travel further but not at 5MPG. The RV gets up to speed just fine but the engine RPM is about 3200 at 65mph so that's not really in the optimal range to run a big block 454. I'd love to be in the 1800-2600 range but will settle for a bit on the higher range of that scale.

The RV has for some reason a 4.10 rear end. That gets me the 3200 RPM at highway speed and I'm happy to know that other Allegros were equipped with 4.88 rear ends (holy cow! that puts you at about 3800 RPM at highway speed! YIKES!). No thank you! At $3 plus a gallon I need to find ways to reduce my fuel consumption at cruise and I'm not expecting to tow anything with this RV.

Obviously sometime early last year with the under $3/gallon for 93.

After researching on the interwebs I thought I found a 3.55 set but that's only available in the 8.5" diameter set, not the 10.5" set in the RV. The one I found is a 3.42 ratio which would drop the cruising RPM's down to about 2500 or so. Not bad.

While I don't think that this is the way to substantially increase my mileage, I figure it can't hurt on the long trips we're planning next year and at $300.00 a tank full it's worth it to get the MPG up from 5 to somewhere around 8 or so with this and some adjustments on the timing.That's saving about 60% and each tank full is about 85 gallons or about $305.00 per tank. If you can stretch your mileage out from 5 to 8 mpg then you go from 425 miles/tank to 680 miles/tank. Going cross country at about 3000 miles you would go from filling the tank over 7 times to 4.5 times or a savings of $763 over the trip. You just paid for the swap in one cross country trip then some.
By the way, if you are running way past half on the temp gauge, below half on the oil pressure and just showing nothin on the amp gauge (not to mention below E on the gas...) you are in some serious trouble.....
I will be updating everyone on the swap work in the next week or so after we get back and plan the next trip once the swap is done.

Save RV'ing Everyone!!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Road Trip 2018: Lake George! Having fun but at the same time evaulating the repairs of others....

Alright folks! After having the LH2 visit two shops to get the timing and belts replaced and then the alignment done we got on the road late on Friday. We were supposed to head out at 9 am but due to the extended visits at the repair shops we didn't hit the bunk ceiling project until late afternoon on Thursday and wrapped it up in true Long Hauler style minutes prior to departure!
Ugh! Nasty water damage over 30 years removed and stripped out. Getting ready for new materials after sealing the roof up. 
Using maple plywood to make new panels in the RV at the bunk. Make patterns out of sheets of plotter paper and go from there....never mind the other vehicle projects in the background.

Foam bubble insulation with aluminum finish used with spray adhesive to fill the gaps in the frame and skin. Up to 4 layers were used. FRP panel was installed on the curved part and it fit GREAT!!
 With the bunk area redone and finished off to usable status we got things prepped to get on the road. The hardest part was getting the bunk panel back into this area and onto the metal angles! Such a puzzle piece to fit back in! We did do it after a couple of tries.

Okay, bunk back together and all the stuff for the trip placed into the RV and we're on our way to Lake George! After getting in several hours later, we managed to get our stuff set and on the trolley to catch our boat ride....before that we ate at "Slices", pizza place right on the corner near the Steamboats in the center of the Village. Outdoor seating on the upper floor was nice to view the amusement park next door and be above the traffic.

The Minnie-Ha-Ha Steamboat. A great paddle-wheel boat tour. Right in Lake George Village, Steamboat Row.
 A great tour of the lake from a steamboat on a wonderful Summer evening. Despite that this was the "Pirate Cruise" with the constant "arrgh" voice over, the trip was pretty nice. The boat was built in the 1960's but uses steam technology to drive the paddle wheel. Up in the Finger Lakes we had similar boats but they were side wheelers. It would be cool to see some pop up in our neck of the woods again. You can ride a "steamboat" on Canandaigua Lake for lunch and dinner cruises.

Here's a sample pic of what we used to have on Seneca Lake:

This was one of several side wheel steamboats on Seneca and other Finger Lakes back in the last century.

View of Lake George that evening from the Minnie-Ha-Ha heading north.

View from the first deck of the lake.
The lake cruises were about $80 for a family of 6 and lasted about 90 minutes. Great for the kids to experience a boat ride and not too stressful for the parents.

The Lake George RV Park is situated just off the main Route 9 road and has a lot right on the park for kids and adults to enjoy. For the nightly rate of about $109 you do get a really well maintained park, professional staff, on-site spray park, trolleys, theatres, arcades, and more. While it's a bit more than I've paid on other campgrounds I cannot compare this one to the others. No contest. The only thing I had reservations about was that there were so many other campers nearby. Even with that, ALL the campers were considerate and we never had any noise issues. That's a BIG credit to the park for keeping so many sites consistent with park rules.

Here's a link to their site:
It's no BS on what's there. Here are some shots of the place from our trip.
 One of many playgrounds on site at the Lake George RV park.

Getting settled in on Cedar Lane in the Lake George RV Park. A drive through site that would accommodate just about any size rig. Electric, water and septic right there with a REAL level area to park.  Kids noticed that campfires were located so we couldn't see other camper's fires, which was nice to make it feel like we had our own campsite. 

Fishing for Bass in the park's pond. Canada Geese looking on as we try and get a bite.

After a couple of days at Lake George it was time to head back home. I have to say that with what happened to the Tioga I still deal with PTSD when driving the rig. It's like flying an old plane that will do the job as long as you listen for any noise, keep checking the gauges and have your mind on a high level a alert the entire time you are on the road. There develops a certain level of "feel" for the old gal as she does her thing and any unusual shudder or squeak sets you thinking about what job you have in store to get it fixed.

Surrendering to others to fix things can be a mixed bag.  While I like to think that people who make a living fixing rigs like mine have a special talent for doing so, my paranoid nature constantly questions the results. The timing issues with the new distributor still don't appear to be fully corrected. Is this the fault of the shop I sent her to? Maybe. She still runs a bit rough and I am not totally satisfied that its been tuned as well as it could be. Backfires, hesitation on acceleration, etc. is not what I expect from a well-adjusted carb and distributor. Anyway, more of this later.

The bigger deal is the brakes. No ones fault on this one but I bet the brakes have NOT been dealt with since the rig was new off the line in Detroit in 1986. With only 48K miles on her now, the brakes should still be in good shape... right. After 30 years it's time to get all the bits checked out. On the return trip I experienced some squeaking, shuddering on braking (bad shudders that got me to downshift to slow down!) that leads me to believe I have some brakes that are not releasing completely upon hitting the 'go' pedal. There's not much more upsetting than to try and stop and feel as if your rig is saying, "aww, heck no. This ain't happenin' right now as fast as you want it!"

At the "text stop" to eat lunch and see what the heck was going on with the shuddering brakes.

We stopped at a "NYS text stop" to eat lunch and it let me inspect the rig a bit for the braking issue. I have to say that one wheel location smelled like burnt brake pads. We made it back no issues but she is in the shop right now to get looked at. Brakes are like the parachutes of the flying set: better have them right than maybe right. Maybe can gets you killed.

As always, more later!!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Late in the Game: Getting set for 2018 camping season!

I have to say that with the kids getting older, one going off to college this Fall, all the kids camps and everything else has left little time for us to head out to the great outdoors in the RV. Well we have committed to travel before our #1 heads off and the two trips will be Lake George and Letchworth (the Grand Canyon of the East!). Not too far away but far enough that it's not home.

Before that can happen I've sent the LH2 off to not one but two shops to get the timing reset after installing a new distributor and get new belts on the lady to stop all the squealing. The second shop is a truck shop that has a Hunter alignment machine so I'm not pulling the steering wheel far left to keep the rig on track (more on this on a future post, some mods and part replacement in store).

Out with the old and not yet in with the new! Okay, got it in and now it needs tweaking...
 You can check out the video of swapping out the old distributor with the new one on my YouTube channel. What fun! Thought I had it all figured out but I know enough to be dangerous.
Right by the NYS Thruway at exit 42. Good folks here for RV's.
 Went from Robson's in Waterloo with new belts and timing fixed to Parmenter, Inc. just south of the Thruway to get the wheels aligned.
Waiting in line for an alignment.....think that my rig looks nicer.
Next thing to do is to fix up my daughter's bunk area. The ceiling was shot in the back and we are going to fix that up so it doesn't look like a scary, dark spot. More on that later once I get the RV back.

Happy and Safe Camping Everyone!!
The Vintage RV'er.