Engines, Swing Sets, and Tom

Today I did something I’ve been wanting to do for months. I worked on the old D-22 Winnebago and got it running! That’s a pretty magnificent thing, I thought, because I’m not really a gear head. I’m more of a computer nerd-type of person. Actually, I’m just a semi-nerd because I don’t know half the stuff real nerds know. I just fiddle around the edges, and I’m not afraid to rip things apart to see what makes them tick.

I do, however, have problems with motivation. You know, getting started on something I want to do. It’s easy to claim that other projects get creep to the top of my list before I can get it done, but that’s not really valid. Today, however, I put my OCD-ness aside for a moment, gathered my tools, and went out to tackle this thing.

I was allowed to do this because Diane went to her Mom’s for Day Two of their garage sale. It was a bust. She came home around 1:30 pm because they only made about $20 between them. But, they had a nice visit.

Back to the Winnie …

The problem was with the fuel system. I already knew this, but I didn’t know where. So, I unpacked my trouble-shooting hat and went to work at the Tank Selection Switch, that gives a satisfying little click when I push the right switch on the dash. I didn’t trust it, however, so  routed the fuel line around it, directly to the fuel pump.

That didn’t work, so I took the fuel pump out and tested it on a spare battery I just happened to have in the garage. It was charged up, too. I checked. This was an obstacle I had to rise above so I thought and thoughts about what to do. Then the light bulb popped on reminding me of the electric fuel pump I used to get the D-22 home in the first place. I’d installed it on the old pickup because I didn’t think the mechanical fuel pump was working. Turns out is was ok, but the pump was still installed, until around noon.

I got the pump connected to the fuel line, and connected the wires, then tested it with the dash switch. It worked just fine, making all kinds of little pumping noises. But, it wasn’t pushing fuel to the carburetor. I knew this was true because I was looking at a clear fuel filter right next to the carburetor as I cranked the engine. It was right there beside me so I know I wasn’t just guessing.

The engine also has a mechanical fuel pump, like all good engines, but I didn’t know if it worked or not, even though left it connected to the fuel line.

When I first started cranking the engine, I could hear the pump prime itself, and I saw a little movement in the gas filter, but not enough to fire the engine. This told me that it might be a good idea to take the mechanical fuel pump out of the line and just run on the electric pump. When I crawled back under the rig to do this, I noticed gas dripping from the bottom of the pump, so I knew gas was getting to it, but apparently not through it. But, the electric pump just kept right on chugging the entire time the ignition key was on. To help me solve this dilemma, before going under the rig the next time, I turned the electric pump on and left it running so I could see what was happened.

It was pretty exciting when I looked. Gas was spewing everywhere out of the mechanical pump from parts that are specifically designed to not spew. Figuring this was a good clue on which to build a solution, I returned to the cab and stopped the electric fuel pump.

Then it was back under so I could disconnect the mechanical pump, and remove it from the fuel line. Knowing the fuel lines, and the pump, were now full of fuel, I braced myself for a deluge of gas when I took the lines apart and reconnected them around the mechanical pump. I wasn’t disappointed. Gas poured down my arm, soaking my shirt, burning like crazy. But I stood fast, getting it all reconnected, and hose clamps clamped until nothing dripped. Since I already knew it was going to gush, I successfully kept my face out of the way so didn’t have to content with potential blindness or lung damage.

After waiting the recommended amount of time for allowing gas to dry on your clothing, which is about 37 minutes, I re-entered the cab and fired up the electric fuel pump and was provided with a satisfying surge of fuel into the fuel filter at the carburetor. I cranked the engine and it started almost immediately, pleasing me immensely. I runs extremely well, kinda like a sewing machine, but considerably louder.

I was pleased. I was ecstatic.

It ran and nothing caught on fire. That was the best part, I think. No fire, although I’m sure there was a strong possibility of it at any moment.

Putting thoughts of fire aside, I put it in reverse to make sure the transmission still worked. It did, but the brakes didn’t like I’d hoped the would. Since it moved, however, I figured it was a good opportunity for me to put it in the driveway to pump up the left front tire which has slowly been going flat over the last year or so.

Just when I put it in reverse, Diane showed up. So, you know that was about 1:30 pm. She was very proud of me and parked in the driveway, where I wanted to be, so she could rush to me and give me the “Hug of Gladness”. She didn’t do that. Instead, I asked her to move the Buick into the garage so I could put the Winnie in the driveway. She said, “I can’t because your boxes are in the way.” I looked, and it was true, there were two boxes in the way. I looked, not because I didn’t believe her, but because I was curious about what boxes they might be. Turns out they were empty cardboard boxes which were very easy to move. Once I did, she moved her vehicle into the garage.

Then it was back to the Winnie for me, by golly. I’d left it running, just to see how long it took before it quit, but it purred right along the whole time I was gone. Putting it in reverse, I eased it back about 20 feet or so, so I could make the right turn into our driveway in one move and discovered that the brakes still didn’t work. I probably should have checked the brake fluid level, but I was determined to finish the current task first … get it into the driveway. Doing so, in the condition the brakes were poses a significant danger to the back of the Buick, and the garage, but I overcame this by working the transmission like a coxswain in a motor whale boat, easing it forward, then jamming on the useless brakes about five or six times, then putting it in reverse to stop the forward momentum. Coxswains don’t use brakes to drive their boats so that comparison was only partially correct.  With the transmission, and use of the emergency brake, which I accidentally discovered worked pretty good, I got it parked and was able to pump up the tire.

About the tires … the wheels on this thing are 19″ aluminum 5-lug custom rims. Consequently, the tires are also 19″ in the middle, and considerably taller on the outside. They are enormous things. The other Winnebago we have only has 16″ rims and the wheels look tiny by comparison. I think the Alcoa Aluminum rims were an option in 1973, but I’m not positive. I did, however, spy them in the parts catalog I have for Winnebago parts. They cost way more than what I paid for the entire rig. That means I have a huge polishing job in my future so they’ll be pretty. Incidentally, I know they are Alcoa Aluminum rims because each of them has a sticker proclaiming that fact. This tells me that Alcoa was very proud of those rims at some point in time so I need to honor them by making them shiny again.

With the RV out of the way, I cranked (and cranked) the truck up and moved it to the end of the portion of property we own on the other side of the road. Then I got my loppers out and proceeded to hack down blackberry vines, again. These are new ones, however, not the same ones I hacked down earlier in the week. Before hauling the residue down to the burn pile, I ran the mower back and forth across the weeks, getting as close to the blackberry vines as possible without endangering my little bare legs because I was wearing shorts.

It cleaned up pretty nice and gave Diane another reason to be proud of me. Twice in one day. I believe that’s a record for me.

I had just backed out of the driveway to move the RV back across the street, with the old truck, When Jeff showed up with Gilligan, Baylee, Ziva, and Daisy. In case you didn’t know, Ziva and Daisy are dogs. The other two are very energetic grandchildren who love to run, everywhere they go. Wears me out.

With his arrival, parking the RV because a parallel parking issue because he parked at the end furthest from the old truck, which I had backed into the blackberries just as far as I could, placing it in such a manner that if I couldn’t stop the RV, the truck would. Turns out I’m pretty good at parking RVs just by using the transmission R and D positions.

Jeff came to deal with the elaborate swing set Diane and I got Cedric, Lydia, and Jeran when they were much younger, but have since grown beyond the need to use it. Jeff had it installed at another place to which they were going to move, but that didn’t work out, so it was dismantled and placed on the west side of the garage. He and I moved it to the back yard near the location we all chose for the erection. Perhaps resurrection would be more correct since it’s already been erected a couple of times. It’s certainly not ‘construction’ because it’s just a matter of bolting it all together and making sure it doesn’t fall over. OK, now I’m getting confused so will move along …

It’s 8:40 pm, now, and the batter on my laptop is almost ready to expire, so I will quite.

Tom, incidentally, was removed from the respirator today and is breathing on his own. More improvement which is really the best thing about today. That, and making my bride proud.