December 2017

Well, the book says there’s an oil life monitor which allegedly comes on between 8500-10,000 miles. There’s no OIL LIFE % LEFT indication anywhere, so at some point this warning MAY come on. Then it needs to be reset. The procedure is in the Operator Manual. Oh no…. one of those push all pedals for 5.6 seconds, and scratch your head while singing “Twinkle, twinkle little star”….. WHY? WHY?  Meanwhile I’ve gotten weary of the long distances vehicles let you drive between changes compared to just a few decades ago. (Long story, involves other vehicles) Bottom line is that there’s nothing WRONG with changing the oil/filter more often and there MAY be some benefit, so I did it at about 7000 miles. Straight forward procedure. Drain, replace filter, refill. Done. Have to check for grease points, it was pretty chilly and the FD does NOT fit inside the shop. Other than that there is not a whole lot in the book about maintenance. Unlike the Freightliner Chassis on the diesel pusher. Oh baby……

And for more thought on the subject….. There was a long discussion on oil types and change intervals on the fordtransitusaforum to which I added the following:

Oil does two things….. 1: It lubricates, and 2: It captures contaminants into suspension and delivers them for the filter to be removed. It also helps with thermal distribution, ie smoothing out the hot spots in the engine, but that is something even salad oil will do, so not really germane to the conversation here.

1: Lubrication….. Tolerances are getting tighter and tighter. And yes, the finicky turbos may need lube too. (Differs from model to model). So, sticking to a good oil is a good idea, and sticking to the manufacturers recommended viscosity is also probably a good idea. Of course during warrantee periods it’s a no brainer. Also, there is no apparent monetary incentive for the manufacturer to push the edge on viscosity. 5-30 costs the same as 5-20…… think about that.

2: Removing contaminants……. The oil filter gets most of it, but not all. That’s why it’s black when you drain it. VERY fine particles, but particles none the less. Carbon, same stuff diamonds are made of. Is it abrasive? On a microscopic level yes. Does it matter a whole lot to the engine? Hard to say. Bottom line is: Clean oil is probably better than dirty oil. Ever take a 200K mile engine apart? There’s brown gunk in there. I think it’s safe to assume that less gunk is better.

Change intervals. This is where marketing comes in. Selling a vehicle that needs an oil change every 3000 miles is harder than selling one that only needs it every 10,000 miles. Same with the life expectancy of oil. We all know oil is not cheap, so one that will last twice as long for only a few bucks more is better right? So, the manufacturers have upped the intervals. And they’ve installed these monitors that have “sophisticated algorithms” to calculate oil life. Sure. Did you know that when the filter starts clogging it increasingly by-passes and there’s no way to tell? (There is on my jet engine…. they tell me to shut it down when that happens…..)

Soooo, we can have PAGES of discussion on how we each do it…. but with the above in mind I change my oil about every 5-6000 miles regardless of whether the monitor comes on. I use 5-30 as that’s what it says on the cap, and I buy NAPA full synthetic which also happens to meet the controversial Dexos standard as there are 2 GM products that require it in my fleet. By the cases when on sale.


EDIT: The warning finally came on….. at 10,250 Wow.


Dead battery, dead radio.

So I did it. Me who doesn’t want an automatic transfer switch so I can control things left the two banks paralleled, with the inverter on powering the small battery charger for the sound system…… and went on vacation.

Yup, you guessed it, deader than a door nail when I got home. No problem I said…. connected shore power, kept the two banks paralleled and fired up the charger. (80A) 20 minutes later it fired right up. HA!. Except the radio didn’t work. Fuse good…..

Dealer said… “Hmmm, no idea, why don’t you bring it in”. Not so fast… Forum suggested I disconnect the battery NEGATIVE cable(s). for a few. Which I did. 20 minutes to be precise. Reconnected and viola…. back in business….. Figure I’d share…..


June 2019 Rear Brakes

36000 miles…. and a horrible screeching and metal on metal noise from the rear. Brakes, yup. Not a lot of miles, and mostly highway at that. There’s some theories as to why, stability control being one of them. But, as it was I had to replace pads and rotors. No problem, done it many times before. Not so fast, this one’s a little more exciting. After removing the calipers one discovers that the axle has to come out to replace the rotors. (Minimal blood loss from the diff.) There’s some really nice Youtube vids on this. Remove the bolts, pull the axle, turn the rotor and it comes right off. Nope. After some serious whacking with a big hammer the rotor eventually comes off. Lots of never seize applied on re-assembly of the new one. Then you have to reset the caliper to accept the new pads. The caliper activates with the foot pedal but also with the emergency (parking) brake. This part is self adjusting and you can’t just shove the pistons in. They have to be pushed AND turned. There’s ways to do this with the tools you already have, but it’s a LOT easier to use the right tool. But wait, one more surprise, one side is clockwise, the other COUNTER clockwise…. forget which one is which, but there’s little arrows in the casting…. find them with a small wire brush. So here’s the tool: (The two threaded pieces are opposite thread)……Screen Shot 2019-08-17 at 10.01.26 PM.png

So there you have it….. Moral of the story… Pull your wheels once in a while and check the pads. Replace early.