Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Brakes - again!

The brake parts took almost 2 weeks to arrive. Seems like nobody has them anymore, they had to be ordered from the US. Meanwhile, the Travco was parked in Dad's driveway, unable to move since it had no brakes at all. Dad took all the ld brakes line out, rusted or not. He wanted to start from scratch and get new brakes lines everywhere.

Dad repainted the frame with some anti-rust paint, and winterized the vehicle with RV antifreeze, as the temperatures are now well below freezing every night. Some other works have been finalized too:

Air conditionning shroud

Here's how the air conditionning unit looked like:

We took the shroud off a few weeks ago when working on the electrical system. It was in pretty bad shape, with many cracks and missing vents. Dad was thinking of replacing it but since this plastic thing is pretty expensive Dad figured it was worth trying to fix it. New vents and some rivets, and it turned out good enough:

Door stopper

I don't know how to call this thing but it prevents the door from opening wide and hitting the awning pole behind it everytime. A nylon strap and a spring loaded roller, from and old car seat belt, mounted on the top corner of the door. Works really good, so much that Gerry was thinking of installing a similar thing on his own motorhome (forget it buddy, that's for Travcos only!)

Arm rests

Not sure if they could be called "armrests" since you can't really rest your arms on them. They had water damage, so dad took them out and fixed them, with new vinyl and foam.


The brake parts finally arrived:

Nice new parts out of the box!
Nice bill too... Total cost for two rebuilt hydrovacs and a brand new master-cylinder (no rebuilt was available) is $1350. Ouch!
That's the most expensive repair so far on this restoration project, and one Dad never thought he would have to do when he bought the vehicle.
But one can expect such surprises when buying a 32 year-old motorhome. It is a costly one, but it is a safety issue, and on the other hand Dad didn't had to fix the engine, the transmission or other very expensive stuff.

Dad installed the new hydrovacs and pump, and then undertook one of the toughest jobs so far on the motorhome: install new brake lines averywhere. It looks like there's a few kilometers of brake lines in a Travco: two are from the master-cylinder, at the front of the vehicle, to each hydrovacs, wich are located under the vehicle about in the middle. Then front the hydrovacs two more lines are running to the front to what looks like a proportionning valve. From the valve, a line go all the way back to the rear axle, and two more lines run to each front brake calipers.

Ok that's not quite a kilometer of tubing, but quite a lenght anyway. Each piece must be bent, formed and run, and a flared fitting installed on each end. That's a lot of work. Dad has the right tools for the job, and the Service Manual describes the system.

Eventually everything was hooked up, all was left was pouring the brake fluid in and pump the air out. Dad has to do it twice, this brake system needs quite a lot of fluid and after a lot of pumping there was still some air in the system. To help with the bleeding, Dad made himself a pressure bleeder, wich ensured a continuous supply of fluid at the pump under a slight pressure without the need for a helper to pump the pedal. Even then, a second attempt was required, because his first makeshift bleeder wasn't working very well. Here's what it looked like, hooked to the brake pump:

So Dad made a second bleeder wich this time was working perfectly. It can be seen on the next picture. This picture is darker because in the meantime Dad had sprayed the frame with some black antirust paint:

Some more air came out, and even if it can be considered satisfactory, Dad believes there is still probably some air left in the system somewhere, and the brake pedal stil has a slight spingy feel to it. However, the brakes were good and Dad decided to go out for a road test.

I went along for the ride. The brakes behaved perfectly: they are safe and powerful, bringing the 14000lbs Whale quickly to a stop without much effort. If there is some air left in the brake system, it is certainly not a significant issue, and Dad wil look at it next spring, the braking performance being actually very good.

It was my frist ride aboard the Travco. I must say I enjoyed it very much, the ride is much quieter than what I expected (or course it gets noisier with rattles when hitting bad roads). The large windshields and ride height offer a great visibility. Having spent his carreer driving semis and heavier and larger vehicles, Dad sure enjoys driving his motorhome!

Dad let me drive for a few kilometers, and that was very enjoyable. Having never driven such a large vehicle before, I didn't know what to expect, but the Whale is very civilized and fun the drive, the big V8 humming along effortlessly, and boy are those brakes powerful!

This afternoon ride was the last of the season for the Travco. Time has come to put the motorhome in storage for the winter. Dad used to park his smaller Class C at the end of his yard. Backing the Travco at the same spot required more precautions since it is a pretty tight spot. All will be left is to protect the vehicle for the winter, Dad will be working on this over the next few days.