Sunday, 27 May 2012

We're still here!

It's been almost two years now since I've posted anything on this blog, but we're still here!
Last summer has been a quiet one for the Blue Whale. No large restoration projects or repairs. Mom had knee surgery last spring, and Dad had some work to finish on the house. The Whale hit the road a few times during the summer, mostly towards Lac St-Jean and New-Brunswick, where our families are from.

I'm not expecting any large jobs on the Whale for this summer, in fact the main project for this season may just have been completed last week, as Dad installed a new radiator on the motorhome.


The Whale's radiator certainly wasn't the original one. It probably has been replaced by the previous owners at least once since 1975. It had been leaking for some time, Dad knew about it. The time had come to fix this before ending up with bigger troubles along the road.

Getting the old rad out wasn't as easy as it looked. The rad is held to the frame by 2 metal brackets. Once the coolant was drained, hoses and a few bolts removed, theoritically the rad was free to come out. But it wouldn't bulge, still held by the metal brackets, from wich it was supposed to slide out. Dad finally had to unbolt the brackets themselves, and the whole thing finally came out.
Of course, there isn't much space to work in the nose of a Travco. And the last days were very hot, so Dad attached a tarp in front of the Whale to provide some shade.

Following the advise of his cousin, a master-mechanic, Dad went to a local shop named Radiateurs ACME to have his rad reconditioned. Only the top and bottom part of the rad are reused, and the center core is brand new. The result is a virtually new radiator for a 37 year-old vehicle, they really did a great job.

The radiator came back from the shop with the 2 brackets still attached. Looks like they couldn't take them off either. For some reason they are probably welded to the rad.
Dad's cousin is a good customer at this shop, and this allowed Dad to get a nice discount on his bill!
So a great job and a good price too!

Before putting the rad back in, Dad cleaned and repainted some of the accessories in front of the big 440, in Mopar Blue, of course! New belts were put in, and a new lower radiator hose too (the other hoses were all in good shape).

If you remember my post about the water heater, you may remember that the Travco's water heater was heated by engine coolant. Long coolant hoses are running from the engine all the way to the rear of the motorhome, where the water heater used to be. Since the water heater was taken off the Whale because it was leaking, and since the replacement water heater will probably not use hot engine coolant to work, Dad unplugged those long coolant lines from the rest of the cooling system. (hopefully one of my future posts will be about a new water heater installation, stay tuned!) 

It was the right time also for regreasing the front end components as well.

A quick spray of black paint on top of the front bumper before putting the front grille back on.

I'd like to draw your attention to the photo above. On top left of the radiator is a plastic bag hanging. This is actually the washer fluid reservoir! It may seems strange today, but back in the 60s and 70s, rigid plastic tanks for washer fluid were not that common. This type of soft reservoir, wich reminds me of an IV bag, was fairly common. And this is the original pouch, still leak free and with soft, flexible plastic.
Now if you look on the right side of the rad, there is a hard plastic tank, wich is the coolant overflow tank. Now this one Dad had to almost entirely rebuilt with fiberglass, since the plastic was cracked and very britle. So it looks like the soft pouch-type reservoir wasn't a bad design after all!

In the end the cooling system was refilled, the engine ran up to operating temperature, and then Dan made sure there wasn't any leaks.
All was good, so one more solved issue with the Blue Whale, and above all, one less concerned vacationer on the road!