Long Time No Update – Waking the Donor Bus

In preparation for some winter project time (and donor-bus gutting), I wanted to get the Series 50 woke up and confirm it’s good for plucking.

A old tank of fuel mixed with some B100 has been hanging out in the fuel tank for quite some time. Unfortunately this meant a bit of work to get the bus back to a running state.

The hand primer pump on the primary filter bit the dust (likely due to biodiesel chewing on it) so air got sucked into the fuel system. Replaced the filter base with a temporary one and a filter I had on hand. I’ll likely replace that hand primer pump base with like because the filter is a very common thread (1″ – 14 pitch). Now that the system had lost prime, I also changed out the secondary filter (which happens to cross reference to a 3120, the same filter used on the Ghost!). I prefilled the filter to help with priming. 

When it came time to start things up, no amount of cranking could get the engine to even so much as cough. Playing with fuel lines, checking filters, etc. had me concerned the fuel pump had also given up. I confirmed the engine was topped with coolant, and while doing so realized that I hadn’t seen a “CHECK ENGINE” light turn on during first power-up. That had me concerned that the ECU may not be receiving power. About that time, while checking connections and doing some more cranking, a battery cable terminal decided it was a good time to melt. 

Battery Terminal Death

With a new terminal installed on the freshly cleaned post and cable end, it was time to give the starter another go. To my surprise the engine coughed on one cylinder. Much more cranking, starter resting, battery charger keeping things topped up, another cylinder came online. As the Series 50 is only a 4-cylinder, it takes more than 2 to maintain an idle. Eventually 3 cylinders caught and it maintained some sort of idle. Throttle response was poor. 

As can be seen, things are better but still far from correct. The fuel system contamination seems to have really cut deep. I continued to let the bus run in Fast Idle mode, shaking itself (and my nearby house). I continued to play with the throttle, eventually being greeted by a Check Engine light popping up on the dash. I confirmed the injector harness between the DDEC module and cylinder head entrance was undamaged. After 15-20min of idling, it started to sound different so shut it down, waited for the power-off, then restarted. Thankfully all 4 cylinders firing smooth as ever. Woo!

I’m guessing that I’ll be replacing injector o-rings while the powerplant is out an accessible. That fuel likely attacked everything rubber that it touched. Next stop is a fuel tank drain and purge the system with fresh/clean diesel. 

More later.

Pre-Mogfest/Burning-Man Trip Upgrades

A short list of attempted repairs/upgrades. We’ll see how far through the list we actualy get.

  • Replace Engine Water Pump – This started leaking out the shaft seal at Alvord but hasn’t leaked since. A replacement has already been acquired.
  • Adjust slack adjusters on brakes
  • Convert new-to-us front air-conditioner to function with residential thermostat
  • Finish cleaning and painting CockPit Area
  • Re-mount HAM & CB Radio
  • Re-mount driver electric fan
  • Re-mount backup camera screen
  • Add rubber air-dam under radiator to prevent mixing at low speed
  • Insulate around front Fantastic Fan
  • Connect front Fantastic Fan to power source
  • Mount bedroom 12V LED reading light
  • Fix sliding bedroom door
  • Vibration isolate potable water pump
  • Add additional LED light strip in kitchen
  • Build curtain rod and mount for Miles sleeping zone
  • Cig socket in bedroom
  • Fix Satellite Radio power Cord (or replace)

I’m sure more projects will present themselves…whee!

Post SOAK*2016 Repair

Well, quick post to update what I found causing the earlier mentioned coolant leak in the heating circuit.

It appears that a rather tight bend in the heater hose turned into a fold at some point (though still flowing water) and the brass-tube inserted inside (where connected up to the 12V Aux Pump) sawed through the hose and produced a TINY LITTLE CUT.

Heater Hose Damage

Damn…little cut, big water.

A fairly easy repair all in all. Drop the muffler, cut off the bad section of hose, re-route and push back onto the pipe and clamp down. Appeared to be okay for this last trip, but a LOT of extra zip-ties helped the situation.

I can still taste the coolant….

SOAK*2016 & Broken Stuff

Fresh back from The Portland Regional Burning Man Event SOAK*2016, a photo of camp!



A fairly laid back short jaunt out to Tygh Valley, Oregon with only a couple hiccups along the way. We’ve been fighting cooling issues for quite awhile. I recently completely blocked off the bypass tube (since The Ghost has a shutter-stat for the radiator) and this drastically improved our overheating issues.
While exiting off I-84 westbound in The Dalles I noticed something in my mirror. Closer inspection showed that liquid was flying from the area of the exhaust pipe. I snapped my eyes to the temperature gauge and it showed a nominal 184F so we pulled it over and had a gander. What I found damaged was not unexpected. Upon installing the new exhaust system years ago and re-routing heater hoses I had one that was precariously close to the GIANT muffler. I had added abrasion resistance material but I’m sure that is worn through or fallen away. We shut off the lower valve to the heater system and blocked the upper (somewhat haphazardly) with a plastic bag (great material suggestion by Em after my initial glove blockage failed!) . Lots of steam, a coolant top-up, and a few 1st degree burned fingers later, we were back on the road..

Going to have to repair that hose and re-route it somewhere more intelligent. Always a pleasure working under a 20,000lb vehicle.

Our next adventure is the Alvord Desert for some friends/family camping time doing very little but enjoying the scenery and good company. We’ll bring the Haflinger, a land-sailer, and the Trail 90 motorcycle for additional outings. Last year the dude was just over a month old so we’ll see how he fairs this year.

VS2-8 Fix Update – Repaired!

As some may recall, from my last post, the ‘replacement’ transmission for The Ghost ended up being an incorrect ratio (non-ideal) and would require some fancy footwork on the old transmission to make things work.

Well, all that work is now complete and The Ghost is back into operational status! The transmission repair and replacement ended up being a breeze. Using the good overdrive planetary + clutch pack from the ‘new’ transmission to install on the damaged ‘old’ transmission, I ended up with a fully functional (and hopefully happier shifting!) overdrive! The transmission pan (upon inspection) was rather clean and while in there I added a couple 1/4″ washers to the pressure regulator spring stack on the fluid pump to give a little extra pressure in the heat.

The only remaining projects are to cut the hole for the transmission oil cooler in the side door, tidy up a couple little leaks, and do a final hose/bolt check after the NorthWestMogFest shakedown run!

I snapped some photos through the process randomly so enjoy!

Picture of the completed setup:image

The repaired transmission ready to go back on the transmission jack and be installed:


The freshly cleaned flywheel housing with good used bushing installed in the flywheel. This bushing was from the ‘new’ transmission and fit so tightly that I have no issue using it versus machining a new one.


Another photo of the new transmission preparing to be installed:


A photo (for documentation) of the required modification (in addition to shaving the ring down for proper end-play) to the spacer ring around the starter area for clearance.


Here’s a photo of the milling bed being set up to shave down the bellhousing spacer (removed 0.230″ from one spacer to properly set the end-play on the splitter O/D gear pack).


Here’s another photo (thanks Andy!) of me using a cordless drill to run the rotary table around while removing material off the spacer. Worked well!











Here’s a photo of the ‘old’ clutch pack and sun gear assembly after removal from the ‘old’ transmission input shaft. You can see the black sun gear in the bottom left.


This is what I found (expected) when I removed the transmission. Blown up planetary gears and a damaged sun gear.



All in all the whole process was made a LOT easier by having a cement driveway, taking my time, and having milling machine access for doing the spacer ring adjustment (thanks again Andy!) Let’s see if we can keep this setup together so I don’t have to repair it for a 3rd time! Getting tired of having to swap transmission parts right before Burning Man 🙂

Thanks for checking in!