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….

Service Brake System Upgrades

Hello again! Recently the service brake valve (a D1) that I rebuilt many moons ago started leaking again. Due to the age of the valve, the age of the rebuild kit, and the general lack of available parts for such an item on the open road, I decided it was time for some changes. While plugging around under the bus, I found that there was some equipment (from the city transit days) that was also leaking. This valve (all torn apart on the bench) was the culprit:

Valve torn Apart

Unknown Valve Torn Apart


Failed Rubber Bits

Failed Rubber Bits

More Failed Rubber Bits

More Failed Rubber Bits

It took some heavy researching to figure out what this valve did. It was installed between the main air-brake service tank and the foot valve in the main pressure line. It also received signals from ‘somewhere’ that I could not find the other end of. The other side of this same “unknown” line went off into a dual input check valve in the rear brake circuit. As much as I boggled my mind (and hit the books) I could not figure out why you would want to interrupt the brake signal. Finally I did some poking around in my New Look book (which I ended up with for $10 off ebay) and found that it was an emergency brake valve (before spring brakes existed). The purpose of this valve was that if there was a massive leak at the foot valve, a small hand-valve at the operators left could be thrown into “emergency mode” which applied air to this valve, closing off air supply to the foot valve. Then, this same signal was sent to the 2-way check valve for the rear brakes, applying the brakes fully and (hopefully) stopping the coach. Crude and rude, but I’m sure it did work (yet was probably never used). It still required air in the main tanks, something that spring brakes do not require (absence of air applies the brakes in an emergency). So, out came the valve, but I was left with a bunch of air-lines to cap/patch/re-connect.

Lots of Air-lines!

Lots of Air-lines!

The next step was to re-connect the service brake pressure line. Of course this was originally heavy gauge copper tubing (at some expense!) but the popular choice is plastic air-brake rated tubing and compression fittings. Removing the old copper line was a real chore (almost too stiff to bend, and grommets installed where it passed through the frame members. I disturbed a LOT of dirt. I out-fitted both ends (valve and tank) with the proper ends and installed a piece of blue 1/2 line.

New fitting on the tank end.

New fitting on the tank end.

Removing the Copper above the front axle

Removing the Copper above the front axle

Removing the copper at the tank end

Removing the copper at the tank end

More copper removal

More copper removal

I needed to reconnect the air brake signal line to the rear brakes once the 2-way check valve was removed. I did some fancy footwork with some fittings and gently bent the copper line to make the connection. You cannot kink this material or it will leak and a leak at this junction would be VERY dangerous.

Reconnected signal to rear brakes (removed the 2-way check valve)

Reconnected signal to rear brakes (removed the 2-way check valve)

Next on the slab was replacing the service brake foot valve up front with the new E3 I purchased of e-bay. Newer valves than this have multiple inputs however The Ghost only has a single supply air-tank system (even though it is two tanks, they are tied together, one wet, one dry). The E3 is a close replacement to the D1 and is available at most heavy truck parts places so it was an easy choice. Earlier valves in the D series have the potential for being set up for city bus service, and thus do not give the operator the option of 100% air brake power (injury to passengers a large possibility without seatbelts). Modern day with modern tires/non-commercial driving means I want the aggressive brakes if I need them.

I purchased a new E3 valve as well as a new treadle + plate assembly off of e-bay (the E series bolt pattern/size is FAR different from the D series). This required welding up the old hole in the floor so that it could be drilled for the new bolt pattern/etc.

Once this plate was installed, the center hole and mounting holes could be drilled. The E3 valve was set up with the proper fittings in the proper directions to allow for existing brake line connections. I also added a supply line to go directly to my spring-brake emergency valve as well as an application pressure port to go directly to the dual-needle gauge in my dash.



I then mounted the plate (after removing the treadle) directly through the coach body down into the E3 valve. Holes are misaligned here because I left ‘wiggle-room’ in all mounting holes to assist in fine alignment.




Lastly I reattached the pedal assembly and installed some 5/16 bolts in the outside perimeter to assist in keeping things tight.



We will see how the new brake valve feels on the road…however so far it is looking fairly promising. The high angle of this pedal assembly can be adjusted with some lathe work on the back-roller however I may keep it like this. Getting full 100% application before was a bit tricky (usually required me to toe-into the pedal). Considering the light amount of driving that The Ghost gets these days, I suspect this pedal assembly will outlast the rest of the coach.

The Ghost Update 8/11/2011

Lot’s going on the world of Ghost work!

On the ‘completed’ list, we have the following:
4-valve head installed
Jake Brakes installed (still need to run wire for switch)
Rebuilt Injectors Installed
Coolant Changed
Overdrive Transmission Acquired
Maxi-Brakes Acquired
Bedroom Bed Finished
Bedroom Flooring Installed
Bedroom Door Underway/Built
Kitchen Sink/Faucet Acquired
Kitchen Framed Out
Refrigerator Controller Acquired (for good price!)
Found Power Loss Issue (collapsing govenor to rack control tube)
Water Tank Installed
AC Units Installed and Operational
Acquired Water Pump/Surge Tank/Filters/Drinking Filter
Bedroom Curtains Made!

On the “currently working on” list, we have the following:
Valve Cover Gasket (had to find a different valve cover!)
Govenor Housing Rebuild
Control Tube Replacement (for 4-valve head)
Water Pump Drive Replacement (discovered an immenant failure!)
Rebuild Front Brake Acutators
Building Black Water Tank & Installing
Pouring bathroom floor (sloped for showers)
Frame out Bathroom wall/sink
Install Water Heater
Install Kitchen Sink
Install Stove
Install Refridgerator
Plumb Water System
Install Maxi Brakes and connect to the Switch
Run Jake Brake wiring

On the “potential list” we have:
Install the Overdrive Transmission

This is, of course, in preparation for The Ghost’s virgin Playa Trip down to Black Rock City, NV.

We’ll see how it goes 🙂

The Ghost Update 6/7/2011

Well it has been awhile since we did an update, so here goes.

Currently there is a sizable list of very large projects being worked on for The Ghost. Starting with the most recent, two full power Coleman Mach I Air Conditioner units were mounted to the roof. One mounted just forward of the kitchen area, and one just aft of the bathroom/clothing storage area divider. These units are both mounted offset to the drivers side so that their most extreme points are just inside the outside dimension of the chassis. This works to my favor in the way that I won’t have my head getting knocked on the AC unit ductwork/controls (as with most RV’s) as well as being able to run the ductwork behind the stock wiring/air cavities in the roof of the bus. Units weigh in at about 80lbs a piece and are very low hour usage. Filters for dust and debris will need to be affixed to both the exterior air intakes as well as the interior air intakes to prevent condenser/evaporator contamination. 1500W heating units may eventually be mounted as well inside this AC units.

Another big task on the list is getting the updated (1960’s) 4-valve head inspected, rebuilt, and ready to swap out in place of the original 2-valve. The main factor in wanting to make this upgrade is the increased availability of Jake Brake assembles for 4-valve heads. The 2-valve head Jake Brakes are quickly approaching impossible to locate, so this upgrade should yield acquiring a set of Jake Brakes for ~$400. The potential head for rebuild came from Dan off a motor that dropped a couple valves and locked up. We’ll see if it is rebuildable. A note on this, a pretty serious inspection of the existing engine required determining if it was of the ‘low’ or ‘high’ block design. The low block being much older, uses a different head-gasket (which is almost impossible to find) and some strange ports on the engine where the newer ‘high block’ does not. Fortunately, it appears The Ghost currently houses a 6-71 Detroit High Block (2-valve). Yay!

With the head, the 6 fuel injectors also need rebuilt, so those are currently in the shop getting rebuilt and balanced within 10%. A few had stuck racks, which can indicate water intrusion, but injectors are easy to come by (relatively) so the replacement rebuilt units should be ready soon.

The water tank was recently ordered (expensive!) however at 125 gallons, it was worth buying a quality marine grade tank that will last for a very long time. Material of choice in this case is a drinking water safe poly (3/8″ wall thickness!). This will be located on the starboard side aft of the rear axle under the sleeping area but inside the passenger compartment to help prevent freezing and road damage. That should arrive soon via freight (also expensive for some reason).

Bedroom/bathroom walls are up, and the door is cut and ready to weld together (1″ aluminum box). Need to insulate and sheet the remaining areas and start working on the bathroom floor. The black water (toilet) tank will likely be made out of stainless steal or some other coated metal to optimize the tank size under the coach (odd shaped compartment, but lots of available volume). I will likely have this sheet plasma cut out, and then weld it together and seal the seams to prevent issues with porosity later down the road.

All the wheels/tires have been upgraded to 22.5″ currently BUDD style rims with new lug nuts/bolts where needed. The ride is very nice with radial ply tires versus the old bias ply design.

A fuel sender was also recently affixed to the fuel tank (mounting/hole already existing!) so that fuel level can be determined via gauge instead of dip tube or guess work. Currently this is a universal sender (Stewart Werner type) and the gauge is a positive ground 12V unit I scored off of ebay. Works good. A 14″x14″ hole was cut in the floor directly above the fuel tank to allow access to the sender for future repairs/adjustments. There is also a breather located nearby that may eventually need service and not having to drop the tank would make this access port well worth while.

The new FanTastic RV vents are working wonderfully and without any water leaks to the exterior. These powered 12V auto open/close w/ rain detector vents make camping a breeze. Now just to have them somehow detect dust and close when the dust storms come 🙂

Once the water tank arrives, I will start fabricating the bed/desk/clothing storage areas. Sound and heat insulation will be affixed wherever possible.

Soon to be also upgraded will be the rear brake actuator so that they can operate with an Emergency Brake mode (so I can stop the bus if I am out of air). The foot valve, a D1, was recently rebuilt on my living room table and I posted a how-to since that is a VERY old rare foot valve to still be on the road. Working flawlessly now and air loss from the main tanks now is far less of an issue when the coach is parked. The windscreen wiper controls are the next biggest source of leak.

Well that is all for now. Many other small fixes here and there have been done…feel free to stop by and check it out if you desire.