I’m glad you found us. This blog is about the building and enjoyment of our 1968 Silver Eagle. Our journey started in 2003, celebrating our 10 year anniversary this year. We have made many changes along the way and encourage you to surf around and check it out.
I had to hurry and copy some threads from my Project page on the Eagles International website, start this blog and make some quick changes. It appears that their website will be headed to the graveyard in the sky soon, so I needed to save as much as possible.
Feel free to leave me a comment as we embark on this new blog.
We went for a short test run of the completed Air Force One installation and towed our 2011 Buick Enclave for the first time. I finally was able to install the brake notification LED light in the Buick early in the morning. I can see it come on through my backup camera monitor. That tells me the braking system is working properly. I ran a few wires and mounted it on the backside of the rear view mirror.
I did the initial test after I hooked up the air line from Dreamscape to the Buick to make sure it worked properly. As we were heading out of the RV Park I had Becky sit in the pilot seat while I got in the Buick. She drove a few feet then applied the brakes. I could watch the pedal move, knowing the brakes were being applied. We came to a very smooth stop.
Since this was the first time towing the Buick I was a little nervous. I could tell the difference in the additional weight as opposed to our previous tow cars, Jeep Wrangler and the Jetta. The nervous part was just the fact of towing a car for the first time, it went away once we got up to speed. I stopped after about 7 miles to check all of the towing connections.
We are getting closer to our departure from Abilene to SoCal and have a few things to do to prepare for the trip. I’m glad the installation performed flawlessly so I can check that off the list and move forward.
Here is a shot of how it all looks when the Buick is hooked up behind the coach.
Tow Car Hooked Up
After much consideration and recommendations we decided to install the Air Force One brake system on our bus and towed.
Air Force One – SMI
This installation is for a coach with air brakes. I wanted a proportional system and they are the only ones that provide that.
I installed the necessary hardware on our 2011 Buick Enclave last week and finished installing everything on the coach today. I found several YouTube videos that were a great help. It does come with instructions but watching a video is a great way to see what is involved.
Each towed car is set up different, so you need to decide where the controller and the air tank with the metering valve should go.
I mounted the controller behind the front panel covering the radiator on the Enclave. I decided that would be a good place out of any weather and heat. The toughest part was running the 1/4″ DOT air line through the firewall. They don’t make things easy anymore on these newer cars. I cut into the steering wheel boot and ran it through there. Then I attached the cable for the actuator cylinder just below that. Being careful not to drill into anything, like brake or A/C lines. It worked out just fine.
I called the manufacturer today to ask them if it was necessary to mount the Total Coach Protection tank and valve where they suggested, by the brake valve for the rear axle. The bulkhead was pretty full and everywhere I tried it just wasn’t to my satisfaction. Hoses and suspension parts were way to close for comfort for me. They said I could mount it anywhere, fore or aft. I chose aft. I chose a spot that would be easy for any necessary repair work, although I’m sure it will last a very long time. I installed it in the old A/C compartment next to the engine. I ended up buying more 1/4″ DOT air line due to the longer run.
I will test the system shortly to make sure everything is in working order. I’m confident that it will work as I was very careful during the installation to make sure there would be no hiccups.
Here are a couple of pics showing where the Air Force One Operating Unit is located and also the Total Coach Protection assembly.
Mounted in a 2011 Buick Enclave
Total Coach Protection tank and valve assembly
I finally got around to installing our new dash we bought last year. I tore out the old one and redid some of the wiring to fit the new location of the gauges and switches. We had to also choose a color to go with our interior theme. I really wanted to cover it in vinyl, after talking with a few bus nuts I decide that it was beyond my capabilities. I don’t like saying that but sometimes you have to just say so.
When I first got the bus it has a dash that someone had made our of plastic. I didn’t like it so I built one. That was one of the first things I made out of oak, and you could tell. Becky said it looked pretty good to her, but I’m a guy that likes things to look better.
I could not fit our back up camera monitor in the same area as the stereo so I mounted it overhead above the driver. I think I will like the new location better as I don’t have to move my head to view our toad, just move my eyes up a bit. It’s an older B/W model that is pretty deep. The new ones are a flat screen but I couldn’t justify making a purchase when the old one works just fine.
I will say this, the new dash took a lot of work to get it to fit. I still have a few things to do to finish it off, but it will be just fine for now.
We also will install new vinyl on the inside of the entrance door. I’ll post a pic next week when after we finish it. Along with a new bulb seal to eliminate any air infiltration. The old one is shot and needed to be replaced anyway. I’m also going to design and build a door stop. Right now we have two straps to stop the door from hitting the curb side mirror. We’ve broken two pieces of glass from the wind catching it. It has worked good but with the new bulb seal extending all the way down on the hinge side, a new idea had to materialize.
I also purchased a dash cam for recording our travels, which I hope we never have to use for evidence in case of an accident.
Here is a couple of before and after pics.
I am trying to accomplish a few things before we leave Abilene next month heading to AZ and CA, visiting family and friends along the way. We’ll spend the winter in Murrieta, just north of San Diego and then next spring we’ll make our way up to Bend, Oregon. It will be nice to be closer to our Mom in Salem and also my brother and his wife in Bend. We are looking forward to this journey. Spending the winter closer to our kids and grands will be fantastic! They might get tired of seeing us more often! HA
Besides, Becky retires on October 14th! Hot Dang! No more alarm clocks to wake up to!
After carpet in our living room twice, no more. We decided to look for acceptable flooring and came upon some very nice solid Bamboo at HD. It is tongue and grooved, sides and both ends. I found out that this is just as dense as oak and very durable. We opted for the solid strand woven, harvest finish, 3/8″ thick. There are many styles and colors to choose from, but this one caught our eye.
We purchased 3 boxes, enough to do the LR with some to spare including very little waste. You have to lay down some underlayment, which is basically foam with one side foil. We bought one roll of 100 sq. ft., which enough to do the living room and bedroom.
We moved furniture, electric fireplace and stuff on the driver side and proceeded to rip out the carpet and padding. This was fun! It was a high-end carpet but found out that carpet is very hard to keep clean in such a small space. With two dogs and West Texas dirt, you get the idea.
After installing the flooring on one side, we moved our couch to the new flooring so we could do the other half. The holes in the wall is from two different ideas for an eating table and seating. After installing them we decided that we never ate there, always at the couch. So out they went, which left some holes for me to deal with later.
One half installed
Here are a couple of shots of what it looks like after completion. When I installed the carpet the last time I made up some red oak edging to hold down the carpet. We were very lucky that the new bamboo flooring slide right under the edge, which made for a nice clean finish. It was like we planned that way all along! lol
Close up picture
I nailed down the perimeter along the side walls and the transition to the kitchen flooring. The rest was laid in place using a rubber mallet to make sure each piece was tight and snug to each other. Once the flooring was down we installed some Bamboo 3/4″ quarter round to finish it off, nailed to the oak base. We are so pleased with the end result that we’ve decided to also do the bedroom very soon.
Bamboo Quarter Round
We are moving back into the bus at the end of this month, 7 days away from now. Our time here as a caretaker has come to a close as we’ve decided to downsize and prepare for our journey up to the Pacific Northwest later this year. We’ve enjoyed staying in this old house and it also gave me some space to paint the bus. Now it’s time to begin another chapter.
I never did get around to installing our Zip Dee patio awning after I painted the bus, procrastination at it’s finest I guess. I ordered the new Flex Key, 22′ of it and received it a few days ago. Now how am I going to get this heavy awkward awning up on the bus. I really do my best to figure out how to do things by myself to challenge my thinking. Sometimes it works, and sometimes not. This is one of those NOT times.
The last time I did this I had lots of help, 4 guys and great weather. This time not so much. It was a cloudy cool day with rain heading our way in the afternoon. Living in West Texas you can always use some rain so I’m not complaining.
I was very lucky to acquire the help of one friend, who is retired and available. I couldn’t sleep the night before trying to figure out how two guys could put it up without much trouble. I was successful in some of the planing, not so in some other. I won’t go into boring details on what I figured wrong, but highlight what went right. HA
It actually went up pretty good. I had installed the Flex Key on the leading aluminum slat the day before and needed to find a way to give me some help in holding it up while I slid one side into the rail slot and the other into the other slat section on the awning. I was parked under a tree and just so happened a branch was in the right location. I threw up a rope and ran the slat through it while I inserted it and slide the pieces together. My buddy was holding up the other end of the awning while I worked the sections together. Two guys standing on extension ladders 10′ off the ground is no picnic but we prevailed.
Then it was time to wind up the tension spring to help make it retract easier. The first time I didn’t have enough tension, so I gave it more turns while trying to not hit my buddy on the head. If you know anything about a Zip Dee awning, you know what I’m talking about.
It all worked out great, two guys, two hours and nobody got hurt. Here is the result.
Our 22′ Zip Dee Patio Awning
A very good friend of mine, Sonnie Gray, used this on his Eagle and had very good results. His aluminum siding had spots on it from a truck wash and it made them disappear.
Works great to bring back the color.
I went to Walmart and bought one bottle to try it out. I first used it on the plastic lenses and was amazed at how much better they looked. Went back and bought one more bottle to have enough to do the siding.
This is the kit to use.
I cleaned the siding real good with Dawn and water, let it dry and started applying it following the directions. I was really impressed on how easy it is to apply it. You just have to be careful not to get it on anything painted. It hides the milky appearance that many old Eagles have on their siding. It covered the ghost lettering so good you can’t even see it. It leaves a very slick surface, water beads up, dust does not cling to it.
I applied this in August and it still looks great in November. It’s supposed to last a couple of years, we’ll see.
Wipe New on the right, covers the hazy aluminum on the left.
Wipe New applied to anodized aluminum siding.
I still have some left of the second bottle. So for 40 bucks it was a great investment.
In the past I have tried brake fluid, WD-40 and PB Blaster. It looked good for a day or two but they collected dust due to the oily residue.
Our 46 year old anodized aluminum siding has new life!
Our new look
I guess I forgot to add a picture of the final result. Here she is in all her glory! We are so happy with the end result, it really made a huge difference in the appearance of our coach.
I really like the look by adding the front side slanted windows from a Model 10. They fit perfectly on our 01.
I got to make some sawdust this past week adding some red oak moulding and make up a cabinet frame for our towels. This was the last thing to do on the inside of our coach.
We had some plastic silver paneling left over from our bedroom that was used on the curved part of the ceiling, so I put it to good use. It really made a difference in the appearance. The light over the toilet is 12 volt, while the sink lighting is 120.
We have a pocket door that separates the bathroom and bedroom from the front half of the coach. I designed the bathroom that way to give us more room, I hate small cubby holes for a sink and toilet. Ours is very open and easy to get around in. We do have a curtain between the bathroom and bedroom for additional privacy if needed. There is a Fantastic Fan above the sink and toilet area for ventilation. To the side of the cabinet there is a switch to activate a 12 volt water pump while boondocking.
I really enjoyed this part of our build. It’s always enjoyable to come up with an idea and see the end result.
Silver Panel on Curved Ceiling
Red Oak Cabinet Frame
Red Oak Moulding and Trim around Mirrors
Red Oak Moulding and Trim
I thought I would share some information that I hope is helpful. I sanded the entire bus with 320 grit using a DA sander. I bought the sandpaper at Harbor Freight, trying to save a few bucks. The last batch I got from my paint supplier here in Abilene. The cost was a little over double for the same count, 100 on a roll. They are PSA (pressure sensitive adhesive) discs. My experience was this. I should have used them from the beginning. They last over 5 times longer and don’t plug up. End result, better finish in much less time. The box shows holes in them, mine was a solid pad, therefore no holes. I guess they use the same picture on all of their sanding products.
I was able to polish the mirrors and install them along with painting the wiper arms a satin black. She is starting to look like an Eagle now!
We had a very severe hail storm on Thursday evening that did significant damage to parts of Abilene. Hail as large as a tennis ball were reported. Parts of Abilene just got rain, we got hail! I’m estimating that this stone was much larger as we didn’t arrive home until 45 minutes after the storm had left the area. Can you imagine the damage it can cause, Wow!
We did incur some to the bus. Several dents on the roof, barely seen from the ground. Roof marker light destroyed along with a marker light lens on the rear cap, our front and middle A/C shroud did not survive. They were very old and brittle, they will get replaced. I fixed the marker lights, will leave the dents alone for now, may not even worry about it.
I tried to clean off the silicone from a previous owners installation and failed, broke 3 or 4 light assemblies in the process.
Why anybody would do this is beyond me.
I did install new side marker lights/turn signals, both sides. I chose Grote LED’s to improve the functionality and brightness of them.
Here they are in action. I had one license plate light out, it has been replaced so all lights are operational! Yay!