A New Place To Call Home For Our Bus

Welcome!

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 13th year anniversary this year. We have made many changes along the way and encourage you to surf around and check it out.

Feel free to leave me a comment as we embark on this new blog.

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HWH Hydraulic Leveling

I have finally finished installing the front kick down leveling jacks, wired up the Leveleze and warning lights along with some work on the front axle. Remember, this complete system came from a Silver Eagle 01 donor coach. The previous post showed what I removed and had to obviously clean up and prepare for the installation.

I had to make the LED and switch panel from some aluminum and mount it near the ticket window so I have easy access to it when leveling. The green lights will tell me when the coach is level when all of the lights are out. It works off a sensor that I mounted in one of the bays under the main floor of the kitchen. I tested the Leveleze prior to installation to make sure it worked and was pleased to find out it did. It was previously mounted over the drive axle and looked like it had been through a rough life. A pretty crude looking test but it was successful.

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Here is the panel that I made, with lots of time polishing to make it look acceptable. The button on the left was the original pump start switch. I checked out the micro-switch that is on the main hydraulic levers and it is functional, but decided to go ahead and prewire this as a backup in case of switch failure. In other words, when you move the lever to extend the jack, the pump with start and feed fluid to the jacks. The toggle switch to the right is connected to the green lights on the bottom. This is used during the leveling process to let me know which low corner to raise first, when the LED’s are off, the coach is level. The red LED’s above are connected to the switches on each jack, if the light is on, that jack is not in it’s fully retracted position. I’ve since used some SS screws to secure the panel.

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I removed the front wheels to have better access to the installation and found some grease zirks that needed attention. Two were missing and one on the curb side connecting rod had been knocked off due to it’s location. I spent some considerable time removing the rod, drill and tap for the new zirk and reinstall it in the proper location. Someone in it’s previous life flip flopped the rod and the zirk and been knocked off. One dust cap was also missing which will get replaced. I had never noticed it before when greasing, so glad I discovered it. Thanks to Daniel for letting me use some specialty tools to fix the problem!

I mounted the pump in the old spare tire compartment. This will give me a good area for any future maintenance and it’s protected from the elements. All cabling, wiring and plumbing is finished with the exception of the rear jacks which will be done after they are installed. Those hoses and wires will be run through the tunnel from front to back.

Here is what the front jacks look like now. I used a 1/4″ thick, 4″ x 2″ x 48″ long upper capped steel beam with lots of angle for bracing for the various side loads.  I spent some time measuring everything to make sure they would be installed in the correct location. I hate welding upside-down, but it’s done and not going to fall off! lol

Driver side.

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Passenger side.

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Don’t look too close at the paint job, a little over spray here and there but it will be taken care of. Just had to add some color to remind myself of the work that was done. lol It’s also missing one grease rubber cap that will be installed soon. What do you expect for a 48 year old bus! lol

The rear jacks are going to be more of a challenge. I have to remove the tag wheels and tires, make the jack mounts and secure them to the frame. That process will take some time so don’t expect me to post the progress anytime soon. lol I’m really only archiving the work I do on our coach for further reference and and to help me remember what was done.

I took the day off yesterday to enjoy Veteran’s Day. We went to Viginian City to view the parade and was not dissapointed. The town may be small but they are very patriotic when it comes time to honoring the Vet’s! One little girl about 6 or 7, stopped and gave me a paper heart that she had colored and thanked me for my service to our country. I was very touched by her thoughtfullness. We also enjoyed some free meals at a couple of casino’s, which was very nice. It was a very good day!

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The weather has been perfect and unseasonably warm for this area, so I was able to really get a lot of work accomplished. I’m told that that is about to change in a few days. In other words, get out the long johns! lol

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New Upgrades for our Silver Eagle 01

We have spent the last year traveling from Abilene to Washington State visiting family and friends along the way. We attended the North West Bus Nuts Rally In The Gorge last month and had a blast. It was great to see old friends and make new ones. We spent the summer in Bend with my brother and his wife, fishing and sightseeing. Such a beautiful area to explore. So, not anything was done to Dreamscape, until now.

We are in Gold Hill, NV for the next several months staying with our friends Paulette and Daniel. I was presented with an offer on our last visit that I couldn’t refuse. The list is quite long and will take several months to accomplish them all. So here is what will be changed, modified and added to Dreamscape.

A Detroit Diesel 8V92T with Jakes, and approximately 2,000 miles on it. It has new factory heads and bunch of new internal parts. Along with a new radiator and custom fan to provide ample cooling. I’m told it’s roughly at around 470 hp, which is a bunch more than our 8V71N. I fired it up before I started the removal and it sounded sweet with no smoke on a cold start. It is coupled to an Allison HT 740 with a Stone Bennett, air over electric to do the shifting.

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(The blue box is a cruise air that I’m not using.)

I will also install an HWH hydraulic leveling system, Bendix Cruise Control and a Kubota 12kw generator to replace our air cooled Onan 12kw genset along with some other modifications. For the first time in it’s 48 year old life, it will have power steering! Yea!

All of these parts are being removed from a Silver Eagle 01, which should make it a very easy, but time consuming transfer. The Ross steering box I already have, I bought it 4 years ago and have been waiting for the right time, this is it!

I’ve already removed and installed the Bendix Cruise with the exception of hooking up the speed sensor to the donor Allison. That will be done when I install the 8v92.

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I finished removing the HWH jacks today along with the wiring, hydraulic hoses and pump. They aren’t pretty but the bones are good. I’ll clean them up and throw some paint on them before I design the mounting brackets.

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Stay tuned for further updates as we move forward. I promise that the next serious of pics will be nicer to look at! lol

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Filed under Allison HT 740, Bendix Cruise Control, Detroit Diesel, HWH Leveling, Silver Eagle Bus, Stone Bennett

Wheel Seal Update

We have driven from Abilene, TX to Tucson, AZ and have not experienced any drive axle Seal leaks! If you remember, I replaced the seals and bearings on the passenger side a few months back. I went back to the original greased bearings and seals.

I am so pleased I can report it’s fixed!

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Successful Test Run

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

Tow Car Hooked Up

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Air Force One Installation

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

Mounted in a 2011 Buick Enclave

Total Coach Protection tank and valve assembly

Total Coach Protection tank and valve assembly

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We Now Have a Real Dash

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.

Passenger side.

Passenger side.

Driver cockpit

Driver cockpit

Passenger Side

Passenger Side

Driver Cockpit

Driver Cockpit

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!

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New Bamboo Floor in Living Room

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.

Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo Flooring

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.

Foam Underlayment

Underlayment

 

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 finished

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

Oak edging with finished bamboo floor

Finished Floor

Close up of Bamboo Flooring

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

Bamboo Quarter Round

 

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Getting Ready to go Full Time Again

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

Our 22′ Zip Dee Patio Awning

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Wipe New Application

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.

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.

Wipe New Kit

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 on the right, covers the hazy aluminum on the left.

Wipe New applied to anodized aluminum siding.

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!

 

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Filed under Detailing Exterior, Silver Eagle Bus

Dreamscape Exterior Paint Is Complete

Our new look

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.

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