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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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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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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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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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Bathroom is Complete

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

Silver Panel on Curved Ceiling

Red Oak Cabinet Frame

Red Oak Cabinet Frame

Red Oak Moulding and Trim

Red Oak Moulding and Trim around Mirrors

Red Oak Moulding and Trim

Red Oak Moulding and Trim

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Some Before and After Shots

It’s time to compare the before and after shots of our Eagle. We are very pleased with the outcome after many, many hours of work. There are a few things not finished, mirrors polished and installed, awning attached and final detail.

It looks completely different than when I first purchased it back in 2003. A huge difference than when The Dixie Echoes owned it. I’ll try to put together more before and after pics, at a later date, from my archives to show the transformation.

All beat up

All beat up

A new look

A new look

All naked and ugly

All naked and ugly

All pretty now

All pretty now

Butt Ugly

Butt Ugly

Much Better

Much Better

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Cheap Bus Wrap and White Roof

I finished wrapping the bus, front and rear, so I could tackle the roof. I sprayed primer and two coats of white. It came our great! A perfect day to “Git Er Done”!

Tomorrow is supposed to be nice also, very little wind and temps in the low 80’s. We’ll see what’s next!

I should have picked a smaller project, huh!

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Curved roof is now white.

Curved roof is now white.

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Sprayed Olympic White Yesterday

I was finally able to spray the rear of the bus with primer and Olympic White paint yesterday. It came out better than expected, nice and shiny. I am so happy as this is the first time the rear of the bus has had paint on it since I stripped it 7 years ago. I am relieved that the original 01 tail light holes came out so good. I had to do some repair work to cover them up. The previous party that did the work used cardboard and bondo to do the patch work. This time we welded aluminum pieces in and did it correctly. I’m also showing the Model 10 window on the passenger side. They will really add in the appearance to the overall look. The most challenging part of preparing yesterday was fighting the wind trying to secure the plastic to protect the coach from any over spray.

I really wanted to continue with priming and painting the curved roof today, but the temps stayed in the lower 60’s. Hopefully tomorrow that will get done.

Silver Eagle Model 10 Windows

Silver Eagle Model 10 Windows

Rear Cap Driver Side

Rear Cap Driver Side

Rear Cap

Rear Cap

Rear Cap Passenger Side

Rear Cap Passenger Side

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