Maintenance

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dsmithy

New member
Oct 27, 2019
16
10
3
Maintenance

Here I sit, crouched in the doorway of my classic GMC motorhome, hunched over a small dirty motor, puzzling over access to its bearings while a glorious fall day whispers through the open windows. The faint howl of complaint from the furnace motor on our last outing leads me to this moment. I’ve read the sundry newsletters and published data and, finding nothing definitive about the furnace, realize that I haven’t even taken it apart to look at its condition. So, here I sit, squeezing some productivity out of a beautiful fall day that really wants to be spent in the woods under a tree.

For a long time I puzzled over the tendency for tradition in the GMC community to be carried through the retelling of horror stories. Tales of idyllic travels gone awry, daring rescues and the kindness of strangers seemed to form the key difference between a GMC and say, a Holiday Rambler. I know better now, but like everyone else I still like a good story.

In my coach, pulling the furnace from its home under the sink isn’t really much of a deal, and the outside covers yield easily before the wires connecting the various interlocks and safeties are dealt with. I disassemble with approval the rubber connective duct and some clever mounting ideas. This is not so complicated.

There are good reasons for choosing a motorhome as a tool for recreation, and Virginia and I drag them out whenever someone who lacks the adventure gene snickers at our old GMC. But the reasons for buying a “classic” motorhome are somewhat more elusive. It’s certainly not the tinker-factor. You might say that about someone who owned an old British sports car and be half true, but you’d take it back when you watched their eyes light up as they drove it. “Classic” carries much, much more meaning than simply “old.”

The burner and heat exchanger have comparatively little rust which I decide is the result of a life spent in Arizona. Fine with me. I spend time puzzling out the use of the long shaft to drive both the combustion air and heated air blowers, and discover that ease of lubrication was not on the agenda when the thing was designed. Well, so life moved a little slower in ‘73.

The GMC magic lies in the genius of an original design which, despite assaults from reason, economics and aggravation, says “I’m worth it.” Somehow, they managed to nicely balance the long list of compromises which define a particular RV design; just ask any long-time owner. I swear, I’ve walked around our coach in the quiet of the woods at night worrying over the burden of questionable bearings, wheel alignment and leaking windows and heard a gentle, assured “yeah, but I’m worth it” quiet the clamor of all my maintenance demons.

Basically, items have to be removed one at a time, in order, from each end of the long shaft to release the motor ends and reveal the bearings. Happily, the certainty that I’d shoot one of the brushes out the door into eternity proved unfounded, and in due course, the bushings were exposed, inspected and lubricated.

So, here I sit listening, finally, to an almost silent furnace fill the coach with warmth and I realize that its done it again. Yet another gift from an old friend. My GMC, whose very soul is a journey has taken me on yet another, and the minutes have melted into hours and I’ve been transported for a while, like a child happily stringing beads, to yet another place of peace. Thanks again, old friend. Another journey taken, another splendid fall day honored without a mile added to the odometer.

I drive home contented, but glad I didn’t start the engine. That would have reminded me I need to change the oil.
 

Agoogol

Member
Mar 3, 2020
67
10
8
Centennial CO
Nicely written ode to the magic and allure of the GMC...but I do wonder....when did you write this?

"a glorious fall day "

It's not fall!
 

dsmithy

New member
Oct 27, 2019
16
10
3
Thanks for the kind words Kevin.
I wrote it in the '90's (in November) and stumbled on it again a few weeks ago. I thought there were a number of things that were unclear so I rewrote it for where my wee brain is right now. Having done that I decided to just post it since this particular corner of the forum seems to be the very definition of backwater. In point of fact I considered changing "fall" to "spring," but then, the way I do maintenance the furnace would never be a spring project. Truth be told, only the imminent need for heat would push me there, thus, a fall project it must be.
 

Matt Colie

Active member
Oct 25, 2019
225
50
28
Doug,

I just reread the long paragraph above and along with the "Yes, but I'm worth it" you seem to have missed the non-trivial fact that what you have is not just a classic, but a classic for a reason. It is most like a Duesenburg. I, at one time, was keeping the boat for a man that had two of them. The 30something J model could still pull up to 90 in second gear. Well, a TZE might not be fast, but talk to other RV owners and find out what the day's drive limiter is, and the usual answer is that they are exhausted and beat up at the end of the day.

What you have is not a box on a truck or a repurposed tour bus. This is a real big advantage. Well we were both younger, but we did log a 1101 mile day and only quit because the rally wasn't open at that time of the morning. We can still drive all day and not be tired or sore.

And, get talking to other RV owners about repairs, theirs are no less frequent and sure aren't any less expensive than what we face. If it is a retired commercial coach, Hang on Betty. They can burn the numbers right off your credit card.

Over at GMCnet, the most common topic does seem to be repairs. The big difference is that (kind of like above) most of the owners are not complaining, but a bragging about what they managed to do. They can do it all and most are proud of the fact. In 16 travel seasons and 70k+ miles, Chaumière has been on a hook twice. We were able to effect repairs on the road with the help of the community and were only a little late getting back to the mooring.

I have always felt that if there is a creation of man that has a soul, it is a vessel under sail. With all the other stuff that has passed trough my life, she is the first non-vessel that makes me feel that again.

Matt
 
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dsmithy

New member
Oct 27, 2019
16
10
3
Doug,

I just reread the long paragraph above and along with the "Yes, but I'm worth it" you seem to have missed the non-trivial fact that what you have is not just a classic, but a classic for a reason. It is most like a Duesenburg. I, at one time, was keeping the boat for a man that had two of them. The 30something J model could still pull up to 90 in second gear. Well, a TZE might not be fast, but talk to other RV owners and find out what the day's drive limiter is, and the usual answer is that they are exhausted and beat up at the end of the day.

What you have is not a box on a truck or a repurposed tour bus. This is a real big advantage. Well we were both younger, but we did log a 1101 mile day and only quit because the rally wasn't open at that time of the morning. We can still drive all day and not be tired or sore.

And, get talking to other RV owners about repairs, theirs are no less frequent and sure aren't any less expensive than what we face. If it is a retired commercial coach, Hang on Betty. They can burn the numbers right off your credit card.

Over at GMCnet, the most common topic does seem to be repairs. The big difference is that (kind of like above) most of the owners are not complaining, but a bragging about what they managed to do. They can do it all and most are proud of the fact. In 16 travel seasons and 70k+ miles, Chaumière has been on a hook twice. We were able to effect repairs on the road with the help of the community and were only a little late getting back to the mooring.

I have always felt that if there is a creation of man that has a soul, it is a vessel under sail. With all the other stuff that has passed trough my life, she is the first non-vessel that makes me feel that again.

Matt
You make a very good point Matt. "Classic" is an earned and deserved title and not just the automatic identifier of something old. I wouldn't for a minute want my musings to be interpreted as being frustrated with our GMC or its maintenance needs. Indeed, Wanabizo has been a beloved member of our family since 1995. And I have been on the hook but once with a failed transmission when Larry Weidner came to the rescue.

The day I was writing about came as a surprise to me because I had always been focused on the safety and running gear; and a gentle task that did not involve covering myself with grease or crawling on my belly like a reptile turned out to be surprisingly satisfying. Much like balancing the carburetors on a Triumph TR3, it was a little fussy, but not really challenging and the music that resulted was just a little truer, more comfortable. Exploring in our GMC is one of the greatest joys in our life, but that day taught me that my relationship with the coach had lots more potential than I had realized. It happened in the first two years of ownership when the coach and I were still cautiously circling each other.

I have been taking your admirable advice on the forum for years and am grateful for your generous greeting to newcomers.
When you say, "I have always felt that if there is a creation of man that has a soul, it is a vessel under sail. With all the other stuff that has passed trough my life, she is the first non-vessel that makes me feel that again." please note that even this non-sailer is with you entirely.
 

pvfjr

Active member
Oct 4, 2019
219
49
28
36
Aumsville OR
I did do some maintenance on a furnace in the spring. We were prepping for the first camping trip of the year. I'd have not thought it was strange if you'd changed it.