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Routine RV Maintenance

Since the weather has been decent and we have been unable

Quality Filters are an absolute requirement

to work, the break has provided an opportunity to perform maintenance work on all the equipment. Minor repairs and upgrades, fluid and filter changes have been the order of the day around here for the last week.  With all the work completed on the heavy equipment, the Old Girl’s number came up. The engine is a 5.9l “B” Series 230hp Cummins.

Cummins recommends fluid and filter changes every six months if usage levels are not met – according to 1993 guidelines when the Old Girl rolled off the line.   In the last 17 years there have been improved advancements in both the oils and filter technology.  We used to worry the oil would break down somewhat if not changed every 6 months — not so much anymore.  We used to worry the paper elements in the filters would break down and dissolve somewhat if not changed every 6 months — not so much anymore.   In all the equipment including the Old Girl, we service every 12 months if hour or mileage usage rates are not exceeded.  I am comfortable with that.

We use only top tier filters and fluids.  Why scrimp to save a few bucks on something so important?  RotellaT 15W40 or John Deere 15W40 are the oils of choice.  OEM filters are used in the heavy equipment.  Fleetguard or NAPA filters are used in the road equipment.  We do not allow Fram filters in any of the vehicles.

Maintenance on the Old Girl is divided into 3 tasks.

  1. Chassis Lube
  2. Engine oil and filter change
  3. Fuel filters

Chassis lube is pretty straightforward.  I jack up the levelers and just crawl on in there.  Any location where metal moves against metal is probable for a grease zerk.  Just use your head searching them out.  Another tip off is old grease in a location.  If a knuckle or a joint has grease on it, it got there somehow. Look for that zerk!  Most people over grease routinely.  I just grease enough that I can hear it, see a sliver of grease pushing out or expand the rubber boot.  Rubber boots on CV joints and steering components can be ruined by over greasing.  As soon as you see the boot start to expand–  STOP!

Engine Oil and Filter Change is another easy task.   Warm up the engine to make sure all foreign particles are suspended and go to it.  I remove the filler cap so there is no chance of the oil not coming out of the pan due to a vacuum and then I pull the drain plug.  As the oil is draining, I remove the oil filter.  Whenever you are replacing filters,  validate the number on the old filter versus the one you are taking off.  This is so important!   Once the oil has drained,  I replace the plug and spin the new oil filter on.   Don’t overtighten anything!  Many oil pans are aluminum and just a little extra overtightening will strip the threads from the pan and then you are truly screwed.  Snug it up and let it go.  Ditto for filters.  They are so much easier to remove when they are installed correctly.  Put a little oil on the new gasket and snug them up by hand.  Then tighten another 1/4 turn.  That’s it!  No Mas!   Now some filters say tighten 1/2 turn after they are snug and many have instructions right on the filter. Don’t get them too tight!

Fuel filters are a different animal and I always sweat their installation whether it is on

Fuel/water seperator in the side compartment.

a piece of heavy equipment or a road vehicle. Here is the problem. If too much air is introduced when the filters are changed, the engine will not restart. You will have to bleed the fuel system. On some of the dozers, we are not skilled enough to do this ourselves so we have to call a tech out to do it on site. However it comes down, bleeding a diesel fuel system is some kinda headache!

So changing the fuel filters is the most challenging task of all. I approach it very conservatively. The Old Girl has 2 fuel filters. One on the engine block in the vicinity of the fuel pump and a fuel/water separator in the side compartment. I change one filter at a time. First the one on the block and then start the engine and run it up. Then the fuel/water seperator, start the engine and run it up. This reduces the amount of air introduced in the system by 50%. I always fill the new filters with diesel prior to installation and I always lube the gaskets with engine oil. If I was in the side of the road doing an emergency change, I could use automatic transmission fluid or even engine oil to fill the filters if I had to. Oh, one more thing. When I remove the fuel filters, I leave the fuel filler cap in place. it seems less fuel runs out during the filter swap.  When I start the engine the first time after a filter replacement, I remove the filler cap so there is no vacuum. The other thing is I depress the accelerator pedal a few inches when I turn the key. I do not want the engine to fire up at low idle, I want some fuel flowing in there to purge the air. The fuel tank is always full when I do a scheduled fuel filter change. Like I said, I am real conservative when it comes to fuel filter changes.

Generally, I do not open the bleed screw and manually pump the fuel after I change the filters. That is because I am usually in a controlled environment where moving the Old Girl is not critical. If I had to do an emergency fuel filter change on the side of the road in the middle of the night in BFE, you better believe I would crack that bleed screw and pump the fuel manually until it ran out at the bleeder.

Since purchase in October 2005, I have put 22,000 miles on the Old Girl and 1150 hours on the Generac 6.6kw Propane Generator.  I don’t know if that usage is high or low or what.

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Routine RV Maintenance, 10.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
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