Showing posts with label Maintenance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Maintenance. Show all posts

Atwood Landing Gear Repair

I purchased a 20 year old Glendale Titanium 5th wheel last year - which hadn't received regular maintenance from what I could tell from various issues I've had with the unit. One issue was noisy operation of the landing gear, and vibration in the landing gear mechanism. Visual inspection of the landing gear mechanism in operation from the basement door showed the gearbox rotating back and forth about an inch on each revolution of the driveshaft, this clearly wasn't normal, plus I had broken tabs on the plastic gearbox case which allowed the gearbox to move excessively. I decided to make some repairs and try to resolve the noise and make the landing gear more reliable. 

The first step was supporting the front of the fifth wheel. My truck has an 8' box and I've only got about 12" of clearance between the back of the box and the front of the basement when the truck is hooked up. I decided to crib up the front of the unit so I could take my time with the repair, and have good access to the basement to completely remove the landing gear. 

Supporting the front with 4x4" cribbing

Once I got the front of the unit supported on the cribbing - with the cribbing directly supporting the frame, I tested the stability before removing the landing gear. It wasn't quite as solid as I expected, so I installed some cross bracing and that removed any side to side movement on the cribbing. Two 2x4" did the trick nicely. 

Cross bracing makes the cribbing much more stable. 

With the front now supported by the cribbing - removal of the landing gear is quite simple. Remove the leg extensions by undoing the pins and pulling them off the landing gear lower section, and then raise the lower sections completely to facilitate disassembly of the landing gear from the trailer frame. 

Landing gear legs removed through the basement hatch.

The landing gear is held to the frame by two c shaped brackets with bolt clamps. Simple to remove once the crossbar has been disassembled. 

With the landing gear removed, disassembly is very straightforward. Belco, my local RV parts supply, had an aftermarket aluminum frame replacement gearbox at a reasonable price, about $100. 

Aftermarket aluminum frame gearbox, dimensionally accurate.

Swapping the gearbox is very simple - several long machine screws hold the motor to the gearbox. It's a straight swap. 

Broken tab on plastic bodied OEM gearbox

This is where I found the main shaft between the gearbox and the driven leg bevel gear was bent. 

Thrust bearing, non-driven bevel gear shaft, and driven leg bevel gear shaft (bent)

The gearbox came with a new bevel gear shaft, so that would take care of the rotation of the motor and gearbox on the driven landing gear leg. Close inspection of the short bevel gear shaft showed some damage to the shaft - a vertical crack in the shaft caused by the leg being driven to full stop under power. It would be a matter of time before this shaft fails. 

Note the crack in the shaft running from the lower pin hole

When I compared the two shafts, I noticed my longer bent shaft didn't have any cracks, and could be shortened to replace my shorter cracked shaft. 

Hole drilled out in bent shaft, and marked to cut to length of the shorter shaft. 

Drilling out the shaft with a drill press. 

I also purchased a new set of bevel gears, which comes with new roll pins. 

Disassembling, greasing, and replacing the acme screw. This is a messy job.

Bevel gear disassembly - short shaft, roll pins, bevel gears, thrust bearing, thrust washer

Acme screw regreasing.

I don't have a lot of photos from this part of the operations - my hands were covered in high pressure grease - difficult to operate the camera with greasy hands and I wanted to get this part of the job done fairly quickly. Re-assembly was straightforward, as was replacement in the RV. 

Once the landing gear was replaced in the RV, I resealed the openings around the landing gear legs with black silicone caulking. Black duct tape was used as a mould for the silicone, to help it set in place and keep the sealant tidy. 

Black silicone sealant around the landing legs when reinstalled.

Let me know if you have any questions - the whole job took a Saturday with all the parts in hand. 


Repairing Cargo Latches and Replacing Seals on a 2001 27EXB (28E33B) Glendale Titanium 5th Wheel

We bought this 20 year old RV earlier this year. One item to repair were the cargo latches on the flip-up door next to the bunk beds. The spring action in the latch was weak - so when you depress the release tab, the lever would not spring up to open the latch. You would have to reach under the level with a fingernail and try to pop it up. In addition, the latch seals were completely rotten, allowing water to get into the door can causing the start of some black mould and rusty hardware.

Starting point - seal half gone, weathered latch body

Some exhausting internet research and I managed to find the same latch for sale on an Asian e-commerce site, however, the inside lever which holds the latch closed did not match my latches. I couldn't find an exact match anywhere, so I decided to order the similar latch and attempt to swap the inside levers from my old latches to the new latch body with new springs and lock cylinders. 

New latch with the shorter inner level. Drilling out the rivets holding the inner lever on the latch.

A few weeks later the new latches arrive, and luckily, they are physically similar. I start by disassembling the inner lever on one of the new latches by drilling out the rivets. The rivets are actually part of the inner lever casting - so when I did the same on the old latches I was very careful to remove a minimum amount of material with a twist drill to facilitate reassembly. 

With the rivets drilled out, the inner lever pulls apart from side to side.

It was then straightforward to transfer the inner levers from the old latch onto the new latch with new springs. The dimensions were all accurate, the o-ring seal which keeps water out of the latch mechanism was transferred off the old inner lever to the new inner lever and everything went back together with some gentle tapping and plier pressure. 

Old latch and inner lever - rivets drilled out and separating the two halves

Reassembling the old inner lever on the new latch - the wood protects the finish on the latch when tapping.

With the inner levers swapped, it was simple to reinstall the latches in the cargo door with the new seals provided with the latches:

New latch installed with new seals

Here's a photo of the old seal next to the new seal - this was the better of the two old seals - the other seal had completely disintegrated.

New and old latch seals

Finally - I reached out to the latch vendor, and ordered some spare sets of seals if you just want to replace your seals. Just click on this link to take you to the sales page on eBay.


A&E Dometic 8500 Awning Repairs on the Glendale Titanium 27EXB

This post is part of the RV project series. In January 2021 we purchased a 2001 Glendale Titanium 27EXB for a good price, which needed a fairly significant amount of work. Check out all the articles here. The first time we opened the awning was on our first weekend camping trip, and we found the following problems. 

A&E Dometic 8500 series awning

Broken spring on one of the support arm lift handles - pin won't engage in the support arm holes

Lift handle removed, the pin is still there, but with a broken spring it won't engage on the support arm holes
Cracked hardware joining the rafter arm to the support arm

Repairs to the broken lift handle was fairly straightforward. Drill out the rivets holding the lift handle to the support arm, and then use the rivet supplied with the Dometic replacement part to reattach the lift handle to the arm. This repair took about 20 minutes from start to finish. While the lift handle was broken, to use the awning, we used a screwdriver inserted into one to the support arm holes to extend the support arm. 

Removing the broken lift handle by drilling out the rivets

Another issue was cracked hardware joining the rafter arms to the main support arms. There is a complicated casting that slides in channels in the main support arm. In my case these castings were cracked and very close to failure. 

Notice the cracks on the left and right of the white metal casting. Ready to fail.

My RV repair shop had the appropriate parts. The first step in the repair is to remove the rafter arm extension which is riveted to this hardware piece from the main support arm. To do this - you need to momentarily lift off the casting at the top of the support arm which supports the awning roller. Important - this casting is under spring tension - when you lift it off it will let off the tension on the spring of the awning if you don't restrain it. I used a set of vice grips to hold onto this casting to keep it from spinning, and I supported the weight of the awning roller on the top rung of an adjustable ladder while performing the repair. The awning needs to be opened in order to remove the rafter arm. 

Vice grips with a piece of plastic protecting the finish of the piece. Ensure the vice grips are securely attached so that spring tension doesn't cause the casting to spin.

Supporting the awning with an adjustable ladder. Here, the rafter arm is being replaced with new hardware.

Replacing the hardware element is fairly straightforward. Drill out the rivet holding the hardware element to the rafter arm, and then replace the part with a new rivet. The trickiest part is forming the head on the new rivet - it's not a pop rivet, so you need to use a ball pien hammer and punch to form the rivet head correctly. 

First step is to drill out the rivet to release the old part

Install the new part and insert the new rivet

This is the rivet head before forming. I used a roll pin punch with a rounded head to splay out the rivet material, once it was in a cone shape, I used the ball end of a ball pien hammer to roll down the rivet material and finish installation.

These are the old parts - note the damage to the part on the right. I replaced both parts since I was at it.

Total time for this hardware repair was about an hour. You need to extend the awning, and finding the method with the vice grips to keep the support arm upper casting from spinning took some time. 

The next issue with the awning was a series of cracks and holes along the top edge where the awning material is exposed to the sun when the awning is rolled up. I simply used a roll of CAMCO clear awning repair tape to fix these cracks and holes. I performed the cleaning stages carefully - first pass with rubber roof cleaning agent did a fantastic job removing dirt and grime and getting the surface quite clean. Then - prior to applying the tape, I used rubbing alcohol to remove any traces of grease which might keep the tape from adhering properly. This tape is very sticky, applies easily. I used a clean cloth to work the tape into the awning fabric for good adhesion. So far, so good. 

Camco clear awning repair tape applied over cracks in the awning fabric

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section below. 


Quickjack Hydraulic Fluid Contamination and Quickconnect Fitting Failures

I had the BMW wagon in the garage up on the quickjack for a few weeks at the start of September, fixing a Low Boost Pressure code, oil pan leak, replacing rear drive axles, and treating some underbody and rear bumper corrosion

I've had the Quickjacks for two years now - they've been a great tool, really useful to quickly get all four wheels in the air for doing seasonal tire changes, or drivetrain maintenance. Halfway through the last job, the hydraulic hoses began to get difficult to reconnect, there was residual hydraulic pressure in the hoses. I was in a hurry, so I tried forcing the connectors onto the pump. The next time I hit the lift control, I started losing a lot of hydraulic oil from the quick connector. 

Quickjack hydraulic pump releasing its schmoo

It didn't take long to figure out the problem - forcing the connectors cut the o-rings in the face of the connectors. I trashed two connectors of the four female connectors. 

Notice the protrucing piece of O-ring left of the center pin

I was in the middle of raising the car and I wanted to get the next step of the job done, so I simply removed the bad connectors and made fixed hose connections, using 3/8" NPT unions, and a 3/8" bulkhead fitting to replace one of the pump male quick connectors. However, I had lost a lot of fluid. I went to my automotive fluid bin and grabbed a bottle of brake fluid. Big mistake. The spec is for automatic transmission fluid, and I added about a pint of brake fluid and got back to business. 

Two days later I went to lower the car - and the cylinders wouldn't hold the car raised without the buttons pressed. I had difficulty removing the lift locks so that I could lower the car. Fluid was bypassing the check valve that holds the car in the air when there isn't any button input. I removed the check valve, and found little bits of white plastic jamming the check valve open. 

Quickjack check valve - marked with a CV on the valve body.

Not good news - but I immediately realized the contaminated fluid was the probable cause. Once I was done with the Quickjacks, I drained all the fluid from the system - removed the reservoir, removed the quick couplings from the hoses, and stood the jacks up to drain the cylinders by gravity. 

Draining fluid from hoses and jack cylinders by gravity

When I opened the reservoir, that's where I encountered the real mess. Bits of white plastic suspended in hydraulic fluid. Larger chunks in the bottom of the reservoir. The inlet strainer was detached from the inlet elbow, and just lying in the bottom of the reservoir.  

Inlet strainer (round) detatched from inlet elbow.

Bits of white plastic in the reservoir

Inlet strainer missing its attachment hardware (likely made of the white plastic which dissolved)

White plastic in the inlet port of the pump

More white plastic in the pump inlet port

I don't have a replacement inlet strainer yet. I have seen all metal inlet strainers and inlet elbows on the internet - but I'm having difficulty getting my hands on them. For now, I've replaced all the fluid with clean ATF and I'm running the jack without the strainer, just the inlet elbow. I'll drain and flush the fluid a second time once I have an inlet strainer to install. 

A few recommendations from what I've learned the hard way.

1.    Put a label on your quickjack hydraulic reservoir near the fill port - "ATF Only"
2.    Always hold the "down" button for 5 to 10 extra seconds when descending the quickjack, to release as much pressure as possible from your hoses before disconnecting them. This helps prevent residual pressure buildup in the hoses. 

Not my finest hour - but hopefully the information in this post helps someone else avoid the same issue in the future. 


BMW E60 / E61 Rotor Repair - COVID Lockdown Parking Rust and Brake Vibration

 When the COVID lockdown hit back in March, daily commuting stopped, kids were pulled from school, shopping essentially stopped except for weekly trips to the grocery store, and the BMW wagon went from use 4 to 6 times a day to a couple times a week. The drop in use was dramatic, and one result of this was a couple of instances of the brake pads bonding to the rotors with corrosion. You would go to use the car, all the brakes would be stuck, and after a few seconds of throttle, eventually the corrosion bond would break and the car would start rolling normally. 

BMW E61 535xi Front Rotor
Use of the car has gradually returned, and we did a local road trip in August. The brakes in the car were completed replaced when I did the turbo project 2 years ago, since then the car has only travelled about 20,000km. During the road trip I noticed minor brake pedal vibration - more apparent during light braking, less apparent with a bit more force on the pedal. 

When I brought the car into my garage in September to look at the low boost pressure issue, this was on my list of issues to repair. 

Rust ridges on front rotor left from pads freezing to rotor
I thought about purchasing new pads and rotors to sort out the issue, but 20,000km is next to no use, and I wanted to avoid the cost and the waste. I got onto google and looked for brake rotor turning services. At one time this was common, now, almost impossible to find. There was one machine shop in east Montreal that gave me a reasonable quote for turning the rotors, but when I went to drop them off, the machinist had sufferred an accident and would be off work for a month. No go. 

Frozen brake pad prints on the front rotor

So - if a part is broken, you can't really break it any more trying to fix it. I decided to try sanding the rotor surfaces with a Dewalt 5" orbital sander with 200 grit paper, to try to remove the ridges. 

Frozen brake pad prints on the front rotor

I sanded the complete surfaces, front and back, of both disks. I did two passes, not wanting to remove too much material and creating a bigger problem than I already had. I was careful to spend the same amount of time and pressure as equally as possible around the surface of the disk, just spending slightly more time on the ridges left by the various brake pad prints on the rotor surface. I didn't try to completely remove the brake pad prints, but smooth them out and hopefully reduce the pedal vibration. 

Front disc following sanding - pad outlines are still visible.
The sanding removed some of the ridges left during the pad bedding into the rotors. I knew that the pads would have to bed in again, so I was patient for the last month and tried to modulate my brake pressure to allow that to happen gradually. 

I would say that this has largely solved the problem, although, with very light application of the brakes there is still a slight vibration. With normal stopping pressure, the vibration is not apparent. It seems to have improved the braking feel, but it's not perfect. It seems to be improving with time however, so I'll let it go for another month or two and report back whether the problem resolves itself. For now - I've saved the cost of a pair of rotors and pads. So far, so good. 


BMW Underbody, Suspension and Rear Bumper Rust Repair with POR-15 System

While I had the BMW wagon in the garage replacing the rear axles and sorting out the turbo control vacuum issues, I noticed the start of some corrosion in critical areas - on the steel body near the rear subframe and brace mounts in particular. 

Rust bubbling the paint near the spare tire well - frame stiffener mount

I had some time so I decided to take action now to avoid larger problems further down the line. Two years ago, when I did the turbo replacement project, I also dropped the differential to give it a thorough cleaning, replace all the seals, and paint the steel body. At the time, I used Tremclad spray paint. After 2 years, 2 winters on the road, the rust was coming back and I was almost back to where I started. From some research on the internet, I found the POR-15 system - a polyurethane based prep and paint system that seemed to be much more durable, so I decided to give that a try. 

Rust returning to the differential case - 2 years after Tremclad application

The first component I cleaned up and painted was the right front bearing carrier. I had the drive axle out of the car to repair the oil leak, and some of the suspension components disconnected, so this was a good time to access the part and get it done. 

Bearing carrier - loose rust removed, degreased, and treated with the rust conversion primer.

The POR-15 system is comprised of a few basic steps:

  • Remove loose rust
  • Degrease using the POR-15 degreaser
  • Prime using the rust conversion primer
  • Paint - at least two coats - using the polyurethane paint.
Bearing carrier painted with POR-15 Black Paint

What's interesting with the system is that the degreaser and primer are both water based - and the paint required humidity to cure. This allows you to perform the steps fairly quickly one after the other. You don't need the part to be perfectly dry before painting (although you don't want any standing water on the part which may affect curing by causing bubbling under the paint). 

Surface rust on the rear bumper

More surface rust on the rear bumper

Rust on right side rear bumper mount

I had pretty substantial rust on the rear bumper, trailer hitch and bumper mounts. Large areas of paint were flaking off the trailer hitch, and large areas of the rear bumper were rusting badly. 

Loose paint and rust removal with 3" carbon steel wire cup brush on grinder

I pulled the rear bumper and mounts from the car, and the trailer hitch. I used a 3" cup brush on my Dewalt 20V grinder to remove loose paint and rust from the parts. It took about an hour to do all the parts - there was substantial rust and the cup brush worked fantastically. What a tool, highly recommended. 

3" Wire Cup Brush - great tool for cutting through paint and rust

With the parts cleaned, I washed them with soap and water to remove all the loose scale and grinding dust, prior to degreasing. 

After loose paint and rust removal, rinsed and ready for degreasing.

To degrease the parts, you use the POR-15 degreasing solution, diluted 4:1 with hot water. I use a plastic brush to scrub the parts and get into hard to reach areas. When complete, rinse the parts with hot water. 

Immediately after rinsing, you can do the rust conversion primer since it is water based. Apply the rust conversion primer to all bare and exposed rust and metal. I use a 1" paint brush to scrub it in as good as possible. The instructions suggest you leave the surfaces wet for at least 20 minutes, I went back and reapplied the primer about 5 times over the course of an hour to ensure a good application. 

POR-15 Metal Prep and Degreaser

POR-15 Rust Conversion Primer applied - it's slightly foamy - keep it wet for the entire treatment time

Once the rust conversion treatment is complete, rinse the parts off with hot water and allow to dry before the paint application. 

Bumper surface following rust conversion primer treatment. 

The POR-15 coating comes in a limited number of colours for various applications. There is Gloss Black, Semi-Gloss Black,  Silver,  Gray  and Clear. In addition, there is a high heat caliper paint available in Black,  Blue,  Red,  Silver and Yellow. I have the Silver, Gloss Black and Silver caliper paints. For touchups on the underbody steel, I used my silver paint, just so that it wouldn't contrast too badly with the seafoam green factory color. For the suspension parts, rear bumper and hitch, gloss black obviously from the photos. 

POR-15 Gloss Black applied to the trailer hitch

POR-15 Gloss Black applied to the rear bumper and mounts, and trailer hitch

The paint application is pretty straightforward - I use disposable brushes so I'm not bothered with cleaning them. You need a minimum of two thin applications, applied before the coating cures completely. You can recoat once the initial application is dry to the touch with a slight finger drag (stickiness). If you allow the first coat to cure completely, you need to sand before the second coat - it's important to time your work. 

POR-15 Silver applied to rust touchups on the underbody (battery box next to suspension compressor)

I wasn't able to get up around the rear suspension mounts with a tool to remove loose paint, there is not a lot of access in those areas. I've ordered a dremel flex extension - will see if that allows me to get at the flaking paint in those areas and I'll post an update when I get that done. I really wanted to get all the corrosion protection done before this winter. 

Gloss Black POR-15 on the rear differential case. 

I painted the rear differential in the car. The Tremclad provided some protection, so I didn't have massive pitting and flakes of rust, so prep was pretty quick and easy. The differential is exposed to road salt and grit, so I'm looking forward to how well the POR-15 holds up over time. 

Reinstalling the bumper and hitch components - spacer washers for bumper held on by masking tape

It was totally worth removing the hitch to treat the rust on the hitch - there is no way I could have done a proper job of it on the car. It's common to see rusty hitches - but I hate seeing the rust on my car. If I'm going to keep it, I want it to look good. 

Ready to lift the trailer hitch back onto the car

Reinstalling the hitch was fairly straightforward. I treated all the hardware by soaking it in the POR-15 primer overnight. Once everything was reassembled, I coated all the fasteners with the black POR-15 coating. 
I didn't completely disassemble the hitch, so I needed to pull the crossbar into position with a load strap

Rear bumper and hitch installed. Looks great in gloss black - will mostly be covered by the bumper cover.

So - another job done. Looking forward to seeing how well the POR-15 holds up over time. The final step was to apply fluid film in critical areas - around fasteners, where there is metal to metal connections, and inside the rear bumper cavity that was inaccessible for painting. One other comment - removing the rear bumper cover on the E61 is really quick and straightforward, much simpler than removing the front bumper cover. It only takes about 10 minutes, and it's probably worthwhile removing it periodically just to clean out the road salt and grime that collects within the rear bumper that caused a lot of the corrosion in the first place.


Some POR-15 products are available at Canadian Tire at a reasonable price. For everything that Canadian Tire didn't carry - I simply ordered from the POR-15 online store - quick delivery in a couple of days. Real simple.

Let me know if you have any comments or questions below.