Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pre Disney World maintenance to the Goshen Coach

Well we just got back from Walt Disney World a few weeks back and it was such a whirlwind getting the Goshen Coach and RV ready to go not to mention us that I fell behind on logging my service records here for the truck.  This post is a bit delayed, and may not serve any purpose to anyone else other than myself but seeing as how I need to keep my records updated here goes!

So I grabbed the fuel log book out of the truck just now to get the mileages and dates to keep everything straight.  This is the service records for our 2000 Ford E350 7.3L Powerstroke Diesel cutaway wheelchair enabled Goshen Coach.

Mileage at time of service: 146,767     3/12/2013

Changed oil and oil filter (Motorcraft FL-1995). Refilled with Rotella T 15W40
Added approx 1 quart of 90W gear lube to rear differential
lubed chassis
Aired up all 6 tires to 80psi
Topped off coolant with about 3/4 gallon of straight antifreeze (no water added)
Other fluids checked.
Replaced the 2 air filters with new Motorcraft FA-1618 (F5UZ-9601-A)
I installed hose clamps on the T going to the MAP sensor and my aftermarket Turbo Boost gauge as it kept blowing apart at about 20 psi (This finally did the trick and I actually had a working boost gauge finally!)

I've been asked in the past what kind of mileage this rig gets. We ran 2,151 miles during this trip to Florida and back, burned 216.883 gallons of diesel costing $859.40 ($3.96 avg per gallon) giving us 9.92 MPG Fully Loaded at about 20,000 lbs truck and trailer. (see for a photo of our rig).  Interestingly enough, our truck pulls just 1mpg more at most unloaded.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Our Goshen Coach's 2,000 mile trip to Walt Disney World

We just got back from Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL a week ago and I'm finally rested up and ready to catch up on my posts.

Our 2000 Ford E350 7.3L Powerstroke Turbo Diesel powered Goshen Coach Wheelchair van has pulled us down and back up racking up a bit over 2,000 miles with only minimal irritants.  We blasted from here non stop (except for fuel and sunflower seeds, and pecan logs at every Stuckey's we passed) and when we pulled off and into the Florida Welcome Center off I75 for our free orange juice, the check engine light came on and the truck died while rolling in!  After a few moments of panic I cycled the ignition off and back on and turned it over and she fired back up, and hasn't repeated this since.

So we make it and set up at Fort Wilderness Campground and leaving Illinois running the heat we were now in Sunny Orlando and had to fire up the a/c on the coach, which as expected runs cold and does it's thing, but when I stepped out of the truck I could hear the death rattles of at least 1 of the 3 condenser fans on the Carrier Transicold CM-3 Condenser that the folks at Goshen Coach cut into the side of the truck just behind the drivers door. Previously I had one fail seized up which caused what's called a locked rotor short which took out the fuse to all 3 fans. Now this caused the gas in the system to heat up and heat up and this took out the a/c Compressor. So, I keep a close watch listening for the fans to make sure they are running everytime I use the a/c and they hold up and even now back home are still rattling but their/its time is short on this earth and needs replacing (see previous post for part numbers etc)

We spend 2 weeks at Disney World and have a big time, and unfortunately every vacation has to wrap down and it's time to roll back up the road. So it's the Saturday before Easter Sunday and we hitch up and drive up the road, across the Florida Turnpike, hit I75 and roll on up into the Paines Prairie region and BAM a tire explodes on the rv. I get out and investigate it on the side of the road, discover since it's got twin axles the rim is off the ground on the blown tire, so I get back in and cruise at a low speed up to the first exit which is the Paines Prairie rest area and dig out the spare (which fortunately has air in it, unfortunately is pretty beat up) So in pit stop fashion and grab my tools and jack and 10 minutes later tools are back put away. Well now I consider the 700 mile trip running with no spare on a substandard tire and that's out of the question it's getting pretty late on a Saturday Night before Easter Sunday, so I decide we will cruise a few more miles and go camp out in my Brother's back yard, and wait out the holiday and try and procure 2 fresh tires for the rolling wheels and move the good old tire off the rolling wheel and onto the spare rim giving me a good spare tire.

We sit at my brother and watch the weather in Illinois and upon deciding that the last freezing night at home just happened we pull out the next day, much to my brother's excitement, and drive the final 720 miles of the trip flat out straight through back home without any further incidents.

Well we are back home and I just ordered fresh air filters for the motor, and I'm working on procuring the Carrier Transicold condeser fan.  The rig ran good and strong and got us round trip and back home without much fuss, we had a grand time, got to visit with lots of family and play at Disney World.

I look forward to hearing from anyone else who is travelling with a wheelchair and what obstacles they've overcome in maintaining a living lifestyle.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Braun Millenium Lift

Well I took the truck to Superior Van and Mobility in Evansville, Indiana about a week ago to get our Braun Millenium Lift all spruced up. And although I hated the 5 hour round trip drive they did a good fast job and got me back on the road in under 2 hours.

Our lift was manufactured in 2000 on our Ford E350 7.3 Powerstroke Diesel Cutaway Goshen Coach Van. And being that our truck was ex municipal fleet it had a lot of wear and tear to say the least!  Anyway, the lifts are fairly simple I just didn't feel up to handling the task of tracking down the parts and restoring it.  They replaced the 2 limit switches which control the stopping points of the lift. They replaced the up/down switch which mine was cracked and intermittently worked. and they replaced the bypass hoses on the hydraulic cylinders which were old and cracked.  I was at a loss on why I was continually finding a puddle of hydraulic fluid in the floor of my truck from time to time, until they showed me that one of the bypass hoses had fallen off.

Well that's one of the major problems checked off on our todo list!

Now for some fun nitpicking items, intermittent wipers are too intermittent, cruise control doesn't work, and recently the front heating/air fan is intermittent! and ofcourse (I don't know if you've dealt with one of these ex fleet goshen coaches or not but they are built with like 1" square steel tubing in the roof area and where this joins the E350 cab at the top of the windshield mine likes to just rip the living daylights out of it's welds!  So I need to get my van body rewelded back to my truck body!

Anyway this is all I have for today. other then to say it was 18 degrees that day I had to fire up the truck to go to Evansville and after 3 attempts the diesel did fire up.  For monetary reasons I gave up fuel additives about a year ago and I don't plug my truck in, but man was it cold that day!  If you read some of my older posts you'll find out that I have previously replaced the glow plugs and the injectors, the one thing that I know doesn't work is the preheater in the intake manifold, but since I cut my teeth so to speak on a 1996 F350 International Powerstroke Diesel which didn't have that heater you might understand why it hasn't been on my priority list.

Leave me some comments about your experiences, I'd love to hear from some of you on what you've done and been through!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Goshen Coach Survives another 920 mile round trip!

We recently took our 2000 Ford E350 7.3L Powerstroke Diesel Goshen Coach on another epic trip.  We drove it 920 miles round trip hauling our 30' handicap equipped Campmaster Toy Hauler Travel Trailer to Chicago, IL and back to go to the Chicago Abilities Expo!

We had a really good time, we met Auti from the Sundance Channels "Push Girls" and experienced first hand all manners of new equipment and vehicles.

I have to brag on our truck though as it didn't once experience any kind of failure or problem of any kind, this is the second trip we've completed with perfect mechanical ability in the Ford Goshen Coach... Now it wasn't uneventful, no.  Our Goshen Coach is prone to breaking welds between the windshield/bus interface and we broke another one on this trip pulling our RV.  But this is just a minor problem as the front of the bus is still stripped open from our first welding experience when we purchased her a couple of years back... I'll try and ad some pictures to this later.

I'll keep this post fairly short but needless to say we are excited about another Abilities Expo that is coming up in February of 2013 (baring survival of the Mayan Calendar Calamity) in Atlanta, GA!

Please leave me some comments below! no login is necessary. How do you manage to get around in your wheelchair, what equipment do you wish you had?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Our 2000 Ford E350 Goshen Coach survives and thrives!

So I have to step back a month now, I'm rested up and ready to talk about it.  Our Ford Powerstroke E350 cutaway Goshen Coach minibus handicapped wheelchair vehicle made another trip to Florida this time without a single non-manmade hiccup flawless execution of it's duties!

We Took a trip to Walt Disney World in May in our Goshen Coach towing our 30' steel framed toy hauler and it performed perfect.  In evaluating this I have to discount the things I caused as this wasn't an uneventful trip.  To start out with at mile 300 I forgot to reinstall the gas cap so it fell off the side of the truck somewhere in the mid south sorry for the littering.

Somewhere at about the 500 mile marker some welding between where our Ford E350's windshield ends and the Goshen Coaches ample roof begins started tearing loose.  Now you would think this would be terrible and catastrophic but no it was just a little squeaky and you could see movement between the 2 pieces while rolling.  The whole connection between the windshield and the cap was all busted free when we aquired the truck and we just haven't quite gotten the right mixture of grade 8 bolts and welding yet I don't suppose.

Then at mile 800 I piece came off the trailer due to the vacuum between the 10 foot tall truck and trailer.

But the truck never failed to start and the wheelchair lift never failed to work painlessly with it's intended switches (I've spent many an hour overriding the switching with jumper wires to get our Braun Millenium Lift to cooperate in the past).

We did Disney World up proper due to our faithful truck.  Now our truck has not always been this faithful. It has ate up 2 alternators plum up I tell you.. and it's on it's 3rd ac compressor since we've owned it, it's had a fresh set of injectors and glowplugs installed and really enjoys eating up 50 dollar oil changes with it's 14 quarts of Rotella T 15W40 and 10 dollar motorcraft oil filters. The 7.3 Powerstroke is a proven performer and I don't doubt we will see many more years of service out of our ex-fleet owned municiple bus.  You see our bus was bought used after 10 years of service driving the citizens of Paducah, KY around in style. It was beat up and still looks it. It was abused with 112,000 miles of city driving and 8 hours a day of idling for 10 years but it couldn't be killed! We've put an additional 30,000 miles on her now and have a pretty good knowledge of her quirks.

But where was I? Bragging about our truck? You betcha!  Recently I've had truck envy again wanting a dodge/mercedes/freighliner Sprinter but really this flimsy sprinter with 2.7/3.0 liter 5 cylinder diesel is just not going to perform in all duties like our 7.3 powered Powerstroke diesel.  And to top off the problem with the sprinters is that they tend to sell for above retail in the used market around these parts which makes them a poor choice for us in our disability budget.

So I just want to say Thank you Ford and Thank you International for making such a robust truck and motor combination in the Ford E350 cutaway and the International 7.3L Turbocharged Powerstroke Diesel. And Thank you Goshen Coach for piecing this drivetrain into a very wheelchair capable machine (especially after you remove all but the first row of rear seating) and Thank you Braun for making the Millenium Lift with it's extra lifting capacity above and beyond what is needed and simple electrical that can be easily over-riden upon switch failer ( and believe me after 10 years of fleet duty these switches are worn out) to still operate flawlessly (now I have to state here that at 12 years a hydraulic cylinder did go out, the one that kicks up the toe plate, leaking tremendous amounts of hydraulic fluid, and that their dealer network is not easy to find and work with and especially moreso online they are still in the oldschool mentality that you will buy it new from a dealer and only and forever deal with them whoever they should be).

Well if you were looking for a more exciting and seat clenching write up for a wheelchair journey of 1,700 miles you came to the wrong place as we have made a few now.  But if you just wanted to hear a success story this is the right place as we succeeded in making another long journey.

Please write me some comments below about how you want to make trips or how you have managed to make trips in your wheelchair vehicle or how you manage with your daily travel issues with your disabilities.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

2000 Ford E350 Wheelchair Truck maintenance pulled

Well we are going to be pulling out of the driveway in 3 days with our Goshen Coach Wheelchair Van pulling a 30 foot toy hauler RV on a nearly 2,000 mile round trip.  So tonight I found the time to change the oil and lube up the truck and pull some other maintenance.  The 7.3 Ford Powerstroke motor is a needy machine when it comes to lubricants

I drained the oil out and slapped on a brand new Motorcraft FL-1995 oil filter.
filled back up with 14 quarts of Rotella T 15W40 motor oil leaving behind my delo 400 LE oil I have been using.

Replaced the 2 Motorcraft FA-1618 air filters.

Added 1.5 quarts of 80W90 gear lube to the rear differential... I used a $5.99 manual fluid transfer pump from harbor freight to put the oil in there it was a breeze!

Greased up the steering joints with my trusty grease gun.

Tracked down why my turbo boost gauge doesn't work the tube had come loose from where the jacklegs Tee'd it onto what is it the manifold pressure hose?  unfortunately and expectedly at the same time there was no wire ties used in running the tubing for the boost guage so when it came loose it fell all the way back against the exhaust pipe and burnt the connector off the tubing... So I have to wait until I can get to a hardware store and find some super small compression fittings to mate it back to the rubber hose.

Well that's all for now, I've still got to hitch up and drag the whole rig to where I can all the tires aired back up to 80 psi and we should be good to go.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

upcoming Ford E350 Wheelchair Truck Maintenance, Walt Disney World Trip Baby!

Well we are T minus 3 weeks until we are leaving for Walt Disney World in our 2000 Ford E350 7.3 Liter Turbo Charged Powerstroke diesel powered cutaway bus pulling our 30 foot 2005 Campmaster toy hauler aka our wheelchair accessible home away from home.

Charlie our Merle Great Dane sporting our latest Mickey Ears!

I just started ordering the consumables we will need for our trip, 2 new Motorcraft FA-1618 air filters. Then it's off to Walmart to round up 4 gallons of Rotella 15w40 Motor oil and an FL-1995 oil filter. Stuff I wish I had done but won't is I have a Gulf Coast bypass oil filter that I have meant to install but haven't (I have the one that holds a roll of paper towells, a serious depth filter).

I recently purchased a friction sway controller to mount on the hitch I'm really hoping it's a more pleasant pulling experience this time, as our truck and trailer combined length is 53' of all wall without the benefit of large truck drivetrain.

 Our Travelling Rig all hitched up September 2011 when we went down to trick or treat the Magic Kingdom

I do believe the biggest problem is we don't travel with any "toys" in our toy hauler so the weight is off, combined with the large overhang off the real dually wheels and you can see this thing is scary fun when a semi blasts by you... the only redemption is this truck is wicked powerful With the 7.3 Liter Turbo Charged International Powerstroke Diesel and if you want you can stay ahead of the semis or match their speed some... Anyway we are looking forward to our upcoming trip, I just purchased my rain ponchos off ebay (to save on the ones they sell in the park) Don't think I'm wishing for rain, I'm not, it's just that it rains some almost everyday in Central Florida.

One thing we are planning on doing while in the Orlando region is we want to maybe talk to a realtor about moving down there in the not so distant future.  I'm at a toss up atm about living in the city near dr's offices which we tend to go out for the most.... or living in the country and having about 5 acres of land.... We've allready decided after modifying our house here for wheelchair access that a modified house is not suitable for wheelchair access it's just managable, not the best of living.  I got my eye on an 80'x40' steel building package which I will make half a garage rv storage and half a house, with mostly open space.  This housing choice can easily pass the wind load requirements for Central Florida, plus have the cheapest per square foot building cost.

Please leave me some comments if you have handicapped housing you like or information on how you maintain your wheelchair vehicle.  I will say our truck is 12-13 years old and diesel is expensive but the main motor is the least of my worries when I travel as it's a tough beast... now I've put on 2 a/c compressors and an alternator and a starter on the machine (hey you can't have everything) but the truck through it's ex fleet appearance and noise level can't be beat for reliability. (Please read some of my other posts on this truck, I have made a large number of them.)