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Old 02-16-2010, 11:24 AM   #1
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Stranded in Ames...

Of all the places to be stranded, I suppose there's really no better place to be stuck than Ames, IA. Steve, maybe you have some ideas on this one...you're around here somewhere.

The air compressor on The Silver Snail seems to be intermittently locking up. Due to lack of any other ideas, I am electing to have it replaced. It's going to run about $800 I imagine by the time it's all said and done...plus the time and expense of missing two days of school and work for me and the rest of the family. But here's what it's doing...or not doing...maybe someone knows something out there.

The compressor is a Bendix TU FLO 501. There is a PC NO of 106401 on it, and a hard to read SER NO. I think the SER NO is G0887T, but it's tough to make out. Occassionally, the compressor will lock up. The pulley just freezes. It seems to happen at low RPMs, like after I let the bus warm up and I try to drive away. It's only happened once when I was traveling at low speeds in town. I was able to shut it down, restart, and it was fine the rest of the trip. Yesterday, it was at it's worst. I drove from Ames to Waverly, IA and back (to get a sweet set of heated leather seats). The Snail was fine. Got the family all loaded up from the hotel (can't wait until we get the conversion done...no more hotels!). I pulled around the corner and it locked up...screaming belts and all. I pulled over and let it sit for awhile. Tried restarting, but it was still locked up. Waited longer...about an hour went by then it was fine enough to move to the truck stop...where it locked up again. A mechanic came out and said it needed to be replaced. After two hours of phone calls trying to find a replacement, we decided that we had a couple of things to do in town, and thought it might make it. We got four miles down the road, and it did it again. After another hour, it was fine...for 30 feet. Now The Snail sits at Super Wally World in Ames. Grrr....

The part should be in tomorrow morning. It should be a two hour job and we "should" be on the road by mid afternoon.

I talked to my Dad and another friend who thought it might be pressure not being relieved properly somewhere between the tank and compressor. Neither of them are familiar with this kind of a set up, but they both thought the same thing...somehow the compressor is seeing an overload and shutting itself down. Why is doesn't go into "freewheel" mode, I don't know...other than it hasn't built to 125 psi yet.

Any ideas? I mean, the damage is done, but I'd like to know what's going on...and how badly I'm getting screwed on the deal. I know that I am, but there's not much I can do at this point. Thanks in advance.
Ben.
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Old 02-16-2010, 02:39 PM   #2
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Re: Stranded in Ames...

See I would suspect not necessarily a lack of fluids, but an over abundance. Oil running past the rings or coolant leaking in the compressor will hydrolock it. Have you taken the lines off to see if there are nasties running out of them?
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Old 02-16-2010, 03:13 PM   #3
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Re: Stranded in Ames...

git your bendix info/#s and research online, it sounds like a pressure/unloader device might be acting up, the pump should continue to turn after the 125 psi threshold is reached without continuing to build pressure.
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Old 02-16-2010, 03:41 PM   #4
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Re: Stranded in Ames...

Thanks for the ideas...I'm going to go play with here shortly. I'm not sure how this thing is cooled? Does it have it's own oil source? Does it "share" oil with the engine? Does it use antifreeze from the radiator? I'm going to have to do some research...I haven't had time to do that yet. I will though.

Thanks again.
Ben.
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Old 02-17-2010, 01:16 AM   #5
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Re: Stranded in Ames...

it's water cooled thru the engine cooling system and IIRC it has an pressure oil line from the engine for lubrication and a gravity return line to the engine, the pressure regulator/unloader valve is on the airline coming off of the compressor head.
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Old 02-17-2010, 08:59 PM   #6
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Re: Stranded in Ames...

We pulled the compressor off today. The fluids looked fine to me. Didn't seem like there was too much or too little...made a heck of mess. The new compressor should be in tomorrow, and we should be on the road tomorrow! I'm really hoping that it was just the compressor...either way, I'll have a new one! If there is still a problem, I'm going to just scream. I almost don't wonder about the value that Paul was talking about. When (if) I get home, I'm going to spend some quality with it to figure out how all this stuff works!

Thanks.
Ben.
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Old 02-20-2010, 05:35 PM   #7
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Re: Stranded in Ames...

The final bill was about $966 and change. I ended up missing a week of school, as did the kids. They are strangely unhappy about this! I suppose that's a good thing.

We made it back to Goodland without an incident. It was a frustrating situation, and I'm glad it's over. I think here soon we're going to run the bus into a local mechanic and have her looked over. I need to learn more about the bus and be better edumacated about things, so that if/when something happens, I'll be better prepared.

Ben.
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