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Old 06-07-2020, 03:53 PM   #161
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Good to see the Argo out and about.....that's all your hard work paying off.

I've only had mine out for a couple of overnight 'shakedowns', but it was a thrill just having nothing fall off on the roadway, or on my head.
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Old 06-07-2020, 06:07 PM   #162
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Congrats on a good first trip.
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Old 06-07-2020, 07:19 PM   #163
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First trips are so rewarding!! Glad it went well and you learned a lot from it. Keep up the good work!
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Old 06-07-2020, 09:18 PM   #164
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The Argo looks soooo good in the woods! I am stoked that y'all are finally enjoying it!
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Old 06-08-2020, 07:39 AM   #165
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Thanks for the report! Glad that things overall went well.

Congrats on the first run with the bus!

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Old 06-08-2020, 10:48 AM   #166
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Congrats on your maiden journey!
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Old 06-08-2020, 11:37 AM   #167
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I can see you going from part time campers to full timers!
This is a nice accomplishment, well done.


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Old 06-08-2020, 12:58 PM   #168
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Quote:
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I can see you going from part time campers to full timers!
This is a nice accomplishment, well done.


John

Thanks! I see Argo as a practice conversion for the actual full size conversion to full time on (hopefully a classic Gillig) which will be on a plot of land up in the mountains... but that's years in the future. Baby steps...
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Old 06-12-2020, 10:42 PM   #169
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Great detailed thread

Thanks for sharing! I’m still looking at sheet metal floor and primered walls. Looking forward to the challenges you’ve faced and finding solutions that fit my bus!
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Old 06-13-2020, 09:57 AM   #170
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Thanks for sharing the detailed "real world" shake-down.

Camp site looks awesome.

1) RE: your brakes -- if ONLY the left front was hot, and not both front brakes you HAVE an issue -- either the caliper is hanging up a little bit, or in this case more likely the brakes are imbalanced from air/moisture in the fluid.
Hydraulic brake fluid should be 'flushed' every 2 years -- maintenance very few people do...

I doubt how you loaded the bus had much impact on your brakes -- the front brakes typically do ~70% of the work...

2) tough call on extra gear -- if you'd got stuck an extra day out there for maintenance or weather you'd appreciate the extra food...
I can't recall a single personal (or military) trip I've done where afterwards someone said we brought too much water...

3) If you have room in the fridge -- start out the trip with a block or two of ice in the fridge to keep it cool during the hot drive -- if you do it right this turns into cold drinking water -- bonus.

Can the fridge be better insulated? I get good performance from a cooler w/ice for a three day trip...
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Old 06-13-2020, 11:12 AM   #171
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That was a good warm up trip.
Yep, I sure wish my fridge had thicker insulation. I cant add any because the coils are in the side of the fridge not the back.
I use 1st gear going down steep hills. It reduces my braking a little bit but not as much as Id like.
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Old 06-13-2020, 12:04 PM   #172
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All you E350 people...

I'm assuming the E450 has bigger brakes on heavier duty axles...?

Wonder if there's any easy mod's for bigger front rotors/calipers?
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Old 06-15-2020, 12:13 PM   #173
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Quote:
Originally Posted by banman View Post
Thanks for sharing the detailed "real world" shake-down.

Camp site looks awesome.

1) RE: your brakes -- if ONLY the left front was hot, and not both front brakes you HAVE an issue -- either the caliper is hanging up a little bit, or in this case more likely the brakes are imbalanced from air/moisture in the fluid.
Hydraulic brake fluid should be 'flushed' every 2 years -- maintenance very few people do...

I doubt how you loaded the bus had much impact on your brakes -- the front brakes typically do ~70% of the work...

2) tough call on extra gear -- if you'd got stuck an extra day out there for maintenance or weather you'd appreciate the extra food...
I can't recall a single personal (or military) trip I've done where afterwards someone said we brought too much water...

3) If you have room in the fridge -- start out the trip with a block or two of ice in the fridge to keep it cool during the hot drive -- if you do it right this turns into cold drinking water -- bonus.

Can the fridge be better insulated? I get good performance from a cooler w/ice for a three day trip...

Okay, so it sounds like I should bring it in to get:


1) Brakes replaced
2) Brake fluid flush


The water thing is something I'm quite happy with, our tanks hold 36 gallons (40 if I incline the bus correctly) and we only went through less than 10 gallons over two days with 2 adults/1 kid/1 infant, which I'm quite happy with (my original goal was enough water for two adults for a week). To solve the other storage problems, I'm welding a bumper storage rack with integrated boxes for the bigger things (camping chairs, dutch oven, things like that) and we'll be building storage cabinets above the kitchenette for food.



The fridge, unfortunately, is wedged in so tight I don't think I can find extra room for insulation. I'm going to remove the sink and redo the vent fans in the back (to make them quieter) so we'll see if I can add any around the sides, but I'm not optimistic.



If that doesn't work, then I'll try that ice method you mention. I wonder if buying a few blocks of dry ice at the beginning of the trip would help keep the fridge cool for the drive? Or would that be overkill/damage the fresh food? I did that on my boat a few times and gave up due to the wilted vegetables.
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Old 06-15-2020, 12:16 PM   #174
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doktari View Post
That was a good warm up trip.
Yep, I sure wish my fridge had thicker insulation. I cant add any because the coils are in the side of the fridge not the back.
I use 1st gear going down steep hills. It reduces my braking a little bit but not as much as Id like.

This is going to make me sound dumb... but are you saying you shifted from Drive to "1" going downhill? I've never actually used "1" or "2", I've only just used Drive. Are there any situations where I should consider 1 or 2?


Same thing with Overdrive Off. I understand that "Overdrive" refers to the like an extra bonus gear at 55+, and if I turn it off, then it'll stay in 4th or whatever, which is useful for towing large loads or going uphill. Am I understanding this right? Is there like a primer for the different gears and when to use them?
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Old 06-15-2020, 07:39 PM   #175
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheArgobus View Post
Same thing with Overdrive Off. I understand that "Overdrive" refers to the like an extra bonus gear at 55+, and if I turn it off, then it'll stay in 4th or whatever, which is useful for towing large loads or going uphill. Am I understanding this right? Is there like a primer for the different gears and when to use them?

When climbing long hills the 7.3L is more than happy to bull up the grade in top gear. This can cause exhaust temperatures to rise high enough to burn exhaust valves so it's recommended to drop out of overdrive on the hills which raises RPMs and lowers exhaust temperatures. Installing an exhaust temperature gauge is recommended if you drive on a lot of long hills.
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Old 06-15-2020, 10:45 PM   #176
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheArgobus View Post
This is going to make me sound dumb... but are you saying you shifted from Drive to "1" going downhill? I've never actually used "1" or "2", I've only just used Drive. Are there any situations where I should consider 1 or 2?


Same thing with Overdrive Off. I understand that "Overdrive" refers to the like an extra bonus gear at 55+, and if I turn it off, then it'll stay in 4th or whatever, which is useful for towing large loads or going uphill. Am I understanding this right? Is there like a primer for the different gears and when to use them?
Should be able to find an operators manual for an E350 online.
I'm guessing you have an EOD4 (I think that's the ford 4sp auto?) .

Anyway -- not dumb -- always better to ask! You know enough to ask.
You're not taking advantage of why the gear selector is there.
For instance going downhill in o/d means more work for your brakes...
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Old 06-25-2020, 12:14 PM   #177
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I just picked it up from a suspension shop that primarily does custom hotrods and classics. They built all new leaf springs in their forge, put a little more bend in them, and put in fewer that were there originally. The result: a few inch lift on the back axle and a much smoother ride. Totally worth the $980 bill. I'll be bringing it back in the future to replace the front axle springs to get an inch or two of lift there to try and level out the longitudinal axis of the bus.
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Old 06-25-2020, 05:24 PM   #178
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Ah, so there is hope for these ol' beasts!
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Old 06-28-2020, 01:21 PM   #179
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Wow!! So much detail, can't wait for more updates on the solar! Glad you enjoyed your first trip!
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Old 07-04-2020, 10:20 AM   #180
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Happy July 4th everyone. Today we'll be attempting to stealth camp in the San Francisco Bay area, at the marina in which I used to have a sailboat. It's right under the Golden Gate Bridge, so we should have a good view of the fireworks.


However, after our last trip, we bumped air conditioning up to the top of the list of priorities. I also have a two month old infant at home and have literally done NOTHING on the bus since she was born, since I suddenly don't have any time. Well, since we had a hard deadline (today), we managed to split our responsibilities enough such that I've installed the solar panels and wired everything up correctly.





Even in that much shade, they're still pushing out 90W, which is GREAT news to me since this is what we'll be parked in when we take her out.






However, the big question is how much will it pump out while we're driving? And will that be sufficient to power the air conditioner?


I tested it out last night (unfortunately it was dark so this was just off the batteries/inverter), and as soon as I flipped the air con switch to ON, the battery's BMS cut power. That's a good thing. So then I reset the BMS, and tried it again--only this time I let it spin up on LOW FAN for 30 seconds, then LOW COOL (AC) for 30 seconds, then HIGH COOL, and it worked great.



It pulls 500W or so--only slightly higher than its rating of 450W--and the inverter didn't get too warm or anything (it's 24V/2000W). Each solar panel is 300W, so if I have 3, theoretically I'll get 900W in full sunlight, which should be more than enough to power the AC while driving.



My big concern is that even with my dinky little AC, it won't do much simply because of how many windows there are and how hot it gets here. I'm fine up in the front, but the family's in the back, where it gets quite uncomfortably hot. I told them not to expect much cooling, which is probably realistic.


The other issue is my dumb ass installed the air conditioner backwards, in that the compressor blows air against the direction of travel. Meaning that little fan will be fighting against 60 mph wind. So I had to install a wind blocking plate to protect it from destroying itself. Who knows if it'll work? Today will be a good day either way.


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