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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Last Minute Maintenance

As we wind down our time living here in Northern Virginia, along with the myriad of details to accomplish to sell the house, our new "house", our Winnebago Journey, has some items that I want to finish while I still have access to my large tool collection (soon to go into storage at my son Corey's house).

Diesel pusher motorhomes are wonderful vehicles, with the engine in the rear, the ride up front is very quiet and enjoyable, you actually can hear yourself think, or in my case, my stomach growl when I'm hungry.  Along with the engine in the rear, the radiator is back there, too.  A large fan on the engine pushes air backwards towards the rear of the motorhome and through the radiator to keep the coolant, well, cool.

When the radiator is well maintained, everything stays cool as a cucumber.  But if certain maintenance is not done regularly, the rear engine/radiator combination can be a real Achilles Heel.  Overheating can occur and if not watched carefully, serious engine damage can happen.

What happens is as the fan blows air through the radiator, dust, dirt, leaves and other debris can be picked up and lodged between the radiator cooling fins, clogging them and reducing the airflow.  The funny thing is you can't see the clogs looking in at the radiator from the outside.

You have to periodically clean the radiator from the other side (at least annually), and that is from inside the engine compartment.  Only a few, easily purchased items are required to do the cleaning, some Simple Green cleaner, a garden sprayer and a water hose, as well as whatever tools you need to open the engine hatch from the inside.

On our Journey, the one item I loathe (actually I dislike it strongly) is removing the top step in our rear bedroom.  It is a fight every time, poorly engineered.  First there are some screws that have to be removed along the edge of the step.  In the picture, the screwdrivers are pointing to where the screws are located along the edge.

After removing the screws, I use a large screwdriver to pry up the step.

The step has to be worked up out of place.

Finally the step can be slid out of the way, exposing the engine hatch.

Four bolts hold down the insulated metal hatch cover.  Remove the bolts and the engine and engine side of the radiator are exposed.  Sorry for the lousy quality of the next couple of pictures, the lighting was a little hard to control, plus I had warmed up the engine, so there was some steam when I sprayed the Simple Green and the water on the radiator.

Spraying the Simple Green all over the radiator, then let it sit for about 10 minutes.  Give it a really good soaking, making sure to get the cleaner all over the radiator, even the outside edges because that is where lots of dust is thrown by the fan.

Then finally a good rinsing with fresh water.

Another simple to do, but important maintenance item to keep the Journey running cool.

Now for the fun part, getting that &*#$)%@! step back into place. :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


  1. That Kitty is going to purr nice and cool now. Want to tackle another one the floor is a little easier to get up I think.

  2. You gotta love that engine access, it is much the same on our Discovery but we also have to remove part of the bed frame. And just to add a degree of interest to the process when it came from the factory there were two large nails holding the whole darn thing together as well as the screws. Needless to say they have been replaced.

  3. Yup.. very important to keep that radiator unclogged! Also to reroute or extend the crankcase breather tube to make sure the drips are not going onto the radiator (which in turn attracts more clinging dirt)

    Note.. while you are in there, also add grease the fan shaft at the zirc. Many lube places miss this or many mechanics don't even know it exists.....

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard

  4. Karen,

    You are right about the grease fitting on older Cat diesel fan bearings.

    On newer engines built after 2005 (including ours), the bearing is a sealed unit, no grease fitting exists to grease. Too many bearing failures from lack of grease caused Cat to go to the "improved" sealed bearing.

    Now there have been problems with the sealed bearings failing, sometimes the better mousetrap isn't. :c(

  5. Since I don't know a thing about that, I'm just gonna say it's nice to see you working and doing something constructive. Soon you'll be loading your motorhome full of stuff out of the house and won't have time to do these little fixup things.

  6. hope you got the step back in place easily!!..nice step by step lesson!!

  7. Jim understood what you were talking about but I just hope the step didn't give you too much grief. Pretty soon you're going to be ready to head out.

  8. I didn't now what we were getting into ...

  9. We have the side radiator and I'm *told* that it's not quite as hard to get to and clean. I do believe that you've now planted the seed that it should be done soon, though :)