Join Date: Aug 2009
Re: Field Repairs
We purchased our SM new in 1996. It is a Ford, E-350, PSD, 4X4 Quigley with the interior remodeled three times. There is 149,964 miles shown on the Odometer. This vehicle has been used primarily for adventure and exploring. It has traveled inside the Arctic Circle, tip of Baja, East Coast, Death Valley, Great Lakes, thousands of miles of back roads of the Western States and all ten Sportsmobile rallies.
Our travels have brought us several events that have stopped us in our tracks. Mechanical failures as well as flat tires in remote areas can be challenging and an accepted part of the adventure. So far we have not had to hire a tow truck. The right tools, spare parts, and a little luck all play a part in self help. Below is an outline of our forward motion stopping experiences. Included is the source of the problem, the location of the breakdown, vehicle mileage, how far from help, and if do it yourself (diy) got us rolling again. Hopefully these experiences will bring some thought to others as to what to expect and how to prepare for travel into remote areas. If all else fails our go to tool is a ďfind me SPOTĒ locator unit, which to date we have not had to use theĒ need helpĒ or the 911 features
1 #1 Torque Arm , San Mateo Park, Ca. (23,282)(20mi HMB)(diy)
Leaving San Mateo Park on asphalt road, loud clanging noise. Lower torque arm, driverís side broke in half. Remove shock absorber, tie loose ends up with bailing wire and limp home for repair.
2 #2 Torque Arm , Stikine River, Cassiar Hwy, BC. (30,975)(570mi Prince George) (diy+Ford Dlr.)
Crossing the bridge at Stikine River, sudden loud clanging. Lower torque arm, passenger side broke in half. Remove shock absorber, tie loose ends up with bailing wire, and transfer our trailer to traveling companionís van. Limp (less than 30mph) 570mi to Ford dealer in Prince George, BC.
Note: I am grateful to Quigley for sending the replacement torque arm to the Prince George Ford dlr. Thank you Quigley Mtrs. Quigley shipped replacement under warrantee.
3 Super Spring Failure, Point Reyes,(65,380) (20mi, Point Reyes Station) (diy)
Going around a corner, 20mph, asphalt road, loud bang and a sudden vehicle shift. A superspring leaf fractured (drivers rear), and presented a knife edge to the rear wheel. If we were traveling at high speed the broken spring would have taken out the tire in an instant. Removed broken leaf on the side of road using onboard tools.
Note: Replace with Hellwigs and airbags.
4 #1 Flat Tire, Indian Valley, Ca. rain, mud (30mi Williams)(68,500) (diy)
We were stuck in the mud in a heavy rain While winching ourselves out of a mud trap, a manzanita twig, the size of a finger finds its way through the tread. Need 2 jacks (Hi-lift & hydraulic bottle) and plywood base to support vehicle in the soft rain soaked ground in order to remove tire. The tire is a total loss.
Note: Use of a single hydraulic jack with a 18ísq. plywood base sinks into the mud to the point the fully extended jack will not clear the tire for removal.
5 E4od transmission fluid loss, Delphi rd, Nv. (41mi. Silver Springs)(85,684)(diy)
Towing sports trailer, low speeds (25 mph), dirt road, long uphill pull in 90+ weather, Transmission in high range, overheats and spills approx. 5 qts of fluid onto road. Stop and cool down, use low range and low speeds into Silver Springs.
Note: Need to drive in low range to prevent torque converter from slipping and generating extra heat.
Note: Upgrade Transmission pan to finned aluminum, w/additional fluid capacity.
6 #2 Flat Tire, Black rock rd. Utah, (82mi Ely,Nv)92,000 (diy)
100mi of dirt road, sidewall failure, need to upgrade to load range E tires. Need 2 jacks (Hi-lift & hydraulic bottle) and plywood base to support vehicle safely in the soft desert sand. Tire is a total loss.
7 Heater hose failure , Tioga Pass, Ca. (116mi Oakdale)(94,800) (diy)
Long uphill high speed pull on asphalt road. Sudden steam, loss of power, temperature gauge pegged. 1inch heater hose failed where rubbing on the power steering cooling radiator core fins. Makeshift repair on side of road with plastic tape and gear clamp. Refill cooling system with 24Qts onboard domestic water. Drive down hill 120mi to Ford dealer for special heater hose. Replace hose and 50/50 coolant plus FE-14.
Note: If I had spent more time with under vehicle inspections this problem may have been spotted and prevented.
8 Idler pulley, Black canyon, CO (25 mi Montrose)(100,325) (diy)
Slow speed on asphalt road, power brakes and power steering suddenly stop working. The bearing on the bottom idler pulley disintegrates and takes out the fan belt . We are totally disabled. Without a fan belt, power brakes, power steering, alternator, engine water pump stops working. Our travel companions drive 25 miles to Ford dealer for a replacement pulley. Turns out to be the wrong pulley,(the only one Ford had). It needs to be smooth and the new pulley is grooved. Installed the wrong idler as an temporary and limp back 25 miles to a Napa parts store for correct pulley and new fan belt.
Note: need metric #15 short socket and long handle breaker bar for belt tenisioner.
9 Sway Bar, Lake Pillsberry, Ca (46mi. Willits)(102,340) (diy)
Loud clanging noise from front end. Sway bar strips out mounting bolts holding it to the frame. Removed remaining bolts and placed sway bar inside of van for remainder of trip. Repair when home using larger bolts, nuts & washers through the frame rail.
10 #3Torque Arm Bushing , Wasatch Mtns.(106,540)(60mi.Vernal, Utah) (diy)
Loud clanging noise from front end. Close inspection reveals rubber bushing in torque arm are missing. Van drivable at 25mph 60 mi. to Vernal. Bushings are from a GM rear leaf spring. (Clevite # 114450 / TRW# B335) and need to be pressed in by a machine shop.
Note: Replace upper & lower torque arms with new reinforced units, purchased from Quigley .
11 Fuel Tank selector valve, Stanley, Idaho(112,400) (Boise120) (diy)
Pollak valve failed to transfer to front tank, stuck on rear tank. Ran out of fuel in rear tank, front tank full. Vehicle dead in small turn turnout on a two lane asphalt road. Switch fuel supply and return hoses on selector valve. (Front tank becomes rear tank)
Note: Diesel difficult to restart when run out of fuel. Note: Replace dash board switch and defect Pollak transfer valve.
12 Vacuum pump lock up, New Hampshire (118,625) (20 mi Lancaster, NH)(Ford Dlr.)
Leaving camp and the smell of smoke brings us to a stop. The vacuum pump has seized up and the fan belt is slipping on the pumpís pulley. At slow speed the pump stills turns. Power brakes inoperative and steering affected. We limp at 10mph to a ford dealer 20 miles away. It takes 2 days for the part and one day for repair. Replace fan belt.
Note: Delorme Street Atlas a big help in locating nearby towns and services.
13 #3 Flat Tire, Burr trail near bullfrog, Utah, (Boulder, 60mi)(120,000) (diy)
Dirt and cinder ash road, puncher through tread, probably a sharp rock. Need 2 jacks (Hi-lift & hydraulic bottle) and plywood base to support vehicle in the soft volcanic ash ground cover. Tire a total loss. After three flats in remote areas with soft unstable ground, Iím a firm believer in the value of using two jacks to lift this 10,000+ vehicle.
14 #1 Fan belt, Morro Bay, Ca (133,292)(5mi Morro Bay, Ca) (diy)
Leaving camp, sudden loss of power steering and power brakes. Shredded fan belt. Replace with onboard spare.
15 #2 Fan Belt, Coronado Trail, AZ (136,578)(120mi Springerville) (diy)
Leaving camp on asphalt road long uphill pull, sudden loss of power steering and power brakes. Shredded fan belt. Wrapped up in fan and with luck did not break anything else. Replace with onboard spare.
Note: Humm, two belts in a couple thousand miles. A close inspection shows the tenisioner is misaligned because of wear.
Note2: It is my opinion that all up front rotating parts, (idlers, pumps, belt tensioner, alternator), should be replaced by 120,000 for remote location reliably..
16 Lower radiator hose, Warm Springs, Death Valley (148,292)(158mi Lone Pine, Ca) (diy)
Long uphill dirt washboard pull in 90 degree temperature. Sudden steam, loss of power, temperature gauge pegged. Lower radiator hose blows off. Takes an hour for things to cool down. Replace hose with existing spring clamp. Use high temperature sealant for hose and bailing wire to secure clamp. Refill radiator with 24Qts onboard domestic water. Drive 140mi to Lone Pine refill with 50/50 coolant. Will need to replace hose, clamp, and flush when home.
Note: Driver error played a big part in this event. Take a 10,000lb vehicle, failure to use low range gearing, a long hot dusty uphill run, a tail wind, A/C running and you will generate heat. Heat = pressure. Inspection reveals upper radiator hose moved and about to blow off also.