Thunderbutt dreaming.


It’s been two weeks since we moved aboard Thunderbutt, and so far it’s been pretty good, although not without a few issues. She’s fully self-contained, and we’ve been living more-or less off the grid for that time. There’s a fabulous, little known municipal campsite that’s one of those very rare birds, located right off a beach. Cheap moorage but with zilch for services. Water is trucked in and dumped into a big tank, and toilet facilities are just portable toilets of the kind dropped off at music festivals. It’s a bit much to expect an RV to supply the needs of two people living in an RV for 15 days, especially with Thunderbutt’s meagre (compare to our sailboat) tankage. Power is being supplied by two deep cycle batteries that I keep rotating. One is at my daughter’s in town charging while another keeps the lights on: as one goes flat I simply swap them.

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The last mile


Five days to moving, and the transmission of my new home needs to come out again. Long story, but my helper put the reverse band servo spring on the wrong side of the servo piston (inside the servo cylinder instead of above the piston) which made the reverse band always partially on, and it quickly burned out, taking out the band, the reverse drum and the servo piston.

As we knew the reverse band was shot (but not the other parts, which we couldn’t see), we ordered it from Lordco on Tues afternoon. It was supposed to be in Thursday AM, so on Wednesday my helper (who will remain anonymous) pulled the tranny again and we tore it down, finding the other parts damaged and needing replacement. That’s why a transmission tech will never give an estimate until they get it apart.

Come Thursday morning Lordco couldn’t find the band I ordered, but this wasn’t too much of an issue, as I doubted I would find the other parts I needed locally. A major downside of living on the Island is that obsolete parts like this are only in Vancouver available overnight. Lordco re-ordered the missing band and I went to a competitor, Key2 Parts, and ordered the drum and servo piston. Everything was set for the rebuild next day.

As if. I went back to Lordco and they again couldn’t find the part. I told them to shove their band and stormed out. I then went to Key2 Parts and found out that while they ordered a reverse drum, part no XXXX, that part number was actually for the front clutch drum, that I was now staring at. Somebody’s book was wrong. I had had enough and went for a walk on the beach.

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The laugh is on me

20140717_162537Right now I’m writing this in a motorhome, stuck on Clover Point Victoria, with a plugged fuel line, a starter relay that doesn’t work, and reverse that has given up on me.  It’s a long, tortuous road to arriving here.

It began with our planning on attending a wedding way up in Clearwater BC, and so intrepid souls that we are, decided to take Thunderbutt, the 41-year-old, 24-foot motorhome that I have delusions of driving across the country later this year. I’ve spent a lot of time and money on this old relic, and despite all evidence to the contrary, believe that it can be made into a reliable (albeit expensive to operate) traveling home.

The engine has been replaced (twice, long story), new carb and fuel pump, new plug wires and full tune up. New battery. Interior has been remodelled, keeping the best of 70’s styling horror with a few much needed improvements here and there. Overall it’s very funky and interesting.

Just before we left, I replaced the engine oil and the ancient, fetid swamp water that was all that remained of the gear oil in the rear end. I tightened the steering and even greased the chassis. She ran like a top, and I was convinced she was up for it.

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