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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Just a quick update for those not following along in real time on Facebook and the Bus Conversion Forums

On Monday the mechanic here in Billings did some initial diagnostics with us, and confirmed what we already pretty much knew – there’s considerable damage to the engine. The words ‘cheap’, ‘quick’ and ‘easy’ are officially out of the vocabulary.

(the above video was taken on the side of the road, after we refilled the coolant with water and tried restarting the engine.)

We’re down for at least a couple weeks, and will be cashing in our engine rebuild fund we put aside when we bought Zephyr two years ago (this week, ironically).

Oil blowing out the

Oil blowing out the drain (taken at the shop in Billings)

The lower bank of cylinders is where the damage is showing up – they are running 100 degrees cooler than the top bank, and oil flows freely into the blower drain and even into the exhaust. There is however no coolant getting into the oil, and the engine still has “good compression”.

We’ve decided to hold off on further diagnostics, as it really doesn’t change the outcome too much – we have some major repairs ahead of us. And we want to take this opportunity to carefully consider how we can end up with the most reliable setup possible.

We’ve been deep in research, and picking the brains of an array of bus friends. We are completely indebted to the bus community for so freely offering up advice. We’re considering a rebuild, a repower or a replacement.

Where are we at?

Well, the conversation we just had with our knowledgable bus friend JLV pretty much wraps it up:

JLV: If it were me, I’d repower with a 6v92TA.

Chris: blah.. blah..blah

JLV: Ya know, on second thought.. I’d keep it simple and rebuild the 8v71

Chris: blah..blah..blah

JLV: Ya know.. if it were me.. I’d flip a coin.

Chris: blay..blah..blah

JLV: Ya know.. let Kiki decide.

We’ll update more later with details and pros/cons of all the options we’ve considered when we have time.. and of course, with the decision Kiki makes. Β But for now.. back to the books, phones and interwebs.

And oh yes… overwhelmed with the options… but still positive!


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33 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

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  1. Fantastic but harrowing experience I’m sure. Personally owning a 72 4905 and a detroit 8v71, for an ironhorse they are ironically tempermental. I’ve had issues but not a one near as devastating, though forward shift went out in Wilmington, NC. Books, keep any and all literature, even if it’s 5 copies of the same thing, keep them. Self diagnosis aside, gmc and mci made great manuals.
    Be well and maybe we’ll pass each other on vacations, Ultimate Party Bus, ganeden.

  2. Wendy and I are thinking about you two and know you’ll come out of this OK. I’m disappointed in the BCM forum devolving into a shouting match. Helpful? NOT! Hang in there. Your logic to date is excellent.

    • Thanks Jim and Wendy! The benefits of the BCM forum still far outweigh a couple of folks voicing their opinion in less than helpful ways. It is disappointing tho, especially when it flows over into welcoming new members to the community.

  3. Hmmmm … looks like this is the only site left to follow your progress now. 😁

    Rest assured there are gazillions more yay-sayers than nay-sayers following your adventure. After all, a mans castle is HIS/HER castle regardless of the fact it may have six wheels and a couple headlights!

    Rock on!!

  4. Chris&Sherie, been a regular follower of you blog, Odysey also. Owned many Bus conversions thru the years,some old as ’46 Flex.. Current Marathon H-3. If you end up in SoCal going w a repower , I have a nice RH 6-92TABypass 370 hp
    Jakes,double oil cooler, lo mount bell housing,remote oil filter, 9g90 inj. Central Cal Diesel in Bakersfield rolled bearings, resealed a few areas , Dynoed it.. etc. out of a -10 Eagle repower. It’s been stored indoors for 12 years , ran perfect when it came out. It needs a home..
    Shelly shellyward57@gmail.com

  5. So sorry to hear of yall misfortunes. But you’ve kept a positive outlook and looks like you’re on the right track.
    Good luck with the rebuild and hope you’re back on the road again.

  6. Sorry to hear about your bad luck πŸ™ Just think in a few years it’ll be a great story to laugh about. I remember as a little kid being stuck in Grand Rapids,CO, in a 56 Chevy Belair, my parents, us 3 kids, 2 dogs, no money, and a blown water pump. Some nice mechanic took pity on us and said we could send him the money later. Went on to see MT Rushmore, Buffalo and more… Hope your back on the road soon, with a better engine chugging over the Rockies. – Ray

    • When this is all done, Zephyr will be better than ever. And thankfully, we’re already smiling about the sequence of events. Stressful at times, sure.. but overall, just part of the journey.

  7. Hey folks, I’ve been following your plight on a different web site and some of them have been kicking you in the chops pretty hard. You folks are doing exactly what you need to do. Follow your hearts and follow your dreams.
    If you ever get to oregon, let us know, my wife and I would love to meet you. Take care and best of luck.

  8. Gee! What a bummer. Sure hope you find the right fix for Zephyr. Are you really as calm and collected as you seem? Or is that just the cushion between reality and the net? Best of luck in getting back on the road.

  9. Yikes! Our 6V92 is a solid workhorse. Slow but steady wins the race. Sounds like a story in the works. Good luck. I guess we crossed paths on your old engine’s last legs.

  10. I’m following this thread closely since I’m buying an used bus, a school bus that is. I’m sure I will at some point face a similar issue. I like that you had an engine rebuild fund. I will add that to my list of things to plan for as well.

    Things will always happen down the road in life, but with your site many people can learn from you and we all benefit. Thanks for sharing.

  11. I’ve followed you since the beginning and have never commented, but today… I will.

    Life is about options. What option is important to you? Is a fix that will potentially last a few years (and fewer bucks) last as long as you need? Or, are you looking for a more permanent solution? AND, when it’s time to sell the bus and move to another “Serindipity” moment give you more value for your buck? Only the two of you can answer that question. Kiki may be your “crystal ball, but I’m sure the funds are coming out of your account. Kiki is only concerned about the short term and “snacks.” I know what my decision would be. But it’s NOT my bus, nor my future. Best of luck in your decision, truly. AND safe travels!!!

    • Thanks for your first comment, Donna… hope it won’t be a last.

      As you know from following so long, there’s much much more beneath the surface than this post eludes to. We are deep in research, and weighing lots of stuff.

  12. Sorry to hear that. I hope whatever decisions you make are the best !!! And will give you years of trouble free bussing. Kiki will advise you I’m sure.

  13. Sending you two the best bus vibes I can. And thanks for yet another chapter in the lives of the Technomads!

  14. So glad your still positive. Tough decision sometimes right, but when comparing on paper pro’s vs con’s it can make the decision easier. I look forward to your next post, see your list and decision. Best of Luck πŸ™‚

  15. He’s right: Let Kiki decide. Wrap a kitty treat inside a small piece of paper, one for each option. Then let her pick one. As soon as she picks, evaluate your feelings. If your immediate reaction is, “Oh, curses, I was hoping for the other one,” go with the other one–follow your gut. If your immediate reaction is, “Oh, good. Thank goodness that decision’s done,” go with that one. And if you still feel on the fence, well, all you’re out is two kitty treats and a scrap of paper! πŸ™‚

    • Love you Ann and your awesome sense of humor! Have you thought of going to Mars? πŸ™‚

      Ironically, Kiki last night took the two repair estimates we had laying on the desk, and notched one of them with her teeth. It’s for just phase 1 that will apply to most our options anyway, but we’re taking that as her greenlighting getting started πŸ™‚

  16. Good luck with your decision. It’s a tough choice but I’m sure you’ll arrive at the best and most well researched solution.

    I admire your pre-planning on the engine and your great attitude in handling the “bump in the road”.

    Of course if this is just a bump in the road, I hope you never hit a pothole! :cD

  17. Been curious how things are going with the engine. Always been fascinated by 2 stroke Diesel engines. If you find the time, let us know what happens/pics.

    • When have we ever not posted? πŸ˜€ Once we get through the research and make our decision, we’ll have a lot more time for details. And, it’ll be Chris-level details, I’m sure.

  18. I give you two a lot of credit for staying so positive. Your great attitude really comes through. I hope all turns out all right and that Kikki makes the correct choice!

    I am trying to remember your situation as we sit with a damaged inverter. We at least AC, washer, refrig, and some working outlets. I know i should be thankful but Friday can’t get here soon enough.

    Thinking of you!

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