Sunday, February 8, 2009

Systems check continued

The next thing on my list was the refer. It worked on 110v ac, but it was untried on propane. I tried lighting it without any luck at all. It seemed that the lighter was frozen. This refer came with a built-in lighter which was probably state-of the -art for the time. It was a long tube with a rod in it. the rod was atteched to a flint at one end and a knob at the other. when you would spin the knob it would make the flint spark and , hopefully, light the gas at the burner. The flint was rusted solid and the knob would not turn at all. I took it apart, a common statement in airstream parlance, and I cleaned and lubricated it , and I put a new flint and spring in it, scavanged from a bic lighter. I put it all back together and tried it again and it spun and sparked great. I put the lighter back into the holder under the refer and turned the gas on. When I held the button down and tried to light the pilot nothing happened at all. I pulled the burner out to inspect it, and it looked good. Then I realized that it had no visible hole in the orifice. I took my air compressor and blew the orifice out really well. Then, when I checked it again, It had a small visible hole in the orifice. I put it back in and did a leak check. No problems, so I turned the gas on to the refer, and waited about twenty seconds, like it says in the book. Then I gave the lighter a spin, and it fired right up!
I let it run until the burner kicked up and then shut it down. It was looking very good. The burner sounded like a jet. The thermostat checked out good also!
I decided to try the stove next. It looks pretty good in the picture but there are some problems. The tubes that go from the burners to the pilot light are not all in place. I found two of them rolling around in the stove. The other two were still in place, so at least I have all of them. The pilot had been turned down all of the way so that was the first thing to go through. stoves are the easiest of all the rv propane appliances. They have no safety valve for the pilot light so it's really easy to check them out and light them. Just turn the gas on and light the part that hisses. Well, The pilot just needed a couple of turns of the adjusting screw to get it to light, then a little fine tuning to get it just right. Then I tried lighting a burner from the pilot, like they are supposed to work, right! The first one lit up just fine, the second was weak, but it lit also. the other two, I had to put the pilot tubes back in place first, so I got that handled and tried the other two burners. One worked great and the other wouldn't light from the pilot no matter what I tried. I could light it from a match or a lighter, no problem, but from the pilot, no way. I tried cleaning it really well and I used a pipe cleaner on all of the orifices, but still it won't work. I will console myself with the idea that I probably wouldn't ever need all four burners anyway. I guess I could light it by hand when nobody is looking.... They'll never know.....
Oh well! onward. The oven pilot worked flawlessly as did the burner. This is so clean inside, it must have never been used.
The vent hood has a switch on the right side for the fan, and it works fine. It is loud as hell though. same with the ceiling vent fan. It's so loud I can't really use it until I fix it.
The plumbing was not really tested before I got it home, and I expected to be replacing most or all of the system anyway. I filled up the fresh water tank and turned the switch over to battery, then I went inside and turned the waterpump switch on and it made the usual rattling, crashing sounds until it got some water in it. Then it smoothed right out and sounded fine. I had not checked the faucets, and the one for the bathtub was opened a little so it ran some water out with a good amount of pressure before I turned it off. The pump shut off after a few seconds, like it's supposed to. This all made me very happy. There was no water leaking from anywhere and the pump worked fine. So I decided to try it on shore power. I should have left well enough alone. When I switched over to shore power and turned the waterpump switch on it made a bad sound, like a wild animal trapped in a box. A very frantic, urgent sound. I turned it off quickly.
I knew that this was an aftermarket pump. There was a picture of the original pump type in the owners manual. I went to the forums to find out what I could about '64 safaris and aftermarket waterpumps. It did'nt take long to find a post about this very issue. I never would have guessed it, but the converter used in 1964 was a 110vac to 19vac converter. Why not use a converter made for 12vdc output? ? ? ? I have a electrical schematic for my trailer, and it says right on it 12vdc/ 19vac for a single circuit! When on battery, it is 12vdc, and when on shore power, it's 19vac. Apparently the 19vac would work just the same as 12vdc on the lights and fan motors, and the water pump. The problem was with the new water pump. For some reason the original pump would work fine on 19vac, while the new one would not. It has something to do with the way the motor is wired. I scratched my head alot over this.
The solution is to get a converter that puts out 12vdc, or get a pump that works on 19vac. Try getting a pump from the guy at your local rv supply place; Yeah, Hello? I need a pump that's made for 12vdc, but also works on 19vac. Can ya help me? That'll get you some interesting answers! So far I have just avoided the need for running the pump when on shore power. usually I have shore water if I have shore power anyway. I do foresee a new power converter in my future, though.
The last thing on my list is the holding tanks. I already tested the fresh tank and it checks out fine. The early Airstreams had no grey water holding tanks. So there was nothing to look for in that department. Tha black tank is directly under the toilet in this model, so if you really want to, you can just hold the flush pedal down and look right into it.I tested the toilet water inlet and the flush pedal, and they were both fine. Next I filled the black tank with water and let it sit for about an hour or so. The level didn't go down at all so I can assume there are no leaks there, thank goodness!
So of all the things that were un-tested on my safari when I got it only the right rear burner on the cooktop was not in working condition, although I have learned since then that the furnace is a "must go" item. I'm very happy with the condition of the remaining appliances. Some will need additional repairs to get them working at their best but most of them will get to be reused in the New Safari. Now I just have to find a good air conditioner.....

Monday, February 2, 2009


When I first went to look at this trailer, in discussing the Safari's systems with the previous owner he mentioned that he had never tried to start the furnace or the water heater in the whole time he had owned it.
I thought that was kind of strange. I'm way too curious to leave these things alone. The refrigerator had only been run on 110vac and it worked fine on that source, so I knew the cooling system was working at least. So, the only gas appliance that had been used in the recorded (or remembered) history of the trailer was the cook top. The oven looked new inside, so I assume it was never used either. I mean there's not a speck of anything on the inside of that oven!
I read through the owners manual, to get familiar with the appliance operations and setup, then I went to work.
The furnace was first. It was not bad looking considering its age. I turned on the power and set it to run on 110vac. It made a loud buzzing sound, like it was gonna go off like a bomb, so I shut it off quickly, then I remembered that I had not even turned the gas valve on at the tanks yet, much less the furnace. So, with no gas to blow me to kingdom come I felt pretty safe, and I threw the switch again. The same loud, buzzing, really irritating sound came out of it again. So I looked into the mouth of the beast so to speak, and stuck my hands right in there, to see what I could feel. The transformer was vibrating like crazy so I got my handy voltmeter out and checked the power to and from it, and it checked out okay. I threw the switch on and off a few times and noticed the sound changed with each throw, sometimes loud and sometimes quieter, and no changes in voltage. I next checked the thermostat on the opposite side of the aisle, above the side gaucho, and it was not hooked up at all. I found the right wires for it and got them connected to the terminals on the back, then replaced the cover on it. On to the fun part... I turned the gas on at the tanks and then at the furnace, and checked for leaks with soapy water in a spray bottle. Nothing leaked, whew! I threw the switch a few times, until the buzzing was not too bad, and I was ready for ignition. I put a wooden match in the match holder and propped the pilot light access door opened. I put my propane nose on and checked for any odor. There was none at all, so I lit the match and stuck it in the pilot door. I turned pilot to start, and pushed the safety button down to start the fuel flowing. The pilot lit almost right away but it was weak and would not stay lit so I adjusted the pilot light fuel adjustment screw and tried again. This time it fired right up and looked stronger than before. In about 30 seconds I let go of the safety button and the pilot stayed on really well, so I turned the dial to the on position and took a few steps back, toward the door( and the fire extinguisher). It took about a minute and a half to warm up and then I heard the fan start up like a rusty old bike wheel, squeal, squeal, squeal. Shut down everything, oil the fan bearings, spin by hand a bit to circulate the new oil, re-start everything again. This time it worked like a charm, a too loud, buzzing, squeaking charm, and it made good heat!
Now that I had a warm place to work it was much better. I went after the water heater next.
The exterior shroud was full of pine needles and leaves, so I opened it and cleaned it out really well. then I looked into the burner opening and pulled out the mouse mummy and pine needles. Next I turned the gas on and did a leak check, which was not showing any leaks at all. I did the standard start up procedure and I once again couldn't get the pilot to stay lit. So I adjusted it and got it lit again. It was looking really good there, with a nice strong pilot going, so I released the safety button and reached for the dial to turn it to the on position. There was a foof! and the flame was suddenly in the wrong place! I had not even turned the dial yet so needless to say, I was a bit surprised. The flame had jumped from the pilot light to the safety button, which now needed a new name. It wasn't going well, suddenly, and I think the seven unspeakable words all went through my mind at once. I slapped my hand on the side of the control housing where the safety is located and the flame went out, thank goodness.
I shut off the pilot light and checked the safety for a leak, which was obviously there, though I hadn't found it the first time. I sprayed the safety button and the whole controller with the soap solution and viola! no leak! What the h--l! Then, after thinking about it for a while, I realized that the only thing that had changed from the time it caught fire til now, was that the safty was pushed in to start the pilot light. So I got the soap again and I sprayed the heck out of the safety button, then I pushed it in and immediatly there were bubbles coming out of the area around the button. When it was pushed all the way in the bubbles stopped. Then, when I released the button again the bubbles came out faster, and I noticed the button was coming out very slowly from the depressed position. It took about five to seven seconds for the button to top out, and the whole time it was spewing gas out. Then, when it topped out, the bubbles stopped. I was ready to junk the water heater!
I thought about it for some time, and then I realized that the button must have a seal of some kind below it. In paint sprayers and similar things, there are gaskets made of plastic, leather, or rubber for the same kind of connections and when they get dried out they don't seal well. So, back to the Safari... I got my fine tipped oiler out and went to the task of getting oil into the back of the button, which is mounted on a brass post, and is the part that needs to seal. It took alot of trying, but eventually I was able to get some oil into the works, and the button started moving much more freely. I cleaned up all of the excess oil that had run out of the button and did the leak test again. This time it worked like it was supposed to, no leaks at all, and the button wasn't sticking anymore. YES!
I lighted the pilot and turned the dial on, and the burner kicked on right away! And it sounded like a frieght train!
I was two for two.