Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sparky & Eldo Go to Freightliner School!

Sparky felt like a kindergartner heading off to her first day of school in a LO-O-O-N-G time....New pencils? notebook? paper?...check!
Waiting for the bus to pick us up at 7:30 A.M......Here it comes! The Richard Petty bus.....They came and got us both days for class.
A little warning....Today's blog is all about Freightliner chassis class. If you are the Mr. Fix-It in the family, then your wife might want to skip the blog today. It could get a little boring. If you are the Mrs. Fix-It in the family, then the other half might want to pass on the blog today. If you both kind of muddle through the warning lights, the specifications of all your systems and are a little foggy on your chassis's needs, and you panic when the coach won't go... sort of like us, then read on!

We started class promptly at 8:00....With Mike Cody, instructor extraordinaire....He's a big dude, dude!
He's funny, too, which helps with a very dry course all about Freightliner chassis, parts, how everything works, model numbers, specifications, more specifications, who has what kind of engine, more functions, more part descriptions, more chassis information, schematics, where to get schematics, everything you ever wanted to know about what goes on UNDER YOUR HOUSE inside the chassis, under the chassis and more. Sparky had a very hard time staying awake in class because all these specs, model numbers, parts, illustrations, and break apart drawings meant absolutely nothing in Sparky's world as co-pilot, navigator (scratch that, says E. but she tries), chief bottle washer, and master crafter. What Sparky loved as part of the class was they also fed us a great lunch and a fabulous dinner the first day, and lunch the second day.
air bag before airing up

Sparky took nine pages of notes and will try and highlight the basics so that somebody will get something useful!  We did get TONS of useful reference sheets with photos, a 360 page manual with all kinds of useful information, and a CD with MORE useful information.

We found out that the loud gun sound after the jacks coming up or going down had to do with the air bags "popping" themselves in or out. They can be really LOUD as they stretch out or shrink!

After we got done with two days of class, we definitely have a lot more knowledge about our Freightliner chassis. When we go into a service center, we will definitely know enough to be dangerous so we won't be taken advantage of when something goes wrong or have to pay for unnecessary service, at least we hope so!
Eldy got lots more out of the class than Sparky did....But here's some of what Sparky got out of the class, and if she got this much, times it by 5, and that's probably what a guy or a gal might get out of it, especially if they like to do their own mechanics and maintenance. Gotta be politically correct here. So here we go....Sorry for being all over the place....(But that's how her mind works, laughs E.) Here's a sample of what we learned:

1. The DEF system (the new urea emissions systems) on the 2010 and later coaches actually spits out cleaner air than the air you breathe in a big city. That's pretty amazing! If you are in danger of running out of urea, you can keep driving for 90 minutes without urea while you try to find some, as long as you don't turn the key off. When you turn the key off, the pump sucks urea out of all the lines and now you are dead in the water... Lots more was explained in the class.

2. Parts you should be carrying with you on the road--minimum:
*fuel filter, *a serpentine fan belt (many mobile techs won't have the right belt for your rig and will put one on that "should work"....shelf life of belt is about 7 years if protected against sunlight, heat and weather, keep an extra one on board
*hubnut removal tool---cheap tool and cheap insurance against some repair guy whacking at your polished wheel rims trying to get to the tires. *Extra air filter--only if you're going to Alaska...
*Fire Gone--cool new type of fire suppressant and a heckuva lot easier to use than an extinguisher. Google "Fire Gone" on the web to see....We have extinguishers, but bought two of these for extra protection....they seem much easier to use!

3.How to get access about your Freightliner chassis
RV,  explore these sites--there are wiring diagrams and schematics for your rig...but it was a little on the complicated side to negotiate the website for "access Freightliner"....We'll have to explore that and come back to you on that later.

4. Your books/manuals are outdated already..Freightliner has moved to a one year service plan...

5. Every month, pull the lanyards on your air tanks to get rid of water/condensation in the tanks. Especially if you are in areas with high humidity..Florida, anyone?..Sparky now knows what and where the lanyards are after seeing an actual chassis on the second day of class! A gentle 3 second pull will do it.

6. On your oil changes, you do not need to use expensive TranSynd oil, there are a whole bunch of compatible fluids that are less expensive that Allison Transmission Company accepts...the class gave us a list along with tons of other useful information to be informed and on top of our service requirements for our coach.

7. Check your coolant every five months for deterioration. There are special test strips that tell you if your coolant is still performing and functioning at the top of its game. Where you get them, we're not sure, probably at Freightliner!

8. Did you know Freightliner offers an extended warranty as long as you are within your three year, 50,000 mile time period?

9. You should NOT be using your cruise control in the mountains! Nor should you be using the mode button in the mountains!

10. There was something about not being in 6th gear when running around 60-65 miles per hour. Mike kept talking about "you are lugging your engine" and the fuel is not being used as efficiently. You should be running about 1800 rpm's in 5th gear instead to be using fuel more efficiently. Sparky did not understand this at all....something about higher RPMs make the fan kick in harder to cool your engine better. You won't run as'll have to take the class to get this figured out, but Eldo learned a lot about how gears and RPMS affect fuel mileage.

11. You shouldn't be parking on high grass, wood, paper, or pine cones with the latest DEF systems  (2010 and later?) because of the high temperatures that occur under the coach while the system burns the emissions and particulates...hunh? See what I mean about high techno stuff? There's a regeneration where the system "cooks up" the bad stuff moving through your air filters and fuels and it's about 400 degrees to the touch while it's going through the "cooking" cycle (it's 1400 degrees inside the tank). If you are in a lot of stop and go traffic and not moving more than 20 mph, and the system is trying to regenerate, you'll get a warning light. When the light first comes on, if you can increase your speed and drive for another 30-45 minutes to help the cycle finish, the light should go out.
Aha! Is that what those little light thingys mean!
12. Additives are NOT recommended by Cummins, CAT, and Detroit Diesel..Keep your fuel tanks as full as you can, use fuel stops that have a high turnover of fuel....If you have a fuel filter with a clear bowl at the bottom, you can check for evidence of algae....You learn in this class whether you have that fuel filter or not. If you add something to your fuel you are changing mixes, burning ratios, etc. Make sure whatever you DO decide to use, says "approved for after treatment parts" or you will void your warranty if you're lucky enough to still be under one.

13. Tire pressures need to be the same across the same axle. If you are heavy on one side, you need to have tire pressure reflected on both tires for the heaviest side. Michelin wants you to have something between you and Mother add life to your tires, you shouldn't be sitting on wood, it sucks oil and emollients out of your tires. Put something else under your tires--artificial turf pieces, mats of some kind, treated plywood. If you run on under inflated tires, you WILL have a tire failure, it's just a matter of time. No matter how short a distance you run on an under inflated tire, damage will occur immediately and be cumulative going down the road. Tire pressure should be checked COLD, before sunlight ever hits your tires. Pressure has already started going up once sunlight hits the tires. For every 10 degrees up or down, tire pressure changes 2%. For every 1000 foot change in elevation, there will be a half pound of pressure change.

14. When going down a mountain and you apply the brake for 3-5 seconds, take your foot off and you start to creep back up another 5 mph within that same time frame, you are in the wrong gear. It should take at least 15-30 seconds before gaining that 5 mph if you are in the right gear.

15. Your generator won't work if your fuel supply is at  1/4 of a tank or lower.

Is your brain fried yet? Mine is from trying to pick out the important stuff to share, there was tons more about the dashboard system and how to operate it...You get to see a real chassis before the house sets on it, etc. etc. etc.......The important thing is, Sparky may have fried her brain, but....

You get fed, you get a tee shirt, a hat, a coffee mug, and lots of great info. Do we recommend Camp Freightliner for all Freightliner chassis owners? You betcha! If you are NOT into the technical stuff as a co-pilot, it might be hard to sit through two days of class, but it's always good to have a secondary notetaker AND a second pair of ears! Hope we didn't bore you too much and you learned something you didn't know before. Thanks for reading.....Where's Eldo? Taking a nap today and letting his brain rest......


  1. Wish there was one in California or somewhere on the West Coast. As new owner we know almost nothing!

    By the way, good of you to give Judy the kayak.

  2. Thanks for the notes. Very useful indeed. We'll be at camp sometime early next year and it's good to know what to expect; I'll be going along as the second set of ears and note taker :-)))

  3. Very good information. We have been trying to figure out how to drain the air tanks (never have gotten it done). There is supposed to be little lanyards you can reach without having to get under the coach. There isn't. Al opened one the other day but he was underneath the coach and I was afraid it would come down on him so he got out. I guess we really need to learn to do this and do it regularly.

    Thanks for the good info. It wasn't boring at all and I was wanting more! I wish we could find a class like that for our chassis.

  4. I'm afraid you lost me after the first paragraph, but then I don't have a freightliner. :)

  5. I am not a big one on classes, I leave that to Charley. But I will have to say that you were very thorough. I love your note taking!! :)

  6. Wow! We didn't get a t-shirt!! And, after two days in that class, we definitely felt like "survivors". But, like you, with thought it was all worth it. Thanks so much for the refresher!!

    And, what a great story of how you found a new home for your extra kayak. Bravo!!!

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. After reading your article, I want to come back school now.