Friday, June 13, 2014

The BoggsMobile - Air Bags, Brake Chambers and Norgren Valves

Have you ever been driving and just before you go around a curve or over a hill you have a "feeling" you are about to get a ticket? You may not even be speeding but you instinctively slow down. You let off the gas and in the next instant you see the patrolman that was hidden from view a moment before when you had that "feeling?"

Well, I have had that "feeling" for about 3 months or more when it comes to the air systems on the BoggsMobile. I knew I was way over due for changing the air bags, brake chambers and norgren valves. For the most part it seemed out of my control. I have no way to do the work myself and the expense of it all was to high to have it done.

I did the only thing I knew to do. I kept up with the maintenance that I could do and prayed hard. No, not the smartest thing in the world but most of us have found ourselves in that position once or twice before in various situations.

I remember running bald tires on our cars because I could not afford new ones. I have bought used tires that were slightly better than the ones I had until I could do better. Anybody ever park on a hill every time so you could roll start your car because you could not find the problem or could not afford the part or a mechanic? 

Some things we do are not safe or prudent but its the best we can do at the time.

That is the position I have been in with the BoggsMobile. But I had that nagging "feeling" that I was fixing to get a ticket. I had been doing the best I could and God knows that but my time of grace was running out and I knew that. It was time to do something about it or experience a failure out on the road that would be very, very expensive and possibly dangerous my family or others.

When I made my first visit to East Tennessee Luxury Coach to have a window replaced in March I asked the owner Jeff Rowe about having the air bags, norgrens and brake chambers replaced. We kicked it around for a few weeks but that nagging "feeling" would not go away so I emailed Mr. Rowe about it and we set up the time.

I originally scheduled the work to coincide with revival at Beechfork. Pastor Herman Woods ended up in the hospital and revival was canceled but I went ahead with the appointment. I did not think it was fair to Mr. Rowe to cancel at the last minute and I was honestly afraid to "push my luck" any more.

I arrived in the evening 

And I pulled into the shop at 8:00 the first morning.

Mr. Jeff Rowe and his son Josh and young man named Dan began the work on the BoggsMobile. The first thing on the list was replacing the eight air bags in the suspension system. I thought all eight were probably original. It turns out that three of the eight had been replaced but even those needed to be replaced again.

The two on the front axle were original. The drive axle has four. The two front ones had been replaced. One of them had a manufacture date of 1999 and the other was 2004. The tag axle has two. One was original and the other was a 2000. So five were 20 years old, one was 15, one was 14 and the newest one was 10 years old. The ten year old one actually looked pretty good compared to the others but 10 years is near the end of its expected life.

 A mixture of old and new air bags.

A couple of the new ones installed.

I cut one open and there was no moisture in it. That is a good sign.

A few of the old ones were in bad shape.

These are Norgren valves. They basically direct the air flow to all the various air systems on the bus. Some of them were original and desperately needed to be replaced. They all were past their normal life span.

This is a new one below.

These are some of the old ones.

There are nine of these on the BoggsMobile Six of one kind and three of another. Seven of them are under the bus. There are six in the back and one in the front. The other two are in a compartment under the driver's seat.

They changed the Norgren valves the second day as they were also changing the brake chambers. Each wheel has an air brake chamber and only one of them had ever been replaced to my knowledge. I had replaced one in 2012 when it failed along side the road. That was an experience I do not want to go through again.

New brake chambers

Old chambers from the front

Old and new

The brake chamber for the driver's side drive axle could not be removed once it was unhooked. The exhaust for the generator was in the way. They had to remove the tires on that side to get it out and to put the new one in!

They were able to complete almost everything the second day. The third day they changed the last brake chamber and an air chamber on the driver's side that lifts the the tag axle. It started leaking once everything else was in place. In hindsight we should have replaced the one on the passenger side too. It started leaking after I arrived in Ohio. That is the project I have been working on this week. You can see pictures of that job at the bottom of the post.

This is Mr. Jeff Rowe and his son Josh.

This is Josh's friend and their part time helper Dan.

Jeff Rowe really took good care of me and of the BoggsMobile. I really enjoyed visiting with him the few days I was there. I highly recommend his shop, East Tennessee Luxury Coach for work on the bus side and the conversion side. He definitely has the experience to get the job done and he cares about his work. That seems like a rare combination these days. He also works hard to provide it all at a fair price as well. Thank you, Jeff for a job well done.

I changed the air chamber on the passenger side this week.

This is the one on the driver's side that Jeff Rowe installed.

This is the old one on the passenger side.

Everything is disconnected except...

The stubborn pin.

New one almost ready to go.

Bro. Rick Stansell owns Lamb's Automotive Repair in Corwin. He came out and removed the stubborn pin for me and then cut the shaft on the new air chamber. I could not have done it without him. I had the new one installed in just a few minutes. I appreciate Bro. Dale Pennington for loaning me some air tools too.

Now it is ready to go too. Thanks for reading.


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