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ALMOST DISASTER!!!

Unread postby slickandrewstravco on Sun Apr 13, 2014 12:54 pm

Hiya Gang-
I don't know if you happened to hear it yet, but Kathy, the dogs, and I are all OK...

We took the 320 out of storage Saturday morning, and we were gonna drive from Columbus to Dayton, pick up a sofa that we bought there last week, and then head back home and camp somewhere along the way.

On our way out I-70, we decided to stop in Fairborn, Ohio, to eat lunch at a diner that we love to go to.
On the exit ramp, the 320 sputtered out when shifting down from 2nd to 1st... So I made a quick check under the doghouse to see nothing wrong. I called my brother (an ASE mechanic down in Houston, Texas) and told him what was going on... He said to check out the fuel pump for pressure ASAP. I asked him if it couldn't be an electrical problem, and he said "unlikely", so on our way we went into Fairborn.

Anyhoo... We ate lunch, got back in the rig, and continued on into Dayton to pick up a couple of tarps with which to cover the "new" couch with while on the open trailer.
JUST ONE BLOCK from the store, at an intersection, the Travco slowly chugged out at the light. Next thing ya know, that SOB was BURNING! I don't mean smoking, I mean ON FIRE!

Imagine if that little fire decided to flare up after we parked the rig behind the Fairborn Diner, AFTER we jumped out and locked the dogs inside, and walked in to eat.... I bet NOBODY would have seen anything wrong until it was TOO LATE!
It makes me sick to my stomach to think about it.

Apparently, one of the wires in the engine harness got grounded to the manifold.
And there it went... Dare I say, "Like a house on fire"?

Well, I got Kathy and both of the dogs out... She ran into the Exxon station and got a BIG fire extinguisher, meanwhile, I used our pissant little onboard extinguisher, and THANK GOD there were a couple of brave people who rushed over to help!

Anyway, we eventually put out the fire (by the time the Dayton Fire Department got there), but they finished the job.

Thankfully, all that REALLY burnt was the wiring on the engine (and I mean ALL OF IT... It even melted the distributor cap to nothing) and a little of the ductwork under the dash, cause I pulled back the doghouse cover to shoot the fire with the extinguisher, and when I did, it was FLAME CITY!

So... The disabled Travco is gonna be hauled back here to Columbus by wrecker on Monday, and I guess I gotta start from Square One , as far as the engine running goes.

SO LISTEN... I of course called my brother right away, and the first thing he says is, "yeah... Chrysler really skimped on that harness, it's just wrapped in electrical tape, and sits almost directly on that hot manifold in several places"...
so, essentially what he told me to do was, after the replacement harness is installed, to cover everything that's exposed with that flexible plastic wire tubing, so as to keep it off of the hot manifold, and insulate it from arcing, if it happens to develop a bare spot on one or more of the wires.

I'll tell you guys what... Kathy has always called me "Mister Risk Managment", because I check, double check, and then check again, and I'm always trying to be "Mr. Safety". Well, it goes to show ya that ya can't see EVERYTHING!

Yesterday morning when I took the coach out of storage, I did all of MY usual checks... Tire inflation, wheel lugs, lights working, brakes had pressure, etc... And before I fired it up, I made SURE that all the wires AT LEAST LOOKED "OK" to me, i.e. no bare spots, nothing was rubbing/contacting anything metal under the doghouse.
WELL, SO MUCH FOR THAT.

Moral of the story... MAKE DAMN SURE EVERYTHING IS TIGHT AND RIGHT BEFORE YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT DRIVING YOUR RIG EVEN 50 FEET! MAKE SURE YOU HAVE AT LEAST ONE (2 WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA) WORKING/CURRENT FIRE EXTINGUISHER ON BOARD!!!

And all that stuff you read or hear about smoke inhilation IS TRUE! I'm still coughing up a bunch of black crud.

But THANK GOD, we're all alive... THANK GOD, our disabled daughter WAS NOT with us on that trip.... And the 320 is still salveable.

By the way... Does anyone happen to have a decent motor harness for a 440? I guess that's the next step after cleaning that beast up.

CHEERS!
Slick and Kathy in Columbus
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Re: ALMOST DISASTER!!!

Unread postby datsit on Sun Apr 13, 2014 1:34 pm

Glad your OK, the Travco will rome again !!
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Re: ALMOST DISASTER!!!

Unread postby Acesneights on Sun Apr 13, 2014 6:07 pm

Thank God your family and you are safe. The wiring n these things is pretty simple. You could make a whole new wiring harness fairly easily. In fact I would upgrade the fuse block to spade. Painless wiring sells alot of stuff to build your own harness. If the old one was salvagable they might even be able to make you a new one. I am surprised the fusible link didn't pop. Also I am not real familiar with 320's but I know alot of 270's and some 220s have a master battery disconnect either by Perko switch or relay. If you don't have that I recommend it on your rewire. I would wash off the stuff from the fire extinguisher asap. It is corrosive.
When you get settled try and post some pics of the damage. Any idea where it started ?
1975 Travco 270
1974 Travco 220 Parts unit
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Re: ALMOST DISASTER!!!

Unread postby 77Travco on Mon Apr 14, 2014 6:11 pm

Glad everyone is ok!
x2 on that battery disconnect.
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Re: ALMOST DISASTER!!!

Unread postby slickandrewstravco on Tue Apr 15, 2014 6:32 am

Hi Gang!
Thanks for acknowledging that we're all in one piece!
As far as a battery disconnect, there is a manual disconnect switch on the battery compartment, which is under the second step in the entryway.
Where would one mount another disconnect switch without having to run 2 extra miles of cable?

One thing I noticed after having had the coach towed back home, is that there is a pretty good size pool of oil on the intake manifold. Somehow, the PCV valve, or the breather cap must have quit working and made oil push up there...needless to say, NOT GOOD when sparks may be present! Oh boy.
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Re: ALMOST DISASTER!!!

Unread postby 7d6 Travco on Fri Apr 18, 2014 1:38 am

Glad nobody was hurt and the Travco is savable. Let me ask around, maybe I'll get lucky and find a wiring harness...
Oddly, use to live in Fairborn- out in Rona Hills neighborhood (dad stationed at WPAFB, graduated from Carroll High School!)
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Re: ALMOST DISASTER!!!

Unread postby 77Travco on Sun Apr 20, 2014 9:49 am

slickandrewstravco wrote:Hi Gang!
As far as a battery disconnect, there is a manual disconnect switch on the battery compartment, which is under the second step in the entryway.

That's the one that I am talking about... thought maybe you didn't have one.
A wire harness off any old big block Mopar will be very close if not spot on... but I would just make my own.
Good luck!
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Re: ALMOST DISASTER!!!

Unread postby blake on Sun Apr 27, 2014 4:15 pm

I found out that my wiring harness got cooked by the PO after I bought mine.

Ed from Arizona RV Salvage was able to find and send me a wiring harness... but to be honest, if I had it to do over again I'd rebuild it from scratch with a universal harness... and just do the work myself so I knew where and what everything was connected to.

If you need some specific pieces feel free to send me a message, I have a large box with wiring harness bits left over from my install.
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