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April 20, 2007

Wrist Pin Failure

     Wrist Pin Failure.  Sounds like a heck of a medical problem doesn't it?  Truth is this wrist pin failure was in our new Cummins 400 HP Turbo Charged Diesel Engine which powers the Tininthewind!  In the previous post I have pretty well described what happened and let you know that we were in Fort Wayne, Indiana getting our engine rebuilt.  I can now report on the results of the engine tear down.

     Fred, Eric, and Kevin at Crosspoint Cummins in Fort Wayne had us out of the coach early Thursday morning (7:00) and moved the coach in to the service bay.  We proceeded to the motel that Fred had set up for us.  At around noon Fred called to report to me that it was indeed a wrist pin failure as they had the engine tore down and the failed part laid aside.  He would save it for me to see when ever I wanted to pay them a visit.  Later in the after noon Fred called again to let us know that by evening they would have all new connecting rods, pistons, and wrist pins installed.  Even though only one had failed they would be putting all new in.  Fred further stated that before they left for the night they would have the engine running.  Assuming all went well after engine start they expected to be ready to turn the unit over to us before noon on Friday.  Wow, now thats service.  At 8:00 Friday a.m. Fred called to say that the engine had run out OK and they would be doing the road test shortly.  He advised that we could leisurely check out and make our way over to the shop.  When we got to the shop Eric met us to let us know that he had completed the road test and everything was functioning as it should.  I listened to the engine and I was impressed with how quiet it was.  After chatting for a bit we hooked up the car and proceeded to head back to Nappannee so Newmar could complete a few items that still needed attention on Monday.  We will now camp out at the Newmar Facility over the week-end and be ready for Monday.

     My hat is off to Cross Point Cummins, Fred and his Staff.  The Mechanics, Eric and Kevin were a delight to be around.  As you can tell from reading this far Fred takes great care to keep his customer fully informed with what is going on and updates one constantly with progress reports.  A rare trait in today's service world. 

     Below is a picture of the Connecting Rod, Wrist Pin in place, and the piston.  Note the Burn area where the wrist pin passes through the connecting rod, and also note the scratches on the piston itself.  They were right.  We would not have got many miles down the road and we would have had a catastrophic failure.  Thank you Fred, Eric, Kevin and all of Crosspoint Cummins for a job well done.




Wrist Pin Damage


April 19, 2007

Spartan & Newmar Visits

     House on Hook

     Later for the "House on Hook", for now the Spartan and Newmar Warranty visit story!

     After that great visit with my sister and family in Cary, Illinois, it was off for our first stop at Spartan in Charlotte Michigan.  Spartan is the manufacturer of the chassis on which our "Tin in the Wind" rides.  Two years of research prior to specking out our Coach, told me that I wanted a Spartan Chassis and now for sure I know that was the correct decision.

     Spartan is a first class facility.  Upon arrival we pulled in to their RV parking area and hooked up to 50 amp service.  Water and Sewer dump are near by but we didn't need either.  They were closed on Sunday afternoon when we arrived so we set about getting ready to report to their Service department for our Monday (April 16th) appointment.  We had been pre advised to report at 7:00 a.m. and that we did.  After discussing with the service writer what our needs were, our coach was hustled off to a service bay.  We proceeded to go find breakfast and decided to do a little shopping around town.  Before we knew it our phone was ringing and they reported to us that our work had been completed and our coach was ready.  Ride Height had been adjusted, a filter had been changed on the transmission, oil and filters changed in the Cummins Coach engine, chassis lubed, onan generator service with oil and filter change, and a complete chassis inspection.

     It was now about 1:00 and plenty of time to head for Newmar and our scheduled appointment on Wednesday.  The Newmar facility is located in Nappannee Indiana approximately 132 miles from Charlotte so we arrived in plenty of time to check-in, get hooked up, take that retiree's nap, schmooze with the neighbors, and get ready to go out for one of those special Amish dinners in the Nappannee area.  Not to be.  On check in we were assigned a site to park in and were asked if we could be ready to meet with the service writer in about an hour. 

     One hour to the minute upon pulling in to our assigned site our service writer, Gene, showed up and we went over with him our previous reported items needing attention and of course we had a few more minor things to add to the list and Gene graciously added them in.  Gene asked if we could be ready for them to come pick up the coach from the site in the morning at 6:00.  Wow, they would move us up a day and we wouldn't have to sit around waiting for our appointment on Wednesday.  At 6:00 a.m. Tuesday Travis, the service tech was at our door ready to drive the coach to its service bay.  Gene was to be our contact man and he would keep us posted on how things were going.

     Being aware that Newmar had a Cummins Engine Specialist on staff, I asked Gene if he would ask him to give our engine a listen and there was a distinct engine knock that troubled this old retired semi driver.  To be honest I felt it was a mis-adjusted injector and would need to be reset.

     It is the policy of the service technicians to return the coach promptly at 2:30 p.m. to the site and go over what has been accomplished and report on what work is yet to be completed.  As a side note it is fun to watch all the coaches being returned to their sites and all the owners standing around like proud parents awaiting their return.

     Travis reported on the days activities and informed us he would be back to get the coach at 6:00 a.m. the next morning.  He informed us of two important things of note: (1) they would finish with the work at about 1:00 and (2) a big wrecker would be here at 2:00 to hook on to the coach to tow it to Fort Wayne, Indiana to a Cummins Authorized repair center as the engine had a serious problem and I would be contacted shortly by Fred Dibert, Cummins Field Service Coordinator. 

     Fred contacted us in a timely fashion and explained that he had sent one of his crackerjack (my term), service techs to listen to the engine and it was Eric's diagnosis that there was a wrist pin failure going on in the engine and it would need to be tore down for repair.  Without hesitation Fred volunteered that a TCB (technical service bulletin), had been issued expressing that 2006 400HP Cummins engines had been experiencing a rash of wrist pin failures, and it appeared I was suffering that fate.  Not to worry Fred said as Cummins would completely rebuild the engine with all new internal parts and we would start out with a brand new warranty.  Fred again, stated that a wrecker would appear at 2:00 to tow us to his facility in Fort Wayne.  Upon arrival we could hook up to electric and spend the night in the coach, but he would like us to be ready to hand the coach over to Eric and his partner at 6:00 in the morning.  (Whats with this 6:00 in the morning sh_ _?  I'm retired)  Fred wanted us handy so we could button the coach up for Eric and they could then get it in a service bay and get an early start.  Following this Fred had taken the liberty to get us booked in to a very nice motel facility for the duration of our stay in Fort Wayne.  Did we want a suite with our own hot tub?  No problem!  Is the Pope Catholic?

     Promptly at 6:00 a.m. Wednesday Travis was ready to take the coach to the service bay to finish the scheduled work.  At 12:00 Gene and Travis sent for Kathleen and I so they could go over everything that had been done.  The next hour was spent showing us each repair/fix that had been part of our list.  Without going in to detail let me just say that there were approximately 20 minor things needing attention.  Many of you know however that we experienced numerous furnace problems throughout our Wisconsin Winter experience.  We now have a new furnace and is it ever quiet and much more efficient than the one that gave us all the trouble.  The zone 2 bedroom A/C and heat pump has been replaced with a new unit.  We had pointed out a few imperfections in the floor tile in both the bathroom and Kitchen and Newmar made the call to replace most of the tiles.

     We will be returning to Newmar at their request when our engine problems are corrected as they would like to replace our bathroom door due to a small defect and also replace the bathroom Fantastic Vent as it is intermittent in its response to commands. 

     House on Hook!



House on Hook




























     To sum up our experience to date, let me just say that all those months of researching what to buy for our future full time life on wheels and picking the brains of those who had "been there done that" has paid off.  We couldn't be happier with our choice of coach, choice of chassis, and choice of engine.  I wouldn't do one single thing different.  Well, that's not entirely true, as I sure would be happier with 9:00 instead of all this 6:00 stuff.

     I had sent an e-mail to several of my full time RV friends describing what was happening with us and I think Rich Emond's response is appropriate to post here:

Wow. Sorry to hear about the engine problem. But you are being well treated and, hopefully, they will get it fixed properly and in short order. It sounds like you are dealing with the situation with the right attitude. It's all in the attitude. Folks with low thresholds for problems are the ones who can't handle situations like this. For us it would just be another part of the adventure.

Thanks for the update. I look forward to the next one. We have always loved going to Spartan and Newmar. Almost makes me want to buy another rig just to go there for warranty work. ;-)

     You are so right Rich, so right!


     The time arrived! April 13th (yes Friday the 13th), and we are scheduled to depart our comfortable Wisconsin winter site for our scheduled Warranty visits to Spartan and Newmar.  Charlotte, Michigan and Nappannee, Indiana respectively.

     Chris, Rich, and Carlotta were wonderful hosts at the Anderson Mobil Home Park in West Salem Wisconsin and in spite of our overwhelming desire to get on with our lives, it was bittersweet to be leaving.  Rich and Chris were scheduled to show up at 9:00 a.m. to lay planks down as we drove out of our site as the ground was rather soft from the spring thaw.  We don't know what happened, but they were no shows and at 10:00 I made the decision I could wait no longer and simply drove out of the site, hooked the car up and we left.  I did make numerous attempts to locate them to no avail.

     We didn't make it too far as while hooking up the car I noticed that we had a flat inside tire on the rear duel.  It was but a two block distance to Degenhart Tire and two hours later we were finally on our way.  Just before the on ramp to Interstate 90 we stopped at a Cenex to top off our propane tank.  Standing there, listening to the high speed traffic whizzing by, and knowing that finally, it was going to be possible for us to travel, we hugged each other and shared in the moment, knowing that we had successfully weathered a couple of storms, literally.

     With the nose pointed east, and the cruise control set, we were on our way to Michigan but first there was to be a very special visit.  Allow me to get a little emotional here and tell you what I mean by a special visit.

     My sister Barb, and her hubby Lon, live and have their entire married life, in one suburb or another of Chicago.  We have always been invited, encouraged, welcomed, prodded, and etc. to visit them.  In the past 30 plus years I can count on one hand the times that we did come to their home.  A statistic I am not proud of.  I can site a zillion excuses as to why I didn't take the time but in reality they would all be lame excuses.  Fortunately over the years Barb made it a point to keep us close.  Never forgetting my birthday with a special card and always a classy shirt at Christmas.  I know that a great part of my failures at being a better brother had to do with my being selfish about not wanting to give up my leisure time away from work to just go visit.  A fish was always calling! 

      Now, there is a new sheriff in town.  Retirement puts a whole new perspective on the element of time.  I have a renewed desire to spend more time visiting and enjoying the company of Barb and Lon's entire family, all of whom luckily live in close proximity. For sure, in our future travels if and when we are in the neighborhood we will be stopping for a hug and conversation.

     I love you Barb.  Thanks for being there for me!


Pictured next to the coach are Lon and Barb.



Barb & Lon




























     We fit very nicely in the driveway and look forward to our visits in the years to come!

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