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Old 07-13-2018, 03:13 PM   #1
Rok
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Default Unpleasant Trip: Need advice on some fixes.

Well, yesterday I just finished my most ambitious trip in our 2013 Great West Legend SE. 2200 miles from Seattle to Indianapolis....and then another 2200 miles back. I did this one solo--my first solo trip. My wife did fly out half way through the trip and met me in Indianapolis for a conference.

The heat was awful, a number of things on the van broke down, and I spent most of the nights in hotels or motels for one reason or another--not being able to find campgrounds was one. We normally travel during the off season, and can usually find places to stay.

I'm posting this to get some advice on a number of things that came up on the trip. Hopefully the experts can help me with some of the stuff--unfortunately there is a lot of it and I have a lot of rebuilding of the van to do.

The heat causes a lot of problems and can totally eliminate the pleasure of travel, and in the case of my trip, it almost turned traveling into a nightmare scenario.

I am a little shell shocked from the experience--to the point of re-evaluating RV camping. I'm not going to give it up, but I'm certainly re-evaluating the purpose of having the Class B.

Traveling in the middle of summer is a lot different than in the off season.
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Old 07-13-2018, 03:24 PM   #2
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So, the first piece of advice I need help with is:

What causes the front end of a Sprinter Van to shimmy? My wrist actually hurts from the steering wheel shaking.

It didn't shimmy all the time, but almost half the time. Roads that leaned to the right tended to cause it more. High winds tended to cause it more. And certain speeds tended to cause it more.

We had the front end aligned to correct the problem when the van was nearly new. That helped, but didn't entirely correct the problem. Then we found out that one of the original tires was "separating" and wearing badly (amazingly, the tire shop that did the alignment didn't notice the tire). We then had the front two tires replaced. This helped some, too, but the problem still persisted.

In this last trip, the problem was very pronounced in places.

Is this common? It appears that it was with the van from day one, and it continues to this day.

Any suggestions on the next steps to take?

Thanks in advance for any replies.
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Old 07-13-2018, 03:31 PM   #3
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The next item I/we need help on is:

Does anyone know how to get the residue of duct tape adhesive off of the paint of a vehicle?

At a point in the trip a deluge came down and the Skylight of our Great West Legend SE started leaking.

I put duct tape on the Sky Light the next day to seal it up. The heat melted the adhesive and much of the tape came off leaving a sticky residue mess on the painted part of the roof.

This makes it clear that we will have to address the Skylight Leak Issue head on.

Anybody had to remove duct tape from an auto body without damaging the paint?

Again, thank in advance for any advice.
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Old 07-13-2018, 03:43 PM   #4
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My 2013 converted passenger 144” WB van never had a shimming problem. Try White Gas fuel to remove the residue. Concentrated isopropyl alcohol works great on sap but I am not sure about the tape residue.
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Old 07-13-2018, 04:02 PM   #5
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My MY2014 GWV Legend has zero shimmy. Something is wrong with your suspension. Find a better shop. You need to find one that specializes in trucks. Most cities have at least one. Ask around. Try to contact a fleet operation and see who they use.

As for the skylight, mine leaked too--so did the one in my old Airstream Interstate. Most upfitters do a poor job at this--making do with squirt-on sealant when they should be using butyl tape or Eternabond. It would be trivial to fix except for the stiffening ridges in the Sprinter's roof that need to be filled somehow. Do not delude yourself into thinking that you can fix a skylight leak by slathering more sealant. Remove the skylight and do it right.
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Old 07-13-2018, 05:50 PM   #6
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Thanks Avanti and George,

Avanti: Yes, we have to get the skylight fixed well. I've heard that the poly-carbonate ones are much more durable than the lexan ones.

Regarding up-fitters "cheaping out on such parts": It sounds like most up-fitters cheap out on virtually everything. It has been posted here before, but it is worth re-posting this video which, to me, is the best explanation of this phenomenon:



I certainly found a lot of problems on this long trip I took. A lot of them because of the outfitter's employees cutting corners, others from the design being just good enough to last a couple of years. I now have a small pile of parts that fell off at various times. Some are easy to fix, others are fairly serious. All take time and effort.

George: Have you tried the white gas personally? I want to make sure I don't damage the paint. I have tried isopropyl alcohol on tree sap, and it does work as you say, but it does take a lot of elbow grease and time to work.

Thanks for your help guys.
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Old 07-13-2018, 06:03 PM   #7
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Here is a photo of a farmer in Peoria helping me fix the skylight by lifting me up with his tractor. You don't get these type of experiences in non-RV travel.

That's me up there duct-taping the hell out of the skylight. Now the tape is gone and the residue of the adhesive remains.
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Old 07-13-2018, 06:51 PM   #8
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We just returned from a month long west in the heat of South Dakota, Colorado, Nevada, California, Oregon, Utah, Montana, North Dakota. Many days in a row of near 100*. We didn't have any kind of real van issues, so that takes a lot of pressure off to deal with the heat and business of finding places to stay.


As it turned out, fate helped us out on this trip in relation to the heat. The day before we left, a cancellation at Custer State Park in South Dakota got us 3 days in our favorite campground there, and it had electricity for AC fi we needed it. Otherwise we would have been in Wind Cave Nat Park in a no hookup site. Then to Boulder area where we were in a county park as it was near a meeting we had to go to, and it also had electricity so we based out of there for a few days. As we headed west, we could find campgrounds OK if it was during the week and away from major tourist areas, and if we looked a few days ahead, we were able to find spots for the weekends, usually calling ahead by a couple of days and making a reservation for Friday and Saturday. We got electricity if it was over 90* in most cases. Since we were going to be on the northern California coast the week of July 4, we had a long made reservation at one of the state Redwoods campgrounds for the week before that. We went to eastern Oregon right after that and for the holiday week, as it was not crowded there. We did do one last minute county park and one Walmart night when spots were tough to find on long drive days.


Prime time travel in popular areas was also much different for us, as we also normally travel in fringe seasons. The heat complicates it even more.
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Old 07-13-2018, 06:56 PM   #9
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Goo Gone for the tape residue.

Were you towing anything? Do you have anything like a cargo carrier on your hitch? Or were you carrying anything heavy near the back of the van? With the front end shaking this is possibly due to too much weight in the back of the vehicle. This would cause the front end to lift and reduce the weight on the front wheels which actually causes an alignment issue on it's own.

If you did have weight at the back (towing, cargo etc) this is likely your issue. It can be corrected a few different ways.

1) Don't tow. Possibly not an option
2) Don't use a cargo carrier. Possibly not an option
3) Heavy cargo at the back of the van. Can you move it to the front? Or closer to the front?
4) if you are towing or have weight at the back, your suspension geometry is out. This can be corrected by installing airbags.
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Old 07-13-2018, 07:38 PM   #10
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For the shimmy also be sure to check for a stuck caliper or piston in the front brakes, and of course wheel balance. Even rotor balance can be an issue.


Whether it changes with light brake application is an important diagnostic tool.
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