Oil Change part 2

By Regis.

FYI Linda and I are going to do a BY LINE at the top. This should make it clear from the start who is writing. I think wordpress shows the author but the Facebook link does not. On with the oil change!

After a long fought battle with the drain plug I was able to drain the oil. Next step was to replace the oil filter. Way back at the start, 30 days ago, I had packed a small tool box with supplies including a new oil filter and filter wrench to fit. Finding a part number for the filter had proved very difficult. Yes, I did look in the generator manual but it seems not even GOOGLE has seen that part number! What I did find in the RV forums was a number other people were using. The next stop was the RV store parts counter. I asked for an oil filter for my generator. Lo and behold what came out was a box with the same number I had found in the RV forums. Now back at the RV.

I grab the oil filter wrench and walk over to the RV, all of 6 steps, and as I get closer I look at the oil filter, then the wrench, back to the filter, then the wrench. This isn’t going to work. But I put the wrench on the filter anyway. Sure enough the wrench is too big or if there is some philosophical angle, the filter was too small.

Over the years I have collected several sizes of filter wrenches. I did check the wrench on the new filter before I left home. It was a tight fit but would work. Six steps over to the Jeep, get new filter, six steps back and compare filters. Indeed. New filter has a larger diameter than the old one.

I don’t have a picture comparing the old and new filter but I did get one of the old filter in the box for the new one. The old filter had a diameter of 65mm and the new 89mm (2.5 vs 3.5 inches)! Big difference.

Original filter in box for replacement filter

The victory with the drain plug was tempered with the counter attack by the oil filter. On the drive back home I contemplated how to return a filter bought 30 days ago. I remembered a tidbit from my quest for the filter part number. Someone had mentioned the replacement filter was larger than the original but that the filter gasket and mating surfaces matched up.

With the smaller wrench in hand, back to the RV I went. Now, like ALL oil filters, it’s not going to be removed easily. If you can turn the wrench easily then it will be harder to get to the filter and vise versa. Well I can get to the filter easily but the turning is going to be tough.

not clear but easy access to oil filter

First: My smaller wrench is still just a bit too big and I already had some padding installed to make it smaller! Fortunately the storage lot used waste roofing shingles from a manufacturer in Jacksonville to cover the lot. Picked up a couple small strips and inserted into wrench, tight fit.

wrench with padding and shingles on filter

Side note: I first thought the waste shingles was a good idea. NOT! I was wondering why every time I rolled under the RV I would be scratching the rest of the day. Well, fiberglass shingles produce little glass fibers when broken, stomped, driven upon, etc. So, if you don’t know, little glass fibers in your skin will itch like crazy! Also, on one sunny day while driving through the lot, I noticed the air twinkling! The glass fibers were floating in the air. I will be looking for a new storage place.

Second: The tough turning. There are 360 degrees in a circle. I could only turn the wrench about 5-10 degrees. Do the math. To get one full turn I had to move and reset the wrench 36-72 times! Now, remember my small rant about manufacturers not able to adjust their tools to prevent over tightening. Oil filters are the worst. I think  I  had to turn the filter about 1.5, maybe 2 full turns (re-adjust the wrench up to 140 times) before I could remove by hand.

The moment of truth. Does the old gasket match up with the new one? Yes it did! The engine manufacturer must save a bunch of money on smaller filters. It does make sense. The first oil change should be at 50 hours, then every 150 hours. I guess the first filter can be much smaller in that case.

With the filter changed I only had to fill with new oil, what could go wrong? Well nothing really went wrong here. The location of the oil fill is just not an easy place to simply pour oil in. I’ll just show the picture, but I’ll be thinking about an easier way to pour the oil next time. FYI  The oil did’t really pour, I had to squeeze the jug many times to get the 3 quarts in.

Oil fill. Very odd but the oil flows thru a tube that is molded into the tank for the coolant?. I had to look at that several times before  I was comfortable.

While the oil change didn’t fill 30 whole days, it most definitely consumed many,many more days than it should have. Maybe I should look at that to do list and pick the hardest item to do next!




Nights of Lights

The Nights of Lights in the city of St. Augustine, Florida.

by Linda

The City of St. Augustine, Florida has an annual Nights of Lights celebration around the holidays.  The city and local businesses decorate with numerous lights and the whole city gets festive.

Regis and I walked through town last night to check it out.  Dart and I did a drive by the other day, but Regis and I set out on foot with two cameras, a monopod, and a tripod.  The city is beautiful dressed in lights.  The weather was warm and it was lovely.

We experimented with our equipment and learned some lessons.  The monopod was useless for night time picture taking.  So, we won’t take it again.  The tripod was essential but a bit cumbersome to lug around.  I recently purchased a headlamp which came in handy for changing camera settings.   I also have a wireless remote shutter release which was very helpful also.

I’m fascinated with the fact that you can take long exposures of something and the moving objects will disappear from the picture if the exposure is long enough.  I had taken several pictures of the building below when we saw a horse and carriage coming up the street.  Although I knew the horse and carriage would be blurry, I wanted to get a picture of it in front of the Lightner Museum.  I adjusted the exposure in hopes of capturing the horse, but as you can see from the picture, the lights from the carriage show up but you can’t see the horse and carriage.

Lights from a horse and carriage in front of the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine, Florida.


I do not have an external flash and didn’t want to use the one with the camera.  A straight on flash can result in an unpleasant bounce back of the light.  Regis came up with the idea of setting off his flash while my shutter was still open.  He stood at an angle from me.  We got this trolley going by and I liked how this worked out.

Trolley in front of the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine, Florida.

We just needed another horse and carriage.  Of course, now that we had a plan, there were none available coming down the street in front of the museum.  We waited, and waited, and waited, and waited and gave up.  If I was a professional photographer, I would have hired one of the carriages to go around the block a half dozen times so I could take pictures.  We have some guests coming into town later this month.  Perhaps I can get them to be passengers and I’ll pay for their ride to be my models.

Anyway, we headed back to the main thoroughfare on the water front where most of the horses were and couldn’t get a good shot.  So, I took pictures of the Bridge of Lions instead.

Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine, Florida.

The trolleys run through town covered in lights, full of merry passengers, and playing Holiday tunes.  Many times the passengers are singing as they go by.  Lots of them yell Merry Christmas to you.  You can’t help but have your spirits lifted after a walk through St. Augustine around the holidays.

St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine, Florida

30 Day Oil Change!

I was going to attack the RV to-do list last month so I started with an oil change for the generator. Little did I realize the “easiest” item on the list would take so long.

We have an 8000 watt generator on the RV. It will allow us to stay at places without utility hookups. Toward the end of our last trip the service reminder started flashing. When I got home (where the generator maintenance book was) I looked up what needed  to be done. 50 hours: change oil and filter. Piece of cake!

I grabbed the tools and supplies I needed and headed to the RV. Once there I got set up, oil catch pan, check!  Wrench, check! Tarp, check! Radio blasting tunes out of the jeep, Check! I rolled under the RV and started to remove the drain plug.  No, wait, I TRIED to remove the plug. It was on pretty tight! I have always wondered if the people at the factories actually know how to adjust their tools as to not assemble nuts and bolts too tight.

What could be so hard?

After several attempts I started thinking “am I turning it the right way?”  Lefty loosey, righty tighty. Nope, I’m doing it the correct way. I need a bigger wrench for more leverage. So I pack up and go back home, where the rest of the tools are D’oh!

Thankfully the RV is stored about 8 miles from home, not too bad but just a pain to run back and forth. Get the small tool box, throw in an assortment of things and a HAMMER, just in case.

Round two! Back under with the bigger wrench. Nope, still not moving. I’m now thinking that the plug is just rusted in place. Time for the PB Blaster. If you don’t know PB Blaster is a “powerful penetrating catalyst”, “Frees everything faster”, “stuck, rusted, corroded pipe threads”. I give it a good spray and let it soak in. Still not turning. I give it another spray to soak overnight and pack up and go home.

Round three! After giving it an overnight soak I dove back under to give a try. Still nothing! Where’s that hammer? I put the wrench on and give it a few good hits. Nope. At this point I go all in a smack it with the hammer really, really hard. Hey it’s moving! hit it again and again. That should do it.  I turn the wrench by hand a couple times but it doesn’t feel right. I removed the wrench. Oh no, I rounded the corners of the plug and cracked the 10mm socket to boot! Time to rethink this.

Back home I spent the following week researching options for changing the oil by pumping it out the fill tube. Lots on different products ranging from $70 to $200 and varying reviews. I really didn’t like any of them.  How can I fix the rounded corners on the plug and still find a way to remove it? I went with using a Dremel tool with a grinding stone. There was just enough room between the housing and the plug . I ground a little off each side and went from a 10mm plug with rounded corners to a 9mm plug with well defined corners!

Grind away and it’s “just like new”.

Round four! Time for the big guns! This time I went back and bought the impact gun. Nothing like a hammer and wrench combined and powered by air. One of the projects on our last trip was the installation of a small air pump and tank. I had one from the trailer and used it for filling the tires. I was now using it to power the impact gun and remove the drain plug. After 10-15 minutes of trying I packed up and went home. No oil drained today.

Over the next several weeks I would research on the internet for a couple of days, form a plan, go to the RV and get rejected, and go back home to research.

I found an amazing amount of options to try. I didn’t try each mostly because they involved buying a tool of some sort (I’m retired and on a budget!) or heating to insane temps in the hope of expanding the pan around the plug thus, breaking it free and probably burning the RV down. I did come across an interesting idea using cold to shrink the plug.

This one guy used liquid nitrogen to freeze a bolt, shrinking it to break it free. I like it! I did have two problems. How to get some liquid nitrogen and how to pour up. The drain plug is on the bottom and you can’t pour up! I did find a product I could try, not as cool as nitrogen (I knew I could get a pun in somewhere) but comes in a spray can.

Arctic Blast by Chemtronics. It’s used to diagnose electronic circuit boards that are failing due to heat. By spraying and cooling each component, one by one, you can identify the one thats overheating. Chemtronic has several products and I could only source the one called Freeze Spray. It cools down to -60F/-50C. That should cause some shrinkage.

chill to -50c and my new best friend

Once it arrive via UPS ground I was off to the RV again. I sprayed the plug and tried. NOPE nothing. I thought, since I got a whole 10 oz can, how cold can I get it? I sprayed for a good 45-60 seconds and then another 20 seconds, maybe half the can. The plug was frosty white! Wrench on and turn. Wooo Whooo it worked!

drain plug… my nemesis now defeated!

Now the plug was out and the oil drained. Only took 4 weeks but almost done. Just need to change the filter and add new oil. Little did I know the generator was not done tormenting me yet!


More about that, next time!