Friday, April 13, 2012

Leak Test

We are parked in front of American Bus Repair, located in an aircraft painting hangar on the old Alameda Naval Air Station (map). Long-time readers will know we have been here before, and fans of Mythbusters would recognize the building, as one of the hangers on the opposite side was used in an episode or two. Those fans would also find the abandoned airfield across the hanger from us familiar, as it is often used on the show.

Since the last time we were here, five years ago, the Rock Wall Winery has taken over part of the hangar complex and erected a tasting room just north of the building. We've been here two nights but have not yet partaken of the wine tasting, which runs noon-6, just a few hundred yards from us.

I had called ABR first thing Monday morning to see if they could take care of re-sealing our windshield, and, if so, when they could fit us in. The gentleman running the shop said he was sure they could do the work and could probably get us in Thursday morning, but asked me to call back Wednesday afternoon to confirm. Not wanting to spend another night at our on-street digs in Menlo Park, now that the nearby offices were in full swing, we packed up the bus and headed over to a familiar spot on the street in Redwood City (map), in a more industrial neighborhood.

I said "we" but really it was just "I," since Louise was out shopping. I neglected to mention here that after dinner Saturday night, our friends lent us their spare car, a ~1990 Mazda Miata. The car is somewhat neglected, since it sits outdoors and is seldom driven, and we ended up vacuuming, hand washing, and waxing it Sunday just to make it clean enough to drive around. The fuel was also old enough to cause some misfiring and I ended up putting a bottle of carb cleaner in it, plus a new wiper blade when it started raining Tuesday. It's leaking oil around the valve cover, which I might find time to repair, too. But it runs fine now and it's good to have use of a car in the cold and wet.

In addition to running errands Monday and Tuesday, the car got me to a dentist appointment Tuesday afternoon and, ironically, took us to the Tuesday dinner gathering of our motorcycling friends. It was pouring, so we did not see too many bikes anyway. That said, a big crowd turned out in honor of our return to town, and it was great to see everyone. We'll have two more Tuesday dinner opportunities while we are here, so we can see the folks who could not make it this week.

With no way to tow the Miata, of course, we are having to caravan everywhere we take the bus. Louise followed me over here to Alameda Wednesday afternoon, after my call to the shop confirmed they could take us first thing Thursday morning. We parked in our usual spot and took the car to the now very upscale downtown Alameda area for dinner at C'era Una Volta.

Yesterday morning they pulled us into the enormous paint hangar to get started. Where the old adhesive had started to separate from the body, the ultimate source of the leaks, they were able to cut away the glass side and pull the urethane out in large strips. The adhesive bead is a good 3/4" or so wide all the way around, which left enough room to get a wire wheel into the gap to clear out the rust and other contaminants before painting on an etching primer. When that dried they injected the gap with new adhesive sealant, 3M Windo-Weld 08609. This product is supposed to be an improvement over the type they used five years ago. We were in the shop till closing time, 3:30, and I figured them to have 10-12 hours in it, across the three guys who worked on us.

The sealant needs time to cure, and so they suggested we remain right here for at least a day. They did need us to back out of the shop for the night, and so we very carefully moved the bus to this spot. This morning I went back in to settle the bill, and much to my surprise, they waived the labor charges, since they had done the original installation of this window back when they were known as Coach Specialties. I protested a bit, since five full years seems a bit of a stretch to warranty a window installation, and we agreed that I would pay for the six tubes of sealant they used, which came to just a bit over $150 (window sealant is pricey). We are very grateful to ABR for taking care of this -- customer service above and beyond the call -- and we can confidently recommend their services to anyone with a bus needing body work.

One of the consequences of moving out of the shop for the night was that we got a good test of the repair. As we were wrapping up dinner at the nearby Pasta Pelican, a thunderstorm began here of immense proportion, generating local flood advisories and accompanied by high winds. Each of us got up every half hour or so through the evening to check for leaks, but found none. Only time will tell if the repair is going to hold up to road stress, but for now we are very pleased.

Now that the bill is settled and the few bits of overspray cleaned off this morning, we are free to leave, however we are concerned about the cure. I downloaded the data sheet from 3M and the table for the highest-strength (250psi) bond recommends 30 hours of cure time in the temperatures and humidity levels we are experiencing. I am hoping it will warm up a bit more today, which will help with the cure, but we are reluctant to move the bus again until the full 30 hours has elapsed. That will have us here tonight as well, and we will get rolling in the morning back to the San Jose area.

As long as we were already here in the east bay, we scheduled two other visits. One is to look at a boat in the Pittsburg marina, a for-sale-by-owner affair that one of our readers spotted on Craigslist. The other is dinner at the home of some long-time friends in Danville. Both of those are about 25 miles from here, but unfortunately not in the same direction. The Miata gets better fuel mileage than the bus, though, and we'll make both stops in a 75-mile loop this afternoon.

1 comment:

  1. You two have had an interesting 2012 so far to say the least. I still feel bad about your pet. That is so hard.
    Problems with the rig are frustrating to say the least. We're dripping oil from one of the oil filters again and will get it into the shop around 5/1 when we have to change parking spots. We hit a bad bump in the TX panhandle that rattled our teeth and filter. We're home from our travels, again. Replaced the water heater in the house the day after we arrived, and have to replace a 2X4 piece of siding as soon as it stops raining. Other than that we're warm and arebn't bumping into each other. It's nice to settle. We did our usual 6 months in the rig over the last 12 months, and 6 at home. Even though we have 40 feet with 4 slide outs, it's nice to get into the house. By fall, we'll probably be ready to roll again, but I am looking into selling the RV this summer. We've found a nice house in Benson, AZ that would make a nice spot to winter in, and the price is right. We've been in motor homes of one type or the other since 1989, and I'm getting a bit older. How long after you hit age 75 should you keep pushing the things I wonder? A lot of Escapees are that old or older, but is it wise. Would appreciate your thoughts on that. I'm in excellent physical condition and have all my facilities, but I wonder. Officially, we're now classified as "elderly". That is funny by the way. If possible, send me your thoughts on the age thing. Good and safe travels to you two.
    Regards, Ed Thomas (


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