Of blinds and drain plugs

I have never worked so hard in all my life. We have been packing up stuff to take to Boston, sorting out other stuff to put into storage in DC, and packing other things to take on the two month road trip which is the
subtitle of this blog. Naturally I let Philippa handle all that while I spent many hours getting cosy with Harvey in Woodbridge. Actually, not just hours, but days. In fact “days” doesn’t really do it justice either as I have been up to my elbows in GMC innards for weeks now it seems.

A few things I did fairly quickly… I turned the storage access panel around on one of the sofas so we can throw shoes in there when we get in…

I also put some larder shelves in the cupboard which housed thw built-in vacuum hose…

Some things though were, ah, less easy… The first thing I wanted to do when I saw Harve close up back in Feb was throw out the curtains and put in some blinds. The first thing I knew I had to do was replace the oil drain plug, which Jerry R in Michigan said had stripped threads and may not go back in again. So as D day approached I decided to do both.

To say the blinds were difficult to install is like saying that Ghengis Khan enjoyed travel. Naturally I decided against the route that so many GMCers have gone down over the years – ordering the ones that fit from Guske. No, I wanted cordless, honeycomb, insulating blinds instead and when they arrived, they were of course slightly too big. Not the widths, which were perfect, but the depth. They have to fit between the cupboards and the top of the window and they were a quarter of an inch too thick. That meant moving the cupboards out by a quarter of an inch; a three person job which I did with my two helpers, R.Lister, and Mygood Self. There was blood, there was sweat, there were tears but the blinds are now in, and very smart they are too.

The expensive valances from Applied GMC in California took forever to arrive, in fact they came so late that we had moved out of our house by the time I got to open the box. I was even less impressed to see that the fittings they came with actually have no screw-holes in them. Not so much “fittings” then, as “pieces of metal”. After shelling out a small fortune for the valances you might have thought they would come ready to actually put up, as opposed to being the basis of yet another DIY project. Its like ordering a Big Mac and being given some bread, lettuce and a cow. Annoyingly, the valances won’t fit flush against the wall because the blinds are too deep (or the valances are not deep enough, but that is too irritating to think about). I will have to get ready-made brackets because the ones supplied wouldn’t be big enough even if I did drill all the holes. Sigh. I have to say though, I have put a couple in postiion and they do look terrific…

There were times, as I staggered under the weight of a heavy double cupboard and the bolt refused to go in again, that I wished I had gone down the Guske route. But the one I ordered from them for the window in the door doesn’t fit either. I am going to have to find a way to modify that one too. Sigh again. Oh, and the Guske front windshield blinds which were shipped on June 7th, still haven’t arrived as of June 20th. Perhaps the pigeon found them rather heavy. As we have now moved out of our house I will have to get a neighbour to forward them on to a waystation on our road trip. That should be straightforward to arrange. Yeah, right.

So with that little bundle of frustrations now worked out of my system, I can move on to the replacement of the drain plug. Lister, Self and I knew this was a job for a professional, or at the very least, someone who was brave enough to lift up the GMC’s front end and lie underneath it. I went to Leigh Harrison down the road in Woodbridge who showed us our very first GMC way back when we were still wide-eyed GMC innocents. I gave him a short list of things to sort, and assumed that the drain plug would be but a trifle. It turned out to be more than that.

Easy, you might think, to remove the old one, drill a bigger hole or weld on a new nut and put in a new plug. Aha, not so. In fact it requires lifting the engine, removing the transmission and a host of other ancilliaries just to get at the thing. Not so much a trifle as a full-on birthday party for a bunch of lively seven year olds, with cake, whipped cream and a jello-throwing contest. So it took a couple of days and I got Leigh to replace the old oil pan with one of his new ones which drains all the oil rather than leaving some of it behind as the original ones do. He also sorted out the dash air conditioning which now blows really cold, and he also greased and tightened the rear wheel bearings. This has really transformed the handling and knocked out all the rear wheel steering which can make these things a bit of a handful to drive. It now points straight ahead when you want it to. Which is nice when you are manoevering 12000 lbs of vintage motorhome down a narrow lane, while a teenager fiddling with an ipod in Mom’s SUV heads down the middle of the road in the other direction.

Actually one very nice thing that emerged from seeing Leigh again was his opinion of old Harvey. He said that of all the hundreds of GMCs he has worked on, ours was in the best mechanical condition and drove better than any of them. He was hugely complimentary which made me feel that its all been worth it.

Categories: Magic Bus

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