While we were in Yuma for a few days getting a new bra made and installed for the front of the coach (to protect the paint from flying stones and road debris), we noticed the coach transmission was slipping only occasionally when shifting from 4th to 5th gear. It happened three times over a three day period. Oh Crap …
I went to my good friends (Google and You Tube) and discovered that Allison (Transmissions) recommends trans fluid change (along with filters) every 40,000 miles or four years.
We’ve had our rig five years now and have put 60,000 miles on it. It was already 15 years old with 40,000 milles when we bought it. Guess I better get on the stick, eh?
So we went on up I-10 about 30 miles to Velocity Truck Center where they are both Freightliner and Allison Certified shops. We got in the evening before so we could be at the door at 7am when they opened.
We checked in at 7 and then ran a few small errands while we were “in the big city”.
Besides eating the previous night’s dinner at the great little family owned Italian restaurant, and breakfast the next day at Waffle House, we still needed to kill some time before the coach would be ready.
Drug store, jewelry store, coffee shop, and then what? Neither one of us are used to just having nothing to do so we Googled “Things to do near me” and found the Eddie Basha Art Gallery.
I could tell Kathy wanted to go and it would be a good way to kill off a couple of hours. I figured if I found it to be not exactly my cup of tea, they must have a seat or bench I could relax on and check emails, Facebook and such.
But WOW what a collection! Eddie Basha (1932-2013) was the fourth generation of Lebanese immagrants that owned and operated the family grocery store chain that started as one store and has grown to over 130 stores with 9000+ employees here in Arizona.
The gallery is Eddie’s private collection that the family continues to display free of charge to the public. The collection is mostly early western American (cowboy) art and early native American art.
It includes very large assortments of bronze castings, wood sculpture, oil paintings, stone sculpture, and woven baskets.
The picture gallery below shows just SOME of the hallways and alcoves dedicated to various artists
Eddie’s real joy in collecting these pieces was that he was often able to meet the artist personally and he took pride in developing life-long relationships with many of them.
So if you find yourself in the Phoenix are with a few hours available, we both highly recommend that you visit the gallery located inside the Basha’s corporate office in Chandler.
Well, we all have gauges of some sort on our vehicle that tell us the REALLY important things like “You’re Outta Gas!” or “I’m getting too hot!“, but there’s a lot more information that all our newer (since 1996 or so) vehicles have that can be extracted from the on board computer (known as the Engine Control Module) and, if you have the right device, then display that data on a screen so the driver can see and monitor the engine load and performance. On diesel trucks and motorhomes, this data is sent by the ECM to a “Deutsch” connector. On pick-up trucks and passenger cars they use an OBDII (On-Board Diagnostic) connector.
One such device for diesel engines in Motorhomes is BLUEFIRE FOR MOTORHOMES.
I discovered this device and it’s associated app while visiting the Quartzsite “Big Tent” RV show in January of 2019. Their display of the user interface caught my eye and so I went over and talked to Mark Fredrickson who, as it turns out is the developer of both the plug-in adapter and the free app available for Apple, Android devices and Windows 10 computers.
This device (called the adapter) plugs into your diesel vehicle Deutsch Connector. In our case, there is a round 6-pin Deutsch connector mounted just inside the rear “hood” of our coach just over the top of the radiator (labeled Diagnostics). There is another duplicate connector mounted under the dash. These are the connectors that the mechanic would use for diagnostic purposes.
This is what our (6 pin) adapter looks like
The really sweet thing about Bluefire for Motorhomes is that the adapter is BLUETOOTH which means the adapter talks to your phone/tablet/laptop wirelessly and this means that you don’t have to deal with any unsightly wires coming out from under the dash AND you don’t need to provide any power to the adapter since it gets it’s own power from the Deutsch connector.
The BlueFire for Motorhomes App is free and can be downloaded and installed from Apple Tunes, Google Play, or the Microsoft App Stores. It will run completely in Demo mode so you can get a feel for it’s capabilities before purchasing an Adapter.
The cost of the adapter starts at $150.00 (for a 6 pin Android/Windows adapter) up to $190.00 for the 9 pin (newer motorhomes) Android/Windows/Apple adapter. You will need to look at your Deutsch connector to see if it’s 6 or 9 pin and also decide what platform you are going to run it on (Apple/Android/Microsoft).
If you need to use Bluefire on a pickup truck or other vehicle with an OBDII connector, then order the appropriate adapter from the link in the box below.
Since our motorhome is a 2002 Airstream on a Freightliner chassis with a CAT 3126 engine and a 6 pin Deutsch, we were able to purchase our adapter for $150.00
Since the app is FREE, I urge you to download the app and play with it in DEMO mode. This will allow you to learn about all the various settings and learn about how you might want your “dashboard” to look like. To use the app in DEMO mode, from the main menu (or control panel) click on SETTINGS & then UN-check DO NOT SHOW DEFAULT DATA.
Your custom dashboard is completely customize-able. You select which gauges you want displayed, what style the gauge will be (circular, text, or linear), what colors you want, and all gauge placement. Here’s a shot of how I set up my dash for our motorhome.
You can see that I have 8 circular gauges, 8 text gauges, and 3 buttons on my dash. And I still have room on the screen to add more. I can even place a dynamic map on the dashboard that works off the GPS.
This is the tablet I’m using for Bluefire. My laptop was too big. I would have to set it on the dash and then I couldn’t reach it from the driving position. My Android phone is too small and it mounts on a long flexible neck that tends to bounce around during travel. This would make it too had to view the gauges, so the 8′ tablet was the way to go for me.
Here’s the base that I bought to mount the tablet. I screwed the mount right into the dash just to the left of the back-up monitor left of the steering wheel. It’s a very solid mount and does not allow the tablet to jiggle or bounce around as you travel down the road.
In the screenshots below you will see just how many parameters there are that the ECM sends to Bluefire and you can make gauges on your custom dashboard displaying ANY of these parameters.
Be aware that not ALL motorhomes ECM’s will transmit ALL of these parameters. My coach is an older (2002) and there are a few pieces of data that just don’t come across (like coolant LEVEL) because my coach doesn’t have a sensor that feeds into the ECM for that.
I DO however have a LOW WATER light and buzzer on the Freightliner dash that warns me … which by the way I found DOES work as we were climbing a steep hill, the coolant in the reservoir shifted to the back thereby exposing the sensor and setting off our LOW WATER alarm!
It’s very easy to operate. Here’s how I turn it on and start to use the system.
Turn on my tablet, enable Bluetooth and open the Bluefire app. I have my settings set to NOT bring up default values when not connected (ignition off). Start the engine. Push CONNECT on the app control panel. Push “TRIPS” on app control panel and enter the name of my trip that I’m starting. Push START TRIP. Push one of 3 buttons on Control Panel (either DASHBOARD, DRIVE, or REPAIR) to view graphical data being sent from the ECM.
DRIVE and REPAIR each have multiple screens (you can scroll up and down) that show you every possible parameter that your ECM might be sending to the adapter.
Using the TRIP function all the driver has to do is start and connect the app to the adapter, enter the name of the trip, (i.e. Chicago to St. Louis) and then push START TRIP. The app and the ECM do the rest of the work. When you stop for fuel, push FUEL FILL-UP – the app will ask you if it’s a total or partial fill. At the end of the trip push STOP TRIP and you’ll see the results on-screen and a report will be emailed in a csv spreadsheet format. The spreadsheet is amended with another ROW after each trip so all your trip(s) data is automatically saved in a nice compact format for easy retrieval at any time in the future.
Here is the link to purchase the Bluefire For Motorhomes Adapter from our Amazon Associates Page. If you order from Amazon (through this link) or the BUY NOW button below, then we will be paid a small fee from Amazon and the purchase doesn’t cost you any more.
Here’s a link to their Getting Started Document that’s 23 pages long and really explains a lot. I don’t think this document was available when I started using Bluefire or maybe I just never saw it — I learned by experimenting.
Well, although we got back to Freightliner of Oklahoma City (formerly known as Select Service) by about 4pm, they told us that Troy the mechanic was still working on it, having had considerable difficulty with rusted bolts and hardware. He had to replace the belt tensioner as well as the water pump. He’s now in the process of putting it all back together, will refill the coolant, pressure test, and then we can get on the road.
I have talked with Troy a few times over the last two days and I’m comfortable with his experience, knowledge, and professionalism. In fact, all the folks at both the Tulsa and Oklahoma City Freightliner group (Premier Truck Group) owned by Roger Penske have been nothing but courteous and professional. I’ve been impressed with all of them.
We sat in the waiting room, eyeing the vending machine wondering if some of the contents would end up being our dinner. We watched the 5 o’clock news, the 6 o’clock news, the 7 o’clock news, The Big Bang Theory, and I don’t remember what else.
Troy finally finished up around 9pm, came in and gave us an update, and we settled up with them. Normally Troy goes home at 4pm, and normally they close up and lock the gate a 7pm, allowing a few of the guys to get a little overtime occasionally while serving the needs of the over-the-road truckers. This night they stayed even later in an effort to get us back on the road.
We headed about 45 miles south along I-35 back to where we had camped Tuesday night only to find a shiny “silver bullet” (Airstream) travel trailer parked in the only remaining spot that we had hoped to get.
So, as of this writing, we are sitting in our first WalMart parking lot “boondocking” as they call it. We bunked for the night, I just got up (about 6am), turned on the coffee pot, the furnace, and the water heater. Kathy will be up shortly, we’ll shower and then continue on down I-35 through Dallas and south to Livingston, TX where we plan on staying a day or two at the Escapees Rainbow’s End Park