Diana and Sam’s newest project, their Kenworth T2000 tractor converted into a motor coach continues to evolve into a very nice driving unit. As you may recall, they started out by finding a good used freight hauler retired from a major trucking company.
The first order of business was to get the tractor ready for the motor coach conversion.
Art Millet of Millets Engines did some of the initial work. Since Art and his son Carey had already completed work on Art & Deni’s coach, Sam elected to have Art use his expertise and experience gained by building Art’s coach, to make things go smoother and faster.
Diana and Sam purchased their KW from a KW dealer in Evansville, Indiana in October 2004. Then it was off to Art’s shop in northern Ohio for some work. Art cut the studio sleeper off, removed the fifth wheel, and modified the electrics and air conditioning systems that were originally installed in the sleeper. Art & Carey also replaced all the rear brake drums, shoes, spring kits, and just about everything else associated with the rear brakes. A quick inspection revealed the front brakes were fine.
Next it was off to NRC Modifications in Middlebury Indiana for the actual conversion. NRC sent the rig to a frame shop in Michigan to stretch the chassis, and then on to the shop which installed the new hydraulic vehicle leveling system.
With all the preparations completed, NRC set out to build the 35 foot coach body and installed it on the KW. The project was completed in April of 2005. That’s when the fine tuning began.
Sam took the rig home to Georgia, and began taking care of some service and maintenance items. He installed 6 new heavy duty shock absorbers, serviced the cooling system, and upgraded some of the wiring. Then it was off to the KW dealer in Atlanta for a clutch adjustment, and an lube oil and filter change.
Diana and Sam traveled to some of their favorite places summer and fall. They went to the NSRA Street Rod Nationals in Louisville KY, and then on to Daytona for the Turkey Rod Run.
They also made a trip to Northern Indiana. All of these miles revealed a few problems. There was a fuel heating issue due to the removal of one of the dual fuel tanks. Sam went to work building a heat shield to isolate the fuel tank from the exhaust system’s heat, and then he designed, built, and installed a fuel cooler.
The cooler is 15 x 10 x 4 inches, with a 900 CFM shrouded fan. It was a unit from “Flex-a-Lite”, designed for transmission cooling for a 30,000 GVW truck. Sam installed all new fuel lines, eliminating all unnecessary fittings, valves, elbows, and installed the cooler in the return lines going back to the fuel tank. A nice lighted switch was mounted on the dash, and wired through a relay to power the fan as needed. Problem solved.
The next issue was a shaking from the tires. Sam inspected the tires, and weighed the coach on a certified scale at a truck stop. The results dictated some heavier load range tires on the steer axle, so Sam contacted his good friends at CMI. Doug and Diana own a trucking company with over 50 units, so as you might imagine, they have lots of valuable experience with truck tires.
Two new Bridgestone 16 ply load range “H” tires were fitted to the front end. Then it was off to see Herman and the great crew at “Big Moes” truck spring and alignment center. Here is where Herman used his 40 years of experience to line up the front end after careful scrutiny of all components, and then performed a 10 wheel Laser Alignment using great technology.
Things were getting much better, but there were still some unwanted vibrations. Sam then recruited the help of Ron, Bobby, and the whole team at Butler Truck Tire Center in Marietta for some high speed balancing of the new front tires. Then all 8 rears were removed, inspected, and then placed on Butler’s computerized truck tire balancer.
The KW is smooth as glass now! Sam took it on a long road test to confirm the operation of all the updates and repairs that were completed. Then it was home to his personal shop where Sam performed another PM. He drained the 50 + quarts of oil, changed the oil filter, and replaced the fuel / water separator filter. Then it was time for a complete and very thorough chassis lube, being sure not to miss things like the air brake slack adjusters and shafts.
Time to hit the road once again.
Kenworth Motorhome Part 1