Mechanical Wrap Up

Alright, now that I’ve wrapped up all of the repairs that went down in Utah back in 2018, I may as well bring you up to date on the rest of the mechanical issues I’ve dealt with since. First, let’s recap for anyone who is keeping track. And honestly, I wouldn’t mind seeing all I’ve accomplished mechanically written down so I can admire it and say to myself, “You’ve come a long way baby!”

Before I hit the road full time, I replaced the tires, did an oil change, replaced the distributor cap and rotor and my uncle replaced the back shocks. That was all I did to prepare my vehicle for the road. Comical, I know. But it was October in MN, the weather was starting to turn and I had to go! I must say, I think I made it pretty dang far before anything became a real issue!

The first thing to go was the starter. I replaced that in Tishomingo, Oklahoma in a weird city campground that charged me $5 a night to stay there.


I had a handful of minor issues after that…plugged fuel filters, gummed up spark plugs (that may have been the originals), electrical gremlins, exhaust coming disconnected…all stuff I managed to remedy without too much disruption.

865 new fuel filters later, I made it to Bryce Canyon where I noticed the brake fluid leak.

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That brings us to the list of maladies that were remedied in Utah:

New Slave Cylinders and brake hardware
New Axle seals (preventative)
Replaced rear differential fluid (preventative)
Broken bolt in the water jacket drilled out and new exhaust manifold gasket
New carburetor
New spark plugs and wires (overdue maintenance)
Dropped gas tank and had it professionally cleaned
Replaced fuel pump (preventative)
Replaced all rubber gas line (preventative)
Pulled, cleaned and patched radiator
Replaced thermostat (preventative)
Replaced all radiator hoses (preventative)
Dropped transmission pan, replaced gasket, filter and fluid (maintenance)
Upgraded transmission cooler (preventative)
Replaced fan clutch
Replaced fan belt (preventative)
Replaced water pump (preventative)
Heli-coiled leaking bolt hole in water jacket Replaced exhaust manifold

After all that, I’m happy to say that Mander hasn’t had any major issues! Last winter, I was offered a place to stay to regroup and take care of some things that needed taking care of. A wonderful couple, Holly and Bryon, let me park on their property so I could tackle some mechanical things I had been putting off. The most pressing, addressing a pretty major oil leak. Bryon is a mechanic by trade, so he was the perfect person to help guide me through this repair. We replaced the valley pan gasket and the valve cover gaskets which meant we had to take off the intake manifold and valve covers. While we had them off, I sanded them down and painted them gold!

I still have a small oil leak coming from either the rear main seal or the pan but it’s so much better than before! Next, we gave Mander a whole new exhaust system. Bryon showed me how to weld but I certainly didn’t take my newly acquired skill underneath Mander. I left that to the professional and took the role of supervisor/assistant.

One of the stressors of driving Mander was her big ole booty always bottoming out. The leaf springs in the back had begun to sag and there is just so much overhang past the back wheels that it didn’t take much for her rear to hit and drag when encountering bumps, divots, or anything with an angle. So Bryon and I decided to give that big, 42 year old booty, a lift. First we installed airbags but, unfortunately, they didn’t do much. So we uninstalled them and went with zero rate add a leafs. Which are basically metal spacers (adding up to about 2 inches) that fed onto the spring center pin. AND THAT gave us the lift we were looking for! Since leaving their house in May, I’ve only bottomed out once and that was on a ridiculous washed out entrance to a dirt road I had no business being on. I’m not holding it against her.


So that should bring you up to speed on all things mechanical! Of course, there always seems to be little things that has me pulling off the doghouse semi-regularly. Most recently, I drove 100+ miles, up some decent grades, thinking that Mander seemed to be running rough and lacking power. Finally, I did an inspection and found one of my spark plug wires had come unplugged and I was making her DO WORK on only 7 cylinders. I had a good laugh over that one. Say what you will about my old rig, but she hasn’t asked for a whole lot more than long overdue maintenance. She’s powered her way up mountain roads and drug her ass down washed out dirt roads. She’s log thousands of miles to deep south Texas, all the way up north to the Olympic Peninsula. And she’s done it with a radiator full of mud, old transmission fluid, leaking oil like a sieve, spark plugs and wires from 78′ and sometimes not all of them are even plugged in. Now that I’ve given her the love she deserves, I hope I get to keep my hands relatively clean for a good long while. At least now when I have to work on her, I pull off the doghouse and I see that pretty heart of gold looking back at me saying, “Don’t you quit on me girl” and I’m a bit more inspired to tackle whatever wrenching is in store for me.



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Until next time, much love and Mander on! 









25 Comments on “Mechanical Wrap Up

  1. I am impressed with your skills and inspired to buy a motorhome for my new life on my farm in Arkansas USA starting in March 2021. I find your travels and response to the problems you have experienced very informative, interesting and motivating. You are not afraid to tackle the challenges and get your hands dirty! THANK YOU!

  2. I was looking at the ‘Exhaust Pipe Guitar Picture’ and noticed the back of Mander looks like the front of your motorhome in a way…

    Then it dawned on me that you could mount a hood ornament, air brush a pair of headlamps on there, and paint the rectangular cover to look like a grill.

    So, then I thought about it a bit more… find a Vinyl shop to make a Vinyl of someone (A Dog, Bear, cartoon character, silhouette, ex president, a couple crowded in the driver’s seat, a kid or teenager, Beethoven, a family, etc.) sitting in the window holding a steering wheel with one hand and waving with the other… like they were driving backwards!

    Then on the back bumper put a short dot com URL (6 or eight characters) so people could find your page. You don’t want to make too big a deal about you being a girl by herself thus a short URL but that $10.00 domain name might bring in more followers and supporters!

    It’s not all that technically difficult to set that domain up either

    A dashcam pointing out the back window might even show you how many friends wave back!

  3. Happy to hear the worst, hopefully, is behind you. Waiting to now read about fun adventures.
    I, too, left MN in late Oct of 2018 without doing anything but an oil change. But my 2001Roadtrek is a lot newer. Got 1 1/2 years before any major problem, which was brake failure in Sedona due to a rusted out line. Now having electric gemlins, as you called them. Not house ones, chassis ones. What’s comforting is that on my Chevy Roadtrek site i see nearly new ones with more problems.

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  5. I highly recommend Lucas oil stabilizer sealer. Its really helped my old pickup.

  6. amazing reading your stories i myself am getting ready to hit the road also maybe well meet in our travels

  7. Did you grow up with many brothers? How’d you get so handy with cars?

  8. Awesome story. Not sure how you got so handy, but I like what you’ve done with the place! 🙂
    I, like many others, do all my own auto maintenance and repairs as well. I have a garage full of tools though. How did you swing doing suspension work while on the road? Do you have people you can visit that help out with this sort of thing?

  9. I like your spirit. I like your pluck. I hope you find the true meaning of life.

  10. In 1980 my parents got a 24′ Swinger ( Yes, Its a stupid name) by Georgia Boy. My dad and I spent a lot of time under the “Dog House”. We had two fires and everything. Get a Fire Extinguisher and mount it near the door. Then make lots of great memories.

    Manner On,

  11. Hi, if your boyfriend hasn’t married you yet he needs to get with it before I do! I love how motivated, creative and free-spirited you are! If you’re in Texas and make it to Alpine, come find me!

  12. That motorhome is SUPER-EASY to work on, because the engine is right there between the seats. If you’re new to automotive repairs, then buy a manual for a chrysler product that has an engine similar to yours. Once you understand what to do, it all becomes much easier.

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