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One tough Bus
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Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 01/08
Picture of Deb&Eds38
posted
We have been reading your forum for the last two months and would like to share our story with your members.

We live in north Georgia and had taken our 1982 35'Barth to Michigan and then on into Canada for a family reunion and get together with friends. On the way back runnning south on 79 out of Pittsburgh our world just about turned upside-down. What started out to feel like a blown tire turned out to be a lot worse. The right front tire,rim hub assembly and disk came off doing about 60 mph going down a hill in the centre lane in rush hour traffic. The tire and all it's parts went into the medium and up the other side bounced once in traffic missing everthing and through a fence about 500' away. The Barth kept on going for about 800' carving a groove into the concrete with the suspenion or what was left of it but we still managed to keep control and get it off the road onto the shoulder.
No one was hurt and somehow we managed not to hit anybody but we sure did get alot of peoples attention. I remember one of members saying he had seen accidents with other types of motorhomes and they looked like someone had emptied a dumpster on the side of the road. Not this BARTH.

Not a scratch on the body. The only damage was to the left front spindle and hub assembly and we wore the spring and mounts off on the concrete. You owners of a 35 know how low this Barths run and we didn't even hit the exhaust pipe on the generator. Our Insurance company Progessive who buy the way were great with us called for a tow and a Company called Pete Insana Towing out of Washington PA came to our rescue. They not only towed us to their yard but said they could repair the bus. It took a while to get the parts, the repairs were made and I drove her home this weekend. Not a rattle (out of the ordinary), not a shake, not a shimmy.

We had at one time thought about getting into a newer bus but this has changed our minds.

Why the wheel came off was probably not having enough experience with the maintenance of this type of vehicle or could have been a mechanical failure. I really don't know. If you got one of these buses take good care of it, because you probably wont get a chance to own another of such high quality. My only regret is that I missed Talladega this weekend but I did get our Barth called TUG-1 back and we will be there next April in our Barth.

Happy Barthing.

Deb & Ed.
 
Posts: 321 | Location: Ortona- Turkey Creek Florida | Member Since: 10-04-2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
"5+ Years of Active Membership"
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To my 'shade tree' mechanic ears, that sounds like a ball joint failure.

I had something similar happen to my wife's old saab, fortunately for me it happened at walking speed while turning a corner.

Wheel bearings, ball joints and brake fluid are just a couple of maintanence issues that people either don't know about or ignore til its too late.

This is why we pay professional mechanics to look at certain aspects of our coaches. I am handy as all get out, but don't have the experience to tackle certain jobs.

Brake fade from boiling water in the brake cylinders is another scary thing.

A good flush of your braking system is cheap insurance.

Glad you and yours made it out. Thanks for sharing the lesson.
 
Posts: 193 | Location: Lancaster, PA USA | Member Since: 07-30-2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
"First Year of Inception" Membership Club
Picture of davebowers
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I am going to take some shots for leaving this post, but the problem here "is" that the coach here has an integral problem which existed from the day of manufacture and Barth new it. That's why they only made these coaches for three years and shut it down before someone got killed. They provided an upgrade for the front axle assy, but charged for it.

In fact, the very first coach they made was being driven to the first RV show when this same thing happened.

The problem here is that the this low slung leading arm type chassis was designed for the FMC motorhome which was 26 feet gas engined and 14000 lbs. The Barth MCC is 35 feet diesel and some 22000 lbs.

I have written about these MCC chassis's before and have taken a lot of heat, and I questioned whether it is my position in life to do so seeing that I think about 5 of them are for sale on this website. But the facts are the chassis of this coach may not be robust enough for this large of a motorhome. Now Les Hoagland up in Lincoln, IL makes an update for all of the front end, rear end, differential and brakes on these coaches. But, even those parts are not DOT certified.

Deb and ED, I am sure that you already have a relationship with Les and Chuck Hoagland. I would strongly suggest that you replace these damaged parts on both sides with Les's parts. I am so happy that things turned out well but it coach have been a lot different and I am sure they didn't have shoulder belts on that '82.

I am actually considering not allowing the sale of these coaches on this website.

Now comes the hate mail....

------------------



[This message has been edited by davebowers (edited October 05, 2004).]
 
Posts: 1985 | Location: Eden Prairie, MN 55346 USA | Member Since: 01-01-2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 01/08
Picture of Deb&Eds38
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Dave:

Thanks for the info. The parts were purchased from Les to rebuild the front end and I will contact him and talk about the modifications. Wish I would have got on line two months ago as they replaced the whole left side, springs and right side braking system. New bearings and all.

The bus only has 83,000 miles on it. I feel confident that it will last with this new front end for quite awhile and believe me I will be on top of the maintenance.

No hate mail just gratitude for expressing your opinion for the safety of others.

Deb&ED.
 
Posts: 321 | Location: Ortona- Turkey Creek Florida | Member Since: 10-04-2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 11/13
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quote:
Originally posted by davebowers:
................. But, even those parts are not DOT certified.




Dave, do you know what year the DOT began certifying RV chassis or components?
 
Posts: 7397 | Location: AZ Central Highlands | Member Since: 01-09-2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 11/13
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Dave, do you know how much more weight there is on the front wheels of the 35' MCC than the FMC?
 
Posts: 7397 | Location: AZ Central Highlands | Member Since: 01-09-2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of davebowers
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Thanks Deb and Ed, I have always worried about whether I should vocalize my concerns or shut up. That is one of the reasons I value the fact that this is a non commercial website and we receive no funds from sellers.

Bill, I am not a DOT expert, however, after assisting a number of folks who have tried to bring coaches across the Canadian border both ways, I know that there was DOT paperwork on the chassis's way back into the "70's. However, the primary information I have was derived from;:
Recreational Vehicle Services
10900 Monterey Rd
Morgan Hill, Ca 95037
Business Phone: 800-821-2266
Business Fax: 408-778-7933

They are the suppliers of suspension, , chassis, and brake parts for FMC motorhomes. They make a big deal about their parts being DOT certified. Many of their parts will work on the MCC coaches but they refuse to sell to MCC owners with the exception of shocks, bearings and other standard equipment. They note that some FMC owners have changed out the standard Dodge 440 engine to the Detroit and they don't feel that is a wise thing to do.


1979 FMC coach



1982 Barth MMC coach




1985 New Style Barth MCC (last year)



------------------



[This message has been edited by davebowers (edited October 05, 2004).]
 
Posts: 1985 | Location: Eden Prairie, MN 55346 USA | Member Since: 01-01-2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The MCC was sold with a 20,000 GW with the front end rate at 7500#. a 35ft coach

The FMC was sold as a 14,800# coach with a 4500# front end. a 29ft 8 in. coach.

Jim Black the nations FMC guy referenced above says that the Barth frame was substantially enhanced but the ball joints, brakes, axle shafts and other chassis parts were not.

FMC coaches were DOT tested all the way back to 1972. Between 1972 and 1976 they made 1252 FMC's manufactured. Barth bought the assets in 1978 and the first Regency 35RD was built in 1982 and sold for around $150,000.00 the most expensive coach in America at that time. I think Les told me that they built around 90 coaches total.

Here is a picture of a bunch of new MCC's in 1982



I have the Motorhome magazine article introducing the 1982 Regency in PDF form. Let me know and I will email it to anyone who wants one.

My final comment is this. I think of the Barth MCC coach, both the 1982 fiberglass model and the later standard model as similar to the apple in the Garden of Eden. What beautiful coaches they were. They have almost every conceivable option of the time, standard. And, what an attractive floor plan. Why this floor plan was not used in other later models is unknown. And, it drives like a Cadillac. Four wheel independent suspension, full disk brakes all around, and the widest and lowest center of gravity in the industry. Even Country Coach built 5 coaches with this chassis. But the safety questions still linger.

I have been told that Lee Merriman, when returning home from a trip power washes his under carriage and then slides underneath on a crawler and visually inspects each chassis component. This would not be a bad habit for an MCC owner to get in to.(Lee's coach is on a Spartan chassis)
.



[This message has been edited by davebowers (edited October 05, 2004).]
 
Posts: 1985 | Location: Eden Prairie, MN 55346 USA | Member Since: 01-01-2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
First Month Member
Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 11/13
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quote:
Originally posted by davebowers:
I have been told that Lee Merriman, when returning home from a trip power washes his under carriage and then slides underneath on a crawler and visually inspects each chassis component. This would not be a bad habit for an MCC owner to get in to.[/i].

[/B]


Not on yer tintype, pal. After readin all this, I ain't about to get unnerneath one of them thangs! Might collapse on me while I'm lookin'.
 
Posts: 7397 | Location: AZ Central Highlands | Member Since: 01-09-2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Oh No!!




Thanks Bill now we're really going to get hate mail
 
Posts: 1985 | Location: Eden Prairie, MN 55346 USA | Member Since: 01-01-2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Dave, the 1985 you have pictured with the awnings out is out of Peoria, IL. We came very close to buying it in July, 2003. He had done a lot of work on the areas you are talking about and had also installed a Cat 300HP. engine. We did not drive it, but he claimed the updated brakes were as good as you could get. It was a super clean unit, but he would not take less that 50k for it so we moved on. Do you know where it is now? I talked to Lee in Lincoln, IL about it as he had done most of the work in the updating process. I believe the owners name was Norm.
 
Posts: 339 | Location: INDY,IN USA | Member Since: 06-30-2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Dale, I bought Norms coach over a year ago. We have made a couple of trips to texas and many weekend trips. I sold my 87 barth (gas) after buying this coach from Norm.Before purchase I talked to Les and he described all the work he had done for Norm upgrading front end and ect. Les has great records and is very helpful. This coach has the two things I have always missed in the other 4 motorhomes i have owned in the past POWER and BRAKES. I noticed in one of the other post some thing about mcc people have MG, well my fun car is a 1990 Jag convertible with a v12 engine.Dale, Norm did take less than 50K. Jerry
 
Posts: 24 | Location: Godfrey, IL, US | Member Since: 07-27-2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Jerry, I am happy for you and often wondered what happened to the coach. I liked Norm and the coach, but was not going to pay the 50k he wanted. I remember he was very proud of the changes he had made, and said the brakes were great. I wish you well. Did he ever finish the GMC he had?

Thanks,

Dale
 
Posts: 339 | Location: INDY,IN USA | Member Since: 06-30-2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Well, Dave and Bill... no hate mail, but I just can't fathom such irresponsible comments. Bill, to say you "wouldn't crawl under one for fear it would collapse on you"... that is an idiotic thing to say, and you know better. That this coach had a failure like this is a serious issue and should be treated as such.

All that Dave says about the history of this chassis is true. But they didn't stop building the chassis "before someone was killed". That is an inflammatory and outrageous thing to say. They did it because of economics. They were in the custom COACH business, not the CHASSIS business. It is simply cheaper to buy the chassis and build the coach on top of it, and they soon discovered that. Most every other motorhome manufacturer does the same thing. Certainly one reason is product liability, but another one is that the constant engineering and R & D work that is required to keep developing a product can get damn expensive, let alone the costs of manufacturing... far too much for a small family owned coach builder in Indiana.

This incident was quite likely a failure due to lack of maintenance, as Deb & Ed said. Les Hoagland will tell you the same thing... that these coaches are fine, if you maintain them. Well, this SAME THING can and WILL happen to ANY chassis that is not maintained properly.

This coach is over 20 years old! ANY vehicle of that "vintage" can have a catastrophic failure. These 90 some MCC coached have driven millions of miles. To do the Ralph Nader thing on them is irresponsible. What IS responsible is to objectively report the design and maintenance issues and RATIONALLY report the facts. The facts are that this was a chassis designed for a smaller coach but that they have been upgraded to correct the issues. That the parts are still being made and are available today, some 20 years later, is amazing and a testament to the basic integrity of the coach. the "Non DOT Approved" issue is a red herring... and Dave knows it. He always brings it up when speaking about Les Hoagland's parts. Well, Les' engineering and manufacturing work is of the highest quality. To suggest otherwise is not fair to him. Les hasn't applied for DOT approval on his parts and been rejected... as Dave's statement imply. He simply is too small to go through the crap one has to go through to get apply for DOT approval. To suggest that simply because a manufacturer has DOT approval automatically makes something safe is absurd, also. The DOT approved the Crown Vic, and rear end collisions have killed many of our nations finest. The auto industry is famous for creating unsafe vehicles that get DOT approval, so I don't need to state the obvious there.

Does anyone here think a P30 Chassis coach would fare as well if a front wheel broke off at speed? I've owned one and I sure don't. I've worked as a maintenance mechanic in the trucking and equipment business. Maintenance related failures can and do happen. I've seen this type of thing happen to GM medium duty trucks, and other types of vehicles, too.

Fortunately, Les And CHRIS Hoagland have shown, these issues are quite managable.

If anyone is reading this contemplating a Barth purchase, please do your homework, speak to people experienced in mechanical matters(which is not Dave, of his own admission), and make an informed decision.

In my opinion, if you are not mechanically inclined you should avoid ANY coach that is over 10-15 years old. If you like doing your own maintenance, well, go for it.

Last time i tried to say this type of thing Dave deleted the thread. So, now... let the editing begin!
 
Posts: 218 | Location: Newington, CT USA | Member Since: 06-02-2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 11/13
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quote:
Originally posted by duteman:
Bill, to say you "wouldn't crawl under one for fear it would collapse on you"... that is an idiotic thing to say, and you know better.


Chris, if you took it seriously, my post would indeed seem idiotic. And, yes, I do know better.

However, it was not meant to be taken seriously. I had hoped that ending my post with a smiley face would convey that I was tweaking. Additionally, there was a lot of backwoods vernacular and overstatement that I hoped would convey that it was not to be taken seriously.

In short, IT WAS A JOKE! It was an attempt to inject a little levity into what is becoming a very deep, serious subject.

Aside from gratuitous attempts at humor, I have no position on this issue.
 
Posts: 7397 | Location: AZ Central Highlands | Member Since: 01-09-2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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