Author Topic: Ultravan Rescue Gone Wrong  (Read 437 times)

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Ultravan Rescue Gone Wrong
« on: October 09, 2018, 10:01:13 AM »
Coming this winter.
I will be posting my story of an Ultravan Rescue that did NOT go according to plan.   :(  :'(
It all took place in August 2018 and Iím now able to talk about it.
It will also have pictures and videos to go along.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2018, 10:27:37 AM by Ultravan Owners »
Tony - US Army and ASE Mechanic, Retired.
Location - Ottawa, Canada

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Re: Ultravan Rescue Gone Wrong
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2018, 08:53:48 AM »
If you don't already know what started all this..
In 2008 Marie and I purchased our first Ultravan along with a damaged one to help restore the first one.
Shortly after Marie and I got into Ultravans we decided to try to have a working Ultravan Museum.
We really liked the Ultravan and the history of how it came to be.
So we purchased our farm in 2010 with an older house and lot of space.
I would like to have a car show on our farm every 3 to 5 years to help raise funds for Habitat for Humanity and Hospice.
The working Ultravan Museum would be an extension of the fund raiser and our way of becoming snowbirds too. 

A couple of years ago I made a deal to purchase another Ultravan for our collection that happened to be in the mid-west.

It was a V8 that someone decided to do a conversion on.  Why I have no clue.
We already had UV520 with an Olds Toronado conversion.
I had hoped to take the best of, or the easiest one to do, of these two V8 units and put it back to original condition.
This is because I had yet to close a deal on an original V8 Ultravan for our collection.  I'm still looking for one!
FYI - What I personally refer to as a late model Ultravan (which includes the V8 units) are known to have an issue with corrosion due to the spray in Styrofoam that was used. 

On with the story of: Ultravan Rescue Gone Wrong

In April of 2017 I purchased a 2001 G3500 Cab and Chassis as close to the Ultravan that I had agreed to buy and needed to haul home.
I had hoped to get away that summer to go recuse this Ultravan. But that did not happen.
With the purchase of the truck I would not have to sit in a vehicle and drive both ways with my bad back.
Plus this truck would not have the rust we are so use to seeing where we live.
I could keep it and use it or I thought if I needed the funds I would I have a better chance of selling a rust free diesel truck to get the funds back.
It also would shave a couple days off my trip as I would not have to drive both ways.
I would use my flyer miles and fly out there get the truck and then drive to the Ultravan.
Attached is a picture of that Diesel Truck that I purchased and the Ultravan sitting in the field that I agreed to buy years before.

More to come soon.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2018, 09:23:32 AM by Ultravan Owners »
Tony - US Army and ASE Mechanic, Retired.
Location - Ottawa, Canada

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Re: Ultravan Rescue Gone Wrong
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2018, 09:58:20 AM »
UPDATE POSTED: November 30, 2018 

On August 9th, 2018 I finally started off on my Ultravan rescue. I took a flight to Sioux Falls, SD. It was a connecting flight and the second leg of my flight was delayed a couple of times. I began to think I was going to have to spend the night in that air port. Thank GOD I got the last flight out. That airport has night restrictions and has to shutdown every night by 12midnight EST. I did not arrive to the hotel until 1am with the central time change. It so happens that the crew from the plane used the same hotel and we all took the shuttle service there. That made me feel like I picked the right hotel.

The morning of August 10th I got up, had breakfast in the hotel restaurant, and waited for my ride. The owner of the business was kind enough to pick me up at the hotel, at 11am, and we drove 45 minutes back to his place so I could pick up the truck from there.

I checked the fluids, started it up and check things out before driving to the gas station to start my trip. As I was driving to the gas station I had noticed how much the back of the truck would bounce or dance around without the extra weight of a bed on the back. After I filled up with diesel fuel, I found out that the tires were maxed out so lowered the air pressure on the four rear tires and checked the front ones while I was at it.

From the gas station in Rock Rapids, IA, where I picked up the truck, I drove to Sigourney, Iowa with one stop in Des Moines, IA to pick up some thin 4x8 flat stock so I could close up the opening of the large broken window. I arrived at the hotel (recommended to me) in Sigourney and checked in just in time before they stopped receiving check-ins. What a long day it was. The restaurant I wanted to go to had closed early that night. So I went to Subway and took my meal back to the hotel room to sit quietly and watch some TV. When I opened the door to the hotel room the odder hit me. It was musty. Like nasty mold. As I sat there eating I could not believe the condition of the place. After I ate I went into the bathroom to clean up and that is when I lost it.  The sink was dirty (as if they cleaned the room days or weeks before) and then I saw the mouse droppings on the floor in the corner. I contacted Marie and she was kind enough to call the hotel across the street while I loaded up my truck. She was able to get me a room there so I drove across the street and checked in there. It cost double of what the other place did. But I'm so happy I ended up staying there instead.
 
 
       
Tony - US Army and ASE Mechanic, Retired.
Location - Ottawa, Canada

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Re: Ultravan Rescue Gone Wrong
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2018, 09:59:09 AM »
UPDATE POSTED: November 30, 2018

The Next day (August 11th, 2018) I got up and went to check out the Ultravan. I wanted to size up the task ahead of me. FYI - Weeks before I was to leave on this rescue I wrote PowerNation Driveway Rescue for help. I knew it was going to be a long shot. But I had to try, because I also knew it was going to be a lot of work and more so, working out side, at my age, in the heat of summer. And the summer heat did not help at all. It was hot!!! 
 
EDIT on Dec 23, 2018: (I forgot this part of the story until now)

Still August 11th, 2018
When I first got to the Ultravan I looked it over to see what I was getting or getting myself into. The Ultravan had been sitting in the field for years. The rims and tires were buried in the ground half their diameter deep. I was shocked that 3 out of the 4 tires still had air in them after all these years. When I went inside I found many hornets nest and hornets inside the coach and I ran out quickly. I'm highly allergic to bees and who guessed it. I forgot to pack my EpiPen. The owner's grandson was kind enough to spray them for me, while I stood far away.


After a while we started digging out each tire so hopefully it would not cause any damage to the coach when I went to pull the coach out from where it had been sitting for so long. We got the tires all dug out and then we aired them all up. I attempted to pull the Ultravan out from where it had been stored for so many years. But I was not having any luck with that and I did not want to cause any damage to the Ultravan. One Ultravan owner, from years before, did not heed my advice and attempted to move his Ultravan from being stuck in the gorund like the one I'm now face with moving. He ended up pulling his Ultravan apart. So I stopped for the day with this one. I think it was 2pm and by then it was over 100degs with the heat index. I went for lunch and back to my AC hotel room to cool off and come up with a game plan for tomorrow. Hopefully the bees would be gone when we returned the next day and I will have a game plan that works.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2018, 10:03:29 PM by Ultravan Owners »
Tony - US Army and ASE Mechanic, Retired.
Location - Ottawa, Canada

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Re: Ultravan Rescue Gone Wrong
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2018, 11:23:04 PM »
UPDATE POSTED: December 24, 2018

August in Iowa was extremely hot when I was there.

August 12th, I went for breakfast at 6am and then stopped by a farm supply store, a block away, to purchase a come-along and some tow straps, before heading over to the Ultravan in the nearby town. I then drove over to where the Ultravan was. I got there around 8:00 in the morning. I crawled under it to hook up one of the tow straps. I backed my truck up behind the Ultravan and then hooked the come-along to the back of the truck. Using the come-along I started pulling the coach out, very slowly, not to damage it, from sitting in the holes that the tires had made in the dirt. Many times I would walked around the Ultravan to make extra sure the tires were rolling and not causing any damage. I was both happy and surprised that it rolled so easily.

When the come-along reached its end and would no longer work, I disconnected it from the truck and moved the truck farther ahead. I then extended the come-along and hooked it to the back of the truck again and repeated the process. Slowly pulling the coach forward with each move of the handle. After doing this entire process twice. I saw that the Ultravan was rolling without any issues. So I left the come-along there and used it like a tow chain and started driving the truck while pulling the coach towards the top of the hill. I had to get out from time to time to steer the Ultravan the direction I wanted it to go. By lunch time I had the coach at the top of the hill in a cleared area where I could get it ready to be able to ground tow it home.

I blocked the 2 rear tires so the Ultravan would not roll away and left the come-a-long hook to the back and my truck. I did not want the Ultravan to be able to roll down the hill and end up in the pond. I then started to install the tow bar bracket setup that I had made for our Ultravans. The one I shipped to Mike was for what I refer to as a late model Ultravan setup.  This Ultravan was the hardest one to install the tow bar mounting brackets on. (I had already used this same tow bar setup on UV520 and UV256 even though it is what I refer to as an early model.) At the end of the day I removed two of the old tires and ran them over to Mike's friend who has his own auto shop, so he could replaced the tires for me that evening and get them back to us the next morning. I took Mike back home and then I went back to the hotel to rest and call it a day until dinner.  Tomorrow would be another day. 

Pictures showing that the four tires did rotate while I was pulling the coach out with the come-a-long.
NOTE: I'm working on uploading videos, that offer more, so I can post them too.

August 12, 2018 - Day 2 - Video #1 Ultravan Rescue Gone Wrong.
https://youtu.be/1-BxGIingpo
« Last Edit: December 30, 2018, 11:49:27 AM by Ultravan Owners »
Tony - US Army and ASE Mechanic, Retired.
Location - Ottawa, Canada

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Re: Ultravan Rescue Gone Wrong
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2018, 11:11:48 AM »
Update Posted: December 30, 2018.

Still August 12, 2018 of Ultravan Rescue Gone Wrong.
Below are some videos that were taken on August 12th, while moving UV520 (named Twinkie by the previous owners) to higher and level ground so I can work on it safely. Once it was on level ground, with some shade, I started to install my custom tow bar setup. However, it was giving me all kinds of trouble.

FYI - When you are by yourself and using a tow rope or chain to move an Ultravan to another area like I am. You have to get out very often to turn the front wheels so that the coach goes where you want it to.  I must have gotten in and out, of the truck towing UV520 up the hill, at least twenty times in that short distance.  With little to no weight up front, an Ultravan does not track well when being flat towed. 

(Not much to see. But pictures and videos are better than just words posted on the net. - Grin)
August 12, 2018 - Day 2 - Video #1 Ultravan Rescue Gone Wrong.
https://youtu.be/1-BxGIingpo

August 12, 2018 - Day 2 - Video #2 Ultravan Rescue Gone Wrong.
https://youtu.be/_ahnrhJO-mo

August 12, 2018 - Day 2 - Video #3 Ultravan Rescue Gone Wrong.
https://youtu.be/rhUMQDBlP14 

August 12, 2018 - Day 2 - Video #4 Ultravan Rescue Gone Wrong.
https://youtu.be/08bRviNITaQ


I'm piecing together (bad memory makes it more work) of what I did on August 13th or day 3 of URGW and I will post it a soon as I have it.

Thank you for your interest and checking in from time to time. 
« Last Edit: March 08, 2019, 07:33:15 PM by Ultravan Owners »
Tony - US Army and ASE Mechanic, Retired.
Location - Ottawa, Canada

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Re: Ultravan Rescue Gone Wrong
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2019, 11:42:05 AM »
UPDATE POSTED: March 9, 2019

NEED TO CORRECT this and the next post...


It's now August 13th, 2018 or day 4 onsite.  I got up early, went for breakfast and then worked most of the day in the heat to get the Ultravan ready to ground tow. I fought to get the tow bar bracket setup on this coach. In the heat and with hand tools it took me 2 days to finish it. By now all the newer (used tires) had been mounted on their rims and balanced. I also checked the brakes and installed the tires on the coach.

At the end of the day Mike's friend took the cross bar, to the custom tow bar bracket, to his place so he could drill 4 holes in it for me to mount the new tow bar to. I had purchased a new lighter tow bar to go with my bracket setup, to save money and time on shipping my heavy tow bar. The shipping of the new and lighter tow bar was free, with Speedway and they had the best price on that brand too. So I had it directly shipped to Mike's.  The reason for the 4 new holes was due to the fact of how the newer tow bar mounted to a vehicle compared to the one I got made. The bolt spacing was different vs the tow bar I use at home. Hot and tired.

Call it a day and go cool off in the hotel room.

BTW - It was not until I had time days later while looking at pictures, that I realized I never took any pictures or videos on this day.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2019, 05:04:54 PM by Ultravan Owners »
Tony - US Army and ASE Mechanic, Retired.
Location - Ottawa, Canada

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Re: Ultravan Rescue Gone Wrong
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2019, 11:45:19 AM »
UPDATE POSTED: March 9, 2019

It's now August 14th, 2018, day 5, or the last day onsite. 

This is the day everything started going wrong.. 

Part 1 of Part  for this day.

We pushed the Ultravan off to the side under the tree and turned it around at the same time. I backed the truck up to the Ultravan and finished installing the tow bar to the tow bar bracket and then attaching it to the truck.

I worked on wiring up the lights. Then I said my goodbyes and went to drive away. The one driveway at Mikes is a little steep and narrow. When you get to the road, there is a nice dip, where you go back up again to meet the road. I turned the truck and the Ultravan wanted to keep going straight. I jumped out and turned the steering wheel on the Ultravan and jumped back into the truck. This happened a couple of times as the wheels on the Ultravan kept turned back to straight ahead. By the time the truck was out on the road and facing the direction I wanted to go, the Ultravan was still trying to go straight and the rear of the truck was being pushed due to the combination of being nearly at a 90 degree angle and the Ultravan still coming down the steep driveway. I had to disconnect the tow bar from the truck and move the truck down the road to straighten it out and provide the room to do the same with the Ultravnan. The scary part at this time was that fact that I was on the other side of a hill where any oncoming driver might not see me until it was too late. That was another reason to move the truck and Ultravan farther down the road to provide the room to have them lined up again before putting the tow bar back on the ball of the truck.

By now I was also done hooking everything back up when Mike's grandson and friend, who were visiting Mike, pulled out of the other driveway and started to drive back to the town where my hotel room was at. So I asked them if they could wait and follow me back to the hotel in case anything went wrong while I was ground towing the Ultravan for the first time.         
 
MORE TO COME.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2019, 07:12:07 PM by Ultravan Owners »
Tony - US Army and ASE Mechanic, Retired.
Location - Ottawa, Canada