The Belt

Ah yes….. the belt.

Center of a few dramas as reported on social media. It breaks, the bus stops. It’s not available at NAPA, and it’s a pain to put in because it’s on the radiator end of the engine and you “can’t get there from here”…..

So first things first, order one. I got mine from Gaffney. If you order one and no one asks for your chassis # hang up. Once again, the (almost) same engine is in a LOT of RAM trucks so there’s a LOT of parts out there for this engine, but not all of them are suitable for the RV engine. So, I carry a spare, and on recommendation from Mike Cody at Camp Freightliner I have it in a vacuum sealed bag.

Getting it on…. haha. It CAN be done. Disclaimer: I haven’t done it YET. I did read the reports from some that have.

In principle it’s simple. Disconnect the wire to the electric fan, work the belt around the fan from the top left (facing in the direction of travel) work it around the pulleys and the idler, and then put a tool on the tensioner, bend it out, flip the belt on it, let go and presto.

The problem is, again, getting to things. From the top you can get to the top left corner of the fan and the alternator. Then a not too obese person can “sit” on the passenger side of the engine behind the exhaust and access most of the rest. I guess some long thin sticks will come in handy. Finally, a 3/8″ ratchet operates the tensioner, there’s a long handled tool that looks like it may make things easier. Harbor Freight or Amazon…..

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Of course, you need to know the routing…. If the old one is gone…. You won’t know. Again, Googling this takes you to the world of RAM trucks…. Here’s a pic of what mine would look like with the radiator and CAC removed with the caveat that the idler pulley under the alternator is an AC compressor on mine…. I HIGHLY recommend that you get under there and see what yours looks like. Make a diagram…… It’s priceless information when it gets down to it.

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Here’s what you can see from under the engine…..Crankshaft on the right, tensioner left and closest, AC compressor up and to the left, alternator at the top, idler pulley just above and to the left of crankshaft.

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Here’s the view when seated to the passenger side of the engine…. Crankshaft bottom center, fan/water pump top center, idler pulley a little further back in the center, tensioner behind and slightly below, AC compressor just visible in background, alternator hidden by fan/water pump.

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So there you have it…… Carry a spare and a tool and with some serious Mickey Mousing around you can get the new one on.

All that said…. WHY did the old one fail? Surely not because we let it sit on there for 10 years. We WILL replace these on a regular basis as the headache of doing it on the side of I-95 in 34 degree weather is just too much. How often? Dunno…. don’t have the urge yet. You can inspect the one that’s on there. Lateral cracks are OK, length wise cracks are not. I’m gonna say mines gonna have 50K at 4-5 years and I’ll probably replace it.

But wait, there’s one more thing. Quite a few stories I’ve heard the belt failed because the AC compressor seized up. Putting a new belt on will not help until the AC compressor is replaced. Except, I have heard there IS a belt you can put on which bypasses the AC compressor and will get you home…. a little sweaty but you can run the genny and the house AC…..

When I find out more about this I will update here….