Oil Bath

I changed the oil on the motorhome the other day. The preceding day I’d disinfected the water system, and greased the chassis. Having experience crawling under my pickup, where there is a lot of room, I was surprised by how much skooching was involved under the much lower to the ground motorhome. I was able to get the front end greased with a minimum of trouble, because most of the zerks were reachable from outside. The few that I couldn’t reach, I had to slide under a short ways to get. I was feeling pretty good about myself, when I glanced toward the back of the machine. I didn’t measure it, but I’d estimate the drive shaft was about 1 mile long. Interspersed along its length, every foot or so, was a u-joint with a grease fitting on it. And the shaft ran up the center of the frame, forcing me to get completely under the machine and crawl the length of it on my back. (OK maybe it wasn’t literally a mile long.)

Once I’d completed the drive shaft, I figured, “How hard could the oil change be?” I decided to wait until the next day to find out.

I positioned my trusty aluminum drain pan, the oil filter, and channel locks that are all veterans of numerous oil changes. None had experienced the grandeur of a 7.4 liter chevy engine that takes 7 quarts of oil though. I climbed into the driver’s seat and started the engine, and let it run for a couple of minutes. I’d been told this helps churn up any sludge so it will more likely drain out with the oil. I shut the engine off, crossed myself, and climbed under.

I pushed the pan under the oil pan, grabbed the channel locks, and gave the drain plug a tug. There was very little room under there as I’ve said, with the added bonus that the exhaust pipes, which are roughly the size of an average road culvert, were quite warm because some bonehead had just run the engine. Warm pipes aren’t a problem in and of themselves, except that they descend and cross right where the oil pan lives.

I gave another tug, thinking I’d forgotten my lefty-loosey-righty-tighty rule. Nope, I’d had the direction right, but the thing was really on there. After a long spell of tugging, the drain plug came out, and a lovely stream of warm dark brown oil began flowing out of the engine and into the waste oil pan. I carefully set the drain plug where I could find it, and skooched over to the oil filter.

I got my new oil filter ready by slathering the rubber gasket with some used oil. I was smart enough to put a rag in the pile of equipment that was under the RV with me, so I carefully cleaned off my hands, set down the new filter, and grabbed the old filter. A twist with my hands did nothing. I moved a bit so I could get a better angle. I was pretty pinned under there when I tried it again, but it soon became clear that this filter wasn’t finger tight. I came out and walked to the place in the garage where I keep my oil filter wrench. This tool has been with me since my first vehicle; a 1973 Dodge van. I don’t use it often because I install my oil filters properly, such that they can be removed without a tool. This tool had gotten me out of some jams in the past, though.

I crawled back under, repositioned myself for maximum torque, and went back to work. It took several tries, but the old filter finally came loose. Pinned under there though I was, I was able to remove the wrench, set it down, and move the waste oil pan right next to my face so that the oil in the filter compartment would drip into the pan and not on the ground. As I loosened the old filter, drips did indeed accumulate and fall as intended.

I was feeling a bit smug, pinned to the ground with my arms wrapped on very warm exhaust pipes. It takes several spins to remove an oil filter. Spin I did, and I guess my mind must have wandered, because, “spooch!” the filter came off, slipped from my grasp (oil is slippery) and fell into the waste oil pan. A dollop of oil leaped from the pan and into my face. It reminded me of the times the baby would puke on me when sitting on my lap. Your instinct was to throw the baby off you and scream, but neither are allowed. So you smile and say to yourself, “gosh, someday this will be a good topic for a blog post.”

I grabbed the rag and got most of the oil off my face, then continued with the job of installing the new oil filter. Once done I pushed all the tools over to the side of the RV, came out, and put things away. My eager destination was the shower, which shined me up as good as new.

3 Responses to “Oil Bath”

  1. Mel says:

    I imagine that much like myself, the last thing you want to see on the way into the house with a face full of oil is your spouse. They always laugh.


    • admin0 says:

      Yup. Kind of like the way she laughed when Steve threw up on my lap that time. It is funny how these things stick with you over the years 🙂

  2. Nick Holland says:

    you know, this post REALLY could have benefitted from a picture… 🙂

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