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Airpath to the rescue

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Airpath to the rescue

Post by milspec6 on Wed Dec 28, 2016 5:46 pm

I took my butler van into the shop this morning to address the higher-than-normal idle that I started to experience before Christmas. I couldn't find a vac leak and already replaced the IAC valve, but still had a fast idle. The mechanic spent an hour on it verifying everything before discovering that the cable that runs from the van's throttle to the vacuum pods which control the butler machine had broken. That was the good news as I was worried it might end up being the intake gasket.

The bad news is that this part is obsolete. I talked about this cable about a year ago when I wanted to replace it, Butler doesn't carry it any more and nobody local has anything even close. Even worse, I had 2 houses yet to clean for the day. Mad

I re-scheduled one job, but the other couldn't be changed as they were holding a baby shower tonight and were desperate to get it cleaned up. I only had 30 minutes to come up with something, so I set up a true farmer rigged system.....a wooden dowel stuck between the gas pedal and a rubber wheel chock to provide some "steps" for fine tuning. I simply cut the rod to the length that would provide near normal rpm's. It was about 200 rpms too low, but it was as close as I could get without risking over-revving during adjustments.

I was only out 100 feet from the van, so I figured that a little less vacuum than normal shouldn't be a problem. I mean, it is a nearly 450 cfm blower so even at reduced power, it should still be upper 300's at the worst.

The basement and stairs went well and I was optimistic that this was going to work fine, but when I moved to the upstairs living room, it changed. The vacuum felt weaker so I checked the machine and the rpm was down between upholstery and carpet....probably lost another 300 rpm yet the dowel had not moved. Everything was still set as before, but the idle had declined a lot.

I had to stick a couple of quarters behind the dowel to raise the rpm's back up to before. It seemed to work and back to the living room I went. The carpet was that really dense short fiber type that makes you really work to push the wand. I mean I was shoving like I was on a bobsled team at times and when done, it felt way too wet.

So, I checked on the machine again....idle was way down again, yet the quarters were still in place. A few more adjustments and I had it elevated again to near normal levels and went back to dry stroke. Much better this time, but the carpet still felt like a sponge.

I was getting very frustrated by all this and tossed an airpath fan in that living room while I chatted it up with the customer and his wife. The whole time I was concerned that I may have ruined the baby shower due to really wet carpet.

Guess what? Fifteen minutes later.....living room was dry to the touch. That airpath fan saved the day and became the difference between angry customer and the happy one that asked for business cards to hand out during the baby shower.....and gave me a bag of homemade Christmas cookies. Peace
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Re: Airpath to the rescue

Post by milspec6 on Wed Dec 28, 2016 5:59 pm

This is the new cable that I am going to install tomorrow....no more vacuum pods.

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Re: Airpath to the rescue

Post by Freemind1 on Wed Dec 28, 2016 9:34 pm

Wine cheers
Problem solved!

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Re: Airpath to the rescue

Post by milspec6 on Wed Dec 28, 2016 11:53 pm

I do hope so....
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Re: Airpath to the rescue

Post by Mo on Thu Dec 29, 2016 3:14 pm

Isn't it amazing how creative we can get in order to get the job done?

Reminds of my brother and the time his gas pedal broke on his old datsun pick up. He connected a wire hanger to it and just pulled on the hanger to give it gas.

It was kind of tough because it was standard and he did get a ticket on the freeway for going to slow Very Happy Very Happy You can creative when your low on funds
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Re: Airpath to the rescue

Post by ACE Services on Thu Dec 29, 2016 4:38 pm

The only thing about the throttle cable thing is that there is no governor to control rpm's, the vacuum pod controls the rpm's with the vacuum off the motor and the blower
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Re: Airpath to the rescue

Post by milspec6 on Thu Dec 29, 2016 6:28 pm

You are right ACE, I installed it and the problem with that design was just as you described.  The rpms were set at a specific speed when not under load, but it didn't adjust to the conditions while cleaning.

So, what do you do?  Butler says that the cable is obsolete and is no longer available from Butler.  I went to 7 parts store ranging from automotive to farm implements, but nobody recognized the end on the the factory cable.  One end was clearly GM, but the other end looked alien to all.

Was I dead in the water?  Not quite.  I visited my Father around lunch to spend some time.  He suffers from late stage ALZ and is in a nursing home.  Although he doesn't even recognize me any more, he was a mechanic for 45 years and can recite torque specs from 30 years ago from out of nowhere.

We started talking and I brought up the issue with the cable.  I didn't think he was even listening at the time, but when I left, he suggested that it was the GM cruise control cable.  That odd end that nobody could identify is what you find inside the cruise control module on late 90's through at least 2000 GM vehicles.

I did some research and found a picture of a cruise control cable that did look similar, but the GM dealers told me that the cable was obsolete and they had no source for it.  I couldn't even find one on ebay or other online parts suppliers.

Was I now dead in the water?  Not quite.  I went to the local salvage yard and started crawling through GM vehicles from the late 90's.  I found a good cruise control cable on a 4.3L vortec motor out of a Chevy Blazer.

It took awhile to get it out, but once pulled out of the cruise control module, I found that the ends were a perfect match (top picture was the alien end that attaches to the vacuum pods).  





The only flaw was the parts cable was missing the locking piece on the throttle side of the cable (bottom picture).  I had to pry off the lock tab from the Butler cable to complete the install.

End result:  100% back in business for $20 and the loss of an entire day running around.  The install and adjustment only took 30 minutes.

So, for those with older Butlers....it is just a cruise control cable out of GM vehicles from 96-2000 and maybe even later until drive-by-wire arrived.
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Re: Airpath to the rescue

Post by Matt; My carpet cleaner on Thu Dec 29, 2016 8:21 pm

New TV series coming? Carpet cleaning redneck, gerryrig that machine.
I'm more interested in a pic of the wood spatula technique.

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Re: Airpath to the rescue

Post by dp1 on Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:10 pm

Wow ! Isn't that amazing, what our mind can do ? That's why I love talking to most elderly, they usually have cool stories to tell and not to mention share some experiences that might help us someday.
Kudos to your dad !
And congrats, hope the fix last forever !
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Re: Airpath to the rescue

Post by milspec6 on Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:17 pm

Thanks gang, it was a real victory as the TM runs better than it has in years....response is spot on again and will probably provide another 50 cfm in performance.

It is all part of life, learning new things. This is really a strange industry as it is so simple in concept (spray and suck) yet the learning always continues. As a tech, you learn some about cleaning and operating the equipment. As the owner, the learning is far greater, from the office work to the repair and engineering work.

Today was a victory, hope to have many more in the future.
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Re: Airpath to the rescue

Post by Mo on Thu Dec 29, 2016 10:34 pm

Thats amazing that your dad remembers that, What a strange and jacked up disease that is.

When I picked up the lock mechanism and latch for my ford I paid 32 bucks, I asked the cashier how much would the entire sliding door would have cost and it was 73.00. If this new lock gives me problems Im just going find an entire door
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Re: Airpath to the rescue

Post by milspec6 on Thu Dec 29, 2016 11:07 pm

Is that a salvage yard you are dealing with Mo? They often pull the prices out of the air, so have someone else call and offer a lower price on the door....you might be surprised.

There are rules to salvage yards....here are some:

1. Always go towards the end of the month, they will deal more.
2. Never dress nice....they will charge more. Be a bum, no shave, etc.
3. Bring tools in a small ammo can or something like that.
4. Be curious. Check the glove boxes and under seats as most of the vehicles are tossed in the yard "as-is" and you can find really interesting items that way which the yard doesn't even know about.
5. If they have a cat or dog, be its best buddy even if you hate pets.
6. Wear boots...it will be muddy and you will encounter critters and thorn bushes.
7. Never tell the yard that you are looking for something "rare" or let on that you really need it badly....price will sky-rocket.
8. Most yards charge about $2 for you to even walk around the yard. The ticket is good all day, so go early morning in case you need time to leave for more tools and still get back in time before it closes.
9. Carry cash....very few accept any other form of payment and DON'T pull out a big stack at any time. Keep your money scattered around in your pockets so you never expose more than needed. If they see pull out a large stack of bills to pay your $2 entry fee, you will not see anything except premium pricing.
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Re: Airpath to the rescue

Post by ACE Services on Fri Dec 30, 2016 5:25 am

Congratulations, glad to hear that you got it fixed. Also thanks for telling us about it, now we can tell others if they have that issue.
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Re: Airpath to the rescue

Post by milspec6 on Fri Dec 30, 2016 9:48 am

What is really funny ACE is that last night around midnight, a guy in New York just posted 10 of those cables for sale on ebay brand new from a warehouse lot.

I am thinking about buying a couple just to hang onto for the next guy.
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Re: Airpath to the rescue

Post by Freemind1 on Fri Dec 30, 2016 1:35 pm

If they are cheap enough, I'd be buying them for myself.

Time is money, and I'm sure the next time a cable breaks, you are not going to have a day to waste at a junk yard.

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Re: Airpath to the rescue

Post by milspec6 on Fri Dec 30, 2016 2:20 pm

True as always....they are about $38 on ebay from that seller which is twice what the used one cost, but it would have saved me from wasting my whole day.
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Re: Airpath to the rescue

Post by milspec6 on Fri Dec 30, 2016 2:21 pm

If I was in the TM service business and any customers running older Butler units, I would start stocking several of them.
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Re: Airpath to the rescue

Post by dp1 on Fri Dec 30, 2016 7:18 pm

Yeah if I'm running an older butler, I would be all over those cables, but then again as soon as you or anyone buy a few of those cables, the seller will see potential in those cable and start stocking a bunch of them, lol.
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Re: Airpath to the rescue

Post by milspec6 on Fri Dec 30, 2016 8:55 pm

Probably so Dp. I love how ebay is so scientific now that somehow it knew that I was searching for them. There must be way that a seller can obtain the search data, because after I searched for it multiple times, pow, it shows up that this guy just found 10 of them less than 5 hours after I looked.

If I was to buy the 10 on there, he would show up with a 100 the very next day for half the price. Very Happy
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Re: Airpath to the rescue

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