2014 fall - GMCMI



Fall Spender & More at the GMCMI Fall Convention.

>> Convention Number

137 | Is the number of total attending registrants; 12 were partial attendees, 7 without motorhomes, 23 first timers plus 26 additional day passes! Attendees were from 26 states and 3 countries.

17.75 | Is the number of hours of technical sessions, plus Weighing of the Coaches and a Windshield Clinic. Both headed up by Ken Burton.

23 | Is the number of blankets made at the Convention. That makes a total of 898 blankets! Fantastic job ladies!

4 | 1974 GMC Owners received from GMCMI a license plate frame in honor of the 40 year old vehicle!

43 | Is the number of GMC Midwest Classics that utilized the Fall Convention as their GMC Midwest Classics Fall Rally.

21 | Is the number of GMC Eastern States that utilized the Fall Convention as their GMC Eastern States Fall Rally.

>> Beautiful fall leaves, fantastic food, things to learn, friends and great times by all!

By Janet Frey (article submitted to FMCA)

Oktoberfest was in the air as the fall colors began to emerge in this northern Midwest community and over 120 classic GMC motorhomes gathered to celebrate. It was also time to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1974 GMC motorhome. As always, these semi-annual conventions are a great way to share information about our classics, renew friendships and greet the “newbies.” This time, there were 21 “newbies,” or GMC owners attending a convention for the first time. This encouraging number illustrates the continuing popularity of this vintage motorhome that still draws admiring glances for its sleek appearance and innovative styling.

Chippewa Falls is a beautiful Midwestern town that was totally prepared to welcome the Convention. In addition to featuring several members in two interviews on local TV, their news coverage and awareness of our presence was reflected in many of the residents. Many convention attendees commented on the friendly response in the local stores and restaurants. The picturesque downtown included quaint shops, parks and eateries. There was also construction, which illustrated concern for the future as they preserve the past. The Chippewa Falls area had many attractions including the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, and the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts in nearby Menomonie. This historic theater opened in 1890, was recently named one of “15 Spectacular Theaters in the World” by CNN Travel, and features local entertainment. The residents are very proud of their history, and continue to support attractions such as the Irvine Park and Zoo. This beautiful park offers many outdoor activities, but also showcases a small zoo that is quite impressive for a town of this size. Of course, no convention would be complete without food! This area had some of the best and the German influence showed in the specialties served by the caterers. The German meatballs and potatoes, sausages and the sauerkraut were featured selections.

During the Convention, there were many sessions that included technical topics regarding maintenance, fiberglass repair and mentoring programs. Non-technical sessions included how and what to pack, how to downsize your “stuff,” how does the GMC work, how to stay healthy while traveling, and, for women, how to drive the GMC. In addition, crafts were offered, blankets were made for a local charity and a ladies luncheon was held. One of the convention’s premier events, the Open House, was advertised locally so that residents could visit and see the GMCs up close and personal. During this event, owners of the motorhomes invite visitors to see the GMC, inside and out, and explain original features or show off the upgrades that have been made. It is quite an adventure to see how many of these 40 year old motorhomes have been preserved or totally renovated.

Our convention manager, Kim Weeks, planned a special day of celebration for Oktoberfest that encouraged special clothing for the day (lederhosen, dirndls, flower crowns and braids), special crafts (how to make German Stars and Scherenschnitte) and special food. In addition to a wonderful catered meal, she included some fun – contests involving beer drinking and sauerkraut eating – all PG rated, of course!

The convention attendees certainly enjoyed the week’s activities and especially the warm hospitality of the residents.

>> Technical Line Up

A special thank you to the presenters for making the informational technical sessions possible. Check out the brief review compiled by Ken Henderson, Kerry Pinkerton and Fred Hudspeth of the presentations presented in this newsletter.

>> Non-technical Line UP

A big “thank you” to all the presenters for their time and talents to make this lineup superb! Here is a quick list: Brief Overview on the History of Music in America, GMCMI Geocache Bash, Ladies-Let’s Get Acquainted, Packing the GMC-How, what and where?, Ladies-Get Behind the Wheel!, Ladies-Have Questions About Your Motorhome?, Craft Sessions, Who Gets Grandma’s Pie Tin?, Book Review, Tips for Healthy Living, Bookworms and Their Diet, GMC Part Exchange, Craft & Flea Market, Open House, Crafts & Blankets, Pineblock Derby, “Damen Mittagessen” ladies luncheon and bingo! Thank you for a great job! (See Ladies Page for additional information.)

>> Pineblock Derby

Under the lead by Matt Colie and his pit crew a Pineblock Derby was held. They do a great job. Thank you!
And the winners are: 1st Place-Laurie Burton, 2nd Place-Paul Smith and 3rd Place-George Baxter. People’s Choice had a three-way tie between: Randy Johnson, George Baxter and Carol Baxter. Congratulation to all of drivers and winners.

>> Oktoberfest

It started out with a “Gutten Morgan” (good morning) and from there the day was a true experience. We were fed all day. Breakfast, ladies luncheon, men’s chili lunch and then onto a German Feast!
Oktoberfest attendees received custom mugs to enjoy their beer (root beer that is) and finish their meal with a root beer float!

Then onto the competitions! Beer Drinking Contest: yes, this competition was to drink one “real” bottle of beer, only thing the bottle was a “baby bottle”! Sauerkraut Eating Contest: three couples competed, only thing the person behind you feed the person in front! Then onto the Stein/Pitcher Contest: water was used and by the time we got to nine pitchers full of water being held by one person, it was a challenge to keep everyone dry.
Fun, food and laughter made it a great Oktoberfest!

>> In Closing

We would like to thank everyone that attended, volunteered, supported and
enjoyed the Convention. Keith and I appreciate the opportunity to meet and serve you all. We both look forward to sharing time with you at the Spring Convention in Patterson, Louisiana! It’s Mardi Gras time!

>> A Big Thank You to Our Vendors

A big thank you to the vendors for all of the time and support that your give our clubs!
When looking for that part or information, check out this list and give them a call.

John Biwersi
651-779-6498 |
New nylon, fully balanced, direct replacement
engine cooling fan. (not a flex fan)

Albert & Sheila Branscombe    
519-368-7129 |
Disc Brakes Conversions, Actuators
and PB Cables.

Ken & Janet Frey
Ken L. Frey Auto Repair
215-536-1246 |
Repair and parts.

Ken & Elaine Henderson
229-924-0851 |
Electric Windshield Wiper Kits & Misc. Items.

Jim Kanomata
Applied GMC | www.appliedgmc.com
510-440-1101 | 800-752-7502

Specializing in GMC Service, Repairs and Parts.

Dick & Jan Paterson
Springfield Performance Ignition
705-325-4554 |
Re-curved distributors. Rebuilt carburetors, engines, transmissions. Wire sets, HEI conversion.

Kerry & Carolyn Pinkerton
256-859-2999 |
Innovative aluminum products and custom
metal shaping including the KISS Shelf.

Ken & Jeanne Robinson
Steering Wheels, Emblems, Gas Struts & Misc. GMC Parts.

J.R. & Jeanne Slaten    
Classic Coaches & Accessories, LLC
502-363-3011 |
New PowerLevel air valves, new SS oil cooler lines.

Paul & Joan Smith     
GMC Emblems, Lights – Dock Lights, Fantastic Fans, Miscellaneous GMC Parts

>> Tech Session Lineup

A special thank you to the presenters for making the informational technical sessions possible. Here is a brief review compiled by Ken Henderson, Kerry Pinkerton and Fred Hudspeth. Again, thank you!

Early Bird Roundtable
This again was the first tech session of the Convention. Ken Henderson conducted an open forum, addressing a variety of topics as introduced by owners in attendance. Some owners asked questions and others responded with their experiences and recommendations. It was a very informative session. A synopsis of what was discussed can be found at gmcmi.com/technical-session-handouts/.

Maintaining the GMC Motorhome
This session is conducted interactively with owners sharing their experiences with the care, maintenance and repair of the motorhome. Discussion centers on topics from session leader Fred Hudspeth’s Powerpoint material. As that material is too extensive for adequate coverage at one session, it continues from convention-to-convention. At Wisconsin, topics addressed included the brake system, tires, fuel tanks and lines, evaporation control components, propane system, oil cooler lines and transmission service. The session at the spring convention in Patterson, LA, will start with front wheel bearing service. Handout and powerpoint can be found at gmcmi.com/technical-session-handouts/.

GMC Mentor Program
Ken Henderson coordinates this program, mainly for first-time attendees, to aid them in getting the most out of their convention experience and in coordinating any technical support they may need.

Rebuilding Cockpit Slider Windows
Kerry Pinkerton recently removed the cockpit window (with considerably difficulty) This process was documented in numerous photos showing the problems and solutions to removal. Once removed, the process of removing and replacing the H Channel was described. Finally the reinstallation and sealing of the unit was presented. Photos and text soon to be posted on the GMCMI tech section. Handout can be found at gmcmi.com/technical-session-handouts/.

Get to Know Your Onan Generator
Ken Broostin was a project manager on the GMC Powerdrawer Onan models during his many years at Onan. He noted that the Powerdrawer series was exclusively developed for and used only in GMC Motorhomes. He described many aspects of the genset, including, the electronic control board, the fuel system, breaker points, spark plugs, oil/air filters, etc. He noted that the motorhome fuel level must be above 1/4 full for the genset to start. The primary protective device for the engine is a low oil pressure switch. If the oil level ever becomes too low and oil pressure drops, the engine is shutdown through the control board.

Blocking the Cross Over Heat
Dick Paterson described the effect of the exhaust crossover through the intake manifold has on the motorhome engine operation. Blocking the crossover aids in vapor lock control and eliminates the need for the intake manifold valley pan (AKA “turkey tray”). The crossover was long provided on many V-8 engines used in passenger cars to aid in warm-up. The load on the motorhome engine is much greater than that in passenger cars resulting in a much greater heat flow through the manifold compared to cars. The benefits of blocking it in the motorhome far more than offset any impact on warm-up time.

Steering Wheel Replacement
Robert Gogan (a first-timer attendee but a long time owner of the GMC Motorhome) described the removal and replacement of the motorhome steering wheel. He noted the deteriorated condition of the steering wheel in many motorhomes due to the ravages of time (i.e., discoloration, plastic chipping, etc.). He showed pictures of many wheels that are available to replace the original motorhome steering wheel.

Ceiling Replacement and Materials
Larry Weidner noted that the original headliner upholstery material in his Royale was of low quality and poorly installed by the upfitter, Coachmen Industries. He described the removal of the original headliner and reinsulation of the ceiling before installing the new headliner. He showed the materials he used and how he installed the replacement headliner. He noted that the noise level in the motorhome was substantially reduced by the replacement insulation.

Flatscreen TV and Mounting Options
Richard Waters showed many options for mounting flat panel television sets in the motorhome. He noted that overhead mounts are more complex to install and reduce headroom. He described the hardware that is available for various types of mounts, including the highly articulated mounts. He showed pictures of TVs mounted at different locations in the motorhome.

Making Life Easier in My GMC Motorhome
At the Spring Convention, Kerry & Carolyn Pinkerton led a sharing session where people spoke up and described things they had done in and to their coach to improve their livability. It was so well received, that they agreed to led another session at the Fall Convention. Here are a few of the more than 25 suggestions during the presentation: (a complete list for both sessions can be found at gmcmi.com/technical-session-handouts/.)

  1. Vodka in a squeeze bottle is great for removing mold and mildew. You don’t even have to wipe it up.
  2. Bounce dryer sheets seem to keep mice out. So will Cayenne pepper.
  3. Comet around your wheels keeps ants away as will a ring of Vaseline on your water hose, TV coax, and power cord.
  4. Kerry Pinkerton has posted a how-to on rebuilding the shower diverter in the GMC photo albums. No more leaking faucet while showering.
  5. A cheap and effective way to balance your tires is to put 4 oz of Airsoft beads (Walmart) in each tire ($17 worth will do all 6). Similar result to Equal or Counteract. If you’re using either of those products, don’t put ‘wet’ air in your tires or it will clump.

GMC Motorhome Value
Jim Kanomata conducted an open discussion on improving the value of the GMC Motorhome. He emphasized that agreed values for insurance purposes and market values may diverge considerably. The Applied GMC web site has the forms to fill out that will get you started on the appraisal process. Then contact Jim Kanomata and bug him until he does his portion. These appraisals have helped many GMCers when they have had insurance claims.

Fiberglass Repair
Dale Ropp did a great job presenting various aspects of the WEST Epoxy system and the various resins, hardeners, and approaches used for various projects. Each of the various components was discussed in detail. In addition to some fantastic door prizes from the folks at WEST. Dale also obtained some great literature from WEST that describe how to do specific projects that can be related to our needs. Dale has recently made a wooden and epoxy BLACK tank for his coach. It features increased capacity and electric heaters to keep stuff moving while traveling in cold weather. Very interesting discussion and the session could have easily used another couple hours.

How to Fix Wobbly Steering
Alex Ferrara has performed his magic on 50 coaches with nothing but amazement and happiness by the owners. It is planned that at the spring GMCMI Convention in Patterson, there will be a complete ride height and steering session that will be presented.

Weigh Your Coach
Ken Burton and Friends weighed eight coaches and measured ride heights inside a building. Owners received weights on each wheel.

Tune up (Carburetor and ignition)
Dick Paterson described the basic operation of the carburetor and how it differs from that used on cars. He noted that many carburetors are damaged by over-torquing the fasteners to the intake manifold. He cited the accelerator pumps as a cause of performance problems and poor fuel economy. He briefly described repair practices and adjustments for the carburetor. On the ignition system, he told how to remove and reinstall the distributor and described some of the maintenance requirements for it. He noted the importance of high quality spark plug cables, spark plugs and proper operation of the mechanical and vacuum advance systems on engine performance.

GMC Motorhome Air Conditioning
This presentation centered on the fundamentals of automotive airconditioning systems. Richard Waters used a number of videos to illustrate the theory of airconditioning and the various components of an automotive system. He described options for replacing the compressor and the operation of the airconditioning system in the motorhome. He noted that the OEM compressor has adequate refrigerant circulation capacity for an additional evaporator and blower system. He acknowledged that some owners have installed supplemental evaporator/blower assemblies under the passenger seat.

How to Start a Rebuilt Engine
Another fact filled summary of what to do and not do when starting a rebuilt engine for the first time. Dick Paterson stressed the HUGE importance of the engine starting IMMEDIATELY and IMMEDIATELY being taken to 2000 RPM and then cycled between 2000 and 2500 for 20 minutes in order to adequately break-in the cam and lifters. To ensure this he uses the S O – V F W acronym as a reminder of what to check for BEFORE the engine Is turned over. S stands for Spark – Make sure there is a bright sharp spark. O stands for oil – make sure the engine has the correct amount of oil in it. Spin the distributor shaft oil drive to get oil pressure…don’t crank the engine. V stands for vacuum – Make sure all the carb vacuum ports are either attached or blocked. F stands for fuel – Make sure you have fresh gas at the carb and IN the carb before you start the engine. W stands for water – Fill the radiator with fluid but to ensure the block is full. Remove the heater hose at the right rear of the intake manifold and add coolant until you see it coming out. This gets any air out of the block. Check all the hose clamps also. Basically you want to be ABSOLUTELY sure that the engine starts IMMEDIATELY and is able to keep running for the 20 minute break in. If you have to stop early, the assembly lube has been wiped off the cam and lifters and damage may occur.

New Design Replacement Fan Blade
John Biwersi has helped develop a balanced 10 blade reinforced composite fan that is quieter and pulls more air. He showed the OEM blade and noted its relatively heavy weight and the different pitch for some of the blades. The replacement fan blade is much lighter and requires less power to move more air than the OEM blade.

Bigger Brakes for the Manny Reaction Arm System
Albert Branscombe described braking enhancements for motorhomes equipped with the reaction arm system provided by Manny Trovao. He compared the OEM brake forces for the rear drum system with several modified systems and noted that the average force is about 4200 pounds. He observed that the Manny reaction arm disc system has a braking force about 17% above the average. The most effective parking brake calipers available are those formerly made by Kelsey-Hayes, but they require more complex mounting plates than most use. Albert now has those plates for use with Manny Brakes. He had good illustrations of the integration of the brake parts with the reaction arm system. Powerpoint can be found at gmcmi.com/technical-session-handouts/.

GMCMH Windshield Clinic
Under the organization of Ken Burton, windshields were replaced in several GMC motorhomes. Attendees got to see what is involved in replacing these front windshields.

>> From the Ladies Page of the GMCMI Newsletter

Hi Everyone
I hope you are all enjoying this beautiful Fall weather. The leaves are at their peak and this is one of the prettiest Falls we have had.

The Fall GMCMI Convention in Chippewa Falls, Wisconin was wonderful. Just meeting our GMCMI friends again and reminiscing, is worth the trip.

Chippewa Falls was celebrating Oktoberfest and we all participated in the celebrations and had a “fun time.” Not to forget all that dancing, singing and German food and entertainment.

There was something for everyone, including the meals. Ken Frey and friends out did themselves with their breakfast omelets and Martha’s Famous Pancakes and meat was wonderful. We had two catered meals and three ice cream socials and the Ladies’ Luncheon (Damen Mittagessen), so we had plenty of nourishment.

We even had our own Oktoberfest night with scrumptious German food, lively entertainment and games, and many showed up in their German costumes.

The ladies started out the convention with “yours truly” chairing the “Get Acquainted Ladies” session. What interesting and smart ladies we have.

“The Bookworms and their Diets” was led by Sara Halley. This is where book lovers share their favorite authors and books. If you would like a list of the books compiled by Sara and Sharon Hudspeth, email Kim at .

In a book review session, Sharon Hudspeth reviewed the book Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child. The entertaining account of the 6’3” warble-voiced Julia told about her collaboration in Paris on the writing of 1961 cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Julia, from ages 50-90, via public educational TV series, demonstrated with humor and enthusiasm, the simplified French recipes that changed the food culture of America.

Kara Kosier once again gave the training session of “Let’s Get Behind the Wheel” and many of the ladies did just that. Along that theme, Sandi Renk also gave the the ladies some pointers regarding things to be aware of when driving….such as…placement on the highway, anticipate stopping and wide turns. We can never be too informed, so we can learn a lot from both these gals. Both ladies are expert drivers.

The Geocache Bash once again popular with an exciting treasure hunt. Thank you to our new leaders Jan Peterson and Robin Hadcock. Great job ladies!

Something we are all interested in at this stage in our lives was a session given by Yvonne Miller entitled, “Who Gets Grandma’s Pie Tin?” A lot of good advice was given and we all “took it in.”
Jane Hasak gave a most informative talk on “Tips for Healthy Living”. Wow! This made us realize just how important it is to stay healthy…eating the proper foods and exercising and always be aware of the changes in our lives as we get older.

The Ladies Luncheon “Damen Mittagessen” was hosted by the Greater Midwest Classic Ladies. Some of the gals wore their drindles, lederhosen, flower crowns and braids…a beautiful site. We had soup, bread, along with a variety of local cheeses to sample. Yvonne Miller was the emcee and we had lots of opportunity to share and visit with each other. Program included a trivia contest about Oktoberfest. It was an afternoon of fun and giggles. Everyone received local products such as maple syrup, mustards and apples!
Local artisan, Lucianne Boardman, taught us how to do German Star Making/Papercutting. This took a lot of concentration, but when we were done, we were very proud of our craft. We also made flower crowns and they were very popular.

The blanket ladies also got together several times and the finished blankets were donated to a local charity. This is always a fun time while we sit and chat and get to know one another.

Thanks to everyone who lead a session, taught a craft and helped whenever needed.

Overall, this was a terrific Convention.

We all left for home feeling content and happy to have shared time with our special GMC friends.

In closing, have a Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year. We look forward to seeing you all in Patterson, Louisiana – March 27 to April 2, 2015.

Margie McLaughlin (& Larry too)


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