GMCMI 2015 Fall Convention - Rapid City, South Dakota

Great Fall Weather, Pig Roast, Dutch Oven Cooked Dinner,
Technical Sessions, Non-Technical Sessions,
Panning for Gold, Stagecoach Robbery and Trail!

>> Convention Number

116 | Is the number of total attending registrations; 3 were partial attendees, 8 without motorhomes, 19 first timers plus 11 additional day passes.

17.75 | Hours of technical sessions, plus Weighing of the Coaches (Ken Burton and Friends).

18 | Blankets made at the Convention. That makes a total of 923 blankets!

31 | GMC Midwest Classics utilized the Fall Convention as their Fall Chapter Rally.

14 | GMC Mountainaires that utilized the Fall Convention as their Fall Chapter Rally.

>> The Wild, Wild West and Gold Rush!

By Janet Frey (article submitted to FMCA)

The Wild West was calling as we gathered in Rapid City to celebrate the GMC motorhome and their intrepid owners. The weather was spectacular as we basked in warm days and enjoyed the brisk nights. A full slate of activities greeted the attendees as we learned about these classic motorhomes, and joined in fellowship and fun.

A primary goal of the Convention is to gather information and share experiences about our vintage vehicles. It is always interesting to note that these 40 year old gems have quite a few personalities. Some retain their original paint and interiors while others have morphed into modern colors and designs. Under their skin, however, are the wonderful and durable Oldsmobile Toronado chassis and drive train. The care and feeding of the mechanical workings is always a popular forum for discussions.

Another important focus of the Convention is the fellowship and fun associated with the conventioneers and also to celebrate the area. Rapid City and its many attractions offers non-stop activities. Mount Rushmore is a natural destination, with Crazy Horse nearby. Their imposing sights are unforgettable. A buffalo drive and fall festival at nearby Custer State Park was a bonus, but it was also fun to explore downtown Rapid City. This bustling town is proud of its heritage, and they have cleverly incorporated the presidential theme sparked by Mount Rushmore into a large collection of bronze presidential statues downtown. On various corners, you can encounter John Kennedy, John Adams and many more. The friendly residents were happy to show us around and explain their town’s many characteristics.

Back at the fairgrounds, the tech sessions were in full swing with discussions on brakes, alignments, maintenance, winterizing your coach, rebuilding your distributor, tune-up and many forums on different technical subjects!

Some of the educational sessions included learning how to use our smartphones; hearing difficulties, how it effects people around you and what can be done for better hearing; making your life easier in a GMC and the GMC Pineblock Derby. Additional non-technical sessions were also offered at the Convention.

But, remember, another goal of the Convention is food and fun! And there was plenty of both. We started out our first evening with a pig roast and a great presentation by Jerry Work titled: “Bet You Didn’t Know This About Your GMC”. Followed by ice cream socials, pancakes and sausages served by the Midwest Classics, omelets served by Ken Frey and friends, chili for the men and the ladies social, “Once Upon An Apron” hosted by the GMC Mountainaires Ladies.

There were many attendees who got into the Wild, Wild West spirit with their western attire. And, activities such as target practice (rubber band guns), panning for gold, and stage coach robbery resulting in the hunting of the loot (gold coins) were just the beginning. A full-fledged drama took place with costumed attendees portraying lawmen capturing the bandits who not only held up the stagecoach but kidnapped the ladies of the night! Dinner was prepared in Dutch Ovens outside followed by the conclusion of a trial with a surprise ending.

There was no end to the enjoyment at this Convention. We got to celebrate another 40th anniversary (placques were presented to owners of the 1975 model year), continuing to enjoy our vintage vehicles and have some fun in the Old West!

>> Technical Line Up

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

Weighing Your GMC, Why and the Numbers | Ken Burton
Our thanks to Ken and associates for the coach weighing session they conducted and Ken’s subsequent explanation of the significance of the numbers. Weighing the coaches at each wheel shows the weight distribution and where redistribution would allow proper tire loading and aid in overall handling characteristics. A secondary benefit to owners was checking ride height as they approached the scales. Proper ride height is a major factor in achieving proper handling. As part of explaining the significance of the numbers, Ken emphasized proper tire loading and tire pressures as a function of load. Also, if weight on front wheels is markedly divergent, that could be a sign that torsion bar loading is substantially out of balance. That, in turn, could adversely affect the load on the opposite corner of the rear suspension.

Engines, Distributors and Carburetors | Dick Paterson
Special thanks to Dick for the yeoman effort he made to attend the Convention for the two days of his scheduled presentations. He came by air from his Coldwater, Ontario home. Dick addressed several topics, including rebuilding the distributor and the initial startup of a rebuilt engine. He also conducted an open forum on engines, distributors and carburetors. Dick is a frequent presenter as part of the technical program at GMCMI Conventions. His presentations are always well attended.

Aligning and Adjusting the GMC’s Steering Column | Alex Ferrara
Alex is without question THE MAN when it comes to adjusting steering boxes. His session was a benchtop version of what he seems to do constantly during the regional rallies and GMCMI Conventions. His count is now over 65 coaches that he has found to be off center and fixed. Alex uses some magnetic straight edges that he quickly attaches to the steering box and steering shaft. If they are not parallel, the box is off center. Alex showed step-by-step how to set things correctly.

“Hodge Podge” Open Forum | Ken Frey
This session featured the tips and experience of a career automotive service shop owner with an emphasis on the GMC Motorhome. He encourages owners to read the service manual’s description of any repair or service before beginning work. He adds, however, that the service writers often have little “hands on” experience and their guidance may not be the easiest (and in some cases not even the correct) way to do the work. He then describes often easier and quicker means of doing various jobs on the motorhome. He does this often at GMCMI Conventions and seems to have a new array of tips for each session that he conducts.

Brakes! | Dave Lenzi
The objective of this session was to acquaint owners with the brake booster, master cylinder and combination valves on the GMC Motorhome. Items addressed were common problems of low brake pedal, excessive pedal effort and vacuum leaks. A test stand was used to show the operation and problems with the various parts. The functioning of the brake system was displayed in real time, using a video camera connected to a digital projector with the output projected onto a large screen for ease of viewing by the audience.

Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) Roundtable  | Randy VanWinkle and George Beckman
This session is designed to impart information on the characteristics of electronic fuel injection. They use an effective audio file in their presentation to illustrate the quick starting characteristics of EFI as compared to OEM carburetion. They also show how EFI responds to changing loads on the engine and the effects on fuel economy, exhaust gas temperatures, etc. They are always glad to address audience questions, including sources and differing designs of EFI equipment, maintenance and troubleshooting.

Maintaining the GMC Motorhome | Fred Hudspeth
This session was a continuation of an ongoing interactive exchange at Conventions among owners of their experiences and recommendations in the care and maintenance of the GMC Motorhome. At this Convention, there was thorough discussion of safety and performance related issues associated with wheels/tires, the steering linkage and the exhaust system. Wheel cracking, fastener torquing, tire inflation pressures, steering linkage wear, exhaust manifold gaskets, and mufflers/tailpipes were among the items discussed.

Align It Right | Jerry Work
A key warning from this presentation is that alignment of the front suspension of the GMC Motorhome should not be done by professional alignment shops. There were so few of the vehicles built, relatively speaking, that virtually no alignment technicians can adequately relate to the vehicle. Home-made alignment tools were described and their use explained. It was emphasized that front suspension parts must be well within their service life for a quality alignment to be performed. It was explained that “The GMC Motorhome is quite different from most cars and trucks that the commercial alignment shops normally see. The manually adjustable torsion bar front suspension coupled with the automatically leveling air bag rear suspension means that critical factors like ride height change dramatically any time the coach or the tires are jacked up. If the front suspension components like the shocks, control arm or sway bar bushings have been recently updated, it can take as much as 10 miles of driving before the suspension settles in to where it now will be normally as you drive,” quoted Work.

 >> Mini Tech Sessions

The Mini-Tech Sessions were introduced a year ago and received with great success. They consist of 15-20 minute  tech/informational sessions that features one thing that the presenter wishes to share. What is that one thing that you may wish to share? No formal powerpoint presentation or handout required. Click here to email for more info.

Winterizing Your GMC | Wayne Peterson
A Mini-Tech Session presented Wayne’s approach to winterizing:

1.    Open drain valve on water heater (water drains outside).
2.    Open sink valves hot and cold in kitchen.
3.    Open sink valves hot and cold in bathroom faucet and shower head.
4.    Turn on water pump and let it run until it is pumping air only.
5.    This pump can run dry and it will not hurt the pump.
6.    Flush head, turn off pump.
7.    Install an air hose fitting to the shore water connection.
8.    Run a small compressor and (with the faucets still open) blows 40PSI air through the system. This will nearly dry and clear any water pooled in low hanging lines.
9.    Add pink RV antifreeze (he only uses about ½ gallon) to galley drains, bathroom drains, shower drain, and about 1″ in the toilet (keeps the gasket wet over the winter).
10.    Drain holding tank. If you have a macerator you will probably want to make sure it is fully dry or add enough pink stuff to the black tank.

Wayne doesn’t worry about a bit of water in the water tank as it will expand like an ice cube and not hurt the tank. Make sure there is no water in the pump however.

Dash Air Upgrade | Richard Waters
This Mini-Tech Session was a follow-up to one presented at the 2014 GMCMI Fall Convention at Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. A feature of the presentation was information on how to avoid paying an air-conditioning repair shop thousands of dollars to upgrade the dash air-conditioning system of the GMC Motorhome. It was explained that the key to success is a replacement compressor and modern refrigerant. That was done for less than $700, including the replacement compressor, AC tools, refrigerant and supplies.

Myths of the GMC Motorhome | Jim Kanomata
In this Mini-Tech Session, a number of myths about the GMC Motorhome were explained. Claims to the contrary notwithstanding, you’ll get “8-10 mpg depending on whether you’re towing or not”. Another is that fuel economy with throttle body fuel injection is superior to carburetion (the primary advantage of fuel injection is driveability). Some new owners, expecting to find consensus among the owner community on the maintenance and repair of the motor are often confused and disappointed. The fact is that if you ask half a dozen owners the same question, you will likely get “8” different answers with each owner absolutely convinced that he (or she) is right.

Making Your Interior Look New Again | Jerry Work
This Mini-Tech Session was centered on the “do’s” and “don’ts” in caring for the woods and composite materials used in the interiors of GMC Motorhomes. It also included some tips on remodeling the interiors using solid hardwoods. An array of materials for maintaining the interior woods was displayed and their use explained.

 >> Non-Technical Line Up

Making Life Easier in My GMC Motorhome | Kerry Pinkerton
This was well attended by both men and women session on how they have made living in their GMC easier. As in previous versions of this session, there were many great suggestions and ideas. Click here for a list from the Rapid City session as well as previous convention sessions.

Can You Hear Me Now? | Stan and Eileen Edwards
This was another great session for men and women. Stan and Eileen talked about hearing loss, the need to “not wait” till you cannot hear and how it effects both people in a relationship. Products were talked about including the cochlear implant and how it works and its benefits to Eileen as well as Stan.

Smart Phones | Jaye Hodges
This session was originally held at the Spring Convention which received great reviews and was conducted again. Groups of people were placed together (android or iPhone) where they exchanged questions and shared knowledge. It has been asked that we hold such a session again at the Spring Convention.

Worship Service
Worship service was well attended and uplifting. The choir was excellent with George Beckman as director and Carol Baxter as accompanist. Billie Kelley along with Dale and Jane Ropp delivered a great message. Thank you.

Ladies Luncheon – “Once Upon an Apron”
What an enjoyable event! Great food, great program, simply a great time! There were aprons with so many wonderful stories. A big thank you goes to the GMC Mountainaires Ladies for a great ladies social!

Ladies, Have Questions About Your GMC?
This session was introduced at the last Fall Convention and was requested that we repeat it again. A lot of great questions and information was shared. It appeared that it was easier to ask a question among ladies versus men or your husband!

GMC Pineblock Derby
Men’s Division: Paul Array – 1st, Wayne Hasek – 2nd, Dale Ropp – 3rd
Ladies’ Division: Laurie Burton – 1st, Mardy Array – 2nd, Carol Baxter – 3rd
Overall Fastest Time: Laurie Burton

Prior to the derby, Dale Ropp and Laurie Burton conducted a session to teach their secrets on going fast.

So Much To Do!
There were many things to keep the ladies busy. Such as crafts, blankets, book exchange, ladies get acquainted, bookworms, napkin folding and a new session that assisted attendees in strength and balance exercises.

Thank you to all of our non-tech session presenters!
We would like to thank everyone that attended, volunteered, supported and enjoyed the Convention. We both look forward to sharing time with you at the Spring Convention in Dothan, Alabama!

>> A Big Thank You to Our Vendors

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

Applied GMC
Jim Kanomata |
510-440-1101 | 800-752-7502

Specializing in GMC Service, repairs and parts. Final drives with various gear ratios, headers, 3″ Madnrel bent exhaust parts, mufflers. Tranny and engine replacement.

John Biwersi
651-779-6498 |
Improved engine cooling fans, rebuilt 321 final drives.

Classic Coaches & Accessories, LLC
J.R. & Jeanne Slaten |
502-363-3011 |
Stainless steel braided oil cooler lines, lighted entry handles, Power Level II leveling valve set (’73-early ’77), engine oil cooler stainless steel rigid tube set.

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

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

Dave and Mary Lenzi
810-653-3902 |
Steering, brakes, 8.1 liter engines.

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

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

Manny Trovao    
Transmissions, including Switch Pitch, built for our GMCs.
3.50:1 Power Drive chain and sprockets.

Larry and Lucy Weidner
715-529-1083 |
Torsion Bar Tension Release Tool.

John “JR” and Jan Wright
989-859-0715 |
LED lights, nuts and bolt set, miscellaneous items.


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