2015 spring - GMCMI

Great Weather, Fantastic Food, Things Learned, Laughs,
Beads and More Beads, Parade with Pets and Great Times By All!

>> Convention Number

92 | Is the number of total attending registrants; 3 were partial attendees, 8 without motorhomes, plus 22 first timers! We are sad to say that in addition were 5 registrants that had to cancel due to health or coach problems.

17.75 | Hours of technical sessions, plus Weighing of the Coaches (Jeff Sirum and Friends) and a “Free” Photo Opportunity (Glen Gardner).

30 | Blankets made at the Convention. That makes a total of 905 blankets!

13 | 1975 GMC Owners received from GMCMI a license plate frame in honor of the 40 year old vehicle!

21 | Sunshine Statesmens that utilized the Spring Convention as their Spring Chapter Rally.

31 | GMC Classics that utilized the Spring Convention as their Spring Chapter Rally.

25 | Dogs participated in the Mardi Gras Parade.

>> Back on the Bayou…

By Janet Frey (article submitted to FMCA)

Amid the bayous and crawfish, over ninety GMC motorhomes gathered at the Patterson Area Civic Center and Kemper Williams Park to celebrate the unique motorhome and enjoy the hospitality of southern Louisiana. With a theme of Mardi Gras, attendees had fun learning about the traditions, food, and stories of New Orleans and Louisiana. There was also a lot of sharing of information about the GMC motorhome, especially regarding service and parts that are still readily available. This vehicle was in production from 1973 through 1978, and always attracts attention. During this convention, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the 1975 GMCs.

Everyone was impressed by the warm reception of the local residents, who were so helpful and proud to show off the small but busy towns in the area. A popular pastime was sampling the local cuisine, from the smallest most rustic diner to a fine dining restaurant. As one member from Louisiana stated, “there is no bad food in Louisiana, but some may be better than others.” The tasty selections included crawfish prepared every conceivable way from boiled to boudin balls. There were crab cakes, seafood pasta dishes, salads, and wonderful desserts that featured such traditional favorites as bread pudding and pralines. In this area of southern Louisiana, the Cajun heritage came from French Canadians forced from their homeland by the British centuries ago. “Canadians” became Cajuns, but the flavorful cooking continues to this day. Cajun food is not usually overly spicy, but instead comes from the rich seasonings of the French heritage. After enjoying all the splendid meals, exercise was a necessity. The outdoor activities were abundant in the warm southern climate, and included swamp boat rides and plantation tours. Adjacent to the convention site was the Wedell-Williams Aviation and Cypress Sawmill Museum. Cypress is a valuable wood, known for its strength and resistance to termites. The logging of the huge trees is well documented in the museum, and features artifacts that show the tough determination of these pioneers. The air museum highlighted Jimmy Wedell and Harry Williams, who raced the airplanes designed by Wedell that broke the world record for land-plane speed at 305.33 m.p.h. in 1933. Wedell’s planes enjoyed many wins in the National Air Races during the Golden Age of Air Racing. Thompson and Bendix trophies are on display in the museum as are flying replicas of the aircraft. Following the death of both Wedell and Williams, the air service company was sold to Capt. Eddie Rickenbacher in what would become Eastern Airlines.

Back at the campground, there were many activities that included southern traditions and food. Our convention manager, Kim Weeks, gave us chance to experience a Mardi Gras, complete with masks, beads, a parade and fabulous food provided by a local caterer.  Two talented members gave a presentation on “Louisiana-Oil and Gas in the Sportsman’s Paradise.”  We learned about the exploration and development of the oil and gas industry, and gained insight into how it impacted fishing activities. Also, the residents of the area were invited to an open house to see the GMC motorhomes. This convention also included many technical seminars designed to assist GMC owners when they need service information or to locate parts. There were also non-technical seminars that provided fun and fellowship. All agreed that the convention was a resounding success. We expect to keep these very special vehicles on the road for years to come!

If you are an owner of a classic GMC motorhome and want information and fun, or if you are looking for a GMC to purchase, go to www.gmcmi.com. We look forward to seeing you somewhere down the road!

>> 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!

Early Bird Roundtable – Ken Frey conducted an open forum, addressing proper loading of his disabled GMCC motorhome on a flatbed transporter. He also showed tools he has made for removing and installing the dust caps for the rear wheel hubs and a “bridge” for working over the engine with the hatch removed. Ken welcomed and got many comments and questions from the audience.

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.

Making Life Easier in My GMC Motorhome | Part Three – 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. Here are a few of the more than 40 suggestions during the presentation. Click here to view complete list of all sessions.

  1. The Doanes showed their multi-purpose table. It’s based on a folding table from Wal-Mart. Surface was removed and replaced with wood. Folded in half it works as a table for two or four in the coach. Unfolded it seats eight and can be carried outside.
  2. If you’re replacing your headliner, microfoil under whatever you are using works great. You can order it on-line.
  3. Table Mate II folding table, multiple heights, legs straddle passenger front seat pedestal. Bed, Bath & Beyond, Walmart, online
  4. Moen makes a small pull out kitchen faucet that works well in our spaces.
  5. Use a flexible spatula to tuck bedding in on the back bed.

Steering and Wheel Alignment – This was an EIGHT hour series of sessions (four hours classroom/four hours demonstration) discussed steering from steering wheels to hubs in great depth. In addition to slides and comments by the presenters, video recordings were made and shown so everyone could actually see what was being done on an actual coach. Presenters reported that eventually, this information will be refined and available for the GMC community.

Rebuilding the Upper Steering Column – John Sharpe described in great detail the procedure for removing the original upper steering column and replacing it with a more advanced tilting and telescoping assembly, including multifunction switching. He described the many pitfalls associated with this job – NOT for the mechanically “faint of heart”.

Aligning and Adjusting the Steering Column – Alex Ferrara – One of the most common causes of erratic GMC steering is misalignment of the steering column between the steering wheel and the input of the steering box. Alex demonstrated the correct alignment of those components and how to achieve that condition.

GMC Wheel Alignment – Ken Henderson – Ken explained that the average GMC owner can do a better job of aligning the GMC’s wheels than any professional alignment shop can afford to do. He defined the parameters which impact wheel alignment. With others, he showed how to do ride height and the other necessary adjustments using simple, inexpensive, equipment.

Maintaining the GMC Motorhome  – This session is conducted interactively with owners sharing their experiences with the care, maintenance and repair of the motorhome. As that material is too extensive for adequate coverage at one session, it continues from convention-to-convention. At Patterson, Fred Hudspeth facilitated discussions on these topics that will help us to ‘drive it forever’:

  • TH425 automatic transmission service, transmission cooler tubing, remote vent tubing and problem indicators.
  • Front wheel knuckle, hub and bearing service (general procedures, warning signs, and tools required)
  • Front suspension system, including upper and lower control arms, bushings, ball joints and warning signs

“Talking Points” handout and PowerPoint slides can be found at www.gmcmi.com/technical-presentations-papers/.

Oil Selection and Analysis – John Richardson – In this session, John presented the why and what of engine oil analysis along with information on engine oil selection for the GMC Motorhome. He contrasted the characteristics of engine oils available when the GMC coaches were new in the ‘70s with modern oils. He placed special emphasis on the relatively heavy concentration of zinc and phosphorus (“ZDDP”) anti-wear additives used in the engine oils until the first reduction of them in 1996 and further and final reduction in 2004. The driving force for the reductions was to extend the life of catalytic converters used in passenger cars exhaust systems. John described “work-arounds” for the low ZDDP oils of today.

Q& A with Jeff Sirum – Wide range discussion from pre-submitted questions.

  • New ONAN board available…not Dinosaur, sealed and dipped for longevity.
  • Preheated water from the engine loop can be HOT and scalding…be careful. Make sure the orifice is in the fitting on the intake manifold to restrict flow.
  • Some Hot Water heaters have non-functioning thermostats and some are fixed from the factory. Hardware store replacements will work but can be difficult to install.
  • Gas line. Coast Guard approved gas line. Can get it from Amazon about $3/ft. It won’t deteriorate. Don’t use cheap hose!
  • Parking brakes are not emergency brakes. Cables can stick due to rust. Clean and exercise them. SLAP the handle off, to keep things moving. Liquid graphite. KISS Emergency emergency brake. Electric winch to pull cables.. Hold down the foot brake and THEN pull the handle is easier. Electric screw jack can pull Manny brake down.
  • Coach weights on each tire are impacted by the diagonal corner. If stuck in the mud, try raising the passenger rear. It will transfer weight to the left front (drive tire).

Weigh Your Coach | Photo Opp – Jeff Sirum and Friends weighed coaches and owners received weights on each wheel. Glenn Gardner photographed GMC Motorhomes and/or their owners while waiting in line for weighing. Photos are available at www.g2photosmx.com

Restomoding the GMC Electronics – Richard Waters described the suite of electronic driving aids now available on many new vehicles. He then explained apps that can be downloaded to smart phones that closely replicate many of the features on new vehicles. Click here for handout.

>> Non-technical Line UP

A big “thank you” to all the presenters and/or organizers for their time and talents to make this lineup superb! Here is a quick list: GMCMI Blanket Class, Ladies-Let’s Get Acquainted, 3 Keys to Looking & Feeling Fabulous, Craft Sessions, Smart Phones, Tips for Healthy Living, Retirement with a Purpose, Bookworms and Their Diet, Walking Exercise, GMC Part Exchange, Craft & Flea Market, Open House, Crafts & Blankets, Pineblock Derby, “Fais Do Do” ladies luncheon, bingo, the introduction of chicken foot and the Mardi Gras Parade!

>> Pineblock Derby

Mike Kelley with Richard Valinotti at the computer, a speedy pit crew and the beautiful “Vanna Ladies”, Billy Kelley and Elaine Edwards, another great derby was held. Thank you for such a great event!

And the winners in the ladies category are: 1st Place-Laurie Burton, 2nd Place-Jean Price and 3rd Place-Carol Baxter. Men’s category winners are: 1st Place-Ken Burton, 2nd Place-Fred Perkins and 3rd Place-Richard Hodges. Congratulation to all of drivers and winners.
Rumor is….Laurie Burton and Dale Ropp are planning a non-tech session on “tips to make your racer run faster”.

>> Chicken Foot

Chicken Foot (a dominos game) was brought to the spring Convention with much success. Ramona Sirum received a chicken shelf sitter for the highest score and Laurie Burton took home a rubber chicken for the lowest score. A special thank you goes to Sharon Jacob for organizing the game.

>> In Closing

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 Fall Convention in Rapid City, South Dakota!

>> 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 chapters! When looking for that part or information, check out this list and give them a call.

Alex Sirum GMC
Jeff & Sally Sirum | www.gmcmh.com
863-763-1121 |
Specializing in GMC motorhome sales, service, repairs & hard to find parts. Duo Air Bag Kits, hub extenders plus additional GMCMH parts

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

Specializing in GMC Service, Repairs and Parts. Final Drives with various gear ratios, Headers, 3” Mandrel Bent Exhaust Parts, Mufflers. Tranny & Engine Replacement.

Classic Coaches & Accessories, LLC
J.R. & Jeanne Slaten | www.bdub.net/slaten
502-363-3011 |
New PowerLevel air valves, new SS oil cooler lines, lighted door handles, etc.

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

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

Frank & NeNi Jenkins
352-485-1397 | 352-281-8092 cell

GMC fiberglass & aluminum fabrication. Instrument panels, bumper covers, toolboxes, grills, skirts and flares, radiator fan shrouds. Fiberglass & Aluminum Parts for GMC

Motorhome Enhancements
Jim & Peggy Buchanan
828-464-5105 |
New Aluminum Radiators & Miscellaneous Parts

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

John D. & Linda Richardson
850-830-6100 |
GMC Motorhome Oil Products, Motorhome Parts

>> From the Ladies Page of the GMCMI Newsletter

Hi Everyone,

Hope spring has sprung at your home. The weather was beautiful at the Convention. A rainy early day, but that was it!

This was a return trip to Patterson, Louisiana along with a return trip to the great restaurants and crawfish! Just meeting our GMCMI friends again and reminiscing, is worth the trip.

We celebrated Mardi Gras at the Convention and what fun it was! The main room was decorated in purple, gold and green. The previous RV group, had a circus theme and a big round circus tent in the ceiling when the setup team arrived. The setup team changed it to Mardi Gras colors and was beautiful! There were beads, beads and more beads…what fun. But there was more than that! A great photo opportunity to be Mardi Gras King and Queen. The parade was a “hoot!”. The parade was lead by Dale Ropp with a great line up, including 25 dogs!

There was something for everyone, including the meals. Ken Frey and friends out did themselves with their breakfast omelets and Dan and Cat Meyer along with the Sunshine Statesmens made us pancakes and sausage. We had two catered meals and three ice cream socials, the Ladies’ Luncheon (men enjoyed chili made by Ken Frey) and a great luncheon following our membership meeting.

The ladies started out the convention with Sandra Price leading the “Get Acquainted Ladies” session. What interesting and smart ladies we have.

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

A “Blanket Making Class” was held to discuss the continuation of the program. It was decided that the ladies would continue to make blankets until they reach a total of 1,000! Several tables with instructors were set up so all could learn how to make these wonderful blankets that are donated to the local communities. Great job, ladies!

Something we are all interested in at this stage in our lives was a session given by Jane Ropp entitled, “Retirement With a Purpose”. Jane shared a video on the Nomads Program and their experiences. We discussed genealogy, quilting, sewing clubs, and book clubs.

Jean L. Price assisted us ladies on how to explode our impact and self-confidence with three keys to looking and feeling fabulous!

Everyone was welcome to a new session which was on smart phones. Jaye Hodges spoke and then organized tables where people shared what they knew about their phone. The session was scheduled for one hour, but there were still people sitting and learning about their phones two hours later!

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 and always be aware of the changes in our lives as we get older.

The Ladies Luncheon “Fai Do Do” was hosted by the Ladies of GMCMI. We had homemade vegetable soup and chicken & sausage gumbo, vegetables, along with a wonderful walnut cake. Sue Blackshear was the emcee and we had an opportunity to share and visit with each other. Program included the song “Fai Do Do”, a list “Can You Speak Cajun”, “What is the Difference Between Cajun & Creole and bookmarks with the folklore of the Spanish moss and crawfish. During the program, Sharon Hudspeth reviewed the book In the Sanctuary of Outcasts. The emotional, incredible true story of Neil White, a man who discovers the secret to happiness, leading a fulfilling life, and the importance of fatherhood in the most unlikely of places – the last leper colony in the continental United States (Carvelle, Louisiana). Everyone received local products such as cajun seasoning, Tabasco sauce and Aunt Sally’s Pralines from New Orleans. Each table was decorated with Spanish moss, crawfish and a copy of the book. The books were given as door prizes. A great afternoon was enjoyed by all.

The last morning we joined Jane Hasek in an indoors walking program with a video. It was great fun!

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.


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