We headed out of San Tan Valley, AZ around 10am and skirted Phoenix. Headed up into the mountains on highway 87. It was kind of cool and there were dark clouds here and there but I’d checked the weather the night before so I knew it wouldn’t be too bad of a trip. This route was a short cut to Winslow. And since we planned on heading east a bit then north, in order to visit some ancient Indian ruins, it would cut over 40 miles off the planned trip. As we headed up into the mountains, it got colder and colder until it was very close to freezing outside. The RV was running fine. Shortly before we got to the summit, it started sleeting, then snowing so I was going pretty slow. Probably averaging 35-45. Right after the summit, I began to hear a weird noise from the engine. Opened the drivers window and poked my head out to hear better. Crap, something was seriously wrong. So, I pulled into a ranger station hoping there might be someone there. Left the engine running while I checked it out. Really sounded bad. Clattering valve or something. Walked over to the ranger station to see if anyone was a motor head but the place was all closed up for the season. By now I knew my engine was having serious problems and we were 60 miles or so from Winslow. But, it did start up again. Didn’t run fine, but at least it started. I already knew I’d lost power so I couldn’t go much more then 45MPH on the straights. And I might do even more damage to the engine trying to run it. But, we had scaled the summit and were on the downhill side. Crossing my fingers, we set off coasting much of the time so maybe, I thought, I’d be able to make it to Winslow.
Keeping my speed under 35 for the rest of the trip, we made it to Winslow in around 2 hours. I’ve been to Winslow several times so I knew a little about the area and where the RV parks were so we bee-lined it to Winslow Pride RV Park. Turned out they don’t have WiFi, so we walked the 1/4 mile or so over to the Flying J with our laptops. I did some searching for diesel shops but it wasn’t able to concentrate enough in a crowded resturant and as a result, I didn’t find much. A couple leads though. Decided to give it a rest and let my blood pressure drop (from the worry) and try it again the next day.
This RV park doesn’t have WiFi. But got to talking to a waitress at the restaurant in the RV park the next day, and she told me that some of her regulars with computers just got on the Best Western’s wifi. But she didn’t know the pass code. Walked over to BW’s office and asked for it, and they just wrote it down for me and off I went back to my RV. Had a line of sight setup but the only way I could get their signal was if the clouds were just right and if I used my laptop up in the drivers seat. Stacy was able to get online with her computer too so we worked on our various projects…her to find alternate transportation up to Idaho, and me on finding service for the rig.
I did find a diesel shop less then 2 miles from where we parked and after checking their customer reviews (all good), made an appointment the next day.
Stacy and I batted a few ideas around about her finding alternate transportation from Winslow. It didn’t look like it would be a fun trip for her, and she’d have to leave most of her stuff with me…with the plan of me shipping it to her in Idaho. At this time I didn’t think it would take more then a couple days for the repairs…as soon as I found a decent shop.
The next day, I headed over to the diesel shop nearby. Chaparral Tire & Truck Repair. Drove into their parking lot, walked into the office and was greeted by a good-ole-boy from the south. Missing some teeth. Told him my story of woe and pretty soon there were 3 guys under and over the engine checking it out. They were all missing teeth, all had an accent. I’m thinking that maybe I picked the wrong shop and that they’re going to take me to the cleaners. After an hour or so, the guys have listened to the engine enough and pronounce it something they can’t work on. Something inside the engine let loose/broke/whatever and they only worked on fluids, filters, alternators, rads, and such. Nothing inside. I asked what I owed for all that attention from three techs for an hours work and the owner says, ‘Nothin’, cus we didn’t fix anything’. Surprise!
Now trusting these guys, since they seemed to know what they were doing, I asked for a reference to a shop. The owner says he wouldn’t send anyone to any of the shops in Winslow for internal repairs, unless I had money coming out of my ass. I don’t. He recommends Northern Arizona Diesel (NAD) in Flagstaff. Around 70 miles west. So, I call up my emergency road service company and they arrange a tow up to Flagstaff the next day. Back to the RV park to wait on the tow, and we get back on-line still arranging travel for Stacy. She makes her arrangements for a bus out of Flagstaff…saving money and hassle by not leaving from Winslow. Meanwhile, I call NAD and make arrangements for them to look at it the next day.
Next morning, this huge truck pulls in and hauls my rig up on the trailer. I had to drive it a little up on the platform as he didn’t want to break his winch. Off we go to Flagstaff and get there early afternoon. NAD gets someone on it quickly and it’s not to long after they start that they give me the bad news. Possible busted piston, valves, bad turbo, etc., etc. Scott, the owner, is hesitant to even tell me what it might cost, says he needs to check prices. But it’s a lot. At this point I start letting them know I’ve JUST officially retired and JUST got my SS started. Been living off the proceeds of the sale of my house for 8 years so my funds are depleted. So, I ask for some time to see if I have the money for any of this. Or if I should just abandon the rig along side of the road. I do have a healthy 401k but I didn’t want to dip into that if I could help it. Plus, I’d wanted to save a big chunk of that for a newer RV this year.
Stacy and I hitch a ride with one of the techs up to a motel and 2-3 hours later it’s time to call a taxi for Stacy to get to the bus station. It was a pleasure having her ride along and I regretted not being able to take her to all those Indian ruins I’d wanted to visit with her. But, sh1t happens. I pay for a week there, as Scott isn’t sure how long it will take, probably a few days. Turned out that I could receive wifi in my room, but I could never get connected. So, the next day, I get a refund and move to a different motel. What a hassle. Not to mention still not knowing how much this might cost me.
Next time, the bad news.