So, my rig is in the shop and I’m at a motel where I couldn’t get WiFi. The next day, I moved to another motel and was offered a weeks stay for a nice low price (amount of which I can’t remember now). Anyway, since I no longer had my kitchen, I had to eat out. There were two bars within walking distance but neither had food, then there were several fast food joints and a couple restaurants. I tried out the Long John Silvers and damn, fish was soooo salty I had to gag it down. Terrible. So terrible I emailed the company a complaint.
Anyway, I also found a car rental place down the street. Get this, $8.95/day. For an older but well maintained car. I’d checked with my RV insurance and they didn’t cover insurance for a rental and I totally forgot my Visa Platinum card did so I paid another $12.95/day for insurance. I called NAD a couple times per day and they were working on the quote but didn’t tell me that it was going to cost $6500 until the 3rd day. I winced. Told them to hold off while I tired to find that much money.
I was under the mistaken understanding that I couldn’t pull that much out of my 401k for some reason so I finally called them (I’d just been reading the rules on their web site) and learned that I’d gotten it wrong. I could pull out as much as I wanted, at any time. Huh. Well, that cleared things up. So, I got that ball rolling and called NAD and told them to go ahead and start on the engine. Went into the shop and they showed me the burned piston with the broken valve imbedded in the top of it later that day so I knew it was bad. They also insisted I needed a new turbo. So, without much for me to do, I asked the shop owner if there was anything I could do with their computers to pass the time. Scott let me work on their shop computer which had gotten clogged with a bunch of useless sh1t that didn’t belong on it. Took me around 3 hours of work. Since it is out in the shop it was filthy too. Cleaned the outside too. Handed him an invoice for the amount of the work and he kindly took that into consideration on the final bill.
The weather in Flagstaff was great. Down in Phoenix it was miserably hot, but up here in the mountains it was, well, balmy. I enjoyed driving around in my rental car visiting the town and nearby quite a lot. Funny, but the weekend before I got to town, there had been a snow storm that dumped a couple feet of snow. There were still mounds of it at the motel slowly melting away.
I did complain (in a nice way, of course, and you might consider it whining rather then complaining) several times to the techs working on the rig about how the timing of this breakdown was just awful for me since I’d just retired and my SS checks hadn’t started coming yet.
On April 20th, they called and let me know it was ready to go. I checked out of the motel, took a taxi down to the shop and wrote out a check for $5734. I’d found a notation on their web site about a 10% labor reduction if you mention their web site. I mentioned it just as he was finalizing the bill. I like discounts.
They have the piston reamed, the head resurfaced and all that other stuff that needs to be done. Get a new piston, valves, etc., and a new turbo too.
They had me drive it around for around 10 miles and all seems fine. Except the fuel pedal sticks. When I got back they spend another hour finding and fixing the broken return spring.
Drove to a nearby RV park, Black Barts, and spent the night. I’d already planned my route out of Flagstaff and that was to head due north on Highway 89. I’d never taken that route before and thought it might be interesting. Next morning, I head out around 9am and soon find that the 89 is pretty steep around 8 miles out of town. I hadn’t considered that when planning the trip but didn’t expect any problems.
It didn’t turn out that way. As I was climbing that steep grade, going around 35MPH, suddenly the rig just died. No engine means no power for the brakes. There is an auxiliary electrical pump that gives you braking. But I’d never tested it much and didn’t know how long the batteries could keep it working. That was important because the 6% grade I was on was so steep the rig wanted to creep downhill unless I was standing on the brakes. Don’t know if you remember, but my parking brake still wasn’t working since I’d had it ‘fixed’ in Mexico. Anyway, I’m getting a little worried about the whole situation and call the state patrol to have them stand by in case I lost electrical brakes.
One advantage I did have was that I could see well down the road and way off in the distance behind me I could see that the hill flattened out a little. So I carefully coasted down the mile or so I needed to go. Finally got to a spot where it seemed flat enough that I dropped my front jack. It slid a little so I went another 50 yards or so. This time it held and stopped me from rolling. Then I dropped the back jacks, just kissed the ground with them as you don’t want to lift the rig off the tires without a functioning parking brake. Whew. Jumped out of the rig, stuffed the blocks behind the tires, and called the state patrol back to let them know I was safe and didn’t need a car anymore. That’s fine, they said, no one was available anyway. Really.
Called the NAD shop and although it was Saturday, Scott was on call. He made it out in 30 minutes, put a wrench on the crank and says it needs to go back to the shop.
I call my ERS company and talk to a gal that’s maybe 25. She seems to know what to ask and I give her very clear and concise information because I’m less then 50 feet from road signs for both a nearby road, and the actual mileage away from the next waypoint…as told by the sign. An hour passes and no tow truck. So, I call my brother to while away the time but don’t realize that I’m almost out of minutes on my phone. When I realize that, I’ve run out of time and go out and stand in the road waving my cell phone until someone stops and lets me borrow his. Call the ERS back to ask where the tow truck is and get someone else. She tells me that they sent the tow truck to the opposite side of town! Damnit. I give her the exact same info I gave the first ERS gal and 40 minutes later the truck finally shows up. By now, it’s dusk.
That’s the tow truck just backing up to hook me up. Across the freeway is another sign for a local street that I also gave to the ERS.
The tow truck gets my drive shaft disconnected and just starts to lift my rig when HIS rig’s hydraulic system dies. He spends 30 minutes trying to get it to work but finally gives up and heads back to his shop for a different tow truck.
By now it’s dark. No phone. No dinner yet. Pissed. Really worried that this is going to cost me another $5000.
An hour later, the tow company shows up with a working tow truck. He hooks me up and kindly stops at a 7-11 type store so I can buy time for my phone. By now it’s 8pm or so. Getting cold too. He drops me off beside the road in front of the NAD shop and after a hot dog for dinner, and a couple hours of watching TV using the genset, I go to bed. I can’t get NAD’s WiFi where I’m parked and they are closed all weekend, but it wasn’t bad.
Next day, Sunday, I wander the mile or so up to the Safeway mall area and was able to get on-line up there. Not fun lugging my heavy laptop that whole way. When I get back to the rig, I’m sitting there watching TV and notice a guy over in the NAD fenced in area. Then another guy. I’m thinking, hummmm, who the hell are they and what are they doing in there when NAD is closed. I hadn’t seen them go in the gate. So, I call Scott and let him know. He says that no one should be on their property and he’d come over to check it out. Before he gets there, a truck with a boat on it pulls up to the entrance gate and the driver gets out and enters the code into the box which opens the gate. I then remember one of the techs mentioning some of them were going on a fishing trip so I suspected the two guys I saw might have been part of that group…but I didn’t see them anywhere anymore.
When Scott gets there, I tell him the story of the guys I saw, he goes and checks with his employees back from their fishing trip and no one knows who the guys I saw were. A mystery.
The next day, they tow my rig back into the shop & the co-owner wants to talk to me about the strangers wandering around. I could give a pretty good description and I ask him if he doesn’t have a security camera system (since I’d seen cameras several places on the building). He says yeah, but it hasn’t worked for weeks. Takes me around 5 minutes to find that he’d unplugged it from power when he was working on his computer. Plug it back in and it’s working again.
Meanwhile, the techs have pulled the head on my rig again and find that the same piston and valves were burned. Going to need another whole job almost the same as before. So I ask about the warranty and I’m covered! But he still wants to find out what caused it before he lets me off the hook for more money. Asks if I’d used the propane injection system but I was able to tell him that, no, hadn’t turned it on at all.
So now that we know what’s wrong with it, I have to go back to the motel and sign in. Lucky for me that they had a room left since they were filling up rapidly. Some convention in town or something.
My brother is a mechanic and just looked at the picture above and says that NO, it wasn’t a plugged air filter that did that damage because if it was, they would all show evidence of overheating. What he thinks is that they used the wrong valves.
Notice how clean the head is in the above shot. Nice metal. NAD did all the repair work for free. Even gave me a brand new air filter. Love those guys. Great shop.
Well, that’s all for today. Next time we’ll explore around Flagstaff since I wanted to stay close to the shop for a few weeks after the second time the engine blew.