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Monday, April 4, 2011

VACATION – Changing our song now to Head East–“Getting Lucky”

(this post is about Sunday, April 3, 2011)
Today is Happy Birthday to my Dad, the Old Fart.   I got a card in the mail, and hope he got in time.

Ahhh it was finally Sunday and the boss at High Chaparral promised that he would put John on our rig and get it done today!  

So we got up, I took a quick shower, and we got the rig both "road worthy" for a test drive and "worker worthy" for greasy boots in and out on the carpeting and bathroom floor.  We laid three plastic tablecloths down as runners and got extra rags and paper towels at hand to grab.
(Having had once long ago forced to clean greasy foot and hand prints from our Coachman motorhome, I learned the hard way to make sure everything is covered when a worker from a garage has to go in and out and in and out of a carpeted, clean motorhome! )

This is how we look while we are waiting in the rig…. me on my sock machine and Steveio on his laptop.  The sun shining in and we are patiently waiting for our repair technician.
  repairs at high chaperrall1

John came over about 9am and examined the work area, and assessed the job to be done.   Then he went in for the tools and extra parts.  Once he realized that Steve was very mechanical, he allowed Steve to
assist and they worked together on it. 

See.... let me explain... Steve had worked many years on heavy equipment at the university, servicing and repairing.  But these newer electronic fuel injectors are said to need a "special lifting tool" to remove it correctly without damaging anything else.  Thus, that is why he was willing to pay and let the experts handle this one, if only he could watch and learn.

Our king sized bed completely lifts up and uses a strong prop pole to keep it secure.  It gives full access to the engine compartment compared to other rigs that have bedroom slides that complicate matters.  So John was very happy to see the wide open access.  Many big truck repair places don’t even like to work on RV’s, so charge a higher rate of service because of the hassle.  (and hope you go somewhere else?)

Here is a shot from the left side.. .and the right side… of all the room under the bed
injector work3      injector work2

So there was a MAN UNDER MY BED!!!    We tied the doggers up to the front seats to keep them from licking the workers in their faces or getting in the way-  LOL

injector work4   injector work5

John and Steve were hard at work with the delicate engine components exposed.  There was a lot of dust blowing in from behind the rig from the west, so they were working fast and trying to cover things up with clean rags as they worked too. The winds were so strong the rig was rocking with each gust.

repairs at high chaperrall5    injector work1

John was courteous, careful and and very thoughtful about the dirt or the grease.  We liked his caution and also his patiently explaining what he was doing and why.  I am sure he doesn't like customers "hovering" over him, but he was getting assistance from Steve and seemed to like having someone to Talk Shop with!

Seems he wrenched a lot as a kid, a teen and then went to diesel school and works in his dad’s shop now.  He knew a lot about a lot.

What Steve learned was this:  the "special lifting tool" the manuals required …  and John found the most useful was nothing other than a big adjustable water-pump pliers!   LOL   Once Steve saw how he did it, Steve is now comfortable if he ever needs to change out an injector again.... hopefully not ever needed!

They put it all back together (with NO leftover parts) , turned the key and VOILA!    That Cat engine was purring like KITTEN!   We didn't need any further repairs to the cylinder that we had kinda dreaded would be the case.  Whew!

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee  no miss, no Check Engine light.  We were "Good to Go”

We sat inside jawjacking with the boss and his brother for a while. We complimented John on his fine work, gave him a cash tip for coming in on a Sunday, a bottle of Steve’s homemade wine and I gave him a pair of my famous wool socks.  Well, he said how his girlfriend was gonna steal them from him because they were so nice and she always had cold feet….. so I decided that I just HAD to go back to the rig and grab another pair for her, so he would still be able to have HIS socks!   I gave them a brochure and business card in case they would like to order some more.  The boss’s brother was interested in the socks too and kept reading the brochure.  Then he kept the brochure and the worker John kept the business card. 

We finally settled up the bill… the parts (injector, valve cover gasket, orings etc.) was about $400 with tax, fed ex charges $25, and the labor was about $400… so just a tad over $800.   OUCH…. but we were on the road, and Steve learned that he could do the job if and hopefully NEVER needing to be done again.

The winds were up, coming from the west.  40-50 mph with some gusts at 60-70!   We were heading east, and saw plenty of semi’s on the road heading east.  So we took off.  The tail winds were pushing us along, increasing our fuel mileage up to 10-11mpg!  haha  The computer readout on the dash gives instantaneous fuel consumption as you drive.  It’s fun to watch the impressive mileage numbers when being pushed by a tail wind or going downhill.  Not so impressive when you see the numbers as you climb UP a hill.

We noticed a slight metallic buzzing noise or vibration each time the turbo kicked in.  Hopefully it’s just from a bracket or clamp, so Steve will check it over once the rig is cooled down.  All systems are running fine and the readouts on the VMspc computer are all in order.

We stopped and fueled up at Fuel Express
$4.039 a gallon
68.6 gallons   $277.16

We travelled along with new scenery to view and a blue sky and all was right with the world again.
heading to albuquerque1 

We rolled along, snapping some pics outta the windows… we didn’t want to stop too much as we were so happy to just be ON the road again!  
heading to albuquerque8

We headed out towards Albuquerque, NM   The terrain was constantly changing and we were down as low as 4,000 ft above sea level, and then back up to 6,000-7,000 ft. 
heading to albuquerque3

I can really feel the difference in my lungs as we go up or down in elevation…

For those of you who know me personally, you know that I have lung damage from a chemical spill that has been getting better and better.  Since being in the drier desert and low humidity, I have felt GREAT!   But coming up into the higher elevations, I can feel that old familiar pressure and deeper heaving to bring in and out the breaths of air.  Sigh.     Once we get back to Wisconsin, the dampness and humidity set in which makes it the “Same Old Same Old” for me.  Double sigh!~

  heading to albuquerque12

Cruising along, we found the roads were fine and smooth all the way into Albuquerque… but the winds were whirling up a huge dust storm!!!    Ahead you could not even see the mountains in the backdrop to Albuquerque, and we wondered if we should even enter the dust cloud (dust is very bad on diesel engines)    but as we got closer, it all blew to the side and we were pretty clear to advance into the town. 

This is a bright sunny day here with no clouds in the sky… but the dust storm ahead just darkened everything like a heavy fog.  A BROWN fog!
heading to albuquerque13

You can faintly see the mountains in the background on this photo below. 
heading to albuquerque14

We pulled into a Walmart for the night. We saw on the local news that there were ferocious fires burning many acres to the north and another fire to the south of us.   We kept an eye on the news till 10 pm and saw most of them were advancing to the east, not in our direction.

So we got the coffee pot ready to be perked in the morning, pulled back the covers, and hopped into bed!

Ahhhhhhhh  it feels so good to be on the road again!

274 miles travelled today
3379 total miles so far



  1. I read about that dust storm on another blog. Glad you missed most of it.

  2. Good to see you guys are back on the road, am thinking of moving the fiver over in front of the one garage door so you guys can park at angle and have more room getting in and out, we are supposed to have at least one more night of freezing weather then the temps are heading up again.90 degrees yesterday 60 last night, and 28 tonight, it's crazy. enjoy your travels the train pics were great and I saved them all.Be safe out there. Sam & Donna....

  3. Good to see you're back on the road and all systems are Go! Go figure, special tool was a pair of water pump pliers, that is really funny. Hope that all your injectors behave.

    Enjoying your posts on your trip, there're Great!

  4. Wonderful that you are 'on the road again'.

    Water pump pliers, we just call them 'channel-locks' around here!
    So they are a rare and sophisticated tool?.... we use them all the time.
    Happy Trails, Penny, TX

  5. I can imagine how great it feels to be moving again. Too bad you won't be seeing Albuquerque at its best, but I think I'd want to keep on pushing towards home by now. Good traveling!

  6. I have been reading your blog for a while. I just wanted you to know how much I enjoy reading about your adventures. We are looking forward to the end of the school year, my last as I retire this year, and getting on the road again. Wish this weren't such a busy time of year so my husband and I could have met and visited with you as you traveled through Oklahoma City. Good luck to you as you make your way back home.

  7. How great that you are moving again. That dust storm looked impressive.

  8. Got to know more about that sock machine! Can you email me? Thanks! we remember the wind in New Mexico..seemed like it was there most of the time!


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