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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Good News or The Bad News????

First we can start with all the good stuff, okay????

Today marks 2 weeks since we have been on the road.  It's been a crazy adventure, for sure.

We had a delightful visit with with Merikay and Craig.  When the weather cleared some, we took a drive around the area and looked at the park and the dam and all that other fun stuff....  It was cool, but at least the sun was shining.  Some of the snow was melting.  Not all.

I worked on a meal of chicken alfredo lasagna and also traditional lasagna for supper. Merikay baked up a loaf of basil bread! I set my festive table with my southwestern dishes and pretty tablecloth from Mexico (remember those Goofy Mary?)  It was another great night of conversation, RVing stories, and fun things to see down the road.

The dogs kinda hung out under the front dash in their little doggie hideout area,
and when company went home, they came out to claim their space on the loveseat!
They are really adjusting well to this RV lifestyle.

We woke up to sunshine and warming and melting all that danged snow.  My lawn chair was finally dry enough to sit in!  Sitting and soaking it was very pleasant... ahhhhhhh

Merikay and Craig were busy getting loaded up and hooked up and ready to roll.  They wanted to reach Tucson, AZ before the end of the day, so getting on the road by 10 am was their schedule.

Heartfelt hugs and "See Ya Laters" we called out as they rolled on west....

Now it was time for Steveio to get to work!  He got down and dirty to figure out the busted brake line, and take measurements and get a good idea of what parts he would need to fabricate a new line. 

With all of his notes in hand, we trooped on into town.  He dropped me at Walmart for a grocery stock up session, while he hit the autoparts store with his list of items.  Sadly. they didn't have what he needed!  

Now here it where it turns into the GOOD NEWS!!!

The guy standing in line behind him says: "Hey, I own a truck repair shop down the highway and I can custom make that brake line for you, just bring the old one on over and we can set you up!"  Wowzer!!!! After some discussion, he said it would be better if we could drive the rig right over to his shop, and he can examine it first before fabricating the new line. He even offered to let us stay in his lot overnight if we got over there too late in the day to get started on the job!


What are the odds that Steve would be standing next to one of the only truck repair places in 50 miles around who can custom make brake lines and has all the lines, fittings and tools to bend them!

We rushed back to the campground and Steve donned his overalls.  (yes, he takes them along on the road just in case!)   He was able to temporarily patch in a piece of line with some compression fittings to get us limped down the highway 25 miles to the truck place.  We also have our Pac Brake engine exhaust brake to help stop us, but best to patch this line in the meantime and we have brakes enough to get down there.  So here is my Mr. FixIt Guy laying on an old Thanksgiving table cloth as he works on patching the line.

He was done and out and bled the lines while I pumped from inside. Everything held and we were good to go.

And this is where we hit the BAD NEWS!!!  

Are you sure you want to keep reading this?  I am typing it out in words to be cathartic and still sniffling and weeping as I type.  Bear with me....

We always do our hookup job on the Tracker to tow behind the motorhome on a towbar setup. Steve has 4 jobs on the outside of the Tracker hooking it up, and I have four jobs on the inside ....  We never talk to anyone while doing it so we don't get distracted.

He does
1. bars,
2. locks,
3. safety cables and
4. wire harness hookups.

I do
1. key in ignition and move the wheel back and forth,
2. emergency brake off,
3. shifter in 2nd gear and
4. transaxle in NEUTRAL...

and I am SURE I had it in neutral!!!!!

Then we swap and he checks my stuff and I check his stuff....  perfect.
It has NEVER failed us before.   And he swears he checked it all was fine.

Well.... we drove out of the campground and up to the main gate. I always watch the Tracker in our backup camera and make sure the wheels turn the first few corners and watch for the steering wheel to return top dead center.  Fine. Good to Go.

We stopped at the main gate to obtain a credit slip from the gals that we can use at the next park.  We had already paid for the night at this one and since we were leaving to get the repairs done at 3 pm and didn't think we would be back.  So as we pulled up to the main gate, we heard a loud THUNK sound behind us. We were on a steep angle to park while I got out to go into the office. Hmmmmmm I told Steve I would walk around the Tracker before going into the building, all appeared fine. He said maybe it was just a rock.   I went in and came back out, and we were on our way.

UNTIL......  about one mile further, heading down the road towards the interstate we heard a horrible CHATTER CHATTER CHATTER.... and tugging on our back end .... oh no.....

(we just destroyed the engine in our Tracker!) 

Yes... I said that.

You heard me. 

We just 

Evidently the transaxle jumped into 4 wheel drive gear or perhaps on the backwards angle we stopped at the main gate, it somehow got into gear.  And we destroyed it.  Trash.

I am sick over it.  I feel so bad.  It's my job to put that transaxle into N... and I have done it hundreds of times now.  And Steve double checked it.  But I still feel so bad.

(also Steve said it was my final stomp on the brake pedal as I drove the motorhome onto the leveling blocks the other day that blew the brake line!  He didn't mean it and was teasing, but I take things like that to heart!)

So I cried.  And cried.   Not sure what we are going  to do yet.  It's trashed.  It's only a $2,000 beater vehicle, but it was such a good little billy goat of a vehicle.  We have already invested in the expensive base plate for a Tracker so we might as well remove that and everything of our own inside of it.  Perhaps tomorrow Steve can place an ad on Craigslist and sell it to someone who wants to toss a new engine in it?   The title is up in our safe in Wisconsin, so we would have to mail that later.

He is looking on Craigslist right now for perhaps buying another one the same, so we can just swap the baseplate over and we can keep on towing.  Or we can travel without a toad vehicle and just see sights from the motorhome as we go along. It doesn't make sense to tow this one around a thousand miles and then back home another 1,500 miles.  Or does it?

You know, if we do get another Tracker, from now on I am going to double triple and quadruple check that transaxle shifter!!!!!

On a positive note, we arrived safe and sound at Harold's truck repair place.  Called Emergency Truck Repair right off the highway at Caballo Lake, NM.  It's comforting to see that he is working on all the local folks vehicles, the county ambulance, and even the Derry Arrey Fire and Rescue vehicle.  If the locals trust him with their things, we should be in for a good experience.

Harold came out and checked the line on our rig, and yes, he said that he can easily make that line.  Steve suggested that perhaps he should make up the other front brake line and also one of our rears.  We had already done one on a trip to Florida, so now we will be good to go if Harold can make them.   The only problem is Harold can't do the labor himself to install them, he hurt his shoulder really bad... Harold thinks he tore his rotator cuff.  His doc appt is tomorrow afternoon.  So he said to Steve: "If I make the parts in the morning, can you do your own labor??"   YESSSS !!!!  That will save us in labor costs, and Steve is more than adequate at handling the installation of the new lines.  We even have along a power bleeding tool device that runs off our air compressor. Whew.... that is a good thing!  Silver Lining, perhaps?

So tonight we are comfortably resting in the fenced in secure lot of the Emergency Truck Repair Service of Caballo Lake, NM.  I am still sniffing.  But it will get better.  I hope.

And I ate two big slices of Merikay's basil bread that she baked as my "comfort food" with our leftover lasagna tonight.  Even the dogs got to lick the plates clean!

Tomorrow will be a better day. 

It has to. 


  1. tomorrow has to be a better day! 'Momma said there would be days like this'..the two of you are fine working team..just a bit of bad luck for now!

  2. I hope you got my comment. I'm going to try re-sending it in case you didn't.

    Karen and Stevio, so very sorry to hear about your Tracker. At least you are all safe.

    You have had quite the trip with incidents needing repair, yet both times you have found what you needed close by.

    This is quite the good news, bad news, good news, bad news blog. Whew. Wore me out. I can only imagine how much it has affected you both.

    Here's hoping the rest of your trip is smooth sailing.

  3. I can feel the pain you are suffering over this incident. But as trite as it sounds, it could have been worse. At least you and Steve are well, and I'm glad that it wasn't something that could have caused physical harm to you. But I'd be crying for a while myself and get it out of my system. I hope you can let go and get it out of your system as well.

  4. That is just horrible! I have been getting complacent with my hookup and I don't have a $2000 beater. I would just die if something like that happened to my jeep. Thank you for reminding me to double-check my hook-up.

    Things will get better, I am sure and your misfortune will help others to triple check and listen carefully for any clunking noises back there.

    It's no ones fault. S*** just happens sometimes. Keep on truckin!

  5. I saw a Geo Tracker repair at ?Livingston TX.

  6. http://boulder.craigslist.org/ptd/4866387027.html

  7. Sorry to hear of your troubles. Glad to hear that no one was hurt. Take a deep breath and enjoy the rest of your trip.

  8. I almost cried too!!! If it makes you feel any better our friends Jim and Ellie did the same thing to their Saturn about three years ago. Keep us posted!

  9. OH DANG!! so sorry sometimes life throws us a monkey wrench! Another Rv'er, Take To The Highway, blew her tracker motor and she found a used engine online for it, towed it to Texas to her brothers home, and he replaced the engine--maybe its not a bad idea to leave it somewhere and pick it up on the way home,,,maybe Harold would let you leave it there, I know you hate to lose it. Wishing all the best for a great outcome whatever you decide.

  10. Understand your feelings & we too would be so upset if something like that happened. Hooking up a toad is always a worrisome thing. Did I do this, did I do that, have I got this right, what have I forgot. All we toad towers have those thoughts no matter if we're sure we've hooked up right or not. Even if everything is checked off correctly things can still & does happen. We've noticed anytime we have been to Ajo Arizona there seems to be more Trackers there than anywhere else we've ever seen. Trackerville I call it. There is a Napa store/garage there & I bet those guys might know if & where there might be some Tracker parts. Maybe a few spare engines sitting around, maybe even some used Trackers......

  11. I am sooo sorry about your Tracker. That is just heart breaking. I wish things didn't go wrong when we're RVing but that's not the case. We burned up the brakes on our toad when we had our motorhome. And I know that was my fault. But we eventually recovered and continued to let the good times make up for the lousy ones. Hang in there.

  12. "tomorrow has to be a better day", you said. Well when something bad happened to me when I was younger, my Dad always said, "Son, there is nothing so bad that it can't get worse". Oh wow!! Not what I wanted to hear and I am sure not what you want to hear, but I think in your situation, it has already gotten worse and now it will get better, for sure. Good luck on finding a toad.

  13. Oh, what a horrible feeling it must've been. I hope things work out better. At least you had some lasagna too help take the sting out a little.

  14. I hope you leave Murphy behind when you leave New Mexico!

  15. You've had a rough couple of days! That brake line stuff sounds very familiar, and it's amazing to me how the locals often have someone who can make new ones.! I'd been told I would have to buy a whole new system, that it couldn't be repaired! I wanted to go ins over that! It ended up costing a few hundred dollars t replace the parts that were bad and could be remade. The stress is terrible though! I'm wishing good thoughts to go your way and help you survive!

  16. Things do happen that challenge the abilities, sorry to hear that. One sure way to verify the auxiliary is in neutral, start the engine with the transmission in chosen gear, put auxiliary in neutral and rev the engine, also checking the transfer lever to make sure it is on detent and will not slip back in gear. If you go back the same route, maybe plans to leave it at the shop you're at to keep it there and pick it up on the way back, I did the same with a car, left it in CO, went on to ME then on the way back picked it up and towed it to CA.

  17. I feel so bad for you! Sounds like it was just bad luck and not anyone's fault. I guess all of us will be checking our tow vehicles and connections an extra time. It sounds like Steve has a good attitude, and with his knowledge will make the right decision about what to do. I guess you have to determine if it will cost more to get a new engine than to get another used tracker.

    Glad you liked the bread. Wish I could do more to make it all better!

    1. Yah know that second speedbump in the row of three??? We are even condsidering the idea that perhaps that made the transaxle jump into gear after going over such a high bump! Oh well, it's water under the bridge now. Steve is leaning towards towing it home and fixing it later...... our little billy goat car!

  18. Karen, I too am so sorry about your troubles. We've been RV-ing for about 12 years now, in 3 different motorhomes (our current 96 Safari Ivory Edition, a 2001 Beaver Marquis, and a 2006 Beaver Marquis). And honestly, it seems that something happens that needs repair very, very often. We've had a huge slide get stuck (out), our 850 lb. BMW motorcycle fall over in the trailer, axle bolt sheer off, huge leak in the water system (in the desert), generators fail, an axle literally fell off of our motorcycle trailer, blown and/or flat tires on our trailer, failure of any number of different systems on all of the motorhomes... the list goes on. Yet, we still go, and we still have a great time. We have a little game we play when things go wrong... one of us says "Contestants must now (enter challenge here)". It takes the stress off, and makes us remember to laugh. I think this started when the slide got stuck on the 2006 Beaver Marquis in the middle of nowhere, Wyoming. That motorhome was less than 2 years old. We called Monaco multiple times during this problem, and we had to travel 250 miles to the nearest repair facility. Problem was, once we got the slide in, it would freely slide back out going around a corner! (We found this out very quickly, LOL!). So, Monaco said we needed to find a 2 X 4 to fit in the gap between the top of the slide and the inside wall of the motorhome, to brace it and keep it from sliding back out. So, at a Flying J, we determined that "Contestants must now find some sturdy wood, and a saw to cut it to size, in the Flying J parking lot". And so we did. Tony bought the only tiny little hacksaw in the Flying J, and wandered all around the surrounding area until he found the wood that we needed. And he sawed it to fit ever so carefully, with the wrong kind of saw, (to not break the only saw blade in the area). Ultimately, contestants were safely back on the road on the way to Salt Lake City for repairs. You gotta laugh, eh! Better days ahead!

    Hope a little levity brightened your day.

  19. WOWSER! OUCH!, Yep, tomorrow will be a better day. Take a deep breath and exhale slowly.

  20. Oh, that's terrible! I'm so sorry - I wish you could buy a used engine and have it installed and then just continue on. If not, leaving the car there and picking it up on the way home might be a good idea. Geez... :(

  21. Do you have comp coverage on the tracker? If so, check with your insurance company for possible coverage. Its a gray (really gray) area, but worth a shot.

    1. Good thinking... but we only carried liabilty coverage on it. We only paid $2,000 for it four years ago. The NADA value is only at $3,000 now. Now that Steve looked and listened a little closer, it might just be a bearing and push rod, perhaps repairable with out replacing the whole engine???

  22. So sorry about the Tracker, but so cool about the brake line! With Steve being so handy, hopefully the Tracker issue will end up being a little better than it first appeared. Best of luck!


  23. Oh boy...that sure wasn't the best experience, yet so lucky you guys were. Just think if you'd had an expensive vehicle as toad. It'll all work out in the end. Better than losing a truck tranny like we did on our very FIRST trip south in 2005.


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