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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The long road to Texas



Our time in St. Augustine was coming to an end. We were supposed to be off our campsite by 1 p. m.. Only problem, the van would not start. It kicked over, but would not keep running. That puzzled the heck out of me until I noticed a switch on the dash.

It looks like that while the dog was jumping around the cab of the van she tripped the veggie switch. In normal operation we only switch to veggie once the tank is good and hot. Cold veggie was sucked into the engine and plugged everything up.

The clock was running. I tried to clear the lines using a 12 volt compressor. I even switched out the diesel filter and sponged the waste veggie out of the filter housing. The van ran a bit then died completely. At that point no veggie at all was being fed by the fuel pump so I got the idea that maybe I lost another fuel pump.

In the mean time the park Rangers were trying to find a garage that could take the van. Cell phone connections in the park were terrible so they were using a land line at the Ranger Station. The garage that the park normally used was swamped by all the college kids on spring break. Finally ABC towing was able to take the van to a garage.

. . . which shall remain nameless. They agreed to take the van but once we got there we were told they could not work on it. ABC sent another tow truck. The driver suggested Karr Doctor in St. Augustine. I'm glad he did. They guys there really know their stuff. They quickly discovered the fuel pump was fine. I'd let too much air in the fuel system while changing the fuel filter. He was able to clear the system and start the van right up. They didn't even charge me. In fact, they wouldn't let me give them beer money. How's that for service?

By the time we took care of business we didn't leave St. Augustine until 6:30 p. m.. We only got as far as Tallahassee where we spent the night camped in a truck stop.

We got up early in the morning and continued out journey. There we were, driving down Route 10 in the dark. Suddenly I saw sparks behind the van. I assumed that one of my safety chains came loose and was dragging in the road. Imagine my surprise to see the trailer was completely missing. The receiver hitch had slide out and the bolt that held the safety chains on the trailer had snapped off.

My lovely wife called 911 to report a missing trailer. We assumed there might be a debris field all over the highway somewhere behind us. We had to drive 8 miles up the highway to the next exit then another 8 miles back. By the time we got there a sheriff had found the trailer off the road in a ditch.

The trailer was right side up on its wheels. A rope and a strap had snapped. Some wiring was broken. I made one more trip up the road to an auto parts store for some parts. It took about a half hour to do emergency repairs. The ditch off the side of the highway looked too soft to drive the van to the trailer so I tied a long rope and pulled it out that way.

Things were going pretty well until the afternoon when the trailer blew a tire. My spare tire was somewhere under a snowbank back in New Hampshire. A gas station let me leave the trailer there until I was able to pick up a couple of new tires at a Tractor Supply.


Eventually we made it to my wife's parent's place in East Texas.

Today I noticed a badly cracked steel beam under the trailer. My father-in-law and I were able to bolt a reinforcing beam to stiffen up the trailer. There's a short somewhere in the trailer light system. Before we head down the road I'm going to replace the trailer lights with LED submersible lights.

We've had some travel issues, but we've been incredibly lucky. No one's gotten hurt. Damage is limited. Repairs have been relatively inexpensive. In the end the problems are fixed and we have some cool travel tales.

-Sixbears

12 comments:

  1. Wow, some misadventures to be be sure, but a cool, calm and collected attitude and you came out fine. Good deal - glad you made it. I'd have been scared as hell when you found your trailer was missing.

    Its great when you find a honest garage. My wife has one as well that could have charged her a bundle last Friday. She was traveling when she heard a loud rumbling from her passengers side front tire. Thought it was going flat and checked - nope tire was fine. Omigosh, bad bearing - I need to get this fixed now. So she limped to the garage, who could not find the source - bearing was fine when they lifted the car. So the man drives it, pronounces it fine. My wife said drive it about 70 mph and you will hear it. So he does that and he DOES hear it. You know what it was ? The wheel well liner was lose and was vibrating against the panel. You don't run into that when you use horses . . . :^)

    The mechanic figured he learned a lesson and except for tightning the screws, he wasn't out anything but time. No charge - that was awesome of him.

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    1. Awesome indeed! Good mechanics are hard to find.

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  2. Someetimes I thiinkk its a test of wills with the devil! Glad you allmade it to your inlaws safely.

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    1. It's been an adventure, but we got here safely, so that's all that really matters.

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  3. Hermit's Baby SisMarch 24, 2015 at 9:20 AM

    And tales to tell. Happy trails ...

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    1. In the end it's all good. No worries.

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  4. Buy an inexpensive rear-view camera to use if you can't see your trailer in the rear view mirrors. I did that back with an RV that I had at the time so I could see the Jeep I was towing. I got mine at Wal-Mart. The RV I have now has a built in rear view camera.

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    1. I can just barely see the back corner of the trailer. A camera might be a good idea.

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  5. My enthusiasm for cross country travel has flagged considerably after reading this. Maybe I will just stay up here on the mountain top.

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    1. What's life without a little adventure?

      Okay, I'm hoping for a bit less adventure on the road from now on.

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  6. Sixbears - you have a terrific angel watching over you. If it was anyone else, the road would have exploded with asphalt shards going through a school bus of kids. Receiver hitch slid out, so assume that pin let go or popped and the hitch just worked its way out. I always wonder if I should lock the receiver hitch with that pin, and the answer seems to be yes I should, until it breaks.

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    1. Yes, I have angels looking over my shoulder. I think the pin might have been forced out when the tow truck picked the van up in St. A. It dragged the hitch through the dirt while loading, but I didn't think anything of it. The pin must have slowly worked its way out during the next 200 miles. I'm looking for a locking system.

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