Friday, February 22, 2013

Traveler's Tales

Our trip north was going to involve a number of leisurely stops along the way. Those plans changed. We did spend one night at Florida's Anastasia State Park. It's a great park. We checked in, hung out at the beach for a while, then went into St. Augustine for coffee. My lovely wife loves old St. Augustine.

We had a bit of a late state the next day. Some nice folks were all fascinated with the veggie van so we had to chat with them. Besides, it was hard to leave.

Once on the road, we put some miles behind us. There was an interesting moment when a complete load of luggage and gear flew off a car's roof and landed in front of us. The veggie van/boat trailer combination is not that nimble a beast, but we didn't hit anything. We spent the night parked at a truck stop north of Richmond Virgina and actually got a decent night's sleep.

From that point on, the trip got cold and windy. Light snow fell from northern Virgina through Pennsylvania. On the New York/Connecticut border the van began to die. Somewhere along the way we picked up a bad load of diesel. The fuel filter plugged up. We had a long slow climb up a hill at about 2 mph until we were able to exit into a rest area.

I'd changed the fuel filter once before. It was in the summer on a bright sunny day. The Ford ES 350 7.3 liter diesel filter is located in a very hard to get area. Removal of the air filter housing, hoses, wires, and components is required. That first filter change took me all morning.

I had the foresight to carry a spare filter and the tools needed to change it. Working in the cold, in the dark, the filter change only took about an hour. Practice makes perfect.

The van ran fine all though Connecticut, but by Holyoak Massachusetts, it once again lost power and ran badly. I pulled off the highway and into a mall parking lot. It was 9 p. m. and no auto parts in town were open. Mall security let me spend the night in the parking lot. There was a restaurant within walking distance.

The next day, while poking under the hood, I discovered one of the numerous heavy duty positive battery cables was loose. Once tightened, the van ran much better, but not all better. After breakfast, we limped into an auto parts store and I bought 2 replacement filters.

However, I did not change it right away. My theory being that the bad fuel would soon plug it again. The problem might be southern diesel that can gel in colder climates. Fortunately, my van has two fuel tanks. There's the heated veggie tank. We'd run out of veggie, but there was no reason we couldn't run diesel in that tank. The fact that it's heated helps with gelling problems. That's what we did and it got us home.

I dropped my lovely wife off at my youngest daughter's house. I went to the cold house and began to heat it up. It's still heating up. With any luck, I'll get the water thawed and flowing today. I'd drained all the plumbing, but the entry line is frozen. There's a small electric heater working on that now. It's just a matter of time.

The big thing is that we are home safe. I just made a big pot of coffee on the woodstove, so life is looking up.



  1. Welcome home! We'll have to meet for coffee sometime. I'm enjoying the book you got me for xmas... almost a little too much. Very obvious that a real paramedic wrote this book. You need to let me know if your friend that authored the book ever comes up to visit... I need to buy that guy a brew!

    1. Thanks Adam! He does come up, and definitely would let you buy him a brew.

      Coffee sometime soon sounds good to me.

  2. I've always said that the people who design vehicles should be forced to work on them. I bet some things would change! Glad you made it home safely.

    1. Thanks! I'm sure and engineer/mechanic would have thought of something better.

  3. Like Gorges says. Some places they put bolts you have to have three elbow and double wrists to get to it. I didn't know that there was a difference in southern fuel northern fuel. Should have known.

    1. To be fair, it's tough to stuff a 7.3 liter engine in a van.

      Many truckers try to run close to empty and refill with northern blend.

  4. I've just canned a batch of our North Florida hot air and will send it UPS asap. Should help with the pipes. Take care.

  5. Phyllis (N/W Jersey)February 22, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    Home Sweet Home - Glad you both made it back safe and sound before the next storm hits. You were very wise to carry a spare filter!