Fall 2012–Outward bound

Thermal Adventures and a new baby

Days 2-4, 14-16 September

As I noted the first day out, I heard a slight ticking sound from the engine bay, and looked under the engine cover to find some cracked rubber fittings (I’d put them in 6 months ago in a minor mod to get rid of some high-risk plumbing structures). After the evening in Tehachapi, I decided that a safe bet would be to have the parts ready for a proactive repair, and the most convenient location for that would be at our nephew’s place in Las Vegas (4 hours down the road).

The next morning, it was already 85F at 8AM, and I was reluctant to take Papoose down, ride into town, buy the parts, and bring them back for a repair while the engine was still cold. What are the odds that it would fail right away? After all, it’s been running for the last 6 months. So I bought the materials before we left Tehachapi, and off we rolled down the long desert road toward Las Vegas. So – – – what are the odds that the flaw I noticed would fail (just because I noticed it)? That’s right, 100%.

Just east of Barstow, we started to smell coolant, and a few minutes later the temp gauges started to climb. Karin reached down to the carpet next to her foot, and found damp orange wetness. A quick check of I-15 ahead of us showed that there was no safe place to stop on the narrow shoulder, without risking side-swiping by a passing truck; so we checked the exits and Wow, we found we were two miles from Peggy Sue’s Diner.


Off the ramp to Peggy Sue’s, with the 195F thermostat out of regulation and the gauges working up past 210F, we stop, shut down, and elect for an impromptu lunch while things cool down a bit. As much as they can cool down when it’s over 100F outside….

The quirky statue of Elvis presides over our adventure of the day.

After an air-conditioned lunch, we stroll casually outside into the 101F heat, and although the engine has cooled down somewhat, I have to flirt with heat-stroke while I hover over the fittings, removing the old cracked rubber and installing fresh fabric-reinforced caps/plugs.

Here’s what the old failed parts looked like:


(The evening before, those cracks were a few intermittent ones around the rim of the part.) So anyway, the long story short is that the new fix went in easily, we topped off the coolant and were on our way with about a 45-minute delay. Which was just about enough for me to pass out on top of the engine but for Karin’s cool encouragement and help fetching tools and paper towels. Just about as good a result as it’s possible to get, we both agree.

So another cautious run down the highway, with amazing traffic jams out in the absolute middle of nowhere, 50 miles out of Vegas (Friday afternoon fun-chasers commuting to Vegas). There was still some air in the system, and the temp gauge was a tad high but very road-worthy. The air-conditioning keeps us comfortable in the cab, and only raises the engine temp about 4F or so.


Finally we arrive at Andrew and Priscilla’s (and Giovanna’s of course). They are wonderfully glad to see us, and we them, and we all settle in for a fine 85F evening of dinner and chat. It’s so pleasant that we eat outside at the Cheescake Factory.

Karin is enchanted with the new soul on the block, and Giovanna is equally impressed with the cooing Grandma.

Next day, Saturday the 15th, is a “cool” day in Vegas, with the temp barely scratching past 85F at 8AM. Andrew assures us this is very pleasant (??), and Karin performs the necessary major surgery to separate herself from Giovanna. We bid our thanks and goodbyes and scurry away, seeking higher altitudes and (hopefully) cooler latitudes.

Howie is back to behaving very nicely in the engine-temperature department (wish I could say the same about the fridge, which just won’t come down to normal cool level). Working up I-15 out of Vegas, the temps s.l.o.w.l.y. drop…. into the high 80s. A truly lovely drive via H9 through Zion NP brings us to H89 and eventually Kanab, and we decide to spend the night at a non-descript BLM camp (no hookups, $5) near the Pink Coral Sands State Park. We will likely not see this park, partly because it’s just an off-road vehicle play area (sand dunes, motorcycles, quad runners, etc.), and partly because we will try to make morning Mass on Sunday in Kanab. Yes Virginia, there are actually Catholics in Utah. The camp is quiet, peaceful, and we are the only RV, plus 3 tent campers, in a 9-site camp.

16 September

A blissfully quiet and peaceful night, and the temperature at 7AM is 44F outside. I think I can hear my bones cracking from thermal shock.

I also hear some crunching when I back into a parking area at the church. This sound is due to knocking the bottom plate off one leveling jack as it scrapes over a curb that I <thought> was low enough. Oh well, what fun is a day without something to fix?

Speaking of fixing: The fridge is still a bit on the high side at 43F internal temp (should be 40), and as soon as we park at the church for Mass, Karin goes inside and I open the toolbox. Sure enough, the fridge burner is a bit clogged and not in peak condition. A good cleaning sets it right, and hopefully the fridge will come back down to 40 today. The forecast is 80’s, a typical high-desert temperature swing of 40F from day to night.

Today we will launch out into the Grand Staircase, where there will be no Internet for many days. Hopefully I’ll spend more time hiking and sightseeing than on RV repair while we are gone into the hinterlands. :o) I should have some decent pix and comments when we get connected again.


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