Tuesday, April 26, 2005

We are at the Elks lodge in Sedona (map). Louise has already posted a photo of a small part of the panoramic view from our site here.

We woke up in solitude at our little off-road spot this morning. It was cold last night, so the air was once again completely down. Starting the engine pre-heat nearly two hours before we got out of bed seems to have allowed the block to warm up enough that we did not experience the throttle-position issue this morning when I started to coach to air it back up.

Enough people have written in regarding yesterday's post that I need to clarify. (OK, and my wife says I was being a drama queen.)

First off, as far as we can tell, we are in no danger of either the engine blowing up, or of being stranded anyplace by either problem. The worst case is that the drop-off of power and torque that we are experiencing means we can more easily get stuck in sand or mud, so we are being very careful about where we choose to leave the pavement.

Regarding the throttle-position problem, we seem to have a good work-around at the moment, which is to pre-heat the engine until the ECM is at least 65 degrees. I am hopeful that reseating the ECM connectors and putting some dielectric grease in them will fix this problem, and we will have that done in Phoenix.

Regarding the engine possibly being "dusted," there are short term and long term consequences, but none is any kind of immediate crisis. We're blowing enough oil through the air box that I am having to add about a gallon every 500-600 miles, our power and torque availability is severely limited, and we are using fuel at a faster rate (plus we are blowing enough black smoke that the usual tailgaters are keeping their distance, which isn't all bad). For the cost of a little additional fuel and oil we can keep moving down the road.

For those who have inquired, I don't believe these two problems are in any way related. That being said, all of the "engine wear" symptoms except the oil blow-by are things that could, conceivably, be caused by an ECM problem. Generally, though, the ECM would be giving codes if it was losing its mind.

Also for those who have inquired, we are not comfortable leaving the coach with the Detroit dealer while we are in Mexico. The simple reason for this is that most engine service places have never seen a German Neoplan, and they can spend a lot of time (on our nickel) spinning their wheels looking for harness routing, engine control relays, and that sort of thing. I really need to be available while they are working to show them where some of these items are located. Since we will be incommunicado in Mexico, they would have no way to even call to get help. Also, access to some parts of the engine require entry through our bedroom and we'd rather not have people moving our things around while we're away.

We have no particular schedule after we return from Cancun, so we can stay in Phoenix as long as required for the dealer to do what needs done.

I just need to remember to put some cardboard down under the motor before we leave our parking spot in Phoenix, or I will leave enough oil in my friend's parking lot that we'll never be invited back...

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