Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Not quite out of Nevada

We are in Mesquite, Nevada, near the Arizona border, at the Oasis Casino Resort RV Park (map).

Today we got an early start out of Sam's Town, at 7:45am (trust me, that's really early for us). That's because W. W. Williams, the Detroit Diesel shop in North Las Vegas (map), told us to be there at 8:00. I'm not sure why, because we sat in their lot until past noon before they were able to get one (of a total of two) of their two-stroke qualified technicians to come look at Odyssey.

This is par for the course for these kinds of shops, but it still irks me. If they had their scheduling act together, they could have set the appointment for, say, 11am, or even 1pm, and we could have (1) gotten up at a more reasonable hour, (2) had a more relaxing breakfast (like maybe the $3.99 steak and eggs at Sam's), and (3) had the benefit of the 50-amp electrical service we paid for at Sam's to keep us cool all morning. (As it happened, we sweated for a few hours, and ran the genny for a few hours while we were at Williams.)

In any case, Hank the two-stroke guy turned out to be really good. In fact, while I was standing around, the maintenance supervisor for Clark County Fire, there to pick up an apparatus, came over to chat with me about Odyssey, and he allowed that we were lucky to get Hank. He ought to know, because fire apparatus quite commonly had the same engine we do (and were among the last vehicles to move to the four-strokes).

Hank could find no obvious problem with our engine, other than a dirty radiator. I'm a bit embarrassed that I did not notice this myself, and that gaff cost me a few coins while Williams pressure-washed the radiator at their shop rate -- something I could have done for free. While the dirty radiator may have accounted for some of the temperature problems, it does not fully explain the excess smoke or the low power, so Hank spent some time disabling injectors one at a time to see if the smoke changed. It did not, and Hank's sense was that all eight cylinders were running quite smoothly.

I asked him several questions based on suggestions I received on the internet, and he pretty much discounted each of them. Specifically, the boost readings seem to rule out a turbo problem, and there are not enough other symptoms for it to be the bypass valve. I did have him pull an oil sample, though, and we should have the analysis back in a day or two -- I'm still worried about possible dirt ingestion.

With no other diagnostics to run, he declared us good to go, and we escaped for less than $300. Subjectively, the smoke and power problems are still with us, but I have more confidence to continue driving the coach now, and I am going to hold off on doing anything further (unless so indicated by the oil analysis) until we burn through the rest of this tank of fuel, which is suspect, and put a fresh load in, probably someplace in Colorado.

It was past four when we finally rolled out of the shop, and I was already beat from getting up early and then standing around in the heat, so we made it a short-mileage day. I had hoped to be in Utah, but we opted to stop here, in a "familiar" place.

We stopped here in Mesquite way back in 2000, at this very property, on the third day of a two-week, 4,000-mile motorcycle trek across the country. I have to say, we hardly recognize the town today -- there are new housing developments everywhere, and the four casinos in town have expanded quite a bit.

We thought we might just boondock at one of the two casinos that allow it, but it was still nearly 100° when we rolled into town, and so we opted for the $17 full-hookup option here at the Oasis. That gets us in to the hotel's spiffy pool complex, though, and we had a nice meal at the $10 prime rib buffet.

Photo by Nevada Tumbleweed.

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