Saturday, July 18, 2009

Broken down west of Albuquerque

We are at the Route 66 Casino
and Truck Plaza off I-40, just west of Albuquerque (map). As you can see, we did not make it far today.

There's a good reason for that: we blew our turbocharger climbing the grade just west of here. That's the middle of nowhere, of course, so after consulting some expert advice by phone and checking oil levels, we nursed the bus along on the shoulder, at 20 mph, another 2.5 miles to an exit where we could turn around, and then about 7 miles back here to the casino.

We were blowing enough white smoke that several folks called it in as a fire, and we got pulled over twice; once by the Laguna tribal police rolling westbound (while we were on the Navajo nation) and once by the Navajo police rolling eastbound (while on the Laguna nation). At least the Laguna officer was able to alert the state patrol, so they just waved when we passed them at the U-turn.

We had to keep a careful eye on the gauges and the oil level, but we still heated the exhaust up enough that we melted our trailer wiring. We were able to roll into a truck stall here with plenty of oil still in the crankcase, and the coolant temperature under 190, but we have no idea what else might be damaged besides the turbo.

I won't bore you will all the gory details or what our options are from here (few, it turns out, until Monday when places are open), other than to say that I have posted identical write-ups on the two bus conversion bulletin boards, here:

So we are stuck here at the Route 66 Casino on the Laguna Nation until at least Monday. At least they have a couple of restaurants and a c-store here, and I can ride back to Albuquerque on a lower-speed frontage road, if need be, on the scooter.


  1. That really sucks. Of course, Murphy being Murphy, it didn't have the consideration to blow across the street from a diesel repair shop. Good luck with getting this fixed!

  2. that is no fun. i have the same engine in my newell, 475hp 8v92 dd2, manufactured in 89. i just had a cracked head and had it replaced along with one piston/sleeve.

    i use vmspc as it sounds like you do to monitor everything. i am paranoid about heat now so even though i drive it very carefully, i just put in a pyrometer and dual temp senders to a single digital gauge with a switch to go between them, this is besides monitoring the temp on the vmspc.

    i dont like pulling long steep grades as these babies always get hot.

    fortunately i have not had any turbo problems and i have similar miles on mine....140k.

    good luck,



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