Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Stops on a dime

We are parked in a small industrial enclave surrounded by residential developments (map), adjacent to the CSX tracks, the Tri-Rail line, and I-95.

We're here because our friend Steve's shop is nearby, and he has some 12R22.5 tire take-offs we can use on our tag axle. The used Michelins we had put on in Las Vegas are done; I'm a little disappointed to have gotten only 6,000 miles or so on them. Steve's got ten year old Michelins which appear to be in much better condition, and they have plenty of tread; from that standpoint, they look nearly new. Our rule here aboard Odyssey is not to run tires older than seven years (having been badly bitten by old tires in the past), but I'll make an occasional exception on the tag axle; in this case, I think the tires are probably safe even if a bit older than we like.

We had planned to get here yesterday afternoon to get this done, and then be back up at the race track. However the brake job literally took all day. We arrived at Power Brake and Suspension as requested at 9:30, but they could not get us into the shop until nearly an hour later. Within half an hour or so they had the brake shoes off and sent them off to a different shop -- Power Brake did not have the die for the weird German rivets.

As it turned out, the rivets that came with the linings were too long. The shop that relined the shoes had to come up with some other rivets that would work; the result does not look pretty, but Power Brake says they'll stand behind it. One of the linings also cracked while it was being riveted in place, apparently due to a hairline fracture that spread under pressure. That piece had to be bonded back on to the rest of the lining and the shoe, and waiting for the bonding agent to cure induced quite a delay.

Between all that and some kind of huge traffic accident on the freeway backing things up for the return trip, the finished shoes did not arrive back at the shop until nearly 4:30; it was past 6 when they finally had everything back together. The good news was that the total bill was only $325, and they credited us for the $75 we spent to have them inspect the brakes last week. So we were out of there for $250, half what we spent on the parts themselves. They also had Wi-Fi in the shop, so we had plenty to keep us occupied while we waited all day.

When we finally got under way at 6:15, it was past sunset and getting darker by the minute, so we just rolled right over here so we would be ready for tires this morning. I didn't want to drive ten miles to the casino last night just to drive ten miles back today. On our way here, a white pickup truck pulled up next to us and rolled down a window -- it was George Cable, at whose private yard we spent a couple of weeks five years ago, also on a cruise. We'll give him a call while we are in town; it would be nice to see them again.

I exercised the new brakes as much as I could on the drive over; so far, everything seems good. The loud squeal we had been hearing at low application pressures is gone, replaced by more of a soft whine that I expect will go away as the new linings seat in. We did not have the drums turned, as they did not really have enough metal left on them, and they were in excellent condition anyway. So seating the new linings will take a bit longer.

It's shaped up to be something of a busy week. Between the brake work yesterday and the tires and dive shop today, we've had our hands full. Tomorrow will be diving, then Friday we are scheduled to help Steve string some lights on his boat during the day, followed by dinner with Martin and Steph before she leaves town Saturday. Saturday morning we'll tag along for I Got Lucky's sea trial after she gets a new port drive tomorrow, then Saturday evening we will be on Steve's boat to anchor and watch the annual holiday boat parade. I expect Sunday to be a day of recuperating from the rest of the week.

Next week we are a bit less scheduled. We have at least one reader in the area who has asked to get together, and we'll see if we can reconnect with the Cables. I'm pretty sure I will also need to get my tux altered for our upcoming cruise; thankfully, this time it needs to be taken in, after being let out for the last couple of cruises.

Speaking of the cruise, when I got on the web site yesterday, I noticed the price had dropped by $100 since the day before, when we booked. I immediately called the agent to see if we could get a credit, but no dice. The line decided to do a one-day sale to clear out the cabins it had left; we had taken a balcony guarantee the day before, and I could have booked a higher-grade balcony for less money yesterday. Today, I see, the price is back up, to $200 more than we paid, so I supposed I should count myself lucky.

While I was on the phone with the agent, I found out that we now have a cabin assignment. It's an "accessible" cabin, meaning all the doors and aisleways are sized for a wheel chair. That means our E2-grade cabin will actually be a fair bit larger than cabins two and three grades higher, so I can't complain (but sometimes I still do, just like Joe Walsh). I'm also taking it as a good sign that the line is still struggling to fill the ship less than two weeks from sailing. That suggests the ship may sail at less than 100% capacity; since many holiday sailings leave at 104%, that's a good thing.

As soon as the mobile tire guy finishes up with us here, we will head back to the casino. That's much closer to the dive shop where we need to try on some gear later today, as well as to the marina we need to be at tomorrow morning at 8am (ugh) to finish up Louise's dive certificate. Our friends Martin and Steph will be joining us for the morning dives; we're looking forward to it.

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