Saturday, April 24, 2010

A road less traveled

We are at another gravel pull-off along Nevada 447 (map), less than five miles from the California border and only 65 miles or so from where we started yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday turned out to be a gorgeous day, and as we passed through Gerlach, a town with one gas station and one saloon, the temperature was already approaching 60. In another hour it was in the high 60s and sunny, perfect conditions to work on the Webasto if we could find an appropriate place to stop. We knew most of the land on both sides of 447 was BLM, and I was hoping for a spot before we left the state. It was starting to look doubtful when we came across this nice parking area in a canyon.

We were already proceeding at a snail's pace when we arrived, because there was a calf in the road, just moseying along. I had slowed down to walking speed to ease past the calf, in case it spooked right into our path. Just as we passed him, we spotted this area, and at that speed we had plenty of time to evaluate it. Often as not, we come across these kinds of spots too fast to really do anything about them, and this one, in the middle of an S-bend in a slot canyon, would have been no exception had it not been for the calf. Serendipity, I suppose.

It was early afternoon when we got settled in, and I got to work on the boiler. It takes a bit of effort to get into the enclosure and get it apart, but once inside they are easy to work on. As I suspected, after two years since the last cleaning, the photocell that acts as a flame sensor was nearly completely blackened over, and that was the likely cause of the spontaneous shutdowns. A liberal dose of WD-40, an old toothbrush, and a shop rag were all it took to get the sensor cleaned up, as well as the ignitor electrodes and the burner nozzle. By all rights I should have replaced the nozzle while I was in there, but the only spare I have has more hours on it than the one that's in there now. I am still looking for a heating supply that carries these nozzles.

That did the trick, and we had no further trouble with the heater last night or this morning. While daytime highs here are in the 70s, it dropped into the high 30s last night, and I expect we'll need the boiler in the late evenings and early mornings for another couple weeks yet. While I had the engine bay open and the tools out, I also took the time to tighten up the fan belts. They've been squealing at certain RPMs since we replaced the idler pulley bearings last year, and they are incredibly difficult to adjust -- a single idler tensions two belts, and getting the tension balanced on each is tricky. Only time and load will tell if I got it right this time.

This is a largely untraveled part of the state, and we've only seen perhaps a dozen vehicles since we arrived yesterday afternoon. While thousands descend on Gerlach every year on their way to Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert east of there, most arrive from the south, via Sparks, as we did. This turnout seems to owe its existence to gravel or aggregate collection, as a huge chunk of the hillside to our north has been eaten away by heavy equipment. There is even some pavement here, and I am speculating that there might have been a portable asphalt plant here at one time. A lone tree lends character to an otherwise stark and industrial parking area.

This was a great place to stop for the night, surrounded by hills on all sides, and the timing and weather were perfect for getting the heater fixed. But it is not the sort of place we can settle in for a few days to catch up on other things, so we will move along. Today we will cut across the very northeastern corner of California and we should be in Oregon this evening. I heard back from Infinity Coach yesterday, and we now have an appointment there for the week of the 10th, just ahead of Trawler Fest. That gives us just over two weeks to work our way through Oregon and Washington, and I hope to catch some spots we've missed on our previous visits.


  1. we passed through Gerlach, a town with one gas station and one saloon

    OMG, I wonder what happened?!? Last time I was there, there was one gas station and at least FOUR saloons! I guess the Great Recession is being felt everywhere... ;-)


  2. @Brent: We did see a couple other bars, but they looked decidedly closed, or out of business. IIRC, two had Mexican names.

    I am just guessing here, but perhaps it is the case that some of these establishments are seasonal -- with the "season" being defined as two months before to one month after Burning Man ;D

    BTW, had not realized you left the city for islands east. We are there occasionally -- there is a bus shop on the old Navy base. Will look you up next time we are there.


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