Sunday, January 14, 2007

Alone at last

We are at Amboy Crater, along the old Route 66 (map). The BLM maintains a parking lot here for people wishing to hike to the cinder cone half a mile or so away. The parking area is at the edge of the lava field, about half a mile from the highway on a graded dirt road. In addition to the parking area, there are pit toilets and a couple of picnic tables.

When we arrived last night, right around sunset, there was one other car here, which left shortly thereafter. We've had the place to ourselves all night. We finally feel at home again -- this is our first night of solitary parking since before we left for Mexico (not counting the two nights at Playa Tecolote, where we parked a stone's throw from a restaurant).

Just east of here is the ghost town of Amboy, home of recently defunct Roy's Cafe. We'll stop by on our way out of here to see how the place is faring -- the new owner is talking about restoring and reopening the joint. From there we will head south on Amboy Road toward Twentynine Palms, connecting to CA62 which will take us east to Parker, Arizona.

We're hoping to make it to Quartzsite, where we will meet up with some other DOVEs for a few days, and maybe take in some of the big RV show there. I say "hoping to" because Odyssey is having some transmission troubles, and we may have to divert directly to Phoenix, the nearest Allison service facility.

We first noticed problems with the transmission the evening we crossed the border from Tecate. Waiting in line for the border was a tedious, stop-and-go affair, some of which was on a very steep hill. We felt some slippage in first gear there, which we attributed to the tremendous strain. However, the problem seemed to worsen in the hills of eastern San Diego county, with rough shifts in and out of second gear, and we had to stop on the roadside that night to investigate. A quick check of the fluid level revealed it was low, and we put three quarts of fluid in, which seemed to take care of the problem.

Now our transmission has always seeped fluid, which we have been told is a common problem around the valve body on retarder-equipped HTB748's. The seepage speeded up when we switched to synthetic fluid, which is unsurprising, but we continue to run the synthetic since it has significantly reduced transmission temperatures. So when trouble returned a few hundred miles later, we added fluid again. Now, however, the trouble is back, but the dipstick is reading full. What's worse, I am noticing a slight burnt smell from the fluid. Oddly, the transmission control computer is not indicating any errors or problems.

At this point, the next step will be to pull the magnet and see if there are any metal particles stuck to it, and run a sample of the fluid. I want to be someplace where they have the capability to repair, replace, or rebuild the unit when that's done, since the symptoms would indicate some sort of valve-body problem, such as a bad valve or spring, or partial blockage of one of the fluid passages. Fortunately, once it gets into third, or locks up, the coach runs fine. So I am hopeful that we can make Quartzsite for a few days, then head east to W. W. Williams in Phoenix from there.

Other suggestions, or recommendations for other heavy duty transmission shops close to our location, are welcome.


  1. Still watching you folks, had hoped to be on the road in your general direction by now, but no, we are stuck in San Jose and it's beginning to look like we may wind up here until the 13th of April but until the 2nd of March for sure. If April winds up being our leave date, we will be highballing to Key West for sure as we have to be there by the end of April.

  2. Good Morning, I am the Outside Sales and Product Rep. for W.W. Williams out of Tucson Arizona.

    You have resources available from our company nationwide, visit us online @ for a complete list.

    While you are at the Service Counter, ask them about our "WheelTime" program..

    Phoenix has a rep. dedicated to the Allison product, his name is Mike Clinkingbeard if needed.

    The Snthetic Oil should not have caused any issues, leakage or otherwise... Did you install OEM Allison Fluid "Transynd" ?

    Good Luck, and let us know if there is anything we can do to help you more.

    Bud Countryman


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