Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good

We had another lovely day here in Zion National Park. This morning we took the shuttle up to "The Grotto," site of the original (circa 1909) visitor center (which now appears to be a staff residence), and had a picnic lunch. We then hopped back on the shuttle to "Weeping Rock," where a short but strenuous half-mile trail led us to a spot where water is cascading out of the rock, as seepage through the porous Navajo sandstone hits the impervious shale layer and seeks an exit.

In the afternoon, we heard a ranger talk at the museum on how the area and its landmarks were named (blame the Mormon settlers) and a short movie on Zion and its geology and development. After arriving back in camp, we headed down to the "swimmin' hole," a spot in the river where it is chest deep between two rapids, and had a refreshing swim -- nice to cool off in the 93+ heat. The sign in the visitor center and all the bus drivers related the water temperature as 58°, but it felt closer to 70° or so down at the campground. Maybe they were talking about the water up in the narrows.

After our swim we got back on the shuttle and headed up to Zion Lodge, where we had an excellent dinner out on the patio. We were fortunate to get an outside table, where we dined surrounded by the immense vermilion cliffs of the valley -- quite a dining room.

The Bad

Just before our swim I got a call from W. W. Williams regarding the oil sample we had drawn. I really expected them to get this back to us yesterday, but it did not come in until today. The terrible news: we have high silicon content and high wear metals. This, coupled with the symptoms we've been having, is entirely consistent with dirt ingestion. (Read the report here.) We ought to know -- we've been here before.

The fact that our filters have been intact, but with almost zero reading on the restriction gauge, tells me that the intake plumbing has come apart someplace where we can't see it. Again, this has happened before, so, however unlikely, we can't discount it.

I immediately placed calls to Virgil Cooley at Pedco, who in-framed our engine the last time this happened, and to Stewart & Stevenson in Pueblo, a company I've done business with and trust, in a location that happens to be on our planned route east. Both can take us next week, and I know Virgil will do his best to keep the costs down. S&S will be faxing me an estimate in the morning. Their shop rates are within $2.50 of each other, so that's not really a factor.

The Ugly

What all this means is that, if we go with S & S, we have to cross our fingers that Odyssey will make it over the Rocky Mountains in our current low-compression mode. If we push her too hard, we could end up smoking the bearings or seizing a piston -- not good. If we go with Pedco, we need to make a U-turn here at Zion, and head 430 miles in the exact opposite direction, to the LA area. I hate retracing my steps, and, worse, it puts us that much further from the sweet spot for any Red Cross deployment. Oh, and, in either case, we will have to delay our deployment availability until this is fixed.

We'll make a decision in the morning, before we break camp at 11:00. At the moment, we are leaning towards Pedco, because they did a great job last time, were friendly, and treated us really well while we were in the shop. Also, it's mostly downhill from here, whereas we'll need to make another 6,000' climb over the Rockies if we go east.

1 comment:

  1. Gracious.... yer drivin' a 2-stroke diesel engine BUS!?!?!?!?!?! Yowsa. I didn't know they make 2-strokers that large. :-)


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