Thursday, December 20, 2007

Steering conundrum solved

We are still at Red Cross headquarters in Beaverton. Latest word is that we will be here until the 29th, although I am hopeful we might actually wrap everything up by this weekend, with only the final shipping still to do on the 26th.

On recommendation from local fellow bus-nut Mark Renner, we called Raz Transportation, the local Coach USA franchise, who agreed to work on us as the time around the holiday is a slow one for them. So today we took a couple hours off and drove the ten miles (which equates to 45 minutes in Portland area traffic) to their shop so they could look at the pump to know what to order. Their 16,000lb column lifts were too smart to want to lift 17,000+lbs each on our drive axle (it was a four-lift set -- no lifts for the tags), so they could only get us up to the top of the tag suspension travel, but it was enough to squeeze under there for a look.

They thought the pump looked like the same Vickers model that MCI used on their 8V92-powered coaches, and so they ordered us a brand new pump from MCI on their super-duper discounted parts contract. $240 will get us a new pump, which is about what we'd spend to rebuild the old one, and this way, we won't have to wait around with no pump while it's out for rebuilding. The new pump should arrive just about when we wrap up with the Red Cross. Installing it will involve a very small technician climbing down the hatch below the bed, combined with their older 15,000lb column lifts that are not smart enough to refuse to lift our full weight. We'll also dump our waste tanks and all our fresh water first, which will knock close to a ton off the drive axle weight.

In other news, it has been nothing but constant rain here for several days, and it looks like it will continue for the foreseeable future. Temperatures have been in the 40's during the day, and hovering just above freezing at night. With all the leaks, including some that had gone away after the last sealing party but have since returned, it has been a very soggy experience. When we returned this afternoon from Raz, we decided to pull Odyssey into the enclosed loading dock here, and get it out of the rain. In addition to drier, this will also keep us a bit warmer (good thing, since running the Webasto in here is out of the question, so we are relying on just our electric heaters), and we were able to drop 50' out of our 10-gauge power cord, so our voltage is also up a bit.

The downside to this is that our satellite dish is off-line. Now that the equipment is back from the field sites, though, we were able to borrow a broadband wireless card to get on-line. It is working amazingly well considering I am inside the bus, which is inside an enclosed loading dock. Oddly, the one we have set up in the lobby of the building for other volunteers to check personal email (actually, it's the same card -- we don't dare leave it in the lobby overnight for fear it will walk off) suffers from marginal signal quality and periodic drop-outs. I can only guess the closest cell tower is on the loading dock side, which is opposite the lobby side.

We've managed to make reservations at a local eatery for Christmas dinner, and we're hoping to have enough time off over the weekend to drive around and look at some holiday lights.

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