Friday, February 8, 2008

That sinking feeling

We are at the Flying-J truck stop near Lebec, at the Frazier Mountain Park exit off I-5 (map). Ironically, this is the very same place where we stopped on our way north in December when the power steering quit.

I say ironically because we are, in fact, on our way to PEDCO in Santa Fe Springs to have the engine looked at yet again. I had called them a couple of days ago from Monterey to discuss the leaking oil, and the fact that I am seeing lots of smoke and feeling some power loss. Their schedule is a bit tight, but when I followed up again today they told us to come in tomorrow.

We had hoped to take a more leisurely gait, perhaps stopping in Los Banos where we have learned that friends have opened a restaurant, but getting the coach looked at is way more important, so we headed out and blasted south on 101, over 46, and then down I-5.

We needed fuel anyway, and so pulled in here not long after dark to take on 75 gallons or so. We try not to travel after dark if we can avoid it, and we certainly did not want to be hunting for parking after dark in the LA area, so we decided to just spend the night. We walked down the street to Rocky's restaurant and bar for dinner, which was surprisingly good.

It might be my overactive imagination, but, as the day progressed, it seemed to me like the smoke and power problems have been getting steadily worse. The last time (actually, two times) we had these exact symptoms -- heavy smoke, low power, high oil consumption, and oil coming out of the airbox drains -- it was due to worn rings and cylinders from dirt ingestion, requiring complete in-frame overhaul. I have a pit in my stomach now from projecting the same result this time around. I will say that at the last rebuild, a scant ten thousand or so miles ago, I asked them to triple-check the air induction system to ensure this would not happen a third time. That being said, I am worried that the ATF getting into the crankcase, which clearly took a toll on the bearings, might have also played a part here. In fact, I had even asked the guys at Ed Hardy Diesel to pop the airbox covers and look at the rings and liners when they did the bearing job, and they told me they looked fine.

We'll know soon enough -- I expect to be at PEDCO by noon tomorrow.

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