Friday, April 25, 2008

Wonder in Alice-land

We are at the Wal-Mart in Alice, Texas (map).

Yesterday morning we went for a long walk on the beach. We passed another three or four Men-of-War washed up on the beach (along with all manner of marine detritus), which convinced us to stay out of the water even though things were warming up a bit, but still we pretty much had decided to extend our stay on Padre Island by another night.

The pets had other ideas, as one of the cats peed on the bed in the course of the hour we were out walking. I'm pretty sure Louise would have throttled her if she could be sure which cat did the dastardly deed. But because the pee soaked not only the sheets, which are easily changed, but also the bedspread, mattress pad, blanket, and even the liner for our foam mattress-topper, the episode necessitated an immediate trip to the laundromat washateria.

Fortunately, we had not yet dropped another $8 in the iron ranger, and so we simply decided to end our visit to the park and head in to Corpus to find a suitable facility. After stripping the bed, we spent an hour getting Odyssey packed up (the deck was deployed and both scooters were out, along with our lawn chairs) and cleared out of the park just past noon.

Finding coin laundries that will work for us (or sometimes any at all) is always something of a challenge -- many are not listed in the phone book, or not listed in any category that you'd think to check. The small one on the island, right at the Mustang Island turn-off, could not accommodate Odyssey in the parking lot. The next one we tried, on the other side of the causeway, had suffered a break-in the previous night and was out of commission. Another possibility turned out to only be a dry cleaning service. Finally we found a small operation that worked, although it was a tight squeeze to get the bus squared away in their tiny lot.

After a couple hours, Louise had the bedding under control (and did the rest of the laundry to boot), and I had some long-overdue errands run at the Lowe's and a jewelry store nearby, and we headed to Stewart & Stevenson to see about the transmission.

It was pretty late in the day when we arrived, and, unsurprisingly, the transmission guys were tied up, but they agreed to get us in first thing in the morning. They directed us to a comfortable spot alongside the building and even hauled a 20-amp power cord out for us, plenty to run one air conditioner and keep the batteries topped off, so we just spent the night right there in their parking lot (map). I even ended up grilling a marinated flank steak there, which I think amused the last couple of techs to wander out of the shop after closing, and maybe the wrecker driver who dropped off a day cab later on.

I'll spare you the details, but the consensus of opinion after two different Allison techs spent a couple hours with it this morning is that the tranny does not have a hydraulic or mechanical problem. They did find a lot of goop in the harness connector on the transmission itself, and one possibility is that the crud was creating an intermittent electrical fault causing the code-12 errors. They cleaned the connector up, but also conceded that the fluid level, even though it is reading full, might be perhaps a quart low. They gave me a half-full jug of Transynd with the idea that I should put more in, one pint at a time, if the code comes back.

The other thing they did was to grab the serial and assembly numbers off the tranny and run the build out of the computer. That confirmed that we have the new-model stator springs in the torque converter -- an early concern in the diagnosis was that 748's with older model springs were prone to stator failures -- and also that our transmission has a fluid-level sensor, rather than a lube-pressure sensor (code 12 means either low fluid or low lube pressure, depending on which sensor was installed at build). They gave us the build print-out to file away.

It was just past 11 when we rolled out of the shop. They were very professional but also very kind, charging us only for two hours of labor and no parts. We tend to seek out these smaller Detroit/Allison distributors for precisely the reason that they always seem to have more time for us, and go out of their way to accommodate us --the power cord for our overnight digs being a case in point.

Before I turned in last night, it somehow came to my attention that the Texas International Boat Show opened today at the Corpus Christi Marina. Since we rolled out of the shop so early in the day, we decided to head downtown and take it in. Parking was convenient in the Coliseum lot just a few blocks from the pier, and we toured through all half dozen or so boats of the "trawler" genre that were in this show (out of 100 or more boats both in and out of the water). Not really the right show for us, but definitely convenient since we were already in town.

That put us on the road well into the afternoon, and this Wal-Mart was really the first decent stopping point west of the city. Not really the most comfortable stop, especially since temperatures pushing 90 had us running the A/C for several hours after we stopped, but between an early start at the Allison shop, and wandering around the boat show all afternoon, we were beat, and we really didn't want to chance not finding anything better in the next hour.

Tomorrow we will continue west on TX44 till it joins US59, which will take us all the way to Laredo.

1 comment:

  1. We have a problem with our poodle, Bubbles, leaking while asleep. I think it's holdover from her being spayed.

    Anyway, we bought a "Lightweight Three Dog Night Coverlet" (Item SI95C2-62) from Orvis, so we don't have to wash all the bedding following an "accident". It has worked great.


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