Friday, November 7, 2008

A short diversion through Jackson

We are at LeFleur's Bluff state park, in Jackson, Mississippi (map). Because we are under the trees and can not get on line, I am drafting this post to upload later.

We had hardly pulled out of our space this morning at Rocky Springs when the low coolant alarm started sounding. I knew this was coming, so we had purchased a gallon of antifreeze and a gallon of distilled water at Wal-Mart Wednesday morning. We pulled over near the campground entrance and put both gallons into the recovery tank -- there's room for another gallon or so in there, but this would get us going.

The reason I knew this was coming is that we've been noticing increasingly large puddles of coolant under the bus during the pre-drive walk-around inspections. It is seeping around a 20-year-old hose that connects the block to the transmission cooler. When the weather starts to turn cold, and temperatures drop through the night, the steel fittings shrink and the old hose won't shrink along with them -- at least, not enough.

We go through this every winter, and, no matter what we do, we can never stop all the coolant drips. It's a fact of bus life, at least with a Detroit 2-stroke. A couple years ago, we had several of the hoses replaced, as a precaution, and that helped some -- newer hoses are more pliable, and tend to follow the expansion and contraction of the engine fittings a little better. The hose currently in question, though, is very short, and difficult to reach.

In any event, the leakage is bad enough now, and the hose looks swollen and tired enough, that we've decided to try to find someone to replace it. There is a Detroit dealer just a bit south of Jackson, in the suburb of Richland, but he can't fit us in until Monday. We thought about just spending the weekend here -- the state fairgrounds near downtown also has RV spaces -- but we decided against it, so it looks like we'll be looking for a shop somewhere north of here, possibly all the way in Nashville.

We got the last space here at LeFleur's Bluff, and it's only available for one night (part of why we decided not to stick around waiting on the Detroit dealer). The park is quite nice, with the camp sites along an oxbow lake abandoned by the Pearl River. It's a short scooter ride over to nearby local dining institution Nick's, where we had a nice, if pricey, dinner. In the morning, we will fuel up, and head back onto the Natchez Trace.

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