Thursday, July 30, 2009

Our week for broken stuff

We are at the Santa Barbara Elks Lodge,
which is really in Goleta, California (map).

I did not post here yesterday for a good reason: our satellite Internet system crapped out sometime on Tuesday. It was working Monday evening when I deployed it in Quartzsite, however shortly afterwards I stowed it again because the RV park we were in included one day of WiFi access. When I deployed it Tuesday night, however, it found the satellite, but then would not go on-line. Troubleshooting yesterday with a technician at the other end indicates our transmitter is dead.

In any case, we bailed out of the Q first thing Tuesday morning, in order to drive mostly with the sun at our back. Before we hit the road, we turned on the downstairs air conditioner to pre-cool the cockpit while we still had 50 amps of power. When Louise turned it on, the compressor started right up and the discharge started to cool down. However, when I went downstairs a little while later, the discharge was warmer than ambient. Uh oh.

The compressor was still running, but I noticed the absence of the unmistakable scream of the outdoor condenser fan, which ought to have been running at that point. I am hoping that the whole problem with the unit is just that the fan is not running, which ought to be an easy fix. However, this meant that we'd be driving out of Quartzsite, with the temperature already well past the century mark, with no cockpit air conditioning. We also realized that the problem must have developed under way on Monday, which would explain the cockpit temperature eventually creeping up to 105° -- we had just chalked it up to the extreme outside temperature of 115° with full sun on the windshield.

Fortunately, the outside temperature dropped steadily once west of the Salton Sea, and was down into the 90s by the time we hit the outskirts of LA. We made our way to Santa Fe Springs, just a dozen miles or so out of our way, to have PEDCO look at the turbocharger. We've been seeping a teaspoon of oil every day around the mounting base, which tells me that the drain seal gasket got munged somehow during installation -- not surprising, since getting the thing into position involved lots of pushing and pulling and trying to get the exhaust pipe to stop exerting pressure on it. Unfortunately, the only way to deal with the drain seal is to take the whole turbo back off.

We knew the highs in Santa Fe Springs would be in the mid-80s -- plenty comfortable for us and the pets -- and PEDCO agreed to squeeze us in yesterday. So we arrived there Tuesday afternoon and got positioned in our familiar spot in the yard, where we would spend the night so that the engine and turbo would be stone cold in the morning when they started on it. Reader and fellow bus nut Tom noticed we were in town, and took us to dinner over at the Whittier Olive Garden, where we could stop at Home Depot on the way back to pick up some drop cloths -- the mechanic would be working in our bedroom to access the turbo.

PEDCO spent five hours getting the thing off and back on. Jim the mobile guy only spent three, but then again, he munged the gasket. PEDCO took more parts off in the process, and then cleaned everything up and changed the exhaust and blower adapter gaskets as well, this last item being one we had to re-use in Albuquerque because the dealer did not have one. We ended up rolling out of the shop around 1:30 or so (they started in our bedroom at a terribly uncivilized 7am). Sure enough, the drain seal had a big chunk missing.

We had hoped to stay last night at the Rincon Parkway, but the late start from the shop put us there at quarter to four -- way too late to snag a space. In addition to all the spaces being full, there were perhaps three rigs hovering and circling, delusionally hoping for a space to free up. We pressed on northwards, ending up here, where we have 50 amp power that, thankfully, we do not really need, and there are half a dozen restaurants in walking distance. We chose Outback for dinner last night.

After we arrived I immediately set to work on the satellite dish. As I mentioned, our transmitter appears to be dead, which can be either the modem or the Block UpConverter (BUC). I just happen to have a spare BUC from the infamous dish-destroying episode, and so swapping BUCs is the fastest and cheapest thing to try. If that doesn't work, I will have to RMA the modem, which will cost me $50, and however many days it takes to get one here from Virginia. So I spent an hour or so up on the roof changing out the BUC.

Unfortunately, the satellite happens to be behind a stand of trees from this spot, and so we were unable to test the setup once I got it back together. Later this morning, after we roll out of Goleta, we will give it a test. I have my fingers crossed, because I really don't want to go through the hassle of having to have parts sent to me at some random location in California. In the meantime, this post is coming to you courtesy of the Elks' WiFi, and, if my fix did not work, we will be checking email and tweeting from my BlackBerry until I can get a modem.

Tonight, we should be in Monterey.

Photo by mallix


  1. OMG you guys, I'm so sorry, hope the dish gets back up and running again soon. That bites. Good luck.

  2. We are hoping you fair well. are you going north up the coast? Michael And Christi


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