Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Closing the loop

We are once again at the Route 66 Casino (map) west of Albuquerque, New Mexico, a little over a month after we spent four days here with a broken turbocharger. In that month, the temperature has dropped 30 degrees; when we left it was 105°, and when we pulled in this afternoon it was 75°.

This morning found us at the Wal-Mart in Gallup, NM (map), after an uneventful and pleasant drive yesterday from our dusty digs on the outskirts of Flagstaff. The hardy valve cap seems to have completely cured the air loss from the right tag, and ought to hold now until I can replace the valve core in the next day or two. The compressor jury-rig also did quite well.

We knew Gallup would be pleasantly cool, and we needed supplies at Wal-Mart anyway. It turned out that there was also a Home Depot right next door, which would be perfect for getting the air system back together and buttoned up. We had a nice dinner at Applebees across the parking lot, and we also walked over to the dollar store for reading glasses -- I'm very hard on my glasses, and I go through them just as fast if I pay $10 or $1, so I pretty much stick to the dollar store for reading glasses these days. A perfect place to stop for the night and get some errands done.

This morning I hoofed over to the Home Depot, nominally to pick up an air chuck for the external bus air connection. During the tire air-up fiasco, we had tried to plug the air hose into this fitting once the compressor failed, hoping to use Odyssey's on-board air pressure to fill the tire. Unfortunately, the chuck had pretty much corroded stuck since the last time we had to use it (three years ago? four?), and my efforts to free it up with liberal amounts of WD-40 and a pair of Robogrips were successful only to a small degree. Fresh brass universal chucks are $3 at HD, and I decided to just bite the bullet and replace it.

While I was rummaging around in the air compressor accessory aisle, I ran into a 0-125 psi regulator, complete with gauge (which I don't need) for $21, and even though I had already decided to just keep the one that I had jury-rigged and hack the front panel to accomodate it, this one was much closer dimensionally to the one that failed, and 125 psi to boot, and the price was right, even if it was a cheap-o Huffy model (one notch higher than Campbell-Hausfield, or maybe lower depending on whom you ask).

And so it was that I ended up spending most of the afternoon right there in the Wal-Mart lot wrapping up the compressor project. Since the jury-rig was working fine, I had intended to put this off a day or two, but having bought parts at HD I wanted to get them in to make sure they fit and worked properly. The Huffy regulator was not a drop-in replacement, but it was close enough that I only needed to enlarge and elongate the three holes in the front panel slightly with my handy Dremel tool, then ease some of the plastic where the regulator pokes through. Once the fittings were mounted up and the plastic retaining nut threaded back over the regulator, you can't even tell the panel has been modified, and the compressor is back together and sturdy as ever. Now have a spare 0-160 psi air gauge in my parts box, and we can once again use the compressor to air up our tires.

Between getting a late start to the morning, having lost an hour when we crossed the Arizona border (Arizona does not observe DST), and spending three hours on the compressor, we did not roll out of Gallup until past 3:00, so we set our sights here, where we knew we could get a decent meal at a good price, and a quiet spot to park, just a couple hours from Gallup. We did divert off I-40 for 25 miles, though, to loop through the Acoma nation and see the Sky City Pueblo. We spent about an hour there, exploring the museum and taking in the surroundings, but we had missed the last guided tour to the mesa itself by about half an hour. Still, we very much enjoyed our visit.

Photo by puroticorico, used under a Creative Commons license.

We are now fairly well positioned for any forthcoming disaster relief work. We can easily be anywhere in the eastern seaboard hurricane belt within three days, and we'll have at least that much warning for anything that might develop in the Atlantic. We're a day or two from anywhere in the Gulf coast. We're also still in striking distance of any western wildfire-related activity.

A more ideal location would be Amarillo, Texas, another 300 miles east. However, temperatures there (and anyplace further east or south) are still higher than our comfortable boondocking threshold. So we will probably not head much further east than Albuquerque, just half an hour from here, or maybe Clines Corners, the last hillcrest before the plains. It's all downhill from there, and we prefer to remain at the higher elevations until we have some sense we will be needed elsewhere.

It's possible we might stay another night here at Route 66, but then we will need water, and Albuquerque will be in order. That will be a good place for me to tackle the project backlog, which has been at a standstill due to my computer failure as well as these other things that keep cropping up, such as the tires and the compressor.

Speaking of the computer failure, I was able to get full Windows to boot finally by replacing a few more corrupt files. It still kept hanging until I turned paging off -- even the page file is having problems. Once I could boot, I was able to run diagnostics on the disk, which promptly failed, so it looks like the drive is bad. Before I can take the next step of either trying to correct the problems with the manufacturer-supplied software, or replacing the drive (it's under warranty till 2014), I need to first get all the data off it. To continue working until the drive is fixed or replaced, I will need to move the operating system as well, from that drive to this one. With only two extra drives to work with, and all three drives already full of "stuff," this is a little like the puzzle the Towers of Hanoi. I suspect it will take me several more days to get to the point where the drive can be returned.


  1. I don't see why you don't sell that break down machine that can't go up hills and can't be driven into most driveways and get a luxury fifth wheel and new diesel dually pickup.

    You might be able to spend some time not having to repair stuff every day.

  2. Gosh, you're right, Anonymous. We haven't had any time at all to drive the 20,000+ miles we do every year, or visit our families, or see many of the USA's great National Parks, or do our Red Cross work. Oh, wait, we have done those things. Hmm.

    I agree that having fewer repairs to do would leave us a lot more time to make snarky comments on blogs.

    Why exactly do you read our site? Surely it can't be ONLY for the schadenfreude? :-)

    In all seriousness, if you don't know why we chose a bus, please read Why We Do This.

    The details of what we do the rest of the day, such as surfing the internet, laundry, grocery shopping, and walking the dog don't need too much explanation. Many of our readers have expressed interest in HOW we repair the sorts of typical RV/engine problems that crop up for everyone. So, we write about that.

    If you think a newer rig precludes things breaking, I'd love to visit you on your planet. It sounds very nice there!

  3. Meanwhile, I really appreciate all of the repair details! Yes, Sean: I - and others - really do pay attention to the repair stories. Thanks for sharing not only what you've done, but the logic behind how you solve problems that crop up. Your lifestyle makes some unusual demands on equipment that many people would only use a few weeks a year. Those who dream of full-timing someday (like myself) find the realistic issues to be very helpful!


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