Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Two on the Isle

We are back at the Isle Pompano Casino and Racing (hi, Elissa!) in Pompano Beach, Florida (map).

Yesterday we rolled up to Southeast Truck Specialists, also in Pompano Beach, right at our appointed time of noon. After ten minutes of noodling over the alignment specs I brought with me, which included three different axle models, technician Pete rolled us into the shop and got started.

This shop has a fancy shake-table type device mounted astride the pit, which puts lateral stresses on the running gear while the tech can watch from below. That's the first time Odyssey's been on such a contraption, and it looks to be a great tool. The good news is that none of the suspension parts appears to have excess play. The play I am now noticing in the wheel is in the steering box itself, but Pete felt it was not excessive. If it gets to the point where I am uncomfortable with it, the only remedy will be to rebuild the steering box, a ZF-built Mercedes-spec item whose parts will have to come from Germany.

Inexplicably, the alignment was off. I'm a bit annoyed, since we just had the alignment done, to the tune of half a bill or so, 15,000 miles ago at Los Angeles Freightliner. Both camber and toe were off slightly on the steer axle (and one side of the suspension was high, so I need to recalibrate my leveler control), and toe was out significantly on the tag, which may account for the rapid inside shoulder wear we had on the last set of tires there. I'm glad we decided to get it checked.

I'm not sure why I didn't think to ask when I called to make the appointment, but while I was in the shop I noticed they do lube, oil, and filter changes as well, and I asked them to just take care of it. Unsurprisingly, they don't carry 40-weight, and I had to pay an upcharge to their standard LOF pricing for them to run out and pick up nine gallons of Rotella. Even so, the total bill was probably less than what Atlantic next door would have charged me, and we didn't have to go back out this morning to get it done.

The extra service had us in the shop longer than planned, and it was nearly 5 by the time we rolled out. Fortunately, the casino was only a couple miles away, and we were squared away before wine o'clock. There are two other coaches in the lot here, along with a number of semis, but we found a nice spot off by ourselves.

We wandered over to the casino for dinner, but had to settle for the short-order Trackside Grill, as Farraday's Steakhouse was closed and neither of us wanted to graze the buffet. The grill occupies what once was an Italian restaurant and wine bar, which we're sorry to have missed, as burgers served on Styrofoam and wine from plastic cups was not the experience for which we had hoped. Still, the burgers were tasty and it was convenient. We made up for it tonight, though, with the excellent prix fixe menu at the steakhouse, available until 7pm.

I spent most of today collating and organizing maintenance records for the bus. After yesterday's engine maintenance, I realized that I really had only a vague sense for when transmission filters and fluid, or coolant replacement were due. As it turns out, we'll need a tranny filter in another 5,000 miles, and the coolant is probably overdue based on time (we're a long way from the recommended 300,000 mile replacement). We've got another 55,000 miles before the fancy synthetic tranny fluid needs to be changed. Nothing further needs to be done before we leave Florida, though.

Tomorrow we're going to ride the scooters down to Bahia Mar and check out the parking situation. And Friday morning we'll drive the bus down there for Trawler Fest.

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