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Southeast (Gulf Coast), Texas, United States

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

First Trip of 2015–Two(2) Months On The Road

We began our first trip of the year on January 6, and don’t plan to return home until early March.  Using a bullet list (popular and convenient method of communication from my ‘working’ days), here are our original objectives:

1.  Attend Texas Bluebonnet Rally in Johnson City, TX

2.  Travel to Odessa to visit with Patsy’s cousin, Carol & hubby, Ron.

3.  Travel to Quartzsite, AZ for our annual visit to the desert and friends.

4.  Travel to Albuquerque, NM and spend a few days playing tourist.

5.  Travel to Little Rock to visit Daughter, SIL, and Granddaughter.

6.  Travel to Red Bay, AL (Tiffin Factory) for damage repair to Bus.

However, our plans changed along the way.  For a little background, Before the trip to NW Arkansas last Fall, we had been having engine problems with the Bus.  We had an appointment with the Cummins shop in Houston at the beginning of the trip, but they needed more time, so we left with an appointment on our return.

That may not have been a really good decision!!  On the way to Arkansas, we got a ‘stop engine’ light, and were stuck on the side of scenic HWY 7, and had to rely on a Mobil Mechanic to get us going again. Our roadside service found someone, and we were on the road again the next day.

We made it to NW Arkansas and took care of Rachel as planned and documented in the last post for 2014.  However, on the way back to Houston via Oklahoma, we got ‘stop engine’ lights again, and finally had to give up and get a Tow truck to take up into Dallas and the Dallas Cummins Shop……… a 65 mile tow job.  Lucky for us, we have a Roadside service plan with the Bus.

My Bus is built on a Spartan chassis has independent front suspension, which requires it to be loaded on a lo-boy trailer, or towed by the front wheels.  The latter type truck showed up, and along the way, the Bus began to bounce up and down in the front, and the front cap struck the tow beam.  Here’s a picture of the damage:


The last picture shows the damage, but does not show the bottom of the front cap fractured, and the generator slideout tray damaged to the point where it won’t slide!! 

I wanted it fixed at the factory, so we waited until after the holidays and the wintery month of January and made a reservation for Monday, February 9th.

I followed the tow truck in my car, with my dash cam installed on the windshield of the car.  As he turned into the Cummins shop, a dip at the driveway, allowed his boom to hit the driver’s side mirror, and it broke off…. causing more damage to the front cap!!


In the last picture, you can see the mirror with the connection broken off, and held only by the control wiring in the arm.  I was able to connect a temporary mirror to use for driving until the final repairs.  Our roadside service provider is making sure the the Tow Truck company that they sent out is taking care of the cost of repairs!

The Cummins shop had the Bus for a week before they got it ready for the road again.  This required a change-out of the wire loom from the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) sensors.  The DPF is somewhat comparable to the Catalytic Converter on a car….. not exactly, but good enough for this example!!!

After we picked it up, we were able to attend a Texas Bluebonnet Allegro rally in Marble Falls, TX, and then return the Bus to the Houston shop for other engine repairs.  It seemed to make the trip just fine!

The activity at the Houston shop was essentially a complete overhaul of the diesel engine.  It was major bucks, and I feel that it was necessitated by a poor checkout of the engine when I returned it to this shop in 2010 in response to a recall campaign.  We are still arguing about that!!!

Now back to the beginning of this posting.  As stated, we left home on January 6 and drove to Johnson City for the Allegro rally.  It seemed to run fine, but I noticed what seemed like a loss of power.  

We left the rally on Saturday to head toward Quartzsite via Odessa to visit Patsy’s cousin.   On the way to Odessa along the lonely part of I-10, we began to get ‘check engine’ lights, and then we also got lighted symbols on the dash that indicated that we needed to do some maintenance to the DPF!  Being Saturday, I called the Cummins Customer service phone number, and found out that I could not initiate the required fix…….. a Regeneration of the DPF.  They suggested that I go to the nearest Cummins shop, which happened to be in Odessa, TX!!

We limped into Odessa on Saturday night, with all kinds of warning alarms and lights on the dash!  We overnighted at a Wal-Mart, and spent some time visiting with Patsy’s cousin on Saturday night and Sunday.

During the weekend, we not only got to visit Ron and Carol, but also one of their sons, Brent and his wife, Nancy along with their daughter, Mckenna (maybe misspelled).  Here are some family pictures…..

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……….. and, of course, she was most happy with me!!!!!!!!!!!!1

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Most importantly, to my wife Patsy, was this picture, even without makeup.  It is the first breakfast prepared for her by a man….. Ron!


On Monday, we were at the Cummins shop before their 8:00am opening, and began negotiating for a spot in their schedule.  We were able to score on on Wednesday, first thing in the morning, but all the campgrounds did not rent sites on a daily basis because they were full with oil field people who were long term.  We had nightly temperatures in the low 20’s, but we were able to park and hook up at Ron’s house.

They had to overhaul the DPF which included completely cleaning it out, but they got us back on the road  by 2:00pm on Thursday.

We left Odessa at 2:15pm, and headed toward Quartzsite.

More in the next post………………….

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