The exterior is painted, the rear "window" painted and sealed, all the other windows re-installed with proper seals as well as the front door. Repairs to the plumbing from last winter's brutal cold are completed. We are ready for our second expedition West. We're leaving later this year and staying longer. A ten day window of warm weather, like 60's and 70's in January in the Prairie States! We plan on staying in California for three months, then head slowly home; stopping in Yellowstone to see the spring gathering of elk, bison, and wolves.
We left Thursday, January 22nd. The plan was to drive six to seven hours a day and take a week or so the cover the 2306 miles from Augusta, MI to Half Moon Bay, CA.
As Teri often says, "We don't go on trips or vacations, we go on adventures." Day one was uneventful. We drove from Augusta to Davenport, Iowa (313 mi. - 6 hrs.). Weird punctuation huh? Up early at 8:00 am sharp we were on the road by 9:00. We drove for six hours in Iowa and made it into Lincoln Nebraaaaaaaaaska and called it a day (356 mi. - 7 hrs.). Weird punctuation huh? Up at 7:00 am because we were still on Michigan time. We drove from Lincoln to North Platte. Only 250 mi. Still in Nebraaaaaaaaaska. Here is one of the more scenic sections of Nebraaaaaaaaaska. And another one with a car going down the road!
We finally escaped the "N" state, and on to Wyoming! Well as far as Cheyenne, that is. Began having several electrical issues. The "Engine ON" switch failed. The relay was working, so I connected the wires to a different switch and all was well - for awhile. Next I noticed the temp gauge was about 10 degrees above normal and on long uphill grades it would move even higher. These old Detroit Diesels don't like temperatures above 180*F. Why don't they have a degree key on the keypad? I use it a lot and it's not always possible to plug in a "special character". As if the degree symbol was a special character. So I just use the asterisk. It's close enough for me so get used to it. Anyway, I went back to the engine bay and poked around, Come to find out, two of my four cooling fans weren't running. Further investigation revealed that the thermostat circuit boards were fried. I mean all burnt up. SO... Off with the engine bay door. I cut the wiring to all the circuit boards and ran hot wires directly to each fan. I had inline fuses for each, so I just pulled the fuses whenever we stopped. I'll rewire the whole thing when we get to California.
The next leg of our adventure was from Cheyenne to Rock Springs, Wyoming - 305 mi. We had a series of incidents here. First, the alternator died. I'm driving along checking my gauges regularly, when I notice ZERO Volts on the gauge! We pull of at the next exit and right into a truck repair shop. There is no one ahead of us, so we pull into the garage. The alternator is toast and it's way hotter than toast! The mechanic looks at the alternator (probably a circa 1980's) and kinda shakes his head. "Only seen one of these [Detroit 671] engines before. I'll bet parts are hard to find." This puts me in a not very optimistic mood. He puts on gloves and removes the HOT alternator, puts it on the bench, goes over to his "alternator shelf" which has about five alternators on it, and grabs box. He opens the box and takes out a 160 amp, perfect fit alternator. He swaps pulleys, bolts it in and attaches the two wires. I give him a lot of money, hit the START button, and see 13+ volts on my gauge. Forty five minutes and we're back on the road with a 50 amp bigger alternator.
As we're approaching Rock Springs, Teri says "Shouldn't we stop for fuel?" I say "We should have plenty, but we'll stop soon and top it off." These old buses don't have fuel gauges. Guess what comes next? Go ahead - guess. Mike Mike Mike Mike guess what comes next? Yup, we run outta fuel. This is not a good thing and it's even worse with a diesel engine. Sometimes getting it started again can be a real project. I call road service and a half hour later a guy shows up with 20 gallons of fuel. I open the engine bay and remove both fuel filters. They're both empty - not good. If the fuel line is empty too, it's going to be a project getting it started. I filled both filters with fuel and screwed them back on. We poured the rest of the 20 gal. in the tank. I get in and push the start button and... nothing. Dead battery. I should say batteries, since the bus has two 8D (125 pounds apiece) batteries. The road service guy is well prepared. He has an on-board, gas powered DC generator! We jump it and it fires right up. I thank him profusely, and pay him a lot of money. Then I say, "do you have any 8D's back at the shop. He calls the shop and they say they can have them by 8:30 am. So, we find an RV park and stay the night.
Next morning the batteries arrive at 11:00 am on the dot. We have been parked at the truck shop since 8:00. I go to move the bus. Batteries totally dead. We swap them out. The originals are ancient. I fire up the old 671 again. Everything is AOK. I give them more money and we're off again. After a hundred miles or so, I notice the engine is staying a lot cooler. Then it hits me. Electric fans, dying alternator, ancient batteries, low amperage output, slow running fans. Funny how bad things turn out good sometimes. Wyoming into Utah, past Park City. It does not look like a good year for that famous Utah powder. No snow along the highway and it looks like most of the snow on the slopes is man-made. Down through Salt Lake City and out onto 100 miles of perfectly straight and perfectly flat Interstate. In the winter the west end of the salt flats flood with about three inches of water creating perfect reflections of the horizon.
We stayed in Wendover, Nevada that
night. When we registered the clerk was all amazed because we had stayed at the same place exactly one year ago on our way home.