Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Heading South on I-95

February 16, 2008

Well, we are “On the Road” again! During the fall, we only had Mo out twice, as I recall—once for a weekend in October, when we went to a state park in Delaware; and once overnight at Newark to take in the Deltones Winter Concert. Since then, we’ve been winterized and waiting.

Finally, though, our February vacation has arrived. Our plans are vague at this point, except for the start. We left home last night around 7 pm (yes, a later start than planned) and arrived in Newark, DE at 10 PM. We had to come in this direction in order to see Beth and deliver a few items which she left at home when she was last visiting us. We went out with her and JP for a late-night snack, and then spent the night in the local Cracker Barrel parking lot. This is really a good place to spend the night—better than our previous spot in the Pathmark lot—because #1, Cracker Barrel actually has designated RV spots. But second, it is off the highway and tucked away, and so it is very quiet all night. Cracker Barrel opens around 6 a.m., I think—and we had breakfast there before heading south on I-95.

Our designated stop for the night was Lois and Howie’s house in Greensboro, NC. We were rolling along quite happily when suddenly, our engine cut out on us. This was EXACTLY what happened when we were in Oklahoma last September—no warning, just the loss of power. We pulled over to the shoulder, experienced the same symptoms as September—i.e. good engine cranking but no catching, followed by backfiring. As Joe did his trouble-shooting, a highway safety patrol came up behind us, and helped Joe determine that it wasn’t the fuel pump and wasn’t the electric system and wasn’t the starter… leading once again to a diagnosis that it was the carburetor yet again. (Last Sept. we thought it was a problem with a hose, which Joe fixed with tape, and then the truck started right up…. But this time there didn’t seem to be any holes in any hoses.)

We called Good Sam, very depressed, and then, just like in September, Joe tried the engine again, and this time it turned over. We cancelled the roadside mechanic who was supposedly going to arrive “in under 90 minutes”, and drove 2 miles down the road to a rest stop. Joey checked a few more things, but once again the problem seemed mysteriously to have cured itself, and we proceeded on our way.

At our next gasoline stop, we purchased a bottle of gasoline treatment, and also one of carburetor treatment. I don’t know which of these Joe used, but whatever…. We had the same problem about an hour after we refueled: loss of power, backfiring, and the engine turned over but wouldn’t catch. This time we were getting very suspicious of this whole problem, and we simply sat at the side of the road for 5 minutes without checking ANYTHING in the engine. After 5 minutes, the engine turned over, caught, and we were on our way again.

We decided that we’ve now had this problem four times: once in Nevada (our mysterious loss of power the day we left Yosemite….we don’t remember backfiring that time, but the truck did “cure itself” after sitting for a bit), Oklahoma (where we thought the problem was the air hose), and twice today. Every time, the symptoms were the same. Joe has now decided we have an “intermittent carburetor problem”, and that if we don’t mess around trying to start it, and flooding the engine in the process, it simply cures itself in 5 minutes. We arrived in Greensboro at 7 pm, without any further incident.

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