We spent an anxious week waiting for the verdict from Colony Ford in Warwick, RI. Was Mo fixable? The mechanics there weren't so sure about working on a carburetor, but luckily, it seems it was an electrical problem after all. In fact, according to Wayne, the mechanic, it was probably never a vapor lock issue!
The battery was dead when I left Mo, but they charged it up and tried to start it. It didn't work. So, they checked and discovered there was no sparking going on. (Disclaimer: some of my technical terms may not be so accurate--I'm a bible scholar, not a mechanic
After some more electrical troubleshooting, and two road trips, they were pretty satisfied that it was our ignition module all along. When I spoke to Wayne on Thursday morning, he was very nice about explaining to me what the module did, and how it worked. I asked him about our previous symptoms from the past year (the engine stopping, and the backfiring noise), and he explained why and how those symptoms were equally consistent with a dying ignition module. So, it seemed that I could now make definite plans to go retrieve Mo.
At 5:30 a.m. on Friday (Sept 4), my sister Aimee and I left home and drove up I-95 to Colony Ford in the small, uncomfortable rental car. Our trip up was uneventful; we stopped for gas (my first time filling a gas tank in a VERY long time, since NJ doesn't allow drivers to fill their own tanks, and Joe always takes care of Mo when we are on the road.) We swung by Colony Ford, and they tallied up my bill while we took the rental back to Enterprise. Then we were given a lift back to Colony Ford.
30 minutes or so later, we were on our way home. We first plotted out a route which would totally avoid I-95; I was worrying and literally losing sleep all week imagining the Labor Day weekend traffic we could run into both on that road and then crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge. But we found some very good back roads, and a lot of expressways, and Aimee expertly guided me while I drove. Mo collected a Connecticut sticker for our state map. We were quite happy and made great progress. We even stopped for gas, and I filled Mo for the first time.
About 4 pm we were headed down I-684 near Mt. Kisco, NY, when I got the idea that our 1/3 full gas tank might not be enough to get us home. I envisioned sitting in traffic approaching the bridge as the holiday weekend really got started. So, we left the interstate and went into Mt. Kisco, where we located a small gas station cum convenience store which had enough room for Mo to fit by the pumps. I got out, noted the (expensive) price of regular gas on the pump near the cab, then walked to the back of Mo and used the pump next to the one I'd just looked at. For some reason, the dispenser didn't seem to want to work; and after it turned itself off 3 times and I had about 6.5 gallons of gas, I figured that would be more than sufficient for the rest of the trip. I hung up the nozzle and then suddenly realized to my shock and horror, the pump was a diesel pump; Mo takes regular gasoline.
I started shaking and rushed to Aimee and said, "Oh no! I did something really terrible. OH NO!!!!!" She was already reaching for her cell phone when I said, "Call Joe! CALL JOE!!!", and then followed an insane series of simultaneous phone calls between me, Joe, the Good Sam Service line, and Aimee, punctuated by conversations with the service station across the street, and the Pakistani guys who worked in the convenience store, who pushed Mo away from the gas tanks to the edge of the lot. Thank God, I had not so much as put the key in the ignition--Joe's first words were, "Don't start the engine!!!!!!!!! It can ruin the engine!!!!!!!!" Thank heavens my sister was there to keep me from literally passing out, I was so beside myself with panic.
To make a very long and upsetting story short, we finally got the name of a mechanic and tow service in Brewster, 18 miles away. A wonderful guy named Craig came an hour later to pump out the gas tank for us. As is always the case, it was much more problematic than it should have been, and luckily Craig was the kind of guy who really knew what he was doing. So when the first 3 things he tried didn't work, he rigged up an alternative hose to an alternative pump he had in his trunk, and after 3 hours, Mo's tank was completely emptied of the bad gas. Craig then pulled Mo backward, back to the pumps, and we filled the tank with 30 gallons (more than I'd ever seen us put in before, so I know it was REALLY empty!) of the correct gasoline.
All's well that ends well, I guess, but I never could have gotten through without Aimee's help. She kept a cool head through it all, and constantly comforted me and ran back and forth into the convenience store to get me cold water and anything else she thought would help. The Pakistani man who was working until about 6 was so concerned about me that he actually sent her out with some warm pita and some kind of really good Turkish-type salad (I couldn't eat much, but had enough to realize it was good!) Throughout our other breakdowns, I have always been calm and philosophical, but this time I really lost it--I suppose it was because it was my fault for being stupid, and my lack of reserves after a stressful week of worrying about getting Mo home safely. I'm just glad I had her there--the best sister in the world!!!!!!!!
After that, things went smoothly. I felt so much better by the time Craig departed that I was able to make Aimee and me sandwiches (we hadn't had much to eat since 5:30 a.m., other than a very light lunch) before we hit the road home at about 9:00 pm. The late hour, of course, solved the worry about the traffic;, there wasn't much anywhere, and we were home two hours later, exhausted and drained, but with a repaired RV full of clean gas in a clean engine. Mo is now safely parked in front of the house.... and our summer of 2009 trip is finally, officially over. And if I never leave New Jersey again, I will never have to pump gas again, either.