Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Truck Woes

Well the truck is certainly acting up in an expensive way. Just got it back from the shop for APU service, three new batteries, a three axle alignment and tire rotation only to have it break down within 1000' of leaving Trans Am's yard.
Yep, you read right. 1000' from Trans Am's yard and another 800' to the Freightliner dealer in the direction I was already heading to go pick up a load. The tow bill for an 800' tow? $300 smackers. And that's only the beginning.
After pulling out the driveway of the yard I pulled up to the stop light and just as the truck stopped I felt a particularly harsh shift into second gear (out of 10). Nothing particularly wrong with this as it has done it on occasion on rough roads at slow speeds during approach to a stop. Always has. Even the other two trucks before this one did it. It's an apparent glitch in the speed sensors and the gear speed sensors in the transmission computer algorithms. When various shaft speeds can't quite mesh the shifting mechanism very well, it falls back on a "best case" scenario. Ultimately it feels like it jams in to gear. But I digress.

When the light went green, I started out as I normally would in automatic shift mode. When it was supposed to shift, it didn't. I switch it to manual mode and an alarm sounded and bright red "F" was displayed on the gear selector display stating the transmission computer faild. When that happened, it wouldn't switch gears. "ECM 130" was now displayed on the main LCD panel where the mileage should be. And letting my foot off the accelerator to keep form over-revving the engine did nothing. The computer locked up and I was running flat out at about 4 miles an hour at 2200 RPM and it wouldn't come down. Once I got clear of the intersection, I pulled into the center lane to keep from blocking through lane traffic and switched off the ignition. No way around it. Once the engine speed died down, I switch the iginition on again and again the engine ran flat out to its RPM governor. Switching off the ignition again, I coasted to a stop. It's possible I could have gotten to Freightliner but with traffic, turning left into their driveway was unsafe. Road Assist was contacted and the company sent out a "Big Hook" to tow me 800' into Freightliner.

So we are not yet heading home and I'm losing money horribly. It would take a miracle to pay all the bills this month in time to say nothing of September's bills. This is getting very frustrating and I'm more and more thinking about getting out of the truck and back into an office.

A trip to remember

It's been a while since my last posting so I'll try to fill in the many blanks of time since then.
My last home-time was good. My Mom came out to visit, we celebrated my sister's birthday and I brought my daughter out with me in the truck for about 5 weeks. My daughter and I spent a couple of days running around in a rental car through the mountains of Colorful Colorado and showed her a few of the places I visited whilst growing up in the Boulder area.
The first day we had the car we spent a good deal of time in East Portal, CO watching, or rather waiting for trains to enter or exit the famous Moffat Tunnel. Upon returning to the truck, we discovered the APU failed and provided no A/C or was charging the batteries. Consequently, the batteries were pretty drained and the battery protector cut them out. But to no avail, the truck wouldn't start. Being tired and nearly 11 PM MDT, we got a room at a nearby motel.
After a good night's rest, we headed out, this time to Winter Park, CO and the west portal of the tunnel. To our surprise, an Amtrak train running 3hrs, 15min late was due so we waited for it. It did eventually come through. Interestingly, where I was standing was looking straight through the bore and I saw the head light far in advance of the train's exit. Pretty cool. I have some video I'll post later when I get it off the camcorder.
We ate lunch at the Cheeky Monk tavern and then headed toward Fall River Pass to the Trail Ridge Store near the top. My daughter was astounded at the views and marveled at the fact there is a distinct line where trees can't grow above on the mountains.
From there we continued on toward Estes Park, CO and took Bear Lake Rd. to where else? Bear Lake. This is one of my favorite places. We took the 2/3 mile walk around it and were just thrilled and awed with the views. The trail has been formerly made a prepared path. Too bad. I liked the rudimentary trail it once was. It felt as if you were further into the wilderness than you were. What a difference 25 years make.
After our visit, we headed down the mountain through Estes Park and found a motel on I-25 in Loveland, CO. After breakfast at Johnson's Corner we headed back to the truck and used the rental to charge the batteries until it could be started. That done, we went to a free tour the Denver Union Station Project had sponsored and got to learn about the history of the station, it's importance in transportation and commerce and what they are doing to revitalize that role today. Very interesting stuff. You can visit their website for information about the project at www.denverunionstation.org.
As I close, I'm now in a truck with a working APU, new batteries, brakes and a load to go pick up as my daughter and I enjoy a final few days together before school starts on the 23rd.