Thursday, August 23, 2012

Day 14:

Day 14: Norwood to Grand Junction
   Monday began early by packing up the car and heading over to mechanics for what I though would be a couple hour job. Mistake number one. I'd read through the procedures the night before but hadn't allowed enough time. I should have left the family at the house but instead we packed up and I dropped them off at the town park.
   When I got to the mechanics at 12 sharp I was basically ignored for no less than fifteen minutes. I'm a fairly patient guy but maybe I was off that day. I was frustrated. When I was finally acknowledged the mechanic (a very skilled guy) checked my parts to make sure they were right and sure enough the inner bearing races were the wrong part. I hadn't checked at the store when I bought them. Great, another set back time-wise and now he's thinking he can't fit the work in/doesn't want to and I get the feeling he doesn't want me 'hanging around' or trying to help as the work is done.
     I went and picked up the correct races but I was really hesitant about going back to the shop. I was put off to say the least, maybe even a little offended. To be fair, the mechanic had offered to let me break the hubs down to cut some of the cost and he was knowledgeable and he was not trying to rip me off. He was fair. But I still couldn't do it. So I did something shameful.
     I went back to the shop to retrieve the other parts and told him that I couldn't get the races in town (even though I had them in my possession). I should have told him the truth but I didn't really know what the truth was and I found it pretty hard to say, "I don't know exactly what's wrong here but I'm going to take my chances and find another solution even though I have no other solution." I could have said that, I guess, but I felt like an idiot and I didn't really want to offend this guy who really was going out of his way to help me and was being fair with his price.
    So, having turned away from someone who was willing to help me out/fix the problem, I wandered over to the only cafe in town, pulled out the laptop and put out a last-ditch distress call on, a dedicated Land Cruiser Internet Forum. The title was "Help in SoWest Colorado." I briefly explained my problem, where I was and what I needed. I tried to make it clear that I needed to the job myself due to budget constraints. Within minutes, literally, someone from Durango, three hours southeast, was on the phone with me, helping me diagnose and trying to find the tools I needed (54mm socket wrench, spring gauge, torque wrench) locally. Another hour and another guy in Grand Junction, Co had offered to let me use his tools and his garage for the night. I was amazed. I'd never met these guys; I'd never written them on the forum. And yet they, and their friends, jumped in to help us when we really needed it.
   Grand Junction was more on the way to Moab, UT, our next stop, so that's where we headed to meet Jon H.
We opted for small highways to take us in to G.J. for obvious reasons.
The views changing from mountains to canyon country were still impressive.

And worry over the vehicle kept us from frustration about deviating from our route.

And I was thrilled to have another option for doing the work but nervous as this was serious undertaking.
Somewhere in this area, outside of Gateway, Co, we overheated on a long climb. We never made it to the red but the coolant was boiling and spilling out of the expansion take and we had to wait an hour before attempting again to make the top of the climb and the descent into G.J. that would hopefully keep our engine cooler.
    I was really frustrated with these two problems that kept nagging at our progress (the cooling issue had been somewhat ongoing throughout the trip but became a real problem in the 100+ degree weather) and I was ready to turn around and head back home. Well, assuming we could fix the bearings! We made it into Grand Junction feeling pretty rotten but glad to be in a 'big' city where we could at least find parts and where we had a friend we'd never met.

At Jon's house I worked from 630 until 130am installing the new bearings. Jon had printed the Service Manual out for me and even stayed up until midnight helping/teaching me! What a hero. No pics of the work as it was dark and my hands were covered in thick grease the whole time.

Oh, I will note that when we put the truck up on stands and tested the vertical play of the wheels (there should be none) both sides had an alarming amount of play, worse than either of us had ever experienced first hand. Once we opened up the hub it was no surprise as whoever had previously owned the truck had done a hack job of torquing the bearings down leading to very premature failure.

Here I am with Jon, holding my new fan clutch which he took me to get at 8am before he went to work. You can also see his sweet 100 series Land Cruiser that he uses often in the mountains and the desert out there. I'm jealous of all the open spaces at his doorstep. The guys at Safari Limited hooked me up with a great deal on their last (and the last in Grand Junction) fan clutch (which would hopefully solve my cooling issues). I can't say enough good things about these guys. If either of them are ever on the east coast I owe them (more) beer!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Days 12, 13

Days 12, 13:
       After "surviving" the mountain passes we finally arrive at our first "destination" of the trip: the home of April and Kelvin. We visited them about 8 years ago while living for a short stint in Colorado. They are tons of fun! And April is an amazing cook! I will have to share some of her recipes. Again, when we have a lot of fun we forget to take photos. This was our third day at April and Kelvin's and we decided to take a 20 minute drive up to the reservoir for a picnic and swim. So much fun! Larkin and I napped in the shade while Jesse took Harper and Bailey on a raft ride.

Setting up the awning. At some point a big gust of wind came and blew it up and over the vehicle bending one of the corner rods. We tied it off after that. We learned the hard way - always tie your awning down even if there is no wind when you set up.

Lovin' those chubby cheeks and those precious lips!

Happy girl!!

Hanging out; just drinking a beer and wearing a cool, purple Hannah Montana life jacket. Nothin' wrong with that.

The only picture we took of them all weekend!

Their cool house! Totally off the grid. Rain water collection system for running water and solar array for power.
Their driveway.

Kelvin took Bailey into town to fill up the supplemental water tank. They primarily use rain water collection but with an extra 5 guests in town who were in desperate need of showers and laundry, needless to say they needed more water.

While there Kelvin predicted that Larkin would be walking by the end of the trip. I wasn't sure. He was right.
 Clean after showers; what a treat.

 Crying because I wanted her to come inside and rest (and give April some much needed alone time!), and not help April in the garden.

 Solar panels.

Kelvin working with his bees. We definitely want a hive when we get home.

 Watching from the sidelines. Cheering him on and asking lots of questions.

He was fascinated! We will be getting bees soon :)

 Fascinated as well.

Whilst having an amazing visit with April and Kelvin, I (jesse) was working out the car situation. Kelvin took me to his mechanic who was extremely knowledgeable (and knew it) and spent much of his time working on cars from Telluride locals. After driving the car he agreed that there was probably some wear/play on the front wheel bearings and that he could probably get my truck in the shop on Monday if I could find the parts. The labor was going to be expensive, very expensive for what I'm used to, almost prohibitively expensive. Having never taken my Cruiser to a mechanic I was unhappy but had my hands somewhat tied as I lacked the special tools and experience to do the job. At least, that's how I felt. It would also mean a delay and with all of our kids under a small roof we were feeling pressure (probably needlessly) to move on. We'd already broken half of the glasses they owned! Clumsy kids, I know. Uh, clumsy parents too. I broke at least one glass.
    So I bought the parts on Saturday and we settled in to wait until Monday when the mechanic could probably get it done. I was to show up at his shop at noon.