Wednesday, December 5, 2007

So We're Off to Shreveport

I had a few service chores to do on the bus today, the things that I'm supposed to check monthly or weekly. It's not too bad a deal but "a maintained coach is a happy coach" I've been told.

A few weeks ago we lost the chrome exhaust pipe extension that sticks out the back of the bus -- it just fell off on our way from Georgia to Alabama. It's not a critical component that prevents us from driving, but it does deflect the exhaust down and off to the side. Diesel exhaust can be a little sooty and the extension helps keep the back of the bus and the toad a bit cleaner.

After realizing it was gone, I called Spartan (the maker of our chassis) and they were very responsive and concerned about my issue. They immediately sent a new extension via next day express which we received while we were at Trace State Park near Tupelo. The same day, I got my old working duds on, my wrenches out, and proceeded to stick that thing on where it belonged. I was a little concerned, however, that the bracket that holds the thing on was a might small -- after all, the first one came off for some reason and it was probably shaken loose from this small-ish bracket by all the jarring and bouncing we endured on some of those fine Interstate Highways during the past 6 months.

After talking with Spartan about this issue, I came up with a fix... a way to secure the extension to the bracket and the bracket to the main exhaust pipe from the engine -- two heavy metal screws that are inserted into holes I drilled through the pipes and the bracket. I was able to finish this job today. I don't think I'll be loosing this shiny new extension anytime soon.

But while under the bus, I noticed a small puddle of something that was leaking from our bus. During the past couple months or so, I've had to add engine coolant -- not much, maybe a pint or so -- every other move. Hoping the system was simply adjusting and filling all the nooks and crannies in those long 40 foot heater hoses that run up from the engine to the front heater, I just added when I needed to, and hoped it would stop needing more at some point.

That puddle under the bus today was coolant and it appears to be coming from one of those long heater hoses where they run over the rear drive axle. The good news is that I think we've found the leak. The other good news is that if it's a heater hose, it should be a relatively easy fix, although not one I'm going to attempt. The bad news is that we're going to Shreveport tomorrow where there's a Spartan Chassis service location. It's not that I have anything against Shreveport, mind you, we had a different route planned. The customer service people at Spartan have been excellent. I feel like they're concerned and will see this through until it's corrected.

The best scenario is that we get to the Shreveport service location and they can squeeze us in tomorrow afternoon, identify the problem, and fix it before they close at 5pm. The next-best scenario is that they won't get us in until Friday morning, but they're able to get us back on the road by noon or so. In that case, we could still make Livingston Texas before nightfall. The third-best scenario means we may have to spend the weekend in Shreveport.

I'll try to get an update on the blog tomorrow sometime. If I can't for some reason, it'll be Friday.

T