Good News And Bad News . . .

I got a call from Mike’s Auto Repair this morning telling me what they’d found our truck.

First off, the problem I’d been having with my rear brakes wasn’t my fault. I had replaced the rear pads, rotors and calipers last November so I was wondering if there might have been a problem with something I did. But as it turns out the problem was caused by a bad master cylinder.

And my transmission problem was caused by a leak in one of the transmission lines rubbing up against a flange by the catalytic converter.

And that’s the good news.

The bad news is that my A/C Freon leak seems to be coming from underneath the dash around the evaporator and header cores, and not under the hood. I had kind of figured this because I saw no signs of leakage on any part of that system. Normally with a fairly heavy leak like mine you’ll see some evidence of oily residue around the leak area. But I didn’t see anything like that.

And the reason that this is bad news is that it means the dash will have to be disassembled to get to the leak. Very time consuming and expensive. And by ‘expensive’, probably around $1000. OUCH!

Oh, well. it’s only money . . . a lot of money!  Sob!

I’ll be doing a WuFlu/HCQ roundup tomorrow night so stay tuned.

 


July 17, 2013

All Trains, All the Time . . .

First off, if you don’t like trains, this blog is probably not for you.

You’ve been warned.

 

About 11:30 this morning Jan and I headed about 30 miles south of here to the small town of North Freedom, WI to take a train ride and visit the Mid-Continent Railroad Museum there.

We were scheduled to take the 1pm train ride so we got there about 12:30 to have a chance to check out the trains and of course the gift shop before our ride.

The gift shop had this display of famous train ad posters. Don’t think they’d be able to do these today without a lot screams of protest. Too bad.

Mid-Continent Railroad 1

While Jan stayed in the air-conditioned station I spent some time walking about the train yard.

First I checked out our upcoming ride. I thought the engine looked kind of familiar, and after checking it out, discovered that this was a type of engine built for switcher use on military bases, so I know I saw them when I was doing DOD contract work.

Mid-Continent Railroad 2

This one was built in 1954, and rebuilt in 1986 with a new Cat engine.

Mid-Continent Railroad 3

 

They even have a number of unusual train building, including this early 1900’s crossing tower, used to control several crossing gates in an area.

Mid-Continent Railroad 4

 

This unique snowplow dates from 1912 and was in use as late as 1986. Although it required a locomotive to propel it, it had it’s own steam boiler system to power the rotary blade.

Mid-Continent Railroad 5

 

This is another unusual locomotive. It’s a 2-10-0 ‘Decapod’, built in 1928 by the Baldwin Locomotive Co, and was in use up until 1959. The longest and heaviest locomotive in the collection, it is schedule for rebuilding and refurbishing to running condition.

Mid-Continent Railroad 6

 

Built in 1884, this Baldwin 2-6-0 locomotive was rebuilt in 1904 and remained in commercial service until 1963. Bought by the museum, it was in service here until 1991. It too is scheduled for refurbishing.

Mid-Continent Railroad 7

 

Another unusual loco, this Shay has an offset boiler that allows the engineer a better view of the track in front of him without hanging his head out the window in the weather. But this means the boiler is smaller and the locomotive has less range. But since this was primarily a local switcher, it wasn’t a big problem.

Mid-Continent Railroad 8

The other unusual thing about this Shay is its drive mechanism. While most steam locomotives have steam cylinders on each side and the wheels on each side are driven separately.

800px-Steam_locomotive_running_gear

But this Shay has vertical steam cylinders that drive only the wheels on one side.

Mid-Continent Railroad 9

But since these are solid-axle wheels, these worm gear drives transmits power to both sides.

Mid-Continent Railroad 10

At 1 o’clock the conductor yelled “All Aboard” and we headed out in the Wisconsin countryside on our 14 mile, 55 minute ride. Arriving at the end of the line outside the remains of La Rue, a town that used to be the home to a large mining operation, we got off the train and while we were all feeding the mosquitos, our engine was switched to a siding and moved back to the now new front of the train for our trip back to the museum.

Mid-Continent Railroad 11

Now back on the main track, our engine couples back to our caboose and we headed back to the station.

Mid-Continent Railroad 12

Getting back,  I check out the rebuilt equipment housed in a large building across the street.

This beautiful example of a Great Northern caboose was built in 1925 and was in service until 1970.

Mid-Continent Railroad 13

 

This is a self-propelled passenger car built to run train routes that would be uneconomical for a larger train. Nicknamed “Doodlebugs”, these combined a power unit and a passenger/baggage area into one piece of equipment, and could also pull a couple of freight cars when necessary. Built in 1925, this unit served until the 1950’s.

Mid-Continent Railroad 14

 

This is another version of a snowplow. Built in 1906, and being pushed by one or more locomotives, it was especially effective in removing heavy snow drifts up to 16 feet in height. This one was last used in 1959.

Mid-Continent Railroad 15

Leaving the train museum we headed back to Wisconsin Dells. Based on online reviews, we planned on having an early dinner at Colotlan Mexican Restaurant, right in the heart of downtown Dells.

A small place with only about 15 tables and some counter stools, it’s a family place with Carlos, the father, and his wife and daughter running the place. Good chips, good salsa, and delicious food really make this place a find.

Jan had her favorite Chile Rellenos, and I had Bistec y Rajas y Queso, Steaks Chunks grilled with poblano peppers and covered in cheese. Very, very good.

Getting back home, and since we’re looking forward to the new Bruce Willis movie, RED2 coming out, we decided to watch our DVD copy of the original RED, which came out in 2010. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. It’s a great movie, really funny with a lot of action, and some really great characters.


Thought for the Day:

“When you have the facts, argue the facts. When you have the law, argue the law. When you have neither, shout.” – Lawyers’ adage

2 Responses to Good News And Bad News . . .

  1. Neil Laubenthal says:

    Greg…given the age and mileage on your truck…it might be time to consider either new or new to you (i.e. used) rather than fix… it you probably already thought Bout that since it sounds like you’re getting it fixed.

    • gregwhite says:

      Neil,

      I’ve certainly thought it, but I just can’t seem to make the numbers work.

      Our truck is a 2004 Dodge Dakota 4wd 4 door with 104,000 miles on it when we bought it, and came with a camper shell over the bed. It had been a T-Mobile supervisor’s truck and had had dealer servicing. It now has about 305,000 + 90,000 being towed behind the RV.

      We bought it at the end of 2007 for $13,000 cash. Then I spent about $1000 on the tow bar package for it.

      Now looking at the best rated used 2017 mid-size trucks, according to the 2017 Dinghy Guide, only the GMC Canyon can be towed 4 Down. And according to CarMax 2017 Canyon’s range from $27,000 to $36,000. And of course, I’d need a new base plate to tow it.

      So we would either have to take it out of savings or end up with a large monthly payment. And I don’t like monthly payments. When we started RVing, we paid everything off, and then paid cash for the truck and our Class A. So right now, we only have our monthly bills, and I’d really like to keep it that way if I could.

      Plus I can and do a lot of the work myself. If this had been an A/C leak under the hood, I could have probably fixed it myself.

      Now with the transmission rebuilt about 18 months ago, the only big ticket item left is the engine. Now as I mentioned in the blog before, for the last nine months, our V-8 engine has actually been a V-7. One of the cylinders is only showing about 25# of compression while the other seven are between 125 and 135. But it runs just fine, just down a little on acceleration and gas mileage. In fact we did a 1500 mile roundtrip back to Alabama in January and it ran just fine, with no problem holding 70-75 on the Interstate.

      So my thought at this point is to just keep driving it until the engine dies and then put a rebuilt engine into it for $5000-6000. Still a lot cheaper than $28,000 to $35,000 plus a new base plate.

      Greg

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