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 > Trip Report: Goin' Out Californee-Way, Part-3

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NRALIFR

Truck Camping Out West

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Joined: 11/27/2005

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Posted: 12/11/10 06:28am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Links to the first and second parts:

Trip Report: Goin' Out Californee-Way, Part-1

Trip Report: Goin' Out Californee-Way, Part-2

Sorry for the long delay in getting Part-3 posted. I had to give my mind a break after working on Part-2 for as long as I did, and my real job has been keeping me very busy. Too busy, in fact.

If you remember, Part-2 ended with the sound of scary music playing as we were headed toward Death Valley.

The Trip Home:

We leave Bishop, CA Monday afternoon after spending the morning at Eastern Sierra Motors Ford getting the fuel pump replaced in the truck. We head south out of town on 395, and turn off at Lone Pine toward Death Valley. The terrain had been pretty flat or downhill up to this point and the engine is running fine, but shortly after passing through Lone Pine, we go up a slight incline, and out of the corner of my eye I think I see the "Fuel Filter" light flicker. Grrrrrr.

What the.....???? I start paying closer attention to the light, and in a few miles we go up another incline. The the light comes on solid. I'm afraid at this point I momentarily lost my composure and began speaking in tongues. The air in the cab turned blue, and I had no idea what I was saying but it must have been bad. DW says "Dang, baby. Where did you learn such........mmmm.......interesting words???" Since the aliens had left my body by now, I just shrug and wonder what she's talking about. [emoticon]

The road flattens out again, and the light goes off. Rats!! Now what am I going to do? I consider turning around, but ................decide not to. I just hope I can baby the truck through Death Valley, and if we have to I'll stop in Las Vegas.

Death Valley is the contiguous US's largest National Park, and is everything the name implies. The harshest areas have a hellish beauty to them that are at once compelling, and clearly dangerous to the unprepared. Over the years, many have ventured into these Godforsaken lands seeking adventure, profit, or simply a route across to the gold fields of California, and have perished in the attempt. Today, the trip through Death Valley is not quite as risky, but travelers are still wise to pay attention to the heat and the effect it's having on your vehicle. Summer high temperatures commonly exceed 120 degrees, and the highest temperature ever recorded in the US (134 F) was in Death Valley. The October average min/max temperatures in DV are a pleasant 61 and 92.

Entering the park from the West on Hwy-190, the first valley you encounter is the Panamint. It runs north-south, parallel to Death Valley, but doesn't descend below about 1100 feet elevation. The airspace above the valley is primarily used by military aircraft from a handful of surrounding bases, and it's not uncommon to see them flying at incredibly low altitudes here.

The road into the Panamint Valley gives you some good views of the valley and the surroundings.

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Climbing out of the Panamint Valley on the other side, the road gets a lot more steep than I was even anticipating. I was taking it as easy with the truck as I could, but within a very short time the "Fuel Filter" light was on solid, and nothing I could do was having any effect. I knew running it like this for very long was not a good idea, as a mechanical pump of the type my engine has will slowly work itself to death drawing against the kind of restriction it apparently had. I was letting the speed get slower and slower, but the grade was just too steep to have much effect. Getting desperate and out of ideas, I switched the fuel tank selector to the front tank.........and the light went out! Whooohoooo! [emoticon] I was able to repeat this 2-3 more times on uphill grades, so I knew I had found the key.

Now I finally know what's going on! The crud I pumped into my tank must have created a restriction in the tank-selector valve, but only in the line from the rear tank. I should be able to manage this problem for the rest of the trip home by running off the front tank most of the time. The rear tank was nearly full however, so over the next several days whenever the truck was on flat or downhill grades I would switch back to the rear tank and by the time we got home I had run most of the 40 or so gallons out of it.

Being late in the afternoon, our destination is the campground at Stovepipe Wells Village. This is an interesting combination of a NPS campground that's essentially a 190 space dirt parking lot, and Xanterra Parks & Resorts concessions that consist of a hotel with swimming pool, general store, and a full hookups RV park. I believe there was a restaurant and gas and Diesel fuel available there as well. After spending the last 4 nights without hookups, it was time to take care of some necessary duties with the camper, so we chose to stay in one of the Xanterra sites. Death Valley is apparently a popular destination for European tourists, both by chartered bus tours and rental RV's. The number of foreign languages and accents I started hearing was sort of surprising.

After getting the camper set up, a couple from Great Britain in a rental class C pulled in next to us. I had noticed them pulling into the NPS area earlier and stop briefly before driving into the Xantera area. The man asked me what the cost per night was, and I told him it was about $30. He apparently found that to be unacceptable, even though I made sure he understood that price included water, sewer, and electric. And, lest he forget, that we were in Death Valley NP, and providing those utilities here is probably a costly undertaking. That apparently didn't phase him, as I soon noticed that he was driving out of the park, and continuing west on 190.

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This is the view from our RV site, across the NPS campsites, with the Cottonwood Mountains in the background.

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The cat seems bored with the place.

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The next day, we continued east on 190. There are actually a lot of cool things to do and see in Death Valley, and I plan to come back here some day when I can spend several days exploring places like Scotty's Castle, some of the old ghost towns, do some hiking, etc. One place I really want to see is called The Racetrack, or Racetrack Playa. It's a dry lake bed that's known for it's "sailing stones", a geological phenomenon unique to the Racetrack. The stones slowly move across the surface of the playa, leaving a track as they go, without human or animal intervention.

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What would Death Valley be without sand dunes? ..................Death Valley Without Sand Dunes, that's what. [emoticon]

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Of course, THE iconic image of Death Valley is the "Twenty Mule Team" associated with the borax mining industry, Borax was the "white gold of the desert", and was the most profitable mineral mined from the valley. Ironically, the most persistent image of the area was actually a very short-lived period of time. The mule teams pulled massive wagons hauling borax from the Harmony Borax Works near Furnace Creek to the railhead near Mojave, a grueling 165 mile, ten day trip across primitive roads. Although the teams only ran for six years--1883 to 1889--they have made an enduring impression of the Old West.

The area where the "cottonball" borax scraped off the nearby salt flats by Chinese laborers was refined and concentrated.

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The rear wheels on the wagons are 7 ft. tall. The wagons are originals, not replicas. They carried about 24 tons of Borax, and were built so sturdy they never broke down. The wheels broke, but the wagons themselves never did.

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The picture on this interpretive sign was taken from a spot just a few feet uphill from my picture above. The wooden building is sitting about where the wagons are in mine. The area in the background of the old picture is where the parking lot is now.

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Our next stop was the Furnace Creek Visitor Center, where we bought a few books, a T-shirt, a couple hats, and had a nice talk with a ranger who turned out to be from our part of the world in Arkansas. The visitor center is at 190 ft. below sea level, and about 10 miles south of the visitor station is the lowest elevation in the US at 282 ft. below sea level.

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Next door to the visitor center is an oasis, otherwise known as Furnace Creek. A tiny spot of green in a vast wasteland. Lodging, restaurants, conference center, golf course, and airport. Amazing.

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We moved on to our last stop in DVNP, Zabriskie Point. Zabriskie Point is named for Christian Zabriskie, vice-president and general manager of the Pacific Coast Borax Company in the early 20th century. It was the PCB Co. that first brought tourism to Death Valley when borax mining activity slowed by building the Furnace Creek Inn in 1927.

This is apparently a favorite spot for the tour buses, as there were 6 parked there when we pulled in. The doors opened and everyone piled out and walked en masse to the point. They all seemed to be Europeans. The view point was crowded, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. It was a little strange though, the only person I could understand was my wife!

They were a little like ants streaming in and out of a mound!

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A look back at the buses they came from. My camper is down there somewhere, too.

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Zabriskie Point is composed of sediments from Furnace Creek Lake, which dried up 5 million years ago. They have since eroded into the "Badlands" you see today. If you stitched the next six images together, you would have a 180 degree panoramic view from the point.

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Leaving Death Valley, we continued East on 190 toward Death Valley Junction, then got on State Line Road and head toward Las Vegas.

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We stop for lunch at a rest area near Las Vegas, check out the cactus and Joshua Trees growing nearby, and take one last look at the fuel filter to make sure it was still in good shape. It was, and there was only an insignificant amount of rusty sediment in the bottom of the bowl so I didn't bother trying to clean it out again.

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These are pretty, but like most things in the desert you should beware of touching them.

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We roll through LV without stopping. Been there, done that. May do it again someday, but not today. We were both actually looking forward to stopping at the Hoover Dam, and crossing over it one last time before it closed to traffic forever. The new Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge was scheduled to open in a few days, and we thought it would be nice to be among the last private vehicles to cross over the dam. We arrive at the dam, go through the security inspection where the young, friendly officer asked me to open the toolbox on the front hitch, and the ammo box on the rear bumper. Fortunately, I left my arsenal of weapons at home so he let us pass through.

There was a fair amount of traffic going to the dam, so the approach from here on was stop and go. There is a new visitor center, and parking deck on the NV side, but of course the deck isn't able to accommodate vehicles as tall as ours, so we cross over the dam to the AZ side, and park in one of the open parking lots.

The first time I visited the Hoover Dam was in 1983 when the waters of Lake Mead were flowing over the spillways for the first time since 1941 due to massive flooding in the upper Colorado River basin. The water was flowing over the spillways at a depth of more than two feet. Today however, Lake Mead is almost 145 feet lower and is nearing it's critical shortage level of 1075 ft.

Here's a couple of snapshots I took in 1983 when I visited with my young son.........

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And here's how the spillway and intake towers look today.

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We walked back across the dam, and went to the new visitor center where we bought tickets to tour the power-plant. While we waited, the tour guides were having fun telling us to "Get in the Dam tour line", "Give us your Dam tickets", "The Dam tour starts in 10 minutes". Har! I wish I was a Dam tour guide. [emoticon]

Once the tour started, the guide told us that after 9/11 he was immediately laid off, as the assumption was that there would never be tourists allowed inside the Hoover Dam again. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and a plan was made to secure the dam while still allowing public access to certain areas. The one thing that had to change though, was getting vehicular traffic off the top of the dam. The Mike O'Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, also known as the Hoover Dam Bypass was in the planning stages for at least 20 years prior to 9/11, but terrorist attacks brought security at the dam to the forefront.

Inside the dam, a new tunnel was cut through solid rock to give visitors access to the traditional tour areas without going through sensitive areas.

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If I remember correctly, the tour guide said this display has been around quite a few years, and shows the many paths water can take around and through the dam structures, pipes, and tunnels. It shows the original diversion tunnels, the spillways, the dam and intake towers, the power generation plants, and the river channel and lake.

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This is a look down one of the diversion tunnels on the Nevada side, that now contains one of the 30 ft. diameter penstocks that feeds water the the powerplant turbines. I could feel a slight vibration in the floor I was standing on while I was taking this picture.

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This is the Nevada powerplant room, with it's eight generators. The scale is deceptive, the room is almost two football fields long. Hoover Dam generates, on average, about 4 billion kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric power each year for use in Nevada, Arizona, and California - enough to serve 1.3 million people.

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After touring the powerplant, we went up to the new visitor center, and out on the viewing deck. The view of the dam and the bridge from this point is very impressive. Looking at the top of the dam where a steady stream of cars from the Arizona side slowly make their way across.

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This is interesting: In the new visitor center, there is of course an area where souvenirs and mementos can be purchased. I remember on my first trip to the dam in 1983, the tour guide was telling us about how the original transmission lines were actually hollow tubes, rather than a solid bundle of wires. It had to do with something called the "skin effect", and the tendency of AC current to flow primarily on the surface of the conductor, and hardly any at its core. So, to increase the current carrying capacity of the lines, and to save weight and material (copper) the lines were hollow. To increase the surface area even more, another smaller hollow line was put inside of the the larger, outer line, so it was in reality a "tube within a tube". These older transmission lines have been replaced over the years with newer, even more efficient lines (I believe he called them "Litz" wires), and pieces of the old lines are being sold as souvenirs. This is the best part: Since the old lines were in reality owned by the US Government, congress had to pass a special law that allowed them to sell us (the people) our own property. Pretty cool, huh? I fell for it though. I gladly shelled out five bucks for my piece of history. Somebody had to cut that wire up into 4" sections, right?

Here's a picture of what the wire looks like.

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Notice the clock face on the intake tower set to Arizona time. The other tower also has a clock set to Nevada time. The two states are in different time zones, but as Arizona does not observe Daylight Saving Time, the clocks display the same time for more than half the year. Can you see my camper in the parking lot?

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Looking down at the base of the dam, where you see the tops of the Nevada and Arizona powerplants.

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The towers carrying the transmission lines from the powerplant on the Arizona side.

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The new visitor center design blends in nicely with the Art Deco style applied to the entire dam project by LA architect Gordon B. Kaufmann.

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And the new bridge.

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The Nevada elevator tower showing the brass elevator doors and the bas-relief sculpture by Oskar J.W. Hansen memorializing the construction of the dam. The tours used to enter the dam through these elevators. Today, they enter through the new visitor center.

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Hansen's dedication plaza, on the Nevada abutment, contains a sculpture of two winged-figures flanking a flagpole. Surrounding the base of the monument is a terrazzo floor embedded with a "star map". The map depicts the Northern Hemisphere sky at the moment of President Roosevelt's dedication of the dam. This is intended to help future astronomers, if necessary, calculate the exact date of dedication.

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One of the last private vehicles to cross over the top of the dam prior to the bridge opening. I wonder who the very last one was? I also posted a separate topic about the bridge opening here.

Where Are We?

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This is the Old Exhibits Building. This building served as the dam's first visitor center, and was originally used as a headquarters for soldiers protecting the dam during World War II. It's still open.

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After crossing the dam, we went back a few miles to the Boulder Beach Campground, where we camped for the night.

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The next morning we walked down to the lake shore, which was a looooong way from the campsites due to the low water level. When I was here in 1983, the shoreline was up close to that line of trees and palms.

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Still standing in the same spot, and I'm not even to the water yet!

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Lake Mead's "bathtub ring".

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This is the approach to the new bridge. It opened just a few days after we were there.

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A last look up at the new bridge.

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We had to stop for a security inspection again before we could cross. The officer this time had a strict, no-nonsense attitude about him. He had the appearance, demeanor, and crew cut of an ex-Marine Drill Sergeant. I made a point of being as cordial and polite as I could, but that seemed to just hack him off. I was certain that at any moment he was going to order me to "Drop and give me 20,000, Jack Wagon!!!". In addition to wanting to see inside my front toolbox (Webber grill, Yamaha 1000, small can of gas), ammo can on the rear bumper (oil and other fluids for the truck), he insisted I open one of the outside compartments on the camper. "Oh crap, this is it" I thought. Now he's going to find my.......................sewer hookups! I'm hearing that eee-eee-eee music again for some reason.

Waiting our turn to cross over the dam.

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The new parking deck on the Nevada side, with a sculpture of a "High Scaler" out in front.

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A good view of the entire dam complex.

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We didn't make it even a mile before we were in the longest traffic jam of the trip. The road was being repaved, the traffic was choked down to one lane, and we sat in this spot for nearly an hour. The "Idle 1K RPM" setting on my flip-chip came in handy here. The air conditioner works better at this RPM, and the alternator puts out more power.

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By the time we made it to Flagstaff, it was getting dark and time to find a campground. We decided to stay at the Meteor Crater Campground about 30 miles to the East. The campground is nice, and I think you get a couple bucks off the crater admission if you stay there. We'd been to the crater many years ago, but we wanted to see it again. I just can't get enough of giant holes in the ground.

The rim of the crater can be seen as you approach it on the road to the visitor center.

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This is just a small piece of the meteor that approximately 50,000 years ago created what is now the world’s best preserved meteorite impact site.

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Today, Meteor Crater is nearly one mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference and more than 550 feet deep.

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The craters origins, while hypothesized as an impact crater in 1903 by mining engineer and businessman Daniel M. Barringer, were not confirmed until 1960 by Eugene Shoemaker. The crater today is privately owned by the Barringer family through their Barringer Crater Company,

On the floor of the crater are the remains of drilling and mining operations that were searching for what was assumed to be a gigantic deposit of iron beneath the crater. It wasn't until the 1950s when planetary science matured, and the understanding of cratering processes increased that it became known that most of the meteorite vaporized on impact. There's also the wreckage of a small airplane in the crater, the result of a couple of commercial pilots who flew low over it in a Cessna 150 in 1964. On crossing the rim, they couldn't maintain level flight. The pilot attempted to build up speed by circling in the crater to climb over the rim. During the attempted climb out, the aircraft stalled, crashed, and caught fire.

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We spent the next night in a campground in Santa Rosa, NM. We arrived just as it was getting dark. The office was closed, so I pulled up to the night registration desk, put the transmission in neutral, and left the engine idling. When I let the clutch out, I heard a squeee-----eeeeee----eeeeeal noise coming from under the truck that had the unmistakable sound of a dry bearing. Crap! [emoticon] I know what that is. It's the throw out bearing in the clutch. I shut the truck off, registered, then drove to our site. There's not much I can do for a noisy throw out bearing on the road except hope it holds up till we get home. The next morning the bearing isn't making much noise at all, so we get back on the road.

We've put another 3000 miles on the truck. I think it's trying to tell me to get ready to throw some more money at it.

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Going through Amarillo, TX I know I'll need to stop for fuel soon. I make it about 30 miles East of town, and decide to get off I-40 at the Hwy-207 exit and fill up at the Love's station there. As I'm slowing down on the exit ramp and down-shifting, I hear the throw out bearing come apart when I hit 2nd gear. I could hear bits and pieces of it flying around in the bell housing, making an awful racket. The truck could still move under its own power, but I could smell hot metal so I knew we weren't going any further. [emoticon] [emoticon] [emoticon] [emoticon] [emoticon]

I coasted to a stop in the parking lot of this motel. While I'm waiting for the tow truck, I crawl under the truck and attempt to remove the inspection plate on the bottom of the bell housing. One of the bolts is too tight for my short ratchet handle to break loose, but I can see loose ball bearings through a slit in the cover.

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It's early Friday afternoon, and we start making phone calls to several transmission shops back in Amarillo. I'm pretty sure we are going to be stuck here till Monday, but maybe I can at least get towed back to Amarillo today. I eventually find a shop that agrees to work on the truck on Saturday. Whooohoooo! I tell them what kind of truck and camper I have, and I'm expecting to see a regular wheel-lift type tow truck show up. They send a roll-back truck though, and I discuss with the driver the total height we are going to be if he puts the truck and camper on the roll-back deck. I estimate it will be about 15 ft, which he says is no problem for the bridges on I-40, as they are all over 16 ft. We have to get on I-27 south in Amarillo though, and he doesn't know the height of those. Fortunately, his truck has a wheel-lift on back, so we decide to lift the front axle and tow it back that way. The driver starts looking for his tools to disconnect the drive shaft, and can't find them. I don't have the right tools with me for that either. He calls the transmission shop to discuss it with them, and they decide that it will be OK for the short distance and slow speed that we will be going. I decide to leave the engine idling, although I don't know if that was necessary or not.

We made it to the transmission shop just as they were closing up at 5:00. They helped me get the camper off the truck, and I just set it in the parking lot next to the building (this seems familiar. I'm having deja vu all over again!). I pull the truck onto the lift they will be using, and they lock up the shop and go home. The shop manager and the mechanic show up before 8:00 the next morning, and get right to work. They had been able to find a Sachs brand clutch set in town, which is a brand owned by ZF, the manufacturer of the transmission in my truck. I'm amazed things are falling into place so well.

I leave the mechanic alone to do his thing, but I do ask him a few questions to assure myself that a thorough job is being done. The clutch set has all the usual components; clutch disk, pressure plate, throw out bearing, and pilot bearing. After he gets the transmission off and the old clutch out, he shows me the old and new parts side by side. The old clutch set was LUK brand, which was news to me. The old parts were noticeably lighter-duty than the new parts. Everything about the new parts was bigger, and thicker. He also showed me that the flywheel was in good shape and didn't need resurfacing. You could still see the resurfacing marks from the last clutch job.

The truck originally had a clutch type known as "dual mass" which is a much more expensive clutch than the type I have on the truck now. When a dual mass clutch wears out, you have to replace the flywheel in addition to all the normal parts of the clutch set. The parts cost is considerably higher than a non-dual mass clutch, so it's fairly common to put the more conventional type in when the original clutch needs to be replaced. While I do a lot of work on my truck myself, I don't usually tackle the "heavy maintenance" jobs that require a lift. I'm more than happy to pay someone else to do those. I never knew what brand clutch was installed as a result.

The old clutch disk and pressure plate were both in good shape, except for a few gouges in the pressure plate from the throw out bearing bits getting caught between it and the clutch disk. I'm not sure why the bearing failed and came apart the way it did. Normally, they last the life of the clutch.

The mechanic had the truck back together by noon Saturday, and we were back on I-40 heading East by 1:30. After the late start, I'm not sure if I'll feel like driving all the way home today or not. We decide to just play it by ear and stop when and if we need to. After all, we still have one more night of vacation.

We make it about 30 miles East of Oklahoma City, and decide we've had enough. The navigator finds a nearby campground at Wes Watkins Reservoir. As we're pulling off the highway (Here it comes. Do you hear the music?) I turn on the exhaust brake to help slow the truck down. When the EB closes, I hear a much louder whooshing noise than I usually do. The EB makes some noise when it's in use, but not this much. The brake is working though, because I can feel the extra drag it provides. I also notice when starting the truck moving from a dead stop that a strange noise can be heard that sounds like a bearing chattering for just an instant. I only hear it in first gear after the clutch has engaged though, so we continue the few miles to the campground. We pull in before sunset, get set up and I grill a couple of pork chops for dinner. It's dark when we get done, so we go to bed and I plan to crawl under the truck in the morning.

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In the morning, I first open the hood over the engine, start it up, and turn on the EB. It's immediately apparent where the exhaust leak is. The connection of the exhaust "down-pipe" to the outlet of the turbo is secured by a clamp that appears to be tight, but is leaking exhaust pressure when the EB valve is closed. Looking at it more closely, I realize that there should be spring or a spacer of some kind under the clamp nut. Even though the nut is tightened until it ran out of threads, it's not tight enough to make a perfect seal when under pressure. If I didn't have an EB, I might never have noticed this. Of course, I don't have any spare parts for this, but I do have a 1/4" socket set in my tools, so I find a socket of the right size, pull the nut off, and put it under the nut. Now it tightens up like it should, and makes a good seal. Apparently, the mechanic had to move the down-pipe out of the way to get the transmission off.

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It's amazing to me what I've had to do on this trip with my relatively light-duty tool set that was never intended for this kind of maintenance. I've had this toolbag for over 20 years at work. I always take it with me on trips in the car and the truck, but I rarely have to get it out.

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Next, I crawl under the truck to see if I can see anything. I'm not sure what I'm looking for, because as I said, the noise sounded like a bearing chattering. I'm wondering if the tow had damaged the transmission after all. I don't see anything, other than a slight drip from the tail-shaft seal on the tranny.

We get back on I-40 and continue toward home. Since I'm only using the front fuel tank on the truck, my range is limited to just under 200 miles, so I'm having to stop for fuel more often than normal. As the day wears on, I notice that the noise I started hearing yesterday is getting worse and worse. It eventually gets to the point that it's making a gawd-awful racket whenever the drive-line is unloaded, (meaning: the drive shaft is in that transition state between being driven by the engine and the rear axle). We discuss stopping, but being Sunday afternoon there wouldn't be any shop opened to help us. I decide to slow way down, and drive the truck as gently as I can the rest of the way. We'll get as far as we can, and maybe we'll be close enough to get towed the rest of the way without a ridiculous bill.

The last few hours of the trip were very stressful for us both, not knowing if the truck was going to fall apart any moment. I still wasn't sure what was causing the noise, but I had figured out how to prevent it, so I just did whatever I had to do to keep it from happening. I was worn out when we finally pulled into our driveway. I look at the DW, and say "Well, we made it." She says "Yes. That was some trip." The cat's asleep in her bed, oblivious as usual. We both call to her "C'mon Kahlua. We're home. Get up." She just snores.

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We had just a few hours of daylight left, so we unloaded our gear from the camper, made some dinner and went to bed. When I got up in the morning, I immediately crawled under the truck to check the fluid level in the transmission, halfway expecting to find it low. It was the proper level, so I drained it out into a clean pan to see what it looked like. I didn't hear any chunks hit the pan and it looked to be the right color. I then got a magnet and ran it around in the pan, but it came out clean.

I crawled back under the truck, and happened to glance back toward the rear axle. I saw this:

[image]

That's the carrier bearing, and yes, it's hanging by one bolt. [emoticon] [emoticon] [emoticon] That bolt is very loose, and is close to falling out as well. I think I looked in that direction Sunday morning when I got under the truck in the campground. Either the first bolt hadn't dropped out yet, or I just flat missed it. Either way, that's what was causing all the noise. In one way I was relieved, as I wasn't looking forward to having someone tearing into the transmission again. I liked the feel of the new clutch, and the way it engaged firmly and took more "leg" to operate than the old one. On the other hand, this could have been very bad, had that second bolt dropped out. This was another "Ooops" from the tranny shop. The carrier bearing was dropped to make room to remove the transmission, and the bolts were apparently only put back on finger-tight. So much for Saturday maintenance.

I've since had all the U-joints, the carrier bearing, and the tail-shaft seal replaced. I also had to have the drive-shaft straightened and balanced, as the yokes closest to the carrier bearing were bent just enough to cause a vibration at highway speed. I haven't had time to clear the restriction out of the rear tank fuel line yet. Work has been killing me since returning from vacation, but since I don't need the truck every day it can wait a while. I'm actually getting the parts together to upgrade the fuel delivery system to one that's more like the newer Super Duty's, with better filtration and electric pumps. I'm going to be using mostly Ford parts, so I won't have serviceability issues on the road.

I wish now I had crawled back under the truck Sunday afternoon when we stopped for lunch. I might have spotted the missing carrier bearing bolt then, and could have done something about it. But I didn't, so no use playing could-a/should-a now. I just wanted to get home by then, and quit playing MacGyver.

By the time I get the truck ready for another trip though, I'll be ready to roll again.

I can't wait for our next vacation! [emoticon]

[emoticon][emoticon]

* This post was edited 12/12/10 12:02am by NRALIFR *


2001 Lance 1121 on a 2016 F450


silversand

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Posted: 12/11/10 06:46am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Man alive!

Your trip reports are stunning. Your photographs are technically superb, and texts are very descriptive.

Your images look to have been shot through a $2000 Leica M series lens, not a Nikon point-and-shoot !

It'll go into TR in the next batch of updates...

Many thanks!
Silver-


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ChefP

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Posted: 12/11/10 06:52am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great read! Thanks for sharing!


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silversand

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Posted: 12/11/10 07:26am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Impact craters:

We have a rather large meteorite impact crater here in Quebec (Manicouagan); its about ~65-miles in diameters and is considered in the top two most preserved craters on Earth at nearly ~95% preserved (it hit mafic/ultramafic/igneous rock an astounding 214-million years ago, very very difficult to erode this extremely hard rock over the short-term: you need about a half-billion years to erode/tectonically recycle it to any great degree).

Unfortunately, you need to buy a seat on-board a (private) spacecraft flight to really see it because of its massive size [emoticon]

Cheers,
Silver-

Windwalker55

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Posted: 12/11/10 07:53am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great trip report and photos. Thanks so much for taking the time to post.
Larry


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fuelhauler

Southern Oregon

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Posted: 12/11/10 11:27am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for the DAM tour. We did the tour back in 1999 with another couple on our Harley's. Luck was sure with you with that carrier bearing not dropping out completly.
Thanks for the good read & pics.


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romore

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Posted: 12/11/10 12:30pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wow great narrative and stunning pictures. What an adventure.We are driving to Palm Springs after Christmas, the thought of nursing a wounded vehicle across the desert is a little unsettling.

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Posted: 12/11/10 04:16pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I would have thought you were using a Nikon D80 Digital SLR Camera.


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sleepy

Oak Ridge,Tennessee

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Posted: 12/11/10 05:45pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I like this type of trip trport... I enjoyed every picture, and every word... even the suspense... would "we" get home.

Thanks so much for posting... I'll be looking for next years trip.

Sleepy


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D.E.Bishop

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Posted: 12/11/10 06:13pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great post with great pictures, just one small thing, DV is the largest NP in the contiguous US not the continental US. Alaska is part of the Continental US, it is on the North American Continent.


"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to go". R. L. Stevenson

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