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Old 08-24-2008, 04:29 PM   #1
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Sometimes it's good to ignore a problem. You forget about it totally or it goes away by itself. Like a mosquito bite. You ignore it and it eventually goes away. Start scratching and itching and the darn thing starts to bleed and gets infected!

Some people look to prevent problems. Preventive maintenance? – hah! That was for guys who weren't tough enough to handle a problem. I was of the school "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" and if it is broke, ˜bring a hammer'.

I learned a valuable lesson during a drive from New Jersey to Mississippi. For a few days before we left, I would hear the engine ˜flush' – sort of the sound of a release of air in a liquid similar to a toilet flush. But come on, it wasn't a heart-stopping grinding sound. It wasn't a wallet-draining, high-pitched bird sound or any of those other tell-tale engine sounds that your Dad trains to recognize. No idiot lights went off on the instrument panel. So, like every man, I prudently ignored it. But as you will see, this problem got worse on its own – much worse.

At the time, my brother-in-law was in the Navy and my wife had not seen him in about 2 years. He happened to be in Mississippi for the weekend so we figured if we drove for 24 hours straight (vroooom, just like LeMans in France!), we could leave Friday night, be in Mississippi by Saturday night and spend some time with the brother-in-law before he left to go back to his ship on Sunday.

So I packed up the 2 and 4-year-old boys and my wife (did I mention she was 3 months pregnant at the time?) into the pickup and off we went. In the back of my mind, I must have known something was going to go wrong because I also packed my entire Sears tool chest and the GM shop manuals.

I should have noticed something was up at the first gas stop in Virginia. After I filled up and pulled away from the gas station, the temperature guage pegged at the top of the range. Hey, but as I drove, the temperature went back to the normal range. Problem solved! And considering the fact that my wife did not notice the temporary craziness of that ˜faulty' guage, there was really NO PROBLEM at all. Just shut up and keep on driving...

The pattern repeated at every gas stop but through slight-of-hand and other distractions, I was able to conceal any concern from my wife. By the time we hit Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the temperature guage would not go down. Using all the courage I had, I admitted to my wife that there was a slight ˜problem'. There I said it. The cat was out of the bag. I could not ignore this problem any more. Unfortunately, around noon on Saturday in Tuscaloosa, everything shuts down until Monday. No way this Type A personality could chill for two days!

I remembered that we recently signed up for AAA ˜Plus' where instead of towing you only 10 miles, they would tow you 100 MILES for FREE. So we figured, what the hey? Just have them tow us to our final destination of Picayune, MS – a mere 4 hours away.

Soon the tow truck driver had our truck on the hook and the drive shaft off. Our tow truck driver resembled some one who would fall between ˜Neanderthal' and ˜homosapien' in Darwin's evolution chart. He could use basic tools but did not walk upright.

We set off on our 4 hour journey crammed like sardines into the front of the tow truck cab. Me in the middle with 4-year-old Tommy on my lap, wife with the bun in the oven and 2-year-old Matty on her lap. Remember that the bladders of pregnant women shrink to the size of a thimble. With a two-year-old pushing from the top and baby Joey pushing from the inside, my wife was constantly losing a battle from a well-coordinated pincer movement! To add to the misery, it turned out to be a steamy Saturday and we soon realized that the tow truck's A/C only worked on two settings – MAX and OFF. So we proceeded to swing between hypothermia and heat exhaustion for the entire trip.

We rolled into Picayune and quickly diagnosed a blown head gasket. Through the grace of God, AutoZone had just opened a local store and we were able to buy the needed parts that night.

One thing about the South, when there is someone in need, even a bunch of Yankees, the whole neighborhood turns out to lend a hand. Beside the brother-in-law, we had my sister-in-law's step dad, her natural father, even neighbors who resembled Darryl, Darryl and Darryl (they got along great with the tow truck driver...)

We had that engine stripped down to the block by midnight and back together in time for NASCAR on Sunday.

But back to the valuable lesson I learned on the trip. What was it? "ALWAYS BRING DUCT TAPE". Why? So if one of those pesky gauges goes all wacky or one of those idiot lights burns red, you can just take a nice piece of duct tape and cover up that part of the instrument panel. If you can't see the red idiot light – then you got NO PROBLEM!
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Old 08-24-2008, 04:29 PM   #2
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Sometimes it's good to ignore a problem. You forget about it totally or it goes away by itself. Like a mosquito bite. You ignore it and it eventually goes away. Start scratching and itching and the darn thing starts to bleed and gets infected!

Some people look to prevent problems. Preventive maintenance? – hah! That was for guys who weren't tough enough to handle a problem. I was of the school "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" and if it is broke, ˜bring a hammer'.

I learned a valuable lesson during a drive from New Jersey to Mississippi. For a few days before we left, I would hear the engine ˜flush' – sort of the sound of a release of air in a liquid similar to a toilet flush. But come on, it wasn't a heart-stopping grinding sound. It wasn't a wallet-draining, high-pitched bird sound or any of those other tell-tale engine sounds that your Dad trains to recognize. No idiot lights went off on the instrument panel. So, like every man, I prudently ignored it. But as you will see, this problem got worse on its own – much worse.

At the time, my brother-in-law was in the Navy and my wife had not seen him in about 2 years. He happened to be in Mississippi for the weekend so we figured if we drove for 24 hours straight (vroooom, just like LeMans in France!), we could leave Friday night, be in Mississippi by Saturday night and spend some time with the brother-in-law before he left to go back to his ship on Sunday.

So I packed up the 2 and 4-year-old boys and my wife (did I mention she was 3 months pregnant at the time?) into the pickup and off we went. In the back of my mind, I must have known something was going to go wrong because I also packed my entire Sears tool chest and the GM shop manuals.

I should have noticed something was up at the first gas stop in Virginia. After I filled up and pulled away from the gas station, the temperature guage pegged at the top of the range. Hey, but as I drove, the temperature went back to the normal range. Problem solved! And considering the fact that my wife did not notice the temporary craziness of that ˜faulty' guage, there was really NO PROBLEM at all. Just shut up and keep on driving...

The pattern repeated at every gas stop but through slight-of-hand and other distractions, I was able to conceal any concern from my wife. By the time we hit Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the temperature guage would not go down. Using all the courage I had, I admitted to my wife that there was a slight ˜problem'. There I said it. The cat was out of the bag. I could not ignore this problem any more. Unfortunately, around noon on Saturday in Tuscaloosa, everything shuts down until Monday. No way this Type A personality could chill for two days!

I remembered that we recently signed up for AAA ˜Plus' where instead of towing you only 10 miles, they would tow you 100 MILES for FREE. So we figured, what the hey? Just have them tow us to our final destination of Picayune, MS – a mere 4 hours away.

Soon the tow truck driver had our truck on the hook and the drive shaft off. Our tow truck driver resembled some one who would fall between ˜Neanderthal' and ˜homosapien' in Darwin's evolution chart. He could use basic tools but did not walk upright.

We set off on our 4 hour journey crammed like sardines into the front of the tow truck cab. Me in the middle with 4-year-old Tommy on my lap, wife with the bun in the oven and 2-year-old Matty on her lap. Remember that the bladders of pregnant women shrink to the size of a thimble. With a two-year-old pushing from the top and baby Joey pushing from the inside, my wife was constantly losing a battle from a well-coordinated pincer movement! To add to the misery, it turned out to be a steamy Saturday and we soon realized that the tow truck's A/C only worked on two settings – MAX and OFF. So we proceeded to swing between hypothermia and heat exhaustion for the entire trip.

We rolled into Picayune and quickly diagnosed a blown head gasket. Through the grace of God, AutoZone had just opened a local store and we were able to buy the needed parts that night.

One thing about the South, when there is someone in need, even a bunch of Yankees, the whole neighborhood turns out to lend a hand. Beside the brother-in-law, we had my sister-in-law's step dad, her natural father, even neighbors who resembled Darryl, Darryl and Darryl (they got along great with the tow truck driver...)

We had that engine stripped down to the block by midnight and back together in time for NASCAR on Sunday.

But back to the valuable lesson I learned on the trip. What was it? "ALWAYS BRING DUCT TAPE". Why? So if one of those pesky gauges goes all wacky or one of those idiot lights burns red, you can just take a nice piece of duct tape and cover up that part of the instrument panel. If you can't see the red idiot light – then you got NO PROBLEM!
__________________

__________________
Tom and Katharine
'07 Winnebago Tour 40TD, 400hp Cummins
'17 Winnebago View 24V, '02 R-Vision B+
RVing for 19 years & 150,000+ miles
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Old 08-24-2008, 05:12 PM   #3
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Tom... You've missed your calling.. Your a natural born writer. Keep at it, great story.
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