At long last, My McVansion and I have been reunited. Yes! Today I picked up my home and my wheels at the engine hospital. It is 55 days today since I admitted the patient to the engine hospital for a "heart" rebuild.
It has ended up being one huge misadventure, but that's a part of what life on the road is all about. If you recall, last year about this time I was in Georgia when the right rear wheel bearing went out and had damaged the axle. With thanks to one, David Hair, who actually performed field surgery on My McVansion in the Home Depot parking lot in Blue Ridge, Georgia. I was then able to bring the patient to its regular general mechanical practitioner in Winchester, Virginia.
This particular engine problem threw everyone a curve. I'm not going to go into details now. Wilson, the head surgeon at the One Stop Engine Rebuilding and Auto Repair business, told me that most of the vehicles that come in for engine work display two major issues. One issue is that the engine was run without coolant and overheated. The other is that the engine was run without oil in the crankcase. My McVansion had not been overheated and the temperature gauge was right on the nose. And, the synthetic oil I always use was right up to where it belonged and the oil pressure was perfect.
Yet, something caused the engine to fail and whatever it was kept itself hidden. After the engine was fully rebuilt once and then partially rebuilt a second time, everything was running fine except for one serious glitch. When the engine reached operating temperature and was run over 1500 rpm, the exhaust manifolds would glow cherry red. Meanwhile the rest of the engine was running at the appropriate temperature. This problem has been eluding us for weeks.
There was some half serious talk about calling Ghost Busters or a priest to perform an exorcism on the engine. I seriously had several people around the U.S. with considerable expertise in combustion engines sending me thoughts, ideas and suggestions as to how to find the "demon." My old college friend, Greg Cordano, back in my home state of New Jersey was losing sleep over this problem. He sent me nearly daily emails with suggestions as to where the problem might be.
I have to commend Wilson and his terrific team of ASE certified engine technicians. They are a dedicated and tenacious group. I know there were times when they just wanted to throw in the towel. But, they hung in there. Wilson was calling in favors from other friends at other shops that specialized in parts of the engine that weren't his forte.
Finally, Wilson took the van to a fellow who specializes in the electrical/electronic aspects of modern engines. He had very expensive, specialized equipment and training in all the sensors and the main computer that runs modern engines. I consider him an automotive neurosurgeon. The demon was finally revealed and vanquished.
So, today, I picked up My McVansion at about 1:30 PM and brought it back to my son's place where I've been enjoying spending time with my son. But, I feel I have reluctantly overstayed my visit, though my son and been extremely gracious and supportive. Pete is in the process of packing and moving his stuff to storage since he has to move. Getting my van back was becoming urgent. Thankfully, it seems to have happened just in the nick of time. He has another place already, but it won't be ready until May 1st. So, he's taking a short sabbatical from his job and heading to Turkey and other parts of eastern Europe on one of his global (albeit, short) treks.
I spent the afternoon happily reinstalling my electronics - navigation, communication, entertainment and dash cam documentation equipment, routing and dressing wires and power and getting the cockpit ready to venture back onto the highways and byways of America. It will probably be the middle of next week, around March 4th or so before I actually hit the road.
But, I am one happy camper this quiet Saturday evening and I feel "complete" again. Yeah! I know, a van is not a warm, cuddly companion (certainly something to be desired), but it is my home and my "magic carpet." And like Dorothy said as she clicked her ruby shoes together, "There's no place like home."