Sunday, March 1, 2015

Reunited, At Last!

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."  


Rob said...

I am really curious as to what the problem was.
To infer that it was something in the electronic management system is just not enough...

Any chance you could elaborate?

Ed Helvey said...

I don't have all details, yet, Rob. The actual problem and fix was found and executed at the other shop. But, it did have to do with the EGR system that they totally replaced. The EGR was suspect from the very beginning since the engine showed no signs of neglect or abuse other than the 21 year old valve covers rusting with one cover having a hold right through it, but not easily noticeable without specifically removing them.

We all ended up knowing the engine was running in an extreme lean situation. But, couldn't find the EGR malfunctioning - even my mechanic back in VA said it was suspect when he went over it before I left for the west coast, but again, couldn't find it malfunctioning and the engine was running great and was getting better than average gas mileage on the road.

I'll try to elaborate more when I'm able to get some more details.


~Karen~ said...

Wow, a very long time to be without your home! Glad you've got it back, & now like new! If you're ever in the neighborhood of either Sparta, IL., or Custer County, CO., you're welcome to stop by for a visit. We've had quite a few members of various RV/van groups come visit, anywhere from an overnight as they were passing them, to a couple of weeks. Most have come back 2-4x!

Ed Helvey said...

Thanks, Karen --
You have made invitation before, I just haven't made it to either of your places, yet. But, you are definitely on the list of places to go and people to visit, but not CO or IL with weather like the recent forecast you posted. I've done my time in snow purgatory. I avoid it like the plague now. I'd rather watch other people on TV as they shovel and plow out than do it myself anymore.


SwankieWheels said...

Oh Ed, I am so happy to read your news. And you are right, David Hair is a genius at being able to do vehicle magic. I asked him if he could put a bike rack receiver on the front of my trailer. I arrived at the Walmart near his home and was surprised to be met by not only David Hair, but Dick Tracy and Brenda Curtiss. While we were all gabbing, David walked over to the trailer, was down on the ground looking under it and checking things out. It was 3:30pm. He designed it in his head, and by 6:30pm it was done, perfectly. Exactly what I had in mind. He is amazing. Again, so happy you have your home back. I KNOW how that feels.

Unknown said...

Glad to hear your back on the road Ed !!!

Ed Helvey said...

Thanks, Charlene,

Yes! I'm basically moved back in and will spend the first night in my own home since the night of January 5th. I have some things to take care of out here in this area including gaining confidence in the engine and My McVansion again.

Then i'm off to Palm Springs for this coming weekend for some visits and then on my way to AZ - Ehrenberg, Q and then Yuma. When I'm done in Yuma I'll be heading up to visit some friends in Phoenix.

I'll probably be in the Ehrenberg and Q area early the week following this week. Are you still in that area? Is anyone still in that area? I know Bob is in FL now.


Ed Helvey said...

Thanks, Ken --

It's good to be "home" again. This is my first Internet communication from My McVansion since the morning and early afternoon of January 6th.


Rob said...

Thanks Ed!

Bob in NC said...

Congrats Ed for getting your wheels back on the road. Those darn aggravating EGR systems. Now it's working you can feel free again! Cheers and happy trails

My grandson Finnian was born yesterday 3/1/2015. Twas a good day all around!

Ed Helvey said...

Thanks, Bob. Yep! Vehicles are getting as complex as humans - you need specialists for everything

Hey Congrats on becoming a grandpa on March 1. Good month to be born. A lot of important people born in March, ME for one - lol! Seriously, enjoy that little rascal and spoil him royally.