Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Abilene, Texas

Odometer 26,880 miles

Trip meter 301 miles

Abilene RV Park

We arrived in Abilene a day late. We got packed, car hooked up, and ready to leave Balmorhea State Park yesterday before my nerve gave out. OK, some back story is in order. We had a great relaxing time at this very nice, quiet and peaceful state park. We had time to do some exploration and best of all some time to relax and read and surf the net. Well...while surfing the net on Sunday evening I Googled the part number for the fuel filter we had installed on the side of the road, outside of Silver City, and to my horror- the description of the filter said it was a 14 micron filter. Before we left Medford we had purchased this filter at NAPA as a backup filter. I took the parts guy's word that it was the correct one for this application. The filter HAS to have a size of 2 microns- no larger, or it will let through impurities that will damage or plug the fuel injectors. (many thousands of dollars to clean or replace). I was Sick with worry.

So Monday Joan and I are literally ready to leave when I decided to call my brother Thane and ask, should I just drive the MH 124 miles to Odessa and find a filter there and put it on, or should I unhook the car and drive the car up to Odessa and back? After all, I've already driven almost 500 miles with this filter.

Thane called a diesel mechanic to help us decide and the mechanic says if the motor still runs now don't push your luck. Using a 14 micron filter is like putting large rocks in your injectors!

Joan went back to the office and re-registered us for one more night, while I unhooked the car. Next we got on the iPad and set out to find someplace that had a filter that would meet specs. No problem eh? Must be thousands of these Caterpillar 3126Es running around- should be a cinch! Odessa is the closest big city so we called all the truck parts and filter houses asking for our original (stock)filter brand and number. No luck, no-one had one and no-one had any suggestions for an alternate. Joan and I searched and cross-referenced dozens of filter brands until we came up with another brand and filter number(bless the iPad- what a lifesaver). After an hour on the phone and iPad we finally located this alternate filter at Freightliner in Odessa 2 hours away. We gobbled lunch, took some crackers and cheese, and headed out. Lucky for us Texas has mostly 75 and 80 MPH speed limits, but it's still 2 hours. Good news is we found Freightliner and got the filters, bad news is they did not have the clear plastic sediment bowl that screws on to the open end at the bottom. (It's not an optional item- the whole bottom of the filter is open without the bowl on it) We brought our old one, but no-one was sure if it was the correct application for this other brand of filter. After chasing down 3 more suppliers we found one that had the bowl! By now it is 4PM and we have the new filters (yeah, we bought a spare)and a new 2 gallon fuel can and we hit the road back to Balmorhea Park. That Texas State Park pass we bought for $70 when we got here is paying for itself now, our 4 nights average $17 each!

We get back at dark and fill up the small fuel can with a gallon of diesel as we pass through the tiny town of Balmorhea. We'll use the diesel for pre-filling the new filter. It's dark and cold out. It's going to freeze hard tonight- so we'll tackle the filter in the AM.

Tuesday AM the mercury is at 27 on the thermometer, but we are in good shape, thanks to our foresight in purchasing a heated water hose at Camping World, before we left Medford. The sun is up and the ice is melting. Time to install our second fuel filter of the trip.

I won't belabor this any more except to say that this process is is tantamount to doing open heart surgery in a dirty parking lot. The goal is to get the old filter off- clean everything spotless- and put the new filter (that you've filled with diesel) on, without introducing anything foreign into the fuel system that is greater than 2 microns in size. Easy-eh? A speck of dust/ a human hair/ a thread from your shop towel gets in and you lose the patient- or in my case the injector(s). The holy grail is when the engine starts right up without an air embolism and runs like a top. We had 300 good miles today, and I can sleep soundly tonight.

I am SO glad that one of the first things I did when we purchased this MH was to make the lower louver removable with 3 quick release pins. I have no idea how this filter could be changed without removing the louvers as I have in the picture above.

Sweetwater is the wind capital of North America (so they say) and there are hundreds of wind generators scattered along miles as you approach and leave the area. We should have taken pictures but couldn't figure out how you could show the depth of rows and rows of them spinning away.

No comments:

Post a Comment