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RV Log Page # 0008
Thursday August 6, 2009
Let's see now ... we've been home a week now, and wow ... have things happened around here!
After some careful consideration, we decided that the 4-Runner could pull our toyhauler OK, but why put undue strain on a vehicle that we were going to try to keep for some time. Also, the toyhauler was not up to what we wanted to 'live' in while out RVing. It was good for the bike, of course, and hauling 'stuff', but we wanted was something for 'living' in. So we started looking around at what we could get that would send us more in the 'right' direction.
What we decided was to purchase a pick-up truck and fit a camp on in.
I went surfing on the internet looking for something that wouldn't 'break the bank', but was still new 'enough' so as to not be worn out.
I came across an ad for a 2004 Ford F-350 Crew Cab 4X4 PowerStroke Diesel. The truck had 119,000 mile on it. I presumed that there should be plenty of 'life' left in the rig. Plus, we got it for a pretty good price, and getting an excellant trade on our Jeep (that we had for a month!).
Next, we went looking for a camper. We drove up and down 82nd Ave in Portland, OR looking for what we wanted. We found one at Apache Campers. It was a 2007 Forest River, 8.5' Camper, with electric jacks, bath w/shower, AC, heat, Refridgerator, and a queen size bed forward. Perfect, we said! It was brand new - had never been titled or used - just sat on the lot for two years!
So, we brought our 'new' truck in to Apache, and they made the necessary modifications and loaded it up and we were out of there. We took it all home on Monday, the third of August. There, it was my turn to modify the rig for the 'boys'. I built a cage that fit from the 'bedroom' window on the passenger side so they could get outside and enjoy some fresh air. It was plenty big enough for both of them to be in it laying down at the same time. Anyhow, we were now all set to go RVing!!!
We set out this morning for the 'Hard Rain Cafe RV Park & Store' in the Hoh Rain Forest in the Olympic Natl. Forest.
It was a great drive all of the way to the RV park. The truck drove beautifully, with camper and toyhauler ... a couple of times I had to look back in the mirrors to make sure that ,yes, they were there!
We checked in at the RV park and went to our assigned spot and proceeded to 'set up' camp. I didn't break anything down, just left the trailer hooked up. There were no plans to take the camper off on this trip ... we had the bike to motor around on.
After we completed our camp set up we had dinner and then sat outside and had a couple of beverages and enjoyed the evening. We met some neighbors that hailed from Israel and were traveling the U.S. for 4 months on sabatical. The husband and wife were both in the same business that made it possible for them to make the trip. The also had 3 kids with them. The kids didn't speak any English, but the parents were both fluent. We had a great time talking with them over the course of two days.
Time for bed.
Friday August 7, 2009
Woke up at dawn after a GREAT night's sleep. It was hard to believe how comfortable that bed was. Shirlee agreed that it was great. The only issue was that the cats used the bed to get to their cage (balcony).
After breakfast I unloaded the bike from the toyhauler and we took off for points north. We rode up to Forks and pulled over as it was starting to rain a bit. We found that Forks was a celebrity as they had filmed some vampire movie there that was a huge hit ... never heard of it! After a while we decided to just go ahead 'gut it out' in the rain and continue on north to Neah Bay. We finally made it back to the camp where we were staying, and I was happy about that. I was damp and cold by then. We spoke again with our friends from Israel. They were leaving early to go the Seattle to trade out their rented motorhome that had had an electrical fire, so we wished them well after exchanging e-mail addresses and such. After a pleasant evening which included meeting two fellows from The Neatherlands (Shirlee's Dutch), we decided to go to bed.
Saturday August 8, 2009
Up fairly early this moring to prepare for our departure. We are heading for the Astoria area. We had not made any reservations for this stop, figuring that there will be something available. We drove down US 101 through Aberdeen and on down to the Astoria/Megler bridge and crossed the Columbia River into Oregon at Astoria. We continued south on US 101 searching for Fort Stevens State Park that had very nice RV sites. We did find it, however it was full. They advised we try the Astoria/Seaside KOA that was just across the road from the entrance to Ft. Stevens Park. We immediately left for the KOA, calling on our cell phone to inquire as to availability. They said they had two spaces left that would accomodate us. When we arrived a couple of minutes later we picked the most suitable spot and drove to it. What wasn't shown on the park map was the proximity of the playground to our site ... a playground that was equipped with a large inflated bubble that kids were bouncing on. It made a loud metalic sounding noise that was quite irritating! We did our best to ignore it and went about setting up our overnight camp. After awhile, we found that there was a curfew for the playground and that the bubble would be deflated. Thank God! We actually slept fairly well there.
Sunday August 9, 2009
Arose today to another glorious sunny morning, broke camp and proceeded south again on US 101. After only about 10 miles we stopped for breakfast at a little diner on the side of the highway.
When we returned to the truck we pulled out of the parking lot and headed south again. I happened to look out my passenger side mirror to see a large cloud of white issuing from the exhaust pipe. I immediately pulled over to the side of the road to check it out. I left the engine running (nothing out of the ordinary on the instruments) and got out of the truck. The white cloud was definately steam. My first thought then was that we'd blown a head gasket. I turned the truck off and checked the oil dipstick. There was no evidence of water in the engine oil. There was nothing out of the ordinary ... no leaks anywhere. So I started it back up and idled for a moment and checked the gauges again and everything was still normal, plus the engine ran normal! We decided that we would continue on and see what happens. After a couple of miles the steam quit. Still, everything read normal. We figured that we'd check everything out again when we got to Cannon Beach, which was about 15 miles down the road, where we had previously planned to stop and visit with Shirlee's twin sister and brother-in-law.
After stopping at Cannon Beach everything was still back to normal. The 'guys' at the house all put their collective brains together and we couldn't figure out what had happened. A couple of hours later it was time to continue our drive down to Netarts Bay RV Park, which is just west of Tillamook, OR. Netarts has been a favorite stop for us ever since we started RVing.
We had driven about half of the distance to Netarts Bay - about 25 miles - when the engine water temperature gauge started going up. I pulled over to the shoulder of the road and opened the hood and found that the coolant reservoir was empty. I had a one-gallon water jug handy that I emptied into the reservoir and it still required more. I turned on the water pump in the camper and started refilling the jug from the outside shower fixture. About 3 gallons later the reservoir was filled and the temperature gauge (which Shirlee had been monitoring during this time) had returned to normal.
OK, we've been losing coolant out through the engine exhaust, but the engine was running fine - now rough running or missing at all. To me, that ruled out a blown head gasket. What with everything seemingly under control and manageable, we headed for Netarts for a planned one night stay and tommorrow morning (Monday), on our way home, we would go by the local Ford dealer in Tillamook and see if they could tell us what the heck we were dealing with.
We pulled into Netarts Bay without further incident and drove to our space after check-in. I checked the coolant level and added another gallon of water to top it off. That was approximately 1 gallon of water for 30 miles driven. I guessed that as long as we kept enough water in the camper we could make it home OK, if Ford said it was OK. Well, enough drama for one day. We tried to relax and have a couple of beers and a glass of wine before we went to bed.
Monday August 10, 2009
Up bright and early this morning to have some breakfast and get ready for the trip home, after stopping at the Ford shop. I checked the coolant level and there was no change. After breaking camp I started the truck and we left the campground.
We arrived at the Ford shop about 15 minutes later. There had been one more instance of a steam cloud on the way, but it lasted less than 15 seconds and no increase in coolant temperature.
I went into the shop and was directed to the shop foreman who listened to my description of what had happened, nodding his head occasionally with a tight smile on his face ... 'he's heard this all before', I thought. He said that it was most probably a very common problem that they (Ford) had been dealing with since the first 6.0 Litre Powerstroke engine rolled off of the assembly line. In a nutshell he said, we could make it back home to Camas (about 100 miles), provided we took a route that would avoid as much hill climbing as possible. He advised that we keep alot of water on hand though. Driving home should not do any damage to the engine - just keep water in it!
So, we headed north on US 101, thus avoiding the road over the Coastal Range. We planned on going back through Astoria and then on to US 30 in Oregon eastward. Just before we entered Astoria we heard that Highway 30 was closed due to a very bad wreck toward Clatskanie. So we opted to go back across the Astoria/Megler bridge and intersect with Washington State Route 4 east that would take us to Longview where we would connect with I-5 to head south and home.
All went well, save for adding a total of 7 gallons of water to the system by the time we got home.
Other than the coolant problem, we had a wonderful trip. Everything performed well. All of the systems worked well. We were starting to think, tho', that the camper was a bit tight, so how would we feel about our plans for a 3 to 4 month trip on the road in such space. It is our plan to start our big trip in the later part of February 2010, so we should have plenty of time to consider. First things first though - let's get the truck fixed!