2012 Summer Trips and Fuel Lines

2012 was an eventful year for us. Moving back to Michigan (1200 mile trip from Tampa!). Moving back into our Grandmother’s house. Getting re-acquainted with our Detroit office. Catching up with our Michigan friends, and some trips. We went up to Charlevoix, MI for one trip. We went to visit our friend Glu at his place on a lake outside of Metro Detroit. I ended up going back to Charlevoix for another fishing trip. Matt went out with our friend Phil and visited some of our Friends in Ireland (which he is detailing over @ http://halftonreviews.com/ ). Getting used to fishing lakes after fishing the Gulf for the past 2 years.

After our flurry of activity to get the bus ready enough to leave Tampa, we were a bit burned out. We’d end up doing our normal work day and then coming back from work and banging out as much work as possible so that we weren’t carrying excess wood and parts. The result, is that Matt and I were both more than happy to not work on the bus for a while.

The first big trip we had when we moved back up was to go up to our friend Jacob’s family farm in Northern Michigan. It’s near Charlevoix, and we had designs to enjoy the fishing. Now, there had been a persistent issue with the bus. Starting around leaving Georgia on our trip from Tampa, we were seeing plumes of what looked like excess burning diesel. The bus was still drive-able but it seemed like we had lost some top end speed. Since we were focused on just getting through the trip and engine heat didn’t seem to be an issue we just ignored it and made it back up. Well, in Charlevoix we took a week off and had plenty of time to investigate. What we noticed is that one of the fuel lines had broken off and was shooting out about as much fuel as it was supposed to be routing.

So, trying to figure out what to do. We ended up going to a couple different local auto suppliers in Charlevoix but no one carried the specific flanged end fuel line. We had a recommendation from one of the workers at the local Auto Value to go check out one of the dumps and see if the guy had any matching engines. We drive out the 20 minutes to the spot and show the guy the fuel line and he lets us know he has nothing, however he knows a welder who might be able to weld it for us. He gives us the guy’s number and roughly where his shop is. We thank the gentleman and leave and call the welder. We head over to his shop but he’s out for the day. So we head back the next day to see if he can weld it. He takes a look and does a pretty damn good job welding it. Charged us $15 and we went on our way. Hooked it up, and because of how the part is flanged it absolutely NEEDS to be flat. He had gotten it 90% of the way there.. but we were still seeing diesel leaking out. So, next step we called up the local navistar/international and have them order the part. At this point, we had been driving around Jacob’s Grandfather’s truck. Which is an early 90s Ford pickup. Decently reliable, but a tight fit for the 3 of us.

The part shows up on Thursday (nearing the end of our trip) so Jacob and I head out in the truck to Gaylord, MI. The only problem is.. that the Truck won’t start. It’s not turning over, and since we don’t have a decent battery tester on hand we just try to charge it up on one trickle chargers which doesn’t work out too well so we jump it. It’s about a 60 minute trip to get out to the Navistar dealer in Gaylord, so we’re just thinking.. leave the truck running while I head in and buy the part. By the time we get there, we just say ‘aw fuck it, maybe the alternator was able to charge the thing up’. Get in, grab the ridiculously expensive piece of little tube and try to start the truck back up. The engine partially turns over and then refuses to do more. Great. Head back in and ask one of the guys in the shop if he can give us a jump, he obliges and we head over to the Wallyworld in Gaylord and pick up a new battery and toss it in the truck. It starts! Head back, and get the part installed. No more leaking diesel! Spent our collective week off working on cars. Not quite what I had in mind, but I did manage to get a lot of reading done up there. (After all that, the stick shift on the 90s Ford started acting up.. and eventually it got to the point that you had to basically slam your hand into the dash to get it into first gear.. we end up taking the stick shift off and taking a look. We think it’s the plastic rings that hold the stick’s ball in place. We go to put it back in and notice the the tension screw that goes in was off.. and that ends up fixing it.. this probably makes no sense if you haven’t had to deal with a Ford truck’s stick shift.. but basically we were able to fix the thing without having to replace the whole damn stick shift.)

We head back after the week is over and we were able to enjoy the fruits of our repair labor. The bus is back to it’s top speed of 65 MPH!

Long trip back to Michigan

Packing is never fun, but trying to pack everything 2 people own into a school bus, trailer, and 2000 Suzuki Esteem is a little hard. We managed to do it. We gave some stuff away to friends but we managed to get all of our instruments, tools, computers, bikes/motorcycles and all of that in there. We were also trying to pack in between torrential rain from the tropical storm (thanks tropical storm Debby!) that was ravaging Tampa.

The trip back was interesting. We stopped in Georgia at our Mother’s friend’s place. While she and her husband were out of town, we got a chance to catch up with her kids. It’s interesting getting reacquainted with people you knew in your youth and haven’t seen for years. In the morning we stopped for gas, I was hoping to drain out a little of the oil because it had been overfilled. Unfortunately the plug completely dropped out and hot oil started pouring all over this pristine BP station. While I’m frantically trying to get the oil plug back in to stop this hot oil from pouring everywhere, Matt has to go tell the attendants the bad news. I manage to get enough gas station towels beneath/around the plug.. and in one motion I slam the plug into place and the flow of oil ceases. I had thought it wouldn’t have been too hot (it really wasn’t full on engine hot.. but definitely hot enough to be very uncomfortable). Lesson learned. Burn the oil off.

Next step. Mountains. I was very anxious about having to drive the bus through the mountains, but it was actually rather pleasant going uphill around 16-20 mph. It really makes the drive much more scenic. Semi’s and every other vehicle flying past you, no doubt some of them giving us the one finger salute. I didn’t have much fun driving behind Matt in the Suzuki since the bus was spewing oil and diesel fumes going uphill, although I was far more comfortable than Matt was. The bus was getting up to 110 or so on the inside because we REALLY need to insulate the heatwall.

We also stopped in Kentucky to stay at our friend Dave’s place. Such a welcome relief to get out of the car. Take a shower. Sit in air conditioning. Also, we were bringing our cat Winston back with us. He really couldn’t take the heat in the bus, so he spent the trip in the Suzuki mewling about how awful cars are. Winston also got to stretch his legs when we stopped, he spent the night in the bus. After our showers and a nice cold beer Dave showed us around Lexington a little bit. We didn’t end up going in too hard on the drinking so we could hit the road again in the morning.

We made it safely to Detroit after Kentucky. Apparently we had brought the Tampa heat with us though. Thank you to Dave and to Lauren’s family for showing us the hospitality. I was definitely worried about where we could park on our way up, but all worked out.