Sidelined AGAIN in Spokane Washington. Destination Alaska looking bleak.

OK, so we left off with looking for a fan clutch that Freightliner said was 4-6 weeks out from re-supply of that part. However, we called our Newmar-Freightliner customer service connection. They handed us off to a parts supplier in SC who had the clutch and said they could overnight it. They did. Our great techs at Gleasons-Salinas RV hopped on it immediately and had it installed within a day. But wait…..there’s more……when they went to attach it to the cast iron bracket that secures it to the frame, they notice it was cracked from the original incident. Again, Freightliner said the part would not be re-supplied for 6-8 weeks. However, they said they had a welding shop in town that could weld the crack in the old part within a few hours. Obviously we said ‘go for it’. They did and installed the part same day. But then there were several Faults registered on the dash display, some of which may lead to ‘limp mode’ which means the engine would not allow speeds higher than 5 mph, which is what happened when the radiator issue first occurred at Big Sur. So arrangements were made to take to a Cummins Truck service center the next morning. We did and they hooked up there computer to the port on the side of the engine. They were able to clear all faults except one which showed a faulty turbo sensor. We obtained a new wiring harness and installed which seemed to clear the issue and we were good to go. So we figured we’d get a few hours of driving in the evening of Tuesday, May 10. We hugged our new friends at Gleason’s RV and bid farewell. So we were on the road again leaving the Salinas area for first time in 2 weeks but my eyes remained glued to the dash dials. About 25 miles on the road, the nightmare returned as the engine temp gauge began to rise rapidly leading to red warning message to STOP ENGINE NOW. We were on an entrance ramp to another hwy and had to pull off on narrow shoulder with about 2 ft of clearance to passing trucks. It was now about 5:30 pm. We called back to our Gleason friends who said to let the engine cool then drive it to a safer area and they’d come in morning to look at it. BUt first they had me go to the back or the RV, open the engine access door and look to see if all the belts were still on. At first I saw the 2 belts where they should be. Then I looked deeper to the 3rd belt they had just replaces on the new fan clutch….GONE! Then I saw it hanging under the access panel….it was shredded and had worked it’s way off the pulley. After a harrowing 45 mins on the dangerous shoulder, we re-started the engine and drove about 4 miles to an RV park we found on line. Turned out to be a great safe-haven for us for the night….especially as our Black Septic tank (AKA ‘Poop Tank’) was 90% full. I could hear the RV breath a sigh of relief as we emptied it at our rv site. Our Gleason guys arrived about 8 am. Apparently the new clutch was not aligned perfectly with the engine pulley. They took it apart, realign with a straight edge, and installed a new belt I had been advised to order in advance of our trip as back ups (what great advise that had been). The guys felt confident the problem was solved as we tested it for about 15 minutes by revving the engine up and down. I asked them to follow us for about 10 miles to be sure. They agreed and the 10 mile check proved the fix was good….all belts perfectly aligned in position. More hugs and we were on our way. We drove about 400 miles that day, checking the belts along the way and constantly staring at the engine temperature gauge. There were some pretty big mountains to cross but all seemed ok. The scenery was gorgeous as we passed snow-covered peaks including the majestic Mt Shasta at over 14,000 ft. We settled into our RV park in Weed CA…that’s right….’Weed CA’, only about 30 miles from Oregon border, and drop in diesel prices by over a dollar a gallon. Finally a good night’s sleep back in our home on wheels. We departed about 9:30 am for Rufus Oregon. We were both still mentally and emotionally exhausted. My amazing mate, Cindy, constantly kept me calm and away from the ‘ledge’. Another 400 miles through the amazing scenery of central Oregon was a blessing. The temp gauge seemed to be behaving and acting correctly. Routine checks at stops of the belts started to give some peace of mind. Another good night’s sleep beside the Columbia River in Rufus was refreshing. The next day’s journey was again beautiful as we drove along the Columbia River for about 100 miles, before turning north to Spokane. We arrived at our designated RV park beside a big Casino just outside of the city, ready to make our evening Cosmopolitans and relax with a sigh of relief that things were getting back to normal after 1,000 miles of uneventful travel. But Noooooooo…. as I went behind the RV to disconnect our car, I noticed what looked like raveled-up string on the hitch. Upon closed examination, I realized it was from our shredding belt….yes the same one! we noticed when we turned off the Interstate for the RV park, there was a large Freightliner garage. We drove the 5 miles back to it and pleaded our case with our recent history of events. This garage had amazing hours…7 AM to 11:30 PM Mon-Fri and 7-5 Saturday. At first we were told they couldn’t do anything until Monday. As they apparently saw the stress we were experiencing, they said they would write us up to be in line for an assessment so be here at 7 am. It was an early morning but we were there at 7:05. We waited in their parts store on 2 truck chairs on display. About 90 mins later the service rep came to tell us they believe it was the welded bracket that does not perfectly replicate the original part….and the original part still shows 6-8 weeks out for re-supply. However, they created a Critical Part Order which provides a more extensive search or such a part being available anywhere, including their production line. We’ll know more Monday morning. In meantime, we search on-line for that part and found 3 available at various truck centers, But since it was now Saturday we’d have to wait until Monday to start our calls. We’ll also go back to that SC parts center who had the clutch, that we were told would take 4-6 weeks to get. So, we have hope that we can find that damn bracket and get overnighted for Tuesday delivery and back on the road by Wednesday….a significant effort to take things apart at the back of the engine to get to the bracket to replace. If not on the road by Wednesday, our safety margin of extra days to get to Banff will be depleted. We’re ready to face tomorrow and wherever that may lead us…either on our way to meet our caravan in Banff, or on way home to jump in the lake. Will keep you posted.

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers. But we’ll be ok regardless. Alex & Cindy

One response to “Sidelined AGAIN in Spokane Washington. Destination Alaska looking bleak.”

  1. Hang in there!! Positive vibes sent your way to get you back on the road 🙏🙏


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