If You’re Given a Bunch of Lemons, You May as Well Just Make Tasty Lemonade

The lemons I got this year on the way to the Oregon Coast, were the repairs that needed to be done to my RV. As I mentioned in my last post while in South Dakota I had problems with the RV overheating. I made arrangements to get it in the shop while in the Black Hills. They’ve had experience with this before and normally it just is the radiator that needs a good cleaning and this helps with the airflow. So, the shop steam cleaned the radiator and flushed out and added new coolant to the radiator. I got this done first thing Tuesday morning and was on my way before noon. I spent the rest of the day driving several hundred miles to Casper, Wyoming. Everything seemed to be working just fine and I spent the night at the local Walmart before making my way further west into Idaho on Wednesday. All seem to be working fine as I drove all day. I made my way across Wyoming and into Central Idaho. I was about ready to stop for the day as I was making my way into Lava Hot Springs, Idaho. I was starting a assent of the steep grade and the temperature on the RV started climbing up again and I started to lose power. I quickly pulled over to let it cool down. Of course, I was wondering what was wrong now. After a while I pulled out thinking I could get to my stop for the night. But as soon as I did that, I had no power at all and it started blowing all kinds of smoke out of the backend of the RV. My first thought was I had blown the engine and that would’ve been very very expensive. Thank goodness, I have AAA to pay for the toll. I gave them a call for roadside assistance and while waiting for them to call back I did some research online and found a tow service that was able and willing to come out and help me. Which was a good thing because the dispatcher at AAA said she couldn’t find anybody. I gave them the company that I had found and they contacted them and made the arrangements, to help me. The tow service had told me it would be at least a couple hours before they could get out to help. In the meantime, while I was waiting I called around and found Western States Cat Service (as my RV has a C7 Cat engine in it) that was only a little over 30 miles away in the town of Pocatello, Idaho. This all happened Wednesday afternoon around 4:00 PM. I called the Cat Dealer and talk to a young man that assured me they would be able to help me out with the repairs. This made me feel quite a bit better figuring that they could get me on the road relatively quickly. He told me somebody would be at the shop till midnight and just keep them informed of when I thought I would get there. It ended up being well over four hours before the wrecker got there and then over another hour to get it loaded on the flatbed truck and still close to another hour to get it into town. When we finally got on the way I called the shop back and told him it looked like it would be a little after midnight before we would get there so they waited around, to show us where to park it and make sure I got settled in for the night, which was very nice. It took quite a long time to get it off the flatbed (over another hour) because the air suspension had bled out and there was very little clearance on the RV. But John the wrecker driver finally got it done and now it being about 2 o’clock I was totally exhausted. In the meantime, I had talked to three of the young guys on the night shift and they pretty much felt that the engine would be fine and it wasn’t overly serious which made me feel a little better. I crawled into bed and tried to get some sleep thinking worst-case scenario. Come 7:30 in the morning the service manager gave me a call to let me know they could start checking into it. I got dressed and went inside and explain what had happened. They sent a tech out to crawl underneath and see what he could see after doing some checking he figured it was a problem with the turbocharger. They had me start it up and it ran okay but it was still putting out a very large cloud of smoke. There was enough power to be able to drive it into the shop where they could dive into it deeper. Here I got it inside their great big clean shop bay, so they could work on it more.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But as you can see in this photo I left a trail oil as I drove it in.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The tech was able to do all the work from underneath the RV without having to get under the bed. This was kind of nice so I didn’t have to empty everything out and take the mattress off the bed. He started taking parts off and found that the air cleaner was quite plugged which could have been part of the problem.


Here’s some more of the parts they had to take-off, laying under the RV.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And here’s the turbocharger that seized up and it actually broke one of the impellers off of it (you can see it laying loose in this photo). Which caused it to dump oil right into the engine, which is what caused all the smoke.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They were able to locate and get all the parts by midday Thursday and figured they would have it back together that evening, when the night shift came in. This is a huge Cat Dealership that has service people working till midnight every night at the shop, and with 24-hour emergency service. If they got everything fixed that evening. This would be great because that meant I would’ve only lost one day of travel time. The night shift came in around four and one of the guys I had met the night before finish putting the rig back together. They had me started up and it took a while to get all the oil out of the engine so it smoked and spit and sputtered oil for a while. But it seemed to be running fine. After letting it sit and idle for quite a while I took it out for a test drive. They had warned me that it would probably smoke quite a bit which it did for the first few miles. I ran it a good 30 miles and everything seemed to be running well. When I got back to the shop I noticed a whole backend of the RV was covered with oil residue from the initial startup. So, they took it over to the steam bay and washed off the back and clean the radiator once again. By this time, it was pretty late, around 7 PM and I asked him if I could spend another night in their parking lot and they were more than happy to let me. I settled up with them and was happy that the bill came in at less than three grand that they were able to get it done in one day’s time. Thinking that it could’ve been a whole lot worse. I started checking on what I might do for the next few days as my plan was not to get to the lighthouse till Tuesday sometime (and this was Thursday evening). I came up with some ideas and figured I’d play it by ear and see how things went the next day. I crawled in bed and got a good night’s sleep after a long hectic day. The next day I drove across the rest of Idaho and into Eastern Oregon with the RV running better than it had ever before. I think this was an ongoing problem since I bought this unit used. Once I got into Eastern Oregon, I stopped and got online and found that I could get a couple night’s stay at a Passport America campground near Burn, Oregon (The Narrows) with full hookups for $20 a night. This ended up being a great little oasis in the high desert of Eastern Oregon. I got into the campground late afternoon around five and settled in for a two nights stay (Friday and Saturday nights), I watched some TV and relaxed with plans of doing nothing the next day except some laundry. The next day I got up and did a bunch of cleaning, some laundry and made some plans where to go for Sunday and Monday nights. I had planned originally do a lot more stopping and enjoying some of sites along the way, before all my delays. I did some checking and found that I could get a campsite at Crater Lake, which was about halfway between where I was in my final stop. So, I made reservations online for two nights figuring I get in around supper time on Sunday. Sunday morning I got up with a little over 300 miles to log that day and got a nice start. Everything was going well and the RV was still running good with no overheating problems. When I got just a little over 20 miles from Crater Lake and I was about to go up a rather large hill the RV started slowing down which is nothing unusual going up big hills. What I normally do is manually downshift and keep the RPMs up. When I downshifted, and stepped on the accelerator instead of speeding up it just kept slowing down, my first thought is now what’s wrong. I quickly got over to the side of the road as this is a very busy highway and got off on the shoulder as best as I could. I basically just coasted to a stop and as soon as I was completely stopped the engine stopped running, or I’m sure it had stopped before this and I was just coasting. I tried to “with no luck” to get it to start, all it did was crank over, it acted like it was not getting any fuel or it had blown a breaker or fuse. I checked all the circuit breakers and fuses and could not find any tripped. So here I was again with that bad feeling “now what’s wrong”. Once again, I got on the phone, got AAA working on things and hope for the best. I got online and started looking around as to where I would have it towed this time. I made some calls and found out about 30 miles away in Klamath Falls, Oregon there was another Cat Dealership called Peterson Cat, that has service centers up and down the whole West Coast. But of course, this was Sunday evening and no one was around. Once again, I had better luck at locating a wrecker service that could handle my rig, on my own then AAA did themselves. So, I pass the information on to the dispatcher and she made the arrangements for them to come out. Ed a very nice and efficient tow truck driver, from Ace Towing came out had me hooked up and in the town in a little over an hour’s time which was great. While I was waiting, I was able to get the service manager from Peterson’s Cat on the phone and explained the situation to him. He told me where to have the wrecker drop the RV off and that I was welcome to stay there and hopefully sometime Monday they could take a look at it but he couldn’t make any promises because they were quite booked up already. Here’s a photo of the wrecker and where he dropped me off so once again I settled in for an uneasy night, Sunday night waiting to hear what was wrong.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I called up the park to advise them I might not be coming in Tuesday as originally planned and told them I would keep them informed as I learn more. They didn’t get a chance to do much on Monday except run some tests and found out it wasn’t building up enough oil pressure, which would cause the fuel injectors not to fire. They came to the conclusion that it was either the Heui pump or one or more of the seals around the fuel injectors was leaking and they needed to take off the valve cover to check this out but they would not get a chance to do anything until Tuesday morning. What this meant was I had to empty out a bunch of things from underneath my bed and take off the access panels to get at the engine because they had a do the work from inside the RV and from underneath the RV. Here’s a couple photos of what it looks like when you get under the bed to get at the engine. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirst thing Tuesday morning “Cody” a young service tech got to work on it, he removed the valve cover and checked all the seals around the injectors which were fine. If it was some of the seals it would’ve been a less-expensive fix. So, this meant the Heui pump had failed and it needed to be replaced. So, they made some calls and found one in Portland, Oregon to the tune of $1600 but they knew we would not get it in till late Wednesday and they would start working on it as soon as they could and hopefully I’d be out sometime Thursday morning. I called Ben back at the park and let him know that the soonest I would be there would be Thursday and he was fine with that but just to keep them informed. By this time it was midday Tuesday and there was nothing I could do, I figured I’d make the best of the day and would drive the hour to Crater Lake to take in its beautiful scenery. In the meantime, Cody put back the valve cover back on and took off the bad pump getting things ready so as soon as the new one showed up it would be a quick install. He did an excellent job on all the work that he did and was very conscientious. I left him to his chores and took off to enjoy this beautiful scenery. 20180626_12110520180626_135925

Once again you may as well make lemonade rather than complain about the bitter lemons you were given. One thing in this lifestyle of being a full-time RV’er is if you can’t deal with the occasional breakdowns you better not do it. Because something is going to fail sooner or later whether it be your furnace, water heater, refrigerator, engine or something else things are going to wear out and fail. So, the best thing is planned for it and when it happens hopefully it won’t be the end of the world. The interesting thing about Crater Lake this year compared to last year is there was hardly any snow to be found a little in the shadows tucked away on the north sides of hills. As you may recall last year when I was here just 54 weeks ago, there was over 12 feet of snow still on the ground. I think the views were much prettier with the nice white snow.20170618_165924Here’s some pictures with the large snowbanks up to the roof lines from last year. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And I think Maxine liked the cool snow on her feet better, because today it was quite hot.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On Wednesday while were waiting for the parts to come in I had Cody do a bunch of preventive service on the RV. He changed out the fuel filters greased all the grease fittings and checked over several other things. As promised the pump came in around four in the afternoon. He started working on getting it back in right away and even stayed past five to finish connecting everything up. We crank it over and it started right up but as soon as it used up the fuel and the lines it stopped running. By then the batteries were run down quite a bit and there wasn’t much more we could do that evening. We put a charger on the batteries overnight with the intention of bleeding out the fuel lines and getting it going first thing in the morning. As planned things went well and it started up and we let it run for quite a while as they were figuring out the bill and I was putting the RV back together. I took it out for a ride and filled it up at the local station with diesel, then I came back to the shop and settle up the bill, about another three grand later. I got the car loaded up and everything situated and on to the park I went only two days behind schedule but everything went well the rest of the trip and we think all these problems were kind of related to each other. Even though the RV itself doesn’t have that many miles on it, the years that it was in storage are not good on an engine to just sit, especially on a diesel engine. Seals tend to dry up and things corrode when they are not used on a regular basis and this can lead to things failing prematurely. When I bought the RV it only had 32,000 miles on it but it is a 2005 so it does have some age to. In the year and a half that I’ve had it I’ve only put about 13,000 miles on the engine. Hopefully this has rectified any problems and going forward I should only have to deal with routine maintain issues, I’m going to keep my fingers crossed. But in the big scheme of things it could’ve been a whole lot worse. But the most important thing I made it to the lighthouse safe and sound and it’s like being home again. Maxine was super happy when I took her down to the beach on Thursday evening but I will have more of her adventures and pictures in my next post about what’s happened this past week soon. I’m really looking forward to just chilling out for a while and enjoying some quiet times it’s been a crazy couple months. Thanks for following along till next time, Rick




  1. That could have been worse, but it still was expensive, Rick. Hope it runs like a top for you, from here on out. I’d start it up once in a while when you are out there at Washburn, just to keep it lubed up.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, your story sounds a bit similar to ours except ours has taken a lot longer to get fixed and we are just now leaving with the hopes that everything is fnally fixed… As you said it is simply part of this lifestyle!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yikes, we had no idea of the issues you experienced after you left here! Glad to hear you were able to get into the service centers right away and get the issues taken care of. Isn’t Crater Lake beautiful?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes just love Crater Lake.
      I was happy that I was able to get things fixed in a timely manner. I hope that will take care of any repairs for a long time 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s