Saturday, January 4, 2014

Fixing It

Cousin Eddie's little brother arrived with a polite attitude and a level of optimism that turned out to be premature. No, you can't hook the liftgate and tow us, too dicey. No, you can't hook the arse-end frame, either. You need to get under that truck, lie on the frozen Iowa tundra, and drop that driveshaft. Save your charm for all those insanely frigid underbelly parts that are well marinated in several gallons of taffy-like engine oil and convince them that they should slip and twirl for you like a Fantasia hippo in a tutu. Good luck.

It wasn't long before we heard several F-bombs and a number unintelligible exclamations from under the truck. Poor guy - I really did feel sorry for him. The wind chill was almost twenty below. After 20 minutes or so, the truck was hooked to the wrecker and we were on our way to the nearest Freightliner dealer in Omaha, the little brother's attitude none the worse for wear. I spent most of the trip trying to feel life in my toes and deciphering a very perplexing control panel in the wrecker:

Although Omaha's OTR truck center is open 24 hours, we opted to take it to their business class center two blocks away and wait for them to open at 7am. With the truck engine out of play, our only option for heat was the generator. Unfortunately, we needed regular gasoline for it, and the nearest gas station was 1/4 mile away. When you're gazing at a gas sign a quarter mile away and the temp is below zero, it might as well be on the moon. Little Brother offered to drop us off at the gas station, but couldn't spare the time to bring us back. I think it was his way of sharing the Arctic love with us. 

I've never seen Hoss walk so fast in my life. Even with a bum knee and 30 pounds of gasoline in his hand, I had to hustle to keep up. We got the generator up and running, then buttoned up the truck. The temp inside had dropped to 37 degrees in just the time it took to drive to Omaha and fetch gas. The rooftop HVAC puts out a pathetic amount of heat for the electricity it consumes, so we usually rely on a portable ceramic heater that keeps us more than toasty. In addition to the ceramic, we cranked the mattress pad heater to the max. Finally, we were warming up. We had 3 1/2 hours to sleep until the shop opened at 7; our carrier called three times in those precious few hours to discuss freight delivery. I barely heard Hoss's voice, let alone the phone ringing. He got very little sleep.

We were 50 minutes away from the consignee and the freight was light - several boxes of office furniture that weighed only 700 pounds in total. We were the only truck for hundreds of miles, so meeting up with a rescue truck was unlikely. Our carrier wanted to have our truck and the freight towed to Lincoln - the SOP for this type of circumstance. Instead, Hoss made the arrangements to rent a small truck so he and I could transfer the load there at the truck dealership, then continue with the delivery. We had to jump through a few hoops with the Safety department before we could proceed, but it went well and we saved the crazy expensive fee for towing a truck to Lincoln and back.

We ran some errands, then went back to the dealership to pick up our truck. It turns out that the PCV vent had frozen shut and the oil pressure subsequently blew the dipstick past the friction seal point. Oil then proceeded to gush out and upward, showering everything under the hood on the driver's side with oil, and as we cruised across I-80, coated the entire underside of the truck - all places where oil doesn't help move the freight down the road.

It was an inexpensive fix. After three baths, the truck is now right as rain and just as clean. We're back in service, warm, well-rested, and waiting for the next load. 

1 comment:

  1. Can't believe you guys walked to get gas in the cold!! You must have felt like snowmen by the time you got back.

    Glad you and your truck got a nice hot shower. Lol.


Please include your name or initials so I'll know who you are!