10/17/00 - Return to Brunswick, the Sequel
Back at Brunswick Auto and Truck Service station (BATS) - and yes, I missed the exit on my way back up. I swear it is the exits in Ohio. Then I opted to loop around, taking the smaller State Roads, retracing my path from Friday the 13th to prove to myself that I wouldn't break down again.
The RV was taken into the garage, and I spent the day doing emails, reading and writing. I was taken for breakfast by a sweet, old man named Herbie who worked at the garage. My options for breakfast were limited to MacDonalds or Burger King so I chose Burger King since I'd already been to a MacDonalds the week before. Two fast food joints in one month - I don't think I've been to a fast food restaurant for years before now.
For lunch, I practically begged for a non-fast-food place to get something non-greasy to eat. Burger King, MacDonalds, Wendys, Olde World Deli. Yes, that's the one. Herbie brought me there, telling me how he'd been in Brunswick since 1962, came here because a war buddy of his told him he could stay with his folks because as an orphan, he really didn't have anywhere else to go. He got a job, got a place to live, and the rest is history. Now he lives in a trailer, sharing a stray cat with a next door neighbor. He detailed his job of winterizing the trailer and also how his water system works, down to the way he takes a shower (a "Navy" shower like I have to do in the RV - wet down, water off, soap up, water on to rinse off quickly). His neighbor? "She likes to take those long baths."
Getting Jiggy with RV Engines
Verdict on the RV: Carburetor was fine but had to replace spark plugs which were totally cruddy ("How you left a mechanic who replaced your whole engine without also getting new spark plugs...we just wouldn't do it that way," said Dave Kosh, BATS owner.), fixed leak in gas filler vent line and replaced one of the fuel lines, machined the exhaust manifold so it would fit together neatly without a gasket and cure some of those leaks, replaced the muffler which was badly damaged from a backfire which I hadn't even noticed, and new choke thermostat which even mechanic Bud Godfroy in New Lebanon, NY pointed out that I needed. But the carburetor was fine. Yes, the carburetor was fine!
Dave recommended that I get one last thing done - replace the entire Intake Manifold which, although the job that Buffalo mechanics at Ruziniaks had done to fix up the exhaust leak at the EGR Port was still holding quite well, the manifold itself was rusted and worn in spots where holes were forming, creating new leaks. Was it dangerous? Not yet. Would it be annoying? Yes, more and more so as the leaks increased. Would the RV blow up? Not really, but the leaks created heat near the carburetor and as they increased in size, the heat could create a problem. But at the moment, it wasn't critical.
I left that evening instructing Dave to make the calls in the morning to try to find an intake manifold for my 360 Dodge engine and that I'd make my final decision then about either staying in Brunswick for a few days or going on to my next few destinations - Indianapolis, Bloomington, OshKosh and Minneapolis - and calling ahead to Minneapolis to have them find one and fix it at the end of the month. When I asked one of the younger mechanics who had worked on my RV how it seemed to him, he said it seemed good, however, "those other mechanics you saw were hacks. They just fixed what they were told but didn't look at the big picture. Just did the big job, got your money, got you out of there. But didn't even notice all of the other things that needed work."
I knew he was right. From the moment things started going wrong after Holiday on Wheels in New York - things that even Bud Godfroy noticed were wrong at a glance - I had a feeling that, in typical Western-thinking fashion - they were treating the symptom and not the system, they were not being holistic. I should have trusted my gut instinct to delay my trip long enough for Bud Godfroy to have a go at the whole caboodle. He would have been honest, detailed, thorough, and most likely helped me to prevent all of the mishaps, including the engine failure. If I had known to replace the fuel pump and the oil pump early on - they were originals and very old and tired - the old engine could have been alive today. Would have, should have, could have.
I returned to Willow Lake where they knew me as "the girl whose RV broke down," made dinner, and the Berts and I slept soundly.
10/18/00 - Indianapolis, Here I Come
A morning call to Dave at BATS revealed that the intake manifold was not yet to be found and would be hard to come by. I thanked him profusely and told him I'd write about him on my website so maybe he'd get people coming to him after hearing about him on the Web. Although he is what I would call taciturn - the kind of personality I would have expected from folks in Maine - he was totally straight forward and no-nonsense. Even with the recommendations from the cop and tow truck guy, he totally won me over even more when he told me the carburetor was fine. He could have replaced it and pockets at least $225. Instead, he was honest and extremely thorough with the rest of the system.
Headed to Indy through Columbus and sure enough, I missed the exit. Annoyed with myself for having been so careless, I went to the next exit, turned around, and headed back north. Then missed the exit again! "No way!" I shouted and the Berts looked up to see what was goind on, settling back down after a moment. It's the Interstate between Cleveland and Columbus - I knew it wasn't me. I turned around at the now familiar Exit 121 and tried one more time. Slowly, slowly, who cares that I'm going 45 in a 55 mph zone. I must find my exit.
And the next exit, entirely NOT MARKED in any way in advance and a tiny sign the size of your thumbnail next to the exit marker literally at the exit reading "270 West" in miniscule letters was the only clue. No wonder I passed it the first time. Well, finally on my way, with about 7 hours of driving ahead of me. Would I make it?
As you can see from the photo of me with two Indy Webgrrls, I did make it. Not only did I make it right on time according to my clock, I actually made it one hour early. No one told me I was going through a time zone! At 6:30pm I walked into the Oaken Barrel Brewery and asked for my party but no one had arrived. Then asked the time. 5:30pm. Oh. Oh! Turns out Indiana actually never changes time forward or back - but while others do, they could either be the same time as neighboring states or an hour behind.
Dinner was tasty and the Indy Webgrrls couldn't have been nicer. I decided not to backtrack to the KOA I had mapped out as my campground for the night and continued down I-65 South to Edinburgh and the Driftwood Campground. No driftwood or beach in sight but a very basic and super cheap site with full hookup. Only $12.60! That is compared to average $20 everywhere else. I was very grateful for the deal - I only had $18 in cash left and unsure if anything was left on the credit cards. So money is tight. But who's worried? Not me! I have my RV, it is running, it made a 7 hour drive (with two breaks - 1/2 hour and then 1 hour), and I have enough dry food in here to last me a few weeks. I'm cool! And tomorrow, I'd be heading to Bloomington, Indiana (there is also a Bloomington, Illinois for anyone following my travels on a map) to see my friend Lisa and to partake in Indiana hospitality. And get a hot shower!