Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

More Opportunities Than Problems

I awoke one morning to find the sunlight in a frying pan to be my bugle to begin the day.

I awoke one morning to find the sunlight in a frying pan to be my bugle to begin the day.

A bright glare wakened me one morning, which was a trick, since the head of my enclosed bunk usually faces east and remains a dark cave as long as the window shade is down. The golden glow was from a stainless steel frying pan reflecting the sun’s light. Naturally, when I decided to take a picture, the result was more mundane. Guess you had to be there.

I’m just waiting for purchased items to arrive via UPS before I head to Yuma, and I’ve found once again this year that anything arriving via Quartzsite’s post office, like UPS Smartpost, FedEx Surepost, or Priority Mail stand a fair chance of being bounced and sent back for no particular reason. So you have to know how items will be shipped out, and “Free Shipping!” is always at risk.

It’s been a bit nippy here lately and promises to remain so for awhile, with daily highs in the low 60s and lows around 40 degrees. I prefer that to baking in heat, but it does delay venturing outside. As I write this paragraph, it’s 8AM and 44 degrees outside, something that many of you would relish, but here, that’s low enough to delay getting outside to accidentally break something while trying to repair it. It’s a lifestyle. It’s what I do.

The Mighty Furd threw a dashboard warning light recently, while flying on its way back from Parker. It kept alternating a wrench and the message “Reduced Engine Power” to indicate a problem. Looking it up later showed it to be pointing to one of two things: some transmission glitch, or a partially-clogged Diesel Particulate Filter in the exhaust. The latter is part of the engine’s emissions system that filters out any black soot, and which is occasionally cleared by dumping in more fuel to heat it up to welding temperature. Sooner or later, it must be replaced, but it’s designed to last some 120,000 miles before that’s needed. I’m at only about 65,000 miles, but Ford has, through firmware updates, decreased the frequency of these automated “regeneration” cleanings due to customer complaints, as each one lowers fuel mileage considerably. 2008 Navistar-supplied diesels use this rather complex emissions system. Should this “DPF” filter be unable to clear itself, engine power is intentionally limited, though I’m not sure whether this is to protect the engine or filter, or merely to urge the driver to pay attention and take it in for service. If the clogging gets worse, the display changes slightly and maximum power is cut even more.

The “good” news is that the electronic integration of throttle, cruise control, transmission operation, emissions control, and a huge mass of sensors plastered all over the powertrain occasionally hiccup, and the problem disappears on the next engine restart. So it has with this one, and it’s now just one of those things where you can only wait and see if it resurfaces. It may not. If it does, a new or rebuilt DPF filter is expensive, and 2008 F-250s with my 10,000-pound gross vehicle weight rating are now out of emissions warranty.  So, I’ll have to investigate going rogue and installing an aftermarket add-on system that allows physical removal of the DPF without screwing up the mass of electronics needed for normal function. And I’ll have to find a competent shop that isn’t gun-shy about fooling with Federally-mandated emissions equipment.

It’s a moot point for me because I’m already committed with both feet, but Ford dumped Navistar’s complex approach when they dumped Navistar as a supplier and decided to roll their own diesel instead. The current Ford diesel uses what is now a much more popular and straightforward emissions control approach, and there’s no more waiting for the blade to fall as the miles add up. The Navistar system was a cobbled scramble in response to new Federal emissions requirements at the time, and works superbly when new and everything is happy. But all that complexity becomes a liability over time and miles. Dumping Navistar (over warranty support issues with its ill-fated DeathStar 6.0 liter) was probably the best thing that could have happened to Ford, hurt reputation and sheer expense aside. In trying to save face, replacing the Navistar by buying from Isuzu (GM) or Cummins (Dodge) would hardly be an option. Neither competitor is in a similar position to build their own diesel, since GM has the volume but went bankrupt, while Dodge is too small, went bankrupt, and is now owned by Fiat of Italy. It makes more financial sense to buy from outside suppliers, but when both of the competent ones are taken, cutting the headaches of dealing with warranty reimbursement contracts does have an appeal. Now, when any reliability issues arrive, Ford can simply turn to its own Powertrain Engineering section to administer the beatings.

On another topic, I’ve been building a Google Map database of all the known campsites and facilities known to me in the last couple of years, so that I can plan a trip just by looking at a map and selecting available stops along the route I wish to take. Overnight stops, 7 or 14-day stops, dump stations and the like are peppered about, all with different icons to identify which is which. Sad to say, Google recently “improved” Google Maps, which converted all my facilities into identical icons so that I had no idea what was what. With the interface severely cleaned up, how to correct the situation became a deep mystery. Even sadder to say, trying to correct it eventually led to accidentally deleting the whole thing. Poof, gone!

But there is an opportunity here, in that I found that Garmin’s software to interface my GPS with my iMac allows a much more complete solution, and one which does not have quite the Internet connectivity requirements that Google Maps inherently does. For my purposes, it’s more adaptable and usable. So, yeah, I have to reconstruct what I can and start from scratch on the rest, but I think the result will be better. When/if the GPS unit itself finally folds up, I will hopefully never know the difference with its replacement, which will be using the same software. In the meantime, I have a record of past routes and stopover points used to get to Illinois and back in my annual migration, to tide me over in the short term. Beyond that, I’ll have plenty to keep me busy!

Problems, problems! But really, step back and take a look. If these are the biggest kinds of issues I’d ever have to deal with, I’d be sitting pretty wouldn’t I? The Defiant is cozy, warm and comfortable once I throw the heater on, and each day has a wide assortment of things that await attention, with opportunities to appreciate, enjoy or reflect upon. But, not before a breakfast of eggs, bacon, and fried ‘taters!

And the sun, in setting, had no last gasp, but turned about quickly, its cape draping and folding as it marched off toward the other side of the world.

And the sun, in setting, had no last gasp, but turned about quickly, its cape draping and folding as it marched off toward the other side of the world.

P.S.: This is my 300th post, and I ain’t done yet, by gum!

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16 thoughts on “More Opportunities Than Problems

  1. James Brown on said:

    When I was in the market to buy my diesel tow vehicle I went out to buy a Ford, with a GM a close possibility, and Dodge being the realm of “never going to happen”. I came home with the Dodge. I ended up buying a year or so earlier that I needed because I didn’t want to deal with the new emission standards due out. I ended up with a 5.9 Cummins just before the change over to the 6.7. I was still leery of the Dodge surrounding my Cummins but it’s been a very good, dependable truck for 135,000 miles now. God watches out for fools and drunks and I was stone, cold sober when I was out shopping so thank goodness for the other option.

    • Good for you, James! I know what you mean about the Dodge surrounding the Cummins. I had a ’94 stripper with a V6 (gas) that was always willing and reached 200k miles, but was troublesome during its first 100K with engine, front suspension, catalyst, and body hardware issues. Dodge has always seemed like the more affordable alternative, and I’m glad that the basic truck seems to have been improved. I always had the feeling that the basic engine of the Ford/Navistar of my year could last, but that when trouble came, it would be through the complex surrounding systems. If I remember correctly, Cummins avoided the DPF approach once the requirements did hit, and they’re better off for it. To pick up a pre-emissions model and have the rest of the truck hold up well is a clear win on your part. Don’t be eager to trade it in!

  2. Dagnabbit I wanted to be first to click Like on this post and I can’t get it to work!

    Rachel :~) Lord bless you.

    We cannot change the wind, but we can adjust our sails.

    • I don’t doubt it. I have no idea how that works. It has worked for others, but maybe I should just kill it and end the mystery. Others haven’t been able to add their website, and here you are with yours, so I’m stumped on that one too.

      • It’s interesting after I logged into my wordpress and then got out of your post and then back into your post I was able to click on like.

        My blog is showing up on this message because it’s actually coming from my email instead of me comingout here and posting a comment I sent the blog an email and it took everything off my signature and posted it kind of interesting don’t you think?

  3. Yippee! Happy happy joy joy ding ding ding! 300 Posts! That is so great!

    I appreciated you sharing about the frying pan and the sunset. I didn’t have to be there. I know exactly what you’re talking about. Those little moments in life that you can appreciate. Simply for their beauty!!

  4. Doug, hope get the chance to say good bye before you leave.

    I got those photos by the way……Thank you for forwarding them to me.

    And PLEASE no more scarry stories about Ford diesel troubles3s…lol

    • Papa, no sweat, I’m delayed to the end of the week at least, so I’ll be pestering you once the upcoming rain is over. Let me know if you need larger versions of any of the photos. The “photo essay” will have to wait a bit, as I have my hands full right now.

      Such glitches, or the indication of such glitches on the dashboard, are not the scary part. The scary part is the spectre of the repair invoice for any fairly recent diesel engine! Other than the exhaust sounding slightly louder (there are flaps and traps that change in the system) things appear back to normal at this point. I’m just gonna run it.

  5. Chris lemcke on said:

    300 posts…seems like only 299! Happy Holiday Dear Friend!

  6. I use MS Streets & Trips for my travel planning, different symbols for different things and it’s not dependent on the internet.
    The bad thing is MS is dropping it but the copy I have (2013) will do it’s job (well enough) for the next 20 years even without updates.
    I have heard of other map programs that can link with a gps & don’t have to be connected to the internet to be used.

    • Hard to believe they’d drop that, as I assumed it was popular. Sooner or later, you may find yourself with an “improved” OS that won’t run it, but enjoy it until then! I kinda wish both MS and Apple would stop revamping operating systems and adding glitter features that break compatibility with older apps, since I tend to keep my hardware rolling for 10+ years or however much I can squeeze out if it. Until that point, I pretty much leave the original OS and apps alone, without updating. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it is my motto.

  7. Ha, ha – a fry pan wake up call. Thats a good one. Its one of the joys of the mobile life that if I don’t like which window the sun comes into, I can just turn my rig around!

    • Easy for you and most others, Pam! As you probably know, once set up and stationary, the Mighty Defiant is a big deal to reposition even slightly, so initial parking is hardly a whimsical or impulsive thing for me. As long as the nose is headed true west by the sun or WSW by the compass, I’m good. It can adapt to other orientations, but solar efficiency is knocked down and high wind direction on those side-hanging panels can become a concern at times. The Defiant is a world away from rigs you can just park as you like for a few days and move on to the next stop. That’s the downside of extremely affordable and quickly modified to suit, but it still makes for a very good home. So my Glowing Golden Pan stays – except for the two saucepans that normally hang in front of it. Their aim is a little off.

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