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