The 24 hours after Loretta’s turned out to be just about the most miserable I have had, certainly in a long long time.
I left Loretta’s and followed the Candi’s directions (our stripper voice GPS unit) towards home. She sent me home on little roads north and west through Tennessee and Kentucky. It was pouring down rain, but nonetheless it was a spectacular drive. The van acted up a little bit on that drive, doing it’s cutting out above a certain speed thing. But, the roads were small and the pace was not to fast, so it was not to bad.
In Kentucky, I hit the interstate and that was when it got bad. The van decided that 60mph was as fast as it wanted to go. Around Paducah it decided that it did not want to run at all. I pulled over at a rest area, and let the thing rest – thinking that stopping and letting it reset somehow was making it better – as it seemed to a month ago in Florida. I somehow managed to get into Illinois, but at the border there is a pretty decent climb after the river. The van barely made it up that. I was on the shoulder with the flashers on struggling to maintain 35-40mph.
Down the hill and into Marion, and the van maintained 55-60mph with just an occasional stumble. But, in Marion I planned to grab a hotel room and then make the rest of the drive the next day.
When I left Marion, the next morning, the sun was shinning and it looked to be a good day on the road. 40 or so miles later, and I was back into the torrential downpour. That was when the van decided that it was done fooling around and it was time to really really run poorly. It began to cut out, stumble and die every 10-15 miles. Every 15 minutes I would stop on the side of the road and turn the van off to let it rest – again, thinking that it was an electrical problem that would reset itself. But, by now it was just running poorly all the time. It would only go about 45mph, it would stumble and struggle on overpasses or in a big headwind and I was stopping constantly.
Somehow I made it to Champaign Illinois, but that was as far as the van would go. I sputtered into the Ford dealer there, and they put it up on the stand. They changed the fuel filter, which was completely clogged, and while doing that discovered that the fuel sensor in the tank was gone as well. That part they did not have in stock, that would have to be delivered the next day. Although I was more than half way home, I was not going to make it that day. I was stranded 5 hours from home, at a crappy hotel in Champaign.
While I was there, I tried to make the best of it. I found a bookstore with a coffee shop and wireless access. I camped out there and tried to do my job from that spot. The next day, I made my way back over to the Ford dealer at about noon, and they were already working on the repair.
After about 4 hours of waiting in the waiting room, they finally found the real culprit. Apparently the lining on the tank is coming off, and that is what is damaging the fuel filter and the sensor. The managed to get it all put back together and it runs, but they warned me that it is just going to do the same thing all over again, over time.
$896 later, thank you very much, I was back on the road at about 5pm. I drove like mad to make it home to see my daughters playing in a varsity soccer game. Although I have been home in between the races so far this year, since this is the first time the van, camper and race bikes have been home since February it feels like I have not been home in a long time. It is good to be home.
We will be holed up here in Wisconsin for a while. I have a lot of work I want to do on the trailer, each of our race bikes needs a complete overhaul (top end, clutch, bearings packed, wheels trued, tires, brake fluids, radiator fluids, my pipe is bent so will be replaced, Scotts fork has lost all its fluid on one side, sprockets, plastic, graphics, grips etc…)
We will be missing Ohio. Scott’s wife is having a baby, and I am just a bit burned out after the Champaign and van fiasco. Hopefully we will get the tank replaced on it before we head out of town to another GNCC. I cannot make Sparta as that is the same day as my oldest daughters High School graduation. There are a couple of local races in there that I will be able to do, and I will post up some stories from those. But, Yadkinville is when I will be back at it with GNCC racing.
See you then,