Thursday, August 22, 2013

Travel Emergency: Sick Truck

Our truck has had a CVA!  Most of you know that, when speaking of human health, CVA means Cerebro-Vascular Accident, more commonly known as a stroke.  It occurs when something -- a clot or a bleed -- interferes with the blood circulation to some part of the brain.  A CVA is a serious situation and can be fatal.  However, there are many different treatments that can help a person recover from the effects of a stroke.

Speaking of our truck, however, CVA has a slightly different meaning.  It refers to a Costly Vehicular Anomaly, more commonly known as a blown head gasket!  It, too, is serious, and I suppose could be fatal, leaving us stranded along the roadside somewhere in the wilderness.  Our truck, however, chose to blow its head gasket in a more convenient place.

Coming in to our son's house in Athens County, Ohio the end of August, Bruce noticed that the engine was overheating on uphill tows.  He decided to have it checked out so made an appointment at the Ford "truck hospital" in nearby Athens.  The news was prompt, and not good.  Our trusty travel donkey had blown his head gasket!

We had no choice but to get it repaired if we ever hoped to tow the fifth wheel back to Texas.  So the truck "doctors" and technicians set about replacing it.  Of course, they had to tear out three-fourths of the engine to get to it so our poor F350 was confined to the "hospital" for 9 days. 

As the days dragged on, I could mentally see the bill adding up and I knew that our Medicare benefits did not include vehicle coverage!  On one visit to our ailing six-wheeled carrier, I asked the "hospital's head honcho," "Shall we make application for the poorhouse tomorrow or can it wait until next week?"  The 12 month or 12,000 mile warranty on the repairs being made helped keep me from complete panic.

The need to rent a car for scheduled events in Indiana only increased my mental  monetary misery!  Fortunately, most of the time we could borrow our son's second vehicle.

Finally, the day came and the truck was released from the "hospital."  I drove it home without difficulty.  But, on the way to a restaurant that evening, both Bruce and our son Joel heard suspicious new noises in the engine that they didn't like: a hiss and a squeal.  We planned a follow-up visit to the "hospital" the first of the following week.

Sunday morning, we were ready for church.  We climbed into the truck and discovered that it wouldn't start!  Two days out of the "hospital" and it was sick again!  This time, it was the vehicular version of CHF, Congestive Heart Failure when a person's heart becomes too weak to pump the blood around through the body.  Our recuperating "towing machine" had come down with CBF, Complete Battery Failure! 

It took some effort, but our son was able to jump start it from his little car and back to the "Ford hospital" it went.  This time it was dropped at the "hospital" door showing no signs of life.  The diagnosis was prompt: dead batteries and a faulty Y-tube (whatever that is!)

It was about this time when I realized that for eight years we hadn't been riding around and towing in a Ford 350.  We were, instead, getting transported by a big, white lemon!  Now, I know the old adage, "When life gives you lemons, add a sweet smile and make lemonade."  Sweet smiles were in short supply around our house by that time.  So, instead, to our big white lemon, we added:
       1. Bruce's persistent good humor and optimism
       2. My temper tantrums
       3. Our son's patience with guests who stayed longer than they promised
       4. Ten percent of the price of a new truck
       5.  Two new head gaskets, a new oil cooler, a new radiator, a new rocker arm, two new batteries, a new Y-tube and all the clamps and hoses that go with it, all the labor  necessary to install all of the above, and 12 days of borrowing or renting other vehicles!

We think that, with all of these additions, we deserve more than just lemonade!  We want, at least, a lemon meringue pie! 

See you on down the road, we hope.  Just look for a big, white, expensive lemon!