Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Did I tell you about the time my truck wouldn't start? Or the other time my truck wouldn't start?

The original beautiful '89 Kingston
My adventures with trailering began with a traditional rig. I had this very nice Kingston TB Deluxe with a dressing room. The ramp had been replaced and it was generally a very nice trailer.

My dad and I shared a Chevy diesel 2500 from 1998. We bought off a guy out in Central Mass who had owned it for about five years. During that time he had Never Cleaned It. And he smoked.

We scraped about six inches of grime and what looked like used toilet paper out of the cab and eventually after we bought stock in the scented Christmas Tree Company the cigarette smell dissipated. We ended up putting new brakes (front and back) and a bunch of other stuff I don't remember.

But it JUST kept breaking down on me. Once on my street in Somerville. I had it parked the wrong way on my street so I could move cars quickly around in my driveway so I could back it into my driveway, in front of the garage, JUST SO. My Honda needed to be PARKED in the garage for this configuration to work. Honda moved and... It would not start. The Somerville Police do NOT take kindly to vehicles parking the WRONG WAY on a two way street. Somehow, it's akin to dealing crack at the elementary school. That time it turned out to be the starter.

Once when I was pulling the (thankfully horseless) trailer from Western MA to the 'burbs where the horse was the alternator gauge that tells your your battery is charging correctly started listing to the left... And listing to the left. I am constantly checking my dash and I spotted it right away and pulled into a gas station in Gill and called US Rider (and my Dad. Well it's HIS truck too, dammit!) That time it was a rotten cable as well. US Rider managed to find some guys working at a body shop in Gill on a Sunday who came out in like two minutes and they got me up and running again. Unfortunately they only fixed the cable to the alternator. We didn't realize the rest of them might be rotting as well.

A few months later I had it parked illegally when I was picking up furniture in Cambridge... it would not start. The poor furniture guys (who had instructed me to park there) were completely freaking out. The doorman from the Fancy Condo who's driveway we were NOT actually blocking, but we were definitely harshing their aesthetic mellow and bringing down their property values was threatening to have the truck impounded by "HIS" tow company. This time, US Rider sent some idiot with a Honda to try to jumpstart it instead of a tow truck, so we had to wait twice. Really, they sent a guy in a Honda Civic to jumpstart a Chevy 3/4 ton truck. I told them it wasn't the batteries. Those were relatively new and high quality. It turned out it the battery CABLES had rotted through and weren't connecting properly.

These things were annoying, but they weren't dangerous. Until the last time I drove it.

The last and final time I drove it, the truck accelerated on me and I was done. I have not driven it since. I was on my wait to pick up Cassel to take him to Great Brook and chatting to my mom on my cell when the engine revved and the truck lurched and I slammed on the brake and it fought me, as if it WANTED to hit the bumper of the Kia in front of us. I pulled it over and called US Rider. We took it to Mirak Chevrolet. After it had sat for the requisite week, they told us it was the diesel injectors. Now, I'm not a diesel mechanic, but I'm told by people much more car savvy than myself that the diesel injectors going bad would NOT cause the truck to accelerate like that. Ever. By the time it got to Mirak it wasn't running at all, so who knows how they diagnose these things, but I know for a fact the hotshot Chevy diesel mechanic was dead wrong.

However, there is a part called a PMD controller which has gone bad on almost every truck that Chevy made in 1998. They had a tendency to overheat due to their inexplicable placement in the hottest part of the engine. THAT would (and did) make the truck accelerate. So, instead of junking the truck or paying Mirak $5000 for a solution that would not have fixed the problem, we had the truck towed to my driveway in Melrose. My dad replaced and relocated the PMD controller and a few gaskets and it has run like a dream ever since.

I still won't drive it. (Nor will I get my Hyundai Santa Fe serviced at Mirak, the closest and most convenient Hyundai dealer to me).

Given what a flakey vehicle I was driving, some of my thudding terror over moving my horse may have been somewhat justified. So I decided that I was going to change things around. Even if the truck had been an awesome vehicle that trusted and loved driving, it was still hard to coordinate. The truck lived in Shelburne Falls, the trailer lived with my horse in Carlisle. Every trip needed to be planned a couple weeks in advance. My folks were constantly going back and forth between Western and Eastern MA, so it wasn't too much of a stretch, but it wasn't easy on anyone.

So I had to make a change and shake things up. But that is fodder for a subsequent post.

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