Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Broke bus

It doesn’t matter which mode of transport we’re living in, there’s fixing to do.  Coming out of Alberta last Sunday we had a brake lockup.  Initially I blamed it on Prevost’s needlessly complicated system of relays which control the air to the tag axle but it turned out to be much simpler. 

The initial symptom was a vibration so we stopped to have a look, thinking that we had another wheel failure on the micro-truck.  The truck was still intact and we couldn’t see any problem with the bus.  I left my infrared thermometer on the boat so I was using my palm to gauge temperatures but nothing seemed out of line.  Maybe the thermometer would have detected what turned out to the be the problem.  There was a roadside rest area just ahead of where we were and I was already tired so it was easy to convince myself that we should stop for the night.  In the morning I had a good look at everything and couldn’t see any problems so we set out again.

All seemed well for about 50 miles and then the curbside tag locked up solid.  I was pretty quick to flip the switch that lifts the tags but not before we had scrubbed a hole in the bottom of the tag tire.  That’s only one of the many reasons why you don’t run good tires on the tag axle.  We ran with the tag lifted to Regina and then back to Swift Current before I could get a good look at the situation.  After initially blaming Prevost I eventually figured out that the inner bearing had piled up.  I have no idea why.  The bearings were all replaced not that long ago and there was oil in the cap when I took it off – maybe not as much oil as I would have expected but some of that likely ran out when the bearing piled up.  Whatever the cause it wasn’t something that I was going to be able to fix on the road so we sat in the campground in Swift Current with the bus looking very forlorn and then ran all the way to Buchanan yesterday with the tags raised.

Our little shack on the prairies didn’t look as bad as we remembered it – its no prize but its not as bad as it might be.  Last night I got the hub pried off so I could fully survey the damage and today I got the frenchmen working to send me the necessary parts.  They have a bad habit of sending parts to the wrong address so Marilyn is going to hound them while I’m away to try to ensure the parts are actually here when I get back.  I also have to wait until “John” gets back to the local machine shop to get the old bearing cut off the axle.  With a really good collar and a puller I might be able to pull the bearing but it would be a battle.  I’m not a sufficiently skilled torch-surgeon to cut the bearing off but I’ve seen it done enough times to know that such people exist.  Another nice thing about boats --- no tires, brakes or wheel bearings to give problems.

Yesterday I picked up a set of Brazilian Portuguese lessons.  I won’t be fluent or even functional but I would like to be able to say “Hi”, “Bye”, “Thank you” and “Bugger off” before I get on the plane.  Counting would be handy too.  It appears that the language is close enough to Spanish to confuse me and different enough to make my feeble Spanglish largely useless.

Yesterday I had a huge fight with our Hughesnet dish.  It had been offline for about 7 months which shouldn’t matter but clearly does.  Hughes is experiencing a steady loss of satellite internet customers due to the proliferation of 3G/4G cellular based internet services.  In order to keep their satellites loaded they are dropping transponders and moving the remaining customers to new transponders.  If that happens while the customer is online it is supposed to be invisible from the customer’s standpoint.  When it happens while the customer is offline it can create problems and I believe that is what happened to us.  Whatever the cause it took two calls to Galaxy support to get it all straightened out.  That’s not as bad an experience as some calls to support – Galaxy actually answers their phones and they are a small enough outfit that I got the same guy both times so I didn’t have to go through all the bullshit about mother’s maiden name and first cat’s favorite food in order to verify who I was.

Today its down to the wire packing for Brazil and teaching SWMBO how to do all the nasty stuff that I normally do to keep our lives livable. 

No comments: