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Thursday, January 3, 2008 - Carthage MS

Moundville Archaeological Site, January 2, 2008
Moundville Archaeological Site, Moundville AL, January 2, 2008

Another cold night

Lows were in the mid to high teens again last night in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Too cold for me and LD doesn't like it one bit either. Her windows glaze over with ice in this weather when I use the catalytic heater to warm us. The furnace is vented; the catalytic heater is not. I like to use the catalytic when I can. I like the cozy warmth of its radiant heat and it runs a bit more efficiently than the furnace, saving some propane as well. Last night I probably would have run both if I had repaired the malfunctioning furnace in a timely manner. Not needing the furnace I put its repair way too far down on my todo list. Ah, well, the sun will be up soon.

I figured if I had to endure the cold anyway I might as well be on the road so I left Philadelphia, Mississippi about dawn and made my way the 25 miles or so over to Carthage, Mississippi where I stopped to make my breakfast and decide how to deal with the engine hesitation that developed yesterday and continued today.

Lazy Daze engine hesitation

The rest of the day I spent on the engine hesitation. Getting that diagnosed went well and reaffirmed my belief in our fellow man. I met some good people and was well cared for.

The first step was to do some research at into possible causes. My thought from the way it acted on the road was that I had a bad throttle position sensor and I wanted to see if that made sense. Alldata made the logical point to check the basics as a first diagnostic step. Like check for loose or corroded battery connections. So I cleaned the battery terminals. I can do this. And it might be all there is to the problem. It wasn't. When I finished cleaning the terminals I headed out across the parking lot (I'm at Wal-Mart of course!) only to discover the hesitation is now a stumble. This is not good but it does point to an electrical problem since cleaning the terminals had an effect. No sooner had I thrown up the hood and struck my "what's wrong?" pose than a fellow stopped by the see if I needed any help. Nice fellow, an RVer in an earlier life. At that point I had no idea what I needed and wanted to look around some more but he did recommend a couple of garages and gave me directions to the local Ford dealer. I thanked him heartily (we've got to encourage this thoughtfulness don'tcha know) and went back to my poking and cleaning. When it was clear that wasn't going to cut the mustard and I really don't know what I'm doing I headed out to the recommended garages. Seemed like good people but they were too busy thawing out customer's cars and stuff to help me today. Now, I'm skittish of dealerships but I figured I might need someone with test equipment and Ford experience so I figured at trip to Patriot Ford might be the way to go.

Patriot Ford Lincoln Mercury

These days dealerships are carefully organized to keep the customer away from the mechanic but at Patriot Ford things are still done the old fashioned way. The customer, the service manager and the mechanic actually get to confer before work begins. And the customer is welcome to hang out in the corner of the shop by the service manager's office and observe (behind a rope to satisfy the insurance people of course).

Once this observation was done and a diagnosis made (yep, it's a bad throttle position sensor) we ran over my options. This throttle position sensor is unique to motorhomes and because it's such an old model ('92), the nearest part is at the Ft Worth depot. I have options. I can order one and hang around a week for it to be shipped to Carthage. I can go on down the road and get a dealer to order one when I'll be in an area for a while. I might be bucking and lurching a bit but's unlikely to leave me stranded on the road. Or it might heal itself. We like that last one.

A bonus

Then I got a bonus - three actually. They had the part for the cruise control recall in stock so I had that put on. While the mechanic was underneath looking for the cruise control switch Lazy Daze had relocated when the built the RV he noted my exhaust manifolds were blued from excessive heat. Recently. He took this to be an indication of a restricted catalytic converter I should have tested or replaced soon. Testing is not readily available in Mississippi - they don't check emissions here so it's more the experience of the mechanic that rules. He recommended I stop at the muffler shop they use for a second opinion. I'll do that.

Lastly I had him trace a minor coolant leak I noticed this morning while doing my thing under the hood. The new radiator hoses were supposed to have fixed all the leaks but alas there is a slow leak in the seam of the bottom tank on the radiator. So I left with directions to the muffler shop and a couple of Motorcraft radiator sealant tablets.

It looks like I have some money to spend but I'm glad to know where I stand, thanks to the fine folks at Patriot Ford.

Tomorrow I have a new catalytic converter installed.

Night camp

Wal-Mart parking lot in Carthage, Mississippi

I Ain't What I Was

I ain't what I oughta be, I ain't what I'm gonna be, but I ain't what I was.

Sign over a Western bar, admired by Martin Luther King, Jr