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We daytripped Crown. "Big, fat, hairy deal", I hear you shrug. Ah, but it was just a wee bit more exciting than usual. 



 A couple of weeks ago, [ profile] colletteshorses  and I were planning to camp at Crown and we had offered to give Baroness Aasa a ride. The truck was loaded up, our late-Friday-night travel plans were made, and the dog was snoozing in the back seat. Friday afternoon, colletteshorses roared over the hill to my office to pick me up. She made her way through the scattering flocks of frightened engineers, parked conveniently, and rang me up. I dutifully trotted downstairs and hopped in. She put it in gear and - well, nothing, really. As in no go, zero, zip, nana, the-thingy-is-in-Drive-but-we're-not-moving, which was not quite what we were expecting.


The transmission had no forward gears. At all. One second it was driving normally (not perfectly, just normally), then she put it in Park to wait for me, left the engine idling, then two minutes later (I'm slow) she put it in Drive, and -whoopsie- it's actually in Neutral. None of the forward positions worked at all - and the transmission was rather reluctant to let her pull the lever all they way down to the first gear position.


One thing we did figure out in short order was that Reverse worked fine. Utilizing both that and a forward downhill slope, we managed to maneuver it in reverse into a nearby parking space (more or less, we were a little over the line but really had no way to correct that. There was room for a Miata, though. And, since there are nearly as many Miatas as there are Priuses in the typical Silicon Valley parking lot, this wasn't an inconvenience for anybody and so Security didn't mind a bit. Not that they ever do).


So, how to get to Crown? Well, we figured that driving up to Duncan's Mills in reverse would take the whole night and heck, in that case we might as well plan to daytrip. So, how to get to the event? I had ridden the bus in to work that day, as I usually did. However, I have been keeping the Pantera in the parking garage at work for off-campus excursions when needed. This allows me to, hypothetically, go get an emergency haircut in record time.


It turned out that while both of us would fit just dandy in the Pantera, Jessie the 90 lb. dog would have to ride in colletteshorses lap. And there just isn't quite as much room in the Pantera as there is in the truck, so we might not be able to take all our camping gear along anyway. And Aasa would have had to ride on the roof. Hmm. Perhaps not.


At that point we called Aasa, who was understandably disappointed that she couldn't travel to the event while lying duct taped on top of her stuff in a 75MPH wind blast. (She arranged to borrow a car and got to the event in about the most unadventurous way possible.) We also called my apprentice John and he came and rescued us and took us back over the hill. Jessie was disappointed she didn't get to ride in colletteshorses lap, but at least they sat together.


Oh, yes, the truck. Well, after letting the transmission marinade for a few days with no improvement, it got towed to AAA's shop in Santa Clara. I carefully laid out the facts for them: (1) Reverse only, (2) transmission fluid is full and clean, (3) the linkage appears to be fine but won't pull all the way to low gear, and (4) it broke suddenly with no warning. After a day of diagnosis, they sent me a fax which fully detailed their findings: "(1) Reverse only, (2) transmission fluid is full and clean, (3) the linkage appears to be fine but won't pull all the way to low gear, and (4) customer says it broke suddenly without warning. Recommend replacing the transmission."


Given that the tranny had been rebuilt a mere 5,000 miles ago, I congratulated them on their insight and thoroughness. Then I had the truck towed to another shop. (Note to self: If the situation permits, check Yelp _before_ having a vehicle towed for what is clearly specialty work.)


Once safely ensconced at a transmission-only shop in Sunnyvale, it received a proper check-over. "Your torque converter is disintegrating, which sent pieces of debris into the valve body, which jammed some of it up, that's why you still have reverse but nothing else. The rest of the unit looks perfect. We can clean the valve body and replace the torque converter for a lot less than a new transmission." Truer words were never spoken. They went ahead and fixed all that, and cut the welds on the torque converter both to look inside and confirm it was falling apart and also just to be sure it really was junk. And because cutting welds is fun.


So now we have the truck back, and it's running fine. I'm negotiating with the shop that did the rebuild. While it was only 5,000 miles ago, it's been longer than the year-and-a-half warranty period. However, since they charmed me in to buying a new, heavy duty torque converter in the first place, they might be willing to kick in a few bucks for my inconvenience.


Now the truck is at home. I used it over the weekend for a lumberyard run without any incident. It was its normal loud, stiff-kneed, broad-shouldered, boisterous self again. And, as always, it was much more refined with a half a ton of wood in the back. And, as always, I found myself looking for a donut shop the whole time I was driving it. Biodiesel will do that to you.


And yesterday, colletteshorses pointed out to me a small leak she noticed under the truck. If I am not completely mistaken, it would seem to be transmission fluid. I ought to have that looked at sometime.


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