Darlene’s Last Days

What a day.

Woke up, went to hit Pancake Pantry with Andy O. Can’t raise Andy on the phone. [No big.] See the Sunday-morning-level line outside, decide to bolt. Hit Cracker Barrel at, amusingly, the exit right by Osenga’s house. Fuel up on Southern breakfast, hit the road.

Now, the truck had been a little hard to start the last couple of days, and I was also hearing some belt squeal—but only very, very intermittently and for very short periods. No worries, really.

Around mile marker 30 on I-65 southbound, any additional current draw—such as running my wipers—drops off the XM Radio. My brain starts to think, “Alternator issues,” as I’d just had those back in August. I say to Bryan, “Okay, we’re going to take a detour on our way down. We have plenty of time, and I want to get this checked out.” He agrees, as we do have lots of time.

11:58. We past Exit 22 at Pulaski, TN. My battery light comes on. “Alternator issues, I say.” I crest the ridge past the exit. I glance at my temperature gauge. Holy shit! I hit the heater and crack my window, slowing the vehicle. It continues to spike, I pull onto the shoulder. I shut down the engine, come to a stop, and … GOOSH! Steam. Not knowing that it’s only steam, I tell Bryan to grab everything valuable and throw it in the bed of the truck, and we do. After a minute or two, it’s clearly coolant containment loss. :sigh:

I call my insurance company to have them get me a wrecker. The wrecker comes after a half-hour wait, and we get to his shop. Hearing my symptoms, the mechanic checks … no alternator belt. It clearly broke off without us noticing, which caused all the issues. How is this related to the coolant? The same belt also turns the water pump. No circ, no activce cooling, and … BLAMMO. Mechanic fixes belt, thinking that this is the only issue, and it’s just and overflow or something. [Given how it spouted steam, I thought that perhaps a hose let go.] After more work, he finds the culprit … a crack in the radiator, one that has clearly grown significantly as it has cooled. Bryan has photos.

So, when it was the belt, I thought I was home free … I’d get it fixed, take the bill to the people who just did that work 60 days ago, and demand an explanation and compensation. I’ll still be doing that, but …

New tires.
New battery.
New alternator.
New radiator.

This truck is wearing out.

I’m fixing the truck to improve its resale value [a running truck beats a non-running truck], and … I expect to not drive it more than 7-10 days longer.

The radiator wasn’t in stock in Pulaski, so the truck is there, and we rented a car and came on to Birmingham. We’re now in Cullman, having driven most of the way home so that we can have it easy in the morning. I’ll drive Bry to the airport, head in to the office, do a few things, then head back to Pulaski and settle up on the truck and get it back to Huntsville [and the rental back in under 24 hours].

:sigh: Good show, though.