Thu June 23, 2011
Two days before D-Day (Departure Day)
Goodby Blacky Blazer, Hello No-Name Dodge Dakota
Our first destination is picked for us — luckily – otherwise we’re dazzled by too many choices.
Our Seattle brother, Paul and Dee Dwyer, have a son getting married Aug. 20. Our special nephew, Patrick Dwyer, will wed Maria Cuenca. We decide to swing by Milwaukee to see Carol’s sister Sharon and family. Haven’t seen them in way too long! We also want to see Omaha so we will swing wide to the west on our way of Milwaukee.
Steve has been working frantically all week to make BessyBus road ready. The generator had a stripped nut so we couldn’t replace the fuel filter. We had Cummins freight in Oklahoma City put in a new fuel line, water pump belt, filter, oil change. We also replaced the coolant recovery tank on the Cummins ISL400 engine, but Steve had to modify the new tank to fit. The old one had a crack by the cap and wasn’t holding pressure. We used our dear repair man, Gary Kjenshus RV Repair, to replace the awning topper on the driver side front. Gary also removed our obsolete KingDome tv antenna and replaced it with a WineGuard Travel’r SK3005. Now we’ll have HD programming! Yay!
We used to tow a black ’05 Chevy Trailblazer and Carol loved that frisky little, comfy riding thing. But sadly, we had to say goodbye to Blacky Blazer because it wasn’t big enough to hold Steve’s inflatable boat. He has a 10.5 ft Sea Eagle inflatable with a 5.5 hp Johnson antique motor. In order to stuff all this into the little Blazer, he had to put the boat in the back and then hang the motor on a receiver hitch carrier out back. There was no room left to put groceries or anything in the back. And we needed our back seat free for guests. RV dinners, you know. That’s a big thing.
My photo isn’t doesn’t show this very well, but take my word for it – the motor on the back of the Blazer looked like a wrapped dead body. The motor was lying on its back and covered with tarps and rope. It had a head, plus two feet sticking up, plus arms folded over like a corpse. It was creepy, but no one ever messed with our Blazer.
We buy everything out of Craig’s List (or Ebay) so in May Steve flew to Detroit and brought a nice clean, 2008 Dodge Dakota back to Oklahoma. Steve is a Chevy man but he thought the Chevy Colorado was a little too small for his big 6’3″ body. The Dakota was 1000 pounds lighter than a full size truck, so he could keep his old hitch set up. With our new Dakota, both boat and motor fit neatly in the bed, and it’s protected by a locking cover. Next he had to convert his Dakota to a proper tow vehicle:
1) install new a tow bar on front. (Keep old tow bar on bus.)
2) install auxillary brakes. We use M&G — an air hose runs from bus to toad and makes the durn thing apply its own brakes whenever big daddy applies bus brakes up front.
3) install Pressure Pro – this warning system tells you if any of your tires are getting low or flat. It monitors all 6 bus tires, plus all four tires on the tow. It is not a question of IF, but WHEN you will get a flat tire on your tow. Then you just keep dragging your vehicle down the road on its rims. The driver of a 16-ton bus cannot feel any resistance from a truck weighing two tons.
4) install system for remote turn signals and brake lights. So when momma bus turns left or right, or puts on her brakes, baby bus will do the exact same thing. Without this, we will be arrested or hit in the rear, whichever comes first.
Looks like we’ll be all ready to go by Saturday.