Monday, June 30, 2008

A Fleet of Cattle Trucks

So... apparently it's the fuel pump.. (still under warranty) at least that's what the expert analysis says. So we're in holding pattern until the replacement pump arrives. There is a chance they will say that whats wrong with it is not under warranty but I think it's slim. A fleet of cattle trucks moved into the parking lot at the repair shop and we've been sleeping with clothes pins on our noses and flies out the ying yang. The truck stop across the street has nice washers and dryers except that every load we did there someone opened the door of the dryer for us before the clothes were dry (4 times). It appears that we're not quite out of the woods yet; hopefuly the clearing in the distance is not a mirage.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

4 hours of testing

After 4 hours of testing various aspects of the Bus's fuel delivery system we know a lot about what is NOT wrong. The shop closed at noon yesterday and now we are enjoying the sites of lovely Scottsbluff Nebraska until Monday morning. We are quite happy to at least be 100 milles closer to Denver.. in a different county... dealing with professionals.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Escape From Chadron

We were able to get towed out of Chadron Nebraska today. We are at a large truck repair facility. There will be much more to tell once we are actually mobile again. We are safer now and tomorrow I'll begin explaining all the guess work and wasted effort that has already been done to my engine... to people who will know how to diagnose and fix it. THAT is a huge step forward. Let's hope they don't freak out when they find out they've agreed to fix a veggie bus. ;)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Total Lose of Control

8 Days ago a power supply wire slipped off the the fuel pump. We had a sudden lose of power on the step hill we were climbing and the bus slowed and died. I immediatly recognized the symptom as is was identical to the problem I had we hooked the pump up the 1st time; with only 1 poewr supply. So after looking for spewing fluids in the engine I looked at the wiring for the pump, discovered the loose wire and put it back together.

We were over an hours drive from any town with more than 1 diesel mechanic. The 1 local guy came out and insisted that the loose wire could not have damaged anything and then dismantled the veggie fuel lines so that he could understand what was going on with the engine.... His help was cheap but then again he did more damage than good.

We crawled 70 miles over the next 3 days with the longest stretch of driving being about 10 miles; most attempts would net us a couple hundred yards before the engine would die and we would have to let it "rest" before moving again. The 1st mechanic also rewired our back up fuel pump (which we knew was not strong enough for the bus and had forgotten that it had been collecting dirt for about a hundred miles of dirt roads we had traversed on the reservation). Using it spewed dirt into the fuel filter further slowing our progress. He wired it to run directly off the alternator... which meant that each time the engine would die we would have to jump out of the bus and throw the hood up and physically rip the wires apart to stop the fuel pump... and tape them back together we we started back up.

The 3rd day an angel named Terry held our hands for most of the day. He was a diesel mechanic for the railroad and we tried a few more things each time the bus died, but nothing changed our fuel starvation issue. Terry ended up towing us the last few miles just so we could get to Chadron before dark.

The local bar patrons suggested 3 mechanics and we called each of them our 1st day in the WalMart parking lot...none had time, all were turned off by the use of vegetable oil for fuel. We then found an interested gas mechanic who guided me through several other process of elimination type procedures... nothing changed the performance of the bus.

Tuesday we vacationed for fixing the bus by filming a meeting of the Republic of Lakota and interviewed Russel Means.

After 4 days in the WM parking lot the mildly mentally deficient "greeter" came out to inquire about how long we were planning on staying... We had run out of things to try so we chanced being able to drive it across the street to the guy who had been helpful's shop. It died on the street in front of the shop as we were discussing where to park it. Today we tested the main fuel pump (which I had feared was now dead) and it appears to be working properly. Which means that the problem is still unknown but the possibilities are getting scarier. It now appears to be a blown injector pump or clogged injectors or .. something.

These problems are all over the head of the gas mechanic who has been helping us. The team at the shop is supposedly calling the diesel mechanics in town this evening .. on our behave, trying to find us appropriate help.

It's been 8 days since the wire slipped off.. We can't leave Chadron until somebody here steps up and fixing this. EVERYONE in town knows us by now.. knows where we're parked.. knows enough about what we're doing to like us OR NOT...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Broke Down in the Bad Lands.. sort of..

The 2nd power supply for the fuel pump slipped off after driving on rough gravel roads for awhile... We fixed that. But there's another, unknown, problem that seems to have been caused by those wires disconnecting while we were trying to climb a fairly steep hill.

We're safely parked in a turn out by an old schoolhouse about 20 miles from Hot Springs South Dakota. We don't have cell phone service, but the Broadband internet card works here. We have #'s for a few local mechanics and will be calling them on a loaned phone in the morning.

The Mobile Broadcast News polo shirts arrived: they were delivered to us while we were working on the engine on the side of the road. They look fabulous.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

OFf Grid @ a Sun Dance

The MBN team spent a frutitless day searching for renowned scientist working in Toad Stool National Park, but we got a good hike in and relaxed off line for a day.

We are now at a Horse Sanctuary near Hot Springs, SD totally off grid, running the satellite off of the generator while we await the Sundance next week.

We were also able to score an easy 50 gallons of veggie oil from the Safeway in Chadron, NE before haeding out here. ... yeah oil!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Going Off Grid

We've been hanging out with the Red Cloud family for a couple days. Went to the Veterans Pow Wow where their cousin handed over her Princess Crown and had a wonderful experience in Tom Cook's bi-weekly sweat lodge.

I'm using my satellite on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southern South Dakota. We're plugged into an outlet now but tomorrow we'll be going into a wild horse sanctuary and running off the generator... totally off grind.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

On the Res

We've arrived on the Pine Ridge Reservation and have achieved satillite internet at our first destination. There is no cell phone service. We be be on the reservation until the 22nd and will have internet when stationary for more than a day.

Chadron, NE Fire Dept.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Funnel Clouds and Pumping Oil with a Hangover

We holed up in the Flying J truck stop for showers/laundry and to wait out the potential tornado, which can very close to us. We were evacuated from our dinner to stand in the shower stalls (safest place in the building) shoulder to shoulder with a variety of truckers. After the 1st tornado past us we went out to the bus to check on things and saw a Funnel Cloud siloetted by rapid lightening flashes right across the street from the truck stop. It later turned out to be this tree.

We found some 15 gallons of oil in a little town along the way and 10 more along with some wonderful people in Neligh NE. We closed down the bar that gave us the oil. This morning we left Neligh at 9am with hangovers and stopped on the side of the road to transfer our 25 gallons from the collection barrel to the oil tank. Then in O'Neil we were able to pump 40 more gallons into the collection barrel from 2 very tight back alley dumpsters ... without puking.

Tonight we're in Chadron preparing for a journalism leg of the tour.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Factory Farms and Commercial BioDiesel

Iowa and Nebraska seem ruined for getting used oil by asking. We were about to bite the bullet and burn diesel but my friend Colin @ spent a few unjaded minutes online an hooked us up with the Omaha Biodiesel Coop. We're meeting in the morning to see how much they can score for us.

NOmadjik got a motor oil tranfusion today, too.

We saw no signs of the horrid weather we feared would strike us other than the lightening show that was many miles away. It didn't even rain on us.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Waiting for Ice/Missles

We're posed outside of Ohmaha waiting to get hailed on. There is suppose to be severe thunderstorms and/or flash flooding and/or possible hail/tornados passing through this part of Nebraska/Iowa tonight. The truckers seem to have all stopped hardly anyone moving this evening... Hurry up & wait. I think we will remain out of the path but not by much. Tomorrow is an oil gathering day unless it's raining.

Iowa City

Davenport Iowa sucked the life out of us. Spent most of the day looking for oil. There must be a commercial biodiesel plant nearby because almost all the places we went were getting paid for there oil and didn't want to give it to us. Then there was the places that PAID to have it hauled off who didn't want to upset their contractor! IDIOTS. We were able to find about 60 gallons and nop have enough to get to Ohmaha. Hope it's easier there. Sorry Mike, we forgot to get a picture of your burger joint.

Iowa City is the Austin of Texas. The Morgantown of WV. The Ashville of North Carolina... etc etc.