Thursday, March 17, 2011

Brake Line in Ensenada

It was on one of our longer trips and we were fully loaded in Big Red and pulling a 4 x 8 utility trailer fully loaded. I had just put on another gas tank making it three in order to help minimize carrying gas cans. I had installed it about 2-3 weeks prior to make sure everything would be working well for the upcoming trip. We had just change dour U.S dollars into pesos at the money changer in Ensenada. We pulled out just in time to make the light at the intersection before it turned red. I started to make a left turn onto the main road heading south. I put my foot on the brake pedal to slow down a little and the pedal went slowly to the floor. No brakes! We made the turn, fortunately no one was in front of us. Immediately I looked for a place to pull over. Luckily there was a nice big empty spot a couple of hundred feet up to the right. Big enough to get Big Red and the trailer over and out of traffic. It also had a curb that I could ease Big Red into and bring it to a stop.

I got under the Big Red to see what the problem was, The tank I had installed just prior to this trip had been rubbing against the flexible brake line and sliced it open. When I installed the tank Big Red was empty of supplies and riding higher. When I loaded it up with all the supplies which is almost 2,000 pounds it naturally rode lower and placed the brake line dangerously close to the edge of the seam on the gas tank. The up and down movement of the rear axle did the trick and acted like an edge of a knife and sliced the brake line.

I got my tools and took off the damaged piece of brake line and took off to look for a junkyard. Roberta and our dog stayed with Big Red. There were a few junkyards nearby but I had no luck in finding a part to match. There aren’t many, if any, 55’ Chevy Step Vans around like there use to be in the earlier days. Fortunately one of the yards owner was a real nice guy and had his nephew drive me to a parts store somewhere in Ensenada and I would never be able to find that place again if I had to. The ride to and from only took about 8 minutes each way. When we got to the parts store the guy behind the counter looked at my part and went in the back with it for about 20 minutes and came out with the exact part. He said they only had one so I was real lucky. The part cost me $15 which I thought was more than fair seeing as how my truck was so old. Anyway the drive to and from the parts store in this guys car was a classic journey in itself.

The stereo cassette player was hanging from the dashboard by wire and the windshield was in pieces so every time we would hit a bump the cassette player would chatter the music and pieces of the windshield would fall into my lap. I had to laugh to myself of how care free the guy was. He didn’t seem t mind and was as happy as could be. We made it back to Big Red and I thanked him for the ride and we shook hands and I gave him $20 and he went on his way. I got under Big Red and installed the new line and wrapped it up with tape and out of the way. Soon we were headed south once again. If we had made it into the hills there might have been a different ending.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fuel Pump

Over the years I’ve learned when traveling anywhere and especially in Baja, it’s best to carry every possible part that may go wrong. Well this time we were on the dirt road and Big Red began acting a little strange, stuttering a little. It felt as though it wasn’t getting enough gas. We had just gone through a good sized mud puddle and about 100 yards past it Big Red stopped dead in it’s tracks. I cranked the engine a few times but no life. I thought maybe it might be the fuel pump so I had Roberta turn the ignition key while I checked the fuel pump to see if it was pumping gas. Sure enough no fuel was being pumped. So I got out my tools, got to my spare parts and pulled out a brand new fuel pump and went to work. I laughed a little while changing the fuel pump thinking how lucky I was that Big Red didn’t stop in the middle of that mud pond. That would have been a lot of fun. Within an hour I had the new fuel pump in and we were on our way again.