29 November 2011

Postcard from Arizona- 4

29 November 2011

Looks like Lawley Ford in Sierra Vista is going to get very, very high marks once the truck is back in our hands. I received a call this morning and learned that they were in the process of replacing the high pressure fuel pump on our truck. That fits with information I've read on the 'net about failure code P120F so I have high expectations that they have it right. Yee haw!

I got the call at about 8:30 this morning and they were already working on the truck. The first step is to lift the body off the truck so they can access the pump... I wonder what genius thought that was an OK way of doing this replacement?! Even with that huge extra step, it appears they should finish in one day. This repair will be done under warranty except for anything they have to move out of the way that is related to our Banks equipment. The estimate is somewhere around 2 hours of labor... about $250. I see it as penance for having installed the Banks equipment, but $250 is a huge difference from paying the whole $2,500 that it would cost if the warranty didn't cover the work.

I had been stewing about this for all the weeks since the pump started failing. Needless to say, this is a huge weight off my psyche. If all goes as planned we'll be RVers again by tonight (without a truck we're just campers!) and we'll be raving about what a great dealer Lawley Ford is! :)

23 November 2011

Postcard from Arizona- 3

23 November 2011


We've spent way too much time fussing with internet access including activating the 3G network on our iPads. The iPads are fine for many things, but it's just not a direct substitute for our laptops. During those times we're in Benson, we've acquiesced and are using the $30/mo WiFi service available to the park. It's provided by a local company and signup is online via credit card for a day, a week, a month, or 6 months. No router permitted and you're able to have unlimited internet access except they measure bandwidth and cut you off if they think you're abusing their service. Hmmm... unlimited access but you can't use it excessively? I'll have to think about that.

Sick Truck

I said earlier we have a problem with our Ford F-350 truck. The day we arrived in Benson it started running rough (feels like a misfire). Now it has greatly reduced power. Just to eliminate one possibility I wanted to remove the Banks tuner module in order to satisfy myself it wasn't the culprit. In the process of unwinding the Banks-installed equipment I found the engine wiring harness is missing the back-shell, perhaps broken a long time ago, or possibly broken at Banks when they did the install. Dunno. But that back-shell is important for more than being a dust cover: it contains the cam surfaces needed to disconnect the engine wiring harness. I feared I would probably break the connector if I tried to pry it off so I put it in the too-hard-to-do pile and looked for help.

It was clear we needed to get someone involved with the right tools and the know-how to troubleshoot the engine and do the repair. I asked around and was warned away from the local (Benson) Ford dealer. But I wasn't finding a reasonable alternative till Celia asked someone in her line dance class. They have a Freightliner and recommended the repair place they use in Willcox (30+ miles East). Unfortunately they turned out to have repair capability for only small trucks. Anything newer than a 2002 Ford exceeds what their test equipment can interpret (there are a lot of the older 7.3 Liter Ford trucks out there accumulating hundreds of thousands of miles each). We ended up calling the Ford dealer in Sierra Vista (30+ miles SW). It's also a Lawley Ford dealer (same name as the dealer in Benson) and have a good reputation. And they didn't seem to have an issue with having Banks equipment installed. So we dropped it off last Saturday.

When I picked it up Tuesday it ran perfectly... for about 15 miles. Then the same nasty P120F fault code raised its ugly head again. The tech found a problem with a Banks connector, plus they did the update & re-calibration of the PCM (a firmware change done as a recall; I'd put this off for several months). They were sure it was fixed and as I drove away I was equally convinced. Sadly it needed to go back and we did that today, the Wednesday before Turkey Day. From what I've been able to read on the internet, P120F doesn't go away permanently till you replace the high pressure fuel pump, but that seems to be a step Ford is reluctant to take as part of warranty repairs. So we'll have to see what happens next.


Last year we got into some bad eating habits during our stay in Benson. To the tune of almost 20 lbs. for me by the end of summer. We had way too many meals out with fried food and big desserts, then we continued to eat that way once we left Benson. We hope to not repeat that experience this year and will pass on the big Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners they have here.(and Taco Night and Fish Fry Night and the Dessert Auction... sigh).

To get things going in the right direction we've started eating according to the Admiral's favorite eating program: Weight Watchers. If we do everything right we can expect about 1 lb/wk weight loss and that's what's been happening. It's a good start and we don't want to get derailed with the large-group eat frenzy that goes on here during the winter. So instead of the big dinners at the Club House and the Leftovers Dinner the next day, we'll be going to a restaurant instead. No doubt we'll go over the daily limit, but we'll be back on track the next day without the temptation of great tasting leftovers.

Anyway, hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving. And wish us enough luck to see the San Francisco game on Thursday. Go Niners!

05 November 2011

An Experiment

5 November 2011

We're struggling with connectivity. When we arrived in AZ we suddenly started getting billed for data at a rate 3-4 times what we've had for the last nearly 2 years. We tried a different Verizon air card to no avail, so that was returned and we closed that particular Verizon line (one of 3). Sadly there's no way to tell anyone why we bailed out after 2 years of being happy customers. Sales apparently is tasked with blocking venomous vitriol from the unhappy masses.

We have unlimited data and messaging on our grandfathered-AllTel phones (recently upgraded to iPhones), but Verizon won't let us use the bandwidth as a personal hotspot to connect our laptops. Yes, it's physically possible to create the hotspot, but they block users from doing it themselves. Instead we have to change our plan which means we would lose our unlimited data/messaging which would be replaced with a 2 GB limit instead. Worse yet, we would lose our free roaming and free long distance on the phones.

So, after fighting it since early this year when we received our then new, hot-off-the-press iPad 2 tablets, we activated the 3G network for both of them. The cost is close to the same as the base rate of the air card data plan, there's no router required anymore since we operate separately, and bandwidth seems to accumulate accurately.

There are limitations using the iPad as the sole net access and maintaining this blog is only one. For instance I have to move photos from the laptop or camera onto the iPad. Can't use Picasa or Flickr as this would accumulate large bandwidth usage. And my first try using Google's Blogger to create a post from PHX airport exposed the complete inadequacy of that piece of Google software. What looks like a proper post in Blogger turns into a run-on sentence. And there's no means of controlling style beyond the template, e.g. no font controls like underscore, bold, etc. Looks like I need another editor, so...

This is my $3 experiment using BlogPress as an iPad app. BlogPress is a WordPress product my son suggested a year ago. At this point I've stumbled my way thru getting a post created, but so far I haven't discovered how to access previously published posts with BlogPress nor how to publish. And I don't know what a post looks like once it gets to the server. So the jury is still out.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad