12 April 2012
Santa Fe, NMOn Sunday morning (sort of... 10:15 AM is nearly not morning!), 4/8, we left SKP Saguaro Co-op in Benson headed for Las Cruces, NM. Spent the night at the KOA in Las Cruces where we collapsed into bed. We are definitely out of shape from having too much fun in Benson!
It was an uneventful trip (the best kind) and we arrived by about 4:00 PM. I thought we'd made it by 3:00 PM but forgot we went from MST (Arizona doesn't use Daylight Saving Time) to MDT. So much for an early arrival.
While we didn't suffer any breakdowns on the trip, we did have some strong winds for the last 90 miles. Makes for a tiring trip with lots of wheel correction which made The Captain a little grumpy! But the next day those headwinds became either tail winds or still air and the driving was much easier. We arrived in Santa Fe Skies RV Park by 4:00 PM. This will be home for the next month as we do the usual doctor/dentist/dermatologist/ophthalmologist appointments. We really need to find these services in Arizona (Benson, Sierra Vista, Tucson), but we know these Santa Fe doctors and have hesitated starting all over again.
At any rate, the Montana is in its back-in site ($650/mo including electric) which will be home for the next month as we get ready for the road east to Maine. With luck I'll keep from breaking the Montana as I did last year!
Fuel EconomyBtw, we'd been running at 11.2 mpg coming out of Benson, but that gave way to 10.1 by the time we got to Las Cruces with the nasty headwinds. The next day we drove the 280 miles to Santa Fe, NM. I initially tried driving at 60 mph but between the extra speed and some uphill running the mileage dropped off below 10 mpg. So I throttled back to 55 mph and watched the mileage slowly creep up to 10.3 till we got to Albuquerque. From Albuquerque to Santa Fe is an elevation change of about 2,500' and there went the mileage again! We ended at 9.9 mpg for the whole 505 miles. A non-F350 diesel truck owner might not think that's much to write home about, but compared to 8.4-8.6 mpg on a previous Las Cruces-to-Santa Fe trip, that's 15%-18% improvement over the old firmware. And this without the Banks electronics connected (intake filter, exhaust and inter-cooler are still in place). I doubt we'll get the 15%-20% increase in fuel economy from the Banks we got when the older Ford firmware installed, but hopefully we'll see some additional improvement. At more than $4.15/gal for ultra-low sulfur diesel, everything little bit helps.
It turns out the new Ford engine-control firmware Lawley Ford installed in 11/2011 as a recall fixes (among other things) my biggest gripe about the 6.4 liter diesel. The cleaning cycle of the diesel particulate filter (the DPF) has been changed significantly and now occurs less frequently... perhaps every 750-1,000 miles vs. every 75-100 miles. This change makes for a big improvement in fuel economy. And why did Ford engineers make the change? Well, it wasn't to reduce owner expenses. Rather, Ford wanted to reduce their own warranty expenses. Turns out the frequent DPF cleaning cycle was burning out temp sensors. DPF cleaning is done at 1,250 deg F and these temp sensors are used to control that upper temperature limit. So, while Ford's improvement is very much appreciated, their motivation was apparently entirely self-serving.
So, now I'm anxious to get the Banks operating again. And to that end I got the name of the mechanic who helped RVing friends Mike & Susan with their 2002 Ford F350 which has the older 7.3 liter diesel. Spear's Automotive in Cedar Crest, NM is apparently a Banks dealer and repair center and they made a very big improvement in Mike & Susan's truck. So we will be making a visit there before we leave town in hopes of getting our Banks controller running right.