14 October 2012

Postcard from New Mexico- 1

13-14 October 2012


Getting to Tucumcari, NM

Well we made it to the KOA here but not without a very high level of anxiety. Aarrrggh!

Mileage has definitely deteriorated and exhaust gas temps are very high... running at the maximum allowed temp (1,250° F) even with straight & level pulling. What's more there is a very strong smell of diesel exhaust in the coach and in the storage compartments of our Montana every time we stopped along the way (115 miles). I had to run the kitchen exhaust fan just to step inside.

At one point I got out and looked under the truck to see what the new sensor looked like and was shocked to see that it's simply clamped to the outside of the diesel particulate filter (the so-called DPF). You gotta be kidding me! This is Ford's solution for replacement of a corroded EGT sensor?

There may be something additional wrong, but my guess is that the replacement sensor is reading very low since it's not inside the DPF. I'll further guess, and I admit this part is a little weak, this causes the Engine Control Module to use too much fuel. Too much fuel makes the EGT higher than normal. Our truck, as delivered, won't display EGT for the driver. You have to have a separate readout that accesses the internal data bus, and that's what the Banks does (in addition to modifying the fuel-delivery commands if you're running in non-stock power levels). In Stock mode- that's what we use 100%- the Banks tuner doesn't modify the engine fuel delivery commands, but it does display the data being sent to the internal computer. So the average owner would be driving in ignorance of just how hot the exhaust gases are.

Btw, I saw a puff of white smoke on at least 2 occasions on the driver side. The exhaust, however, is on the passenger side. So I haven't a clue where that's about. I thought maybe we had a locked trailer brake and I was seeing a tire skid and smoke but that proved to be wrong.

The plan was to find a Ford dealer here in Tucumcari. No joy. We either have to drive 115 miles back to Amarillo, TX or drive south about 80 miles to Clovis, NM. At this point it seems to make more sense to drive to Santa Fe and get it looked at there.

Enough whining. Mea culpa!

Tucumcari KOA

This little guy is a chi-weenie... chihuahua/Dachshund mix.
He does a good job of getting diners to share their food!
This stop has been a surprise. I wouldn't begin to call this a garden spot since this part of New Mexico is very dry. But the campground has what a traveler needs if they're just stopping for the night. This KOA has an on-site restaurant with food that's made here... not just something re-heated in the microwave! We had both had the Mexican plate which had a choice of 2 of the 3 entrees offered: enchiladas, tamales, or chile rellenos. I had a couple of very good cheese enchiladas (you can ask for cheese, chicken or beef) plus black beans and a very good New Mexico-style Spanish rice. I wanted green chile salsa which was mild enough that most diners wouldn't notice anything but the flavor.

Cindy & Layne are the owners and Cindy makes everything except the tamales herself, including the tortillas. We were very pleased with our meals and don't hesitate to recommend eating here if you happen to stop. And they'll deliver the food to your site if you want. Pretty cool!

Oh... and we had breakfast there this morning which was every bit as good as dinner last night. We had pancakes (a stack of 3, mine were 6" pancakes). But I was pissed at myself for not remembering they have biscuits and gravy on the menu! I doubt I'll be able to convince the Admiral to eat out again, so that was a missed opportunity.


The campsites have a few trees, but they're struggling
with the limited water.
Tucumcari is in the high desert and, as you should expect, it's very dry. The rule of thumb is that anything green that isn't grass probably has a sticker on it or is poisonous. They had about 1/2" of rain a few days ago and almost overnight it greened up a little, but that will soon be gone. And there's a steady 15-20 mph wind blowing during the day. The kind of wind that can wear on you. You can't be a wimp to live around here!


Click on the image to get a larger one, then check the
ridge of the distant hills. You may be able to pick
out the wind generators.
All the pull-thru sites were full last night, but they tell me that by tonight we can have a pick of any site in the park. The spike in visitors is because of people who have been to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and are now heading home. Sure enough, by 4:00 AM I was hearing engines start as people began heading out. When I went over to arrange to have a propane tank re-filled there weren't more than a couple other campers left in the park.

We should be on our way tomorrow to Santa Fe (west on I-40 to Cline's Corner then north on US-84/US-285 to El Dorado, then west about 20 miles to the NM-599 turnoff). We'll be staying at Santa Fe Skies RV Park again while we see all the usual doctors.

And oh, btw...

We've been trading notes with RV'ing friends Mike & Susan about the current truck problems and possible repairs. Susan reminded us "If it has testicles or tires, you know it's going to be expensive!"

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