A Major Repair + A Quick Trip to Gridley…
As I patiently awaited the return of Big Blue II from the shop after our latest failed trip to Graceland, it dawned on me that perhaps I should begin the blog of the planned trip a bit early. I would include the recent frustrations of aborting our grand trip to Denver and Graceland when the coach overheated. Again!
2018-6-11: Parked at Gale and John’s house in the country near Gridley for the first night of our planned adventure to Denver – and beyond! As it turned out we were there again for the second – and last night of the trip, too.
The coach had overheated twice before. It first overheated – briefly – in January as I returned home from my annual Search for Sunshine drive to Texas. I took it to the shop when I got home, and they guessed it was the cooling system thermostats (most diesels have two) sticking since it overheated only once. But again in April as we returned home from Oregon it overheated again, and only briefly as we pulled up the Siskiyous. I called the shop again and was told it was likely that I just had to manually downshift earlier on those long climbs. I had my doubts, but figured they knew more about such things than I did.
As we began the second day of our second attempt to see Graceland, we would drive to Winnemucca, NV – or at least that was the plan. As we began the climb into the Sierras that day, the big Caterpillar diesel began to overheat again. In disgust, mostly with myself, I simply made a U-turn on CA20 and headed back down the hill. I should have had the overheating issue dug into and fixed when I suspected the shop was wrong about the down shifting, but I didn’t. We had spent that first night with my sis and her husband in Gridley, and we drove back to their place to spend the second night in their driveway, too. We drove a total of only 89 miles that day.
Back home on the third and final day of the aborted trip, I made arrangements to take the coach back to the shop. We would finally get to the bottom of this heating issue – and it would be a big job!
This was the bottom of the issue! The folks at the shop dug out the charge air cooler (CAC) that cools the compressed air from the turbo before it enters the engine, and the radiator (rear). Both were mostly plugged with greasy dirt. I wondered how we were able to drive at all without overheating! Note the very large inlet/outlet of the CAC to handle all that hot air.