Tuesday, June 11, 2019

JRAD - Eugene Road Report

The first of the usual 2-part post when we go on a trip to see something interesting, this post covers the travel to and from, how the bus behaved, etc. JRAD (Joe Russo's Almost Dead) played the Cuthbert Amphitheater in Eugere, so this trip the down-and-back for that show.

Getting Out
We have gotten our packing and departure steps down to a fairly good science. Our gear is stored all together on a pair of racks in the garage next to Oliver (the MG) so loading up is fairly fast. We replaced our 10x10 again; it seems these things only last a single season anymore. The new one was the exact duplicate of the one we had last year, only not constructed as well. Regardless, it went into the bus with the low-back concert chairs, classic camping chairs, folding table, cooler, sleeping bags, etc. Once ready to go, I turned the key on the new ignition to start... and nothing. Great. The test drive a week ago didn't shake out whatever spirit was preventing us from leaving. Quick time-check... if I can't solve it in an hour, we're taking another car and solving later.

With Boo near the rear bumper, I tried turning the key a few times. We could hear a click, so there was hope. After a couple more tries, we could determine that it was coming from the electric bundle in the spare tire well: my wiring. Fun. So, we switched spots, and I could tell the clicking was one of the relays that linked the ignition from the front of the bus to the TDI ignition switch in the spare tire well. I disconnected and then reconnected all of the wires going in and out of that relay and verified that the grounding wire was grounded. Tested the key again, and he fired right up. I concluded that the signal wire leaving the relay had loosened itself, so the disconnect-reconnect solved the problem.

We drove to the corner fueling station and tried to add some fuel. I say tried because the tank was nearly full from last June when we had the ignition fire on the way home from 4Peaks. One more thing to remember next Fall for winterizing: drain the tank. So, we had a tank of year-old fuel and no time to deal with it. So, with a thought about old fuel, we headed for the highway.

On the Road
After a few initial studders, Hapy drove through the local highways well. The "studders" were just that: momentary engine stammer followed by normal running after that. He idled steady at the traffic lights, so we decided we would keep going. We hit some getting-out-of-town traffic as we left the greater Portland area on I-5 South, but it had cleared by Wilsonville (like it usually does), and we were cruising at 60mph. Once past Wilsonville, the speed limit goes up to 65mph, but most traffic accelerates well past that. I drive as fast as Hapy's temperature will allow. Since it was an 80*F+ day, the air temp didn't really factor in, but I could tell that the more I tried to stay at 60mph, the more his temperature would hover at 192*F. If I dropped down to 55mph, his temp would sit at 185*F. Since his normal operating temperature (NOT) is 190*F, I figured I could stay just under 60mph and he'd run well. I was right, and left his speed hovering between 58 and 60 the rest of the way. After Wilsonville, an early bay appeared in front of us. We paced with them until they got off at Woodburn. We flashed lights, exchanged peace signs and continued on our respective journeys. Love bus folks.

We stopped at the Flying J truck stop near Aurora for travel snacks and beverages, and found ourselves behind an RV running the same 58mph pace once we got back on the I-5. That RV set our pace until we were well past Covallis, The drive itself was fairly uneventful. The wheels held the road well, and I didn't have to fight Hapy for control the whole way like I used to. The only times of trouble were when a semi-truck passed us, and created wind turbulence. Fortunately, that didn't happen very often; I think the road was kind of quiet, actually. Another advantage to leaving town in the early afternoon instead of at rush hour.

Armitage Park
We pulled off at Coburg, thinking we would grab a camping spot at Armitage County Park. This is the same campground Hapy, Boo and I used when we came down to Further in September 2011 (See Furthur - To Eugene). The campground this time was very different from when we were there almost 8 years earlier. For one, it was practically full and second, there weren't any fellow concert-goers. The sign out front said there were 2 RV spots: #13 and #17, so we backed into #17. While I set up the little tent (shed), Boo headed to the front desk to check us in. She returned displeased. While the site was marked as open, the camp people decided that we should move to a tent spot instead. Okay... So, we moved, and saved $10US for the trouble. Turned out both #13 and #17 went unused that night, so the camp lost out on $10. Meanwhile, the tent spot was bigger and more shaded, so it worked out better for us anyway. We just didn't have an electrical post on our site. Fortunately, the group-sire next to us (also empty) had one, so we charged phones there in the morning.

For that past few years, my allergies have been effectively stopped by acupuncture. I realize that's hard to believe, but I used to take multiple medicines every day, year round. At least 3 years ago, I started getting pins stuck in me and that's made medicines a very rare thing. I have had to take something maybe once or twice in the spring since I started with the pins. Unfortunately, that all became unraveled in the parking lot at the Cuthbert.

After we set up the shed, and loaded it with whatever we didn't need in the lot, we drove the short stretch down Coberg Road into Eugene and to the venue. We were parked on the opposite side from where we usually parked (near the disc golf), over by the Science Center. This was a very small lot, but many VW's, and it was the open-early lot, so there were folks BBQ'ing, and such. My allergies kicked in almost immediately. They didn't meaningfully affect the show, but they did impact the next day or three.

Getting Home
I'll post about the show in another post. The drive from the show back to the campground was as uneventful as the drive to the show earlier. Temps stayed predictable, steering was predictable, traffic was non-existent. We fell asleep fairly quickly after 3+ hours of dancing and awoke the next morning to the crashing of the dumpster. Ah well. We dragged ourselves up, used the free hot showers, made coffee and oatmeal, and considered the day. The shower helped wash off pollen, etc, but the residual histamines from my allergies were still a problem. We decided that lingering another day was probably not a good idea, rather, it made better sense to start heading home. We took in the river for a morning meditation before we broke camp, and packed Hapy.

We headed north on I-5, but found that the traffic was very different from the traffic we enjoyed on the way down. There were many semi-trucks and they were all moving very fast. At 58mph, the trucks were blowing past us, buffeting the bus, and causing all kinds of steering difficulties. By the time we were approaching the Halsey/Brownsville exit (216), I needed to get off the freeway. So, we took the scenic route home. From Halsey, we took 99E up to Tangent and then OR35 to Corvallis. We picked up 99W there and took it through the sleepy country towns of Polk county. Somewhere before Tangent, I started to notice that our top speed was getting artificially limited. Our acceleration in first and second was pretty good, and I could feel the turbo kick in, but I couldn't feel the turbo in 3rd or fourth, and fourth gear was just a dog. Feeling glad again for not being on the interstate. I concluded that the cheap clear fuel filter had gunked up from the old fuel and that was limiting our speed. Would have been an easy fix if I had a spare onboard. I used to keep one in the tool box and another under the rock-n-roll bed, but I appear to have stopped doing that. Note to self: keep spare filters, just like you keep spare fluids, onboard.

rear driver window dolled up for JRAD

By the time we hit Monmouth, we were ready to eat. So, we hit the local Burgerville. I can't remember a nicer fast-ish food place. A fellow patron held the door open for us on our way in (and her way out). The restaurant, though fairly full, was quiet. There was a large family sitting in the center, taking up 3 tables, celebrating someone's birthday, and even they barely made more than low-conversation noise. The service was fantastic and food delivered to the table much faster than I remember Burgerville to be. Boo and I split a 1/4 pound burger and a salad. Back on the road, we stayed on 99W to outside McMinnville which we avoided on the OR18 bypass before re-joining 99W through Dundee and Newburg. In Sherwood, we hopped onto the familiar Roy Rogers Road to cut over to Beaverton, avoiding Tigard and more traffic.

old fuel filter after removal
It was a great trip, and overall Hapy performed very very well. I know there are a few things that need to be addressed before our next trip (listed below). The fuel, fuel filter and the rear brake adjustment are the most pressing.

+ still need to clean up the wiring in the spare tire well. Maybe it's time to use the plastic relay holder thing that the TDI-engine relays are in for my custom relays
+ drain the tank of the old fuel OR add some fuel stabilizer / diesel fuel stuff that the boaters use
+ replace the cheap clear fuel filter. Get a few spares.
+ adjust the rear brakes a little tighter. Not sure they are really doing anything.
+ get front end alignment done by a shop. Steering was way better, but there could be improvement.

Thanks, as always, for following along. I'll post on the JRAD show soon.

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