First off, thanks for the great advice Todd!! As soon as we get to a real town we will follow up with a larger purveyor of transmissions than the Brawley lube and wash joint.
Our mechanic Miguel got the clutch into passable shape. While he worked we grocery shopped, mailed some stuff and hit the local Alzheimer’s Day Care to play a few tunes. Those of you that know me know that my mother is afflicted by the disease. The Brawley Adult Day Care was just about across the street from the guy who was working on the truck so we headed in and provided entertainment. Mom still enjoys it when we play music for her. Sadly for us we were only able to play for about 20 minutes before everyone headed home for the day. Most of our audience were neither in their right minds nor spoke English, but the loved us anyway. Or maybe that’s why they did.
The clutch was repaired, but Miguel could not get the air bled properly so it was still soft. We headed into the wilds at 3:00. We camped on BLM land just off a highway. On our evening walk I discovered the lovely head gear you see me wearing to the left. We presume it flew away from the hordes of holiday off-roaders that rallied in the nearby sand dunes. We hit the hay early.
This morning we made it to a free BLM camping area just outside of Quartzsite, AZ. Just as we got sideways to back in to a spot the clutch failed. Good Grief. No forward or back. At least we were at the end of the road. We set up camp where we lay. Some funny looks and shrugged shoulders. It’s hard to get too upset when you have no schedule and aren’t stuck on the road. I looked up repair joints on the Internet and then we decided to pay our nearest neighbors a visit. They are about 50 yards away. Despite the distance, there is no privacy. We are after all in the desert. Since they were here ahead of us they constitute locals in our mind and might now more than we do.
I mistook the mistress of the house for a very large man, but luckily I didn’t open my mouth before she greeted us with a distinctly feminine voice. Burt made the introductions and said we were from Montana. She was from New Hampshire. Burt asked if she knew of any reliable repair shops in the area and in typical yankee fashion she tersely said there were repair shops in “town.” Burt prodded a bit asking, “Have you used any of them?” No. Awkward pause…Then more taciturnly, “What kind of a problem is it?” Burt explained the clutch issue. Then she said with kindness, “Well my friend in Blythe (10 miles away) used to repair transmissions, but he’s retired. You could call him, he might help you out. What kind of truck is it?” “A Dodge.” “Well he used to work for Dodge.” She gives us the number and Burt calls the retired, Dodge transmission repairman. John advised us on how to bleed the air. He doesn’t think we have a serious problem. I spent the next 20 minutes slowly depressing the clutch while Burt unhooked the trailer. Not 3 minutes in there was noticeable improvement. John reassured us that the problem most likely was the air in the line and the repair should be good. Everyone asks, “Is the clutch slipping?” and no, thank god, it is not. I guess if the clutch is slipping you’ve got a real problem. The truck has been disengaged and driven away from the trailer. We might be out of the woods for a few more miles.
I am grateful we weren’t towed back to Slab City yesterday to wait for parts and repair. We might never have made it back on the road. Both of us realize our 9 year old vehicle May require a new clutch sooner rather than later.