When we last left this soap opera, I was in Horseheads, NY (immediately east of Corning, NY). Weather was rotten, wet, chilly and F O G G Y. I decided to stay even though the next day (Fri) was supposed to be colder and under wind advisories. Oops. Campgrounds around here don’t open till May 15th so why not stay at the local Cracker Barrel? It’s not as though I’ve never done that😂. So I pulled in, found a space along the rear perimeter, put down the jacks and extended the two curbside slides (I don’t want a crazed Cracker Barrel junkie drunk on sawmill gravy to do a drive by and hit my slides).
Settled in, I turned on my generator which had just been serviced. Vroom. It started right up and 15 seconds later shut down. What the …? So I started it again and it shut down within 2 seconds. It has an auto start feature which activates when needed. While I tried to think about why it might be malfunctioning, it repeatedly restarted and immediately shut down. I finally figured out how to disable the auto start and then called Cummins Williamsport to discuss. The manager there used to be the mgr of the Cummins in Horseheads and he called them to tell them of my problem and that I’d be coming. I brought in the slides, brought up the jacks and drove over.
So I got to the Cummins here and immediately pulled the bus towing my Jeep into a pull thru stall and the local folks started to see what was going on/or not going on. They discovered generator coolant leaking on their floor and upon opening the gen set up, found the coolant reservoir had several cracks and the leaking coolant on its way down to the ground was leaking onto wires going to and from the genny. Not good, not supposed to happen. The reservoir is probably a 2 quart heavy plastic ‘bottle’ similar to a windshield wiper fluid reservoir but heavier. It has an opening at top to add fluid if needed (shouldn’t need to), a fitting on the bottom to accept hot coolant as it expands in the system and a wire or two for some reason unknown to me. Then, in the strangest engineering I can imagine there is a round tunnel right thru the reservoir from top to bottom. The generator oil dipstick goes thru that tunnel into the generator Diesel engine.
The plastic, now more than a decade old, apparently is getting brittle and has also developed hairline cracks where the bolts attach. The bad news was the facility didn’t have a replacement. The worse news was that in the system there was not one single tank in stock anywhere in the country! I speculated that probably the world’s entire supply was in a container on the Evergreen ship in the Suez Canal. I stayed the night sans electricity and generator in their parking lot.
I seemed to remember having heard of ‘plastic welding’ so I googled it and found one return about 40 miles away. I called and left a message. Then thinking there may be others who just don’t have the phrase ‘plastic’ in their website, I called a welder a couple miles away and asked. He didn’t have equipment for plastic welding but had a collision shop customer that did. In luck, they said they’d look at it and were only 1.5 miles away so I took it over this morning (Fri). I got it back about 1 pm with no promises. Told to try to not touch all the repaired spots for another hour and to not put fluid in for 24 hours☹️ which of course would be Saturday and Cummins is closed for the weekend.
The empty tank is rebolted onto the genset and I’ve moved back into their parking lot for the weekend. They do have 110/15amp outlet on the outside of the building. I do have an adapter to reduce my 50 amp service to 30 amp and I went to the local Walmart to buy another adapter to reduce the 30 amp to 15amp. I reset my inverter so that the Bus will not allow a draw exceeding 15 amp (I don’t want to blow the building’s circuit breaker when it is locked and no one here to reset it). Temps are going down, wind warning extended into tomorrow and expecting snow tonight. Thankfully all is toasty inside. So I’m again plugged in at Cummins parking lot and Monday morning we’ll fill it with coolant and if it holds, then try to start and run the genset and see if this was the only problem or did something else break as a result. I don’t think so because of the computer’s self protection from damage programming.🤞
I did finally find one used tank on EBay (it’s the one pictured above) for $270.00. I think I’ll pass. For all I know that plastic is probably brittle too. Cummins has placed an order for a new one to be shipped from wherever, whenever to the Horseheads facility. When and if they get it, they’ll call and we’ll make arrangements for it to be shipped as a spare to wherever I’m at.
On a more personal note, when I lived in the condo in Naples I had a new neighbor move in maybe 6 yrs or so ago. I would see him constantly fishing from the sea wall wearing a clerical collar. That included Sundays which would be contrary to my early upbringing. So I eventually walked out and met him and talked with him. He’s a semi retired Episcopal priest, Dr. Father Frank. He had a very interesting history as a marine, a member of one of the never to be named US initial services serving as a foreign service member in Kabul, Afghanistan, chief of staff for a US Senator, partner in a US firm that consults with and provides training and consultation to major US corporation in the terrorist prevention field and a published author via Princeton University. I learned snatches of this in various conversations over time and finally said “Frank, I don’t know what I can believe vs what may be BS. Please let me know when you have a few hours so we can talk it out about who you really are.” We did spend a whole afternoon in his condo and went over his history. It was a bit disconcerting having this “not sure I trust you” conversation in his office with a closet full of ceremonial religious gowns and me sitting next to his kneeling bench topped by the largest ornate Bible I’ve seen.
As a traveler, I’m not in any one place long enough to make friends and when living in the condo after Sharon’s death, I wasn’t looking for friends and found less than a half dozen in the project that wouldn’t be nice to your face and slit your throat from behind. Frank and my upstairs and my next door neighbor were amongst those who told you what they thought. He organized “The Lounge” in his driveway where a half dozen or so of the condo owners would get together weekly or monthly, when the spirit moved, in the evening, bring their chairs and have a glass of wine or a Macallan’s scotch, a fine cigar and bs with each other. Though I neither smoke or drink, I’d get a text from Frank “the Lounge is open”. He’s probably my best non relative friend. When I decided to sell go RVing again, I wanted to sell my Key West fishing boat. I priced it so it would be a really good deal and went to see Frank. Frank, I said, I feel so guilty that because of me and the boat, you are guilty of coveting. And so I’m going to offer to sell it to you at a great price. I’m not sure if it took two or three seconds for him to buy it, a memory that makes me chuckle. I’d guess he uses that boat 300 out of 365 days per year ever since.
So a week ago this past Thursday, he called and we got up to date with each other etc. He was well past having completed his vaccinations, was going to have cataract surgery the first of the week, was writing another book, was on the verge of finishing a year long+ project of getting boat docks approved and built. All was well.
Then Saturday morning he called again. In clone toon with his upcoming surgery, he’d been COVID tested despite being fully vaccinated and he just got the word that he tested positive for Covid, an as yet unknown variant he was told. He was feeling shocked and I think a little depressed. This morning I saw a fresh, 4 minute old Facebook post from this friend and senior encourager and I responded immediately. A couple minutes later, my phone rang and caller ID indicated it was Father Frank. I answered and didn’t recognize his voice. He was having so much trouble (he lives alone) with his breathing and lower than desired oxygen levels. He apologized for calling so early but figured that since I posted a response, I’d be awake and he could talk to someone. His doctor doesn’t want to see him. He said he’d been told that the local hospital didn’t want him there. Alone, he had hired private nurses and they have failed to show up. He said he was awake part of the night to update his will. I truly cannot believe how this person could be so despondent. He was told in no uncertain terms to place a 911 call and have EMS bring him to emergency, that by law they cannot refuse him.
I have no idea who most of the blog followers are or what their beliefs or disbeliefs might be. I do know that there are many in foreign countries who read it. I would ask your prayers or at least best wishes for Marine Father Frank, senior encourager, my friend.
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