(Formally "Plan V: A Van Dwelling Blog", when I lived in a 1978 Dodge Xplorer 228 Class B motorhome van)

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Back luck with differentials

The differential on the truck was making loud moaning-type noises that would come and go. From experience with the '78 Xplorer 228 when that horrible mechanic tore it apart when I asked for a rear brake job because he saw rust on the axle shaft, it's hard to find a shop who will rebuild differentials. Many, if not most transmission shops won't do anything with them except change the fluid. Same with regular repair shops. They want nothing to do with them for some reason.

Needless to say, I didn't take it to the same shop the van was towed to, where they botched the brakes, stole one of my new brake drums (which I discovered after I redid the brakes myself), and lied to the BBB when I filed a complaint against them, claiming I was passing out $20 bills as tips.

But I digress.

I called around and found a long standing transmission shop and the guy said it would be "about $1000". He test drove it with me and Lucy crammed in the passenger seat and afterwords, he said if I was only driving it around town, he'd leave it alone. It could last many years that way. But if taking it on a long trip, he'd rebuild it if it was him. I was like ok, I'll think about it.

I decided it needs doing. It could potentially completely fail (ie: broken gear teeth) at any time for all I knew. Things like that can happen at the worst times, in the worst places; even if my usual luck for such things isn't so bad. I didn't want to gamble with it for the safety of Lucy and myself.

I hoped to drop it off on a Monday or Tuesday, and have it back by Friday so my motel stay would only be 2-3 nights. No...such...luck. Try 5, so far. Maybe 6. 7? Ugh, I hope not!!!

He had me drop it off on a Wednesday because he had other things to finish first, which made me cringe in regards to my "plan". He stated before hand that it would take at least 3 days between taking it apart and seeing what all it needs, ordering the parts, waiting for them to come and then putting it together. I guessing waiting on delivery is considered a whole day. He had hoped to have it done by Friday.

After checking into a $45/night (with tax) motel, late Wednesday morning, leaving Lucy here crated, and dropping the truck off, I caught city buses back to the motel The next day he called and said he can't possibly finish it before MONDAY! The reason being, the parts needed are being ordered from multiple sources, and something he needs can't get there until Monday. Plus, the storm that rolled through in the afternoon of the day I dropped it off knocked out the power to to the section of the grid their shop is connected to, causing them to have to shut down.

Oh, and he said the quote is now "about $1600" because the carrier itself (the big thing that the gears attach to) is also worn out, which he found out after tearing it apart. Seriously?! It is possible, there's no doubt about it, but I wonder how much of that is just gouging me just to sell me another part. I'm at his mercy though, pretty much. He did say he'd put "several" guys on it Monday so it could be finished as soon as possible.

I thought about trying to source a whole used axle and just having it swapped, but there's no good guarantee the used axle's differential won't be worn out too. It could have bad bearings, leaking seals, etc. So I'm pretty much committed to that shop doing it at this point. Short of having it towed away to another shop (exactly what I had to do with the van), it stays here. In the case of the van, I had to have it towed away because that guy had it for THREE MONTHS and never finished it, even after I bought the special differential tools and supplied him with a printed copy of the service manual. Yeah... that mechanic was as bad as they come.

The motel is far from crowded so I was able to extend my stay through Monday. In all honesty, I am probably going to have to pay for Monday night too unless he magically finishes it before too late in the afternoon on Monday. They probably won't mind me doing a little late check out (normal is 11am) but I can't expect to get a free 6pm checkout or something. I guess an extra $45 at this point is just a drop in the bucket, eh?

On the plus side, I did get two loads of laundry done while I've been here and it's been a better place to be stuck than a tent at the KOA, with the drenching rain, wind and storms. I guess this makes up for not paying rent anywhere since the $40 for two weeks at the Quartzsite LTVA.

That's life.


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