Dec 05 2009

Bertha, Bertha, Bertha

Filed under Travel

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Well, we left the house Thursday morning, and made it about 10 miles when Bertha got sick. She was spewing and smoking, and had spiked a low fever. After a brief physical, James determined that she had blown the gasket to the new thermostat he had just installed for her the day before.

So he rehydrated her and we went down the road to Napa, where he was able to get another themostat and he installed that one in their parking lot.

So,off we went again. Bertha stopped spewing, and her fever resolved itself quite nicely. Then, about 3 miles later, Bertha stroked out. This ischemic attack left her powerless, able to do little more than 30 mph with the pedal pegged to the floor, while all the while coughing, sputtering, and spewing white smoke out her pipe hole. James did a U turn and gently forced Bertha to drag her sick ass and the Doghouse back home. She was barely able to make it up the steepest hill. All the while, the calculator in my brain was adding up the expenses, while being both relieved that this happened so close to home, and fretting over how much a tow bill would be because our emergency roadside assistance doesn’t kick in until we are over 50 miles from home, not to mention worrying about what was wrong.

Bertha did get us and the Doghouse home safely. James unhooked and set up the camper, and then took Bertha for another drive to get an idea of where her stroke originated from. Forever being an information junkie, I hit the Internet.

James suspected something to do with the fuel system, because in 2001 when we hit the road as fulltimers, we made it to Gadsden AL before Bertha had a similar loss of power, sputtering, and smoking episode. The difference then was she was completely paralyzed, unable to even limp down the road to the next exit. She wound up having her injector pump replaced. That was a weeklong ordeal, but fortunately all of the repairs, and our expenses we covered by Chrysler after a brief battle.

Anyway, our investigation found that the lift pumps on our Dodge are notorious for conking out. If they fail abruptly, it usually doesn’t cause damage to the injector pump. However, a slower failure can damage the much more expensive pump. Bertha’s symptoms matched those caused by a failure of the lift pump. Fortunately, a local auto parts store had one in stock. So James spent yesterday afterrnoon doing a lift-pump-ectomy and replacement.

After another test drive, which revealed that Bertha had regained the full use of all of her faculities, we camped in the driveway overnight. We hit the road AGAIN Friday morning. I am thrilled to report that Bertha drug the Doghouse up the steep mountain into Crossville with no problems this morning. We finally headed westbound on I40, listening to the seedy underworld of the CB Radio, and thanking Dog that we were delayed for a only day, at home, and that the repairs cost us a few hundred dollars instead of the few thousand had Bertha’s injector pump been the cause of her illness.

Probably a good thing we didn’t leave Thursday anyway. We were going south thru Mobile, and across southern Texas. We would have made it to Houston just in time to get stuck in their snow storm. By skirting north, we missed the majority of the nasty weather. After all, we certainly aren’t flying west to play in snow. I want out of this cold, nasty Tennessee weather!!!

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Bertha, Bertha, Bertha”

  1.   Reneon 06 Dec 2009 at 1:07 am     1

    Wow, it must be GREAT to have such a mechanically inclined hubby! Kudos to you for figuring that out and getting out of it so relatively inexpensively.

    Keep on truckin’ ….

  2.   Bevon 06 Dec 2009 at 9:23 pm     2

    My hubby makes me proud….I have yet to see anything he cannot do or repair, well, except maybe laundry. And technically he could, but I grounded him from that a long time ago, when he thought he’d save time, water, and electricity by washing my sweater with the towels ;).

  3.   Pat Gravetton 08 Dec 2009 at 11:38 am     3

    Maybe your “trials of the trails” is over, at least for this trip.