Unloaded But Dripping Wet
I parked and leveled the Avion with Charlie’s grass between our trailers. My provisions were unloaded from the F350′s bed, mirrors moved to their in position, and the RV trailer wiring connector was moved—from directly under the Reunel rear bumper up to the frame—to prevent unceremonious removal during the occasional butt drag. These few chores are necessary to convert Pull Dog from old RV highway tug to full-sized backroads hunting machine. Plenty of brush is still bucked on narrow trails by the large towing mirror frame structures, but they continue to handle the abuse while I do my best to thread a long and wide truck through all manner of 4WD trails.
Instead of a leisurely day preparing for hunting early the next morning, I discovered my water heater was leaking from a fitting in the top of the tank. Intermittent water-pump cycling the night before signaled there was a problem, but switching off the pump allowed for some much needed sleep. The cracked plastic fitting would not hold pressure if the water pump was on, and water was dripping pretty fast. Once I started touching things the drips morphed into a spray.
I spent a couple hours trying to saw, chip, and pick the plastic threaded prices from the tank without buggering the old metal threads inside the heater. Once removed, the challenge was to reconnect everything with the pieces and fittings that remained; even if it meant no hot water. Try as I might, the combination of 1978 copper pipe mixed with newer but still vintage plastic tubing and fittings—with a piece of the puzzle now missing—resulted in leaks. Not having hot water would have made for a slightly cold camp, but the old Avion furnace works most of the time and could have picked up the slack. However, with the plumbing not holding pressure, hot or cold, I had no way to use any of the 100 gallons of precious agua I’d hauled deep into the high desert backcountry. This was not okay, I didn’t come prepared for, nor did I want to camp without any water for a week.
Frustrated, I considered a night run back to Winnemucca, two hours each way, to search for parts. Wal Mart would have been my only choice, and while they would have a few RV supplies, would they have the plumbing pieces I needed? Likely not. I cooled my jets, had a beer, ate dinner and knew that I was going to spend opening day chasing parts instead of deer.
250 Miles of Highway; Unloaded
The good news was that I logged 250 miles of highway driving on the Toyos without a load. Of course I lowered the tires from high towing psi to more moderate pressures for better ride, wear, and traction; 48 in the front and 35 in the rear.
Once in Winnemucca, I was able to find everything I needed at a real hardware store, CB Brown True Value. Old fashioned hardware stores can be hard to find, particularly in big cities, but a big box chain store never compares. The staff was knowledgeable, plus service and selection was the best I’d seen in a long while. I loaded up on valves, fittings, and pipe, much more than I needed to insure I had everything I might possibly want after returning to camp. Several days later I returned $100 worth of excess parts.
Before heading back to the outback of Nevada, I met an old friend for lunch, reconnecting after a couple years. It turned out that my eventual repair involved some hours of trial-and-error, bending cooper pipe, adapting fittings and such, before water no longer flowed to the floor. My repairs were good, maybe even permanent, with both cold and hot water for the remaining six days.
Toyo M/T—Smooth Operators
The Toyos continued to display one of their best features, that of a balanced, good riding, aggressive tire with relatively little noise. It’s no mystery why these tires are very popular, both with genuine off-highway users and those that just like the look. After 273 miles of driving, 20 on dirt with the remainder on-pavement around 65 mph, fuel economy was 14.2 mpg in both directions.
Finally this dog can hunt. Days and hundreds of off-highway 4×4 miles lie ahead.
Big surprises are coming too…I guarantee it.
Copyright © 2013 James Langan