July 21 to 27, 2006 - towed to Anchorage, AK

Friday July 21st we left Seward and headed back to Anchorage.  We passed some friends heading into Seward on the highway and waved at them.

About 75 miles into our journey Bill heard a beep somewhere up front while he was driving.  Then another beep and he realized a check engine light was coming on and off with the beeps.  A couple miles later the engine temperature went up and the stop engine light joined the check engine light with a loud alarm.  Luckily there was a nice spot to stop, we were just at the road to Whittier.  We called our emergency service and they had us check a couple things and then called a tow truck.  Luckily we had good cell phone service.  It was about 2PM.

Eventually the tow truck came and the driver took out our drive line. 

The driver was very conscientious and made sure not to damage anything.  He had his two young boys with him, they were all going out to dinner that evening.   We followed in the car as he towed the motorhome to Cummins Northwest in Anchorage.   He dropped us off about 8:30PM after about 50 miles.   His wife came and retrieved the boys, she grew up in Auburn, WA.  They went off to dinner.  We set up as well as we could and we went to Denny's for a late dinner, we were not looking for anything exciting and knew where Denny's was.  Cummins would not have anyone to work on our motorhome until Monday.

We couldn't move the motorhome and did not have much water in the tank.  We did set up the satellite dish:

In the morning we were able to get water from Brown's Electronics behind us, we had enough hose.

The people at Brown's were really nice and helpful.  We ended up buying a clamp on multi-meter from them since Bill wanted one to check our 12volt electrical loads.

With our tanks like they were we could now sit six nights if we had to.  We knew we had to wait three nights.

Sunday we visited the local farmer's market, the Anchorage Festival:

Mount McKinley was just visible from the market:

We had lunch at the market and bought some jam and smoked salmon to take home.

We also walked around downtown Anchorage.  This is the famous Visitor Information Center with the sod roof:

They had sculptures of salmon all over downtown, 76 Coho in all.  Here are two of them.  The first is "Fraidy Fish":

The second is "Fish-A-Phone":

Monday Nathan the tech/diesel mechanic came out to get us running again.  He reinstalled the drive line and Bill moved the motorhome to the bay where Nathan checked everything he could.  We drove up to Eagle River in the car, about 12 miles, to get our mail.  Later Nathan and Bill took the motorhome for a test drive with a computer hooked up, up to Eagle River since there was a hill on the highway, and it didn't overheat.   But it was obvious the thermostat was sticking.  Nathan installed a new thermostat and went with his computer to another rig to check something while leaving our motorhome idling.  While sitting there, the engine overheated and Nathan came running back with the computer.  The computer said the engine was 260 degrees, but a direct measurement was 123 degrees.  Ah, we have a bad sensor.  We got to spend the night again, this time hooked to some electricity.  The replacement sensor was overnighted.  Here is our spot and our neighbors who were waiting on a new engine.  We now knew that we could move the motorhome to dump tanks and get water if needed.

Tuesday the new sensor was installed in the afternoon and Bill and Nathan test drove the motorhome south to a road with more hills, it didn't alarm.  We headed for the campground and within a few blocks the engine said it was overheating and the alarm went off.  Bill was driving and told Diane over the two-way radios since she was following in the car.  The engine computer derated the engine and the trip back was slow until the engine decided it wasn't overheating again.  Nathan was not happy to see us, he had hoped we were fixed.  It was late in the day and he would look at us at 8AM the next morning. 

Wednesday Nathan checked the wiring, made sure the coolant had no air bubbles in it, and brought the engine computer (ecm) up to current firmware revisions.  Revving up the firmware is not for the faint of heart and can sometimes cause more problems.  But it worked and seemed to have done the trick.  We drove the motorhome to get fuel.  We took it on a long and hard test drive.  We came back to Cummins and talked to Matt, the Service Manager and Nathan's boss, after work hours.  We went to the campground, Anchorage RV Park and got a nice spot.  We put 95 miles on the motorhome in test drives.

We decided to try The Bridge Restaurant on Ship Creek in town to celebrate. Here they are combat fishing Ship Creek in front of the restaurant.  The Bridge was about the fanciest place in Anchorage and our dinner was about $60 with tip, which was cheaper than an equivalent meal in Seattle but not as well executed.  Since it is actually quite easy to spend $40-50 in Anchorage for so-so food, we can recommend The Bridge but it doesn't compare to a place like Ray's Boathouse in Seattle (more like $100 for two).

July 27th was a beautiful day, our motorhome was fixed, we were camped at a nice place, and we could do what we wanted.  Dave and Connie had come in for one night and were leaving so Bill got to visit with Dave and both of them went over and visited someone else we only knew through the internet, John.  Then we went by Cummins Northwest and told Nathan the motorhome seemed to be fixed.  We went in to pay and found the entire bill was treated as warranty, so we were very happy.

About 11:30AM we drove down Turnagain Arm and went to Portage Glacier.

After coming back to Anchorage, we stocked up at the stores and saw a female moose eating just by the entrance to the campground.  Bill was tempted to get his camera and go back and hope she was still there, but didn't.

We also noticed this larger (F2) internet dish on this truck in the campground.  It looks like the modem and such are in the truck instead of the motorhome, the truck must have a battery bank and a wireless router.  We didn't get a chance to find out.

Back to 2006    Previous Adventure    Next Adventure