Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Busted Flat in Shelby

We had a lovely trip to Montana and Glacier National Park last week. We took the Cardinal up, using our old Dodge Dakota to tow it. We didn't want to take the Subaru on such a long trip without trailer brakes! Sure the Dakota has 180,000 miles on it... but the Subie had 150K. And the Dakota had never run better.

The trip to Glacier went well; we enjoyed family, hiking, and wildlife for a few days before heading back to Great Falls. Unfortunately, about 78 miles (exactly) from East Glacier, the truck acquired a terrific vibration. We were just about to stop, when there was a huge "pop" and the truck lost all power to the wheels. The vibration was quite jarring! We just barely pulled the truck and trailer onto the shoulder... and after looking at the underside of our truck, the huge trail of liquid down the interstate, the lake of fluid under the truck, AND the cracked transfer case, we cried.

Wish we had pictures.

Called a tow truck... luckily my sister had AAA. Unluckily, we were still 60 miles from Great Falls, with only small towns between. I called mechanics in each town, and none could get us in within a week. We didn't know what would happen. Oh, and AAA doesn't cover trailer towing. Would we have to leave the Cardinal by the interstate?

After two hours, the tow truck arrived. Luckily, the driver was more than willing to hook the trailer onto the back for $1 a mile... and would tow us free 20 miles north to his town. He made a few calls, and found a mechanic who could get us in the next day.

He asked us where we wanted to have the trailer parked; we said "Cheap and close to the mechanic". He thought about it... and said he had a free place for us if we could handle train noise. Well... living in an old house in the old part of town, I have no problem with train noise.

Here was our two night camp spot:
Right by the tracks.

Back to the mechanic... I must say that everyone who stuck their head under our truck, from the tow driver, to the 4 mechanics let out a huge breath and shook their head. Our transfer case didn't just crack... it EXPLODED:

The part was supposed to be in the next day, and he promised it by 5. At five the next day, however, we walk to the shop to a somewhat flustered mechanic. Our part had missed the truck up, but the mechanic had sent a man down to get it in the hopes of staying late to finish it up. Unfortunately, the man's truck had broken down on the side of the road!

Ah well. It was done the next day, albeit without a speedometer (the wires ripped out in the explosion) and missing 4x4 (apparently, the CV joint on the front wheels was freezing up now), and we are back down in Colorado, considerably lighter on the pocketbook.

Oh, and if you EVER have a chance to stay in Shelby, MT, may I recommend the local museum... the Marias Museum? It was a big house FULL of old things, from Victrolas and wedding gowns, to depression glass, pistols, and blacksmith gear. It was one of the most interesting museums I've ever been in!


NV said...

Wow. Bummer about the truck but sounds like you managed to eke out an adventure anyway!

Silvia said...

Man, that sucks! But I wonder about AAA. We have RV towing out of other reasons, but I wonder why they would not tow a trailer or pop-up, to me they are considered "RV". I would check with them again, just in case.

Robj98168 said...

LOL LOL Gritting my teeth! Driving older cars to car shows I live by the AAA. Thye have so many funny rules.My ISO Works for AAA Washington so I have to have it but yeah- I wouldn't go 30 miles without it!

Debbie said...

Oh I hate it when things like that happen!

We went to Disneyland for Christmas, several years in a row. Well, one of these times, my car decides to blow a fuel pump and water pump at the same time. Have you ever seen Los Angeles freeways? It was horrible as we were one hour away from our hotel room. It took my entire work check to get the repairs made, towing, etc. We had $5.00 to spend at Disneyland for the entire day!! I had prepaid for the tickets, thank goodness...

I'm glad you guys made it home safely!

Jennifer said...

NV~ You know, when we ended up in Shelby I said "Let's have FUN here!" There's an adventure everywhere, even if it's just a cool old museum.

Silvia~ I think if you PAY for an RV policy they will cover it. My sister only had it on her car. AAA only arranges and pays for the rides, too...

Rob~ We are so buying it now! Worth every penny the few times I've needed to borrow it from someone.

Debbie~ OUCH! But.. it's the vacation you remember, right? I bet we'll be talking about this for decades!

Dorlissa said...

that's exactly it they only cover RV's if you have premium and it was a bit of a misunderstanding on the part of the AAA lady I told her it was a truck with a travel trailer and she says that my coverage doesn't cover that I told her just get me a truck we'll figure it out she connected me to the montana office and that lady was like I thought it was an RV when i told her we needed towing for a dodge dakota and a cardinal travel trailer go figure.
Jen's sister