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Old 03-19-2019, 08:41 AM   #1
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This happened yesterday...

Not sure if this fits best as a trip report, a show and tell, a project (upcoming), a classified (upcoming), towing...so many applicable options. Forum Admin, please relocate as needed.

So I stopped off in Pismo Sunday night on my way home from a nice visit on Pruitt Ridge. Had a meeting back home in the morning so I rolled off the dunes about 8AM. I was down at mile 5.5 or so and had plenty of time to see a number of people waking up to high tide taking over their camps. Then I came up on the creek crossing, which was a rather long and soupy stretch of fresh water from a healthy season of rain meeting up with high tide. Been here plenty of times and never seen it this wide. Maybe 20 minutes go by until someone decides to motor through, it was all the big trucks towing in the toy trailers for the day's rentals. Timed right the water was no more than 18”, easy. Timed wrong one is going to be caught in the whitewaters of 4-5’ sets. Watching the path of a few more people, I feel like I have it sorted out. Off I go, having watched the sets, I slowly proceed during a calm break in the surf with shallow waters. My end was the deepest part of the crossing, so I figured a slow gentle in, get things moving, and as I get towards higher ground I could speed up to beat the surf. Not even close to half way across....all systems shut down. No power, no lights, no response on anything, just sitting and watching the surf that i intended to avoid roll my way. After some loud cursing and private trashing about, I hopped out into mid-shin depth water at most and ran ashore to start the rescue efforts. The larger waves having by now met up with the van. Found a nice spectator who was willing to dip his rear end into the water and give it a try. I crawled inside the van, shut the doors behind me to keep water at a minimum, and dug through the whole back end to get at the storage box. I unloaded a strap, hopped out, did some cold underwater shackling while the waves bobbled me around. By this time I have a pretty solid audience. So here we go, pulling...pulling....snap. First guy pulls his rig out, more guys offer up straps, I dig out another from the storage box that is now full of water. Rescue trucks now staying on shore we are three straps deep, waiting for a bit of water to lift her up a little....pulling...pulling...nothing. By this time, maybe 30 minutes, the surf has buried the wheels up to the axles in sticky wet sand (which was always so fun to do with our feet as kids). We give it one more shot, two more donated straps, this time pulling from two trucks...pulling...pulling, she starts to lift out and... snap. That one shot back fast enough to dent the rear box. She ain't moving, so I make the painful phone call for tow service...15-20 minutes of waiting, and watching what so far I wasn’t really able to witness and digest. Waves rocking this thing like it’s a hot wheel, slowing burying the surf side faster than the shore side, water coming up and over the hood. Then out rolls a camo six wheel drive, and she’s out in about 10 minutes. One hour later and $750 I am finally curb side assessing and watching water drain out from everywhere.

Here’s what I know so far:
It won’t start, has good cranking, strong batteries, glow plug light indicates that it’s doing its thing, just won’t turn over.
Slight bit of moisture in the air filter housing, on the dirty side.
Front diff fluid leaked out as I waited roadside.
Some electrical systems are not working, ARB compressor under seat, door locks, dash fan, alarm, usb chargers.
Water def filled the entire engine bay at times (sticks on top of filter housing).
There is sand in the valley.
An Espar exhaust hose pulled lose, which makes me wonder how much water got upstream on both heaters.
Fog light were half full of water.
There are settled water lines at about 2” above the floor, though I did get in the van at one point and the water seemed to be sloshing around higher than that.
It died very quickly, though I seem to recall a momentary stutter as if it lost fuel (fuel pump is on the frame rail).

So I got a few questions for the community.
Any opinions on what shut off all power? Or any questions I can answer to help diagnose the first?

I’ve already filed the insurance claim (state farm) but open to hearing pros and cons of making such a claim.

In a seawater submerge what should I insist be done as part of the mechanical service/inspection? All fluids flushed and changed? Engine flush? Fuel dump? Undercarriage?

Last, need suggestions for central coast or SoCal shops that can estimate and handle repairs of the interior floors, door panels, maybe some cabinets?

Empathetic stories of your own may help too. thx all.
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Old 03-19-2019, 09:39 AM   #2
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Man that is quite the heart breaking story. I have camped out at Pismo Beach a couple times. Last time we went we camped all the way at the end, and had the place mostly to ourselves. There was one other group a couple hundred yards down the beach that stayed the night out there as well. Only problem was they didn't quite understand how the tide works, and someone parked too close to the water.

We woke up to some very frantic yelling and crawled out of bed to this guys truck looking exactly like the picture you posted, waves hitting it and everything. He also called a tow service which took about an hour to get out there and by the time it got out it looked to be in very rough shape. Front axle and tires were all skewed and bent. There wasn't anything we could really do to help. I don't even recall anyone in his group attempting a recovery, he was too deep. Just watched everything unfold with our morning coffee.

Unfortunately I have no advice on how to proceed, just thought I would share the story.
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Old 03-19-2019, 09:40 AM   #3
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Wow! Sorry for your bad day and good luck getting your van fixed back up.
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Old 03-19-2019, 09:54 AM   #4
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Is your rig still in Pismo or on the central coast? If it is, I can offer a spot for you to park your rig until you can get it home. I live about 6 miles from the entrance of the dunes. Message me if you need a spot to park it.
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Old 03-19-2019, 10:36 AM   #5
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I would suggest a thorough going over of all the electrical connections in the harness that got flooded.
Just by splashing through a large puddle in my old '88 Ranger I managed to soak some connectors and stall her right out.
Might I add a heartfelt "bummer dude"? Good luck on getting her repaired.
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Old 03-19-2019, 11:40 AM   #6
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oh man, that sucks!


regardless on insurance adjuster's schedule, inconvenience, etc, I'd be on it now... opening up everything and getting the salt water out, pronto, like this morning, if not sooner.



I'd start with the interior, disconnect the batteries and work my way to the engine compartment, I'd drill 3/16" weep holes in the bottoms of my doors, pull all the wet bedding, towels, anything that got damp, set up fans and space heaters. Salt water trapped under floor coverings will rust the floor in a couple years if you don't address it right away, like now, before it dries. Pull up the carpet, driver and passenger foot well padding.



I'd use compressed air to blow out engine compartment, take the covers off the fuse panels in the cab and engine compartment, use fresh water to rinse off the salt water, and blow dry w/compressed air.
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Old 03-19-2019, 12:54 PM   #7
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So sad. It's likely insurance will total it, but regardless, it will never be the same. With salt water in the engine you need to immediately drain all fluids and refill. With sunken boats, we refill the engines with diesel fuel until a proper flush can be done. Fill to overflowing, and fuel comes out of places like the dipstick. Don't forget the dif's, transfer case, and transmission. Once that's done, it can sit until a proper flushing can be done. If it were running, two or three oil changes in a row can salvage it. Flush everything with tons of fresh water immediately, starting with the interior, including all electrical connectors. Fresh water won't hurt anything as long as it is dried up in a day or so, but any salt remaining will immediately start corrosion, rust has probably begun already. Remove all carpet, insulation and anything else you can, salt water is hygroscopic and will absorb water out of the air forever unless you can eliminate it. So sorry but you might be better off letting the insurance company pay you off, then buy it back for salvage value if your up for a long project. Edit: diesel in the transmission might not be such a good idea, but draining and refilling to overflowing with ATF will work, but you MUST get the saltwater out immediately. Flushing With massive quantitys of freshwater everywhere will help, as I assure you the rust has already started. I've saved outboards by running fresh water in the spark plug holes and crankcase prior to refilling with oil and running, but if the engine sits for even a few days, it can be very expensive to repair.
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Old 03-19-2019, 01:14 PM   #8
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Wow, sorry to hear this and wish you the best. I can't offer better suggestions than above.
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Old 03-19-2019, 01:21 PM   #9
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That sucks. Sometimes you can do everything right and it all still goes wrong. Best wishes for good dealings with the insurance company.


As an aside, does insurance usually cover something off-road like this? I'm surprised a regular policy would. Like when somebody rolls a Jeep on a gnarly backwoods trail?
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Old 03-19-2019, 03:05 PM   #10
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So sorry to see something like this happen, like a bad dream coming true. Keep everybody up on the clean up situation.
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