So, we woke up in high spirits the next day, somehow. Perhaps it was the Telluride effect. It was my wife's birthday and I wanted to make it a good one. We wanted to hang around longer and do a little more offroading, but we were definitely seeing a pattern. The van started fine every morning and ran great until about noon when it got good and hot. We could only find an ICM in Durango. We had called everywhere in the area, which was a short list of places, and no one had it. I pulled mine (not easy to get to), and cleaned it up. There was lots of corrosion between the ICM and the heat sync it mounts to, and the firewall. I thought now that I know the problem I could just spray some water on it, put a fan on it, or whatever when it heated up. The most direct path to civilization and parts stores was south on 145 to Cortez, but that involved a pass I wasn't familiar with and no one there had the part in stock anyway. Durango looked like the only choice. We chose Ophir Pass after hearing it wasn't that bad. Yes, we were risking it here but we had no choice. I thought we'd be fine on Ophir starting early in the day while it was cooler, but I forgot how long and steep the San Juan Skyway (550) was.
It was a beautiful day on Ophir Pass
The van ran fine over Ophir Pass, and as soon as we got out on 550 headed south towards Durango it stalled again.
I cooled the ICM, which did no good. Hmmm. How could that be? I have no pics for a while here, but let's just say that my wife's birthday wasn't a good one. Lots of stalls and drama getting over the high passes and downhill towards Durango. When we made it mid afternoon we were hot, stressed and hungry. We got our new ICM and guess what? It did no good.
We coasted in to a shop in Durango just before closing and picked the brain of two very helpful mechanics there. Quick plug here for Built to Last Automotive in Durango. They were super helpful, but it was near closing time on Friday and they were trying to wrap up several cars. One mechanic offhandedly said "You know, I used to have an F250 about that age with a 460 and it was always vapor lock with that thing. Same symptom!". Huh? Vapor lock? I hadn't considered this. I hadn't considered anything on the fuel side. The tank is new, the (original) pump has only 30k or so on it, vapor lock?
Isn't that something old VW busses suffer from? Not fairly modern vans. Still, I took his advice to go get a tank of pure (ethanol free) gas. I was just under a half and he said that would probably get me rolling. He didn't mention the fuel pump, because he (nor I) had never heard of one heating up and quitting, then working again after cooling. I thought fuel pumps just died and that was it. We made our way slowly and intermittently to a pure gas station a mile or two away, filled up with pure and voila! We were running fine again. It was late but we were sick of breaking down in the desert. 4 days out, 4 breakdowns. Many times on her birthday trying to get to Durango. No nice hotel as planned, we just made a bee line for Cortez hoping to catch up on lost time.
We stayed in a dump in Cortez, too hot to camp. Neither of us could believe that the problem was as simple as vapor lock, or that I had been so wrong. But the van was running???
At this point, we really once again thought we had found the problem so we detoured through Monument Valley. It was finally good day.
We drove the offroad loop down in to Monument Valley. Lots of pics here but I'm no pro and they mostly look the same. Guess what? We were climbing back up to the visitor's center and the van quit!
We were done. It was going to the shop. We painstakingly got up out of the canyon and coasted downhill about 5 miles to a gas station at Goulding's near Monument Valley. I filled up with 10% ethanol premium, the best option they had. Rusty fired right up with a cool, full tank of gas but by now we had narrowed it down to the fuel pump, largely from advice from some of you here on the forum. We made it just past Kayenta a few miles down the road and the van quit, this time for good. 5 days, 5 breakdowns. This time in the desert in the absolute middle of nowhere. We sweated it out for an hour and a half while AAA sent a truck from Page. A long 65 mile tow later the driver unloaded us at the KOA in Page. 106 degrees and few trees. Saturday afternoon. No shop even open til Monday. This was our 20 year anniversary trip. Life was not good.
More to come