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Old 07-14-2015, 11:47 AM   #1
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Rusty rides again..........mostly

This is a tale of our 20 year anniversary trip. I asked her what she wanted, and she pretty much said flatly "a trip out west, with NO kids, hike the narrows, go to the Tetons for a few days." What? SIMPLE!
That beats the heck out of jewelry or the like any day.
We set out for 2.5 weeks away with the kids at her parent's. Wow, how nice to pack the SMB for two. All that space! Sort of.
Day one included a stop over in Memphis for a funeral, which stretched to day 5. Ugh. Not a good start. We left there late afternoon on a Monday and were cruising happily along through Oklahoma about midnight when I noticed my lights looked a little dim. Uh-oh. Battery meter read 11.8 because I didn't notice it for awhile. I think we were too busy catching up on conversations we haven't had in, say, 10 years? I knew we had to pull over and sleep, and most likely find an alternator the next morning. We found a rest area and since it's just the two of us no need to pop the top. We made the bed and rested well.
Just a quick bit of bragging here about my Appalachian American ingenuity. I always carry a generator in a box on the back, and I keep a small battery charger in the van as well for emergencies or if the inverter/charger ever fails. I fired up the generator, ran an extension cord over the awning brackets to the hood, plugged in my tiny charger and kept the battery alive enough to run the lights and van for 50 miles or so while we found a rest stop to sleep. Well, I thought it was pretty brilliant, but she wasn't all that impressed.
The next morning, with a cool engine, I pulled the alternator with plans to just drive the few miles to a town with an auto parts store without it or the belt. On my 460, this seemed possible. When I pulled the alternator, I found that about 6 inches down the positive cable SMB had spliced the wire to the battery isolator, and whatever connection they made there had disintegrated over time. Obviously not a good seal on the heat shrink, if they even used any, and it corroded and gave way. My stop at the auto parts store mostly included a bench test of the alternator, which was fine, and a cable and connectors to repair the line. Off we went losing only about 2 hours and 21 dollars.
We carried on across I-40 and eventually up I-25 through the corner of New Mexico. By late in the day we were just south of Pueblo CO and cut north west on 69 at Walsenberg. I strongly recommend this detour if you're headed this direction from points south towards Gunnison or Salida. It takes you right along the Sangre De Cristo range and right by Great Sand Dunes NP, which we didn't check out but will someday.

Sangre De Cristo range from Deweese Reservoir

Sunset with a storm rolling in

We had a great beer and burger at Chappy's Bar & Grill in Westcliffe. Then on to the nearby Deweese Reservoir for the night. We rolled in long after dark but were greeted with this in the morning.

More to come


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Old 07-14-2015, 01:29 PM   #2
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Re: Rusty rides again..........mostly

Awesome! Inspirational build and adventure! keep posting so I can get mine done. I'd like to meet you and your family on the road one of these days. You should carry a go-pro or something like it and youtube your travels.

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Old 07-14-2015, 02:40 PM   #3
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Re: Rusty rides again..........mostly

'95 SMB E350 Quigley 7.3
... If you have to ask, you'll never understand...
"... torpedo'd, because we don't generally cotton to bullshit around here." -jage
"... do they ooch apart in the night?" -Dia
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Old 07-14-2015, 02:41 PM   #4
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Re: Rusty rides again..........mostly

Sorry we were too far ahead and missed you!

-John & Mandi
2001 7.3 E350 Ujoint 4" w/ SMB Penthouse
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Old 07-14-2015, 02:45 PM   #5
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Re: Rusty rides again..........mostly

Truly enjoyed reading your write up. Great pics too. To say it was a journey is an understatement. Glad everyone made it home safe and sound. Look forward to more.
2014 Ford RB-50
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Old 07-14-2015, 02:48 PM   #6
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Re: Rusty rides again..........mostly

Poor old Rusty!
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Old 07-14-2015, 05:20 PM   #7
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Re: Rusty rides again..........mostly

Awesome photos.
2011 E350 RB V-10
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Old 07-14-2015, 08:54 PM   #8
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Re: Rusty rides again..........mostly

Always nice to photos of places we have never been. Thanks.
Read detailed trip reports, see photos and videos on my travel blog,
Current van: 2002 Ford E350 extended body camper with Colorado Camper Van pop top and Agile Offroad 4WD conversion.
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Old 07-18-2015, 07:23 PM   #9
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Re: Rusty rides again..........mostly

Great to see you guys thanks for stopping in.

Going where most dont
"one day at a time"
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Old 07-20-2015, 06:58 PM   #10
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Re: Rusty rides again..........mostly

The next morning we awoke to a beautiful clear, cool day. We were thinking our van troubles were over. We headed west across 50 and took on fuel and supplies Salida. Then over Monarch Pass hoping to expore some of the north side of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison before heading towards Owl Creek Pass on GrumpyBadger's (Steve's) suggestion.

Monarch Pass

We headed on past the Blue Mesa Reservoir? and turned north on 92 to explore the north side and possibly find a site early and relax. About halfway up the canyon the van sputtered to a stop. It was hot. Bitchin' hot. We had no shoulder, no shade, no nothing. Dead in the middle of a curve on a tight two lane road. Let's step back a little. When I bought Rusty I tuned it up right away. I did most everything, even some things I didn't need to, like the coil, for instance. I ordered a supposed 'better' MSD unit from Jeg's or somewhere like that with a bunch of other stuff and thought "What could it hurt?" Soon after this my van stalled on me close to home during some hot, slow offroading. I Googled the possible problem and found out MSD coils have a bad reputation for failing. Symptom? Stall when hot then restart after cool. No problem, I pulled my trusty OEM coil from under the gaucho and put it back in. No further problems. Note to self, coils on 460s overheat. Check.
Well, we waited and it didn't restart. We got a tow from a nice guy in a Cummins diesel to the next overlook and called AAA. About an hour later it cranked right up. We hightailed it back to Gunnison before NAPA closed so we could try a new coil. The van ran fine for this one hour run. We cancelled our tow when we were in the home stretch. I changed the coil thinking we had found the problem. The rest of the day was sublime! We meandered down to the SilverJack reservoir and found the beautiful Silverjack Campground. This is the real Colorado!

Lots of cut firewood at almost every site, and nowhere near full, this is a beautiful campground if you like Aspen groves as much as we do. After today, time for a bottle of wine!

The next morning we hiked to the reservoir overlook.

On the road over Owl Creek Pass

This is a beautiful run and I recommend it. 4wd not needed, unless your headed up the West side (off 550) opposite of our direction, and still probably only needed when wet. We picnicked at the park in Ridgeway and headed towards Telluride via Last Dollar Road, once again thinking our troubles were over.

Soon after this pic, of course, the van stalled again as we really got to climbing on Last Dollar. There was no way back. No way out without climbing. Hardly any cell signal. We were screwed. The only people around were rental Jeeps that kept passing by. They stopped, "Can I help you?" Well, do you live around here? Do you know your way around, maybe a shortcut out of here? "No, we're from DeMoines." Then probably no. They all went on. After about 5 stalls and a few hours we made it over the top of Last Dollar. It was getting late. We coasted, literally, all the way down to the airport. I only had to attempt to crank it once or twice for a slight incline. We rolled in to Telluride literally sputtering through town and got the last campsite in the city park campground, the only campground. We walked to town for pizza but just couldn't get excited about the way the trip was going. 3 days out, 3 times broken down. It has to be the ignition, doesn't it? I researched and the only thing I could find was that a bad ICM (ignition control module) will kill your coil. It had to be that, right? Not to be found in Telluride, of course, we had to try for a parts store the next day.

More to come........


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