So, the trip down from Boise to Rancho Cucamonga was punctuated with uneventfulness (which, as it turns out, isn’t a word). The idea here is a loooooong drive, at night, with 35 raw horsepower. Cinderella, that’s my truck, sometimes I call her Princess, was doing fine. You just can’t expect too much. I got pulled over, the officer said I was going too fast, I threw him the keys, said, “here, you try”. I guess I can afford the extra time driving since Cinderella gets up to 48 miles per gallon loaded. We had built a “special” lumber rack for Cinderella to transport this portable sawmill. When I say lumber rack I don’t mean ladder rack since we constructed it out of 2×6 and I currently do not have the equipment to weld aluminum.
I guess the high point came as we reached the summit between LA and Las Vegas, Princess quit. Quickly pushing in the clutch we maintained enough inertia to gracefully glide to the shoulder. Apparently the alternator had seized and the belt was strong enough to kill the engine. We promptly removed and disassembled the offender. Typically this would happen at night, but fortunately it was early Saturday afternoon. The front bearing was locked up tight. I noticed the dip stick on the sawmill motor. Great small oil dropper. It was within arms reach. A few drops of oil then vise grips and a big pipe wrench and we convinced the frozen bearing to turn again. Once we had it loosened up fairly well we reassembled and reinstalled the alternator. Not qualifying as a rebuild it would hopefully at least run. We only had about 90 miles to Las Vegas. It didn’t sound great but at least it was running. We tried to locate parts as we drove in. We were able to find an alternator shop whose doors were open although they had closed 30 minutes before. The alternator has not been available for this model for years. As the shop owner looked up the parts we asked if he would have enough time to wait until we could make sure that they were right. He did not but we were glad he had at least stayed long enough to help us. We asked if there was a hardware store close. We drove around the corner to a hardware store and got ready to pull out the alternator for the second time. The parts we purchased cross referenced twice through different manufacturer changes did not fit. The rear bearing size was the right size for the front shaft but the the outside diameter was way too small. There had to be something in the hardware store that we could jam in the crack. We found an o-ring that fit and filled the rest with epoxy. Another trip inside produced a set of files to shape the carbon brushes to actually fit. Once the epoxy cured enough we re-reinstalled the alternator and we were off and running. I was glad to be back on the road. As we concluded our road trip we stopped in Boise and picked up the right parts. They currently ride in the ashtray waiting for our temporary fix to fail.
I guess it never hurts to have tools along. I’m not saying that I have any problem with AAA, but somehow there is something satisfying about saving a Princess.