foxtrapper UltimaDork
7/27/16 7:12 a.m.

Went to a race track in upstate New York this past Monday. Decided I'd trailer the bike, so that if anything went wrong I could get back home readily enough. I had no idea that was going to prove to be a mistake.

The tow truck was my old Toyota T100, which is getting rather long in the tooth. I've used it locally for minor things and as the winter commuter in the snow. I hadn't pushed it hard for a long time, and learned how unhappy it was.

Off we go, and the truck is wailing away trying to keep up speed. Huh. Maybe this isn't the best idea. But I persevere.

I forgot how steep and long some of the climbs on I-81 around Wilks-Barre and Scranton are. The truck let me know in no uncertain terms that it did not have the power for this. So I'm in the right hand lane screaming along at 40 mph.

The truck also let me know the radiator was partially plugged again, as it started to heat up, and then overheat. Oh goody! It wasn't bad at first, but as the trip progressed we kept getting hotter each time I climbed a grade. This is not good.

And just for riding pleasure, the concrete sections of I-81 and I-84 are jointed apparently to the wheel base of my truck. This had the truck leaping and pounding as we drove down the highway, no matter what speed I picked. On the plus side, there are no more loose rust flakes on the truck, they've all been knocked off. So were almost all the paint scabs on the fenders. Seriously, it knocked most of them off, showing off just how rotted the truck is. Wow!

Buy gas just after crossing the New York line. Twist the key, nothing. No click, nothing. Well damn. This is about the time I'm considering abandoning the truck and riding the bike the rest of the way. But I've got a trailer, and it's not mine. So lets figure this out. Right in the gas station lane, because it's not like I can push this thing out of the way.

No power to the starter solenoid, so I've got to jumper it to make the starter crank. That's just lovely. The starter is tucked up under the exhaust manifold, above the catalytic converter. Burning ensued, but I got the truck running! What the hell am I going to do next time I turn it off though?

Hit the road and notice the gear indicator isn't reading right. Ah hah! It's the transmission switch. I can fix this.

So on to the nifty motorcycle museum Motorcyclepedia A great place to visit! I wish I'd had more time, and wasn't so preocupied with my truck troubles.

After an hour or so I figured the truck should have cooled enough to work on it. Glad I brought the big tool box and was loaded for bear. Get the switch off, which is not easy. Great, it's all broken up. OK. Figure out how to rig things up to simulate neutral. Pieces won't hold. Simulate park, things hold together. Put it all back together, test it, it works! Yay! The truck is still weak and overheating, but I can start it without filth and pain.

So I thought. Clean up and drive to a riteaid for burn cream. Come out, nothing. The rigging didn't hold or something. I still haven't checked. But while the indicator shows park, but the engine will not crank. Oh goody, back to crawling under the hot truck to jumper the starter. More pain and a few more burns.

On to the hotel! Oh dear god is that one long hard and steep climb. Nothing I can do to cool the engine either. And I don't have enough water. So just burn it up as I climb the mountain.

Now the transmission won't engage park. This is fairly tipped parking lot, and I really need park. Especially since my parking brake decided to let go and just pull up to its stop without contributing any stopping force. Spend some more time fiddling, and finally the transmission engages park.

Contemplate riding the bike to the track instead of trying to trailer it. It's mighty cool up there, especially in the early morning hours, and I didn't bring cold weather riding gear. The track is an hours ride away. Aw hell, I'm going to have to trailer it.

Some come morning, once again I'm under the truck jumpering it. But at least it's a cold engine. Still greasy and filthy, but at least its burnless.

The first few miles of the drive are right up the rest of the mountain, and the truck complained bitterly about it. It wasted no time in overheating. But, we crested the peak and the temperature went back down, so on we go to the track. Where I had a great time btw.

Same thing the return. More grease and filth, cold engine so no burns. Only a few minor climbs, so only minor overheating. More time spent fiddling with getting it to engage park.

And then the ride home. I wimped and was not going onto I-81 again! Nope, we're going downhill to the coast, and running that way. There still some grades, and still some heating up, but I managed to avoid overheating, for a while.

Hit construction, and the temperature starts to climb. And climb, and climb. I'm considering shutting it down when traffic moves a little, and the truck cools substantially. Oh goody, my cooling fan clutch has failed! Now I not only heat up from heavy loads, but from just sitting there. Can this get any better?

Why yes, it can! From being well cooked, the transmission is starting to act up. Now sometimes it refuses to downshift. Which is kind of a mixed blessing. If it won't downshift, I don't have the power to climb the grades. But if it does downshift, engine rpms go up, which increases engine heat, which overheats everything.

Whatever, I'm in the right hand lane with the slow semi's crawling along, but not quite over heating.

Just keep driving gently, and I can keep the temperatures down.

A few nerve wracking moments in the hills around York and Glen Rock, but I make it home.

I can't tell you how good a rental car is looking to me for trips in the future. Where I can simply pick up my phone and say "it's broke, bring me another".

I've never been so close to dumping a vehicle and mailing someone the title. If it weren't for the trailer, I probably would have. It's not like the truck is worth much.

So, that was my weekend "adventure ride", with a very tired and rather neglected truck that didn't want to make the journey, but did.

Things to do to make the truck semi-driveable again? Transmission switch, radiator, fan clutch, transmission flush. If I can get another radiator under warranty, I should be able to do this for about $200.

Huckleberry MegaDork
7/27/16 7:26 a.m.

Were you able to relax and enjoy the weekend at NYST? What bike did you take?

The next time you come thru here on the verge of breaking down - do give a shout. My garage is 4 miles straight up the mountain from i81, 10 miles north of Scranton. It's got tools and a NAPA store within 10 minutes.

foxtrapper UltimaDork
7/27/16 7:41 a.m.

Yes, I did separate truck anxiety from track time. And I had a blast. I'll do a write up about the track time shortly, once John gets some pictures up. I did take the Harley Road King, and was perfectly respectable on it.

Foolishly, it never occurred to me to reach out to someone like you. I was just doing the solo hair pulling. So thank you for the very kind offer of help, and I will attempt to remember it in the future.

t25torx Dork
8/7/16 9:14 p.m.

Glad to know I'm not the only one that ends up with these types of trips. You should read my trailer experiance when I differed maintenance on it. Sucks though when it's happening.

I recently did a 300k overhaul to my truck as it was losing power all over the place when I towed the Daytona and covered trailer back after buying it, then shortly after that the serpentine belt broke and the heat made the waterpump start leaking bad. It was one thing after another on it for a little while, till I set aside a weekend to do all the differed maintenance.

I still have an issue with the starter not engaging the flywheel correctly though. I stopped about 100 miles from home to get diesel after having driven 700 miles that day, went to start it and it would just click, I eventually ran the batteries down from trying too much to start it. Had to crawl under and manually turn the flywheel to get the starter to engage right, then thankfully there were a couple guys in another truck that gave me a jump. Made it home but only after cussing the truck out up and down. Do yourself a favor and write down all the issues, buy the parts on rockauto, and spend a weekend getting it all back to good.

xflowgolf Dork
8/8/16 5:20 a.m.

Glad you made it though.

volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
8/8/16 1:19 p.m.

Sounds like after cooking both engine and transmission, it might be a good idea to divest yourself of ownership of said truck. Especially considering said rust. May I suggest a fine GMT400?

Coincidentally, I'm reading this as the wife and 2 year old and I are planning on taking off from Maryland, up 81 and over 84 to lower Massachusetts this coming weekend. In her '91 Suburban, with 181,000 miles, towing a camper.

NickD Dork
8/12/16 10:38 a.m.

ISn't I-81 great? And you get the privilege of paying a ton of money to drive on it too. Thanks, New York state!

volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
8/16/16 7:54 a.m.
NickD wrote: ISn't I-81 great? And you get the privilege of paying a ton of money to drive on it too. Thanks, New York state!

I-81 is free, at least as far as the portion we drove on (from Harrisburg, PA to Scranton). I-84 had a small toll to get over the Hudson River, but that was it for tolls on our trip. Perhaps you're thinking of I-90, aka the NYS Thruway (Screw-way)?

Our Preferred Partners