Coasting to the Coast
We decided that we had all of the gremlins from the last trip sorted out. We have been wanting to head to the Pacific coast for some time now, but the weather seemed like it was still too hot for us.
Since we were tired of waiting, and somewhat confident that we had solved all of the problems discovered on the last short trip, we head out Saturday.
It was not much more than one hour into the trip, that ghosts of gremlins past made their appearance. The motorhome ran fine on the highway, but when coming into town, every time we had to stop, or slow way down, the engine would die. It would restart instantly, and idle just fine, but when we put it in gear and tried to move forward it would die, and we would have to coast over to the edge of the road. After several failed tries, we would always manage to get it going again, and once up to highway speed, you could not tell anything was wrong.
Then, when at the outskirts of Guadalajara, in a turnaround situation which had a slight uphill incline, it died again. We could not get it started and up the slight incline, no matter how many times we tried, that coupled with the fact that we were trying to pull out onto a high speed highway.
Mexico is chock full of situations where you have to head for a short while in the opposite direction that you want, until you get to the next “return” where you make a u-turn, to go where you wanted. This was one of those situations.
We managed to get it running enough to back down the incline and get off the road. We poked around and could not find anything obviously wrong.
Discouraged, and feeling quite stranded and hopeless, contemplating camping the night in the median of the highway on the outskirts of Guadalajara, I spotted a highway worker in the distance. I walked out to him and asked if he knew a mechanic in the area, that would be open on Saturday afternoon. He did, and pointed back towards Guadalajara, and something about 500 meters. Do you have any idea how far 500 meters is? I sure do not, nor did I believe that was an accurate measurement.
I crossed from the median to the right shoulder, where it felt safer walking. First I spotted a tire repair place on the left, some distance (500 meters?) down the road. I crossed the four lane divided highway to his shop. He informed me that the mechanic was 200 meters more down the road on the right hand side, where I had just come from.
Sure enough, soon I found a mechanic, went in and tried to explain my problem and my situation. Communication was difficult, but basically he referred me to another shop, “al lado”. Other side? Other side of the road? Oh, next door, now I remember.
Next door, was indeed another mechanic. This makes about the third or fourth time I have tried to tell my story in Spanish, but I tried again. Then I had to be led to the maestro behind the shop, and tell my story again. He agreed to come look at it, but before we could get on the road back to the stranded motorhome, another problem emerged at his shop, so he assigned my problem to Xavier, and another helper type mechanic.
Xavier, his assistant and I finally got back to the motorhome and more than an hour had passed since I left on my hike. Steve just left the motor alone, not wanting to get it too hot if I should be able to return with help. There is some unwritten law of the universe that any mechanical problem with a vehicle, will not repeat itself in the presence of a mechanic.
We could not duplicate the problem. They checked to make sure the fuel pump was pumping and it was working fantastically well. They were under and over all parts of the motorhome. Finally, they suggested we take it for drive. We drove it for over half an hour, and it never ran better. It ran much better than it did earlier in the day. A miracle cure?, a magic touch?. Something cleared out?, cleaned itself?, while it sat there for that hour.
So off we went. Happy Days are here again. For about two hours, then when we slowed down for a toll booth, here came the stutter, stumble, again. We are starting to suspect the coil. We had a 1977 Dodge ex-Army truck, that had strange problems running after it warmed up a while, and it turned out to be the coil.
We stopped for a while, uncovered the engine, turned on the roof air, put three fans on the motor and specifically the coil, and after about 30 minutes all seemed fine once again.
But now, we are on a narrow two lane road through the mountainous jungle near the Pacific Coast. There is no where to pull off the road. There is a deep concrete ditch three inches from the edge of the asphalt to channel the water off. Tensions are high, but all turns out well. We get to La Peñita and turn off the highway, and it dies again.
We get it restarted, come to a tight left turn that requires us to back up a little, and it dies again. We get to our destination, and it dies coming into the gate. We get it started once more and move it forward enough to close the gate.
We made it! We meet the hosts, some other guests, have a few adult beverages, and let it cool down enough to get into a campsite. By cool down, I mean the problem, whatever it may be. The engine ran very cool all day. The temperature outside was cool.
So here we sit, on the beach at La Peñita Jaltemba, enjoying the sea breeze, and waiting for the auto parts stores to open on Monday.
Some pictures from along the way: