Broken truck? Just add water.


Roadside break-downs aren't fun.

So you know that truck, pulled over on the side of the highway, followed by three emergency triangles, and smoke billowing out from the engine compartment? Yeah, the gray one? The one desperately trying to get over the pass before the rain turns to snow and chain laws go into to effect? Yep. That would be us. How did you guess!?

After further inspection and a call to our super-awesome and patient maintenance guy, we determined that the coolant was low. We were just overheated. In the snow. But why? It was fine during Adam’s pre-trip inspection.

Adam filled the coolant reservoir with every bottle of water we could find in the truck, but not until after boiling coolant came pouring out from the cap like a volcano. A scary scene for me from inside the truck. He was totally fine, by the way. It was just a wee bit too hot and still had a wee bit too much pressure in the reservoir. Once the water was added we head out again only to be stopped in 30 miles by the “check engine” light again. At least it came on seconds before the entrance to the Donner summit rest area! Yay, something went our way. Sorta.

It was snowing pretty good by this point. We inspected the engine compartment once again and discovered a steady drip of our precious pink coolant coming from the bottom of the radiator. Yeah, probably not a good thing.


Working on our coolant issue in the craptastic winter wet yuckiness.

We had to make it 50 more miles to a TA truck stop near Reno where there was a maintenance shop. To prepare for the journey, we carried every bottle we had into the rest area and filled them up with bathroom sink water. Just in case. We emptied and refilled a washer fluid bottle, filled our two gallon jugs of drinking water, about 16 small water bottles, two thermoses  and even the coffee pot. That was all after Adam added another two gallons to the coolant reservoir, which was clearly lower than it was an hour prior. Our leak was nothing small. Off we went with fingers crossed!

And we made it. The initial diagnosis by the mechanic was a crack in the radiator or a bad seal, but either way we had to sit until morning when another mechanic could tear it apart to confirm one or the other as the cause of our bad leak.


At least we got a good parking spot!

We did what any trucker would do near a casino when the truck is going to be down for hours. We ate. We thought about gambling for about one second and decided it might not be the best of times to do anything based on luck. But the meal was delicious and made us temporarily as happy as peacocks.  And I hear peacocks are pretty darn happy. Then we slept to await the morning when the world woke up to help us out.


Seriously one of the best omelettes I've had. Thank you, casino 24-hr diner!

Morning came and the first thing we encountered was the mechanic telling us they found a radiator and he was going to replace it. The part wasn’t there yet, but he started tearing it apart in preparation and to check it out a little closer. We have a leaky seal and it’s a manufacturing issue.


Jim the mechanic working under the hood, takin' things apart.

The rest of the day went like this:

Call dispatch and maintenence to let them know we got a radiator and they’re going to replace it. 5-6 hours. Easy-peasy.

Wait. Nope. Mechanic updates us with bad news. The new radiator can’t be pulled from inventory until Monday. Oh, and the truck is no longer driveable.

More phone calls with dispatch and maintenance.

We work out a hundred alternate plans.

We could stay in Sparks until Monday and haul ass home, drop this trailer, pick up a new one and haul ass directly back to California with hopes we could make the deliveries on time. (Adam and I get a little excited about this option. Two days off in a new city? Two full days? Whoa.)

Mechanics start looking for a radiator in other places so maintenence can decide which would be better – pay for a new radiator (not an under-warranty version like the one we’d  get Monday) or get a loaner truck.

Meanwhile, dispatch basically approves our staying until Monday, but seriously ten seconds after the mechanic tells us they found a different radiator that IS still covered under our warranty.

We pout and laugh at our good luck that they found a radiator, and our bad luck at missing out on a fun weekend on the road with a random stay at a hotel, eating at diners, maybe embibing in a drink or two and gambling. And probably laundry and lounging, too.

Oh well. Instead we shower, eat at the Black Bear Diner, hang out in the tucker’s lounge and play on our phones while half-way watching a TV cop show. That’s where I am right now.


Trucker lounge. We love stupid tv.

Next up? I exercise and go to bed. Truck gets finished and Adam hits the road and we’re off once again.

Oh, the troubles in trucking. It seems as though there’s always something to keep it interesting. Now what do we do with the 15 gallons of water in random bottles and jugs sitting in our truck? Anyone thirsty?


Here's a few examples of our water stash.

Tonight I love warm lava cake and ice cream.

Thanks for reading and being a part of my journey!

With love,
Toots Magoots
(Robin Grapa)


2 thoughts on “Broken truck? Just add water.

  1. Hey Kid, obviously you did not get your patience from your Dad, what the F, after the whole radiator debunkle, you love lava cake & ice cream, I would love a rebuilt radiator or a mechanic that could repair it and get me going again, or say the hell with it and tell me I was sitting for two days and relax it. what the hell ever, do what you gotta do. glad things worked out and you get to your stops on time and keep the attitude!! love you, see you all soon!! — Pappy —

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