Oh Waldo – You’re SO Hot!

Unfortunately, it isn’t near as sexy as it sounds. If you’ve following our travels, you know we have had a long time problem with Waldo overheating. There were travels days we spent more time on the side of the road than motoring. This has led to some very frustrating days, tears and more than my fair share of unlady-like fits of screaming.

I’ve tried to keep my posts happy and full of America’s breathtaking scenery,ย  but I’ve decided that isn’t really a fair way to describe our lifestyle. Yes, for almost a year now, we’ve been exploring new areas of the country and having the time of our life. But – it isn’t all beauty and magic.

When we arrived in Beatty, it was in a fit of overheating. We are extremely fortunate Steve is a mechanic by trade. He has been working on cars, trucks and motorcycles for 40+ years. RV maintenance comes easy to him. Changing the oil and filters doesn’t require a trip to a shop. This has saved us countless dollars. But, this nagging overheat issue obviously wasn’t going away. He had already changed the thermostats, checked hoses and replaced the overflow tank, all to no avail. He came to the conclusion Waldo needed a new radiator. UGH! To make matters worse, we had taken Waldo to an oversized carwash to clean away some of the grease and grime which has accumulated around the giant CAT motor. Using the high pressure hose, he began spraying away, only to watch as parts of the fan blades fall to the ground. Great, now not only do we need a radiator, but we also need a new fan. Thanks Steve. But, to be fair to him, the blasted thing is 18 years old and has 190,000 miles on it.

We had only planned on staying in Beatty for 6 nights, but ended up staying for 9 nights. The 3rd day there, Steve called around for parts. We could get a new fan from Freightliner in Las Vegas, a mere 2 1/2 hours away. They could get us a new radiator as well, for the low cost of $2200. When he gasped at the price, the parts guy suggested he call a radiator shop, not far from Freightliner. The woman who answered the phone was beyond helpful! She was pretty sure she could get us a replacement for about half the cost. The catch was, she needed Steve to bring her the defunct radiator so she could check some measurements.ย  So, with the limited tools Steve brought with him, he set out to dismantle Waldo’s cooling system. The camp host loaned us two 5 gallon buckets to drain the antifreeze. We were lucky the park let us work on Waldo there. Lots of places wouldn’t have. Once the radiator (and all the other miscellaneous crap was removed), Steve set off for Las Vegas. I was feeling more than a bit cranky and was content to let him make the trip alone. By the time he returned, a little before 10pm, I had calmed down – some. Both the fan and the radiator had to be ordered and wouldn’t be in for several days. We spent those days exploring Death Valley.

Wednesday finally rolled around and we headed back to Las Vegas. We picked up the fan and 15 gallons of antifreeze from Freightliner and called the radiator shop to check on the arrival status. It wasn’t in yet, but was on its way – another hour or so. Since we had time to kill, we went to WalMart and did some resupplying. As we were coming out of WalMart, I was nearly deafened by the sound of F-16s flying overhead. It was the Thunderbirds from nearby Nellis AFB. How cool is that?!?!? Since I hadn’t brought my camera, a crappy cellphone pic will have to do…

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With the excitement over, we headed to the radiator shop. They were just taking it off the truck when we arrived. Perfect timing. With the Jeep loaded to capacity with parts and supplies, we headed back to Beatty. We had just dropped over $1500 in Las Vegas and never set foot inside a casino.

Thursday, Steve got right to work putting Waldo back together. New fan…check…

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New radiator…check…

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It took a little longer to put things back together then it did to take it apart. It always amazes me when Steve can take a pile of bolts and know which one goes where. I mean seriously, when he took it apart, he threw all of the bolts into a bucket. When I take things apart, I label everything and take pictures so I can put it back together, maybe that’s why I’m not the mechanic! Soon enough, Steve was ready to start the motor. I have to admit, I might have been holding my breath. But when the “Wait To Start” light went off, Waldo fired right up. We let it run for a while, satisfied everything was good. The real test wouldn’t come until we drove down the road. We have since traveled to Alaska and Waldo hasn’t overheated once, thanks to my wonderful mechanic, husband and best friend. His ability to handle the mechanical problems has saved us thousands of dollars. It is a comfort knowing he can do these things, but it doesn’t help my anxiety in the moment things fail. I’m working on handling things better, but for now, if you hear a scream of panic, it still might be me!