Hey folks, it’s me Vicaribus. I’m gonna let my driver, Nick, handle this update for me. I have much more important bus things to do…
It started in Daytona, Florida. It ended in Denver, Colorado. The ol’ D to D shakedown, as they call it.
To be quite honest, this wasn’t really as much of a planned shakedown, as it was a necessary maneuver to get the bus from where it was purchased to where it was going to be converted. However, the change of location did provide quite the shakedown. Want to know how it went? Probably about how you would expect. Read on.
Prior to departure, it did spend a good while at a local Ford dealership getting all checked out, lubed up, and fixed up. For the most part, it passed with flying colors, sans the brakes, which got completely replaced, master cylinder and all. And yes, they did take all of my monies. I also spent a good while going over the wiring, doing lots of labeling and learning. Fixed several issues, not limited to, but including, the windshield wiper switch and a couple blinkers. I also thought I had fixed the sporadic dash failures, and non-functional fuel gauge… boy was I wrong.
Anywho, on to the drive.
The first day was a short and relaxed one. Departed around noon, with a 350 mile drive to Bainbridge, GA to visit some cousins and old friends. As far as the drive went, there was nothing to report. Made it just before dark, and spent the evening catching up with some good people.
The only other thing to really note is the valuable lesson of not using the estimated drive times from Google Maps when you can only drive 55-60 MPH, which is 10-15 MPH lower than the speed limit, which is the speed that Google Maps uses to calculate the drive time.
Side Note: Vicaribus will do 66 MPH floored. Gets great gallons to the mile ratings at that speed too.
This is the day. The day the things were not at their best, but the day where things got interesting.
I snuck out of my cousin’s house at dawn, and hit the road with designs on making Houston, Texas by nightfall. 700 miles or so. HA.
Some things to know about what I thought I knew at this point:
- My gas tank was 35 gallons.
- I had plenty of gas left, having filled up 100 miles from my cousin’s.
- My gas tank was 25 gallons.
- My fuel gauge did not work.
- I ran out of gas right after hopping on I-10
Being the genius that I am, I actually had prepared for this situation my purchasing AND filling up a 5 gallon jerry can for just such an instance.
This is the point where I got to re-learn a lesson that I had learned a decade earlier while setting out to spend the summer on a friend’s sailboat without knowledge of sailing. When you run out gas in a diesel, you get air in the line. When you get air in the line of a diesel, it doesn’t start.
Long story short, 4 hours, many phone calls, signing up for Good Sam and 1 YouTube video later, I was back on my way to Houston.
It only took another 100 miles to have my first blow out. I didn’t hear it, and only felt a slight vibration. I was considering driving another 30 miles to my next planned pitstop, but decided, based on the day’s events so far, that I should just go ahead and get off the highway and check things out. This is what I saw.
Lucky for me, I randomly pulled into a truck stop that had a Goodyear center out back. $420 dollars later I was back on my way to Houston.
I only came up 350 miles short, and set down for the night at a mosquito infested state park on the northern shore of Lake Ponchartrain.
Having been humbled by day 2, I set my sights a little lower for day 3. In fact, I didn’t sat any sights at all.
Again I awoke at dawn, only to see a tremendous storm on the radar bearing down on my location. Lucky for me there was a small gap in this storm and I wasn’t in the mood for breakfast. I hauled ass and made my escape. Had I not, this thing would have pinned me down for hours.
The only thing to really report from this point was that my so-called fixed dash, decided to stop working about 50% of the time. No speedo, no tach, no temperature, no nada.
I made the requisite stop at the mother of all gas stations, Buc-ee’s, and ended the day just north of Dallas in a real-deal campground (I needed a shower), and resigned to my fate of two more days of this, putting the trip at 5 days, rather than the 3 I was hoping for.
I made it to Denver. Screw a day 5.
Time to wrap this up. Both the trip and this post (if you’re still reading this, you’re probably my mom).
Having settled into a groove, and not wanting to get hit by the snow storm aiming at Denver and the final couple hundred miles of my drive, I powered through for 14 hours. The last 5 hours or so looked like this:
The only trouble I had, which I did not discover until the next morning, was that I left the gas cap off of the tank at the last stop 100 miles from home. Doh.
A final anecdote
I learned one other thing on this trip. Louisiana and Oklahoma had to have been college roommates. You want to know how I know this? I know this, because only two former college roommates would undertake such a vile and self-deprecating wager as to see who could cover themselves with the worst roads.
My god. For all it’s charm, Vicaribus does not have the smoothest of rides. But holy shart, my time in these two states left me questioning the whole plan.
I will, however, give Louisiana and Oklahoma credit for going their own ways in their efforts to satisfy this bet.
Louisiana took the approach of absolute random and unrelenting poorly surfaced roadways.
Oklahoma took a much more nuanced, almost rhythmic, stance on the problem, providing a constant supply of even spaced uneven surfaces.
I have no choice to but to call it a tie at this point.