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Posted by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 11/17/2010

Well dang; this is a kick in the head.

Longtime readers may recall that we've been having intermittent problems with the pickup truck, Blackie, going back to last winter. These have mostly centered around his transmission, which turned out to have a seating problem originally and which then has suffered from a series of bad torque converters. In every case (I must hasten to add) the fine, fine folks at Colorado Transmissions have hastened to identify the problem, stepped up to it being a bad torque converter out of a batch of bad ones they apparently received back in the springtime, and have repaired (and re-repaired, and re-re-repaired) the problem. 

I had noted a couple of weeks ago that Blackie was again acting a bit squirrelly and had stood him down until we could have the shop look at him again (he's acting exactly the same way as before, so I am pretty sure it's another bad torque converter, though I'm not relishing having that conversation with the shop guys again) but with the recent need to dig up the power-line trench again, I felt I didn't have much choice. I needed Blackie to rent another ProTrax and haul it up to Tanglewood, so I could begin the digging.

That's when I ran into my first problem. I fired up Blackie first thing in the morning and he seemed fine, so I ran over to Home Depot only to discover that they'd had decommissioned nearly all of their ProTrax machines for the winter. They only had one up and running, and it was currently rented out.

Well, dang. It had never occurred to me that they might winterize their heavy equipment, but I guess it makes sense. After all, these places have to do maintenance and general repair sometime, and the winter is undoubtedly the best time to do it due to overall low demand (particularly for heavy stuff like this). I had just happened to catch them at a bad time, since they only had the one piece of equipment and it was out. Of all the other local Home Depots, only one other still had an operational ProTrax, and it too was rented out. They expect it back tomorrow.

Okay... so no digging today. I could at least head up to see how the slab pour was going, right? So after grabbing a burger (I hadn't had breakfast) I headed up the canyon and straight into Problem #2. I was able to get about two creek crossings in... and Blackie suddenly lost all his forward gears. Would. Not. Move

Well, except in reverse--that seemed to work fine. But nothing worked in the forward gears, no matter how much I worked the gearshift. Not thinking that backing up five miles of canyon was really the best plan, and afraid that I'd lose what little gearing I had, I backed Blackie into a creek bed (and out of the way) and hiked back out to the flats at the front of the canyon so I could call AAA.

(Note: I've had an AAA membership since I first began driving at age 16. It's been worth every single penny, every single year. If you don't have either AAA or some equivalent, you're crazy.)

While waiting for AAA, Builder Dale came rumbling by, saw me, and stopped to find out what was going on. He updated me on the status of the concrete pour--it was going great, but they might be slightly short, so he was going to call in another truck. He asked if he could help; but since I'd already called AAA and they were on their way, I didn't think so. 

A few minutes after that Colleen came out, wondering where I was since she knew I was supposed to have arrived by now with the ProTrax. She had spotted the truck and so didn't need much of an explanation beyond the ProTrax outage update, and we both were a bit bummed at our luck overall, but there wasn't much to be done about it. She updated me on the pour and then checked with Builder Dale on the ETA for the next delivery, and while we were doing that, the concrete truck that had been up there came rumbling by on its way back to the yard. By then, AAA had arrived (lots of traffic in this one spot all of the sudden!), so she headed up to await the final load, while I took Blackie back to the shop.

I really hope it's a bad torque converter again, though I must admit my faith in the shop is beginning to get a bit frayed...

Steven in Colorado Springs

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