Back in Phoenix, I worked my down through a couple layers of references to find a shop that would do a regular maintenance. In addition to that, it was time to do the first fluid change on the Allison tranny installed in August in Portland. Paul, the service manager at C.W. Carter, the shop which installed the engine brake and some of those plastic airlines which later melted, recommended Valley Truck and Trailer. See Chris or Gary, he said.

So I did, and they were most helpful getting me in for what promised to be a few hours Tuesday afternoon. I drove over around noon and they soon had me backed in over their pit. While the mechanic puttered about the outside and underside, I puttered about the inside. About five o'clock I called back to my friends who were waiting on me for supper to tell them to go ahead, I'd be late; even later than previously announced.

I will say this for the Valley mechanic: He did a very thorough inspection while working his way through the lube. Found three zirks that would not take grease--one of them looked like it hadn't been touched in years. (I worked on them the next day and found the zirks to be ok but whatever is behind them is not. Two days later I was back to have the frame lifted to take the weight off the springs to see if that would help and to use a high pressure greaser. No good. Looks as if we may have to have the shackle pins removed to solve this.)

He also found a couple of slow leaks in the coolant system and that the radiator cap was leaking. I was suspicious of that and had already started looking for leaks since I had observed the operating pressure to be down during the prior few days. One of the leaks is in the forward end of the bottom most tube of the radiator. Just a small wet spot now but very distressing. (I've added some stop leak stuff and tightened a few more clamps and replaced the cap.)

Finally the parts man delivered the internal filter for the tranny and they got on with installing that part. I'd specified that I wanted Allison approved synthetic fluid and we had quite a discussion about what Allison approval meant and constituted. This fluid and that fluid meet the industry specs ok but they did not specifically have the Allison approval code. Well at this point, it hardly matters since I'm out of warranty anyhow but I still wonder just what the differences are beyond marketing hype.

So anyhow, these two guys are about to pour in the stuff the parts man had selected. One was holding the funnel and the other was lifting a five-gallon rather grubby looking bucket when I came round to see how they were doing. Wait, I said, what is that stuff?

Hypoid Gear Oil the label said...

That's not tranny fluid! What the hell is going on here? I never did really find out. Someone was not reading the labels. Someone was telling someone else this, that, and the other storey. I don't know. Nevertheless, that set off another delay while they went out to find the right stuff.

The guy doing the work, for all his conscientious inspection, seemed to be out of the loop, just doing what he was told. The parts guy I never personally confronted. The manager was kind and apologetic and took an hour and a half off the seven hours of labour bill. If I wasn't in a bind for scheduling--to get to Albuquerque by the first of Febter--I think I would have let them pour in the gear oil. It would have got me another tranny and maybe a new warranty.

By Friday I was cleaning up the last of the little projects the inspection uncovered and uncovered on my own the fact that the rear springs need to be replaced. I can see where the rear axle is bottoming against the frame.

Since I also want to consider an air bag suspension now the big question is whether I should try to find a place out here to have the work done later in the coming spring or come back to your shop next summer and do springs and wheels.

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