Well, that was certainly different than I'd envisioned. What was planned to be a leisurely, two day trip to Nellie--some 554 miles away--turned into a one day marathon.
Wishing to avoid the last vestiges of Thanksgiving traffic we left at 3AM Monday morning. The night before we'd done our weather homework and knew to expect some light rain. However, the temperatures were predicted to stay in the 40's for at least two days and so snow wouldn't be a problem.
By 11AM we were starting up the south side of Tug Hill, NY. Hmm, Tug Hill, that's a cute name and we have an affinity for all things tug! Anyway, that's when it started to rain. It's also when Bicki's phone emitted a long blast announcing we'd entered an area under a weather warning. What? What weather warning? It seems that the Tug Hill Plateau, in the brown area labeled 300" in the map below, is infamous.
Tug Hill, sometimes referred to as the Tug Hill Plateau, is an upland region in Upstate New York in the United States, famous for heavy winter snows. The Tug Hill region is east of Lake Ontario, north of Oneida Lake, and west of the Adirondack Mountains. Wikipedia
The current forecast said the rain would turn to snow in the next 12 hours and that 14" of lake-effect snow was expected. Our planned two day trip to Nellie just took on some urgency. Unless we wanted to be snow bound, we needed to be south of Tug Hill before midnight. The race was on.
It rained, no poured all the rest of the way to Nellie. Arriving at Crates Marine in Belleville at 2PM we implemented our choreographed plan: Bicki lays out the 200' power extension cord while I get the ladder erected and cut a door through Nellie's shrink wrap. All the while it's pouring a cold rain. The macadam around Nellie is chock-a-block with last week's snow, looking very much like icebergs afloat in a now quickly rising sea. The hole I make in Nellie's white, plastic igloo is just barely big enough to allow us entry. The clock is ticking. Before heading south we need to remove the Cummins' fuel injection pump and the four fuel injectors.
There's a lot of plumbing to remove before the fuel injection pump can come off.
Systematically we go through the removal check list: engine at top dead center and locked; paper towels stuffed around the pump's drive gear as insurance against dropping the lock washer or nut into the engine; remove the drive gear lock washer and nut; remove the tube which carries the fuel from the fuel filter; remove the fuel return line; remove the four tubes which connect to the injectors; remove the throttle linkage; remove the three nuts which hold the injection pump to the engine; remove the one bolt that holds the injection pump to a support bracket; finally, use a gear puller to separate the drive gear from the pump's shaft and then pull the pump clear of the engine. Clockwork it was, check, check, check as each step was successfully accomplished. It wasn't until the last step, pulling the gear off the shaft, that we heard the dreaded "Houston, we have a problem." The gear puller, which was just purchased specifically for this job was several millimeters too wide. No amount of futzing or verbal abuse helped. All to this point was for naught. Outside, meanwhile, it continued to pour and the temperature continued dropping.
A marina in the middle of winter is akin to a graveyard. A marina in the middle of a winter maelstrom is akin to a morgue--actively avoided by any sane person. Bottom line, we were on our own, the clock was ticking and we needed a gear puller.
I love Google. A simple query led me to a nearby auto parts store which had the requisite tool. Purchasing it I got both the solution to the problem and a real world lesson in opportunity cost.
When an option is chosen from two mutually exclusive alternatives, the opportunity cost is the "cost" incurred by not enjoying the benefit associated with the alternative choice. Wikipedia
Last week I searched and price shopped long and hard before buying the $14 gear puller that didn't work. Now here I was, in the heat of the moment, gladly paying $38 for one that would. The time needed to search for a less expensive option was now too costly. I love applied economics, it's so illustrative.
Things then went swimmingly; the gear came off, the pump came out and so did the injectors. It was now 5PM. The job had taken 3 hours. It was pitch dark outside and the rain continued to fall without respite.
At 6:30PM we reached the all but deserted border crossing at Alexandria Bay, NY. The single car in front of us was quickly waved through. The border guard asked and we answered all the proforma questions. When we should have heard, "Welcome to the US", we heard instead, "You've been chosen for a random agricultural search." Aargh! We proceeded, as directed, between the orange barriers, parked in the designated area, gave our keys to the 16 year old looking border agent, and walked into the interrogation area. After answering yet more questions, my favorite being "Are you carrying more than $10,000 in cash," we sat down and waited for the rummaging of our car to be completed. The latest weather forecasts were now predicting the snow to start before 11PM. This got us to wondering, how long does it take to thoroughly toss a Civic? The answer, on this cold, quiet and rainy night was 20 minutes.
By 8PM we crested Tug Hill, received the checkered flag and were happy knowing we'd beaten the snow storm. However, like a sore loser the storm continued to pelt us with rain until midnight.
Twenty-four hours after leaving home we're back home It's 3AM, and we've traveled 1100 miles. The Cummins' injection pump and injectors are in hand. They'll be sent to a shop to be rebuilt. Looking back over all the events of the past day it's ironic that the rapid pace allowed by car travel enables the slow pace of our tug travel.