The bus is back on the road again! Well…it never really left the road for very long. Alyssa and I flew to California for the weekend and had to leave the bus (and Hilde) in Durango, CO. Leaving the bus for four days seemed like the perfect opportunity to get the engine serviced and take care of a few things with the mechanic without leaving us stranded overnight while it was in the shop.
What was wrong with the bus!? Well for the most part it’s been running pretty well, but ever since it started to get colder in the mountains, the bus has had some trouble starting up in the mornings. Basically it would crank for a while and always EVENTUALLY start up with a huge cloud of dark exhaust. The extreme exhaust would continue and the engine would choke along for several minutes after we would start driving until the engine warmed up.
After this had been happening for a few days, the “Intake Heater” light began to come on when we were having cold start issues indicating, obviously, that our intake heater (or intake heater relay) was bad. This is the component that warms cold air coming into the engine and makes sure that everything is mixing correctly. In a cold diesel engine with no intake heater, the mixtures will be all off and the engine will run terribly until it gets warm enough to heat the air on its own.
The guys at Wagner Caterpillar were able to plug in their computer and figure out exactly what was going on almost as soon as we got there. I gave them a rundown of the problem and the serial number for our engine ahead of time so they were even able to order a new intake heater and relay before we got the bus into Durango. Once the problem was diagnosed it was a quick swap out of parts.
We got the bus back yesterday and it’s purring like a kitty even on these chilly Rocky Mountain mornings!