This huge round black thing is what I call the “pumpkin”. I heard a man say that once and pointed to this monstrous thing and so it stuck. If a “guy” can call it a pumpkin then I can also. Besides, Joe knows what I mean when I call it that.
When I do my inspection I look to make sure nothing is dripping from the bottom of it, there are no tell tail signs of previous leaks that would show up by dark stained areas coated with road dust. There are bolts on both sides of this big thing and I look to see if the paint is still attached to the bolts. If it is not that means there has been some work done on it before and I need to look closer for signs of leaks.
Somehow, this thing is connected to one of the rear axles, and the driveline attaches to it by a device called a ‘U” Joint. The first “U” joint I saw I thought only a man would call the thing that looks like a “Plus” sign to me a “U’. It was a few years after that I learned it is, in fact, a “Universal” joint and shortened to “U”. The driveline continues all the way up to the transmission and hidden from my view up there. Geezers! Joe just told me that there are two differentials on each truck. One for each of the two rear axles. I only look at the one I can see. The other one is hidden beneath the 5th wheel stuff. That will be covered in another post.
Inside the differential is stuff that can, and will, blow a huge hole in the pumpkin and spew its guts all over the roadway. Our blue pickup, Gracie, did just that one time while she was being pulled behind Joe’s set of trucks. This man is sometimes deaf as a post and can’t hear me when I’m right next to him. Over 50 feet away, in heavy traffic through Pennsylvania he “heard” something go bang. I didn’t hear it and my ears are just fine. We were delivering his trucks to a dealership in Baltimore, Maryland. When we were unhooking the pickup from the trucks it would not go in gear and it made a strange sound. Joe crawled around on the ground under Gracie and spotted the problem. The differential had a huge hole in it and the “bang” he heard was when the insides had burst out through the steel casing. Joe said it looked as though a canon ball had been fired from inside. According to Joe, the outer shell of the differential had peeled back in places like a banana.
THAT was a time to remember. Joe called around to Ford dealerships to see who could get us fixed up right away. In Dundalk, Maryland he found a Ford place that would get us right in. Norris Ford, if you are in need of service for your vehicle and you are in the Dundalk/Baltimore area this is the place to go. They have a massive garage. Big enough to get both of Joe’s big trucks in and pull our pickup behind. While Joe was up talking to the head mechanic and discussing how we were going to get the pickup inside the garage I heard Joe say “Yes, we can get it in there and get back out with no problems”. I’m thinking “How the hell is that going to happen?! I found out. I had to get in the back truck and steer it as Joe was going forward. I could not put my foot on the brake, wouldn’t do any good if I did anyway because I had disconnected them days earlier. Joe’s idea…”Fire truck”it in. He gets this devilish look on his face each time he proposes I do that and my guts get all in knots. We did it though. Got that long mess inside the garage far enough so the pickup could be detached and pushed into a bay. Then I got to “Fire truck” us back out of the garage while all the mechanics left their work stations and crowded around the doors to watch the circus that just came to their town!
The repairs to be made to our truck was remove OUR damaged differential and replace it with another one from a salvage yard. After calling Norris Ford and explaining the situation, they said “Bring it on down. By the time you get here we’ll have a replacement part here.” While we were driving down to the Ford garage they had sent their tow truck to the salvage yard to pick up a damaged F-150 pickup similar to ours. When we arrived at Norris Ford that pickup was sitting in the mechanics bay next to where we were putting our pickup. You want to talk about service?! The time line for this repair was….Joe found the problem at 8:30 a.m. Spending an hour calling different garages, by 9:30 he had located Norris Ford and they said they could fix it. By 10 a.m. we were in the shop at Norris Ford. By 11 a.m. we were in the rental car which we played tourist until 3 in the afternoon. We could not unhook our trucks and deliver them to the International Used Truck Center until the pickup was actually working and running. We arrived at the dealership at 4 p.m. and by 4:30 we had delivered Joe’s trucks. What a day that was. Worked our butts off and played for four hours.
So I just look to make sure there are no holes and there are no leaks. None of those and all is well. And I make sure the driveline is attached where it needs to be and not dragging on the ground.
Today has been one of those days. Start off fantastic and goes down hill from there. Thankfully nothing drastic has happened, just plans have been shot in the foot — both Joe’s and mine. Joe had dreams of heading down the road and getting to Charlotte Saturday, unhooking the trucks and parking them in a secure lot, drop the trailer and do a bit of sight seeing on Sunday. I had planned on taking him up on his offer to find a scrapbook shop in Charlotte. One in particular that sounded fun just by the name….”Oh, Scrap!” Doesn’t that sound like a fun place to go in?
The buyer in Charlotte has been chomping at the bit to get his trucks. We were assured the trucks were ready to be picked up today. We delivered the final three of the 17 Wal-Mart trucks this morning then headed to Steven’s Transport for the Kenworth trucks waiting for us. Upon arrival we found that only one of the five trucks is totally ready to go. The four for Joe and I will not be ready until late tomorrow night or Saturday morning. Furthermore, these trucks still have to go to a particular type of Kenworth Dealer (a MHC to be specific – whatever that is) to be inspected and have all the extended warranties applied for the new buyer. That would mean it would be Tuesday of next week before the trucks would be ready.
Three hours of Joe calling one person then another and repeating the sequence several more times, before we left the lot at 5 p.m. we MAY be able to get them tomorrow afternoon/early evening. No promises either. We are kind of stuck. 189 miles from home and we can’t go home just in case they will be ready tomorrow.
So, maybe I will be looking for a scrapbook place in the Dallas area tomorrow.