We were on our way back to Miami the other day – departing Houston via New Orleans – when I went to top off my motor oil at a rest stop one morning and was horrified to find what appeared to be a pool of bus blood. Despite being quickly diagnosed as some kind of transmission leak, I had a hard time figuring out exactly where the problem was. At first I thought the drain plug on the valve body had been broken off when we’d bottomed out the other day, then I thought a seal on the pan had failed. Without a jack I was unable to get under the bus from the outside enough to see anything conclusive and squeezing in through the side access door via the air filter was equally unrewarding and a lot more painful. I killed a moment or two talking with Claudio, a fellow traveler on his way down to Miami’s Renaissance fair with three dogs in his Sahara trotting camper then ‘got to it’ the only way I knew how… through a hatch in the floor. As I prepared to descend into the bowls of the bus, the sight was ominous.
Once inside I jiggled the transmission/hydraulic fluid filter and was mildly relieved to find that when levered away from the pan, fluid fizzed angrily from a tiny hole in its side. Presumably, since the filter was last changed, which I had never done, it had vibrated against the pan enough to wear through. Of course this issue conveniently revealed itself as we were in rushing through the middle of nowhere with all our money tied up in PayPal, but such exquisite timing of consistently new and exciting dilemmas seem almost commonplace nowadays. In fact I spend so much time working ‘below’ that to the untrained eye, I am often indistinguishable from the bus itself:
With no spare filter and only a drop of transmission fluid there was only one thing to do. I did it. I asked Sam if we could sacrifice a strip of her yoga mat then stuffed a piece of it in between the filter and the pan. The spongy rubber of the mat was just the thing and after it compressed and sealed the leak I topped off the fluid, got off highway 10 onto 90 and headed to the nearest O’Reilly’s, in Madison, Florida which seemed to us to be a great little place full of super nice folks and homesteader type shanty farms. Buster at the O’Reilly’s there hooked me up with a discount on ATF (but no filter) and on the way out we saw the ten commandments in a Shell.
Despite the hole in our filter we rolled on without issue until Sarasota, Florida where we picked up oil and spent the night with friends. The next morning the filter was leaking again, so I replaced the yoga mat (which had cooked, becoming very brittle) and sped, slowly, to a Napa where I replaced the filter and topped off the fluid again. Yoga mat now acting as prevention, not cure. Harper, as ever the faithful little lamb.
We never seem to be able to get on the road before noon. Something always comes up. But every cloud has a silver lining. Speaking of clouds, as we came into Miami that evening we were treated to the most amazing sunset and we realized with fondness something we had been missing.Show on map