Three Days on the Bike; Tandem Hauler Overhaul…

First, the good news:  Three days on the bike this past weekend!


Yes indeed, despite a heavy rain throughout most of the day,  the sun broke through the clouds long enough to dry the center of our street and weather radar “seemed to suggest” it would remain dry for the next couple of hours.  Feeling the need for some ride time, I decided to throw caution to the wind and headed out on my single bike Friday afternoon.

20150410_165743I think I may have gotten a mile from the house when the first light rain began to fall.  My 20-some-odd mile ride ended up being about 50% in the rain and 90% on wet roads.  The rain was anywhere from misty to a steady light rain which wasn’t all that bad: I made it about seven miles before my cycling shoes had filled with water. On the bright side, the really heavy rain along with some nasty thunder and lightning held off until about 5-10 minutes after I rolled into the garage.

It felt so good to be back on the bike, but it was definitely one of those rides where most of the clothes came off in the garage where they could be wrung out before being hauled up stairs to the bike clothes hamper.  The bike still needs a good cleaning and, well, the chains were due for a fresh hot-melt-wax bath anyway.

The bike ride was one of several Friday highlights which also included (a) a lot of work on our finances in the AM, (b) some work-work, (c) a motorcycle ride over the Red Eyed Mule where I met my sweetie for lunch, (d) an overhaul of our master bath shower stall as an interim step to a full rebuild at some point, (e) the aforementioned bike ride, (f) the weekly Finally a Friday celebration at Loco Willy’s and then (g) the latest installment in our James Bond film festival before I fell off to sleep.  A pretty good day.


IMG_2912Saturday was a much nicer day compared to Friday, weather wise. The morning was filled with more banking and then around 2:00pm in the afternoon Miss Debbie and I headed out for a nice 30-mile tandem ride.  It was a beautiful day, to be sure!

After returning home and cleaning up, we headed over to meet with friends for a dinner gathering at their lake house. It’s fair to say that a grand time was had by all!

On the way back home we stopped by Castle Transmission where the truck was waiting for me to pick it up.  Tom Jr. had finished up the rear differential and left front hub bearing replacement around 7:00pm.  I know, I know… “I thought it had a transmission problem?”  Well, it did.  However, the truck had been running fine ever since and since the condition wasn’t present Tom Jr. didn’t want to start throwing parts at the transmission to see if the problem could be corrected without a proper diagnosis.


debbieWe were glad to have the truck back as the weather on Sunday morning wasn’t all that great, so taking the tandem to the Sunday PEACHES Tandem Club ride in the trailer behind the Road King would not have been as much fun as it would have one a bright sunny day. I should note, the truck was running great and with a lot less noise now that the worn-out rear pinion gear wasn’t singing.  The front end also felt very solid.

The PEACHES ride was hosted by Eric Osgood & Linda Wood and took us on a tour of North Atlanta beginning and ending at Brookwood, Georgia.  It was about a 40 mile ride and anything but flat, especially on the long option. However, it was great to be back out riding with friends and we had a nice group lunch after the ride at the Mellow Mushroom restaurant & pizzeria. peachesAfter we got back home in the late afternoon, I knocked off some additional banking and financial analysis while Debbie napped. I wish I could have napped, but something about me and not being able to sleep when the sun is up.  After Debbie’s nap we headed out to grab a little dinner.

Now the bad news…

It was almost an uneventful night, until on the drive home I heard an un-mistakable metal-rubbing-on-metal sound coming from the front end of the truck that was clearly related to wheel rotation: imagine a brake caliper with completely worn-down brake pads rubbing on the brake rotor. No, it had nothing to do with the brakes, but that’s what it sounded like. Although not necessarily related to the work we’d just had done, I opted to take the truck back to the folks at Castle since they were already familiar with our recent issues.  Hey, at least we were able to use it for the PEACHES ride!


It’s always interesting when good fortune masquerades as bad luck.

While the folks at Castle were identifying the source of the metal-rubbing-on-metal noise by driving the truck forward and then backwards in the shop parking lot, the transmission finally acted up again!  The condition was exactly as I’d described, whereby the transmission would be placed in drive but not be responsive to the throttle and the throttle was also limited, i.e., you could not rev the engine, but would then suddenly “bang” into gear as power was applied gradually. The error code was the same SLT Solenoid fault that was thrown when I first had the problem so we finally had something the folks at Castle Transmission could further diagnose and repair.

While I would have preferred to have not had a transmission issue at all, I must say that I was glad that good fortune kept us from having a break down out on a trip or some other highly inconvenient time and, instead, delivered the truck to a place where they could address the problem. Sadly, the part was only available from Toyota and was more than half of the cost of the job which included a full transmission service with a flush, filter and fill.

With any luck, we have a rear differential that has been rebuilt with new bearings, the transmission is fully serviced and has been rid of a faulty component and a new cross member and transmission support bracket should be on my porch in the next few days which will give as what should be a rejuvenated drivetrain from the bell housing back. As for the front end, a tie rod and connecting rod came apart and the assessment was that either those components and/or the lower control arm and ball joints needed to be replaced.  They were able to put it all back together so the truck was safe to drive, but if the worn parts weren’t replaced the front end of the truck would have handling and tire wear issues in short order.

On Wednesday night we collected the truck from Castle in Acworth, Georgia, and drove the 8 miles over to Alan Cox Automotive in Marietta where we night-dropped it for Nick and the crew to fully diagnose and correct.  Turns out that both ball joints, the tie rods and connecting rod were all pretty much worn out and in need of replacement.  Talk about “when it rains it pours.” Given that I’m pretty much committed to keeping this truck in the family and on the road for another 10 years / 100k miles, we gave Nick the thumbs up to make the repairs.

All told it will end up being a pretty expensive week of auto repairs; however, in the big scheme of things none of these things should ever need to be replaced or repaired again for a long time. Other than lack luster fuel economy, there’s nothing else about this truck that I’d want to change, so I’m OK with the repair costs… so long as the bleeding stops!  I’ve pretty much used up 3/5ths of our annual vehicle repair cost budget and I know Debbie’s little car will need some love this year, at least front tires and I keep waiting for the starter and clutch to demand some attention.  Last year it was a broken engine mount & rear hub/spindle/bearing (ouch).


About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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