Nice sunset view as we pass over London, England, on our way to Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Hiking in Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Porto, Portugal on June 25th!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Sherman is back to his old self, and we are back on the road!

Parked on the street outside of Atwood Engine Services in Aberdeen, Washington is not the best place we have ever spent the night in the motorhome! In fact, it's probably near the bottom of the scale. I think somebody in Aberdeen could make a killing opening a muffler shop.... there are so many vehicles with loud exhaust!

Despite that, we slept surprisingly well.

We had told the friendly guys at Atwood that we were not in any kind of a rush, and of course we had shown up on short notice... and we knew they would be busy with other vehicles. So we didn't mind when it was about 10:30am before Jamie knocked on the door to install the new Engine Control Module (ECM).

It didn't take long to get the old one out, despite it being well lodged up under Sherman's dash. Then, it was time to fire him up and see if it made any difference.

Long story short, it did not.

However this time, there was an error code registering with the Service Engine Soon light that showed up. The old ECM had never registered this.

Code 45 said that the engine was running rich related to the oxygen sensor. But mechanic Jamie didn't think that made sense. Yes, the engine was running rich... you could tell by the carbon deposits on the old plugs... and the fact that too much fuel was being dumped into the throttle body. But again, it was an intermittent problem and he didn't think it was the O2 sensor that was causing it.

He was very methodical about checking stuff, and great at explaining his thinking to me. I really liked that.

The buzzing noise we had heard the day before was the fuel injectors shooting gas into the throttle body. The problem was, they weren't supposed to be doing that.

As Jamie was poking around in there, he leaned on the main wiring harness, and the buzzing started again. Huh? He pulled the wire harness again, and it stopped. He cut open the harness and started inspecting the thirty or forty wires that were in there. But, they all looked fine.

Twisting and pulling the wires to make the problem start again, he found that it was more likely to happen when he did it closer to where the harness made it's way above the rad support to the front of the vehicle. Pretty hard to get up under there... there is simply not much room. We opened the front hood, and he continued searching up there.

"Ah, there it is"... I eventually heard him say.

I went out to have a look, and sure enough... at the bottom of the main wiring harness which holds thirty or forty wires, four or five wires had worn their insulation where the harness made it's way over the rad support.

In fact, three of them had the copper showing right through, and one wire was almost broken. Even worse, all of these wires were lying right on a metal bracket on the rad support, which would have shorted them when the wires touched. Those damaged wires led right back to... the distributor ignition control module! Somehow, when the wires shorted it was signalling the computer to feed more gas to the engine. Bogging things down, causing flooding, and simply wreaking havoc. And of course it was intermittent depending on going over bumps, turning corners, etc.

Jamie repaired the wires, fixed the harness so the abrasion wouldn't happen again, and put everything back together. He reinstalled the old ECM, and we fired Sherman up and took him for a test drive.

Everything was perfect!

So, all of those parts that we replaced... had nothing to do with the cause of the problem. But, we don't really mind. Sherman has now had a major tune up, just a little earlier than expected.

Atwood Engine Services treated us very fair. They charged us for the new distributor assembly, the new fuel filter, and only two hours labor at $90 USD per hour. Total bill including tax was $379.05 USD ($500 CAD).

Very happy with Jamie and the crew. They took us in on short notice, and didn't give up working until the problem was solved. And with fair prices and a cheerful attitude... as a customer you couldn't ask for more.

And now, with that minor complication out of the way, we return you to our regularly scheduled programming!

Heading south over the bridge at Aberdeen, Washington.

Old log pilings, some date back 100 years to industrial operations at the time.

We headed south about 30 miles (50 kms) to the town of Raymond (pop 2,900) where we stopped for a late lunch. It wasn't raining, so we went for a walk around town.

Sherman, parked at the Raymond Wagon Museum.

The town of Raymond has a lot of steel sculptures of people and animals throughout the town. Some of them are really well done, and we enjoyed wandering around town to find them. In the photo above, you can see the steel sculptures of the guys loading the wagon, and of the horses.

Mural in Raymond, Washington.

This was odd!

The house above is built on a section of an old bridge. I was looking for information about it online, but can't come across anything. Very weird.

One of the things we love about traveling the backroads is coming across little towns like Raymond. There are over thirty life size 3D statues, and numerous flat steel ones. 

Me, with the fisherman!

Yes, it was 58F (14C). But no wind, so quite comfortable.

Ruth, trying to get some ice cream!

That fence must have taken a long time to make!

Woman and her umbrella.

There was other interesting stuff to see as well...

The town library.

The Lumberjack.

Very neat playground!

The theater.

Ugly Ed's.
No longer in business.
Notice more steel statues in front of the building.

From there, we continued south another 7 miles (11 kms) to South Bend. There, I had read we could park overnight right in town for free...

Yep, that's the sign we're looking for!

Can you imagine if more towns thought this way? Supply an empty lot for visiting RV's to park for a night or two. No services. Just a place to park. What a concept.

South Bend, Washington.
The Oyster Capital of the World!

Walking on water is not allowed here!

Our overnight spot in town. 
GPS 46.66535, -123.812379
We were the only RV parked here last night.

At the corner of the lot is this electrical thing. Looks like a robot.
No idea why there would be so many 15 amp outlets.
No, I don't think it's for the RVs.

We left Sherman at his overnight spot and went for a walk around South Bend.

Scenery at South Bend. 

More scenery.

Ruth spotted a big building through the trees and up a hill. From a distance, it looked like Jed Clampett's mansion!

But it's actually the historic Pacific County Courthouse.
Built 1910-1911.

The fabulous glass dome was renovated in 1980 at a then cost of $149,000. 

More scenery.

We came across these big bright mushrooms.

There were only two of them. This one has spread totally open. 

Looking back at South Bend where we are parked.

Yesterday's drive, 30 miles (50 kms)

Today, we're headed into Astoria to have a look around, and then around Portland towards the Columbia Gorge.

White Cotton Comforter... Twin, Queen, or King. 50% discount works on any size using coupon code 50YFTHWN...

And in Canada...


  1. Relieved to hear Sherman is in good shape now.
    Great to find a patient mechanic that takes the time to keep investigating.

    Love that area of Washington!
    Happy travels, hooefully, from here.

    1. We are very relieved too! Jamie did a great job, I think he was stumped as we were but he was very methodical and patient the whole time. We were definitely lucky to have ended up on his doorstep.

      This is a beautiful area it is just unfortunate that it is foggy and rainy that we are unable to see all the gorgeous sights.

  2. Hopefully, it will be 'smooth sailing' now!

  3. So glad you got that sorted! Mexico is just a short drive away!

    1. Thank you, we are so glad too! Bring on the sunshine. :-)

  4. Fantastic news for Sherman and all your fans!

  5. Wow, You hit the jackpot when you found a mechanic that actually knew what he was doing. We are happy for you that all is good now. All that bouncing on your summers travels to the arctic circle must have taken it's toll on those wires. Happy travels, glad you are moving again.

    1. Yep, we sure did! Jamie was fantastic, we can't say enough good things about him. :-)

      We are sure that Dempster highway was the culprit, it was definitely pretty rough on Sherman and we drove really slow. We can't imagine what it must have done to some of these other units that we saw traveling along on it at a much faster pace.

  6. Nice to hear the Sherman is all better now, And excellent when you can get good reasonable service on the road like that.
    Now carry on and have more fun again.

    1. Thanks George!

      Looking forward to doing a lot more of what we love to do and that is exploring new places. :-)

  7. Nice to see the good news. Who would have thought to start poking around in a wiring harness? Better than having the wiring chewed by mice I suppose. I've heard of that happening. Happy Trails!

    1. It was a little bit of a fluke but while the engine was running he was checking out something and he pushed on the wire harness and then all of a sudden fuel started going into the throttle body that is when he clued into the fact that it might be a short in one of the wires in the harness. We are so glad that he found it and that it was a fairly simple fix.

      Sherman is happy once again. :-)

  8. Glad you got the big guy fixed up and back to normal. Great to finally find the problem. If you hurry, you can still catch up to me down on the California coast! Then likely headed over to 395 east of the Sierras. Safe travels.

    1. We are so happy Sherman is fixed too!

      We never hurry! And it looks like we will miss you because we are first headed into the Columbia River Gorge before we head back to the coast.

  9. Your 'walking on water' picture reminded me of an old joke: Two Canadians meet and one says to the other, "Did you hear about [Pierre] Trudeau's accident?". The second person says, "No - what happened?!". "He was out walking and was hit by a motorboat."

  10. If you have time in Astoria, the Fort to Sea trail, beginning at Fort Clapsot, is absolutely wonderful. It's 11 miles roundtrip, completely marked, with the beach being the perfect midway lunch stop. Plus you can enjoy free salal berry picking along the way.

    1. Unfortunately the weather is just not being cooperative for a nice hike like that. We honestly would not see anything. :-(

      Instead we are going to try our luck in the Columbia River Gorge and then head back to the coast with our fingers crossed that the weather will have improved for a more scenic drive.

  11. Awesome that Sherman is all better. Wire harness...have to look that up. I was thinking the ECM!! Got a lot of good info while Sherman on the blitz :-) Glad you're on your way. Safe travels.

    1. Just wires rubbing on a sharp edge, wearing the insulation away. Then the current goes to ground instead of where it was intended.
      Awesome that the true Mechanic located and fixed it!

    2. Rita, the wire harness is just a group of wires bundled together.

  12. Great photos and another opportunity to get Sherman in good shape before Mexico. Safe travels.

    1. Thank you! Yes, Sherman should just about be in tip top shape for our trip to Mexico. There are still a few minor things that we will do either here in the States or we will get the parts and get a mechanic down there to change them.

  13. If you're going to spend any time in Portland one real nice suggestion is the Japanese garden there is a fee to get in.but it's definitely worth it
    Also There is an expo center on Marina Drive and light rail transit the parking is free.
    but a small fee for the transit to go to downtown.
    If you get hungry Washington Street and 10th Ave. is the pushcart capital of the world, almost bet you can't name a food that they don't have.
    if you're going to take 84 E. out of Portland
    There are quite a few places that you can pull over and park overnight
    Here's to suggestions check them on Google maps

    John Day dam road (it's a small park right on the water)
    Giles French Park, Wasco, OR 97065 (medium size park on the water an quiet)l

    At Alder park That weird looking houses that you have a picture of I believe there's a private residence build on top of what used to be a bridge over to Ocean Avenue across the river
    In by Gone days there used to be railroad tracks which is now a bike path

    Chafed wires,, My guess was right.

    1. No we aren't going to spend any time in Portland, we would rather spend our time in the Columbia River Gorge doing a few hikes before getting back to the coast but thank you for the suggestions.

      Yes, we knew that it was a private house built on the old bridge, Kevin was just trying to find more information on it but came up blank. The old railroad bridge is a little further down the river, they were actually doing repairs to it and had it all closed off.

      Your guess was correct! :-)

  14. I had an issue with "LUCY", my Winnebago in Grangeville Idaho. Lost power steering and brakes just before going down Whitebird hill..8 miles 7% I think..
    The new alternator I just had installed didn't have the bolts tightened properly.
    Found through locals the farm equipment shop. These talented folks fixed things up at less than an hour and $100..
    An R.V. shop would have taken days and cost me plenty.
    As you entered South Bend there is a motel on your left, there used to be the BEST cheezeburgers in the restaurant...The last time I passed it was closed, darn!..
    Rather looked as if you were parked for the night behind the place?
    Take care,

    1. So glad that you got "LUCY" all fixed up by some people that knew what they were doing and that it was only loose bolts, although having no brakes would have been a bit frightening especially heading down a steep grade.

      No I don't think that was where we were parked. We were right in the center of town, across from the grocery store, in front of City Hall and behind a pharmacy.

  15. Glad to hear Sherman is feeling better and you are back on the road. Those electric receptacles could be used for farmer markets or craft shows held on the same lot as Sherman is parked. We have seem them in small towns frequently.

    Safe Travels

    1. Thanks Paul! :-)

      I mentioned to Kevin when I saw them that maybe it was for a farmers market as well or perhaps for when they have festivals or activities happening in town.

  16. Soooo glad you found the culprit!!! Whodah thunk it?

  17. So happy to read that the protagonist of your story is well again. :)

    1. Us too! It's not a lot of fun when Sherman isn't feeling well.

  18. Happy you found the problem. Sometimes you just have to stop and lean on something while you think. You never know what will buzz. Great story.

    1. Ha, we loved that! I guess we will just have to remember to lean on things again if we have another problem like that, hopefully we won't though!

  19. Definitely had the right guy to solve the problem:) I hate to think what a Sprinter dealer would have charged:) Raymond is my kind of town.

    1. Yep, he did a fantastic job! We would only go to a dealership if it was our last option, they are always way more expensive and they don't necessarily do a better job.

      We really like Raymond, Washington! :)

  20. Glad you got Sherman purring along again. A good mechanic is a treasure! Love the metal sculptures and especially that playground. Super cool!

    1. Thank you Emily, and you are right, good mechanics are a treasure. :-)

      We really enjoyed wandering around that little town. The sculptures were fantastic especially when you consider the size of the town. A great way to promote tourism in their area.


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