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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Des Plaines, IL

    Red face Some days are worse than others ...

    “I think your flight has, unfortunately, been canceled!” I said to myself as I made my way down I-290 towards the city of Chicago, at the wheel of my Chevrolet Avalanche.

    I had heard a strange bearing-wobbling sound coming from the front of my truck, as I drove out, that morning. Many years ago, I had encountered a similar sound from my sports car and it wound up being a cracked bearing in one of the wheels, but it had been drivable for several days, until the bearing finally shattered and we almost lost the wheel. that failure happened at a very slow speed and I was in the process of taking in for service, anyway. Not that I thought it was something anywhere similar to that, as my current vehicle is a very heavy truck and far more durable than that flimsy sports car I had owned before. Again, it just had that kind of reminiscent sound to it.

    I was pressed for time, as always, and I simply dismissed the sound as something “livable”, as nothing seemed to be inoperative, yet. I would take it in for examination and have it attended to, later that evening. Alas, that was not to be.

    I had an important appointment in the city, after a pit stop in Schaumburg, and got onto IL-53 Southbound. (Point A) Traffic was moving slow and I began to experiment a little to try and identify where the strange sound might be originating from, by slowing and accelerating. The sound seemed to be reacting to engine speed and not road speed, so the idea of one of the wheels being the problem was quickly dismissed. It was an engine part of some kind.

    As traffic progressed, I finally got on to I-290 and the sound purred along, without much variance, at 45mph, through the work zones along the way. Then something changed. I knew I was in serious trouble, but there was nowhere to stop in this “construction zone” section of road.

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    I was trapped and committed to see it through. There were a whole lot of commuters behind me. As much as I hated to, because I hate people driving and making cell phone calls at the same time, I reluctantly placed a cell phone call, calling my "S.O.", who was on her way to work, in another part of the area. I never got hold of her, so I left a rather ambiguous voice mail that things in the truck were turning bad … and I was going to be in serious shape, in very short order. I may not have a chance to call, again.

    As I finally cleared the slower work-zone areas, I sped up and as I made my way past St. Charles Road, to the I-294 exchange, and the sound suddenly stopped. I knew that kind of thing could be good or bad … then quickly dismissed that stupid thought, as fifteen seconds later, I instantly had no hydraulic support, meaning ZERO power-steering or power-brakes, as I was whizzing around the balanced and tilted curves putting me right on to the Eisenhower Expressway. Honestly, it was very similar in the feel to riding a toboggan sled … hardly any control to speak of as I “man-handled” the steering wheel and forced the truck to respond to my direction. Thankfully the banked curves of that rather involved exchange helped in controlling the 6600-lb truck as I continued along.

    As I looked at the dash, a never-before-seen “check engine” light appeared on the upper, right-hand side of the panel. “Oh really?” I laughed. Normally, the one I see when I start the car, is on the left side of the dash panel and is amber … this one was dead RED and looking pretty dim at that!

    As I looked back along the top of the indicator dash panel, a whole new message reading “Engine Coolant Overheat!” What? What next? Oh, I had an inkling of what these clues were spelling out ... and it was not the writing-on-the-wall that I ever wanted to see. Again, I still had power to the dash panel and the engine. The on-board computer was still running, despite the tragic indications. Then, I got kind of worried when the dashboard suddenly went completely dead (as if the word "suddenly" during something like this is appropriate): There were no more idiot lights and the gauge needles were now reading zero on the speedometer, the tachometer, gas gauge, water temp and oil pressure … the computer had checked out ... and this missile was still flying along at 55 mph! Traffic was cooperating, thankfully, and I decided to “ride ‘er in”, as the engine kept running, but I could tell the engine was having issues, too, and would soon be gone. That would be REAL bad when that happened.

    In my mind, all I could see were the overhead readout displays in the fighter jets, screaming “ENGINE FLAME OUT!” and “EJECT! EJECT! EJECT!” I half expected the canopy of the truck to jettison and my seat taking me two hundred-feet straight up!

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    I have to say, it is kind of weird what you imagine when things are going terribly wrong.

    Anyway, I cut over to the right lane and I reached the exit. I successfully was able to nurse the afflicted truck up the 1st Avenue exit ramp, unopposed, and rolled to a stop, in the right lane, right at the traffic light. As I arrived, the engine literally gasped and died, when the faithful 5-year old battery went kaput. (point B)

    There was no point to trying to restart the truck … I knew it was so OVER.

    Not only that, because this beast is an "electric-everything", the windows were all up, the locks could only be operated manually, even the all-powerful "Can I help you?" GM ON-STAR system was totally useless. No power. The same problem exists when your DSLR's battery spirits its way to nothingness. You are not taking images anymore.

    My amazing truck had entered the Stone-Age.

    I took a breath to try and catch up to myself, as I reviewed what to do, as I was now trapped at the top of a very busy exit ramp … with no flashers and no modern way to indicate I was dead in the water. A few seconds later, it hit me. I exited the vehicle and raised the hood. When I looked down into the engine compartment, as I had suspected from what the computer had given clues to and with the lack of hydraulic power, I could easily see the reason for my distress: the “serpentine belt” (aka, the main fan belt) had let go. Thankfully, with my Avalanche being a bright red truck, I felt it would be hard to miss that hood being up and knew it had been a sign, years ago, of a distressed vehicle.

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    I got back in and with my cellular called “911”, reported my obstructing positional situation and was told that IDOT (Expressway Rovers) would dispatch a tow truck to clear me from the highway access area. He arrived about 15-minutes later and due to my very convenient hookup location, easily delivered me to a nearby parking lot.

    I had also called my "S.O.", during the tow delay, and reported to her the relatively safe way the truck wound up, despite its total failure. She seemed relieved that it was nothing more and that I had averted catastrophe. If it had failed any sooner … it might have not been such a … well, it did not wind up like that and I am as thankful as I can be, inside. The timing was too perfect, for pushing the limit. I cannot explain it … and, for the most part, I do not want to. I will hand it off to a deeper faith.

    The adventure continues ...
    Last edited by DonSchap; 08-10-2010 at 03:58 PM.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Jesus Christ, and no one helped push you to the nearest parking lot? I know it's a huge f*cking truck, but I gotta figure if me and my uncle pushed a big ol' Cadillac two blocks and up a driveway (when I was 15) a couple of guys could've at least gotten you across the street or something. Whatever comfort you attribute to a deeper faith must be offset by a lack of faith in your fellow man...

    For what it's worth, I enjoyed the tale. Fairly dramatically written.
    Last edited by Jose El Maton; 08-09-2010 at 11:55 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Des Plaines, IL

    Question Assistance

    I did not ask for any assistance from the passing public ... and no, none was offered. The problem with densely populated areas is that there is a "dilution of responsibility" ... and perhaps rightly so. The expressways are off-limits to any tow truck assistance other than "IDOT." They are charged with the responsibility of keeping the lanes clear and charge nothing to do so. The exit ramps are directly attached to the expressway and fall under the control of it, so even if a passing tow truck could offer assistance, they would be fined if they were caught doing so.

    Once I was off the ramp ... then I called my local wrecker service and asked his advice of how I should handle this ... "post processing" of what had developed. He told me that if I was not too attached to the idea of leaving my truck in that neck of the woods, he would come on down from Des Plaines, hook up the Avalanche and tow it back home for repair. That idea sounded a whole heck of a lot more doable than having to deal with the issue from afar. I might add, his shop should have my truck ready for return, early tomorrow morning. The fifteen-mile tow back was gratis.

    Chicago has its own set of rules when it comes to the Interstate highway systems and who does what. There are lines that are not crossed,

    EDIT: The Avalanche is back together, again, with a new water pump, serpentine belt and battery. It sounds a whole lot better and I thank God I am still here to hear it. Yes, today was a whole lot better than yesterday.
    Last edited by DonSchap; 08-10-2010 at 03:43 PM.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Ohio, USA.
    Don this is even better with the added graphics and images!! I still think you need to have it narrated with someone doing a movie preview voice! By the way it appears you have passed your stess / fitness test with flying colors!
    Sony A700_____________Minolta AF 50mm. F/1.7
    Minolta AF 70-210mm F/3.5-4.5 Tamron AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR DiII LD Asp. [IF]
    Tamron SP AF 70-200mm. F/2.8 DI LD [IF] Macro
    Tamron AF 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di LD Macro 1:2
    Tokina AF 28-70mm F/3.5-4.5
    Tokina AF AT-X 80-400mm F/4.5-5.6

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    red truck=drive right by

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    God's Country - Australia
    glad you're ok big fella, losing brakes would be a very unnerving feeling i'd imagine, and one i hope i never have to experience. although i must say i got a good belly laugh seeing you with that big "look at me look at me" red truck !
    D800e l V3 l AW1 l 16-35 l 35 l 50 l 85 l 105 l EM1 l 7.5 l 12-40 l 14 l 17 l 25 l 45 l 60 l 75

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Des Plaines, IL

    Red face Color me ...

    Well, I had a green-colored 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche ... which ended its career with me, when a woman, driving a Toyota Camry, shot out of a residential area ... across the 4-lane main road and T-boned my truck, TWICE! She hit me in the front left quarter panel, blowing the left front tire off the rim, bounced off the truck, and then the wheels of her car caught again, as they were still accelerating, because she still had not hit the brakes, with her foot plowed into the gas pedal ... and she hit me, again, driving my rear axle back two inches from center and crushing the left rear door! Cha-ching! $10,000 in repairs.

    I'm telling you, a good ol' whackin' like that will get your attention if nothing else will. The entire driver's side of my truck was totally mauled ... but, the solid body design kept her out of my interior. That, right there, sold me on getting another Avalanche.

    As we all sat on the side of the road, waiting for the wreckers to come, all I could clearly hear her say was, "I just didn't see him."

    Hence, the new (2005) RED truck.

    All I can say is, "Can ya see that?"

    BTW: They quit making green ones. I think people were losing them in the woods.
    Last edited by DonSchap; 08-11-2010 at 09:04 AM.
    Don Schap - BFA, Digital Photography
    A Photographer Is Forever
    Look, I did not create the optical laws of the Universe ... I simply learned to deal with them.
    Remember: It is usually the GLASS, not the camera (except for moving to Full Frame), that gives you the most improvement in your photography.

    flickr & Sdi

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Mount Pleasant, SC
    when I was young, we were always told that "Green" vehicles were UNLUCKY. You would never hear of a race car driver with a green car, or even anything green on the car.
    Joe Holmes
    Sony α550
    Sony HVL-F42AM Flash
    Sony DT18-55 F3.5-5.6 (Kit Lens)
    Minolta Maxxum 50 1:1.7(22) Prime
    Minolta 35-70 F4 (Mini Beercan)
    Minolta 70-210 F4 (Beercan)
    Minolta 28-135 F4-4.5 (This beast is pretty heavy)
    Minolta Maxxum 100-200 F4.5
    Quantaray D28-90 1:3.5-5.6 Ver 5
    Tamron DiII 55-200 1:4.5-6

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    So Calif
    when I was young, we were always told that "Green" vehicles were UNLUCKY. You would never hear of a race car driver with a green car, or even anything green on the car.
    Except Lotus, and maybe MG, perhaps.
    Pentax K20D/K5/15/21/40/70/10-17/12-24, Sigma 17-70 2.8-4.5/150-500, Tamron 90 Macro/70-200 2.8, Canon SX20 IS/Elph 500HS
    (formerly Pentax 50 1.4/50-200/55-300/K100D, Sigma 18-50 2.8/70-300 APO, Tamron 28-75, Viv 800, Tele-Tokina 800, Canon S3 IS, Samsung L210)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Monmouthshire, UK
    Don't stop there SpecialK, how about
    Aston Martin
    Frazer Nash
    that I can think of, must be more.

    Until the late 60's, F1 cars were painted in national colors.
    British Racing Green
    Italian Red
    French Blue
    German White or Silver.....

    Superstitions are rife the world over and just about everything is unlucky (or lucky) somewhere.
    My Grandmother said that it was unlucky to wear Green at a Wedding. Some Guys reckon any colour was unlucky.

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