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Published: February 24th 2019
We'd been planning our trip (sort of) for months, but it still seemed that departure day came upon us suddenly. We had been shooting for Thursday Feb 14, but we got a pretty heavy snowfall on the 13th, and we needed some time to dig out. Looking at the weather forecasts for the cities along our route, the next likely day was Saturday the 16th. So Friday was spent doing the final packing, and then hooking up the rig. All went well until the light check -- no taillights on the trailer -- boo!
It was by that time starting to get dark, and it was very cold, I had no heart for slithering under the truck with a volt meter to diagnose our troubles. So we decided to wait till morning to figure it out, and just get a little later start. It dawned sunny in the AM, but with single digits on the thermometer. A quick test with my 7 round light checker showed (as suspected) that the trouble was not in the trailer circuits, but in the truck harness. I slid my foam "mechanics lounge" pad under the back of Moby Dodge and had at it.
After cracking off several feet of old electrical tape made brittle by the cold, I made a new connection for the tail/clearance lights on the "green wire" that I believed to be the correct one. Sure enough, all the lights now seemed to work fine, so we loaded up to set off for the Wild West! The only problem was that Moby Dodge was not able to move the trailer, not even an inch. Now granted, Fred's wheels were sunk a few inches into the frozen lawn, and yes, the ground under the trucks wheels was glare ice, but still, I was surprised. The truck weighs 7000#, and it's 4 wheel drive, but it seemed as if the trailer was bolted to the ground.
So we needed sand for under the wheels, but we didn't have any. We did, however have a big pile of fine crushed stone at my building site, but of course, it was frozen solid. So this led to the comical scene of yours truly swinging away with a pickax, breaking up the stone so that it could be shoveled into a garbage can and dragged back to the truck. After a few sessions like that, we were, finally able to drag the trailer onto the road. It was almost 11AM by then, but a late start is better than no start at all, I guess.
Eager to go, we got all ready, prepped the house for our absence, and headed out onto Kring Point road to start our long voyage -- hurrah! And ---- something was wrong, the trailer was dragging badly, and looking in my mirror, I could see smoke coming from the wheels -- clearly, the trailer brakes were full on. In retrospect, this may have had some small influence on our difficulty in pulling the trailer out of it's resting place? We unhooked the trailers umbilical cord, thereby disabling the electric brakes, but also, of course, it's lights. Rather than back the rig to the house, I decided to run down to the Indian Point Road to turn around. When we arrived, there was a NYS Trooper car sitting right there -- Aaaarrrggg! Fortunately, my riding ambassador leapt to action, walked over to the car and explained to the Trooper that we were having brake trouble and we had unhooked our lights, and would you please back up and give us some room? She is invaluable.....
So then back to the house for more diagnoses, the good news here was that I could now back into our bare-pavement driveway where I could get under the truck without laying in the snow. At this point I swallowed my pride and called in my electrical engineer brother to give me a hand figuring out what the hell was going on. Eventually, after only one more abortive effort to leave, I figured out that the "green wire" I had spliced the taillights to was in fact the electric brake signal wire -- oh woe is me.... so once more into the breach! Or, in this case, under the truck. Now the correct connections were made, and a test run down Rt12 to the rest area showed all systems go.
Too late to leave again, now it would be Sunday for us to REALLY go. The bad news is that our weather window was closing in, late Sunday afternoon might be bringing some snow to our route, never the less, we were determined to push off.
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