Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Mitchell, South Dakota!

The view out of my passenger-side bunk window.

I guess I won’t bother asking for guesses as to where I’m overnighting this evening. Mitchell is a good-sized town and, as there appears to be a Ford dealership a half-mile away, I’m considering a timely oil and filter change. I’ll take a look at the place tomorrow morning before beginning the next leg of my journey, to see if it is worthy of my esteemed presence. An oil change might take awhile, so I will have to remember to take my walking stick with me in order to beat off the showroom sales personnel while I wait. This has worked in the past, usually by merely posing at bat. A few blows about the head and shoulders always convinces the more aggressive remainder. Dressing down also works quite well, as long as it is down so far that a $20 loan approval looks unlikely. Wrinkled shorts, a stained T-shirt, and one missing sandal have always worked so far. Sure it’s embarrassing, but since this isn’t my home town, there is no unwanted fallout. Once the service has been completed, I’m outta there!

I’m going to hijack my own thread here, which if you look at past posts on this blog, is not unusual at all. Most of my trip that began in March has been “high-speed” (65 MPH) Interstate travel, which is good for the Mighty Furd’s diesel engine, but if there’s one thing that’s critical to help the 2008 Navistar-supplied 6.4L to live, it’s fresh, clean oil. Like coolant, you don’t want to wait to change the engine oil on the official 10,000-mile schedule. I’m holding to 7,500-mile changes, though it would be better if I swapped it at the “severe-duty” 5,000-mile intervals. The last change was January 2017, which is a pointer toward how many miles I’ll travel this year. Yow! At this point, my odo is just about to cross 100,000 miles of carefree motoring.

It seems that the 6.4 is a bit of a grenade motor in the long term, according to extensive research that I’ve been doing over the last year. This is primarily due to the “new” emissions equipment required by the Feds for 2008. How Navistar implemented it is problematic for the longevity of the engine, and the “problem” part of that is highly dependent on scheduled maintenance and how the vehicle is used. The issue tends to be that when one powerplant component wears out or fails, if not caught early, it begins a chain reaction affecting other systems/components, which gets really expensive really fast. Such a multi-component wipe-out makes it much more expensive to repair than the simpler 6.0L that preceded it, and especially Ford’s own 6.7 that followed it. The cost of Ford diesel parts is merely bad, while the cost of Navistar-supplied parts tends to end the game. This degree of complexity and interdependence is unique to the 6.4, making it really important to make every attempt to provide everything needed to keep it happy. Do so, and it can cross the 200,000 mile range despite the emissions gear. Slack off, and 125,000 miles is considered to be the crossover point, where anything goes.

Some 6.4 owners have crossed well over the 300,000 mile mark, mainly due to consistent highway use instead of stop & go. Removing the emissions gear and installing an electronic “tuner” that soothes the Ford computer’s desire to throw an alarm at their departure is commonly done. The trick here is to avoid tuners that add a lot of extra horsepower to their enticement, which is self-defeating in high-mileage or hard-usage applications. It’s a moot point for me, however. No reputable shop I know of is willing to remove emissions gear, which is a federal offense. There’s no way I can do it on my own. There’s a specialist shop in Georgia that can modify several of the most failure-prone issues, but the cost is a back-breaker and that pesky interdependence remains largely in place.

So, owing to the cost to either modify or repair, my best tack, as I see it, is to continue to baby the Mighty Furd and simply take it as far as it can go. That likely won’t be any further than gas engines last these days, but it seems to be the lowest-cost option overall. Maintain it well, and run it into the ground. In the meantime, I’m doing my usual penny-pinching antics and saving up for its eventual replacement with…something else. It’s a shame that this particular motor is more or less a “throwaway” once a real problem occurs and the chain reaction starts, but that’s the way it goes. We’ll see how long this particular one can last.

It may seem crazy to pretend to plan out now what could be an additional 5-7 years of service (fingers crossed), but goals are good. If I can break well over 150,000 miles, I’ll be happy to adapt. If I can’t reach 150K, well, you’ll probably hear the whimpering and whining wherever you live in the lower 48. Stewing about something that hasn’t even happened yet – the Mighty Furd is still happy as a clam, after all – is merely my penchant for trying to ward off nasty surprises early. Information can be your friend. Surprises can be good, but not the kind that blindside you and cost tens of thousands of smackers to address. That leads to stunned confusion, which usually leads to hasty, poor follow-up decisions. I’m a big believer in developing a Plan B, whatever the topic may be. But you already know that.

The heat wave that had me contained in Minnesota appears to be simmering down enough to make my original Wyoming/Montana plan workable again. Potentially tolerable that is, if not really comfortable. So, I’m giving it a go. Considering that it may or may not return, and that my original schedule is now off by a full month, anything goes from this point on. What the heck! Adventure!

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