And so it begins…!

Thursday morning we pulled away from our cozy spot at a good friend’s house, ran a bunch of last-minute errands, then jumped on the road. At some point (the day quickly became blur) I (Sarah who was driving) started to smell coolant and Braydon found some “smoke” which we quickly discovered was a pinhole in our heater hose that was spewing coolant into the “garage”. Jeff grabbed some leather gloves and wrapped them around the pinhole that was gradually growing larger as I guided us about a mile down the road to a place wide enough to pull the big bus over. We couldn’t tell how much coolant was in the radiator, but the reservoir was empty and had some sort of mud in it. So Jeff cleaned it out with the small amount of water we had and my kitchen sink bottle brush. It was nice having all the things we would need! And needless to say, the bottle brush has been retired from kitchen duty!

Jeff cleaning out the muddy reservoir tank

We cleaned up, turned off the valve that sends coolant to the heater from the engine, put Braydon to bed, and got back on the road. Still driving through small towns and not knowing exactly what the engine temp was, we finally found a dollar general and got three gallons of water. We put one into the coolant system and got on our way again. Very shortly after that we climbed some huge hills at a mere 11 miles an hour and halfway up one hill that pinhole in the heater line ruptured (even though the line was turned off at the engine block) and sprayed an ENORMOUS amount of boiling coolant EVERYWHERE! Jeff attempted twice to block it off but it burnt his hand very badly and filled the cab with so much steam I had to throw open the window to be able to see to get us off the road. As soon as we came to a stop, Jeff threw open the door and ran out trying to assess amidst the darkness how badly his hand was burnt. I couldn’t even see if the door was open or where Jeff was so I called for him and when he responded from outside I ran out too. Bray stayed asleep and, more importantly – safe, in his bed the whole time. Cats were both behind the front door away from the steam and chaos as well. I put up our cones to be more easily seen, got out our med pack, and set up our shop light so we could start addressing the issues at hand. Instant ice packs for Jeff, opening the engine compartment and the windows for the steam to escape, measuring how much coolant was pouring out, and of course – checking on everyone on the other side of the door. We had probably four gallons of still-steaming coolant puddled on the floor and dripping through it.

It felt like hours, but was probably little over a half an hour before we were able to get the final two jugs of water into the radiator,  splice the heater hose, double check that the valve was still “off” and decide to try to make it the mile down the road to the next exit. And also… it started pouring rain!! About 200 feet over the hill was a huge pull-off with some sleeping trucks. We joined them and called it a night. Jeff’s hand was burned really badly covered with first- and second-degree burns and very swollen.

We cut a water jug in half and he filled it with puddle water so he could soak his hand. He had never been more grateful for a pothole in his life!! We slept and, when the sun came up, headed to the next town we could find to get more water. Thankfully, that town was State College and had lots of shopping available. It was 20 minutes away, but we stopped halfway through to let the engine cool. It was really cold, so it didn’t take more than 20 mins before we could get back on the road. We found a shopping center so we could park and walk to different stores to get everything we needed. The coolant system requires a little over 6 gallons of coolant, but with it being so muddy, we decide just use water to wash it out. We made it the rest of the 2-hour trip to Jeff’s grandma’s with just the water and it did great, though we were super nervous as we climbed the huge hills and navigated tiny back roads in the dark. Safely at Grangma’s we were guided where to park but immediately got stuck down in the grass and had to just leave it there as there was no way to move the bus at that point. We slept well and are ready to start our projects for the day! Jeff already got piles of wood prepared and we are draining the radiator of the water so it doesn’t freeze! It snowed last night, but was only 35 so so hopefully we are OK there.

We will let you know as more happens. Our goal right now is to finish up some projects so we don’t have to have a many building materials taking up space inside the bus.

8 thoughts on “And so it begins…!

    1. We have put together a well-stocked med pack that is capable of everything from a scratch to minor surgery. And Jeff has his EMT certification.
      We are working on the coolant system now. It nice to have the owners manual at times like this 🙂


  1. OMG! what an experience!! so glad you all are safe!! but crazy stuff! hope Jeff’s hand get well quick!! safe travels!!
    love the blog to keep in touch!!
    can’t like anything cause it asks for my account?! 🤦🏼‍♀️ you know me and tech! 😂😂
    ❤️ happy trails….. hugs!


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