Thursday, March 15, 2018

Big Trouble in Big Bend


We had an uneventful trip to Fort Stockton having decided to overnight at the local Walmart. It turned out to be us and about 40 other rigs. That place gets packed! We got there early enough to get ourselves situated for a clean getaway the following morning, so it all worked out. Plus we got our shopping done and were well provisioned for our trip to the Big Bend area.

We had reservations to stay five days at Maverick Ranch in Lajitas, about twelve miles beyond Terlingua, the closest town to the entrance of Big Bend National Park.

While at Walmart Steven and I had a conversation about how clean Toadie was after that long trip. There seemed to be less road grime and no blowback from Scoopy, which we really hadn't experienced since our big fix in Vermont. It always makes us very happy to see Toadie so clean!

Fast forward to our arrival at Maverick Ranch in Lajitas and, oh my, how things changed! We were shocked to see Toadie drenched in oil! This wasn't the usual road grime you can wipe off with your finger. When we tried, it just smeared and got ugly. What the heck? And to make things worse, we were not allowed to wash any vehicles in the park unless we paid $25. We walked over to explain we had a little grime on the front of our car and could we just rinse it off. They said sure, so we proceeded to rinse off as much as possible from the grimy mess!

Ugh! Not a pretty sight when we arrived at Maverick Ranch.

Five days later we had to decide what to do. This isn't the first time this has happened but it was by far the most oil Scoopy has spewed onto Toadie as we traveled. We were in the middle of nowhere with very spotty cell service. Did we want to take a chance? Just hook up and hit the road anyway?

Tempting as it was, we decided the prudent thing to do would be to tow Scoopy to the nearest garage and see what was going on. We called Coachnet. Unfortunately the nearest available garage was 160 miles away in Fort Stockton so they arranged to have us towed back there..

The tow guys arrived late in the afternoon and it took about an hour to get our girl situated and locked down on their truck bed. We followed long enough to get photos then we took off ahead. We stopped for dinner and, when we arrived in Fort Stockton, scouted the safest entry into the truck yard just about the time Scoopy arrived. It was after dark and a little nerve-wracking. These guys were pros, though.

Loading Scoopy up on the towing contraption.

No, this is not a scene from Close Encounters, just Scoopy’s arrival in Fort Stockton :)

The following day a mechanic from H & H Trucking came over to us and took a look. He could obviously see oil, but he didn't know where it was coming from. He suggested an oil change and a viscous additive which he thought would safely get us to Cummins in El Paso, which it did.

Scoopy in H&H Trucking getting her oil changed.

At Cummins, they were kind of bummed about that oil change because they would have liked to have it analyzed. But they figured the 240 mile trip from Fort Stockton was long enough to show problems, so they sent the oil out for testing. It came back clean.

Camp Cummins. We don’t recommend camping here, the nightly fees are outrageous!

So once again, nothing was found and we haven't had any problems since. We have continued to research the issue and have found numerous “fixes” for the blowback, and it has to do with something called a “Slobber Tube”. Ew. After a couple of nights at Camp Cummins, we picked back up on our travel schedule and headed off for Alamogordo, New Mexico and the beautiful White Sands National Monument.

UP NEXT: More beautiful photos from Steven!!


  1. It seems there's always something that needs fixing in this lifestyle. Last year on our way home we had to have our truck trailered on a flatbed to a repair facility.

    1. I remember reading about your truck troubles last year! We've been very lucky with Scoopy, she's been a great rig and relatively trouble-free, considering. But she has her moments. As long as it doesn't sideline us for more than a day or two, we're happy!

  2. One of the easiest ways to check which side oil leak is on where you look at the car is there more on the passenger side of the driver side it'll give you a hint
    By changing the oil you may have hiide the problem if by possible the filter may have been slightly loose and weeping you'll never know now
    Those are the things The Cummings mechanic would have looked for
    If your engine is relatively clean it would be Absent of wet spot
    Have you checked the oil filler cap (or a thermos type plug ) gasket it needs to be tight
    If they're not snug globi comes out that plug which would show wet around that area
    Does your Cummings have a crank case ventilation tube if they do let it idle for a half an hour or dry pavement and look for spots
    Dont overlook the exhaust pipe for oil residue you may look funny doing it but you could smell Oil if that was there and run your finger around the exhaust pipe inside
    On the oil filter if the very top is wet thats a sign of a loose filter it should be completely dry

    1. Thank you for this info. I'm gonna have to study it a bit to try and understand it all. The exhaust pipe info intrigues me. I have a theory, but ultimately I really know nothing. :) We've had several mechanics looking at this, because this issue comes up periodically. We'll keep sleuthing and maybe figure it out. Thanks again!

  3. Weird, you would have thought they would have found something to explain the oil. Oh well, hopefully it was something minor and will not happen again.

    1. We've been in Cummins a couple of times for this, and no luck. It's a gremlin, I guess!

  4. One thing about leaves a trail. It should hit something else between its source and Toadie....unless there is nothing between the two. Is there a trail left on the underside of the tow bar? That could tell you if it were coming out of the slobber or the tailpipe, unless they are located next to each other. Also, where is your generator exhaust pipe? Do you ever run that going down the road? It is another source of oil you should consider. If it happened on a regular basis, I'd suggest strapping a dash cam under the rig! 😜

    1. This oil spatter, as best we can tell, hit Toadie dead on. Both sides were splattered. Also, the "Travel Supreme" rock/mud guard that hangs off the back was dripping oil across the whole thing. That was a first and what made us decide on a tow. RV Geeks have a video showing how to "fix" this issue, zip tie a plastic bottle to your slobber tube! :)

  5. So sad to see her up on the giant gurney! That is one strange looking contraption - I wondered how they loaded them up at the higher angle - this makes much more sense. I hate those un-diagnosed issues, both for us and our equipment :-) Sure glad it didn't keep you from getting to Q!!

    1. That tow truck was like a transformer dude. They could do all kinds of things. But yeah, it was sad to see Scoopy traveling backward on it. But we got a great photo, so there's that!

  6. Usually the oil splatter is from a oil vent that is closed or clogged. it is like a one way valve on a short hose..... They clog over time and miles. it happen twice to me on the road.

  7. Well whatever was clogged, it's sure not anymore! It blew itself clean! Thanks for the comment!