Gotta Get to Some Warmth

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I’m considering bugging out of here early and heading South. The temperatures here are stupid cold and the outlook isn’t looking good. I’ve been waking up with a pretty sore shoulder, so I’ve been snowshoeing a couple times a days for a couple hours each time and not skiing. It’s only a workout when we’re in fresh snow, trailblazing.

Today I’m going to head to Hayward, back to civilization, to get some antifreeze at the Ford dealer. I was driving Stacie back to her condo late on New Year’s Eve/Day, and the heater quit blowing warm-ish air. It was close to -30, so I thought maybe something froze. I was a little stressed. Then it came back on for a couple minutes and was gone again. I thought maybe the waterpump was going. I checked underneath the van yesterday and didn’t see any fluid leaking. Well, that’s a lie. The power steering pump had some power steering fluid drips on it, but that isn’t a big worry. But, I think the antifreeze is really low. Like, low enough it isn’t circulating. It’s either that or the waterpump.

The van hasn’t been losing fluid until I got up here. What I’m thinking the cause is because I’ve had the van plugged in all night. I read somewhere on the internet that other people have had issues with their block heaters and fluid loss. It says that when it is super cold out, the antifreeze is heated up, but the waterpump’s pulley and shaft stays cold, thus the seal doesn’t do its job and fluid gets past it. That seems like a good reason, but I don’t see any antifreeze in the snow. And if I’m right, there is a fair amount of antifreeze missing. I’m hoping to limp back to somewhere warmer, like a heated garage in Topeka, to work on it. If I do that, I’ll probably just fix the power steering pump too. I have to remove the radiator to get to the water pump, so I’d have access to whole front of the engine. I haven’t changed the serpentine belt and done some of the other stuff I’d like to do for awhile.

I got on my bike and rode a mile yesterday. It was -10 or so. My Garmin showed it was above zero, but it just hadn’t cooled off yet. I thought it was important to ride on the first day of the year. It seems like I’m getting a little superstitious as I get older. I wonder why that is.

I need to make some phone calls and get some new components for my road and mountain bike. I know it is late already, or maybe early to some, but it is nice to start off the season all ready to roll. That is one hassle up here. My AT&T cell phone doesn’t work hardly anywhere. I like being out of cell range contact, somewhat, but there are also downsides to that.

Okay, I’m stressing about the van, so I need to get moving and try to figure it out. We’ve got a date to snowshoe out to a marsh this afternoon and see if there is a bear in a den there. I’ll post photos either way. We’ve been out there before. It’s 50/50 chance of habitation. It is equally as cool. You can climb into it and check it out if there is no bear. If there is a bear, well, there is a bear. The den is under a tree and covered with snow, except a very small hole. Inside, it is very clean, no poop, and the tree roots are rubbed smooth. It is awesome. Okay, that’s it for now.

The trails are so frozen hard that you don't even need to use snowshoes where we've been before.

The trails are so frozen hard that you don’t even need to use snowshoes where we’ve been before.

Check out the future forecast.  Burrrrr.

Check out the future forecast. Burrrrr.

14 thoughts on “Gotta Get to Some Warmth

  1. VCScribe

    Steve, your fluid-loss symptoms sound disturbingly like a bad head gasket, or worse, a cracked head. If you’re truly losing fluid but it’s not pooling under the pump/radiator, etc. It’s got to be going somewhere, and into a cylinder or cylinders to be consumed and blown out with the exhaust as steam is a strong (but really annoying) possibility. Check your oil; does it look like chocolate milk? Not good. Hope I’m wrong.

  2. Wildcat

    So much for “getting used to the cold” huh? I bet when you wrote that you were wearing a “wine blanket”.

  3. Oldster

    I have been thinking about converting to a waterless set up in all the cars. Read about it a while back and it has been in the back of the mind. Expensive and a PIA purge your system of all water/traditional antifreeze but there are some benefits.
    something like this:

    The boiling and freezing temps are far beyond what a water based system is capable of. Supposedly a great upgrade for older vehicles that are notorious overheaters (BMW 2001 ?) or those that live in either end of extreme temps. Hope it isn’t the head or whatever, when its that cold you will have to pay someone to make it happen – that’s the last thing you want to do in a snow bank

  4. Skippy

    Happy New Year ! Another year i was able to ride Sunny , dry , Wintery Austrian Roads fort a few hours !

    This time as still above 10C , as on NYE i was in Le Tour gear ! You gottit , dressed for Summer !

    So much for the Skiers , they were all wandering around looking lost , looking in shop windows , muttering about that cyclist with bare legs and arms !

    Got to laugh at the few drivers that use the horn to warn they are in a hurry as they pass ! Where were they going on New Years Day , with NO SNow worth skiing ?

  5. Joe H

    Hi Steve good luck with the van, stressful on a road trip. Seems like you have the skills to figure it out. Here in Maine we’re socked in at -5, so -30 is really a drag, i can relate. I look forward to your posts and admire your kindness and perspective. Looks like you have a pretty cool life, thank you for taking the time to share. Happy new year and good luck with the van-

  6. VCScribe

    Steve, a follow-up:

    Buddy of mine saw my comment and suggested that the frothy chocolate-milk oil test isn’t always fail-safe. If you use synthetic oil, ethylene glycol can be held in suspension in the oil and won’t quickly emulsify as it will in typical non-synthetics. The water in the mixture vaporizes, and the glycol is held suspended in the sump. Oil pressure may rise, if you have a way of testing it accurately. Again, this is a pretty common thing with engines. Get it thoroughly checked out. If the cylinder head is minutely cracked, the consumption of coolant can be slow and continue for some time before engine overheating alerts you to a problem. The big downside is that ethylene glycol in the oil will effect its viscosity and performance, and your engine can fail — in a big way — if you don’t chase down the problem. Boy, again, I hope I’m wrong!

  7. Jackie

    If indded your spot is actually a den, then you won’t see any “poop.” When bear hibernate, their body recycles all of their waste and converts it to protein. Always thought that was fascinating!!

  8. Christian Davenport

    I had the exact same thing happen to an old Mazda 626, in the dead of winter, no less. Heater core producing good heat intermittently with lukewarm air. Ended up being a blown head gasket, the rupture being between the cylinder and the water jacket. Coolant loss with no evidence of leaking. With the tail pipe belching out the normal cold weather white exhaust, it’s difficult to detect the burning off of coolant. The internal rupture can cause the water jacket to become pressurized from the cylinder and allow both intake and exhaust gases into the cooling system, causing erratic behavior in cooling system, hence the weird stuff going on with the heater core.

    Good luck. Hopefully it’s something like a faulty thermostat.

  9. The Cyclist

    This is actually not too hard to figure out. If your temp gauge wanders up and down it’s the gasket. If your temp meter is rock steady then your gasket is probably ok.

  10. The Cyclist

    “I thought it was important to ride on the first day of the year. It seems like I’m getting a little superstitious as I get older. I wonder why that is.”

    This is soooo weird. I had exactly the same feeling. Kind of doom feeling that if I don’t go out on the first day of the year the whole season would be ruined. That feeling was so strong I had to force myself to go out and ride on the second day of the year too… just to be on the safe side of this superstition thingy. Really weird. Maybe it’s indeed an age thing. Can’t recall having these ideas in my younger years.

  11. mike crum

    just asking where hes going.. its cold everywhere.. maybe south florida?? i know steve has friends in a lot of places, but i dont remember reading about steve going to south florida..maybe back out to so. california?


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