Thursday, April 5, 2007

No lights, no heat, no brakes.

This morning at El Tomatal, at the Pacific Ocean, the landscape was covered with a heavy fog.
Like other cars do as well, the lights of the Fuso Santek were switched on to be optimally visible in the thick fog.
Checking the expedition vehicle before taking off, which is the standard procedure, it was noticed that only the headlights were on.
The lights on the top of the truck cabin were not working.
Neither the lights on the back of the camper box nor on the sides.
Obviously the wiring is confused.
And it seems that at Santek Trailers after the wiring had been completed, no testing was done to see everything was working, as it should.
The trip was started anyway, with only the headlights, but the problem must be solved.
All the fuses were checked and they are OK.
Because the way the wiring of the Fuso Santek is done is unknown, there is no idea where to start looking to find what is creating this problem.
Maybe the best is to find a mechanic in La Paz specialised in electricity for cars.

The next surprise was the heating in the cabin of the truck.
It was cold this morning and the heater in the cabin of the truck was switched on.
No heat was coming from the vents…
In order to install the radio, the whole panel with the switches for the heating and cooling had to be dismantled by Santek Trailers.
Behind this panel were many wires and cables and connectors and probably during the reassembling the heater got not connected well.
Later an effort will be made to dismantle the dashboard and see if the heater switch is correctly connected.

All these issues are not vital although lights not working eliminates the option to drive in the dark.
Originally it was planned to first make a trip of one week inside the USA to test if everything was working well.
To be able to return to Santek Trailers for adjustments if needed.
But because of schedule and engagements elsewhere this plan could not be performed.
And it was actually not anticipated to have these issues like water tanks overflowing and lights and heating not working.
Some testing in case of the lights and one test drive with full water tanks would have brought these issues to the surface immediately.

A stop for lunch was made next to a rural Mexican house of which the inhabitants were selling home made sweets.
For Alfredo Gonzales, soon to meet in Punta Boca del Salado, a “Dulce de guyaba” was bought.
For own consumption a supply of fresh dates.

In the afternoon was a very scary experience.
Before to reach Santa Rosalia the road passes a mountain.
It is a very steep road there and locally known as “The wall of death”.
Coming down on that road the Fuso Santek had a truck loaded with an earth-moving machine in front.
Because that truck was going very slow, repeatedly the drum brakes of the Fuso Santek needed to be applied.
At one point the truck in front stopped along the road before a curve because another huge truck was ascending the steep road.
The Fuso Santek’s brakes were applied heavily and to high consternation no braking occurred.
The Fuso Santek just continued rolling towards the trailer with the earth-moving machine.
The brake pedal was pushed and hit the floor of the cabin but no slowing down occurred.
There was a total loss of braking power.
It looked the Fuso Santek would crash in the back of the trailer but somehow this didn’t happen.
As of then a very large distance was kept to the trailer and the engine kept in a low gear.
Later, the brakes worked normally again.
According to good friend George, later met in Santa Rosalia, the loss of braking power occurred because the brakes had been overheating.
When drum brakes get too hot, they simply do not work anymore.

It had been 2 months good friend George was met and so good to see him again.
To spend time chatting and exchanging experiences we have in life.

Of course George wanted a tour of the Fuso Santek and was highly impressed by the design and the craftsmanship.
However, when one of the cargo doors was opened we discovered that all three screws of the hinge had been broken off.

To learn of current location, click on:


Anonymous said...

Hello, I am a regular reader from England, keep on with this great blog,
I think, in my humble opinion, that the whole Fuso thing is a mistake. A good US diesel 4 x 4 pick up & slide in camper (made to your specs) would be perfect, or as one of my friends did, buy a used MAN truck in Germany.
The Fuso will desintegrate after you hit a big hump on the road.

Anonymous said...

Any new trailer or camper needs a "shake down" period. Our Airstream trailer was completely re-done 2+years ago and we are still finding small items that need to be fixed. I would try to head back to your dealer for a "checkup" before you go much futher away.
Love your blog.

Anonymous said...

Michael, before you panic too much, regarding the heat and brakes, I'd suggest that you take a look at the vacuum tubes in the engine compartment. The climate controls in the majority of vehicles use the vacuum system and that might also have contributed to your braking problem.

However, it does sound like you glazed the drums on that decent. Do you have a compression braking system (jake brake) on the exhaust? This would allow the engine to control the speed of the decent without having to ride the brakes.

Electrical? Well, this sounds like a one of two things--a broken splice or a loss of the grounding between the "house" and the "chassis".

Still, nothing insurmountable. Just irrating break-in things we all deal with. Even those big million-dollar motorhomes have these issues.


Anonymous said...

Good luck with your new custom vehicle! Don't let these little mechanical annoyances get you down...Isn't it all part of the adventure of owning an expedition vehicle. Look at all the trivial things that go wrong with our Lazy Daze's that are really production vehicles from a company thats been doing them for 50 years.
I seem to recall that you had difficulty acquiring a spare tire. Make sure that you've got an appropriate jack and tire tools because they usually don't include those with the vehicle.
Looking forward to reading more of your adventures!

Don Howe
2002 LD MB
Long Island

Anonymous said...


Some trucks have a hot water shut off valve.
This keeps the Hot water out of the cab in the summer when the AC is trying to work. Tilt the cab up and look for the 2 water lines going to the heater core. It very well maybe in the owners manual of the truck

Anonymous said...

Michel: You may have experienced boiling brake fluid when your brake pedal went to the floor. This is generally caused by too much heat being absorbed by the brake fluid. Best solution to this is to buy premium high temperature brake fluid and have a competent mechanic bleed your brakes with the high temperature fluid. Ford Motor Company brand heavy duty DOT3 brake fluid is one good high temperature fluid vailable at Ford dealerships. The common cause is traces of water in the brake fluid. Do check with Mitsubishi to verify the fluid you want to use is compatible with your truck's brake system.

Good luck with your travels, Al