After 8000 miles on some pretty questionable roads we were long overdue for some maintenance. Now we could have done this ourselves but since the road to Prudhoe had given the poor Beast a real rattling around and we’re pretty much wimps we decided to get a local garage to change the oil, give a general lube and identify any particular problems.
We saw an advert for Gabe’s in Fairbanks which sold itself as a Truck and RV service centre. Exactly what we needed. So we booked in and they could fit us in the next day at 8.30 and have us done by 10.30. Ideal.
We gave them the Beast and went off on our bikes (in the rain) to look around the centre of Fairbanks. Bizarrely like a ghost town on a mid-week morning. After a couple of hours we came back to find the Beast almost ready to go.
That is until the Mechanic fires her up to back her out of the workshop and doesn’t go anywhere. He pops back out and tells us that he can’t put her in Reverse. Well reverse was fine earlier ! It turns out that when he dropped the cab back down after lifting it he left the truck in gear and the gear stick which is directly connected to the transmission by a steel rod did not go back through its hole properly and bent its mounting. Cue 3 hours of trying to fix it. Eventually they had it back working with thanks to Marty Gabriel, the owner, who stepped in just as the mechanic was about to do something potentially dangerous in his attempt to fix what he had broken.
We collected the Beast paid up and drove 200 yards down the road before swinging around and heading back – the rev counter wasn’t working. In it went again for another 30 minutes before finally we got away. So instead of getting on the road out of Fairbanks by lunchtime it was 4pm before we set off.
Now the good news is that the gears feel smoother now and the rod connecting the stick to the transmission which was loose has now been tightened up. The stick is also in a slightly different place which is easier for Sarah to reach. We have a couple of small leaks in the engine but nothing to worry about – we just need to keep an eye on the oil.
We should be set for another 6-8k miles now and won’t need to change the oil until just before we hit mexico. Also we’ve discovered that the oil and fuel filters are easy to get here as they are a standard part.
Anyway while we were back in Fairbanks we revisited the Large Animal Research Station and took the tour. This was cool and the baby musk ox were cute. The bulls we really bad tempered though and kept fighting.