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Disaster Strikes

August 29, 2011

It was a morning much like any other morning (as the cliché goes) – we got up had breakfast and moved to the cab of the truck and started up. We moved off and drove from our parking spot by the Takhanne river and turned on to the highway ready to accelerate down the road. And then nothing – the power disappears and the Beast stalls.

We pull in to the side of the road and try and restart her. The starter motor ticks over but doesn’t start the engine. This is not good. Trying to stem the rising panic we resort to our Auto Repair for Dummies book and diagnose a problem with the fuel pump. That’s way beyond our ability to fix.

Now the worry is that there really aren’t many cars on this road. We are 100 miles from Haines in the USA but we are in Canada. We’re 50 miles from Haines Junction – but there wasn’t much there we had noted on passing through.

After about 20 minutes a camper came passed and we flagged them down. It was a lovely German couple who agreed to try and get us some help. So all we had to do now was wait !

After a couple of hours a pickup pulled up – from Yukon Highways Agency. This was their roving mechanic. We’d lifted the cab by now. He knew what he was doing and spent some time seeing if he could fix us. He managed to diagnose a fuel problem – Hey I was actually right ! But couldn’t get us moving – not even 100 yards to a safer location. He then left and told us another guy would be along soon.

More waiting then another Yukon Highways Agency truck arrives with a chap called Paul onboard. He was our lifeline as he offered us a lift to Haines Junction so that we could arrange a tow. We arrived in Haines to find that the tow truck was out of service. We phoned a towing service in Haines and they need special customs permission to come to Canada. So we were left with arranging a tow from Whitehorse (150 miles) away. Once this was sorted Paul gave us a lift back to the Beast where we settled in to wait.

Around 9pm the tow truck arrived. It was a slick process making a cradle for the front wheels and lifting them free of the ground. The back drive shaft to the rear wheels needed to be removed and air lines attached to brackets at the front (and we thought we would never use them) to make sure we could release the brakes. Then we were off for a 3.5 hour journey to Whitehorse. The real shocker is the CAD$1600 cost of the tow. Ouch !

We arrived at Whitehorse at around 12.30 and were dropped at Inland Kenworth (a Cummins dealer – our engine is Cummins). Shame it’s a Friday night and they won’t be back at work until Monday morning.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Ebo permalink
    August 29, 2011 5:26 am

    Shit! Enjoy Whitehorse then!

  2. August 29, 2011 9:23 am

    Good time to work on the pcitures and share some more- good luck!

  3. August 29, 2011 9:57 am


    Fuel filter need swapping?

    if it made it a short distance, then lost power, it’s almost like a piece of dirt got into the fuel line, and once the engine had used all the fuel in the lines / filters, it stopped.

    too late now to 2nd guess, but get the mechanic to show you how to blow out the fuel lines using your air system (I’m guessing you have an air line for blowing your tyres up?). – remove fuel lines ends (or at least loosen them), remove filters, blow in compressed air. Carrying 2 or 3 sets of filters can be a good idea, not everywhere delivers clean diesel, and it can take quite a while to show up problems!

    Hope you dont need a pump – that would be vew unlucky!


    • August 30, 2011 1:59 am

      Thanks Merv, Really good suggestions. When we finally get seen I hope it is something as simple as bad fuel. You’d think that Alaskan fuel would be good though ? We do have an air line so will have to learn the process you mention. We have our fingers crossed.

  4. August 29, 2011 4:48 pm

    $1600 for the tow!!!!!!!!!!!, I hope the repair dose not cost to much.

  5. Degrande Frans Bruges Belgium permalink
    August 29, 2011 7:44 pm

    Marc and Sarah,

    We feel so sorry about the breakdown of your truck. We hope it will be reapeard soon.
    Don’t let your head hang down. You made a dececion to travel, you did allready a lot, have seen a lot of bears, nature,…go on! Safe on campground….remember!
    We are in Edmonton and in a week in Calgary.There will our travels finish for now. We didn’t found a buyer till now.
    Friendly greetings and support from

    Frans and Martine the yellow MAN drivers from Belgium

    • August 30, 2011 1:58 am

      Thanks guys,

      We hope its nothing serious but the the garage we are at hasn’t got around to seeing us yet and not sure when they will. We are delayed but not stopped.

      Anyway Olaf and Simone have turned up in Whitehorse waiting for Brakes. So we are going out tonight for beer !

      Good luck with finding a buyer for your truck. You never know when someone might appear. I hope that the weather is better for you further South than up here – its pretty cold and wet.

  6. Matt F permalink
    August 29, 2011 9:47 pm

    Cold beer waiting for you both in San Diego!

  7. August 30, 2011 9:47 am

    I think this is one of the biggest reasons to justify having a generator, it certainly has me thinking of getting one. No engine and stranded for a few days is a hastle, but stranded for a few days AND the batteries flat – no light, water, fridge, 52″ plasma with surround sound and blueray….. Well, you know what I mean 🙂

    Sounds like you’ve company, so it’s not so bad….

    • August 30, 2011 8:11 pm

      I think you are right. We do intend to buy a generator when we get to the lower 48.

      The good thing is that we can plug in where we are parked (stopped) so power is not a problem.

      Don’t forget that power here is 110v and that many places where you plug in are 30 AMP supplies (we can’t take that) – we max out at a 20 AMP supply.

  8. Colin permalink
    August 30, 2011 7:32 pm

    Hope you guys get going again soon….

    Can’t believe what the tow cost… you could have flown a mechanic out to you from the UK for that price.

    • August 30, 2011 8:09 pm

      Tell me about it – and we wouldn’t still be waiting to be seen then !

  9. Paul Bulos permalink
    August 31, 2011 8:40 pm

    Irfan was saying today, and everyone agreed, Mark needs to man up and suck it up!

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