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Monday, June 8, 2009
Whatever it takes

By Kevin Short
ESPNOutdoors.com exclusive

Some days a guy just has to laugh to keep from crying. The curse of Kentucky Lake continued even after we were off the water and on the road to the corn fields and train tracks of Iowa. K2 (Don Barone's nickname for my lovely bride, Kerry) and I loaded up the goods and rolled out of the Little Eagle RV Park on the shores of beautiful Kentucky Lake at 8:15 Saturday morning. Jill had us taking some scenic detour through the countryside of Tennessee, so we turned north on TN 140. We rolled along a few miles and then there was the first hill.

It was not a steep hill, just a long incline — nothing major for the Ray Chevy 3500 with the 6.6L DuraMax engine, even with the load that we carry. And it was nothing like the nightmare on the Blue Ridge Parkway several months ago. But halfway up the hill we hear BOOM! POW! HISSSSSSS!

Son of a ... we blew a tire. After a quick check in the mirrors I realized it was not a tire. Hey, ho, we have no power from the DuraMax. Not good.

"Oh, no, we blew the engine," was K2's immediate assessment as we roll slowly to a stop on the side of the road. Luckily there was an old gravel pit with a flat spot conveniently located along TN 140 right there to pull off on.

"Probably didn't blow the engine, Mrs. NASCAR, but something definitely blew."

Fellow Elite pro, Wade Grooms, just happened to be following us on our scenic drive and he pulled up alongside. "Got problems?"

"Sounds like we blew a hose or something."

"I'll pull off here in front of you in case you need a ride back to town."

Nice guy.

I pop the hood and do a quick scan of all the hoses. Check.

I look under the engine to see if there is anything dripping. Nope. Check.

Another scan of all the fittings that might cause a loud hissing sound and I found a big shiny tube thing with the blue hose blown off the end of it. That's a likely suspect. I know it has something to do with the air intake to the turbo or something like that, but I'm not sure what the technical term is. I do know that the blue hose is supposed to be attached to the silver metal tube thing, though. It's almost as if Kentucky Lake has my number even this far away from the water.

Wade walks up about that time. "Figure out what the problem is?"

"Yep, I think we blew this fitting off this pipe thing. Whatever it is." Try as I might, I couldn't just push the fitting back up onto the pipe, as the hose had been press fitted with a collar onto the tube thing. Pressed on with a big machine, I'm thinking, and me standing on the tire on the side of TN 140 is not going to push it back up on there by hand.

"I got a hose clamp. Like we use on our trolling motor transducers? You want that? Maybe you could get it back up on there and hold it with that." Wade, you're my hero.

I proceed to pull the collar off the hose as Wade digs through the back of his truck to find the hose clamp.

I look down the road as another fellow Elite angler, Clark Reehm, rolls to a stop. "I have absolutely no mechanical skills, but, can I help?" he said.

At least the dude is honest.

I held up the hose fitting as I'm trying to get the collar off it and asked, "Got one of these?"

"I have no idea what that is."

"I think Wade has a hose clamp and we can get it held on there. Thanks for stopping."

Clark rolled on up the hill as Farmer Dan came rolling down the hill toward town and slowed to a stop. "Ya'll need some help?"

"I think we can get her patched up. Is there a Chevy dealer in Paris?"

"Yep, it's just as you come into town, it's on the right," he said.

He even rattled off the phone number as he sat there in his Dodge. How does a man driving a Dodge know the phone number of the Chevy dealer in town?

"Thanks."

"How'd you do in the tournament?"

Thanks, I'm trying to forget. "Finished 67th."

"That's not too bad."

It is when you're in 25th after the first day. "Yeah, not as well as I wanted to finish."

"Sure you don't need some help?"

"Nah, I think we can get a hose clamp on it and limp back to town. Thanks for stopping."

Wade handed me the hose clamp and I crawled up on top of the Duramax to see if I could get it patched. I figured between a hose clamp, some duct tape, and a hand full of tie wraps, surely we could fix a 6-inch piece of blue hose. Right?

I got the clamp on, fired it up and it ran like a champ. Kudos to Wade for the clamp, Clark and Farmer Dan for stopping. So, do we stay or do we go now? I say we head back to the Chevy dealer and see if we can get a part. From the looks of the size of the part, whatever the part is, it's probably not hanging in the parts room of the Chevy dealer in Paris, Tenn. I backed the K-Pinkmobile up into the gravel pit, turned it around, and got it pointed south on TN 140 toward Paris.

Kevin Short
Phil in Parts at Country Chevrolet on one phone, the guy at NAPA on the other.
As we rolled back toward town, I had the brilliant idea of stopping at Kirk's Hardware to get another hose clamp. Hey, if one's good, two has to be better. We limped into Kirk's and I headed into the hardware store. As I steped through the door, it was like stepping back in time. Behind the counter are two older gentlemen who look like they rolled into work this morning on black, horse drawn carriages. Is this part of the curse? Not stereotyping here, but with the little gray, half moon beards and straw hats, they could have passed for some type of -ites. Mennon-ites, mason-ites, Israel-ites, Paris-ites. All I know is they had a nice hardware store and they had two 3 1/2 inch hose clamps that were $1.59 each.

As I was putting the new clamps on the blue hose-fitting thing, I discovered that the inside of the hose thing has torn. Not good. That tear was probably what weakened the hose and caused it to blow off in the first place. We were definitely not hitting the road for a seven hour drive without fixing this. Hopefully we could make it to the Chevy dealer. We didn't.

We made it a little over halfway and BOOM! POW! HISSSSSSS! — off blew the hose thing again. The curse continued.

We rolled to a stop beside the road. I popped the hood and grabbed the ratchet. The hose thing was really getting ugly. Parts of it were squeezed out from under the hose clamp like blue ham slices leaking out the edge of wheat bread. Not good. I carefully stuffed the slices of blue hose up under the clamp and tighten it down again.

We eased up the next hill and slowly coasted down to the Chevy dealer. No parts department on Saturday. No service department on Saturday. Won't be here until 8 a.m. Monday. Dude, you're screwed.

"No Mr. Chevy dealer in Paris, I'm not," I thought to myself. "I'm getting the hell away from Kentucky Lake and I'm going today."

I limped the K-Pinkmobile around behind the Chevy dealer to a large flat spot. I figured if I have to start unloading, I wanted all the room I can get. Kerry sent a text to Steve Mick, ace videographer/master chef/purveyor of fine vodka that we were down and out behind the Chevy dealer. He replied to call him if we need a ride somewhere for parts. Kerry also called Ray Chevrolet, our local dealer in Cabot. Judy Ray got us in touch with one of her service techs who said, "Sounds like you've blown the cool air intake off. Put a hose clamp on it. Maybe it will hold, maybe it won't. Depends on how bad it blew." It blew bad.

Kevin Short
No easy way to get to these things, Short stands on a tire to get a better look.
I started punching buttons on Jill to find the nearest Chevy dealers to where we were, looking for one who might have this cool air intake tube thing that has us stranded. I called several around the Paris area and none had parts or service departments that are open on Saturday. How do people who work Monday through Friday get their vehicles serviced at a dealer if the service departments are only open on Monday through Friday? I scroll down the list and see "Country Chevrolet" in Benton, Kentucky. Hey, I know those guys. They take care of all the vehicles for FLW Outdoors. I won a Chevy truck at a BFL Regional several years ago that came from Country Chevrolet. Ring, ring.

Not only do they have a parts department open on Saturday, but Saturday is one of the busiest days for their service department. Imagine that. Phil in Parts wasn't understanding what I was looking for, but he went outside and opened the hood on a truck with a DuraMax engine as I described the part to him. Phil said he would see what he could find.

While we waited for Phil to call back, Steve Mick arrived on the scene. Mick took a quick peak under the hood and proclaimed "Looks like your Flux Capacitor has gone out. Gonna need a new one of those." Mick is a creative guy. Not a mechanic-y guy. Videos, photos, presto salad, grilled flank steak — he's your man. Ratchets and sockets and flux capacitors — maybe not the guy you want. But he was there to help and the help was much appreciated.

Phil from Country Chevrolet called back with the news; "That's your Charge Air Cooler Duct Assembly, GM Part number 25 94 85 58. That's a hard little booger to find. Looks like there's one in the country and it's in Texas."

One.

In Texas.

The curse broadens.

One Charge Air Cooler Duct Assembly, GM Part number 25 94 85 58 in Texas is not good for a guy in Tennessee who needs to be in Iowa tomorrow. Aftermarket part? Not a chance. This is a GM only thing, although there are aftermarket Cool Air Intakes that can be purchased. Not in Paris, TN, though. Already called NAPA, Advance Auto, and O'Reilly's. No joy.

"Can you take one off a new truck and replace it?" I had to ask. That is not normal operating procedure for a car dealer, but hey, who's to fault a guy for asking?

"Uh, you'll have to talk to the Service Manager on that one," Phil said.

"What's his name?"

"John."

"Thanks, Phil. I'll have my people call your people. We'll do lunch."

Kevin Short
Snaking in the new part.
A quick call to Judy at Ray Chevrolet (I figured that she might have a better chance at getting the part from a new vehicle than I would. Besides, she doesn't usually take "No" for an answer). She called back and said that John would be calling.

Mick had alerted Don Barone that we were having mechanical issues and were chasing down a part to get us back on the road. Barone texted back with "Is it an important part?" Again, Barone is in the same league with Mick on mechanic-y stuff. Writing, photo-ing — he's gold. Doing the grease monkey thing — probably not who you want on the team. But he was there to help if needed. "Is it an important part?" Pretty important, Don, since the truck won't go without it. Yeah.

John called. "I'll have to call the owner to run it by him before I take one of these off a new truck. It's his money sitting out there on the lot. I've done that before and gotten my butt chewed on. I'll call you back in a few minutes."

I understand about the butt chewin' part. Thanks for asking.

Five minutes later, John called back. "If you can bring me the old part, your VIN, and mileage, the owner said to do whatever it takes to get you back on the road."

Mike Reed at Country Chevrolet, you are the Savior of Stranded Bass Fishermen. You probably don't want the world to be reading that on the Internet, but not every dealer in the world has that attitude. I talked to several on Saturday that didn't.

"Be there within the hour, Phil. Thanks."

I grabbed the ratchet and threw down on the gravel to loosen the bottom clamp on the Flux Capacitor. After getting the FC loose, we had to figure out how to snake it up through all the other hoses and fittings, around the alternator, behind the battery, and out from under the hood. It was like one of those Rubik's Cubes with crooked steel tubing. "Damn, I hope I can get the new one back in there," I thought.

We hopped in Mick's Excursion and headed north to Benton and Country Chevrolet. We started off on the way to Benton at a high rate of speed only to be slowed by every slow driver in the universe on 641 North. Like one of those Stephen King movies where everything that can happen to keep the victim from surviving is happening. Happening in slo-o-o-ow mo-o-o-o-tion. I didn't think we would ever get to Country Chevrolet.

Nice dealership, nice people, and within 30 minutes, John and the crew at Country had taken the FC off a new 2500 HD and handed it to me. At the top of John's business card was the slogan "Whatever It Takes" and I for one think they truly mean it. Pretty hard to find customer service like that in this day and time.

Kevin Short
The Charge Air Cooler Duct Assembly, GM Part number 25 94 85 58/ Flux Capacitor.
The official assessment of what happened to the Charge Air Cooler Duct Assembly, GM Part number 25 94 85 58/ Flux Capacitor? John told Whitney, the service assistant, to put it down as "the turbo hose blowed". I can't make that up. I left the "blowed" turbo hose with John.

New Flux Capacitor in hand, we rolled back down 641 to the stranded K-Pinkmobile. The install was pretty routine; by that time, I was a regular Charge Air Cooler Duct Assembly/ Flux Capacitor installing expert. Nothing to it as Mick and I squirmed the new one down through the maze of hoses and parts under the hood. We tightened the clamp top and bottom and we were on our way.

Parting words from Mick at 2:30 were "Where are you guys going to go?"

"I don't care as long as it's out of Tennessee and Kentucky just as fast as we can go."

Meester, meester, get me out of here. Get me away from Kentucky Lake.

For more info on Kevin Short or to contact Kevin, check out his website at www.kfshort.com.