Well, we made it through the storm. Hurricane Dolly landed about 70 miles north of the original plan which would have taken the route into northern Mexico. As everyone knows, the category II storm made a direct hit on South Padre Island, our location less than two weeks ago. Not only did the storm land north of expected location, it also continued northwest much farther into Texas than expected.
The wet and windy side of the hurricane is the northern side of the storm. Guess where we were? We saw quite a bit of rain and 20-30 MPH winds with gusted to about 45 MPH Wednesday night. Corpus Christi didn’t fare as well. They ended up with some 65 MPH gusts and quite a bit more rain.
We went to the Rockport shore this afternoon and noticed that the waves were pretty choppy and 3-4 feet high. These waves are “bay” waves since the area is protected by San Jose Island, one of the barrier islands along the Texas coast.
Anyway, our decision to stay put was a good one. We watched the storm closely and if it had come ashore another 40 miles farther north, we’d have been out of here.
On another subject. We are now better prepared to tackle the beach with the addition of our new 6000 lb winch. (The jeep weighs 3400 lb.) We picked up this winch on Ebay for $189.00, and the mounting bracket was purchased from JC Whitney for $79.00. The mounting bracket was equipped with mounting locations for the front roller. Since we wanted to keep the large bumper guard, we had a body shop install the winch, cut, modify and weld the guard to accept the mounting bracket. Assembly cost was $225.00. The total cost was $493.00 for an addition we hope never to use, except to extricate others from the sand.
It’s kind of cool. We have a wired remote and a wireless remote/key-chain that will operate the winch.
Now the bad news. We had noticed that our fuel mileage on the truck was getting worse when towing. We had lost about 30 percent of our efficiency. While we were at South Padre Island we noticed that the transmission was slipping when it wasn’t under a load. We dragged our 5th wheel back to Rockport and got recommendations as to transmission specialists that we should visit.
We settled on Cottman’s Transmission in Corpus Christi. After describing our problem and their diagnosis, we determined that our Banks Power torque converter had bitten the dust. It was failing to “lock-up” when necessary. A quick call to Banks determined that the warranty on our torque converter had expired a couple of months ago. They wanted $1960.00 for a replacement. If you add the $400.00 installation, we were over $2300.
Cottman’s offered to replace the unit for $800.00 including installation for a standard torque converter. Considering our typical use, we elected to replace the Banks unit with a heavy duty torque converter for $1650.00 including installation. The function of the torque converter is critical because our use of an exhaust brake and the TC must positively lock for proper function of the exhaust brake.