Part 16: Raton, NM and La Junta, CO


Navigation Links


The Trip

After spending the night on the summit of the Sangre de Christo range, we descended the eastern flanks and rolled into Raton, NM. One of our unimog buddies, Randy Lester, has a son who is attending fire fighter classes as part of the Raton Fire Department, so we decided to stop in and see him for the evening. We camped next to his rig at the local KOA and then went to dinner. The photos below are what we saw.

I spotted this horny toad in the parking lot next to our mog. So, I snatched him up and gave him to Kathleen. He was remarkably calm and let her hold him for almost 20 minutes before getting antsy. I got this shot just after he got seated in her hand. These reptiles eat ants in large quantities, so they are your friends.

We had dinner with Brian Lester at a local restaurant and the food was good. Next morning, we headed to La Junta, CO to see fellow moggers Rob and Erin Pickering. Rob offered his help in addressing my recurring brake issues. On the entrance to La Junta, we spotted this old ATSF steam engine.

We met Rob and Erin at their shop and we immediately dug into the brake system. Kai's conjecture was that there was "contamination" in the air system and that the contamination was interfering with the release of the brakes. The partial release was causing the pads to drag thus causing the brake fluid to boil out. Above is a shot of the air tanks before we tore it apart.

Oh, yeah. This is one of the banjo connections from the top tank. Note the goop inside the bolt.

Rob extracted the tank and put it on the floor. Note the band of rust on the right side. I have had my truck for almost 15 years and to the best of my knowledge, the air system has not been extracted for service. He did not believe that the pressure capacity of the tank was compromised by the rust, so we were going to clean it and re-install it "as-is".

Rob pulled the vent plug and stuck his finger in to sample the inside of the tank. Yuck! Kai was right. More right than I would have liked. The goop coated the entire inside of both tanks.

The inside of the vent plug was totally contaminated.

Rob decided to bring out the steam cleaner to wash the inside of the tanks. Each wash cycle dislodged more gunk.

Look at the crap that was washed out of the tank! This was perhaps 10% of the total garbage that we flushed out. Note that the chunks are quite big; more than big enough to cause the symptoms that we have been seeing with the brakes.

After we did a steam pressure wash for at least 2 cycles, we were still getting big chunks out. When we swabbed the inside of the tank with our fingers, there were gobs of stuff still remaining. Rob had some aggressive solvent that we put into the tanks and then sloshed around, rinsed and repeated.

After soaking, rinsing, soaking and then switching to a petrochemical solvent (AKA lacquer thinner), most of the darkness was gone. We turned our attention to the brake controller and took it apart to see what was up. As Kai predicted, there was contamination in the main cylinder. The dark spot at 5 o'clock is the vent port that was likely being plugged.

Those black chunks are more than big enough to cause the symptoms that we were experiencing.

After putting the air system back together and testing it, Rob changed the brake fluid with his pressure bleeder. We made a bit of a mess, but it worked great.

Mogs, mogs and more mogs. Rob repairs, refurbishes, sells and works unimogs as part of his business. Above is a diesel conversion 404 that belongs to one of his customers.

More of Rob's fleet.

Rob is selling his 1300 DOKA, and this one will be the next family truck.

Another member of the fleet.

One of Rob's customers rolled his new U500 with camper box. The damage to the cab was extensive requiring replacement of the cab. The rollover caused injuries, with the conclusion being that any accident is a bad accident.

Rob also had a number of older rigs, including several 411s.

The yellow U500 is one of the newer rigs in his fleet.

This 1200 is in great shape.

One of the vehicles at Rob's shop was this old 8x8 rig that was a Pershing missile launch control center in its previous life. The sides of the bed extend about 5 feet on either side to make a huge cabin. Rob has been using the vehicle as an elk hunting base camp that sleeps many folks comfortably.

Rob's Altar-proven 1300 DOKA is being repainted for sale to a customer.

Rob and Erin were kind enough to host us at their beautiful new home.

Rob and Erin are in the middle of a big landscaping effort involving sod, block and concrete. Above, the concrete contractor sprays sealer on the new stamped concrete slab.


We had a great time.

Navigation Links
Previous Adventure
Top of this Page
  Next Adventure

Trip Home Page

Bill Caid's Home Page

Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2008, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.