So, why am l sitting here in the parking lot of RPM Diesel Service in Grants Pass Oregon on Monday June 22nd? Well, long story short, l was on my way to Vancouver, Washington to pick up a 2007 C6 Corvette. My racing buddies, Steve Watkins and Jordan Hart, both race modern C5 Corvettes, and both are recent track champions. In fact, Steve just won two races and runner-upped in another race this last weekend driving his Corvette. I have decided to join in on the fun and get something more modern to be my street strip car. This 2007 Corvette had 110,000 miles, but the price was at least $7000 lower than any other C6 I could find, and that’s why I was on my way to the Northwest. Escaping the 115º+ temps may have also had something to do with my decision to take on this 2800 mile round trip drive. I love road trips, and l love Oregon this time of year, so away I went.
I was driving my ‘99 Ford F350 7.3 diesel pickup with a camper in the bed, so I had a home on wheels as I traveled. This was intended to be just a quick up and back adventure of maybe 4 days at the most. As I sit here at RPM Diesel, it’s already been 4 days and I still have at least 18 hours of driving back to Arizona AFTER I get the truck back. Breaking down in the middle of nowhere has been a lifelong fear of mine, so when the truck quit on Interstate 5 about 25 miles north of Grants Pass in the middle of the forest area at 9pm, that fear came roaring back to my mind. Here I was, broken down on the side of the road with cars and semi trucks whizzing by at 70+ miles an hour just 10 feet from my disabled rig. I won’t go into the gory details of getting a tow truck–let’s just say it was 3:30am when Josh the tow truck driver delivered me to the driveway of RPM Diesel in Grants Pass.
Josh would have been to me at least two hours earlier, if my insurance’s roadside assistance service had followed through with my case like they said they would. Josh and I hit it right off. He was great at his job and even crawled under the truck to disconnect the driveshaft, so the flat towing of the truck wouldn’t ruin the transmission. I was so appreciative of that, because laying under a broken down pickup truck in the dirt on the side of the freeway at 2am can’t be a fun job.
At 7:15am, Tom was the first to arrive at RPM Diesel, which officially opens at 8am. I explained my plight, and within minutes he had a scan tool and was trying to see what was wrong. A few minutes later, Dustin arrived, and pretty soon both of them were under the hood trying to figure out the problem–this is before the shop was even open. They just wanted to help a stranded traveler. My truck would not communicate with their scanners, so into the shop it was towed. They worked on the truck basically all day Friday, putting me ahead of at least six days of scheduled work in front of me. The mechanics were so professional in their work as they tried to diagnose what was wrong with my truck. At 4:45pm on Friday afternoon, the truck fired up but did not sound good. Tree, the shop foreman, had stayed after 5pm on Friday to see if there was any way to get me repaired, but it wasn’t meant to be. Before he left, he ordered two new parts to be there Monday morning. So, here I am on Monday morning, and again, Tom was the first to arrive and quickly usher me in.
After allowing me to stay inside their gated facility and hook up to their electricity so that l could use my camper’s A/C, they went right to work on the Ford. They installed those new parts and still the engine wouldn’t run right. They then ordered a new computer and had it fast-track delivered from the Portland area. At around 4:30, after the new computer was installed, it made NO DIFFERENCE, so they removed it. The shop closes at 5pm, but Tree wanted to try one more thing– he ordered another valve cover wiring harness, even though that was the very first new part they had installed early Friday. With this 2nd new part installed, the engine fired right up and ran perfectly. I knew that there was still at least another hour of miscellaneous new parts to remove or put back on to finish the job, so I told Tree that I was totally fine with waiting until Tuesday morning. After a long 11-hour day, I could tell he was good with that, but he still said he’d finish it if I wanted him to. He also told me that he wanted to let Jacob put everything back together, because he was the tech that had pulled everything apart and done much of the mechanical work, and that he also wanted to do a very thorough road test, just to make sure that the problem was solved. It’s interesting that the very first part they installed was the correct part, but even though it was brand new it was still defective, causing them to chase something else that might be wrong. They worked on my truck for many hours and did not charge me for nearly the true time involved and removed all of the new parts that didn’t fix the problem so they wouldn’t have to charge me. I had visions of $3000 to $4000 dancing in my head, but the bottom line I paid was less than $1,700 out the door, and that included two brand new Interstate Batteries to replace the 5 year old ones that were in the truck. They even installed new battery clamps on both batteries.
I wrote this story, because even though breaking down on the side of the freeway is very stressful, these wonderful people from RPM Diesel went over and above the call of duty to help a stranded Arizonan. They truly made me feel better about being an American, even though it seems like all we ever hear are the BAD things about America. I’m literally in tears thinking about this 7-day adventure, and no l did not end up buying that Corvette–I just wanted to get back home. The truck never missed a beat all the way home. THANK YOU SO MUCH, RPM DIESEL SERVICE AND THE TECHS THAT WORKED ON MY TRUCK, AND ESPECIALLY TO SHOP MANAGER TREE, AND TO THE OWNER, DONNIE.