12 December 2011
Yesterday we were finally able to take the truck for a proper Sunday drive… our first since Lawley Ford in Sierra Vista completed warranty repairs. During an earlier visit they updated the firmware and this time they replaced the high pressure fuel pump (plus a couple other things). They also discovered there’s a problem with our Banks 6-Gun Tuner and had to leave it disconnected. So this drive was to see if things really were running right and that there wasn’t something that went wonky after sitting for a week or so.
I’m happy to say the truck runs great! What’s more, the firmware update seems to have improved our fuel economy. Halleluiah! What an improvement. When we pulled out of our campsite our on-board mileage computer said 16.8 mpg. By the time we got back after 106 miles driving (including 1,500′ elevation change), the mileage was over 18 mpg. Granted we haven’t seen what happens with a real load pulling our trailer, but there is certainly an improvement running solo.
The best mileage we ever saw after installing the Banks tuner was just over 17 mpg running solo. So repairing and reinstalling the Banks tuner would mean we would have to settle for poorer fuel economy… we’re not gonna’ go there. So I think we’ll pass on rushing to get the tuner (harness?) repaired.
I have to believe that the other (non-tuner) Banks mods, i.e. the air cleaner + DPF-back exhaust system + inter-cooler, are probably part of the reason the mileage has improved compared to stock. Knowing what I know today, I’d probably pass on installing the expensive Banks 6-Gun tuner + iQ display since we aren’t interested in more power without improving fuel economy. Today I’d choose just the mechanical mods.
Our Montana has a rubber roof. Sort of. Montana covers the plywood roof with a thin rubber membrane. That rubber film does a good job keeping the roof water-tight and it can survive for many years with some care. But the rubber film will die in the sun unless it’s treated regularly. Montana says it should have a treatment every year to provide UV protection. Kinda like sunscreen for the roof.
Our winter-neighbor here in Benson has his New Horizon travel trailer washed & waxed every year by a local named Hooper. His rates are very reasonable and, for a small extra charge, he’ll use a special washing product which protects the rubber film. Our neighbor’s trailer always looks really nice, so we asked Hooper to do our Montana and to use the special rubber protectant.
It took Hooper quite awhile since he got delayed by wind and weather, but he finished a few days ago and what an improvement! I’d forgotten how much shinier the rig was when we first took delivery. Now it looks even better because the polymer-based wax (?) he uses has filled those microscopic scratches that buffing leaves behind. Now the rig fairly glistens in the sun and finally the decals have some protection too. At $5.50/foot + $25 for the special rubber protectant, we think it was a bargain.
We were a little disappointed to discover there was already some damage to the decals, though. We really needed to have done this last year. Now we have at least one location on the nose fairing where a decal is starting to curl (it hadn’t had any protection applied at the dealer). Plus there are a few places where rocks or bugs have nicked the decals and the white shows through. And these decals are supposedly the tougher variety that Montana uses now.
This is a la niña year and that means extra snow in Santa Fe. And apparently rain in Benson. Like Santa Fe, Benson had an essentially dry monsoon season. But now we’re sitting in our Montana watching everything get a good drink. There’s already been 0.3″ of slow steady rain. Not exactly what a person thinks of here in the desert, but an interesting change that is supposed to go on for a few days.