In this Crazy Tour Stories segment, the hard rock band, White Collar Sideshow, shares one of their stories from being on the road. You can check out the story, after the break.
On March 7, 2013, we were headed west on I-10 in California, looking forward to staying with our friends in Yucaipa for the next few nights. We had a show booked at TR!P in Santa Monica on the 9th. It was exciting because we also had an interview scheduled with FearNet, a cable channel that featured horror content-right up our alley. About 10 miles from our friend’s house, we heard a horrible knocking noise and black smoke was coming out of our exhaust. We immediately exited the interstate, pulled into a Jack In The Box and called for roadside assistance. They said they couldn’t make it out until the morning. My second call was to our mechanic back in Arkansas. He said it sounded like it could be a few things, maybe a fuel injector…maybe a blown engine. I’m sorry, what?!?! We had been touring full time for 5 years and for the first time ever, we had to get a tow. Thank the Lord for roadside assistance!! They dropped us off at the CAT dealership and I started reaching out to friends all over the Inland Empire. We had to go to the Caterpillar Service Center because we had a CAT 3116 diesel engine. Our tour vehicle, called The Winchester, was a 32’ Toterhome that we bought from a race car driver a few years prior. Being a Thursday, the Caterpillar Service Department said they would try to get us a quote on Friday but it would probably be Monday. Our drummer’s brother called and told us that his church back in Arkansas wanted to set us up with a hotel room for the weekend. I need to mention that at the time, we toured with two weenie dogs, so finding a dog friendly place to stay was important. Our friends in Yucaipa let us borrow their truck to tow our trailer, so that Friday, we were able to play the show and do the FearNet interview in Santa Monica. We tried to relax on Sunday…and Monday…then got the email on Tuesday morning…
These are pictures of your engine in your RV. Please review the engine needs to come out and needs to be replaced. The block is damaged.
Worst. Case. Scenario. I immediately called our mechanic back home and asked him to simply explain the situation. He said that the pump broke first so the piston was bouncing around the cylinder and since there is no sleeve, it’s all chewed up then the fuel injector broke, a tip broke off and a bolt is missing. Ready for the layman’s description? We needed a brand new engine. The quote he emailed was for $20,395 and let me know that a new one is cheaper than trying to rebuild the old one.
We were convinced we were done. Over. No more shows. No more band. We sat in the hot tub at Holiday Inn Express in Colton, CA and had a “cheers” for a good 5 year run. We weren’t sure how we were going to get back to Arkansas or what we were even going to do next, but we were convinced it was all over. We haven’t required contracts or guarantees for shows for over a decade now. We don’t have a rainy day fund. We live hand to mouth but we have always had our needs met. I decided to share the quote on our Facebook and explain what had happened. To our surprise, money started coming in. When we realized we might be able to get a new engine, we reached out to our local friends. Turns out, a dear friend had just bought a house and it was rock throwing distance from the CAT Service Center. He had power and water turned on but no furniture. His family worked together and got a few mattresses set up for us. Such a blessing. The dogs had a backyard and we had a place to hole up while we figured out our next steps. Within 5 days, we had received half the money so they were able to order the new engine and start the repair. They quoted 3 weeks for the fix. We had a show scheduled for a Sci-Fi/SteamPunk Convention at the end of the month in Denver that I didn’t want to cancel. We continued to update our community and more and more money came in.
As the repair was approaching the finish line, we stopped by the shop with a big pan of brownies. Nothing like a little chocolate motivation! On March 22nd, (only 10 days after receiving the quote) we went to settle up and drive away. The final bill was a little over $22,000. Our rep took the bill to the back and when he returned to the counter, they had knocked it down to $19090.05. I joke that I made a $3000 pan of brownies. Let me know if you want the recipe! Money continued to come in and I made a YouTube video to share our update and thank everyone. In 12 days, 89 people from across the globe donated $22533.59. Enough to cover the repair as well as the three year extended warranty. Someone on Facebook wrote, “Thank you for asking for help because it gives us an opportunity to give.” What a blessing each person was…everyone who donated, shared the posts, bought merch, prayed for us and stayed connected. We were able to make the show in Denver and continued to tour in The Winchester until we sold it last year. We have bought a new vehicle to transport our new show. It’s a 17’ Ford box truck and her name is Cherry Darling. We were so blessed by that experience with The Winchester, but we are praying we never have to live through that again.