I am the sole developer on a 6 year old project involving multiple platforms. I have taken over maintaining this project and adding new features. In attempting to accomplish certain tasks, such as integrating a new data source, I find myself stuck in a complex (failing) build process, which results in a lot of error messages, missing files, and generally processes that I can't understand just by reading the code. There is very little documentation to how these processes are supposed to work, and there is very little documentation in the code itself.
All that said, I often have to email the previous developer who worked on the project to ask them questions about why X is failing to Y, or where is Z and what is it supposed to be doing? The problem is, this person has a full-time job and other responsibilities and is working as a part-time 'technical advisor'. They often takes 4-7 days to respond to emails (that I send approximately once every 3 weeks).
However, I must have deliverables every week - since I get stuck and can't proceed without the input of the previous developer, I sit around essentially accomplishing nothing. I also can't just walk over to this person's desk and ask directly because they don't live anywhere near me.
In the past, my boss has directly elevated the issue, but it usually takes him 3-5 days to do so, which isn't fast enough to solve the issue.
What are some methods of soliciting a faster response time from remote coworkers? This could be via email, Skype, etc. - are there methods that people generally respond to more quickly?