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No Power

The house was empty. Well, not quite. The rooms were full of memories and anger, my anger. I was mad at all the people who were jerking us around, and at God who was allowing them to do so.  No Power (Buyers From Perdition Part 2)  

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-Gramps-

 

Running Hot and Cold

Our travels have taken a turn for the hot lately.  We've been spending most of our time in southwestern Colorado, northeastern New Mexico and northern Arizona.  The temperatures we've faced have been moderate to cool.  Several weeks ago we decided to visit Louise sister in the Mohave Valley in western Arizona.  The elevation is 483 feet alongside the Colorado River.  Needless to say the temperature was quite a bit warmer than in the mountains and high elevations we were used to.  Temperatures were in the high 90's during the day.  We had a nice site at Moon River Resort with a little shade but not too much.  We enjoyed three days of visiting.  On Saturday we spent the day at Oatman visiting the donkeys that roam the town and doing some shopping before having a fine dinner at the Oatman Hotel.  Our next stop was Lake Havasu City.  This is where Louise's parents settled when they retired.  The state park was almost empty and we had a nice site with a view of the lake.  We visited the cemetery where her parents are buried and spent some time around town.  In Lake Havasu City, elevation 459 feet, the temperatures at sunrise were 90 degrees and it warmed into the mid 100's.  We took the Copper Canyon Sunset Cruise the night before leaving town.  The best part was the breeze when the boat was cruising.  We left town headed for Williams, Arizona.  We had stayed at the Canyon Hotel and RV Park in Williams, elevation 6924 feet, just a week before.  Returning, we were delighted to find more moderate temperatures again.  We were back to comfortable daytime temperatures in the upper 70's and low 80's.  We spent one day in Flagstaff at the Lowell Observatory.  The Lowell Observatory was built by Percival Lowell, an astronomer famous for his drawings of the canals on Mars.  This is also the observatory where Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto.  They have a spectacular program of lectures and tours of the telescopes that are well worth a visit.  The next morning we were on our way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  As busy as the South Rim is, the North Rim is uncrowded and very available.  We stayed at the Jacobs Lake Forest Service Campground, elevation 7900 feet which has no hookups but has some nice sites the will accommodate large RV's.  We ran the generator morning and evening to charge the batteries and only needed to run the furnace at night.  Air conditioning was never needed.  We were parked among trees and the daytime temperature was in the high 70's while the nights dipped into the high 40's.  We drove to the North Rim one morning and came back after dark.  There are many overlooks into the Grand Canyon and you can drive to each one.  There were plenty of parking places at each viewpoint.  There were never crowds at any place until we reached the visitors center and the lodge.  After a day of exploring along the northeastern reaches of the canyon we spent the evening at the Lodge and the viewpoints in that area.  It was a little early for dinner but Louise wanted to get dinner at the lodge so we asked and were given a table by one of the big windows overlooking the canyon.  Wow, was that a fantastic setting for dinner.  Louise had roast duck, I opted for the blackened chicken fettuccine Alfredo.  Both dishes were gourmet quality and the service was excellent.  Following our meal we made our way to the overlook below the lodge.  We enjoyed the view and visited with several of the people who were there.  Everyone was quite talkative, maybe the bar above had something to do with it.  From there we made our way to the Bright Angel Viewpoint to watch the sun set.  We drove back to the park and arrived by 8:00 p.m.  On the way back we saw a few cattle near the road (open range) and several deer but none challenged us for a spot on the road.   The next day we moved on to Hurricane, UT.  We stayed at Sand Hollow State Park, elevation 3040 feet.  We're back to warm again.  With highs in the upper 80's and nary a tree in sight, the air conditioners are running all day.  We are headed for Zion National Park tomorrow morning for a little hiking and exploring, then we'll leave for Las Vegas, elevation 1672 feet, on Friday.  Once more into the desert heat.  Maybe they will have a cool spell while we are there though the forecast calls for highs near 100. 

TBUTLER

TBUTLER

 

Replacement third brake light lens

I am looking for a replacement lens for the center brake light on our 03 journey.  The existing lens has faded a great deal. Winnebago has the entire assembly, but I was hoping to find a replacement lens.  Any ideas?

F233381

F233381

 

Celebrating National Parks

Happy birthday to our National Park Service.  One hundred years ago this week, Congress created the National Park Service.  There were national parks before the park service was created.  The park service became the agency that managed the national parks.  In the last few weeks we have visited four parks.  At each park we found amazing views, exciting experiences and crowds of people enjoying their heritage. Our first stop on the way west from Denver was the San Luis Valley of Colorado and Great Sand Dunes National Park.  The dune field at GSD is located on the east side of the San Luis Valley.  Winds picking up sand particles from the dry lake bed of the San Luis Valley drop them when they encounter the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  We've seen and walked dune fields before but these are unique for several reasons.  The highest dune in the field is over 600 feet high.  You can rent sand boards to surf the dunes and many people climb all the way to the top to do just that.  Younger sand surfers were busy learning on the lowest dunes.  But before you reach the dune field, you have to cross Medano Creek.  In the spring, Medano Creek carries large amounts of sand from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the southwestern edge of the dune field.  Choked with sand, the stream periodically experiences blockages and then breaks them creating pulses of water that people surf on.  In mid-summer the stream flow becomes more docile and it is filled with young children with buckets and shovels who enjoy a great cooling sandbox.  Shortly after we reached the dune field, the wind began to pick-up and we were treated to the marvel of dune formation.  Sand grains began dancing around our bare feet.  With each gust of wind the sands around us began to flow along the ground toward the dune field.  Our footprints in the sand were quickly turning into mini-dunes.  Moving on toward southwestern Colorado we stayed at a campground across Highway 160 from Mesa Verde National Park.  Mesa Verde is a very large park and features hundreds of cliff dwellings of the Pueblo people.  There are overlooks to view many of the cliff dwellings but the real highlight is to actually tour some of the dwellings.  There is currently one that can be toured on your own.  Another that was open to touring is currently off limits because of potential rockfall.  Ranger guided tours are available for three others.  To manage the size of the audience, you purchase tickets for each tour.  The ticket specifies the time of the tour.  Tours involve walking and climbing stairs or ladders.  To walk the ground where the Pueblo people lived and learn about their lives and their history in this area is an amazing experience.  There are also museum exhibits with some of the artifacts from the park.  A recent series of fires on the mesa has exposed hundreds of archaeological sites on the mesa surface.  Prior to the cliff dwellings, the population lived on the surface where they farmed.  The cliff dwellings are the final phase of their history at Mesa Verde.  After about 100 years living in the cliff dwellings they were abandoned as the Pueblo people moved on to other locations. In northeastern Arizona is Canyon de Chelly (pronounced Shey) National Monument.  A National Monument is designated by Presidential proclamation, National Parks are created by an act of Congress.  Canyon de Chelly is an example of a national monument.  It is administered by the National Park Service but has limited visitor information.  There are cliff dwellings at Canyon de Chelly but none are open to visitation.  There are places to view them from a distance.  One can be viewed up close by hiking two miles down into the canyon and back out.  We made that trek one afternoon.  Along the trail we encountered many Navajo people on their way to visit the cliff dwellings.  Near he site we witnessed a religious meeting of the Navajo people.  In fact, the national monument is located on the Navajo reservation and many of them live within the national monument.  Access to the canyon floor is limited to Navajo escorts at all other locations.  Jeep and horse tours are available.  The canyon itself is quite spectacular in its beautiful formations.  Sandstone layers were formed by ancient sand dunes that migrated over the area many millions of years ago.  The cross layering within each layer tells the story of the passage of another dune. From Canyon de Chelly we traveled to the granddaddy of all canyons, Grand Canyon National Park.  It had been a long time since either Louise or I had last visited the Grand Canyon.  Needless to say, things have changed.  Louise had been there as a young teen (no year given ), I was there in the late 70's.  While the experience was different, the park service is doing a wonderful job of managing the crowds and keeping the canyon accessible to all.  Visiting the south rim, large parking lots at the visitors center are the starting point.  There are shuttle buses, tour buses and a train to bring you to the park in addition to your own private vehicle.  Yes, they do have an RV parking lot.  Parking becomes difficult to find early in the day during the peak summer season.  Once at the visitors center, a bus system will transport you around the central park area and out to the viewpoints which are scattered along the canyon rim.  Walking part of the Canyon Rim trail gives you a constantly changing view of the canyon.  You can also ride the shuttle bus from one major viewpoint to another.  As interesting as the canyon was the amazing variety of people visiting the canyon.  Foreign languages were as common if not more common than English.  The story of the formation of the Grand Canyon is the story of Earth's history.  Along the rim trail there is a timeline of Earth history.  Markers on the trail about every 30 feet mark the passage of 10 million years.  Our national parks are a national treasure.  Our Senior Pass allows us free entry to these parks.  When we got our lifetime pass to these parks we became members of the National Park Foundation, a private foundation which assists in funding the parks.  It is a way for us to continue support of our parks while we enjoy our Senior Pass.  Find a park near you and drop by to visit this week. 

TBUTLER

TBUTLER

 

Where Is My Wallet?

Where is my wallet? (The Buyers From Perdition Part 1) I was in a panic condition….my head was buried in one of my wardrobe drawers looking desperately for my wallet, which of course, contained all my credit cards, driver's license and other important pieces of plastic. Read More!  

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Exploring Old Territory

This summer is our 15th summer on the road.  We've traveled in every state in the US (except Hawaii) and every province in Canada (except Nunavut).  Given that experience, there are still new things to do and see.  We left Scottsbluff, NE on August first headed for Denver.  We have family, a sister and daughter there and we've stopped there at least once every year.  Still, we found something new on this trip.  Louise's sister and her husband have now retired and we had a nice visit with them and their family.  We've done dinners out with Elaine and Lou before but this year we had the younger generation making suggestions for places to eat.  We found ourselves in old Arvada, a ten block area in the center of the old town.  The old town area is thriving as an evening hot spot for the younger generation.  Bars, restaurants and parks all with music make it a world of pleasant experiences.  The Grandview Tavern and Grill has a back yard patio and it made for a relaxing meal and conversation.  After enjoying a good meal we spent some time strolling the streets marveling at all the activity.  Lou and Elaine took us on a tour of the old town, pointing out points of interest and places with family connections.  Our next stop was the Old Arvada Tavern.  In Lou's memory, it was a rather drab old bar, a place he hung out while waiting to pick up his son from ball practice.  Today it is alive with young people.  Downstairs there is a full menu and the place was packed.  Our social advisors had directed us to take a right inside the entrance and go through the "telephone booth" to the upstairs.  We followed instructions and were welcomed into a world of entertainment.  Like many of the bars, this one featured live entertainment on the weekend.  The band for this evening was a bluegrass band.  They were just warming up and adjusting the sound.  We found a vacant table next to the stage.  I've never been a big fan of bluegrass but a live performance would be a first.  Once the band was warmed up they launched into their performance.  Watching the musicians and listening to the music was a real joy.  We stayed through the first set then retreated to quieter surroundings at their home for the rest of the evening.  After a week and a half in Denver we drove to Sheridan, WY to spend time with our daughter and her boyfriend.  Karen works in Westminster near Denver but is dating Brent who is living in Sheridan.  The occasion was the Sheridan Rodeo.  We settled into Peter D's RV Park for the week on Monday evening.  Tuesday morning we explored the town.  If we're going to spend a week here and there is going to be a crowd, we had better know our way around town.  We found the rodeo arena and got an idea of the schedule.  Wednesday evening we purchased tickets to the rodeo and watched the program on our own.  I had been to small town rodeo's years ago but this was a much bigger deal.  For Louise this was all new.  The evening began with the Indian Races.  Teams of Native Americans race around the track surrounding the arena.  Starting standing on the ground they have to mount their horse, no saddle, ride a loop then change to a new horse, off of one, on the next without assistance.  Run one more loop and change to a third horse for the final lap.  Pandemonium reigned at each change of the horses.  The rider had to do this unassisted.  Other team members were charged with managing the horses during the race.  Some horses had their own mind how this was all to work.  More than one horse ran a lap without a rider.  One rider chased the horse all the way around the track then grabbed the next horse and completed the race.  Another rider rand several hundred yards holding on the the horse's tail before giving up.  After four nights of racing, the team with the best time would claim a $10,000 prize.  Other events were pretty much what you can see on TV but far more exciting and amazing when watching it in person.  While in Sheridan, waiting for Karen to arrive for the weekend, we played a round of golf at the local golf course.  We also toured King's Ropes downtown.  This is a western store and more.  The Kings have been saddle makers for several generations.  They also stock a whole warehouse of ropes that are made on site.  You can watch the ropes being made by hand.  There are also several workstations for saddle work  You can drop off a saddle for repair or restoration or order your own custom saddle.  Behind the store is an amazing museum with hundreds of saddles of all kinds, photos, books, guns, spurs, cowboy gear of all kinds and old time photos.  You can stand in one place and look from ceiling to floor to see everything on display in that area.  We spent an hour and a half in a quick walk through.  Karen arrived late Friday so we met her and Brent at The Silver Spur for breakfast.  From there we were off to watch the bed races.  Teams with specially built beds race down the street for two blocks to a packed house on the sidewalks.  Fun is had by everyone.  To get front row seats, you have to park your lawn chair on main street Friday afternoon.  Following the bed races is the big parade.  This is a major parade with horses, cars, floats of all kinds, and audience participation.  Watchers and float riders battle with water cannons at various locations along the route.  Mars candy magnates live in the area and there is no shortage of Mars candy distributed along the route.  Lunch followed ant then I spent several hours at the Native American Pow Wow on the lawn of the Sheridan Inn.  Native dancers performed a variety of dances with narration to explain the significance of each dance.  We had ordered tickets for the Saturday night finals more than a month before the rodeo.  The grandstand was all sold out so we purchased tickets in what we learned was the new stands on the west side of the arena.  The rodeo clown labeled this area as the newbee section!  We had front row seats, just a fence separating us from the horses and livestock.  We were just a few yards from the gates and had a great view of the entire arena.  All the participants were pushing their limits for the final performance of the rodeo and the show was spectacular.  Sunday was a day to relax and wrap up visits.  We slept in then joined Brent's family for a birthday celebration for his sister.  We said good bye to Karen then returned to the park for the evening.  We would leave Monday morning to return to Denver for another week and a half.  On the way south we drove over the Bighorn Mountains enjoying the spectacular scenery on US Hwy 14. We stopped for a few days near Thermopolis, WY,  Camping at Boysen State Park.  One of the surprises of the trip was our entrance into Thermopolis.  The hot springs there has a spectacular travertine terrace visible from the road as you enter the northern end of town.  There are several venues offering hot springs for swimming and soaking.  The grounds are pleasant to walk, offering great views of the spring and the mineral shelf.  Just south of Thermopolis is the Wedding of the Waters.  An informational display marks the place where the Wind River changes its name to the Bighorn River.  The river was given different names upriver and at the mouth and when it became apparent that it was the same river a compromise arrangement was to use both names for the same river.  The Wedding of the Waters marks the location where the name changes.  Up stream, the Wind River Canyon is a spectacular sight.  At the upper end of the canyon is Boyson Dam and Reservoir.  There are numerous campgrounds there, above and below the dam.  All campgrounds are dry without electric which made the stay a little uncomfortable with temperatures near 100 during the day.  Fortunately, breezes off the lake made for cooler evening temperatures.  We stopped in Rawlings on Wednesday night and spent Thursday night at Cummins Rocky Mountain in anticipation of scheduled maintenance on Friday.  We were in and out Friday morning and into Dakota Ridge RV Park that afternoon. 

TBUTLER

TBUTLER

 

On the Road Again

Our summer travels began in April with a trip to Rusk, Texas for a Lone Star Chapter Rally that included a train ride on the Texas State Railroad.  The trip from Rusk to Palestine takes about an hour at 20 miles per hour.  They turn the steam engine around on a triangle track then return to Rusk.  It's a good time getting together with friends and making new friends.  As chapter participants, Louise and I are fickle.  Like our trips to FMCA National Conventions, we'll get there if it is on our way for our summer travels.  We have never been weekend RV'ers.  When we go, we're on the road for months and our journeys are usually guided by family commitments or vast travel plans like our 2006 trip to Alaska.  So this summer we're out West while FMCA rallies in Massachusetts.  Last year we were in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine on our way to Newfoundland and Labrador.  Maybe next year we'll synchronize our travels with FMCA. Leaving Rusk, we were headed for eastern Missouri to visit family.  Louise suggested that we make a stop in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  She was thinking horse races but the horses weren't running, the season hadn't started.  So we did the hot baths.  The real old fashioned ones at the Buckstaff Bath House, a hot soak in spring water so hot they have to add cold water, loofa sponge scrub, a Sitz bath, 360o needle shower, massage and hot wax for the hands.  Follow that with breakfast at The Pancake House and you have a great day ahead of you!  We strolled the shops and stores collecting fun stuff along the way, custom soaps for the ladies in the family, wine souvenirs for our wine lovers.  We drove the scenic drives and enjoyed an overview of the area from the tower atop Hot Springs Mountain.  Arriving in Missouri we took care of doctors appointments then turned our attention to our children and grandchildren.  Our oldest grandson turned16 last month.  His sister just turned 13.  Mom and dad have their hands full and grandpa and grandma are just grinning!  We have another grandson who will be 16 in November.  He and his dad just took a trip to northern Illinois to get a 1979 Trans Am for his car.  He has a sister who will be 12 and a young brother who is on his way to being 3.  He also has a girlfriend.  Grandpa and grandma are laughing!  Actually, we are quite impressed with the parenting that our children are doing.  They are active parents, involved in their children's lives and doing their best to encourage their children and keeping them involved in school and community.  While we were there we monitored my youngest sister who has gone through a radical masectomy and chemotherapy.  We just received a message from her husband, the reconstructive surgery is complete and she is healing.  We are hoping that this will now be behind her so she get on with her life. From Missouri we headed west for a short visit with our friends in Yankton, South Dakota.  Bill and Laura sold their motor home last year but we still like them.   Louise was nursing a sore toe so she wasn't exactly running about.  I played golf several times with Bill and a neighbor and even lent a hand with "The First Tee" instruction one day.  We visited the National Music Museum in Vermillion one day and I highly recommend this as a destination for those interested in music.  One of the unique features of this museum is the iPod guided tour that describes a small percentage of the instruments on display.  That narration is also accompanied by, what else, music.  In fact they have the various instruments that are highlighted playing in the background.  You can see the instrument and also hear it.  What a spectacular experience.  We followed that with lunch and then a visit to Valiant Vineyards in Vermillion.  We also enjoyed an evening concert in the park next to the Missouri River in Yankton.  Evenings were spent in competition as we faced off, playing a variety of games.  The highlight of the visit had to be Czech Days in Tabor, SD.  We had lunch, toured some of the town, enjoyed a celebratory Mass and choir performance, Bill and Laura sang in the choir.  Then there was the beer garden with imported Czech beer.  The evening featured Czech dancers performing traditional dances. In late June we headed for Deadwood, SD.  We have been through the Black Hills on many occasions but never been to Deadwood so it was our objective on this visit.  Our campground was humble, narrow sites on gravel.  The town was filled with visitors on the weekend and so did the campground.  From the campground we were able to walk through town and when the day wore on we could take a shuttle back to the park.  With casinos, bars and gunfights in the streets, it doesn't sound like a family kind of place, but it is and there were many families.  The museum in town is a first class museum highlighting the history of Deadwood.  They have an extensive collection of wagons, buggies, stagecoaches, horse drawn hearses and more in the basement of the museum.  We enjoyed all of Deadwood including Saloon Number 10 featuring the murder of Wild Bill Hitchcock and the trial of the killer.  In every case, the professional actors involved children in the skit and took time to detail the actual history as the dramatization took place.  Sunday we did the cemetery tour and then hiked to the Friendship Tower on Mount Roosevelt which overlooks the northern end of the Black Hills.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable visit. To the south of the Black Hills in Nebraska is Scottsbluff.  We had passed through the area several years ago and it looked worth a stop so we made a three day stop there.  This is a prime area for learning about the Oregon Trail and the Great Plains in the mid 1800's.  We drove to the top of Scott's Bluff National Monument and hiked trails to various overlooks on the prairie, played golf at Monument Shadows golf course just below the bluff, and toured the Museum of the Prairie.  The various stories and exhibits transported us to a time of incredible hardship as the pioneers struggled to make their way west through what was at the time a very hostile area.  One hundred and seventy years later, it is hard to imagine that times could be so hard and now the plains so much different now.  In 2004 we followed Lewis and Clark across the country and I had the same impression, from wilderness with life and death struggles to modern times, the world has been radically changed in just the last few hundred years.  That statement comes from the perspective of someone who has lived a significant portion of one hundred years.  Next we continue to push west...    

TBUTLER

TBUTLER

 

Residential refrigerator Installation

Well the new residential Fridge is in. I had it done at RV Services in Ashland, VA. They did a great job. They were able to take the old one out and move the new one in though the passenger side window over the couch. They had to trim the fridge space opening frame just a small bit. They widened the front frame by about an inch and the height by about 3 - 4 inches. I will add a piece of quarter round trip on the right side but overall it's a done deal. Wife loves it. Definitely won't have any problem keeping the beer and soda cold.  Also had the oil changed, fuel filter changed, and chassis lubricated.   .

oldgrape

oldgrape

 

Just a House with Wheels

So as time passes with RV ownership I find it really is like a house, projects never end. We have barely owned our 06 Tour for two years and the wife's list has not gotten any smaller. So far we have had the flooring replaced with laminate, both dash and outside radios replaced, 2 of the 3 TVs replaced with LCD/LED TVs, replace cloth couch with leather one, and found a remnant piece of Corian for the table that matched the counter top exactly. I installed a WIFI antenna on my TV antenna and had the front end, front cap, and the side gutter areas repainted due to the clear coat peeling off. I just finished installing a LED flat rope light on slide awning cover on the passenger side. Snaked the wires through the Microwave vent opening. Also slowly replacing all of my interior and porch lights with LEDs. The next items on the list are replacing the Norcold with a residential refrigerator (this week) and two new captain's chairs for the front. We'll be doing that in 2 or 3 weeks.

We also want to re-upholster the window trim boxes. I can't remember what they are called . We plan to move the TV in the bedroom and use the space to add a separate, stacked, washer and dryer.

oldgrape

oldgrape

 

The Beginning

Our RV lifestyle began just about 2 years ago. For a few years my wife and I would see RVs pass us on the roads and we'd both say that we ill do that when I retire. Then about two and a half years ago we went to an RV show in Hampton, VA. That put a bug in our ears that we could not shake. Also the more we thought about it we realized waiting till I retired was not a very good plan. My Dad's health deteriorated very quickly after he retired when he was 65. He was a heavy smoker, drinker, and pretty much that is what really got him. But you just don't know what will happen and waiting for a pie in the eventual sky was not a plan the wife and I wanted to follow any longer. So we started looking. We test drove a class C and A. We decide a class A was for us. So I scoured the internet. Came close to a deal a couple times but just did not close the deal. I searched many dealers' websites, EBAY, and Craig's List. We finally saw something down in Florida at Lazy Days. After a week or so of phone calls and emails we hit the road to Florida and to buy a RV. The RV was a Class A 2005 Damon Day Break 35 footer with a gas engine. The interior was immaculate. They showed us how to work everything, The deal was done and we hit the road. Now that coach was an "As is" coach and my salesman (sold insurance previously) was almost as new to the industry as we were. So we made it back to VA with no problems. Took it into the local RV dealer to get the safety inspection and a complete once over. That is when the other shoe hit the ground. The frame under the coach was severely rusted. The leveling jacks were barely still attached. The generator mounting frame was so rusted that the mechanic warned us to not use the generator cause the vibration would probably cause it to fall off the coach. The coach did not pass the safety inspection. Technically there was no one to blame but myself for not requiring a complete check out by a third party down in Florida before I actually signed on the dotted line. To say the least we were heart broken and very upset. I contacted the dealer in Florida and informed them of the issues. We were greatly surprised when Lazy Days told us to bring it back and they would basically cancel the deal. They would also help us to find another coach in better condition. So the end result was we ended up with our 2006 Winnebago Tour 40KD diesel pusher. We love it. And that is how we began. We have been down to Kitty Hawk and the NC Outer Banks, Lake Gaston, a couple camp grounds in Florida, and a couple here in VA with our granddaughters. That has been worth all the ups and downs. They are both at the age that they may want to go with us one or two more times but not sure. But we have the last two years of them going with us that they will remember and so will we!

oldgrape

oldgrape

 

2004 Itasca Horizon

We bought our coach last February and have been having a/c issues since last summer. It has a TrueAir basement system, which we thought we would love. The heating system works great but the cooling system can't seem to keep up with temperatures at 90 and above. We have had to replace circuit boards, a relay switch, both blower motors and a fan over the course of a year. Each time we think it's fixed for good as soon as the temperature gets really hot it still can't keep up.  As we speak, they're now doing a freon check (because the temperature coming out of the vents is reading slightly higher than it should be). If it's a freon leak we will probably get two new compressors.  If not, the Tech is saying that brand just may be putting out as much cooling as it can( as with the factory installed units on all Alfa motorhomes. That company then started offering an option of adding a rooftop unit to compensate for the basement unit.)  Our Tech is suggesting we may have to do the same.  We have an extended warranty and so far they won't authorize a new unit because we haven't completely exhausted all possible solutions. Can anyone contribute any advise/solutions on this? We love the coach but this is driving us crazy.  A rooftop unit would be installed in a cut out already housing a vent so the job would probably cost about $1200. It would be located in a central area so air flow would supposedly flow forward and back.  Spending the money on this is one thing...as long as it solves the problem.

jananddave

jananddave

 

Tire Insurance

Can anyone recommend a tire insurance company that actually delivers on advertised promises in the event we should have a tire issue while traveling.

Baystar57

Baystar57

 

Living Small

LIVING SMALL May 22, 2016 From my Blog: My rules for full time living in a small space, that happens to be on wheels.        LIVING SMALL-JUST CLICK HERE (but you knew that already!)  

-Gramps-

-Gramps-

 

How to Drive Your RV Partner Nuts

When I think about RV travel, I envision places, destinations, camping, adventure, and the open road.  There's also lots of mechanical and how to stuff that comes to mind. But RVing is also a people activity.  It can be done with groups, by couples, or solo.  I have yet to RV with a group, but I've done it with my wife, son, and solo.  I don't mind traveling solo.  But, having a partner along to share the fun and adventure with enhances the whole RV travel experience. There are blogs and articles written about how to do solo RV travel.  But, I haven't seen much written about the interpersonal aspects of RV travel.  And, that got me thinking about this subject. I was going to write a piece about how to enjoy RVing with your partner.  But, then I turned it around and thought, perhaps writing an antithesis piece on this subject would be more fun. Being married for almost 40 years, my wife and I have quite a bit of experience in driving each other nuts.  In fact, I may be an expert at it.  My wife and I are polar opposites.  She's an extrovert and I'm an introvert.  She's left brain and I'm right brain.  She's a touchy feely socialite and I'm analytical loner.  But most of the time it works really good for us because we complement each other and fill in each others gaps. Author Robert Fulghum said - "Where ever you go, there you are."  When we're RVing, our personalities and behaviors come with us.   I can attest that what drives us nuts in our normal life, also drives us nuts in our RV life.  Driving someone nuts is not all bad.  It's just part of normal life.  We are all capable of doing it.  When traveling with a partner it's good to know what some of the triggers and behaviors are so you can minimize the breakage and misery. I know from my experiences that these nine things can drive your RV partner nuts! 1. Never Doing What Your Partner Wants A trip plan / idea has to start with someone.  On many trips, I usually take the lead on the trip planning.  But, not soliciting input from my wife on the timing, schedule, places, or attractions is a sure recipe for a trip disaster.  Also, not listening to her ideas on things to do is just asking for fight and will easily lead to items #3, #6, and # 7. I always review a trip idea and potential schedule with my wife before I book anything.  I know how she likes to travel so I plan accordingly - no long drive days and plenty of rest stops.  I also try not to over schedule so there's extra time for unexpected stuff that she might come up with. 2. Over Reacting to Little Annoying Stuff I've been guilty of this.  Your partner cooks a meal and sets off the fire alarm in the RV.  How about flushing the toilet while you're flushing the black tanks.  Or, your partner doesn't understand conserving power while boondocking and drains the house batteries by leaving all the lights on for hours. Some of this stuff can be maddening.  But I have to remind myself - it's all little stuff, it's all easily fixable, and not worth having a hissy fit over. 3. Holding a Grudge The small confines of an RV are a bad place to hold a grudge.  Driving down the road with hours of the silent treatment takes the fun right out of a trip like a flat tire. When I sense that something is bothering my wife, I try to get the issue out and discuss it.  At least we're talking.  And I try to resolve the issue before nightfall so we don't ruin another day.  If it was something I did, I am quick to apologize and try to make amends.  And, I try to remember the adage - "Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?" 4. Not Sharing the Work I don't expect my wife to do all the cooking and cleaning on a trip.  We share the chores.  I cook about half the time and do my own laundry.  When traveling we've worked out our routines.  I do the driving. She cleans out the RV when we stop, helps with the setup, and keeps me fed with snacks and treats when we're on the road.  We've found a good balance so no one person feels overburdened. 5. Constant Critiques This rarely happens with me or my wife, but it is one I'm sensitive to.  I have certain codes of conduct that I live by.  One of those codes is to never ever criticize or make fun of your partner in public.  Also, if you feel you have to give a critique, then pick the right time, say what you need to, and be done with it.  Don't belabor a point or constantly relive a bad experience.  Constant critiques will lead to the next item. 6. Not Wanting to Be on the Trip Traveling with someone who is miserable is no fun.  My wife doesn't enjoy traveling as much as I do.  So, when contemplating a trip, I always make the offer to my wife - "Is this something you want to do or do you want to pass?"   I don't want my wife to feel pressured to do something she won't enjoy.  It's no fun for her and no fun for me.  That's the main reason I travel solo at times.  My wife is fine with me going off on a solo trip.  She's not holding me back and I'm not imposing something on her.  If a trip isn't going well, it's best to turn around and head home.  RVing shouldn't be the source of misery. 7. Non Stop Texting & Talking on Your Cell Phone This is sort of related to #6 above and a pet peeve of mine.  If you can't be present on a trip or can't stand to be away from your friends, then don't go on the trip.  It's fine to be sending pictures and messages to friends while on a trip and to stay in touch with family and friends.  And, if a real family or friend emergency comes up, then you need to deal with it. But, ignoring your partner so you can be consumed with the daily minutiae of your friends lives or spending the day on the phone helping them deal with their child's latest bad behavior crisis, is bad behavior in my book.  It doesn't happen often but when it does, it drives me nuts. 8. Not Giving Your Partner Girl / Guy Down Time RV travel can foster closeness with your partner.  But unlike being at home, when you're in the RV there may not be many opportunities to go off and have some girl time or do some male bonding.  I'm sensitive to this.  My wife needs her nap time, shopping time, Facebook time with friends, etc.  Every so often I need to go off and do some male bonding or zone out on TV sports.  Not respecting these needs will cause discord.  My wife and I are pretty good at respecting each others needs for down/alone time. 9. Driving Around Aimlessly This one drives my wife nuts. Trying to find a place to park the RV when out shopping or dining can sometimes be a challenge.  I'm a little picky about where I leave my RV.  I want enough space to get in and out  and need a space that's fairly level.  My wife doesn't seem to fully appreciate this because she doesn't drive the RV.  So, when she catches me driving around searching for the right spot, it drives her nuts.  It's right up there with being lost and not asking directions. I know this behavior can set her off.  So, I have to prep her, keep talking about what I'm trying to do, give assurances, and make fun of myself when I'm caught driving around aimlessly.  Otherwise, there's a risk of getting the silent treatment. So that's my list.  My wife helped contributed to the list so it's really our list.  Such a list may make us look like a couple of psychos, but we're two lunatics who love each other and most of the time enjoy traveling together.  We've learned to be aware of each others crazy quirks and are doing our best to deal with them or make light of them. Driving each other nuts has been part of our 40-year journey.  It's not all bad, because driving another person nuts is one of the key features of real true love! Follow more of my travels at:  http://jdawgjourneys.com

italo

italo

 

Fulltimers

.. We are now fulltimers...no stickhouse to worry about... http://www.myrandomviews.com/blog/2016/4/20/full-time-here-we-are

-Gramps-

-Gramps-

 

Depreciation

Here is something worth posting again from my blog here, now moved to my own blog page
Depreciation:

This subject pops up every now and then in the Internet forums, rv.net, IRV2.com, FMCA.com, where I hang about on a regular basis. It may be a post titled "Is your Class A a Money pit?" or "A motor home costs a whole lot more than you think it does!" The people who post these kinds of entries may or may not really have a problem with what a coach or any other large RV may cost. They might just be bored. It's Sunday night and the DW is watching "Real Housewives of xxx", so there is nothing better for them to do than post some sad story about how broke owning a coach is making them.

The last time I saw one of these threads, I responded to it. I said that owning a motor coach is like having kids. You make a huge financial investment, with no return, but they make lots of good memories, are good for the soul, and will greatly improve one's life if you let them.

I believe the RV lifestyle is under-appreciated by most people who are not part of it and also by some who are. Becoming a Motor Coacher has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me and my wife. Has owning one depleted my bank account? I suppose it has, but then, maybe not.

I might have put away the money that I spend each month paying for my coach. I might have put away the money I spend on trips, including gas and food and camping fees, but I doubt it. I would have spent all of my trip and fuel money on airplane tickets, hotel rooms and cruise ships, or something else. The chances are that even if I did save it, a lot of the money could still have disappeared without me spending a dime of it.

The present economic situation has poked a whole lot of holes in a lot of financial balloons. I just try to take advantage of what our coach can do for us. I may have to spend money on gas, a new water pump to replace a squirting frozen one, new wiper blades to replace frozen ones, a new water filter to replace a cracked and frozen one, but considering what our coach does for us it is worth it.

I can tell you this that minus the monthly payment, the time I have spent in Florida, which included eight nights at Disney World, didn't cost us much at all. Not when compared to what two weeks would have cost staying in fancy hotels and eating out. I wish I could have stayed there a lot longer. Responsibilities called me home.

Home is a very subjective word when you own a motor coach. Home is where my coach is. I felt quite at home in Fort Wilderness. As a matter of fact, the guard who checked us in said, "Welcome home, Mr. Parker."

It was home. A few years ago we spent New Year's Eve in Saint Augustine and the next day climbed a lighthouse. My daughter was there and my son-in-law and my grandson. My wife was there and so was Teddy Bear. I had my favorite DVDs, my favorite beer, my favorite books, some of them anyway, and the things I like to eat the most. I also had great cable TV.

At night we listened to music coming from the Disney Parks. We also heard the fireworks and, if we walked a little ways from our site, could see them, just over the tops of the trees. If we wanted to ride the monorail, we did. If we wanted to take a boat ride, we did that, too. We went to one park, and saw Cirque Du Soleil, followed by sushi at Wolfgang Pucks. We pin traded, we took Teddy to the Waggin Tails Dog Park. We basked in the 70-degree sunshine. We even had the pleasure of spending time with our friends Gary and Janis. What could be better than that?

It was wonderful. It was wonderful until we had to say good-bye. We had to say good-bye to the warmth of our surroundings, our friends and our family. We said good-bye and then made our way back north. We came back to the cold, to work and to our son, daughter and grandsons, whom we missed a lot.

It won't be long before we take our motorhome back out on the road and enjoy another great trip. We will make new friends and see new places.

So, I don't worry about "depreciation" I try to appreciate the emotional and spiritual return I get from my poor financial investment. I hope that all my fellow Coachers and RVers do the same.

Derrick
aka "Gramps"  http://www.myrandamviews.com

-Gramps-

-Gramps-

 

How Much Does an RV Lifestyle Cost?

This question is not a new one. Just do a Google search with the words - "the cost of rving" and you'll see lots of articles from RVer's detailing their costs. But, it's a question that seems to keep surfacing. I recently got some emails asking about the cost of RVing. I also got an email from someone asking if I would write a blog post about how to travel frugally in an RV. I'm not into writing "how to" articles or into giving advice. Also, there's already bloggers who do a really good job covering the frugal RV travel subject. But the emails got me thinking. There's probably folks who read travel blogs or articles and aspire to get into RVing. They probably have questions about what it costs. Not about the cost to buy a rig but what it typically costs to travel in an RV. The idea for what I could write began to jell. I could do a post to share my insights and info about what an RV lifestyle really costs. And, while writing it, I'd figure out what it's really costing me. Before I spent any money on RVing, I first had to answer some questions. Planning My RV Lifestyle The first thing I had to figure out was what type of RVer I wanted to be when I grow up. Was I ready to sell the homestead and go full-time or just be a part-time RVer? Was this RV travel idea just a temporary itch that needed to be scratched (like a one time year-long trip around the United States) or a permanent part of how I wanted to live? Did I want to do road trips and always be on the road or do more stay put seasonal RVing? I figured out that I wanted to be a traveler and spend much of my retirement years exploring the United States. My wife wasn't into doing all the travel but she was fine with me traveling solo. We weren't ready to uproot and sell our house, so I'd be traveling part-time. I also wanted to do a little seasonal stay put RVing (e.g. wintering in Florida, vacationing in Maine). My RV lifestyle also needed to support my regular lifestyle. I'm a minimalist and somewhat frugal person. I like to keep things simple. I also needed to travel within my means. Figuring this out was key to determining the type of RV I wanted and it was a driver in what my RV lifestyle would cost. The Costs are All Relative For me, my RV lifestyle is an added expense to my current living expenses. It hasn't displaced too many costs. I look at it as all relative to my current living expenses. Many things like food, health insurance, medical bills, taxes, car maintenance, property maintenance, other insurances, utilities, clothing, cell phones, and entertainment have all stayed pretty much the same since I started traveling. Some have gone down slightly. I don't drive my car as much anymore, especially when I'm in FL, so I am saving some of fuel. Also, my electric bill goes down when I'm traveling and in Florida. I also got rid of the newspaper delivery, all subscriptions, cut my cable TV, and got rid to my land line. I did some of these things before I started traveling and even more after because I saw less value in them. But, my RV lifestyle did add new expenses and those are the ones I'll discuss - the ones that are directly related to my RV travel. I won't get into minutia with spreadsheets of costs. I'll keep it simple and put them into three categories - RV Related, Fuel, and Lodging. RV Related Expense The upfront cost of an RV can be the biggest expense in an RV lifestyle. Which one you buy is all related to what type of RVer you want to be. Towable versus motorhome. Class A bus versus Class B van. Gas versus Diesel. New vs Used. And the costs for RV's are all over the place. You can buy a used towable for $5,000 or spend $500,000 on an upscale diesel pusher. Which one a person buys is all based on that person's needs and budget. I won't try to answer the question of which one is the right one to buy. The only right answer is the one that's right for you at the moment. But, the type of RV will be a factor in the ongoing RV maintenance and related expenses. I wanted an RV to support road trip type travel. I wanted something I could drive anywhere. I wanted something that would be efficient and not be costly to maintain. I wanted something I could live comfortably in for weeks or months at a time. My first RV was a Class B Roadtrek van. That RV fit all my needs except the "live comfortably in for weeks or months at a time". After two years, I traded the Roadtrek for a Class C Winnebago View Profile. The View provided just the right amount of added space and was still small enough to be able to go anywhere. I wrote about my experience with the View in this post - My Winnebago View - A Two Year Summary. My ongoing annual RV related expense for the View over the past two years have been as follows: RV Maintenance: $1,800
RV Vehicle Insurance: $763
RV Excise Tax: $1,081
RV Registration & Inspection: $79
Incidental Expenses: $375
Total $4,098 The RV Excise Tax expense is a value related tax that applies to my domicile state. Not all states have this tax or they may call it a license tax. Some have personal property taxes instead. Some states don't have this type of tax. There are some incidental expenses that come up like replacing a sewer hose each year or replacing RV parts that break. This might total around $200 each year. Also, there's memberships (FMCA, Coach-Net, Good Sam) that total $175 each year. These expenses are specific to my RV and they're some what static. The Excise Tax reduces as the value of the RV goes down. I do some of the routine maintenance on the RV (oil and filters) to save a few bucks. Fuel This expense is driven by how many miles I travel, the fuel efficiency of my RV, and the price of fuel. I drive all over the country each year and log about 20,000 miles per year. Some drive more and some drive less. If you stay in a certain geographic area, then it's easy to limit the miles you drive and save money on fuel. My RV is a very fuel-efficient vehicle. I average 16.5 miles per gallon. Some days I get 18 mpg and some days I get 14 mpg. At 16.5 mpg, driving 20,000 miles per year, I burn about 1,212 gallons of fuel per year. My RV uses diesel fuel. This year the price of fuel has been falling, which has been great. Using an average of $2.30 per gallon (It's lower now), my cost for fuel last year was about $2,800. Last year, when diesel was close $3.80 per gallon, my cost was $4,600. Price is a big factor as is efficiency. If I had a similar sized gas RV that got 8-9 mpg, my fuel cost would almost double. The fuel efficiency of my a rig was a big factor in selecting my specific RV because I planned to drive a lot each year. If you don't drive a lot then fuel efficiency will be less important. Lodging By far, the largest RV lifestyle expense can be for parking the RV overnight. It's also the one that can be controlled the most by where and how often you travel. Campgrounds and RV parks all charge fees for overnight stays. The rates can be all over the place based on type and location. National and State Parks usually have rates lower than private campgrounds. I've seen fees typically in the range of $20-30 per night. Some places with minimal facilities can be as low as $12 per night. These places may be lower in cost but they're also at some of the most beautiful places. Private campgrounds or RV parks are usually slightly higher in cost. These usually can be in the range of $30-$45 per night, but it can go a lot higher. I've seen some high-end RV parks in Florida with water front sites charging over $100 per night. Prices at private campgrounds can also vary by season or special event. Campgrounds near Daytona all raise their rates for Speedweek and Bike Week. RV parks tend to have more amenities like full hookups, wi-fi, swimming pools, and cable TV. And some offer discounts for weekly or monthly stays. But there's also some places where you can stay for free. Many federal lands such as Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or US Forest Service areas allow free camping for a certain limited time period. These areas are usually undeveloped (undeveloped = no hookups or facilities) and many are in the western states. A good resource to find these areas can be found at this website : Ultimate Campgrounds. It's also possible to park overnight for free at many Wal-Mart, Cracker Barrel Restaurants, and truck stops. The OvernightRVParking website is a great resource to find these locations. It cost $25 per year to use this website, but it pays for itself with just one overnight stay. The key to staying at these places is to always ask permission to see if overnight parking is allowed. When I travel across country, I try to stay at truck stops or Wal-Mart while I'm going to or from a destination. Once at a destination, I usually stay at public or private campgrounds. When on a road trip, I try to use free overnight stays about 15-20% of the time to save some money. When I'm in Florida or on a stay put vacation, I'll stay at a campground of RV park because I want water and electricity hook ups. I don't track my detail expenses in this area. I'm usually in FL for at least 12 weeks each year and stay at an RV park. That's my largest lodging expense at around $4,200. There's another 12 weeks of road trip and vacation travel that I do each year. Looking at the number of days and an average rate, I probably spend another $2,100 for that lodging. That adds up to around $6,300 for lodging for about 6 months of travel. Many probably pay much less for lodging. You can boondock in Quartzsite, Arizona for the whole winter for less than $200. You can find RV parks in California, Arizona, or Florida that have monthly winter rates for around $500. If you're don't care so much about location and don't want to pay a lot there are many opportunities to save money on lodging expenses. And there's some who do all their road trips staying at truck stops or Wal-Mart. Summary So, I figured out what it's costing me for my RV lifestyle. It adds up to around $13,198 per year for me to be part-time RVer. I didn't include food as an RV travel expense because I pretty much eat the same or more simply on the road as I would at home. There are also some incidental expenses like tolls and propane for the RV that are minimal (maybe $250 per year). I buy a National Park pass each year for $80 which gets me into all National Parks / Monuments for free. I'm not much of a shopper so I don't tend to buy souvenirs. I may take a tour sometimes, but that's part of normal entertainment expenses. When I plan a trip, I use an average daily expense of about $100 per day to plan the budget for a trip. That figure includes food, fuel, and lodging but it's what I use to figure out the cost. Some do it for less, but it's good have this type of figure for planning a trip. When I retired and before I started RVing, I budgeted around $6,000 for a two month Florida condo rental each year and still had a vacation condo that cost me $6,000 per year in fees and taxes. I sold the condo to buy an RV and use the RV now for Florida so my savings close to what it costs me to be a part-time RVer. For me, that $13,000 is money well spent. Some spend that much keeping a vacation home or taking a couple of week-long cruises each year. That amount would probably only pay for one day stay in a hospital. But for me, it's buying some priceless experiences and memories. I'm traveling 6 months of the year, seeing some great sights, and having a ball. You can read more about my travels at: http://jdawgjourneys.com.

italo

italo

 

Adventures of a Shadetree Mechanic

Our travel schedule for this summer is taking shape. We have a short trip coming up in two weeks so it is time to get the motor home road-ready. I took it out for a short drive several weeks ago and had it safety inspected for the Texas license renewal. Lights, wipers and horn all work. A brief look a the tires and a check of the current registration and insurance papers, verify the VIN and I'm good to go.

On that drive I was reminded of a recurrent problem we've had. Our alternator has been slow to kick in, sometimes taking 5 or 10 minutes to start producing current. Once it gets going, it is good and has never failed us completely. I've taken it to a shop and they've checked it and found it working properly. Of course the problem is that it is thoroughly warmed up when I arrive at the shop. The problem shows up when we've been parked for several days or longer.

I talked to a friend who has the same model and year coach as ours. He had his alternator rebuilt at a local repair shop, Ernie's Service. He is a NASCAR fan and has done some racing so he knows engines and engine service. I'm not a mechanic, I don't even play one on TV. I've done shade tree mechanic things like oil changes and simple replacement of parts of varying kinds. Using his information I tackled the removal of the alternator.

Our motor home is a diesel pusher. The engine is mounted backward with the "front" of the engine facing the opening at the rear of the coach. With a side radiator arrangement, the engine compartment looks like there is plenty of room to work until you get yourself into that space. I've got a hose clamp strap end poking me in the chest and the oil dip stick digging into my shoulder. My feet are planted on the engine mounting frame and I'm leaning over trying to reach the wires which are located on the back side of the alternator as I'm looking at it. Not only are they on the other side of alternator, they are at the bottom of the alternator.

So I'm hunched over the engine, my back is against the top of the compartment, I've got a trouble light to illuminate the area but nowhere to place it that will allow it to stay as I struggle with wrenches and stretch to get a better view. With my head now down behind the alternator, my glasses start slipping up onto my forehead. Whenever I tackle a job like this I always develop an appreciation for those who go to work every day to face challenges like this.

There are five wires, the two main lines and three small sensor lines attached to our Leece-Neville alternator. I had been cautioned that one of the lines was hot even when everything in the coach was shut off. I did unplug, shut off the auto generator start, shut down that inverter/charger and then shut off the battery disconnect switches for both the house batteries and the chassis batteries. I checked voltage on each line and found only one of the sensor lines with an active current. I disconnected all the other wires and then the live sensor line. I had no problem, no spark so that seemed to be the solution. I covered the end of each wire with electrical tape to avoid inadvertent contact and sparking. Each wire had to be labeled to be certain that they were re-attached to the correct terminal. I used colored electrical tape to identify the wires and photographed the terminals on alternator to help me remember exactly where each should go. There were two terminals that had no wires attached.

The next challenge was removing the serpentine belt. I understood the nature of the tensioner but didn't know exactly how to release the tension. Checking with my friend, I got the low-down on the relatively simple procedure. I hadn't even noticed the square indention in the arm of the tensioner. That indentation serves as an attachment point for a 1/2 inch socket driver. Use the breaker bar as a lever and pull the tensioner just enough to release the tension on the belt and slip if off the alternator. Louise provided the third hand that I needed as an awkward position and ability to release the tensioner required two hands on the breaker bar. Louise was able to easily slip the belt off the pulley on the alternator.

The final challenge was to remove the mounting bolts. The top one was easy, the nut came off without a fight. The second bolt, on the bottom and more exposed to the spray from the rear wheels was stuck tight. Of course the only place I could get any torque on that bolt was on my back under the motor home. I sprayed a little Liquid Wrench on the bolt and gave it a few minutes and it finally came loose. Once broken loose, I could remove it working from above.   I slipped the top bolt out of its collar and the alternator was free. Now I had to lift it free of the mounting and out of the coach. I had to stop several times to re-grip, the pulley doesn't make a very good hand grip! An alternator is filled with copper wiring and is quite heavy. Working in an awkward position with limited space to move makes lifting something much more difficult than just picking it up. Getting the alternator around the mounting points and clear of the wires and other obstructions was something like solving one of those puzzles with two pieces of wire linked together. Once out I placed the alternator in a plastic pan lined with cardboard for it's trip to the repair shop. I didn't want it rolling around in the car.

I couldn't find Ernie's Service on my first try. It is located at the intersection of two interstate highways, I-69 and I-2 in Pharr, Texas. It is difficult to explore the access road in the area so I started to make a second try. As I circled back toward the area where I though the shop was located I spotted an auto repair shop. I stopped and asked directions. The mechanic in the shop knew right away where the shop was and how to get there. I was two minutes away and had been looking in the wrong place.

Pulling into Ernie's Service, I assessed it to be a pretty simple operation and I was correct. They work on generators, starters and alternators. Walking into the shop I find myself among a sea of scrapped electrical equipment. Ernie is definitely waiting for the price of Copper to rise. I told him I needed an alternator repaired. He asked what kind of vehicle it came from. I replied "a motor home", expecting a groan of some kind from Ernie. But that isn't what I got. He turned to his assistant and said, "probably a 2825." I went to the car to retrieve the alternator and sure enough, there on the label was "Sales No. 2825LC." I thought, "OK, this guy knows this alternator, this is good."

Re-entering the shop a woman who had been standing next to Ernie met me in front of the counter and took the alternator off my hands. She took it to Ernie, he looked it over commenting on the condition as he turned it over. He was pleased it wasn't corroded, my work with the wire brush had paid off. He said they would put it on the test stand, "no charge." They hooked it up, their electric motor spun the alternator, faster and faster and still the needle on the gauge didn't budge. They hooked up a battery and still no current could be detected.

Ernie agreed with my assessment of the problem, brushes might be the problem. He would fix it if he could. He muttered something about possible other problems, electronics, etc. He said they would replace the brushes and bushings. The charge would be for parts and labor, labor being $40.00 per hour. Then he said, "11." I'm thinking "11, 11 what, 11 hundred, as in dollars?" He meant 11:00 a.m. tomorrow. I was stunned, it was 4:00 p.m. and he was going to have it done tomorrow morning. Our trip is coming up in two weeks and I was just hoping I'd be able to get it back several days before then. His assistant assured me they had the parts in stock.

He called about 10:30 the next morning to let me know that the alternator was ready. When I picked up the alternator, Ernie showed me the brushes. They were little stubs about the size of a pencil eraser. New ones are over an inch long. There was hardly anything left of them. Ernie said they were stuck in the channel that holds them, he had to force them out of the holder. That would explain why they weren't making contact until things warmed up. We were lucky they hadn't failed in some remote location like the roads we traveled last fall in Labrador! The bill for the repair was less than $80.00. I was amazed. If I had gone to a shop and had the alternator removed and a rebuilt one installed in it's place, the bill likely would have been more like $800, I know because I've had it done several times. Of course that would have involved someone else doing the removal and re-installation. So I was well paid for my mechanical adventure.

Re-installing the alternator was easier and faster than the removal process. I didn't even drop any of the tiny nuts or washers. An inventory of tools used and putting everything away finished the process this morning.

If you are in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and need starter or alternator service, Ernie's Service is the place to go! The shop looks humble but the service is fantastic and prices are really reasonable. Even if you have someone remove the part for you, take it to Ernie, you won't be disappointed.

Next on my list of things to get road-ready is the water system. Louise wants to do some cleaning and has informed me that she needs to have the water on. Each day will bring another task, loading clothes, food, tools and other supplies. Tires are on the last thing on the list. I'll adjust the pressure when we're ready to leave. The Pressure Pro sensors indicate the tires have held their pressure during the winter. I've got a set of tires waiting at a shop on the way to our destination for this first trip. With the new set of tires we should be ready for a good summer of travel.

TBUTLER

TBUTLER

 

Beware of Blue Beacon Truck Wash

i took my 2016 Newmar Dutch Star for a wash at Blue Beacon Truck Wash. For $36.00 I thought it was a good idea, not true. They are very fast and don't care about their work. While bushing the wheels they broke off two tire pressure monitors worth $100.00 and immediately denied the damage even though one was laying on the floor next to the wheel. I guess it must have rolled along from Florida with us and ended up taking the same route to El Paso Texas. Don't expect anything fro corporate headquarters because their $11.00 and hour supervisor said he did not break them off even though I was in the coach when both tire sensor alarms went off went out and saw him brushing the last tire.

judgebobk

judgebobk

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