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  1. On Thursday, July 8th, our engine overheated on our diesel pusher as we were returning from a vacation. We pulled over from I-45 just on the north side of Houston, about 30 miles from our home. Suspecting a coolant hose rupture, we called for help from the FMCA Road Rescue (RR) service. They sent a mechanic who arrived in his sedan without any tools. He said he couldn't help us outside his shop. We called the RR back and asked for a tow at 6:30 PM. They kept promising 90-120 minutes. They seemed unable to cope with large RVs (ours is 38'). They said that they arranged for several towing companies who couldn't handle our size vehicle. Finally, they found one, but he refused to come until RR would authorize the tow. RR said that they had authorized him to tow us 3 times. He finally arrived at 9:30 AM the next day. That was 15 hours after we asked for a tow!!! In order to tow us, he had to disconnect the drive shaft. We were towed 15 miles to the repair shop and then the driver asked us for payment, $2380, even though RR had authorized it. We paid it and then submitted the paperwork to RR for reimbursement, but we have not yet been reimbursed. Today, with the coolant hose replaced and coolant added, we started driving to our home, just 25 miles away from the shop. The drive shaft had been reconnected. After about 4 miles, the vehicle started shaking and I heard a scraping sound on the pavement. I stopped and turned off the engine. Looking under the vehicle, the drive shaft had become disconnected and the U-joint was broken off. We were stuck in a left-turn lane while attempting to get onto I-69 in west Houston. The shop sent over a mechanic to try to replace the drive shaft on the street, but there were no available parts on a Saturday afternoon. We called RR to arrange for a tow back to the shop. The first wrecker said that we were too large. Another said that he could be there in 90-120 minutes. Then the Houston police arrived. They said that they couldn't have us waiting up to 2 hours for our wrecker to arrive while we were blocking traffic. The city had called in a heavy duty wrecker. The police couldn't tell us which wrecker would arrive. When the wrecker arrived 30 minutes later, we immediately called RR to see if they would authorize the tow. They refused because the police had called for the wrecker and RR was quite rude about it. The 2nd tow 4 miles back to the shop cost us another $1100. These 2 experiences with FMCA's Road Rescue have been terrible. I cannot recommend them. I have sent several messages to FMCA about this and have yet to receive a response. Beware.
  2. On a slightly different subject but responding to an above post that quoted download speeds of "20 GB/sec". It's Gb, not GB, bits, not bytes. One character is one byte, consists of 8 bits on your computer. But over the internet, your data is sent with 8 bits followed by 2 confirmation bits. So an internet byte (one character) is 10 bits. Average 4G LTE speeds in a major city are about 35-50 gigabits/sec, not gigabytes. So 20 Gb/sec is really 2 GB/sec, still pretty fast. The Xfinity speed test on my home's cable modem shows a 180 Gb/sec download speed and an upload speed of 6 (ethernet cable). WiFi speed is much less.
  3. In life, you meet some very nice people and some very bad people. We have T-Mobile and their network is sub-par. But they have great plans, reasonable phones and excellent customer service. Then, there's Verizon. Without a doubt, they have the best network. Most campgrounds are located in under-populated areas that are often at a considerable distance from cell towers. That means very limited or no phone or internet access when we are camping and, often, when traveling in the RV (or car). So we looked into the FMCA Verizon "unlimited" 25 GB plan. When Verizon says "unlimited", it's the same as my telling you that you can get from Beaumont to El Paso on one tank of gas. It's true, you can. You'll just have to walk from San Antonio! If you look on Amazon for reviews of the Verizon MiFi Jetpacks, you get 20-35% one-star reviews that mention getting refurbished in place of new devices, no access, dropped connections, frequent rebooting, swelling batteries, billing issues and the data rate throttling to unusable (without any warnings) as mentioned in the above posts. Some reviews mentioned that the older MiFi devices worked better than the newer ones. So, I looked to see what model of Jetpack was being offered. On the FMCA website, the Verizon FAQ section says that they'll state what model we will get after we sign up!!! Shades of Nancy Pelosi -- they've got to be kidding! Who in their right mind will buy anything without knowing what it is first? Other options included just switching from T-Mobile to Verizon. T-Mobile phones only work on their network. So, we went to a Retail Verizon store. It was not a "company" store, but it looked like one and I guess that we just didn't know any better. They offered us $300 each for our Samsung Note 3 phones because we were switching cell phone carriers, while joining our son's family plan for just an additional $40/month/phone for our 2 phones. It sounded great. But by the time we got the printed statement for all of this, we had to buy 2 new phones ($750 each) for "only" $25/month fro 2 years, no trade-in savings (kissing the $300 x2 away), $40/phone to transfer the apps/data/pictures from our old phones, activation fees, line fees, outrageous charges for screen protectors, cases and car chargers with tax that added up to $524 at the time of purchase and then $100/month for 2 years that included my son's 22% corporate discount (to which we could not apply my 15% veteran's discount). I said to the Verizon guy to forget it. He tried to talk me out of it. Our phone numbers had already been ported to the Verizon phones. After much arguing, we got the ordered cancelled, but our phones were unusable. The entire experience reminded me of a line from My Cousin Vinny - "OMG, it's a (expletive deleted) nightmare!" Well, the experience was worse than buying an RV, if you know what I mean. Verizon messes with you so badly... Back home, I called T-Mobile (on our land line) on a Saturday night and they immediately re-activated our T-Mobile phones, costing us nothing, told us that since we had cancelled them (although it was only for an hour), that we would have to get a different plan because they no longer offered our old plan that had an 8 GB data limit (still, no contract) and instead of that, it would now be unlimited (which is really unlimited) and at a lower price than we were paying on our old plan! She asked me at the end, "Can I do anything else for you?" and I replied, "Can I give you hug over the telephone?" What a difference! Who could dump a cell phone carrier like that, even if their network was not the best? I won't do it. So what are my options (besides doing nothing)? Looking at other hospot devices, Sprint's network is no better than T-Mobile's (when they finally combine, I anticipate improved network access, but will older phones benefit?). AT&T might work in some areas not served by T-Mobile. We have a new GM car with OnStar, which has WiFi through AT&T, but it requires the ignition to be on, which is a no-go while towing it or when it is parked, plus it costs $30/month for just 3 GB. The AT&T Mobley, as mentioned in the above posts, is out-dated and no longer available. There are cell signal boosters but they have extremely poor performance and many complaints that they don't work as intended on Amazon. There are the Nighthawk and Unite Explore mobile hotspot devices from AT&T and I will look into those at an AT&T store. But Verizon? You meet some very nice people and some very bad people.
  4. See my note of March. Since then, using a replacement IOTA ATS, all was okay until traveling back home to Texas 2 days ago. In Missouri, it was over 100 degrees and we were using the roof airs and, thus, the genset, while traveling. While entering a rest stop, the genset suddenly cut off. I restarted it and all seemed to be okay. Later, at the campground, I smelled burning plastic from the shore cable compartment and sure enough, the ATS had melted. This time, it was on the genset side and involved one leg of the hot and the neutral wires. On shore power, there were no problems and the wires stayed cool. We drove home the next day using only the engine A/C, which barely kept it more than 5 degrees cooler than the outside. I later noticed that the front Dometic Duo-Therm heat pump AC compressor would only stay on and cool for a few minutes, while the rear one worked fine. The ACs are on different hot supply lines and it was the front AC line that overheated when using the genset. Did compressor lock-ups cause the ATS wires to melt? If so, why didn't the breaker on the genset or the load center trip first? In the meantime, the front AC is scheduled for professional service and I installed an ESCO ES50M-65N ATS (I had purchased it just in case after reading about the IOTA problems) which works fine in both genset and shoreline modes without any overheating of the wiring, although the generator would not kick in with both ACs activated at the same time - I had to switch in one AC at a time. Also, the ESCO has an audible 60 cycle hum, which the IOTA doesn't. Oh, well...
  5. I read about the recall in the April '12 FMCA magazine and while the recall didn't seem to involve my my model vehicle, the IOTA name caught me eye. We have a 2006 Travel Supreme 38' MH and the manufacturer of this luxury MH is no more. It has 2 heat pumps and separate RV-type washer and dryer. When the original automatic transfer switch (ATS) failed due to (allegedly) defective brushes on the power cable winder in 2006, it was replaced with the IOTA-50R in 2007 under warranty service. Also damaged was the inverter/converter. The original ATS had a loud hum, which was very annoying when trying to sleep as it was located in a compartment under the bed! The IOTA didn't have that problem. In 2009, the cable winder brushes again failed with resulting destruction of the inverter/converter, the front standard definition TV set and a DISH HD receiver. The ATS was said to be okay by the repair shop but I had the power winder permanently removed as this appeared to be the 2nd time that this happened. During a heat wave in 2010 in north TX when we were living in the coach full-time, the ATS started overheating. When the air conditioners were on, the wires on the ATS heated up to over 400 degrees using a laser pyrometer! The insulation was melting on the ATS and the plastic cover was warped. The breakers never tripped inside the coach. The long wait for a service appointment during that vacation season caused me to purchase a new IOTA-50R through ebay and installing it myself, which was not that difficult. I was unable to unscrew the old terminals - they were very tight slotted screws and the screw slots were unable to tolerate twisting them off. Cutting the electrical cables from the ATS was the only way to get them off. The cables were fried and oxidized anyhow, all on the power grid side, NOT on the generator side (everything worked okay with the genset). Fortunately they weren't aluminum and there was just enough slack to connect them to the new ATS. The terminal screws on the new ATS were of the allen wrench type and were much easier to torque. The smell of burning plastic and insulation remains in the power cable compartment to this day but the new ATS seems to be functioning okay. Whether the ATS failures caused the power winder brush failures or the other way around is uncertain. When the last IOTA failed, there was no power winder to blame. If the IOTA ITS-50R is defective, what model ATS would be a suitable replacement? I would like to have one on hand.
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