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This past weekend I put my Onan 7500 Watt Quiet Diesel generator through it's monthly 30 minute exercise under full load. While running, I noticed a small'ish coolant leak from under the metal housing on the 'driver side' of the generator (hopefully a hose leak as described elsewhere on the forum). Not wanting to take the motorhome back to RV Masters for another 2-3 week stay, I "Googled" Onan generator repairs in the Houston area and discovered a mobile RV repair business by the name of CJC Generators and Mobile RV Repair which is located in Katy, TX near my home --> http://www.cjcgenerators.com/index.html I called the owner "William" and by phone he is very professional and seems quite knowledgeable. Before using his services, I am wondering if any forum members in the Houston area have experience with CJC Generators and Mobile RV Repair? If the answer is "yes", was your experience/service from them good or bad? Thanks for any feedback you may have!
Happy New Year! Another year, 2016, is coming to an end. We are happily ensconced in our winter home here in Texas. I’d say deep in the heart of Texas but it is more like the tippy-toes of Texas, way down south almost on the US-Mexico border. We had a light shower this morning so my outside work is delayed until the ground and grass dry. I’m enlarging the patio in our back yard and adding a walkway alongside the house to replace the path I’ve worn in the dirt. The lawn needs mowing and I need to check the roof after a particularly windy night earlier this week. None of this was necessary when we were full time!!! I just picked up my iPad to check the weather. What an amazing device the iPad is. It’s a second computer that I can grab and get information from almost instantly. Handier for checking information than opening a document on my computer. Pop it open and get an address or phone number, open a map and zoom to any area you want in just a minute. The world at my fingertips. I like to reference it while driving the motor home but of course I can’t so I turn that duty over to Louise. She is less a fan. I need to talk her through step by step to get the information that I want. Occasionally, she will agree that it is helpful to be able to zoom in on a map and see road detail that isn’t in the trucker’s atlas. We use it to search for cheap diesel, find rest stops, overnight parking, and campgrounds. It saves us money and makes life on the road much easier. Several years ago, I took the training to get my certification as a Texas Master Naturalist. It is similar to the Master Gardner program. The focus is on all of nature, not just plants and gardening. In fact, the Master Naturalist Program began here in Texas when some Master Gardeners became adventuresome and were introducing many fringe areas to the Master Gardner meetings. They were bringing in bugs, birds, butterflies, soil science, water conservation, native plants, invasive species and a host of other topics that were related to gardening but not quite part of the Master Gardner area of focus. So, they started something new. It has grown from a single chapter in San Antonio to over 40 chapters state-wide and is now found in many other states. I mention this because when we return to Texas I pick up the mantle of a Master Naturalist and dig into volunteer work at some of the local nature and wildlife parks here in the Rio Grande Valley. January is the beginning of our annual class for certification and we have 24 people lined up for the training in our local chapter. I will have the stage at the orientation session as I describe the program, it’s history, purpose and the training program which starts them on the path to certification. I will mentor three of the new trainees, giving them encouragement and advice to help them reach their goal. I also do the website for the chapter. My favorite volunteer activity is to assist a local high school teacher, a trained wildlife biologist, with his bird banding. It has expanded my experience with birds and pushed me to learn new skills. There is nothing like having a bird in the hand. What amazing creatures they are. Of course, there is the occasional Cardinal that will get it’s beak on a bit of a finger and it won’t let loose until it draws blood. Putting bands on birds is real research, helping us learn more about the birds, their migration patterns, their longevity, their patterns of movement and much more. On our return to the RGV in late October, we stopped north of Houston so I could attend the Master Naturalist annual meeting in Montgomery. I enjoy these meetings. We stayed at the KOA in Montgomery, a nice very large park with strange KOA rules. Louise is happy to have some time to read and relax outside in the sunshine while I’m spending the day in meetings. There is always something new to learn and this meeting was no exception. Meeting other TMN’s and learning about their activities is inspiring. There were over 300 TMN’s from all over Texas in attendance. One of my friends received an award for 4000 hours of volunteer time and the corresponding Presidential Volunteer Certificate of Recognition. This is the program started by President George H. W. Bush, his “Thousand Points of Light.” Her husband received an award for 5000 volunteer hours. That is some real dedication to the community and its nature parks and centers. Our motor home has spent the last two months in the shop. There were several things that needed work on the motor home and some body damage from an ill-advised backing maneuver so we decided to get all the work done at one time. We didn’t anticipate it taking two months but ordering parts takes time and then I think of one more thing and that takes another part so here we go again. I’ve already moved it from the RV shop to Freightliner for some chassis work, brakes, belts and more. That was done while waiting for one of the last parts to be ordered. Then I found that the step cover that slides out to keep the grandchildren from falling into the stairwell wasn’t working. That means another part… When the RV shop releases it, I’ll take it to the flooring shop to get new carpet. We debated going to tile or other flooring product but finally decided the simplest thing was to simply replace the carpet. Once it returns home we will do a complete restocking. We cleaned it out completely before turning it over to the RV shop. That is something that hasn’t happened since we moved into it in November of 2003. I’m guessing more than a few things that we removed won’t go back. It needed a good housecleaning. Here’s hoping that 2017 finds all well with you and that the coming year will bring you good fortune and happy travels.
After five weeks at home we packed the motor home and set out to touch base with our families. The motor home fix-it list needs some attention so we'll try to get some of those items taken care of on this trip as well. Ten years of sun and wind have taken their toll on the awnings on the windows. The fabric is fraying and seams are disintegrating. My plan was to have them replaced locally on our way out of town. I contacted our local RV repair shop, listed as a dealer on the Carefree of Colorado web site. I gave them the appropriate information but never got to talk to the parts department. After several days expecting a return call, I called again. This time I talked to the parts department and they said that our awnings had been discontinued. I asked some questions about alternates and prices. When the information wasn't forthcoming I decided to stop by the shop and talk to them personally. When I arrived the parts man was off taking care of personal business. I talked to the office assistant that I had called the first time. In the course of our discussion I found that the part number I gave them didn't match the part number the parts department had researched with Carefree of Colorado. The office assistant had the correct numbers but the transfer to the parts department had been fumbled somehow. She called Carefree of Colorado and gave them the correct part number. Viola! They did have that item in the inventory. I could get exact replacements. So they were ordered. I told them I wanted the shop to do the replacement and I also needed a state inspection. Both were scheduled for the day we were leaving town. A week passed and I called to find out the status of the replacement awning fabric. After checking with Carfree, the assistant called me back to tell me they hadn't been shipped yet. She said they wouldn't arrive in time to be installed before we had to leave. I gave her my daughters address as a shipping address. My daughter e-mailed me that they arrived there the day we left town. I guess I'll install them myself. By the way, the motor home passed the Texas State Vehicle Inspection. I've dealt with this repair shop before and had positive experiences. The shop foreman retired last year, the office assistant moved up to manager and a new assistant was hired. It is summer in the Rio Grande Valley and the shop was looking pretty idle, a few RV's in the shop but not the time of year when they are usually busy. Most RV's flee north in the spring, taking their owners with them. I didn't see the new manager until I came in for the inspection. I never saw the parts man. The office assistant seemed to be doing most of the work. Will I continue to count on this shop for parts and repair work? Maybe once more just to see if it really is that bad or was this just a fluke?
I’m lucky. To tend to the mechanical work on my Roadtrek eTrek on the Sprinter chassis, I have two great technicians: Daryl and Josh. Plus Eric, a great service manager who always manages to squeeze me in. I was just in the other day after a check engine light came on. Wouldn’t you know, it was one of those erratic issues. When I drove it into Hoekstra Transportation in Troy, MI, I felt somewhat sheepish. The warning light had something to do with a sensor that we had replaced about 20,000 miles ago. “That shouldn’t be causing you issues again,” said Daryl. Eric agreed. I’m driving it back in next week and they will replace a whole rail on which it is mounted. What I really appreciate about Daryl and Josh – they are both Sprinter mechanics – is that they always take the time to bring me back in the shop and show me what’s going on under the hood. I have had very limited issues with my Sprinter. I do regular maintenance and oil changes and I only wish that these guys could take care of my car, too. My experience with having my Roadtrek engine and mechanical serviced so well got me thinking about how lucky I am. The sad fact is, not all service places are as skilled, honest and ethical as the one I am blessed to use. Here are my five suggestions on how to make sure your RV has a good mechanic. Search for shops that are certified to do repairs on your engine and/or chassis. Check the manufacturer’s website, look for local dealers and ask the service manager what certifications and specialties their techs have. Check review websites. Ask your RV dealer for recommendations on where to have the vehicle’s engine serviced. They should be able to steer you to the place they use. Try to meet the tech who will be working on your vehicle personally. Ask questions. Most like sharing knowledge and since you are going to be building a long term relationship, familiarty brings respect. Make sure you have your vehicle maintained and serviced as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Tell them where your next trip will be, what the terrain and dust conditions will be like. They’ll know what to inspect for and may have some great suggestions on how to operate your RV in those areas. Call for an appointment instead of just showing up and demanding service. In an emergency, of course, a reputable place will gladly check things out. But even then, try to call ahead of time and give them as much advance notice so they know what’s coming in. Keep all your documents and service records. A good shop, of course, will have them on their computer. But if you find you need service on the road, being able to show vehicle records will help avoid unnecessary repairs and save time with a new mechanic or service center. What would you add to this list? Daryl Brown of Hoekstra Specialty Vehicles in Troy, Mich., running the Mercedes diagnostic check on my Roadtrek.