It’s all Downhill in Junction City, Oregon

Junction City Repair Shop

I was not entirely honest about the success of our trip across the barren CR-140 from Winnemuca.  We did not roll into Lakeview completely unscathed.  Mounting problems force us to divert to Junction City, rather than heading straight to the Oregon coast and our next volunteer job.  The whole fiasco begins about midway of the 179 mile no services zone on CR-140 with the following conversation.

After a LOUD bang from under the coach near our seats:

Me: “What was that noise, a rock right?”  (Whenever I ask the noise question it is always a rock according to Storm)

Storm: “Maybe.  Stop worrying so much.” (What, not a rock?  NOW I am worried!!)

On the next leg of our trip to Crater Lake, we hear an even LOUDER bang near the same part of the coach.

Me: “A really BIG rock, right?”

Storm: “I don’t think so.  The steering is acting funny.”

Me: “Do we need to pull off (on this shoulder-less, narrow, two-lane road in the middle of nowhere)?”

Storm:  “No, I think we will be OK for a while.  Stop worrying so much.”

We reach Klamath Falls and park beside a mega mall like grocery store called Fred Meyers.  This store has its own separate jewelry and electronic stores inside for goodness sake.  Storm crawls under the coach.  Inside Fred Meyers, I bypass the produce and make a beeline for the fermented fruit (aka wine) section so I can more hastily “stop worrying.”  When I return to the coach with with my purchases, Storm delivers the dismal news.  The other sway bar bracket is broken.  He replaced the right one in Moab last year.  Now the left one is broken, PLUS part of the bracket cracked and must be welded.  For welding we need professional help.

We are headed toward the Oregon coast to volunteer at Cape Blanco lighthouse. Our coach was originally built in Junction City about 150 miles NW of our planned destination. Junction City is the mecca of west coach RV repairs.  Many shops there are operated by former Country Coach employees.  Storm believes we can find someone there to repair the sway bar who actually knows the idiosyncrasies of our coach.   After a thorough internet search, he selects a shop that has excellent reviews.  The owner, Kevin, responds immediately to our Sunday sent email.  Kevin informs Storm that he has the parts in stock and has added us to his schedule. 

We do not discover the full extent of our latest RV repair woes until the morning that we leave Klamath Falls.  We move the coach to a conveniently located Casino parking lot overnight preparing to get on the road early while it is still cool.  The next morning Storm checks the engine before our 6am departure toward Junction City.  The radiator has left a spreading pool of coolant on the pavement – BAD radiator!!  In spite of some steep climbs, the radiator never boils over making our way to Junction City.  I can’t say the same about Storm when he saw that puddle!

Rabid Radiator?

Hwy 99 into Junction City on Sunday is lined with RV sales and repair shops most of which have their service bays open with wounded motorhomes nosed in receiving treatment for their ailments.  In spite of the fact that it is Sunday, Brian is waiting for us when we snake into the crowded lot at the shop Storm selected for our repairs.  Brian is planning to quickly fix the sway bar and send us on our way.  That plan disintegrates when Storm tells him about the leak.  Brian decides an inspection underneath our coach is in order.  After a speedy repair and weld to the sway bar, we now find ourselves parked half in and half out of a shop door, our rear wheels on ramps, a huge gaping maw where our radiator belongs and our coach nose pointed downhill.  

Our exhaust manifold was cracked too
New Exhaust Manifold

Being so out of level is kind of like living in a carnival fun house.  I have to hold Storm in bed so he does not roll over the edge, on to the floor and down to the front of the coach each night.  Every time I open the fridge I wind up juggling bottles that try to roll out.  Our interior doors keep rolling closed if we don’t refasten them open each time we use them.  On the up side,  I build up my thigh muscles on every hike up to the back of the coach.

After his inspection, Brian presents us with the following list of needed repairs.  Some of the required parts will take 2 weeks to build, but the people who originally made parts for this coach are all still located within a few miles from Junction City.  Good news for us as we won’t have to pay for or wait for shipping on the parts.

  Junction City Repair List

Exhaust manifold is cracked

Charge air cooler is leaking like a sieve

Radiator leak is caused by a defective transmission cooler tank which needs to be replaced

Rear air bags are “iffy” so with the wheels off we will replace them now (so much easier than in a parking lot in Texas)

Crack in the right side radius arm needs welding

Radiator fan is only operating at one speed instead of at variable speeds as it should.  The electric temperature sensor for the thermal cooling fan needs to be replaced with a thermal wax controller. 

These repairs should get us in great shape for our future travels.  Brian says that the new sensor will allow the radiator fan to work variably and at high speed, when we are climbing steep grades, will sound like a 747 is landing on the back of the bus.  Wow, I so love unexpected loud noises – now I will never “stop worrying.”

About Sunny Weathers

Pilot, motorcyclist and full time RVer. Follow me as I travel all over the US in my Country Coach RV volunteering, making new friends and pursuing a constant outdoor temperature between 70F and 80F. I'll share the fun and the tribulations and any great survival tricks I learn!

8 Replies to “It’s all Downhill in Junction City, Oregon”

  1. Interesting that the guy in Iowa last summer didn’t realize the fan wasn’t running at the correct speeds. I’m also wondering if Charlie thinks the bouncing ride problems that you experienced early on with the coach may have stressed the sway bars and brackets?
    Sounds like you need to make a yearly trip to Brian just to let him give the coach the once over to help avoid problems on the road for the following year.

    Glad you got things sorted out, I’m sure it took a bite out of your wallet but living in the coach full time it just adds up to home maintenance.

    Terrie and I have been looking at used motor homes as a form of entertainment on Craigslist but so far the bug has not bitten.

    Interesting we passed the road to the train venue twice when we stayed overnight in Klamath Falls but didn’t see or know anything about it.

    1. Sunny Weathers says: Reply

      I would have thought the Cummins people would have realized it when they “fixed” the radiator in June last year at great expense to us. But we are probably better off that they did not since almost everything else they touched has fallen off since we left their shop and Storm has had quite a job putting it all back on.
      Turns out the sway bars were a weak point on this coach from the beginning. Now both swaybars are repaired and doublers installed to prevent (or delay) future mishaps. I agree that we probably do need to return to Brian each year. Not a bad proposition considering how gorgeous it is out here. Even this shop is surrounded by farmland and sheep grazing with views of mountains all around – absolutely beautiful. Where we are volunteering, the entire coastline is nothing but one long park (national, state and local) with tons of things to see and do.
      I would be thrilled if we crossed paths with you and Terrie in an RV on the road!
      Turns out the signs we saw for the train had probably been requested before your visit, but had just been installed by ODOT two weeks before our arrival. We heard the whole, sad story of bureaucracy on our first museum tour. They told us that since the signs had been installed they had seen quite an increase in visitors though it is still an uncrowded place to spend an afternoon.

  2. Debbie, Now you know why Oregon is my 2nd favorite state! It would be number 1 except for the volcanoes and tsunamis. I don’t know how you two slept in the RV while it was in the shop. Don’t know if I could have. Like Dean said we have been looking at RVs on the internet but your post kinda set us back in reality.I hope you continue to enjoy your stay in Oregon and that everything is fixed for a long while.

    1. Sunny Weathers says: Reply

      Terrie, yes it do see why you like Oregon so much! I think if we ever get to the lighthouse everything will be great. If you do find the RV of your dreams, let us know and we can tell you LOTS of things to check before you buy!

  3. Punkin & Keith says: Reply

    Well, sounds like you found someone that knows what he’s doing! Glad you found all the issues and have them corrected so you don’t have to worry!! Haha!
    Randy and Jennie Tatton, that we met in Moab (from Salt Lake-they have a RZR) were at our campground last week with 7 other couples and their RZRs. We had a great visit with all of them…and lots of riding!
    Have a wonderful time on the coast!

    1. Sunny Weathers says: Reply

      Yes – Storm has been getting an education here that we hope will come in handy in the future. Isn’t it so cool when you run into old friends at a new place? Glad to hear you guys are riding and having so much fun. It looks like folks have a ball with RZR’s all along the coast on the dunes here and once we get settled we plan to check that out. Looking forward to the next time we cross paths with you guys!

  4. We did find this RV in Roanoke and it just speaks to us. Can you possibly imagine the fun criss-crossing the country in this magnificent coach. I don’t think the owner is asking nearly enough for this older cream puff.

    1. Sunny Weathers says: Reply

      That machine is so you guys! I love the under the sea bathroom motif. Looks like with just a little love it could be ready to hit the road and low mileage too!

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