As I sit down to write this digital missive, I hear the roar of a train outside. Now hearing a train whistle in Benson, AZ is very common. But this is not a whistle. Next my RV rocks madly like a train has actually hit it. I dive for the floor thinking glass is going to start flying from the windows. In about a second, what must have been a dust devil vanishes.
My dream of finally catching up with the repair work on my RV disappears as well. When I examine the damage outside I find the bedroom slide topper cover has blown off. Now it is dangling from the pull down strap and whacking the side of the coach.
To get a head start on RV upkeep, I schedule repairs and maintenance before I even leave Moab. Oil changes and other service at Mescal Auto Repair require that I drive the RV 10 miles or so 2 days in a row. This allows me to stay in the RV overnight at the campground instead of in a parking lot. As much as I hate driving the RV around, I do love how much sportier it drives without the jeep and trailer chasing it. The 2 hours disconnecting hookups and setting the RV back up each day is what wears me out.
Here are some of the things I am up against as I try to get this Rig back in shape for travel:
One of my trailer lights falls out and disappears somewhere between Laramie and Vernal. Fortunately I have watched Storm replace a missing trailer taillight before. With Matt’s help and a purchase from a conveniently close auto parts store I am able to quickly remedy this issue. I also buy a spare light in case this happens again in some less agreeable location.
Normally the heavy power cord magically winds in to and out of a hole in the side of the RV. This allows me to easily hook up to shore power. The further I travel south, the more difficult this cord becomes to wind back inside the RV when I am ready to leave a campsite. Storm admonished me never to force the electric cord back into the little hole on the side of the coach.
By the time I leave my last stop in San Antonio, NM, I cram that cord into the RV with reckless disregard for the consequences. I need to get rolling and I can’t leave this cable trailing behind the RV like a severed umbilical cord!
A Trail of Trials
After I leave Moab, my brake controller blows a fuse. Locating this power interruption requires someone who knows how to use a tester to trace the wires. That is not me. From what I can see, the fuse is nested somewhere in a medusa like wiring cabinet beside the driver’s seat.
While stopped at a New Mexico rest area I decide to turn on the generator and run the house AC. The last stretch of my ride this 100 degree day would be less stressful with some cool air blasting on me. I discover that my generator (which I had used boondocking the night before) now only runs for one minute, then cuts off. And yes, I checked the oil before I ran the generator! The internet suggests a clogged fuel filter. I add that to the service list.
The next morning I start my engine to embark on the last leg of my trip. The alternator begins what I call its cooler weather start process. This involves the amp gauge maniacally bouncing back and forth from 10 – 12 amps. Finally the engine warms enough to peg out near 14 amps where it belongs. I suspect this is some kind of loose belt (turns out to be a tensioner). In hopes of getting parked before something else breaks, I route myself on Hwy. 26, a shortcut from Hatch to Deeming.
Although not marked as a truck route on my atlas, this highway has been recommended to me by several folks. I Google Earth it and I see enough trucks in the photos to give me confidence about this two lane road. I save myself about 70 miles of interstate driving by cutting this corner. What a lovely, peaceful route! Thanks to all who nudge me out of my comfort zone to explore the road less traveled!
Based on Dean’s earlier recommendation in a comment, my excessively windy time parked in Laramie and my recent generator failure, I add covers to my Fantastic Fans. Now I can use them in lieu of AC where the temps are moderate no matter how windy it is where I am parked. As Dean pointed out, I can also run my fans now when driving instead of running both the generator and the house AC.
A service which includes a new fuel filter change seems to get the generator back on line. Of course, I had already scheduled a complete diagnostic for the RV. The tech at Mescal Auto Service hunts down the blown fuse that knocked out the brake controller. While there I also have the new vacuum pump installed (remember the vacuum pump story from way back in Durango?)
Trying to Keep a Level Head
Once parked I enjoy a day or so of normalcy before waking to stumble from the bed. For no obvious medical reason, I seem to have right leaning vertigo. On no! The excessive slope light on my leveling system is on. The coach is listing heavily to the right and the leveling system appears to be inoperable. A quick call to the HWH technical department gives me the remedy. I merely follow their procedure (shown below) while wondering if I should also rub my belly and pat my head at the same time.
I regain control of the leveling system and operation of the slide-outs temporarily. The fight continues until I am forced to move the RV a couple of days before my service is scheduled. I prepare the rig for travel merely to move it a few inches over on my site to a slightly more level area. I surrender 2 hours of my life I will never get back for this procedure. Apparently I parked in a rut and did not realize it.
The electric cord reel proves to be the most expensive problem. Turns out the cord has developed dimples and imperfections that stall the aging electric reel as it attempts to roll the cable in. My options are to shorten the cord by about 15′ so that only the rarely used (and less traumatized) part of the cord remains. I can replace the entire cord with a new and better cord or I can replace the reel and cord with a new version of the one I have. When I consider the labor involved and the possibility of being stuck somewhere when this problem reoccurs, I decide to spend almost $1000 to replace the whole thing.
Fortunately for me, I have so many great friends here (and everywhere – love you all!). Jane and Leyman suggest I follow them on a Jeep ride while my RV is in the shop one day. Instead of worrying about the bill from the Repair Shop, I concentrate on not rolling the Jeep upside down. Deep ditches lined with Arizona pinstripe applying bushes along too narrow dirt paths prove to require all my off road skills.
A neighbor, Scott, comes to my rescue in securing the metal cover before it thrashes the RV side to smithereens. I hope that once I get the cover re-attached to my slide topper and the electric cord fixed, maybe, just maybe, I can have a few days of peace. RV operation is not for the faint of heart!
If you have read this far you are either a very kind person or one of the many empathetic folks who take an interest in helping me keep this thing going. If you are the latter, I could sure use some advice.
I have noticed that the shorter boards on my trailer really bow down when I load the Jeep. The other boards are cracked and seem to be weathering also. If you have any ideas about trailer flooring and whether I should replace it to prevent having the Jeep fall through, please let me know what you think. Thanks!