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Author Topic: A Vacation to Forget  (Read 5088 times)


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A Vacation to Forget
« on: October 14, 2014, 06:51:28 PM »

                                                             A Vacation to Forget

Dear Readers,
    Back in February 2000 we purchased our first RV.  It was a  1988 Winnebago, 34 feet, 454 Chevy
motor-home on a P-30 chassis. We fell in love with the RV n' way of life, we thought we where in heaven.
We camped at all the local spots and made a few longer  trips to distance parks in Tennessee. Plus a trip to Georgia while visiting our son who was in the Air Force at that time.
   In  2001 he got transferred to Texas so we decided to make the trip out to Texas to visit him. Up to this point we had not had any problems with our new toy, everything had always worked as it should.
   I did all the checks, bought 6 new tires, a new Air Conditioner (it gets hot in Texas) figured we might, need 2 of them. Got the oil and filter changed,  had the transmission serviced and added a transmission cooler  plus the chassis lubed. All is ready to go...... so we're off to see the sites between Tennessee and Texas.

    First day of the trip was more like a fairy tale everything went smooth. We stopped in Hot  Springs, Arkansas to spend the night.  While the wife cooked dinner I set up the table and chairs outside for our after dinner coffee  and then made all the necessary safety checks, oil and fluid levels etc,  did my walk around and everything looks good. After dinner and dishes are done we had our evening coffee and took a walk around the park. AHHHH this is the life.....

   The next morning after a hot shower and the morning cup of coffee I cleaned the  windshield and packed up a few things while the DW was fixing  breakfast. Nothing like a hot home cooked breakfast in the morning to get you  to going. By 8 AM we're back on the road headed for Texas.  Living the good life.... The rest of the morning was pretty quiet as we motored down the road. Not too hot cold just a nice sunny day with the sun coming up behind us and we're still in heaven. Ahhhh. …..

   Somewhere down the road I noticed my fuel gauge was not moving... we should be needing fuel by now but it's still over a half tank...... We're surely not getting that good of fuel mileage. I pecked on the dash and gauge but no change...ummm. Just to be safe we stopped and fueled up. Held almost $70.00   So with a fresh cup of coffee and a full tank of gas everything seemed to be OK.. except for the fuel gauge still hanging around the half way mark. Oh well I'll get it checked later when we get home. By late afternoon I noticed the rest of my gauges are not normal either, battery gauge was showing a discharge just a  little to the left, but  everything is still working or so I thought. ???  I better stop and get fuel just in case, can't be too careful......:)  We're only 15-20 miles from our destination of  Wichita Falls, TX so I figured I'd stop and fuel up again, prices  where good and I needed a break anyway and we'd be on our way.
     When we got ready to leave the truck stop after fueling up and doing a little shopping the motor-home would not start. No Problem, I belong to the Good Sam Club and I have the Emergency    Roadside Assistance Program. So I called them and help was there in about 20 minutes. After the mechanic got there we tried to jump start it, but no luck. After a few tries we hooked up his truck to the engine battery plus  a couple of jumper boxes to the house batteries and bingo! We're running again!
The mechanic says it's on  the alternator so I figured I'd have it checked in Wichita Falls after we got set up. Sure was great to be back on the road , only a few miles from our destination and we're on our way.

   We called ahead to contact our son and let him know we where getting  close since he was the one who made the reservations  so he could meet up with us and guide us in to the RV park. We meet up with him and followed him to the park, I left the engine running while we checked in ( can't be too safe). After we got parked and set up I pulled the alternator and took it down to the first place we could find to get it tested. The guy at the auto parts store told  us it was good  “ 12.5 volts DC no problem,
should be more than enough. gotta be the batteries” he says... Great! I thought. So off to Wal-Mart I go.
I purchased 3 new batteries, 1 coach, 2 house reinstalled the alternator and all looked good........ Right?
   We spent the next couple of days site seeing and visiting with our son. Then on Wednesday night we decided to leave a day early so we could stop by Branson, Mo. on our way home. 

So on Thursday morning early we're up and packed and on the road before day light. On our way toward Oklahoma City, OK. On our way we decided to stop by Ft. Sill, OK. After all we are retired military and  thought maybe we could do a little shopping on the base while we where in the area and see if it had changed much since  we where there some many years ago. We took the exit that said Ft. Sill and as we pulled up to the gate we where greeted by a group of soldiers/trainees who where pulling guard duty at the gate. I thought I was at the main gate but ended up I was on the training side of the base. They (the group of trainees) approached the motor-home as if we where a pack of terrorist or something. The one in the guard shack was on  the phone (probably talking to the Sargent of the Guard) trying to  figure out what they are supposed to do now...... They told us to exit the vehicle, open all the doors on the storage bays. Then they proceeded to check each bay to see what's in there and then they go inside the motor-home and go thru every drawer, cabinet etc......

   After that they told us we where at the wrong gate and needed to turn around and cross back over the interstate to the opposite side to get on main post. Then they had to physically move the barriers in front of the motor-home so we could proceed on base to just turn around. After that we decided to just skip going to the base get back on the interstate and continued our trip toward Oklahoma City,  OK.
    About 50 miles down the road  I noticed the engine was losing power, it would hardly get above 50 mph. I took first exit we came to thinking maybe it was just bad gas or something. We filled up with gas, (I forgot and left my gas cap laying on the pump), jumped in the motor-home and started back to the interstate but the engine was still not running right so I turned around and headed back in to town. Up ahead I saw a bridge and that went up and over a set of railroad tracks...... At the last second I jerked the steering wheel to the right taking the last side street available before the incline going over the bridge. I didn't think I had enough power or speed to make it over, so around the block we go and think this time I'll try to get up some speed to assist us over the bridge. By now we have stopped using the AC and anything else electrical because it drains the batteries to fast.

We just barely got over the bridge, by the time we crested the top we where down to about 5 mph. Just over the bridge was a red light for the main street thru town. I decided I needed to turn left so into the left turn lane we go.  We set at the red light thru two light changes scared to death trying to figure out if we had enough power to get thru it. With the traffic backing up behind us when the light turned green we went for it. We got thru the red light and spotted an Auto Zone parts store just up ahead. I pulled in to the parking lot at an angle to park, leaving the engine running just in case. I when into the parts store to see if they had an alternator to fit the motor-home or if they knew somewhere I might find one. They did not but someone in the store told me about a guy named Charlie that that could rebuild mine and also where we could find an RV park in park in for the night. So off we go to find the RV park. When I came out of the parts store I noticed I did not have enough room to make a U-turn back onto main street so I took the side street. I figured I could go down a block and just turn right and get back to the main street thru town. As we proceeded to the next street and turned right we ran into a slight incline it was only about a block long so I went for it........

   The engine died as we neared the top........ Here we sit, in the middle of the street, no power,engine will not restart, dead in the water, blocking traffic in both directions, in a strange town, not knowing a soul but I still have Good Sam and his Emergency Roadside Assistance Program. So I call Good Sam  Roadside Assistance Program. No problem, we'll have someone there ASAP.   They even called me back to confirm our location and to assure us that help was on the way.
   About an hour or so later we're still sitting and waiting on Good Sam..... during this time a crowd of people had gathered around the RV sitting in the middle of their street. I don't know  if anyone has been to Oklahoma in the summer but it's hot! Damn hot! 
I have the doors open, the windows open, the hood raised and  it's hot! And no AC.

    Well to make matter worse mother nature comes calling on the wife so she goes back to the bathroom to do her business and just as she is sitting down on the toilet the window shade in the bedroom falls from  it's hanger and lands in the floor. Here she is sitting on the toilet, window shade is gone, the crowd of onlookers starring thru the window at her sitting on the toilet...... not a pleasant moment for her or me after she got done yelling about my no good piece of ----- RV. 

   About this time Good Sam called and ask if help had showed up? I told them no and they again assured me that help was on the way and would be there shortly. About and hour later the wife says “why don't you try to start the thing?” I told her the batteries where dead but I tried it anyway.........
it fired right up and we're off....... doors open, windows open, steps out, hood still in the raised position but we're moving again. Made it up to main street, turned  left proceeded thru town until we got to the RV park.  I did not stop at the front office to register we just drove past it and into the park, found a spot and parked it. By the time I got it parked the manager was there asking why we didn't stop to register? I explained our problem. He was very nice and told me just to come by and register later. After I got the electric and water hooked up , so the wife could have some relieve from the heat, I stopped by the office and registered and then headed out on foot to  find this guy named Charlie.........
   About 6 blocks down the street I find another parts store. This time it's an O-Riley's.  I go inside and inquire about an alternator for my motor-home or the guy named Charlie that lives around here somewhere? They said they did not have an alternator that would fit but they could get one here by

2PM.  I asked if they could deliver it to the RV park and they said yes..... I ordered it and went ahead and paid for it.... I returned to the RV park to remove the old one for exchange so I could be ready to replace it with the new one when it arrived. Things are looking up, or so I thought...

   Shortly after 2PM  they showed  up with the new alternator, we exchanged alternators and off he  goes. I installed the new alternator only find that it was too big. The mounting holes will not line up properly. I called O-Riley's and explained that it did not fit. No problem, we have one here that will. Can you send it over? Yes, It'll be right there. We exchanged alternators but this time we had to change the pulley on the alternator as the one they brought over this time was different.  No problem I'm told, this one will work. I looked at it and sure enough it was smaller than the one I just took off. So off he goes............ This alternator is too small. The holes do not line up either.....  I called O-Riley's again...
We close at 5 PM he says but I have one here I sure it will fit. We'll have the driver drop it off on his way home. On his way home the driver drops off another alternator, we exchange pulleys and I ask him to wait to be sure it fit and he did. It fit but the batteries where so drained the engine would not start. I then asked the driver if he could run me over to Wal-Mart so I could exchange the batteries. He says sure but only after he goes home and eats dinner... .something about missing  a meal once and found it in the trash when he finally got home.

He got back around 7PM, I  already had the batteries removed so we could just load up and go. Wal-Mart, after a little talking exchanged my batteries, so I return with 3 new batteries and thanked him for returning and helping me out, Tried to pay him but no thanks, he would not have it.... :) 
    I installed the 3 new batteries, the engine fires right up and I swear  even the gauges looked to be working that night. Maybe this trip is not a total lost yet??? After a quick meal I just passed out on the bed, man I was pooped.
   Early the next morning after losing almost a full day of travel time I was eager to get back on the road...... as we/I still planned  on stopping in Branson, Mo. On the way home......... So at 4 AM the next morning I'm up and ready to hit the road.  Wife is pissed about now as she likes to sleep in and we are on vacation.... But up an at em I always say, early bird gets the worm. She gets up, gets dressed and moves to the co-pilot seat, no shower as the water heater has stopped working. Just get me home she says, forget Branson,  just get me home........Sounds like you might be a little grumpy this morning I said, trying to cheer her up.....  I packed up and zoom zoom, just like Willie Nelson, we're on the road again.......

   About 40 miles out of Oklahoma City I noticed my headlights are getting really dim so I cut the headlights off to save power in the batteries and we're losing speed and power again.

It's barely daylight and we're back to the same old song.......   I exit the interstate and try to find another O-Riley's...... Bingo. There it is just like the last one.  I sure could use some luck from those little green Irish men about now. I pull in to the parking lot, go inside and tell them about my day yesterday and ask if they could test the alternator for me. Sure bring it on in. So I go out and remove the alternator and take it inside. It tested bad, They had a replacement on hand, same part number and all but we still had to change the pulleys?????? We exchanged alternators and I installed the new one. I;m getting this down pretty pat now, Only about 20 minutes start to finish, out with the old, in with the new... We're back on the road again and it's still early in the morning not even 9 AM......... yet?

   This time we barely made it 80 miles. I guess because I didn't get the batteries charged or exchanged.
Same old song, Losing  power, speed. Exit, find an O-Riley's, exchange alternators, charged batteries and back on the road....... We have done this so many times I cannot count em. Well I could but I don't want too......

    The next time we made it to Fort Smith, Arkansas.  But this time it's different.  Same old story, losing power and speed. So we exit and find O-Riley's and swap out the alternator again.  This time I ask if they could verify the part number. They did and it was the wrong one. They had a different part number and had one in stock, we exchanged alternators and charged the batteries. Plus we did not need to change the pulleys. The alternator we took off was for a Chevy 350 with smaller pulley. The one we put on there was for a 454 with the larger pulley.  Finally got her right …. but we are fed up.  The wife is fuming setting there in 108 degree heat watching me change out the alternators sweating like a raging  bull. My wife about this time is checking out the guys in the parking lot with their big trucks wondering if any of them are heading toward Tennessee .

After I got it all back together we headed to the nearest Chevrolet dealer. My wife had said something about the guys and their trucks so I figured I better just trade this thing off and go home before she traded me off.  I figured we could just trade for a truck, throw our stuff in the back, and drive home...... We find the dealer, go inside and the first thing out of their mouth was........ we cannot trade for a motor-home. Kinda  like they where reading my mind or something............ LOL … Oh well, so much for that idea.

    Back on the road again and I thought all is well finally....... We made it to Little Rock, Arkansas before stopping for the night. We got a hot shower in the clean bath house in the RV park. Changed cloths and when out to dinner. Wife is in no mood to cook after the day we had.  Headed out early the next morning after coffee and some old cinnamon buns, forget Branson, just get us home, I'm selling this thing, I'm done Rving and done with this piece of ______ RV.

   No more trouble until we're about 40 miles out of Nashville, Tennessee. We needed fuel again so I stopped at a truck stop to gas up. It's a big place with RV pumps by the auto pumps. Prepay, so I go inside and put down $70.00 on the old credit card and return outside to start pumping the gas....... Wife is sitting in the RV waiting patiently for me to return and take her home. Got about $60.00 in the tank before it shuts off..... hummm.  Just $10.00 more I might make it home without stopping for fuel again. so I'll just squeeze the rest in to the tank slowly....  I keep on slowing  pumping the gas into the tank, I just pump in a little and it goes down,  so I keep repeating this process trying to get it all in the tank.   
   About this time the wife (bless her heart) gets out of the RV and walks around the rear of the RV and says.......... Hey! Whats this running out of the back of the RV? I stop pumping the fuel, thinking what the heck has she found now? I walk around to the rear of the RV and gas is just pouring out of the rear heater system, a steady stream.  Gas is everywhere! Just a circle of gas about 20 ft in diameter encircling the whole RV looks like.  I tell the wife to try to keep people away and them about the spill.

I run inside to tell the cashier that we have a major fuel spill and I need water some water. Her response is “ there's a faucet on the front of the building”.......... I go out to the faucet and there's no bucket, no hose ..nothing that I can use to haul water. I run to the RV and grab a gallon jug of water and pour it on the spill....... No where near enough, so  I  run over to the faucet, fill up the jug, and back and forth pouring water on the spill. My wife is still stopping incoming traffic and telling them about the spill and not to smoke around it. I thought........ I really need to move the RV before something bad happens. So I run over to the RV, jump in and the darn thing will not start. So back I go to hauling water I go.  I tell the wife to grab the broom and try sweeping the gas and water away from the RV and pumps.......

 I tried to start the RV again and it started right up. I moved the RV over to the side of the parking lot, helped the wife clean/ sweep the spill enough that I thought it was OK.  We got in the RV and left. Gas is still leaking from the heater system at the rear of the RV. We drive down the road to the next exit and get off to check the fuel leak.  It's stopped now. I guess the extra fuel I was trying to squeeze in the tank was just running out of the over flow and  dripping out the back. Never had that problem again. Oh what a trip, just get us home and we'll never do this again.....
   When we get in to Nashville it's darn near 5PM, Rush hour is underway, It's dark, It's cloudy and it's starting to rain.... I turn on my wipers and headlights but the wipers are barely moving, like really slow......so I turned off the headlights to reduce the power drain of the batteries........  My gauges are going nuts, we are losing power and speed but we keep on going. The wipers are working a little better now, but not by much. We still have about 75 miles to go before we get home. As we hit I-24 heading east toward  home we are down to about 50 MPH, slow but still moving,  By the time we get to our exit our speed is down to about 30 MPH. We made it off the interstate just in time to creep along on home..

As we near our street our  top speed is about 10-15 MPH.... Just crawling down the street and it's all level ground. We finally pull up in front of our house,.What a feeling to get back home after the ordeal we've been thru. I stopped and backed the motor-home into the driveway and  into the RV port set up behind our house. When I turned the key off the engine stopped! I turned it back on and nothing, no start, no lights, not even a dim light on the dash. But we're back home!!!!!

   Talk about the skin of your teeth, we made it but I still don't know how...... Over the next few days we cleaned everything out the RV, after all we're done Rving, and we're done with the piece of ____!
Quote “Nevermore”

   After 3 weekends of trouble shooting this monster I find I have a short in the wiring harness going to the transmission. After a quick repair we're back.. and this is not so bad. A couple of short trips to test the waters....... We're back on the road, loving it again. Then the biggie. ….......
Oh yea! This is great! We kept it for another year before we traded up to a newer Holiday Rambler motor-home....... But nothing can replace the memories we have of our first. It's always special.....
Still love to travel, still love to RV and really looking forward to going FULLTIME some day.
See Ya Down The Road............

P. S. This is a true story about a rookie Rver and his lovely wife and their first RV. 
We still talk and laugh about the good times......... and bad...
WOW, What a trip!!!


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Re: A Vacation to Forget
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2014, 09:15:47 AM »
Sometimes the most memorable vacations are the ones that you want to forget. My kids still say things like "remember when the engine blew in the Winnebago in Bowling Green" or "remember when the hydraulic line broke on the Pace Arrow and we had to clean all that fluid off from the Blazer that we were towing". I have a couple more but that would mean that I would remember them. I'm trying to forget a few! 8)
2007 Holiday Rambler Navigator
2013 Honda CRV
Grandville, MI
FMCA 431519
RPCV Sierra Leone

John From Detroit

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Re: A Vacation to Forget
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2014, 05:49:26 PM »
Had the oil changed on my towed a couple (3) weeks ago and the technician commented on the oil film all over the undercarriage on the car.  (nicely oiled all over)

Yup came from the Engine on the motor home it did... OUCH.  Why I'm in Georgia when I should be getting ready to head SOUTH from Michigan.
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.


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Re: A Vacation to Forget
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2014, 12:57:08 PM »
Sorry to hear these problems, but I kind of also got a headache reading your post. I couldn't understand why after you had the alternator checked you didn't have the batteries checked before you replaced them and then went back to thinking the alternator was the problem without having it rechecked and so forth, and then when you still had trouble didn't head for a repair shop to trouble shoot the problem and stay with it to get it solved.

In my mind, I assume that any vacation can go wrong. I had one friend that ended up suffering through a hurricane in an overseas paradise. But, with an rv, whether new or used or well used, especially well used, that part of the dream has to include a bit of a nightmare from time to time.
Gone RVing with Susan
Class B- RV: 2001 Mercedes CLK320 Soft Top


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Re: A Vacation to Forget
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2019, 06:42:49 PM »
Just in case this is read by the original poster, I just want to say that I sure enjoyed reading this tonight, very entertaining and happy that you and your wife made it home safely.  Thank you for writing this.

John From Detroit

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Re: A Vacation to Forget
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2019, 08:16:41 AM »
One thing the O/P needs to know about Motor homes  actually 1.2

The GENERATOR runs the CONVERTER which charges the house batteried and on MANY RV's it will alo charge the chassis system... (that is the 1.1 part)

1.2 part.. IF yours does NOT charge the chasis system.. A Jumper cable (just one) is all you need. Positive house to positive chassis and you are good to go.
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.


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Re: A Vacation to Forget
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2019, 09:54:08 AM »
Had the oil changed on my towed a couple (3) weeks ago and the technician commented on the oil film all over the undercarriage on the car.  (nicely oiled all over)

Yup came from the Engine on the motor home it did... OUCH.  Why I'm in Georgia when I should be getting ready to head SOUTH from Michigan.

If your coach is a diesel it may be normal John. 

Back in the day I used to draft Greyhound buses blasting across the desert going to Vegas with my little red MGB roadster.    I could get up within 3 feet of the back of the bus.... and I could almost completely let off of the throttle. 

Anyway.... a couple hours of that and by the time I got Vegas,  my little car was totally soaked in oil...   ;D


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Re: A Vacation to Forget
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2019, 07:35:29 AM »
If your coach is a diesel it may be normal John. 

Back in the day I used to draft Greyhound buses blasting across the desert going to Vegas with my little red MGB roadster.    I could get up within 3 feet of the back of the bus.... and I could almost completely let off of the throttle. 

Anyway.... a couple hours of that and by the time I got Vegas,  my little car was totally soaked in oil...   ;D

That post from John was from '14.  I think he replaced the engine in his coach shortly after that.

I was lucky.  When mine did that it was only a leaky oil cooler on the coach.  Filled the cooling system with oil and puked it out the cap on the surge tank...all down the side of the coach and the Jeep. 
Wally Crow
Retired 30+ year ASE Master Auto Tech
Y2K Bounder 36S F53   "Kobayashi Maru"
'03 Jeep Wrangler Sahara
FMCA F494768

"Well, my time of not taking you seriously is coming to a middle."