Long awaited retirement trip finally here

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John Stephens

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Jan 27, 2015
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Cape Coral, FL
When my wife and I bought our Winnebago Adventurer over four years ago, it was a premature purchase because we originally intended to buy a coach upon retirement this year and fulfill our bucket list of visiting as many national parks as possible before getting too old to enjoy traveling cross country. But we pulled the trigger on this unit because we liked the floor plan and it was priced within our budget. Well, we didn't expect to spend an additional $25,000 on repairs, sometimes things you simply wouldn't expect to go wrong, such as having a desiccant bag explode inside the cab a/c system and having the entire system replaced. And it seems like every time we think we have repaired everything that can go wrong, the coach looks at us and says, "Hold my beer." But we finally think we have MOST of the problems resolved and look at the last four years as a gigantic shakedown cruise of sorts, and retirement is finally here.

I retired from full-time employment in 2009 and now work a seasonal job that lasts about six to seven months each year, working the days and hours I request. This year, my last day of work was April 27, only five weeks after having my 15th eye surgery and a month after my wife had an emergency cancer surgery. Judy went back to work the first of May, right after we drove the coach from storage to our driveway. She received her first Social Security check in May, which is what we have been waiting for in order to begin our retirement vacations. Her idea of retirement is to cut back from working six days a week to only three or four but also taking three months off each year to see the country. We have planned out three major trips to be able to see what we want. This year, we will head to the Northwest and visit the Black Hills, Big Horns, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier and then head into Canada to see Banff and Jasper National Parks and take the Icefield Parkway between them since we have been told by many people that it is possibly the most scenic drive in North America. Next year, we plan to go to the Southwest and visit Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, and circle back to Colorado to see Rocky Mountain NP. On each trip, we will head back home to Florida via the Midwest since we have friends and relatives in both St. Louis and Southeast Illinois. For our third trip, we will travel up the Eastern Seaboard to visit the major cities on our way to Maine and then circle around to Niagara Falls on the north side and then head back south.

I will keep a blog of sorts via this forum and update this thread with information about our travels, the roads, our stops, and our trials and tribulations regarding the coach, which I am sure will be numerous.

For now, I will mention that I have readied this coach for the road as much as I can in the past month. Since this will be our most arduous journey to date, traversing the Rockies several times with a gasser + toad, I wanted to make sure it was mechanically as sound as I could. The radiator fluid has been tested and looks good, the tranny fluid was changed 7,000 miles ago, the engine had a complete tuneup at the same time and I just changed the oil and filter in the past week. The generator was serviced 75 hours ago and is running well. All fluid levels have been checked and topped off, this time with the correct fluids. Two years ago, I made the mistake of topping off the parking brake fluid with brake fluid. Makes sense, doesn't it? When I drained the holding tank and got lights coming on my dashboard halfway to the first destination that I had never seen before, I realized it takes ATF, not brake fluid.

My biggest projects this year to get the coach ready was to strip and caulk much of the seal along one side of the roof where it meets the side rail and along the curves in front where the front cap meet the roof and sides. I thought I was going to have to replace the entire caulking on both side rails but realized once I got up to the roof that most of the caulk was still in good shape and doing its intended job. In addition to that, however, my biggest time and labor consumer was to attempt to beautify the coach's exterior. The previous owner apparently didn't know he was supposed to keep the coach waxed and when I bought the coach, the clear coat or gel coat was quickly deteriorating on the sides of the coach where there was no paint or decals. I tried various waxes in past years and was told by a professional crew that I would never get that coach to shine again without repainting it. After researching the subject, I decided to try using ZEP Wet Look Floor Polish after a thorough cleaning and removing all oxidation. The finished job looks pretty good, if I say so myself. It took nearly two weeks to do it right because I realized that the prep work was the most important thing and instead of putting on one thick coat of polish, six thin coats were used. Now, I'm hoping that all I'll need to do is keep it clean and reapply a coat of ZEP once a year.

The coach is still parked in my driveway against city codes. Where I live prohibits any kind of RV parked for more than 48 hours anywhere on your property, but it's okay to have four boats and trailers parked all over your yard. Fortunately, I haven't had any neighbors call code enforcement yet. I'll move it to the level empty lot next door on Thursday evening so I can start the refrigerator since my driveway where it currently resides has a 25-degree slope. Before that, I'll sanitize the fresh water tank and fill it. I usually don't like traveling with more than a half tank full of water, but this time, we don't have a choice since we won't see our first campground with hookups for seven days. I have already begun packing for the trip and by the time the coach is moved out of the driveway, most of what we are taking from the house will be inside the coach. A thorough house cleaning will be done before we go, and hurricane shutters have already begun to be put in place. I am amazed at the amount of work that goes into getting ready for a trip this long, both getting the coach and the house ready. Trying to remember everything that must be done is a chore in itself at my age.

The reason we will be needing a full tank of water is that we dry camp on our way to our various destinations in order to save money and be able to afford nicer campgrounds for the destinations we will visit for lengthy stays. Cracker Barrel parking lots will be the majority of our stops the first five days on our way up to HWH Corp. in Moscow, Iowa. There, we will have our slides and jacks repaired before really beginning our vacation. From there, we will head to Forest City and visit the Winnebago factory and then take two more days to make it to our first vacation stop in Deadwood, SD.

We will leave home next Saturday, on the 1st of June. I'll post an update to this thread as often as possible to give the reader an idea of what we have experienced on the road including road conditions. I was really hoping that we would have seen more done to improve our roads and bridges before these retirement trips, but now it appears those things will be put on the back burner for another indeterminate amount of time. I hope the roads don't cost us repairs as I-10 through Louisiana did three years ago when it made our generator bottom out on its springs and sever the conduit to the transfer switch, rendering us with no electric. Another $1,000 unexpected repair.

Until next time, happy camping!
 

jackiemac

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Hope you both have a great trip after all this  time. Looking forward to your updates and suggestions for things to see and do!

Safe travels.
 

ArdraF

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Feb 12, 2006
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Just getting ready to leave can be a journey.  I'm happy to hear you're ready to start seeing our wonderful country.  Happy travels!

ArdraF
 

John Stephens

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Jan 27, 2015
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949
Location
Cape Coral, FL
Our first day was very long and arduous. We left the house on time but our check engine light came on two miles from the house. We spent two hours at three different locations to find that no chassis mechanics that can do a diagnostic on a Workhorse engine work on weekends and apparently, there is no one left in Fort Myers that works on Workhorse chassis at all. I took my chances and hit the road hoping it was nothing because the engine seemed to run fine. After about 50 miles, the light went out. Best guess is the engine was 1-? quarts low on oil after my oil change because I changed it in the driveway that has about a 25 or 30 agree slant so I didn't get an accurate dipstick reading. Lesson learned.

Shortly after the check engine light went out, I lost my cruise control, the dashboard lights began flickering when they shouldn't have been on at all, and the compass direction began blinking. I'm hoping it's a blown fuse, but my best guess is that it's a remnant error of my mechanic who charged me over $800 labor to track down the cause of my driver's door panel going out last year, finding the problem a blown relay in the dashboard. Since I haven't run the coach much since then, it stands to reason I've got a loose wire somewhere. But what I don't understand is what these items - cruise control, dash lights and compass direction - have in common. If any reader has an idea, please share.

Other than those problems, we had a pretty good first day on the road with no bad road issues. We made good time and got decent mileage. The early part of the trip saw us getting 8.1 mpg on flat ground towing four down. When we got into the hills north of Tampa, the mileage dropped to 6.9-7.3, but a lot of that reduction was due to me having a lead right foot hen the cruise control went down. We have stayed on I-75 the entire day and will continue to do so tomorrow with our next stop in Dalton, Ga. Presently, we are parked in a Cracker Barrel after having eaten dinner there, in Lake Park, Ga., right across the Florida line. One reason Judy and I are thinking of moving to Arizona next year is because we're getting tired of taking an entire day to get out of the state we live in. I guess it could be worse; we could live in Texas or Alaska.

Here's a question for anyone who knows - my Chevy owner's manual says I shouldn't tow the Equinox faster than 65 mph. Why? Is it for safety's sake or is there a mechanical reason? I'm asking because since I'm used to using cruise control set at 62, I found myself doing as fast as 69 before realizing it and then backing off. Am I damaging the engine or transaxle if this is done for short periods, or is this anything to even worry about?

The Cracker Barrel we are at has good food and good service, for anyone who might decide to give it a try. We stopped for gas at a Flying J the exit before this one just in the nick of time, as our generator died because we were down to ? tank of gas. Price was $2.38 after a Good Sam discount and we dumped our tanks for $7.50. Easy in and out.

I'm going to check my Workhorse owner's manual to see which fuse controls the cruise control and pull it to see if it's blown because the dashboard light for the cruise doesn't even come on. The strange thing is that it worked intermittently for a few minutes before going out completely. Hopefully this will be the only thing wrong and an easy fix. And hopefully, tomorrow will bring no further issues. We are bound and determined to keep our spirits up regardless of what goes wrong with the coach. Now the coach will say, "Hold my beer."
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Here's a question for anyone who knows - my Chevy owner's manual says I shouldn't tow the Equinox faster than 65 mph. Why? Is it for safety's sake or is there a mechanical reason? I'm asking because since I'm used to using cruise control set at 62, I found myself doing as fast as 69 before realizing it and then backing off. Am I damaging the engine or transaxle if this is done for short periods, or is this anything to even worry about?

It's a combination of things, but generally not to worry. The major concern with towing an automatic is the heat generated in the transmission and its inability to shed it (no transmission fluid circulating through the cooler in the radiator). The faster you go and the  hotter the weather, the more susceptible it is to heat build-up. It's also a generalized safety concern by the car maker. They don't test towability and the faster you go, the more risk they (and you) are exposed to.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Nothing you described sounds like a fuse to me. Could possible be low alternator output (low voltage or inadequate current/amps). Or the loose wire yu mentioned.
 

John Stephens

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Jan 27, 2015
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Cape Coral, FL
Day two was better than the first. Biggest problem being our tow cable (electrical) disconnected from the car and dragged on the ground so long, we lost the plug. Not knowing the wiring diagram, I couldn't buy a new plug and wire it. We drove to the Camping World in Macon without lights on the car to save time since they don't open until 10AM on Sundays and found a new cable for $125. I was a bit astounded since I only paid $25 for the first one. I'm not sure why it came unplugged, but am guessing it's because we wrapped the cable around the tow bar because of its length and went too far, not giving it enough slack to take the turns. The cruise control is still gone but the dashboard lights are no longer flickering and the compass reset itself and is now reading correctly. When we set up last night, I dropped the jacks for stability because we were already reasonably level and found my driver's rear did not deploy. That makes two of the four and since both are jacks that still have the original solenoids, I'm pretty sure what's wrong with them. Another $200 to be spent at HWH when we get there on the 6th. I'm wondering if we should change out the rest of the original solenoids in the slide outs since they are all 14 years old and my mechanic mentioned to me that they are all corroding. This could be an expensive trip to HWH if all need replacing along with the slide out work they will do, replacing the teflon pads on the rams.

Then just now as I was typing this, we found out the television has an HDMI input going out. It's a cheap Emerson that the previous owner installed in place of the original CRT, so it won't hurt our feelings if we have to buy a new one. The TV still works but now has only one HDMI input that works. Since we have a Blu-Ray player, Dish, and Apple TV, we need more than one input.

I wasn't in a hurry today and kept my speed to 58-64 most of the way. We ran into three backups that cost us a total of an hour, all three being lane reductions due to road work. I have to give the state of Georgia credit for keeping their roads up. The south half of the state ha all new or repaved lanes on I-75 and they are now working on the north half. The only really bad pavement we ran across was in Atlanta. Our total time on the road today was 9-? hours when I estimated 8.

Our mileage varied according to terrain, but I think I averaged around 7.1 mpg as far as my 50 mile average on the computer was concerned, with variances from 6.1 in backups to 7.6 on flat ground. It is impossible to determine actual mileage by taking amount of fill ups and miles because we have the generator running at all times to keep the coach cool for the dogs. Gas prices are on their way down. We stopped twice, paying $2.39 and $2.41. If those prices were to hold for the entire trip, I would be tickled since I budgeted an average cost of $2.80 per gallon. I know when we go west, we'll run into higher prices.  Then, I think my budgeted average will hold true.

Toby, our rough Collie, is 3 years old and has ridden in the coach since we got him at age nine weeks. He absolutely loves going for coach trips. Cameron, our smooth Collie, is nearly six and is an adopted rescue who has minor issues with barking and pacing, but seems to love riding in the coach, relaxing and stretching out on the floor or doghouse. Mandy is our one year old mini Aussie, a mix between a standard Aussie and a mini American Shepherd. She is still a puppy at heart and is very high energy. She is having a difficult time relaxing with the drive and always wants in Judy's lap. When that doesn't happen, she camps out at Judy's feet. Today, she seemed to relax a bit more than yesterday, so I'm hoping by the time we get to our first destination, she will have gotten used to the coach and the drive.

People complain about rude drivers a lot, and with good reason. But when you're out on the highways, you come to realize that it's not just the four-wheelers, as the OTR drivers would want you to believe. I have had cars pass me and immediately cut in front of me, not realizing that if they had to stop quickly, I would run over them. But what bothers me most is when a fellow RV'er does the exact same thing when they should know better, or when an OTR driver does it when they are supposed to be the professionals of the road. There are a lot of people on the road that need to exercise some simple courtesy and think of something other than themselves.

We are presently in Dalton, GA and will travel to Decatur, IL tomorrow. Taking Monteagle in southern Tennessee will give me a mild idea of what to expect when we get to the Rockies. This will be the first time we have taken it flat towing. I have decided to call Winnebago tomorrow morning to see if I can make a service appointment for Friday when we get to Forest City. Having them determine the problem with the cruise control will ease my mind and allow me to know whatever they fix or replace will be done right.
 

ChasA

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Mar 21, 2009
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John,
I don't think Winnebago can help you with the cruise control. I think you need to take it to a Ford or Chevy (depending on which you have) service  shop.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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It is impossible to determine actual mileage by taking amount of fill ups and miles because we have the generator running at all times

If you estimate genset fuel consumption at 0.5 gal/hour at 50% load, you won't be far off.  Each a/c unit uses about 1.4 kh/hr on a hot day.
 

Len and Jo

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Apr 25, 2005
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1,389
Enjoy.  Remember that it's not really the end points of a trip that count the most but the travels getting there.  Have safe and great travels. 
 

John Stephens

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Jan 27, 2015
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949
Location
Cape Coral, FL
Gary, that is exactly how I determine rough mileage, but I can never remember how many hours I had the generator on since the last fill up. I have found that the chassis computer is reasonably accurate to within about .3 gallon, so I have simply been watching it.

Chas, I found that out this morning when I called Winnebago. They do very little chassis work, telling me they could change my transmission fluid if I wanted, but could only look at the cruise to the extent of checking for a blown fuse, which I have already done. They suggested finding a Workhorse repair facility. I told them they are becoming few and far between with the only one in my town now refusing to work on RV Workhorse chassis and only choosing to work on trucks. This could feasibly drive down the resale value of any Workhorse RV. Winnebago at least gave me a phone number for Navistar, who bought out Workhorse, so I can get a list of authorized repair centers and possibly find someone in my travels this summer.

I will plan on visiting Winnebago anyway since it was on my itinerary, and the service man who I spoke with told me they might be able to take me on Friday as a non-appointment if they have a cancellation. He said the next appointment they are taking is for September. We will take a tour anyway.

That news, coupled with arguing with Caremark for 90 minutes about a mistake they made that now may cost me being able to get important meds that can't be done without for 90 days made my morning rather stressful, but we chalked it off and enjoyed the countryside since we are now in what we call hill country. Living in SW Florida make one appreciate a change of elevation in any amount. Taking Monteagle on I-24 was a piece of cake, finding me hitting the brakes only twice down the mountain and watching the computer mileage drop to 4.9 on the upside. The overall mileage during the day was about 7.3. This equated well to the actual mileage after assuming generator usage taking 10 gallons for 20 hours of use coming out to 7.1. I'm quite happy with that considering this is a 14 year old gasser.

The roads today were better than the last time we were on I-24, Bad sections still exist in Chattanooga and Nashville, which is to be expected since the large cities have considerably more traffic and both of these sections were concrete rather than asphalt. But most of I-24 outside the cities have been repaved or recovered with asphalt and are much smoother and more enjoyable. In Kentucky, the road once again got bad on both surfaces with plenty of chuckholes and patched chuckholes that are already failing to avoid. We ran across several bad spots that caused ceiling light covers to fall.

Today was the first day we were able to travel without the generator having to run the a/c to stay cool since we are far enough north. At least, that is, until noon when it got hot enough due to the sun beating down on the box we now call home long enough to make it feel like a take and bake oven. We drove to Paducah, KY and are parked in a Walmart parking lot next to 3 truckers. With Walmart only a short walk one direction and a Best Buy a block in the other direction, we may buy a new television for the coach tonight. I mistakenly said last night we would drive to Decatur, IL. A product of age, commonly referred to as Sometimer's Disease or CRS.

We saw the best gas price today when in Chattanooga when we filled the tank for $2.21/gallon. I haven't seen gas that cheap for a year or more. Paducah gas is around $2.47 but we will fill up before we leave because Illinois has some of the highest prices in the Midwest. Without putting pencil to paper, i have to guess our average price per gallon so far has been in the $2.30's, considerably less than expected.

Tomorrow we drive to Mt. Olive, IL so Judy can visit her sister and from there, we'll drive to HWH. From there we will be in country we have never seen before, so I'll begin commenting on the country as we drive through it.
 

darsben

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I just got through arguing with Caremark for my wife. Dr ordered 6 meds at $20copay each. Caremark only shipped 5 because they have a $100 copay max. They would ship the other when first bill was paid. The way they decided which 5 to ship was the one last on. the list does not ship. A call to my insurer GEHA got it straightened out and now we have a higher copay. limit
 

John Stephens

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Cape Coral, FL
We have made it to our first destination in Moscow, IA and we had HWH work on the coach's hydraulic system. Two jacks were not deploying and they replaced the solenoids and fuses. The bushings in the rams of the living room slide had disintegrated and they replaced them. My mechanic told me he would charge $1,800 to do the slide work and that I needed six of the ten solenoids replaced due to corrosion. The other four were replaced within the last three years. Since he marks up all the parts between 100-200% and charges considerably more for labor, he was looking at a cost to do this work of over $5,000. HWH inspected the entire system and told me they don't replace solenoids only because they are corroded because that is simply the nature of the beast and even though some of the bushings in the rams of the dining room slide are cracked, they do not need replacing until they begin to disintegrate and fall out. The entire bill for two solenoids and the bushing replacement was $573, less than what my mechanic would have charged for installing ONE new solenoid. I really would like to find another mechanic, but this guy is the best and cheapest in town. They really commit highway robbery with the RV owners in South Florida.

For the first time in two vacations over the last 12 months, we are now able to deploy all four jacks and have the coach well leveled. While there, I asked if it was all right to use WD-40 on the jack rods when they retract too slow because my owner's manual from 2005 says no, but other people lately have said HWH told them it was all right. They said that using WD-40 lightly by spraying some on a rag and then wiping the rods down is okay, but if you spray WD-40 directly on the rods, as most people do, make sure the excess has been wiped off before retracting the jacks. I asked if using silicone spray was okay because it is even slicker than WD-40, but they told me no, it may be slicker, but it is also gummier and it will gum up the wiper seal and begin to collect dirt, so in the long run, it will actually inhibit the jacks retracting. But - the final word on using WD-40 is yes, it can be used sparingly.

The roads we have taken have been good for the most part. It seems that nearly anywhere there is concrete, you will find bad roads that will tear up the coach if taken too fast. I-24 in Tennessee has been repaved much of the way between Chattanooga and Nashville, and the worst sections are the old, probably original, concrete spots in the city areas. Most of the Illinois roads we took - I-24. I-57 and I-74 - were good. I-64 toward St. Louis had several rough spots. The roads in Iowa are hit and miss. Some are very good, some are under construction with one lane open while they patch the bad spots, and some will make you wish you had taken a different route. It is disappointing to me that the condition of our roads and bridges is so poor. It's time to do something about it.

The coach continues to have problems. While in Paducah, KY at a Walmart, while I was airing up some of the tires, Judy came out and told me the kitchen faucet handle broke off in her hand. We had wanted to replace that faucet anyway because it is so cheap, light and weak, I was afraid it wouldn't last very long. Well, now is the time but I don't want to climb under the sink and replace it with a new one without the right tools. So I told Judy we will move the shaft with our hands until we reach St. Louis where a friend has a faucet wrench and is willing to help.

That day on our way to Mt.Olive, IL, we decided to make a side jaunt about 25 miles out of our way to get a pizza for lunch that we really liked when we lived in the St. Louis area. The place was located in a strip mall with a relatively small parking lot. We got lucky and was able to park sideways, taking up about eight spaces in the very back side of the lot, but when we left, we pulled out onto a side street and just as I was ready to turn right and use the entire street to make the turn properly, a pickup turned right in front of me and stopped. Not able to use his lane, I cut the wheel more than I should and took out the quarter panel over the rear wheel well and the compartment door for the propane tank by catching a fire hydrant, not knowing it was happening because it was beyond my mirror. Only when I saw in the mirror that I was ready to hit the hydrant with my car did I realize I was too close. So it was a $500 pizza. What makes me feel the worst is the fact that I spent two weeks getting the coach looking good - better than when I bought it - and now, it looks terrible on one side. I turned it into my insurance company and let them know there is no hurry to get an estimate because I won't get it repaired until we return home in three months. It sure would be nice if I could get it repaired while we're on the road, but the places where we'll be stationary for long enough are spots we probably won't have RV collision centers, such as Yellowstone and Glacier.

Today, while driving toward Winnebago in Forest City, I realized I had no hazard flashers. When I got to Winnebago, I realized I also had no turn signals. My first thought was more electrical issues to go along with the cruise control not working and the compass reading incorrectly and refusing to be recalibrated. But it turned out to be a blown fuse, an easy fix that cost me nothing. We also had a noise pop up in the a/c while we were getting that expensive pizza that made me think a compressor was going out, but after a few hours, it went away. That makes me suspicious because problems usually don't fix themselves.

We have had no issues with water conservation yet. Yesterday, we stopped at a Flying J and dumped our tanks and refilled the fresh water tank. Knowing that we can do this while on the major highways allows us to do laundry and take showers every day. This is the longest we have ever gone without stopping at a campground and hooking up. Dry camping isn't difficult if you use some common sense.

Even with the problems with the coach, we are keeping our spirits up and enjoying this trip. We are seeing parts of the country we have never seen before and after updating my Garmin's software and maps, I am depending on it to keep me on the right path. It has had us take routes we thought were wrong, but found out later there was a good reason because it knows what the traffic ahead is like and we don't. The only time I have found it trying to tell me wrong was today when it told me to go south and take three of the four loops of a cloverleaf from one highway to the other when all I had to do was go north on one entrance ramp. That made no sense to me.

Mandy, our mini Aussie seems to have gotten used to riding in the coach after only about four days. She still has to be close to Mommy but will now stretch out on the doghouse instead of always trying to climb into Mommy's lap. The boys are doing fine, staying in back, laying on the floor or couch and only coming forward when it's time to go potty. They are really good about letting us know. Knock on wood, but we haven't had any accidents yet with the dogs. I wish I could say the same thing about my own driving.

Tomorrow, I try at 7AM to get Winnebago to look at my coach without an appointment. If I get lucky and find they have a cancellation and can fit me in, I'll have them change the transmission fluid because it is getting dark, even though it doesn't smell burned yet. I want to make sure the transmission is in the best shape before I hit the Rockies. They told me over the phone that although they don't do chassis work, they can at least take a look at the cruise control problem and try to figure out what is wrong. If it's a wiring problem, they might be able to fix it. I also want to see if they have gutter extensions that will fit on this coach and install new windshield wipers. I also want to see if they have smaller steering wheels than the one I have. Mine is 18" and I would like to go down to a 16". I saw several at the I-80 Truck stop in Walcott, Iowa but don't have a wheel puller so I can't buy one and put it on myself. We are also going to try to take a tour of the factory while we are there. We'll stay there again tomorrow night and then begin our final leg to our first real vacation destination and campground in Deadwood, SD.
 

John Stephens

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Jan 27, 2015
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949
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Cape Coral, FL
Friday saw us at Winnebago all day. We stayed in the Rally campground for two nights and were very pleased with the facilities. The sites were level, there were dump stations galore and a water spigot to refill your holding tank. I showed up at Customer Service at 7AM and was told to check back at 11:40 which I did, only to find out they had been trying to get in touch with me since 7:20 but my phone had no service in this area. They were able to take the coach that day without a problem. I told them I wanted them to change or flush the transmission fluid, check the cruise control to see if they could repair it or if I would have to take it to a Workhorse chassis shop, and install new wiper blades. I forgot to ask them about the steering wheel and if it could be replaced, but I'm sure it can.

Within an hour, the tech came back out with a paper towel of my transmission fluid on one line and a brand new fluid on another line, and told me this is what the fluid should look like. I told him I knew that already and that was why I asked him to change it. Although it doesn't smell burned yet, I simply don't like the fact that it has turned brown already after only 12,000 miles. He agreed, but then told me they tested my fluid and found nothing wrong with it. His guess was that the mechanic that changed it last put some kind of additive in the fluid that made it turn from red to brown prematurely. He told me I didn't need a fluid change and to simply smell the fluid to determine when it needed changing. That appeared to save me $300. He told me he thought they knew what was wrong with the cruise control and they were going to try a couple of new parts when they arrived from a different building, and the wiper blades were already installed. He made it sound like we would be finished within an hour or two. That was at 12:30.

At 4:15, he came back out to give me the bill and tell me everything was done. He said the problem with the cruise was the switch in the multi-function lever, or the turn signal lever. It had to be replaced. He told me the total bill was $723 when I expected to hear something around $4-500 so I asked him to show me the breakdown of the charges. The lever cost $295 and it took 2.1 hours @ $135/hr. to repair it, including test driving the coach to make sure it worked. So to fix the cruise cost almost $600. The wiper blades were $80. I guess between the two shops, I came out with just about what I expected; less at HWH and more at Winnebago, so I can't complain.

Except for the fact that the driver's rear jack still isn't deploying after they changed out the solenoid. And now I can't return to HWH to have them look at it because I'm well past that point in my travels. I'll call or write to them Monday and ask what can be done. Hopefully, there will be something I can do myself that will correct the problem. I didn't field test it while there because they told me they had tested it twice. I took their word for it and believe it probably did work for them. We just have to figure out why it isn't working now. And until I get it fixed, I'll have to get lucky with where I park.

Roads - the roads in Iowa from when we left Winnebago in Forest City were good. As soon as we got to the Minnesota line, they turned to horse hockey. We climbed onto I-90 and promptly were taken down to one lane and eventually were worked over to the oncoming traffic so the westbound lanes could be completely taken out and rebuilt. Good thing, because these land in the worst five roads I have seen. There was a short section of new pavement that rode well, but most of I-90 through this state is so old, the pavement looks red.

As soon as we got to South Dakota, the roads became good again and all the way to Mitchell, which is where we presently are, we have not had problems other than the typical lifted edge of the pavement every now and then.

Sites - Since we had nothing to do Friday except wait to hear from Customer Service, we took the factory tour at Winnebago and found it totally fascinating to see how things are actually made from scratch in the upholstery shop and then watched the assembly line and how they install everything on these RV's, working together as a team.

When the tour guide found out we were headed west from there, he asked if we were driving through Mitchell, SD. I told him we were staying the night there on Saturday, so he told me to go see the Corn Palace while we were there. So when we got here this afternoon, we unhitched and drove to the downtown area to visit this phenomenon. It's free, and if you want to kill a couple of hours, it will give you something to do. The murals made out of corn cobs are rather interesting forms of art and reasonably well done. What impressed me the most was the prices in their gift shop. What we paid $12 for when buying trinkets to take home would have cost us over $30 in some of the tourist traps in Florida.

Yesterday, I hit the wall from being so tired from driving too many days in a row. After getting a good night's sleep, the drive today was easy other than driving into a head wind all day. My mileage was a pitiful 6.5 on average, a full 1 mpg lower than what I have been getting. And the gas prices are now beginning to climb as we head out west. This morning, I filled up for $2.48/gal in Forest City and again for $2.50 in Sioux City, but the prices here in Mitchell are $2.65 and higher. I know that by the time I'm in Nevada, the prices will be north of $3.25.

We are just now beginning to take photos of the countryside because we are finally getting into some rolling hills instead of just flat farmland. I expect tomorrow will bring even more drastic of a change of scenery since we will end the day in the Black Hills.
 
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