Retirement trip, Part Two

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garyb1st

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I was glad to see you resolved the engine light and poor mileage problems. Then I read the rest of your post. Ouch!!!!. Hope you can get that slide in without having to rely on that bandit. Also hope you can get the roof repaired where you can rely on a facility that you know. I may be mistaken John but recall seeing that WBO has had issues with some of their roofs coming off. If so, maybe you could figure out how to lay off some of the costs on WBO. Hopefully you'll get that slide issue resolved and be on your way with no other problems. Good luck.
 

John Stephens

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I was glad to see you resolved the engine light and poor mileage problems. Then I read the rest of your post. Ouch!!!!. Hope you can get that slide in without having to rely on that bandit. Also hope you can get the roof repaired where you can rely on a facility that you know. I may be mistaken John but recall seeing that WBO has had issues with some of their roofs coming off. If so, maybe you could figure out how to lay off some of the costs on WBO. Hopefully you'll get that slide issue resolved and be on your way with no other problems. Good luck.
Gary,

Thanks for the thoughts, but this is a 16 year old coach. The roof was warranted for ten years. Even though I kept up with the caulking of the edges and checked it before this trip began, I am sure if I attempted to lay this off on WBO, they would simply blame it on the caulk. Regarding the slide, it is completed bound and jammed and is going to have to be repaired by an expert. I spoke to an employee of HWH who made a post on this forum to offer help over the phone to anyone who needs it and he told me the problem and what will have to be done, something only an expert can do. He said the dealer I am having it towed to is excellent and the best I could have chosen outside of HWH, itself. That gives me some hope.

Our biggest concern right now is figuring out where we are going to stay while it is being repaired and waiting for parts to arrive from HWH with three large dogs. Hotels won't want to take them.
 

ChasA

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John, Red Roof Inns will take your dogs. Back in 2014, we had to spend 8 days in a hotel because we broke down. We had 3 cats a dog.
 

John Stephens

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John, look on bringfido.com
Chas, thanks for the tip. Jackie already gave me that link and I have looked at a few listings. I have to wait until the coach is towed to the dealer and they have a chance to look at it before determining the length of any stay I will have at a hotel or airbnb. We're towing on Monday and hoping to stay in the coach that night, so Tuesday will be the first day we'll need lodging. I'll begin making calls then.
 

John Stephens

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After all the worry about what was going to happen with the slide, we got lucky.But first things first. I have to give you the skinny on Good Sam Roadside Assistance.

I told you about the last time I attempted to use GSRA. Even though I was in the middle of a three year membership prepay, they told me I didn't have coverage. I had to wait until the next day to call Member Services and have them set the dispatchers straight. Because of the problem, they gave me another year on the membership. That is the only reason I am still with them.

I called GSRA the day we had the problem with the slide, knowing that although we weren't going to use the service for a week, it is required that you report any issues you want addressed within 24 hours of the occurrence. They took all the information down and told me to call back when I needed the tow truck.

Last Monday, I called them back and got a dispatcher who told me several reasons why what I wanted wasn't going to happen. She said I had a 55 mile limit on towing. I pulled up the GS brochure you get with your membership card (in an email now) and read her the passage stating there was unlimited mileage and unlimited amounts for towing to the nearest repair center that was capable and willing to make the repair. And I had already found out the nearest authorized repair center for HWH was in Billings, a 168 mile drive. Of course, she had to go through all the steps to prove that correct, so it took 3 hours before I got the word a truck was on its way to me. I will give that dispatcher a lot of credit because her shift ended at 8AM and she stayed to see it through until 10:30. Kudos to Patricia.

The truck, a low boy, arrived and they loaded up the coach backwards. They were on the road by 12:15 and wasted no time, averaging 65 mph on I-90. Because the dealer told me I would not be allowed to dry camp on their fenced lot, I had the driver drop the coach two blocks from the dealer in a lot next to a brewery that was a part of the Harvest Host program. My only problem was going to be were to stay the next night because I didn't know how quickly the service center would be able to diagnose the matter and get the slide working in order to be able to get both ends of it retracted.

More good news mixed with bad. Parts from HWH are, in fact, eight weeks out. But the service center got the slide in within an hour so I could drive the coach. And, the manager told me he didn't think my patch job on the roof was going to hold up all the way to Florida and put some screws into the Filon to hold it better to the veneer beneath. He also put some brackets in the back wall of the bedroom where I could see daylight between the wall and the floor, and it was allowing CO fumes from the generator to set off the alarm. Total charge was $553 and I still have to drive the coach to HWH in Iowa next summer.

The slide is in all the way at the top of each end but is sticking out about an inch in the front and a half inch in the back. I am hoping this can be adjusted out when HWH makes the repair to the hydraulic system.

We were able to drive from Billings to Wall, SD and dry camp on BLM dispersed camping land just outside the entrance to the Badlands. We have the slide tied down inside so it can't slide out. Right now, the slide cannot operate at all because they disconnected the hoses and cylinders to that slide. Worried that the reservoir tank for the fluid may be empty, I made the mistake of putting about ¾ of a quart of transmission fluid into the tank, forgetting that the slides and jacks needed to be retracted, and I had my two other slides out and all the jacks down. I left the cap off when I retracted everything and lost a bit of fluid because of the overfill.

While at the Badlands, we drove the 39 mile loop, took a lot of shots, and learned a bit about the country. We also made a second stop at the Missle Man site and did some shopping at the Wall Drug Store. We spent two nights at BLM with as many as 50 other campers taking advantage of the site.

We packed up and left the Badlands Saturday. During the drive, our propane half the water heater stopped working. It's a relatively new unit, being installed three years ago, so I'm puzzled why it would stop working so quickly. I'm not sure if it isn't getting a spark or if it isn't getting gas. I know so little about them, I'm afraid to tear into it. The electric part still works, so as long as we have the generator running and the a/c isn't on, we can get hot water. When I get to St. Louis on Tuesday, I'll see if I can get a mechanic to look at it. Just another of many problems we have had on this trip with the coach.

We are presently in Council Bluffs, IA across the river from Omaha. We are trying to stretch a three day drive to St. Louis into four days because our itinerary has us getting in on Tuesday. Because the repair to the slide took only a few hours instead of days, we didn't need to change our schedule as radically as we did, We left Yellowstone two days early, losing our $78 per day that had already been paid, cancelled our trip to see a friend and Collie breeder in Belt, MT, and cancelled our trip to Roosevelt NP in Medora, ND because of the winds in ND possibly affecting our rood damage. We were hoping the repair wouldn't take more than four days after making those cancellations. Instead, since it only took hours, we have more days than we need. So we are just taking our time, driving at 58-60 mph for the sake of the roof, and stopping after 200-250 miles instead of 300. We will have a very short drive on Tuesday but if we can get the mechanic to work on the water heater before we get set up at our RV park, that will take some time in the morning and we won't get to the park too early.

Now, we find the car battery was dead this evening. But Judy thinks she knows why. She usually starts the car, puts it in Park, and then turns it off completely as soon as we arrive at a stopping point. But this afternoon, the dogs were so antsy for a walk, we took them out and she forgot to do it. She thinks that the battery drained without the trickle charger feeding it. We will see in the morning.

My insurance has already settled on the roof but refused to pay for the veneer, only providing enough money for the Filon. When I told the appraiser that wasn't going to work, he told me to simply have my shop doing the work call him and he will make a supplemental payment.

I'm going to have to make a list of repairs for three different shops when I get home. My coach guy will get the coach first to repair the roof. If the water heater isn't fixed by then, that will be another item. He'll have to figure out why my 12v outlet on the dash won't work. And although the shop in Billings installed some brackets on the back wall, I can still see daylight, just not as much, and the CO detector is still going off.

My chassis shop is going to have to change my fuel filter in order to complete the tuneup I have had done on the road. And, he'll have to install a new gasket in the exhaust manifold on the passenger's side of the engine. I have read that Workhorse 8.1 engines have a bad habit of that happening. You can see the gap and the broken gasket. I have no idea how long it has been like that because it isn't making additional noise when the doghouse is put back in place.

And HWH will have to make repairs to the hydraulic system, right now, no idea of how extensive that may be. And, it appears I'll need new ram pads on the dining room slide because some of them are disintegrating. I also have a jack that doesn't want to hold pressure, I'm guessing the problem is either a solenoid or the jack needs rebuilding, some that HWH will not do, They'll want to replace it.

The coach has already cost us close to $2,000 in repairs on this trip and it appears that figure will double when all repairs are made, including my two $500 deductibles that will have to be paid for the roof repair and body work needed that the slide caused to panels next to it. This has been a wake up call for me regarding things that can go wrong when you're on a trip as long as this one. We're up to 7,000 miles right now and still have more than 1,500 to go. The trip will wind up being shorter than I planned with the exclusion of the two stops we skipped this week. What has happened to us this trip makes me wonder how much longer I want to deal with these matters at my age. Judy won't allow me to sell the coach for at least another two or three years, but I think this is going to be our last long trip. We may head back out west one more time with an abbreviated itinerary. Our next year's trip is already planned for us, driving to HWH in Iowa. We'll stay in the Midwest and head to St. Louis and her mother's house in Illinois after the repairs are made. It will be a month long trip rather than 3.5 months.
 

garyb1st

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John, I'm glad you're mobile again. You've experienced my worst nightmares. I don't do well with mechanical issues. Fortunately we've had very few major issues.

Our water heater is likely the same as yours. It is a gas electric and we've had issues with the gas. If you remove the outside cover, you might be able to resolve the problem with a can of compressed air. Some times dirt or a spider web can obstruct the propane flow. I've used compressed air to blow out whatever was causing the problem.

Not sure how you're coping with the heat. We were in Santa Fe and had to decide to discontinue our trip or deal with dry camping in 90º weather. We don't reserve and we were having difficulty finding parks. That will likely change in the future. I don't do well in heat so we returned home after 6 weeks of an unplanned 4 - 5 month outing. Good luck on your remaining journey.
 

ChasA

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I would go to HWH on the way since you're in Ia. They might fit you in without an appointment.
 

Robert K

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What about those company's that apply a new liquid roof. If it was me I would look in to them.
 

John Stephens

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Cape Coral, FL
John, what a nightmare for you guys.

Is it ok to leave the slide repair that long?
Jackie, the only thing that will go wrong with the slide not being repaired is the loss of fluid from the broken seal on the actuator. It is leaking as I sit here on my concrete pad in 370 Lakeside RV Park in St. Charles, MO. Although the slide isn't all the way in and sealing the section, it is sufficiently in to not allow water to seep in. I can hear road noise from it not being all the way in on the front bottom corner, but the top is all the way in so it is as sealed as ever. I doubt we'll have issues from the weather and it's in enough that I don't think we'll have a rodent problem. If HWH thought this was something that was important to do quickly, they would have made room for me while we were headed that direction in South Dakota before dropping south to get to St. Louis. When I first contacted them, they told me they were about 2 months out on repair appointments. The same as they are with parts shipments.
 

John Stephens

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Cape Coral, FL
John, I'm glad you're mobile again. You've experienced my worst nightmares. I don't do well with mechanical issues. Fortunately we've had very few major issues.

Our water heater is likely the same as yours. It is a gas electric and we've had issues with the gas. If you remove the outside cover, you might be able to resolve the problem with a can of compressed air. Some times dirt or a spider web can obstruct the propane flow. I've used compressed air to blow out whatever was causing the problem.

Not sure how you're coping with the heat. We were in Santa Fe and had to decide to discontinue our trip or deal with dry camping in 90º weather. We don't reserve and we were having difficulty finding parks. That will likely change in the future. I don't do well in heat so we returned home after 6 weeks of an unplanned 4 - 5 month outing. Good luck on your remaining journey.
Gary, I'm going to attempt to light the water heater with a long barreled butane fire starter that we carry with us in case we want to start a campfire or the electric starter on the grill goes out. That will tell me if it's the starter if it lights. If it doesn't light, then I'm not getting propane and I'll get a can of compressed air and blow it out. If that doesn't work, I'll be at a loss because this heater is only three years old.
 

John Stephens

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Cape Coral, FL
I would go to HWH on the way since you're in Ia. They might fit you in without an appointment.
Chas, they are so backed up right now, one of their repair guys has written a post on this site providing his phone number in the hopes of helping anyone who calls him with a problem in order to cut down the number of repairs that must be scheduled. Right now, they are supposedly 2 months out on appointments, the same as how long it takes to ship parts. There is no way they could take me if I drove there. That was my first thought because it would have been only a little out of our way.
 

John Stephens

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What about those company's that apply a new liquid roof. If it was me I would look in to them.
I'm not familiar with them other than reading other's posts about them. I'm not sure if they can be applied over the veneer where the roof has blown off completely. The insurance company is paying for a new roof, so I have no reason to argue with them over something that may cost less but not be the same thing. I was happy with the Filon roof because it required less care than a rubber roof.
 

John Stephens

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We made it to St. Louis in four days that should have taken three from South Dakota. It was a relaxing drive other than constantly fighting the winds. I drove against head winds giving me poorer than average gas mileage all the way out west and was looking forward to having those same winds as tailwinds on the way back east. No such luck. I was getting cross winds from the north on some days and head winds from the east on others. Today was the first day I had tailwinds and the trip was only 100 miles. Oh well, it still looked nice seeing the average for the last 50 miles hitting 8.4 mpg.

The site we were given at 370 Lakeside has been upgraded from gravel to concrete. That's nice except that hydraulic seal that blew in the actuator is still losing fluid and making a messy stain on the new concrete.

The only other problem I'm presently having is no internet from the park wifi. I'll try moving closer to see if that's the issue. I have very slow cell data service because Verizon refuses to allow seniors to use their cell phones for hotspots. If I try, the speed is throttled to something ridiculously slow. I was going to buy a MIFI Jetpack before we left but they cancelled their unlimited pay as you go plan and now are charging the same amount - $70/mon - for 15 GB. It would be silly for me to get that when I was planning on using it for streaming television programs and sporting events such as baseball games that will last 3 hours or longer. I usually average 200-500GB per month on my internet account that limits me to 1TB. I use Amazon Prime for a lot of streaming, so 15 GB would do me no good.

This will be our last one week duration in an RV park for this trip and although we're tired of the problems we've had on this trip, we have really enjoyed this adventure and hate to see it come to an end in another three weeks. So for this week, we have set out all the decorations - the grill, the extra large zero gravity chairs, the sign with all our names on it, including the dogs, declaring this to be the Stephens Campsite. Something Judy wanted as a Christmas present last year.

Something I have learned on this trip is that I don't like shorter durations in RV parks. Our last long trip two years ago was scheduled to provide two 2 week stops at Yellowstone and Glacier NPs. We found that to be much more relaxing and able to give us a feeling of actually being on vacation. A week in one spot is the minimum we need to gain that feeling, and longer is better. Although we are staying in 18 RV parks on this trip, we are staying in 36 different locations during this 98 day journey. There have been only five week long stays and none longer than that in a 14 week period. That's a lot of moving around and that, in itself, will tire you out and not allow you to feel as though you're on vacation.

We have noticed considerably fewer CruiseAmerica rental Class C's on this trip than on the one two years ago, even though this trip is longer and covers more geography than the other. I'm not sure what that means, since it is all over the news about how the RV industry is seeing a boon like no other because of people realizing that traveling by RV is the safest way there is during a pandemic. Maybe it means there are even more people buying them instead of renting. The only place we noticed a larger number of them was at Yellowstone. On the last trip to Yellowstone, we were counting 1 out of every 3 Class C's to be CruiseAmerica, and that wasn't counting El Monte or any other company, or obviously, any rentals that weren't advertising with a name on it. On this trip, the number of them was negligible enough to not bother counting.

The roads on the last half of this trip have been a mixed bag depending on the state you're driving through. Montana roads weren't bad, Wyoming roads were hit and miss with some being very old and rough, and others being new or recently repaved. South Dakota roads for the most part were good. We noted 30 miles of I-90 split in two sections where the eastbound lanes were completely gone or in some degree of removal. They're going all the way down to the dirt and starting over on these sections, something I wish we would see more of throughout the country. I know it's more expensive, but if we're going to invest in infrastructure, let's stop with the temp patchwork and do it right. I-29 in Iowa had to be rated 4-5 with some pretty poor sections. Missouri has always had bad interstates, with authorities always having given the reason that it's because they have the oldest interstate roads. They say that because the Interstate System was begun with a stretch of I-70 in St. Charles, MO, only a few miles from where we are presently staying. But that doesn't mean all the roads are the oldest and it's only a hollow excuse for not wanting to spend the money allocated to the state by the federal government or utilize their own state gasoline tax for its primary purpose. They aren't the worst; just one of the worst. Although I haven't done extensive traveling in the East since being OTR in 2013, I always got the impression that roads out west are far better than those on the East Coast. If we make our Eastern Seaboard trip in two years, I guess we'll find out.

Sorry if it sounds like I'm on a soapbox, but if the legislators who are opposed to the proper amount of spending to improve our road and bridge part of the infrastructure would get out of their offices and take a drive on some of these roads that the RV'er has to travel on, they might realize what we are up against. Of course, they would need to make that drive in a motorhome or pickup pulling a 5'er or trailer, not their limo.

For the next week, we will pig out on foods from our favorite restaurants in and around St. Louis, see the sights and old friends.
 

John Stephens

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Cape Coral, FL
We made it home on Friday, the 10th, in one piece. Unfortunately, we had issues with the weather while parked at Judy's mother's house in Palestine, IL. Strangely, we had three days of storms in St. Louis with no leakage, but this three-day storm gave us less luck. We had a leak directly above the driver's seat, indicating a collected pool of water apparently at a low point, and then dripped through the ceiling material. I tarped the roof, not knowing where the leak was coming from. That helped for a day, and then the dripping began again, creating a very unattractive stain on the ceiling.

We stopped in Nashville for two nights and then began the final leg of our journey home. We stopped on the northeast side of Atlanta to visit an old friend and then spent two days driving home. In the middle of Atlanta, we ran into a severe storm. This time, while driving, I had water pouring in around the sides and front of the coach, from the side shade all the way around the windshield. It wasn't the usual drip; it was a pouring rivulet creating a river on the dashboard as though we had no roof.

This makes me wonder how much interior damage we now have and how much more than just the filon and veneer will have to be replaced. Now that we are home, I have the tarp completely covering the damaged part of the roof and side rail, hanging halfway down the windows so any rain will run off. We had an extremely severe storm yesterday and the interior stayed dry. The coach will stay in the driveway until tomorrow when Safelite comes out to repair a rock chip in the windshield. Then, I'll drive it to storage because my coach guy can't take it and put it inside for at least two or more weeks.

After I compile my driving statistics and gas purchases, I'll make a final post letting you know just how much this trip cost us.
 
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