Category: Repairs


1996 Freedom Wide LTV modifications

Curtains Cont: Using the directions from the video to put lace on the solar material and then hook the top into the already present curtain hooks was easy.  I glued the lace onto the solar stuff, let it dry…  took it out to the RV and pushed the lace through the hooks then pushed the hooks back onto the curtain hanger. Simple. Not so for “training” the pleats however….  I got tired of that part after some struggle and bunched the solar stuff instead….  not so elegant. (I’m better at “training’ dogs!) My verdict: Think Hard Before You take this on.  If you have a talented aunt (like in the video) or maybe you can sew and make curtains yourself …  then go for it! Best would be to use the solar cloth as a middle layer.

Glued to the lace to that solar stuff... Fairfield Solarize Liner Fabric

Glued to the lace to that solar stuff… Fairfield Solarize Liner Fabric

My mechanic, Bruce of Bruce’s Auto Repair,  is trustworthy and does a great job and he’s happy to work on a motorhome, gas, not diesel.  I should mention that Bruce’s son Bruce works there too…  maybe the place should be called Bruces?   Brakes ok, everything tightened, generator serviced, oil and trip check done; front shocks, good, rear shocks fair and he’s fixing the rear window and happy dance, he lowered the shoulder safety belt by adding an extension so it no longer cuts off my carotid.

Re undercarriage insulation; turns out there is foam insulation sprayed on the underside; Bruce and Bruce Jr. could not apply the solar matting on top of that, nothing will stick. So I cut the material and fitted it under the insulation I already have on the inside and laid the carpet back on top. I fitted insulation material as well around the doghouse and will figure out a way to tape it down (carpet tape on its way) stuffed the edges under the carpet

Two layers of insulation under the carpet. I left the white paper on the self-stick Thermo-Tec since I repurposed it for the interior.

two layers of insulation under the carpet. I left the white paper on the self-stick Thermo-Tec since I repurposed it for the interior.

My hallway with carpet down. I cut this long runner so it lays better. Bought it at Ross. The fuzzy stuff over the door step is one of those Doggy Super Absorbent Mats... and the little rug in the back is something I found on Amazon..

My hallway with carpet down. I cut this long runner so it lays better. Bought it at Ross. The rug over the doorstep is a Super Absorbent Doggy Mat, and the little rug in the back is a find from Amazon .

Am enjoying my new Michelin’s  but true to my RVs irascible nature the steering is wonky again. For now am crossing my fingers that once the tires wear a little it will be better, am having Burce Jr. lower the tire pressure by 5 pounds front and rear, so will be 75 rear and 50 front. Fingers super crossed!

I plan to do a walk-through video of my rig showing the modifications I’ve done in the last 4 years and how it all works out traveling with the dogs.

I gave up on the radio for now, it was too confusing or I just didn’t see one I thought I’d like (kinda like dating in my 60s)  The new radios come with itsy-bitsy buttons nearly impossible to punch and long repetitive menus with a display that cannot be read except by Superman with his special vision in daylight….  the current state of more glitz than usefulness…..  hummm….  I did call Crutchfield Audio and they told me that a simple display with larger buttons and being able to read it were “premium” items and I’d pay a lot more! Nevermind, the stock radio fits, looks nice, sounds nice and is simple to operate so I purchased a wireless Anker SoundCore Bluetooth Speaker to sync with my Android cell. ($33.99 from Amazon) I like it. Will put it on the dash, it plays everything that my cell can pick up. 

Here’s some other items I’ve added or tried to add and maybe send back, in no particular order:

Steering Wheel Desk :  I really wanted to like this, I was excited to get it and ripped the box when it arrived. I was looking forward to the extra flat surface for all sorts of uses from lunch, to an easy writing desk, a place to put my little fan …  you get the idea, what I didn’t realize is that it will not go on without damaging my steering wheel cover and importantly once installed I could not squeeze myself into the seat. This seems to be made for a regular car where the seat can go back far enough, not for an RV, darn. My housemate loved it since he frequently eats lunch in his car, so it’s now his.

Steering Wheel Desk

Steering Wheel Desk

 

 

Up-Oh….  interruption. My V definitely needs new shocks! Just returned from Bruce’s with the back window fixed and the tire pressure slightly reduced by 5 pounds per tire and my RV is bouncing all over the place and the road is even rougher than before…  like a party house for kids.  Will call Blistein in the morning to make sure I get the right ones, then see how fast I can get them and who I can get to install them….  always something, wondering if I will meet my first stop deadline.

 

OK I’ll post more later….  need to research the shocks.

 

david bowie – changes

Curtains

I decided to clean the accordion pleated blue curtains that came stock in my RV. Who knows how long since they had been cleaned? I’d long shied away from this task even after I’d spilled some nasty brown something on them. After all who could see them but me. It was the pleats that scared me. I don’t iron and if I do I’m more likely to burn and scorch than to produce a nice crisp looking result. I’d checked with my mom about this and it was she who said, yes, I could try to take them to the dry cleaner but they likely would not do them and if they did they would cost a bundle or might be damaged. Who knows what to expect from 20-year-old curtains?

RV Curtains

I have a project in mind for these curtains. I’m going to line them with Solarize Insulating Thermal Barrier Fabric  (the stuff’s not cheap but my goal is to keep the interior of my RV cooler for my dogs.) I saw this done on a video and it doesn’t look too hard. I don’t sew but I think I can glue them on with some fabric glue…. seems only right to clean them first.  I looked up dry cleaners that did sewing repairs but then I read comments from other RVers that had simply put them in the washing machine.  Well, okay.  I’m not brave enough to try that in the old machine here that chunks up holes my clothes. I decided to hand wash them. Here’s what I did:

  1.  Get the dogs out of the bathtub. My Lagotti Romagnoli are certain about many things in life, esp the puppies who were born here. They know that when I pull the shower curtain way back it’s time to jump in the bathtub and look cute. In they went. They were not happy when I scooted them out and closed the door. Definitely some nasty looks from Jeana.
  2. Lay the curtain with the horrible stains that had been heat setting for months very gingerly into the bathtub and wet the curtain thoroughly with cool water. Add a bit of,  All Fresh and & Sensitive Dye Free, gentle on the skin stainlifter detergent that had been sitting in my van for who knows how long into a cup with a little of my favorite stain fighter, Soilove in the green bottle and mix with cold water. Pour delicately onto the curtain and swish, swish……  it helps if you sing while you do it…. swish swish, away goes the dirt, in comes the suds, no $200 dry clean for me, for me ….   well, you can make up your own song.  I was expecting reams of dirt. Whenever I wash my dogs no matter how clean they look brown scuss floats into the water as I add soap; it’s kinda like they’re melting, the brown just runs off them. RV Curtains-Washing
  3. Rinse curtain and let drip from the shower rod and go get the next one out of the van.  I might add that I was congratulating myself at this point on how easy this was. Anyone could do this!
  4. Put curtain #2  in the tub and do the soak, soap and swish.
  5. Take #1 outside to see where I might hang it…  didn’t really find a place but, wait! Uh-oh!  What’s that! No!  Stains! I took a look at #2 and they both went plop plop back in the tub. My dogs were not even interested in the tub now.
  6. Add a ton more All Fresh and & Sensitive, Soilove and this time Dish Soap.
  7. Scrub the icky poo with nails and fingers.
  8. I left both curtains on the bottom of the tub sitting in soap to sit there and think about life.RV Curtains- 2ndWash
  9. After about 20 min, wondering why my hands were so so dry, I turned the shower on; then swish, rub  and rub and make like a mock washing machine agitation motion but not too hard.
  10. There was now a ton of suds so rinsing had to be done in stages. The plumbing is very old here and the drain is slow.
  11. Eventually I got the soap out. By this time the sun has set.  I started late because I’d waited until 4 pm when I could move my RV back in front of my house due to (irrational) parking requirements in my neighborhood..
  12. I hung them on big towels over the curtain bars in the shower.
  13. I will look at them later…   at least I can still see pleats….

Next Up…..  attaching the lining!

I’ve been diligently pursuing a motorhome upgrade…  i.e. somewhat newer, tad bigger Class B.  It’s not gone well, my eyes starting dropping white streaks, my shoulders curved inward towards the monitor like long ago when I lived in a cubical maze of head tops and clocks from spending too much time on the computer.  Hmmm…..

I cannot believe the price flurry. When did Class B RVs get to be $135,000, $175,000 and more for a non custom rig.  Even with the 20% – 25% off list, it’s insane.

Price craze has caused used Class B’s to become more expensive than what used to the price for a new one!  Am having trouble imagining such a drain on my bank account. Tack on dealer fees, inspection, taxes, registration, shipment and whatever upgrades and changes I’d want…..  oh my.

Every time I find something (maybe) affordable it’s located on the other side of the country. I find I’m really not that brave or I just don’t know for sure what I want.

The clincher is many newer models I’m seeing lack storage that I currently enjoy even with a stretching of length to 24.5 to 26 feet.  I want a Class B is because it’s L I T T L E!  I like the Promasters at 21 feet but the models I’ve seen have too much stuff crammed inside them; nevertheless I do like them and may get one someday. There are small Sprinters, 20 to 23 feet and older Ford and Chevy’s but cost is killer or lack of storage and interior light.

Claustrophobic doesn’t work for me. I require lots of windows and doors. I did see a 2007 Great West Classic Titan for sale (on the other side of the country) that I loved but it was sold before I could even think about how far away it was.

I love that I can sleep in the back width-wise in my current B, with windows all around and a back door that opens onto a beautiful river or….  what-have-you (it could use screens).  I love the open shelf that runs along the inside, the cabinets that have no barriers in-between so I can put long things in there and the fact that other than the pathetic bathroom there is room for everything I need.

So I’ve temporarily given up my search my for next RV….  It will come. There are many new Class B’s coming. Hopefully at some point the prices will level out or I’ll get that winning Lottery ticket.

So…..  I’m revving up my little LT for Spring Travel; maybe I’ll even give her a real name, she deserves one.  any ideas?

Here’s my list:

  1. Have brakes checked…  do I really need a brake job? If yes then find a shop that can do it right the first time.
  2. Tires!  Sure there is tread remaining on the Toyos, but I hate them. I plan to buy 4 beautiful Michelin LTX M/S2 (LT225 / 75R16)  from Costco at $689.96.  I understand they go on sale from time to time.
  3. Am considering replacing the Monroes with Bilstein shocks…. undecided.
  4. Get the back window fixed.
  5. Apply thermal insulation to the undercarriage to stop the exhaust heat from soaking into the cab…  this video sent to me by a friend explains the problem perfectly..  and the solution:  Fix the Hot Floor Problem in Your Gas RV
  6. Bluetooth radio to stream my Note 4 Android Cell Phone instead of the maze of wires I currently have.
  7. Line front curtains with Fairfield Solarize Liner Fabric; clean curtains first!
  8. Craft hanging system for reflectix or more Solarize for other windows.
  9. Install a small 12 volt fan on the wall in the front by the wing windows.
  10. See if I can find a longer sewer hose that can be compressed to fit in tube and be able to reach its target without needing an extension.
  11. Touch up interior paint.
  12. Inspect all screws / bolts. . .tighten as needed
  13. Oil change / trip check.
  14. Service generator….  can I get it to work reliably? If not, (painfully) consider replacing it…  expensive 😦
  15. Awning?  Maybe?? Also expensive.
  16. Electric bike and dog-cart….  maybe? will need a rack if go this route.

Yeah! I’m in Placerville at Lee and Craig’s! The dogs are loving it. Early morning was heralded by wild barking, there were my three Lagotto doing super fast zommies  and ‘squishies’ (I just made that up for the way the dogs wiggle themselves into anything wet) in the grass drenched from the sprinklers… to SO CAL folks, remember those things, sprinklers and green lawns? They still have them here. Mason has the biggest happiest grin on his face, chasing and exploring and snuggling in laps. I love seeing them so happy. Not sure Zak is not entirely pleased with his houseguests, a few snarls here and there, sure can’t blame him will all the energy running around. Be we do thank him and Tobey.

Dogs Running in Grass!

Dogs Running in Grass!

Before I tell you abut the drive up I have to tell you that the L.T. is back to that old, running too hot syndrome. You know that issue, I’ve had fixed 2, 3, 4 times already. And why my Ford died too….overheating….

Going up the Cuesta Grade  on Hwy 101 it happened. I could not believe it!!! I looked and looked but there it was the heat indicator rising way too much , I was driving slow and easy. For those that don’t know I’ve already replaced radiator, water pump, thermostat at least 3 times, temperature sensor, hoses, fan clutch pulley ….. and did you guess it? These are the symptoms, runs too hot when going up a steep hill, cools when downshifting into a lower gear and instantly (almost instantly) drops back to normal temp just after the crest of the hill starting down. No radiator fluid is lost. Yes, It’s the fan clutch itself!

Pups in the RV

Pups in the RV

I was lucky to find a shop open on a Saturday here in Placerville, and on Mother’s Day weekend … Happy Mother’s Day Mom! … Dave’s Master Automotive    I see they’re also on Facebook. Dave greeted me and has been very helpful getting to the root of the trouble, he’s doing everything he can to get me back on the road as soon as possible. I will be delayed a little because the part has to come from the warehouse. Dave says he will start getting the old one out bright and early Monday morn so that when it arrives he can just pop it in. Total price including labor and tax for fan clutch and thermostat will be $361.99.

Other than the heat of my engine and the pups wanting to stop at every Rest Stop and Park they could see, the drive was marked by it’s dryness. Southern California didn’t get a Spring this year, it seems more like late July. Here’s what I saw on the signs staked in  farmer’s fields for us motorists to read along Hwy 5.

I started noticing these after passing the Harris Ranch and Feedlot in Colinga … the cattle seemed a little less crammed as in past times.  I could almost fantasize they had just a tad bit of enjoyment of life before their slaughter…. what else could I do, I couldn’t take them with me.

Near Harris Ranch off I-5

Near Harris Ranch off I-5

Congress Created Dust Bowl …. I looked and looked but could see no dust just orange and purple hills… orangey scrub with occasional bouts of lime mustard and dark green plants. The crops were a bright green.

Stop Politician Created Water Shortage …. Hmmm everything but the crops looked really dry, so politicians are in charge of rain, snow and moisture now? Okay doky

No Water, No Jobs = Higher Food Prices   That almost make sense, but if there’s no jobs to grow the food, shouldn’t it be the no water and no jobs equal no food!

No Water = Higher Food Costs

Set the Delta Pumps Working. Join the Fight….   Was this about the environmental issues back in ’07, probably not. There’s an article in the LA Times about the over pumping for the Central Valley groundwater creating a crisis…. This then is what these signs are about, not the drought per se but about the wells causing the land to subside, irrigation canals to crack, roads to buckle and more importantly the aquifers to shrink which is exactly about the drought and BIGGER PICTURE…  the climate is changing like it or not.

I want to point out right here an odd thing I discovered at the rest stop just before the Harris Ranch as I was heading North. The toilets. There are a lot of toilets in heavy use at the rest stop. We all agree it’s dry, there’s a lack of water from the sky…. Right? Everyone can see that for themselves? So why then given all the pumping of the ground water and the dried out conditions of the flora and the thirsty creatures are the toilets swishing one might presume nonstop, willy-nilly?I didn’t want to stay that long. In the time it took for me to use one of those toilets, the tank flushed itself over 4 times and I could hear the other toilets going as well. I even thought it was one of those candid camera things … toilets out of control! But I stray… How can it be possible that anyone cannot notice their environment?  You can read the Times article, right here http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-groundwater-20150318-story.html#page=1   I’m not going to give a lecture on water tables but you should know how they work.

I did have a few moments of wondering what if, as I passed Modesto. What if I had accepted the job at the Council of Governments and been part of the failing effort to clean up the Central Valley… one of those homes would be mine, my life would have gone in different ways… would my friends still have died, would I have my dogs, would I still be alone? Would I have still been there, fighting… err I mean working for cleaner air, water, pollution control…ad nauseam

I’m very short of sleep from fussing with my overheating LT… at least it was not leaking nor short of water itself. So more later on the state of water. For the rest of today I’m relaxing, enjoying my friends and watching my dogs play. I wish very much I could read one of those books I’d been saving for my trip but I left them all at home! Anyone suggest a good read? I have my kindle with.

Turns out the LT needed a new part, this time it was the fan clutch, so the reason it would heat up and turn the air conditioner off was because the cooling fan wasn’t going on when headed uphill…. okay, sigh… so I had Bruce also check out the back side window which only worked a few times before quitting. Same problem as last time, the gear is stripped. Now how did this happen, supposedly this occurs do to brute force.. the only ones who messed with the window were the guys at Quality RV, were they overzealous in their efforts to make it work? Or is this more of that infamous quip of mechanics everywhere…. COINCIDENCE! Rather than pay Bruce again to fix what he’s already fixed I will try the repair myself.

Quality RV did not call or respond this week, so I will try to figure out what happened to the frig on my own. Will see how far I get.  Am suspicious that their prognosis of “coincidence” was actually caused by something…. Hmm… What a novel idea!

Brakes have gone squirrely and that annoying road jiggle is back so next week– tire/brake place, Dal Pozzo’s for a checkup including a check on the front end steering stabilizer. It is rusty but that doesn’t necessarily mean the spring is not tight…. will see. If it needs replacement this time I will locate a good part, something of quality and then have the shop install.

You can see not the best week but the shocker came with my darling Olympia’s pregnancy. I was so happy taking her in to my local vet, Dr. Mobraaten. Sally was late, I think I know now who the dog is that had the emergency that delayed her… hoping and wishing for her health. Sally tried and tried with the ultrasound…. all of us going from cheery to scrunched. No puppies! am not going into details here because I’m furious at Warner Pet Clinic and I don’t want to hear how this is COINCIDENCE! I spent a fortune there and they have not even returned my call. Going to the Warner Pet Center was an unpleasant ordeal but I preserved. Ugh, later when I’m more centered I’d write a review of my experiences. Don’t like how now so many of my acquaintances who’s used Warner for repo have had no puppies on the first try…. what, you say, coincidence? Sally wants to do a recheck on Aug 1st… she’s suspicious, maybe, could be, possibility … one pup hiding in my girl. I’ll keep an open mind. So re-breeding then in Feb. Scrapped all my fall and winter plans… scrapped all my plans for Spring and summer of 2014 in a few short moments. I took to eating. Stress eating and now my eyes are threatening with their migraine like thing they do. I’m so tired, it’s not the 5K or making all the phone calls to breeders, puppy buyers, friends, it’s the empty rush. It’s the stuff in the back yard waiting to be made into a whelping box, a puppy play area, it’s the adventures we were slated to embark upon… all the dog shows we would travel to, the freedom of the road with my 3 pups, everything falling into place… a good life, fun.

Fine, I shouldn’t be stressed, I need a home. Am supposed to take all the constant losses with a smile. I don’t like empty. I don’t rootless.

I’ll leave you with some photos I took at Avila Beach in SLO, the Diablo Power Plant sitting there so innocently. I almost stayed the night up on the hill. It’s funny they flattened it on top… I thought back to 1978 and being there with Alan Salyes the night before the Protest, wanting to have Patrick there, but he wouldn’t come, sleeping on that hillside, rolling down in our sleeping bags: Here’s a bit I wrote about those times:

Without Patrick I continued south on Hwy 1 towards Avila Beach. Sans sleep the low-lying fog caused time to be like a dream. Out my rear view mirror Roadrunner, my favorite cartoon character came racing up the yellow divider. In his left hand was a gigantic red stop sign. He planted himself a few hundred feet in front of my car thrusting his right hand in front of my windshield causing me to slam the brakes from 65 mph to nearly a dead stop before I realized that Roadrunner was not only not there, but that he could not possibly be there since he wasn’t allowed out in the three-dimensional world. Next was Bugs Bunny chewing on a giant carrot. I drove right through him. I was hoping for another but it was quiet after that.

I bundled into my bag and joined my affinity group imitating sleep on the hillside. It was the funniest night, we’d doze then wake having rolled down the hill, shuffle-walk without getting out of our bags back up a bit, rearrange at a new angle, doze and roll down again and wake again which went on until Alan appeared; this is when I learned he’d joined my affinity group. We whisper-chattered about non-violence, social responsibility, the innate ability of people to choose best actions. At 4 am we laid out a spread of stone ground peanut butter, apples and carrots with seeded honey bread but we didn’t eat, we were too excited. The ability to care was in the grasp of the people, we said to each other, if they could act in the face of a wrong and take responsibility, mutuality would prove stronger than greed; the masses were shrouded in ignorance and apathy; big business conned media, powerful lobbyist clouded the peril of nuclear dangers, we didn’t need exponential population growth. We clicked, lusting for action, agreeing with each other excited to be there and to be together.

Avail Beach in 2013 … on the pier

The Avila Beach Pier... looking out.

The Avila Beach Pier… looking out.

The Avila Beach Pier

The Avila Beach Pier, SLO

 Avila Beach Pier

Avila Beach Pier just missed the fish market: closed for the day

20130718_163730

Peteris Vasks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQBLCeg5UtM&list=PLA8A96A765F963259

Am finally out on the road again with the dogs! The LT body is shinning sweet even though bits of bugs and collections of the freeway. I promise I’ll post some pictures, but first I have to talk about generators. The LT has a Generac 3000 Watt, 120 Volt model 09557-4 with a Facet Eclectic Fuel Pump from Omni Tech Energy Systems installed, presumably same year as my motorhome, 1996. Generac

I had the generator serviced way back when I went to Bill’s RV in Oxnard. Standard service, they said it ran fine. I didn’t use the generator much, turning it on more for the exercise than to run anything but I’d been reassured it worked perfectly, no worries. Some time later I made a holiday dinner and took off for the beach. Popped some yummy food for a quick reheat into the micro and waited, pushed the button again and waited, repeating several times before deciding lukewarm was what I wanted. It was a fun day eating under umbrellas with a friend in a light rain, dogs playing in the surf. It wasn’t until about just this time a year ago I began to suspect the generator really wasn’t all right. It started with little fuss. . . I ran it every so often to keep it in shape but last summer, like this one, was hot and I wanted to keep the rear air conditioner running while I was driving and while parked to keep the dogs cool. This was particularly so as the engine was climbing toward the top of the heat scale, necessitating shutting off the console air conditioner. It was sweltering. When I returned home I spent time and money chasing the over-hot / underpowered issue. if you’re curious it’s in the archives: new radiator, new thermostat, new regulator for the computer, new spark plugs and wires and more. Next trip out no engine heating, no lack of uphill power, (Yeah!) but the generator was noisy stinky trouble; starting and stopping and sputtering.

Living in Santa Barbara is not always paradise, it’s certainly not when seeking RV repairs. We don’t have an RV shop and the few mechanics than can accommodate a Class B are unwilling to touch a generator. I was tired of the distance run, only to stash it in a fix it shop’s parking lot where it would sit for weeks before anyone would look at it, so I hunted around for someone closer. Via the recommendation of Bruce, my auto mechanic I found Gonzo’s Small Engine Repair in Goleta. I would sorta marginally recommend them as Gonzo is a dog lover and a nice guy although I was shocked at how much he spent at various veterinarians without resolution for his dog but that’s another story. He came to the house and had the presumed dead generator running in minutes; no charge as it was determined the generator would need a some servicing; it was my housemate engineer who determined that the output voltage was going wild. I called Gonzo and they ordered a new voltage regulator. I called and called and called, even stopped by a few times to find out when the part was coming in. Much time elapsed so at last, an ultimatum . . . Gonzo himself needed to talk to me, I’d been communicating with his assistant, by the beginning of the next week, giving them another 9 days to get in touch, if he couldn’t do that, and she promised he’d call the next day, but I’d heard that before, I would give up and take my business elsewhere. Yep, no phone call. Did they order the regulator? Who knows.

I took a trip sans generator and had the accident, then my new shop Quality RV in Camarillo run by Gabriel, said sure they could look at the generator, no problem and they offer a moblie service whcih is a delight. Gabriel’s a sweetie and not fazed by the age of my LT or any of her troubles.

I won’t cover how great this shop has been fixing the fiberglass and sprucing up the RV; am very happy with their work. They steam cleaned the generator and the engine… there was a problem with the engine cleaning as it was coated with Armor All but it was mixed with soap and left a bad paint eating scum; they’ve since painted the engine but there are still bits of scum and I fear the paint could have caused other troubles; I needed to make an emergency purchase of new windshield wipers. (They painted the blades on the old ones which looked crappy, but there was paint on the rubber part which smeared my windshields at a critical moment as I was driving and couldn’t see. Scary.) My engine running hot problem is back so I wonder if the paint went other places it shouldn’t have? I’m straying and as typical, this too is a convoluted story.

The generator looked beautiful and it sounded beautiful, Manuel had cleaned, soaked and perfected its operation; uh oh only a light or two would power on and those flickered like an old-fashioned movie. Frans the engineer made the discovery, the switch in the generator compartment had been left in the off position! Flipped it and there was power but the generator returned to its familiar coughing and sputtering as if it had never stopped. Quality came out, did some spiffy stuff where one of the AC sockets shorted out and was replaced which I mentioned in another post, it made me nervous that they did not unplug from shore power when all this happened, but my electronic knowledge is mostly book learning and classroom rules. Walla, generator working! I was happy!!!! Everything other than a few minor glitches like the keyless entry and a few touch-ups short of perfection; I was dancing and prancing with my pups.

Generac generator for my 1996 Leisure Travel RV

Generac generator for my 1996 Leisure Travel RV

 

Packed the LT, ready to enjoy comfortable, powerful, looking good times on the road. Plugged into house power and turned the frig on… it takes overnight to get cold and went to sleep. Brought the food out in the morning … hummmm….. funny the Dometic didn’t seem cold. You wouldn’t have wanted to see the look on my face, the frantic pacing of my feet, especially as in the several hours Frans was helping check the electrical system the generator started doing its familiar putt-putt-puttering with blinking fluctuating voltage while under no load and running 130 volts with a load. My complaint about Quality is how popular they are. It takes forever to get a call back or an appointment and when you do you need to add several hours to arrival time; amazingly Gabriel called me back responding to the dead stress in my message. He tried to coach us through adjusting the generator via the idle screw to get me going, all this did was cause the output voltage to spike like a drunk rollercoaster until finally the generator had enough of these games and quit. Reluctantly I took the Ford to the carwash and spent the afternoon cleaning out the accumulation of dog training paraphernalia, dog road gear, stuff that didn’t quite make it to goodwill, evidence of hasty meals, and be-prepared for anything piles that looked a lot like debris, sure it needed to be done, but now? I’d found a lovely RV campground/lake to break the long drive to Placerville, halfway, near Watsonville, it would be a perfect place to relax and begin my trip confident that the LT could handle the heat and provide cabin cooling, engine power and cold tasty snacks for me and the dog …. it’d taken a year to get this point, now all in vain. . . did it have to be this way?

In the late afternoon Gabriel sent out his mechanic for an emergency, get Jamie on the road, work party. This is when they painted the engine…. maybe not the best idea? Manuel got the generator running, this time by adding engine oil, did it have a leak? And by making a design change, shortening and eliminating the curve in the tube that provides the gas. He was unable to discover why the frig would not work with shore power but did verify that turning the frig to eclectic popped the AC outlet that had caused problems with running the generator. How all this is connected I don’t yet know, Gabriel thinks I will need a new heating unit for the frig. Somewhere there must be a wiring diagram, right? Maybe? I’ve contacted Generac hoping for a schematic, it still puts out 130 – 129 volts under load; according to Gabriel this is okay, according my engineer housemate, this is not okay. I’m gonna ask Generac directly this time.

RV Fiberglass Repair

Should get the LT back next week. Here’s a shot of the last night camping before I headed back to Santa Barbara. This was at a marina not too far from Stockton, River Point Landing Marina Resort on the San Joaquin River. I paid for a premium spot right on the water. I had wanted to camp deeper into the delta but the wind was out this world. Even when I landed at the marina I thought we’d be blown into the brink. I checked the weather and it said the wind would die off at 7 pm…. fat chance I thought but oddly at 7:02 pm the wind died. I was amazed and spent a peaceful night playing with dogs and watching the river.

In the morning after a nice walk I tarried considering staying a bit longer… at 9 am the wind started at 10 am it was nearly a gale. I drove home with heavy wind warnings posted along my entire route. At one point the wind was so strong I could barely open the van doors to let the dogs out for a potty break… we only went a few feet with the air pressure generated force bending me over and spooking the dogs. I didn’t stop again.

Last Night

The view out my RV window

The view out my RV window

I choose Quality RV, the mobile RV Service to repair the damage done to the body of my Leisure Travel. So far am happy, Gabriel put my mind at ease. He picked up my little LT and drove it to his shop in Camarillo. AAA okayed the insurance work. Poor little baby has some nasty scratches.

Damage is along the driver side to the battery door and along the wheel. the fiberglass is flaky along the cracks.

Damage is along the driver side to the battery door and along the wheel. the fiberglass is flaky along the cracks.

Fix me.... fix me...  when it happened it seemed worse than it actually is. Still it's a big job to repair.

Fix me…. fix me… when it happened it seemed worse than it actually is. Still it’s a big job to repair.

Winter Fixup

The LT is in the shop getting spruced up for Spring.

Turns out the reason for running hot in the mountains last summer / fall was due to the radiator being clogged up. My new shop, Lara’s, took it to the radiator shop where they tried to save it, as it’s a metal not one of the throwaway plastic types but it was too damaged to revive. The lack of uphill mountain power has been remedied by the 8 new spark plugs and wires the shop installed. …….So far a few other things…. a new plug for the differential fluid, an adjustment to the brakes, a nice oil change ….. am trying synthetic oil this time, a new thermostat… will have a complete list when it’s done…. along with a nice hefty bill.

Someone asked me why I keep putting money into it…..It is after all a ’96 Doge Ram Van running a very heavy load at close to 125,000 miles.  actually they called it “a money trap.” I suppose it is, since after the visit to the mechanics it will go up north for more work on the road handling / comfort issues and then rebuilding or replacing the on-board generator so it will power the rear cabin air conditioner sufficiently to actually pump out cold air when it’s 100° out sans suffocating everyone for miles around with toxic fumes.   So . . . . . you see in actuality the LT is not a money trap. It wasn’t maintained before I took ownership. . . .   it was driven to exhaustion. It has life and a class of its own, even with its few fiberglass scraps and lichen growing on the roof. Sure I drool over these nice shiny ritzy Springer Class B’s… Yes I would love one!!!!

Take a look at this video. . . E-Trek Roadtrek  . . .okay, yes I want one!!! Anyone have $150,000 they can lend me? Even better if they put it in a all-wheel or 4 x 4 version with a bit more ground clearance.  The dogs want one too 🙂

So what’s a few thousand or so to keep the Leisure Travel running…..  someday, this dreamer may have something new and flashy, you never know.

Yes, I’m still flirting with mechanics and shops. Took it back to Superior because the brake pedal was squeaking. It was a noticeable and definitive attention seeking sound. Of course this morning the brake pedal was back to being quiet. Bob at Superior was happy to fix it with a bit of lubricant just in case. He was unable to adjust the parking brake because the racks were full – he tried but could not reach the adjustment with only a jack. The hand brake as is seems to do nothing.

What I’ve found odd is that after the steering stabilizer was re-installed on the front end and the front tire pressure dropped to 55 (as it says on the door) from the 65 psi the brake pulling became unnoticeable. I won’t go as far as to say that the brakes no longer pull.. Who knows what they’re doing. But if it’s the rear brakes why would this help? I decided not to ask…. Really I’m not inclined towards mechanics.

Test drove it some more—- it’s a little better but seems to wander to the left and to be sorta jumpy, at least I’m always correcting it and those corrections are jiggly. Filled the propane tank at the 76 Station and asked the clerk who he thought was the best shop for an alignment. He told me about his car and how he thought it couldn’t be improved until he tried Big Brand. I remember going to Big Brand last year, they were the last shop before my trip and they did help. So tomorrow at 9 am…. that’s where I’ll be.

To do list: adjust emergency brake, check alignment, check tires, check front end steering stabilizer…. idle is still a bit rough too.

My 1996 19′ Freedom Wide Leisure Travel has suffered greatly from handling problems and stability. I was ignorant of how extensive the problem was when I bought the RV. I assumed that the “loose steering” could simply be tightened or adjusted–that the problem was in the steering. Last year I had mechanics telling me to just live with it, that’s the way these things were made inferring that, I as a woman, had no idea what driving a big truck was like. So, as a woman I just nodded my head and took my rig elsewhere; never even mentioned that I’ve driven diesel work trucks, caterpillars, tractors and an assortment of pickups. Such handling issues without corrections are a danger; sway and wandering can make an RV tipsy and unable to hold the road in a straight direction. In the beginning, driving my RV was white-knuckle, back-straining ordeal.  In the wind it was terrifying. The solution is complex involving shocks, rear anti-sway bars, the necessity for wheel spacers, adjusting tire pressure, choice of tires including looking into wider tires and rims, condition of steering linkage and ball joints, and perhaps adjusting the steering gear box. The big Dodge Ram 3500 Van used for the Leisure Travel, Road Trek, Pleasureway and other, mini-RVs in the 1990s have an inherent issue as the weight falls heavily behind the rear axle.  On my Dodge, the rear tires were inset a few inches inside the track of the outer tires.

Increase in caster, what Superior is doing to the front end alignment, could be a better solution than the steering damper. Here’s an explanation from Wikpedia : caster is adjusted to achieve the self-centering action of steering, which affects the vehicle’s straight-line stability. Improper caster settings will cause the driver to move the steering wheel both into and out of each turn, making it difficult to maintain a straight line.

The next thing Superior will do is replace my brand new front brake pads. Lucky me I get to pay for two brake jobs in one week!