Monday, April 4, 2011

We’re Home, The RV Is………… NOT

I took some time to decide if I would post this tonight or at all and decided to go ahead and write it and see how it goes. It seems we own an RV that bucks the odds and simply must have problems each and every single time we take it out.  By blogging about each and every problem it seems as if that’s all that happens when it isn’t. We had a great time on Saturday going for a 2.5 mile walk and I’ll be posting about that when I compile the pictures off of our cameras. We went during a time of year when the weather isn’t very friendly and that proved to be the case for this trip. One good day out of 4.5 days isn’t much but the storm we had last night was awesome, I love lightning storms and that one delivered. I took video with my digital camera that I still have to download and see if the video turned out or not, if it did I’ll post it.

While trying to get home today and running into issues again we both sat on the side of the road and discussed if this is what we really want to do. My stress level fixing the hot water heater, then the water inlet feed in the basement compartment and also having to work on the toilet had me going for awhile there. Buying an RV was supposed to be a way to relax and unplug a bit from the daily grind and it has proven to be a lesson in RV repair and how to deal with incompetent dealers and repair centers instead of what was intended. I don’t mind fixing things, it makes me feel good that I can, what drives me insane is when I can’t fix something, like the slide topper, well, I could fix it if I had the time and the parts but not on the side of the road during a severe wind storm.

Having said the above I want to stress that in the case of our RV 95% of what has gone wrong has more to do with the dealer we bought from than the RV. Each and every item I have had to work on aside from the water pump that burnt up because of a different repair center was worked on and not done properly by the dealer we bought from including the slide topper (details about the slide topper to follow below). The salesman cut the topper with his knife during the walk through claiming he had no choice, the dealer replaced supposedly the entire unit, as I found out today they hodge podged it together and it finally fell apart.

Lesson learned and this is another point I want to stress because I know people are out there thinking about buying an RV and seeing what we are going through as something they might go through as well so might not buy because of it.

If you are very selective about the dealer and you inspect the rig you’re interested in several times you stand a much higher chance of getting a good RV. Also, and this is the most important part investigate the dealer, had we looked into the dealer we would have found they have a reputation and we would have gone elsewhere and we are now going through the process of fixing what should have been cared for by the dealer the first time. In the end with what we paid I have been willing to handle repairs as they happen since we have saved money overall.

We gave a lot of thought to me staying in Geneseo one more night and Ronda going home because the wind was blowing at a constant rate over 30mph with no apparent lull. The weather reports were showing that high winds are in effect for the next 3 days but of course they’re always wrong since they weren’t calling for high winds today, but yet here they are. If I stayed one more night we were hoping the wind would be less severe tomorrow but of course there was always the chance it could get worse. We decided to head home and drive 50mph or less if needed. Plus, the weight of the Escape should also help keep the rig stable in these high cross winds like it did on our Iowa trip.

We pulled onto Rt. 82 going East and the wind slammed up against the drivers side of the rig, WOW it was blowing hard. We immediately wonder if we made the right decision but kept going, if they are calling for 3 days of this staying an extra day wouldn’t work.

About 30 miles from the Geneseo campground after the wind felt like it was going to tip us over I heard a very loud flapping sound. I adjust my drivers mirror and sure enough I see our slide topper unraveling and blowing in the wind. I pulled over and climbed up onto the roof, which wasn’t easy with 30+mph winds and I find that thankfully the topper reeled itself back in. I check everything and I thought it looked ok but I was wrong, we try again and got up to 20mph and sure enough it unreeled again. I pulled over again and tried to figure out how we were going to get home.

We thought about going back to Geneseo where I would stay overnight and she would go home since she had to be back at work tomorrow. Either way though I had to figure out how to keep the slide topper from ripping off of the RV, this slide topper is supposed to be new. I sat there for a few minutes as the rig rocked back and forth and came up with a plan.

I broke out my tools looking for some plastic tie straps and found 6 of them. I go climb back on the roof and got up close and personal with the mechanism’s that the slide topper uses. I notice this must be the original mechanism and the dealer didn’t replace it, just the canvas even though they told us they replaced the entire thing. I’m not shocked by what I find one bit, it’s too cold and as each Semi goes by I grab onto something because the entire rig rolls like a boat on the water.

I see the mechanism works with a gear and two claws per side that pinch the gear so it doesn’t unravel while stowed. How do I get these plastic tie straps to work, none of them are long enough to wrap around the rod so I combined two of them, made a loop of another and then tied them together so they hold the claw against the gear and then I tried to unravel the slide topper and it stays locked in position. It’s not pretty and only God knows if it will hold with the wind blowing like it is but I climb down, almost get knocked off the ladder as yet another Semi goes by. Ronda was watching through the passenger mirror to see if her husband would go flying by, I’m glad she didn’t see me flapping off of the rear ladder.

We got on the road and slowly ramped up speed and it seemed to be holding, got past 30mph and it’s still holding. Up at 50 it’s still holding so we keep heading home, only now we call Collier RV and ask if anybody will be there so we can drop the rig off and get the slide topper repaired correctly. The service advisor asks me if I have an extended warranty and I tell him yes but no idea if this is covered or not. So to end this very long post as quickly as possible we dropped the tow dolly at our storage facility and then dropped the RV at Collier.

They are going to go through our warranty paperwork and decipher if the slide topper is covered and they are also going to find out of the water pump is covered if Scott’s RV refuses to fix it. I’m to call Scott’s RV and see if they will cover the water pump since they left it running after winterizing our rig so tomorrow will be a busy day as my last day of vacation.

I can’t wait for our next camping trip… Disappointed smile


Sue and Doug said...

my goodness!..what an 'adventure' you had on the side of the road!!..hope it gets fixed and you are happy with the repair!

Sam&Donna Weibel said...

Wow Erik, by the time you make a couple more trips you'll have a rebuilt RV, Hope the next few are event free for you. Be safe out there, Sam & Donna...

Margie and Roger said...

Well the good news is that you figured out a way to temporarily solve the problem on the side of the road. You certainly are getting an RV education. When a light pole jumped out in front of our RV, knocked the slide cover off, and our big slide awning came out and was dangling. The good news was that we were just a couple of miles from our house. Seems something always goes wrong. I hoping our next trip will be problem-free...and your future trips too.

Alan and Marilyn McMillan said...

I really hate you are having all these probs. If your ext warranty doesn't cover the slide topper, maybe your insurance will -- since it happened as a result of the wind. Glad you are home safe!

Erik's RV Blog said...

Sue and Doug, An adventure is a good word for it! We got some good news today that I'll share in a new post.

Sam and Donna, yeah, we have repaired quite a few items that were supposedly repaired by the dealer. It's unfortunate that our dealer only cares about his pocket and not his customer, this will be his undoing for sure.

Margie and Roger, I read about the light pole incident, they do jump out don't they! I hope your trip will be problem free as well!

Alan and Marilyn, I didn't think of the insurance aspect. We had to file a claim for repairs while in storage last year so we hope to avoid filing any more claims! :)

Big Matt said...

Sounds like you were mostly prepared for all eventualities.

There are four things all men need in their tool boxes for emergency repairs:

1.) Duct Tape

2.) Zip Ties, big ones in a 100 pack bag or bigger

3.) Hose Clamps of various sizes

4.) Empty beer cans for making patches.

Diana said...

Holy Crap Erik, talk about adventure! I wonder if you've been thinking about buying a new one after all of this?
I just hope that everything gets fixed as it should be. Maybe you need to stand next to the repair people and watch what they do.
Love Di ♥