Wednesday, May 30, 2012

RV Update – Slide Motor

I received a call from the dealer this morning, the slide motor “rig job” has been completed and they sealed a seam that I found on the roof rear cap that needed some dicor sealant. I’ll take pictures this weekend.

I also plan on adding another bracket myself with rubber bumpers so the noise level will be reduced even further. They don’t do or touch anything it seems without charging another hour for it. As it is they are hitting me up for 3 hours for this work which seems excessive to me but there's nothing I can do about it but pay them. Now that I understand the mechanism I know how to repair it and I know I can make a much better bracket. More on that after I see how it looks and works.

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

RV Slide Motor Update

I spoke with the service manager at the dealer this morning and he told me he thought it might be a good idea to use the current motor and I agreed 100%. I did ask him to build a better more professional mount that will fit under the factory cover and to use rubber bumpers so the motor is cushioned when in use and last to seal the opening’s where the mounting bracket mounts broke off. He agreed and will talk to the tech, this should work very well going forward and make life easier for the tech who will now not have to take everything apart to make it work.

Here is how it looks now, hopefully they are able to make one that looks as good as this one performs.


Here you can see the top left of the motor has a hole as does the top right. Other than that the motor is one hundred percent functional.


We’ll see how it goes when they call me back with an update this week.  Thumbs up  Winking smile

Monday, May 28, 2012

Kathy’s Klothesline Comment Response + Digital TV & Slide Motor Update

I wanted to respond to Kathy’s comment because there simply wasn’t room in the comments section to address it. I completely understand why you would look at it from a different perspective and I respect your opinion very much.

From what I have found out it’s not just a few tight sites at this KOA, all but maybe 1 or two are too tight plus the power, water and sewer are positioned on the neighbors site so you get to get real personal with the neighbor in more ways than you’d like. Plus, I’d lay odds you aren’t telling people that your sites are large and shady when they aren’t.

I base my expectations on what I read on the campground website and whatever I can find out from people who have been there if I can find any. This KOA looks great from the entrance because you can’t see the RV section from there, you see the tent and pop-up camper sites which look huge in comparison. So we reserved their “large site with shade trees” for a premium price above the normal cost, plus the holiday premium.

So when we got there and saw the site was very narrow with one tree that provides no shade we were a bit disappointed because it didn’t live up to their own description. You’d think they would tell the truth since they knew we were coming. To be fair they were all very nice, the campground was clean and they didn’t enforce their check out time so everybody could get out without stacking up at the exit.

We probably won’t go back there, mostly because of the smell, I thought it was cows but it was horses in the wild west town / restaurant next door. The stench was horrible and the heat didn’t help it any. If the cost was more in line with the other local campgrounds we could overlook a few things but they are the most expensive place in the area and can’t compete with the likes of Sugar Shores where you can get a huge site easily 5 times larger for $10.00 less a day.

I can’t imagine what it would be like owning a campground and trying to make it what everybody likes can’t be easy but I’d lay odds that you don’t miss-represent your sites or your campground. I would love to go to your campground, tight sites or no because of the atmosphere and because of you. Smile

Thanks for giving us your perspective!


The Digital HD TV antenna is doing a good job of pulling in channels considering we only got 2 led’s on the signal finder. I hooked up the old digital converter box for the rear TV so Ronda can watch TV in bed. The plan is to replace the old tube TV in the back with an LCD TV so we can remove that converter box completely.


Here is the work around that the dealer did to keep the slide working for this trip. He used a steel strap, bolted it to the floor and put in a wooden wedge to keep it from moving around. The slide has never gone in and out so quiet as long as we have owned the rig. My guess is the slide motor has been loose since we bought the rig, my PDI list item asking them to make sure all slide mechanism bolts were checked was clearly ignored, shame on me for not doing so myself. Now that I know how and where everything is I’m going to stay on it as part of my maintenance .


Here the rig is again at the dealer waiting to complete repairs. I’ll update when I have one.


Happy Memorial Day

Where does Memorial Day come from? Check out this article on the history of this day of remembrance. Thank you to all our Veterans for the sacrifice, sometimes the ultimate sacrifice that continues to give us freedom and liberty.

There are so many to remember, so many who paid the price and we, because of this sacrifice can RV, work, choose our own destiny. We live in a country unlike any other and we are damn proud of our Veterans, thank you for your service.



Sunday, May 27, 2012

Union, Illinois KOA Review

The Union, Illinois KOA entrance is very nice, I didn’t get a picture of the main building yet however so I’ll try tomorrow when we leave.


Campground layout


Site # 93 circled in red, you can see the power, water and sewer in the middle of each site.


Tent camping area, their sites were huge Disappointed smile


Pop-up tent campers and tent area, again much larger than the RV sites Confused smile


Mini Golf area


Our massive site # 93 with shade trees per the brochure, well one tree, no shade. What you see is the whole width of our site. Our awning over hangs the neighbors water and power hookups which are in the middle of your site instead of on  the site you’re on.


One plus, the site was very deep which made more than ample room for the Escape.


We wanted to like this place, it’s perfectly located for us to go on weekend trips. Unfortunately even if it was cheaper and the sites were larger there is a cow farm nearby and the stench from the cows during near 100f temperatures kept us inside the entire time. Ronda went on a few night walks with Loki. My left foot is still swollen from the Corporate Challenge on Thursday so I put my foot on ice last night and it’s still hurting along with my knee so I didn’t go for any walks but I wanted to.

Here are a few positive notes, the slide motor while not repaired worked perfectly with the rig job the mechanic did. With the hot temperatures we were worried about the smell that we have had to deal with in the past coming from the black tank. This morning the black tank was showing half full and there was no wind at all so there was a bit of an odor that only I noticed (that’s me, Mr. super nose) but we went to the in-laws all day and the RV sat in the 100f heat until we got back at 5:30pm, I went into the toilet room and there was no odor what so ever, how cool is that? The wind had picked up and the vents were doing their job, very cool!

This KOA has a check out time of 1:00pm, for the first time this doesn’t bother me, I don’t mind getting out of here early. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad stay but the crowding was amplified by the tiny size of the sites so it was hard to go outside without seeing your neighbor dumping his tanks just a few feet away. Couple that with $40.00 a night fees, more on holidays and this place just isn’t worth coming back to.

Tomorrow I drop the rig back off at the dealer and hopefully they are able to complete the repairs on the slide motor. Next weekend we have more birthdays and stuff so we’re planning on a weekend stay at the Blackhawk campground in Rockford.

I’ll post more tomorrow, if I have more pictures I’ll post them as well, until then have a great Memorial Day tomorrow!

Friday, May 25, 2012

RV Update

I went to the dealer this morning and they had just opened the box and found they have the wrong part. They have had the part since Tuesday, but didn’t verify it’s the correct one. They also found out that nobody has the right one anymore. The mechanic has some ideas because the motor is identical but the mounting method is different. He either has to take both motors apart and make the right one out of it or drill holes in the motor drive shaft so the new keyed mounts will fit.

The mechanic rigged up a brace that is probably more sturdy than the mounting method that Holiday Rambler / Harley Davidson used when our rig was built in March of 1998.

To top the day off they washed the rig to make up for not having it ready and didn’t charge me, right as they were washing it the sky opened up and it began to storm. When I got there the sky was cloudless… Disappointed smile  when they finished up the ground was drying pretty good and the roads were mostly dry so I at least was able to get to the KOA in a clean rig. Thumbs up

We’re at the KOA now and the sites are tiny, I expected a bit more considering how they talk about the sites on the website. We’re going to have 7 people on this tiny site tomorrow late afternoon and this KOA charges $5.00 per person and has enough rules to choke a horse. We had hoped this place would be one we could visit often but we both agree this will be the first and last, it just isn’t worth the cost.

The good news is the brace for the slide motor held and the slide went out smoothly and quietly, actually the quietest it has ever sounded. When they figure out how they are going to do the repair I’m going to ask that he create a permanent brace that can be there if and when the new motor mounts break.

I’ll post pictures tomorrow of the KOA, the slide motor brace and the site.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Slide Mechanism Repair Costs

The cost to repair the slide motor mechanism…. see below. Keep in mind this is a motor and a mount, the rest of the mechanism is fine. $100.00 of it is shipping overnight, I could have avoided this by waiting until next week but we’re going to have over 8 people in the rig over the holiday weekend, no way I’m waiting until next week to have the slide functioning properly so I gave the ok to get it done now.

They have instructions to have it completed by Thursday night Friday morning at the latest because we can’t get our money back from the KOA due to the holiday weekend. Since the parts are being shipped overnight they say this is no problem, I wasn’t sure how to say “get it right the first time” so I just said it and gave my reason why.

I called a couple of places and they gave the same price for the motor and mount as the dealer did so I know they aren’t charging too much. We’ll see how it looks and works on Friday!

$1,150.00… Disappointed smile

OMG howmuch

King Controls RV JACK HD Antenna & SureLock Signal Finder Review

In the world of RV’ing there aren’t many options for pulling in digital TV. Regarding the JACK HD antenna, lets comment on the positive first, at the Paul Wolff campground in site # 33 we got one dot on the SureLock signal strength meter and managed to pull in 49 channels. Fantastic, with the factory batwing in this same position we got 3 channels, 2 of them Live well and the other, ABC and that was it. So we know the JACK antenna pulls in stations even when the signal is poor. Good job on the electronic portion of the design. Thumbs up

My negatives are the following, very cheap construction quality. For the price I expected much better. The longevity of this product is questionable to me for the following reasons. 1. As mentioned cheaply built. 2. The soldering quality is poor, if I soldered like this I would have been kicked out of High School electronics class. 3. Nothing to keep out water, poorly designed and built cabinet. This is huge Thumbs down and I may take mine back down to caulk the perimeter inside but not the holes that help it breath from the bottom. This should help when driving in the rain. 4. The included power “injector” is too weak to power the antenna from the front of the coach so I had to use the Winegard SB-2000 that was in the coach when we bought it. I know the antenna is getting the right voltage but it’s probably a little low on the milliamp side, we’ll see how it holds up.

The SureLock Digital Signal finder came in handy since I removed the digital converter box which gave signal readings. I needed something to help me aim the new antenna. I have to reinstall the converter box so the TV in the bedroom can work, just need to figure out if you can use a converter box on an already converted signal, not real sure but will find out.

Thanks for stopping by, I’ll find out more about use a mix of tube TV and Digital TV when I get the answers.

Here is the box (image from Google search)


Here is the box contents (image from Google search)


SureLock Digital TV Signal Finder (image from Google search)

SureLock® Digital TV Signal Finder

Here is the finished install.


Monday, May 21, 2012

05/20/12 Storm

On the way back to storage I did a lot of video recording trying to capture lightning. I didn’t think I caught any until this one showed up, I thought I missed it! I had to pause the video and use the Windows snipping tool to grab the shot. It’s a little fuzzy but that lightning is awesome! I checked my other video and found another awesome lightning strike!




60 plus mph winds blowing North and North East and I was driving straight West so I had to slow down a few times because I think the gusts went over 60mph because the rig felt like it might get blown over! I put my hazards on and slowed down and at one point pulled over to let traffic go by.

I spoke to the dealer about the slide mechanism, I am driving all the way back up there tonight to drop the rig off. I’m going to leave instructions NOT to take it apart until the new parts come in so we can go to the Union, IL KOA this weekend for Memorial Day. If the repair can be completed by Thursday night (no way) then great, if not don’t touch!


I’ll post more when I know more, thanks for stopping by! Thumbs up

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Slide Motor Update

While driving to the storage lot the slide came out about a half an inch so I jammed my sandal in there and closed the slide the rest of the way without hopefully making it too tight. The slide stayed in the rest of the way so it should be good until we get it repaired. I’ll be calling the repair shops tomorrow.



Weekend Paul Wolff Trip & Visit From Niece & Nephew

After the Cubs lost to the Sox on Friday I took Ronda home and headed out to the storage lot to pick up the RV. Good news, still no mice and it smells nice inside. Smile  I drove the speed limit even though I was against the clock since Paul Wolff is a county run campground I wasn’t sure when they close the gate. Long story short, they were kind enough to let me in even though they had been closed over an hour. The people who work here are friendly and accommodating people and the campground is always clean. If you’re in the Dundee, IL area you should check it out.

As I was heading through Marengo, IL around 8:45pm I started hearing very heavy splats on the front end and then they started hitting the windshield… JUNE BUGS… big lumbering bugs that make a huge mess when they hit. I could hardly see out the windshield when I got to Paul Wolff.

junebug    IMAG0578

I didn’t have my camera so I used my cell phone, for some reason I couldn’t capture the windshields so here is the section that showed up well. If you look closely you can see several of them stuck in the grill. When I cleaned the front end this morning I cleaned out about 40 of them from the grill alone.


I managed to back into our spot and park the rig in pitch black darkness by myself with the backup camera in one shot without waking anybody, yay! After I hooked up power I put out the slide and when it almost finished extending I heard a bang but it kept going. It makes noise once in awhile so I wrote it off as being a 13 year old rig that makes funny noises once in awhile. I figured I’d see how it retracts and call the dealer to have it looked at.

Remember when I couldn’t remember if I should level first or put out the slide first? Per Monaco/Holiday Rambler put the slide out first then level. Check out what my HWH leveling Jack book that came with the rig says. Learn something new everyday, let me know what you folks see in your leveling system user manuals ok?


My sister comes over with my niece, nephew and boyfriend and while taking out the chairs one had slid towards the middle of the pass through compartment so I had to reach in to get it. I saw something sagging on the other side compartment so I walked around and opened the compartment door and was met with this, if you click on it you’ll see where the mounting arm broke. That is the slide mechanism motor mount.


Top mounting bolt is still there but the slide is still out, what will happen when we try and close it, either manually or trying the motor, we’ll see, I haven’t tried it yet.


Here you see both mounting positions that broke. I’m heading out now to put in the slide, Ronda is going to tap the button and I’m going to put one of my size 13 sandals on the floor side so the motor doesn’t try to go through the floor. I’ll be right back, hopefully the slide goes in and we can head out.


Ok, I’m back, I removed the bolt that was still attached to the mounting bracket so the motor wouldn’t hit it, you can see it in the above picture above, the mount is bent a little, thankfully that bolt came out easy enough. I had Ronda hit the slide in button for 1 second intervals so I could watch and place the sandal above the motor, it worked great, we got the slide closed and then I had her hit the out button to relieve pressure from the motor and to release my sandal.


Oh, almost forgot, I installed the new HD JACK antenna, no not the one I ordered from Amazon silly, that would mean our luck had changed for the better and that one worked. Nope, the one I received from Amazon was DOA so I went to General RV and bought, you guessed it, another HD JACK antenna because that’s all they carried.

I found I had to use the power booster that the dealer installed which is a Winegard SB-2000 in order to get the antenna to work because while I had the correct voltage at the roof connection it was lacking in milliamps. My meter doesn’t measure milliamps but the fact that antenna # 2 didn’t work didn’t make sense. I tested both first of course and found the 1st one dead out the box, the second one worked in the cabin of the rig but not on the roof which made me assume since voltage was good, amps, as little as they are were lacking due to distance.

The Winegard SB-2000 must put out more than the little one included with JACK antenna is clearly too small. I took the first antenna apart and I should have taken pictures, there might be $3.50 in parts in these things. These are sold as outdoor antennas but lack any kind of weather strip. I don’t see this antenna lasting but I have 30 days with it to see. I need to return the other one.

Anyway, I got the second one working and we went from 3 channels at Paul Wolff to 49, not a bad jump! Very good picture quality.


Since I’m writing this on the fly I have yet to put the antenna down so I’m going to go do that right now… be right back…

Ok, I’m back, it went down but I had to go up on the roof to align it since the arrows lined up don’t put it down all the way now. Since this antenna weighs nothing you can’t get a feel for where it’s at going up or down so I’m going to take it all apart so I can clean and lubricate it. Also, the bedroom TV is a tube TV so we can’t get anything back there so I need to fix that.

It was a stressful weekend but it was great to see my niece and nephew again! Happy birthday Lars! Now I need to break down camp, get the rig to storage and then get home, shower and then meet my brother and his wife to celebrate their sons Travis birthday.

I hope everybody had a great weekend, I’ll post something about the slide mechanism when I find out where to get it repaired tomorrow.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Crosstown Classic – Chicago Cubs vs Chicago White Sox



The company I work for is taking us to the Crosstown classic between the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox. They let us invite our spouses or a friend to join us so of course I invited my wife. She, is a dreaded WHITE SOX FAN! She is dressing up in her White Sox gear and I am throwing on my Cubs gear. My co-workers are die hard Cubs fans so Ronda may end up walking home, we’ll see! GO CUBBIES!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Blog Posts Removed

I didn’t want to remove them but due to personal reasons they had to be removed for now. I want to thank everybody for their support regarding the RV trade and now that we know what to do we’ll be able to make it happen in a few years.



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Credit Cards, FICO & RV

There used to be a time when a FICO of 728 was considered very good, today, you need a 780 or better to be considered for luxury things like RV’s at the lowest rates. A little over a year ago Ronda and I decided to close the credit card accounts knowing full well the affect it would have on our FICO score because lets call a spade a spade, the credit card companies got the rules into place to hurt your ability to get credit if you not only closed a credit card account but even if you paid it off.

Paying it off reduces the amount of credit you have, high balances, balances that are close to your limit, debt to income ratio, all can have a negative affect on your FICO. Our combined FICO 60 days after closing all of the accounts was a dismal 620, since then mine has climbed back up to 728 but because of what American Express did to an account that was in Ronda’s name, her FIOC plummeted back to a 622. Is this unfair, yes, I can understand that things affect credit but when our history of payments is perfect one charge off that we had no control over shouldn’t have the ability to tank your credit like this but because of these rules it can and does.

In 6 months to a year her FICO can recover but guess what, we had 4 American Express accounts and we now believe as we pay them off they will do the exact same thing tanking both of us back into bad scores. They as much as admitted the policy and also stated they do this to help you. We know better since we see the result. Our big credit card was with Chase, I can only imagine what they will do when we are close to paying it off but I can’t wait for when it is!

There are people who pay cash for everything, God love them and I wish I were one of them. I’m trying to be, but do you know what their credit score is? Who cares is the answer, when you pay cash for everything then who cares. There will be a problem however if they ever try to use credit, but that’s another topic.

Life is a balancing act, the huge percentage of us use credit because there would be no way to buy our house with cash, or our car or heck maybe not even a TV. When we start out on our own we want these things and use credit to get them. Man how I wish I was smarter when I was younger. My best friend will be in great shape come retirement time, he, has been smart.

Ronda and I are 50 and darn near 50, it took us a long long time to realize that we don’t need all of this stuff. I have my own business and to stay in business I had to purchase the gear to be competitive, it’s a hard balance to compete and not use credit. Anyway we no longer want all of this stuff so a little over a year ago we decided to scale back. I have diabetes and it’s a battle, even people who have better control over it than I do have a lower life expectancy than the average person so this is why we decided to buy an RV in 2010 when we should have waited until we were in better shape. Still, we should have waited until this year anyway, again lesson learned…

Our income is very good, but when your debt is as high as ours is, you can’t tell that your income is very good. Ironic isn’t it. I learn lessons the hard way but I learn them. Unfortunately I pretty much know with my sports injuries and diabetes I probably won’t make it to retirement age and if I do my ability to do many of the things I do now will more than likely be greatly diminished. I am walking a lot, trying to get into better shape and lose weight, I’m making progress on all of it but I know what I know, don’t ask me how. I would explain it but I can’t do that here, as much as I’d like to. That’s as far as I can go.

Regarding the Dutch Star, I spoke with the finance guy and he explained that he was shooting for a top tier rate of 5.2% and declining offers of anything higher. So, right now he is working on seeing what these same banks will offer. Funny isn’t it, they deny you a lower payment because of risk, but will qualify you for a much higher payment because of the higher rate that makes it harder for you to afford. The deal is dead as far as I’m concerned but if he thinks he can get us in at 6%, we would think about it.

Have a great day folks and thanks for stopping by “As the Erik’s Rantz Blog Turns” soap opera, tune in again tomorrow for the next episode!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

RV Purchase Post Mortem

You know, getting the call really upset me, I wasn’t mad at the finance guy, I was mad at the situation so I thanked him for trying and hung up. I was also upset because we thought this was going to be the rig for us. Low miles, fantastic condition, great floor plan and it was diesel. Rigs this good don’t come around too often, it was that good and it’s going to make somebody very happy.

It makes one wonder why this landed in our lap as it did, why? A test? I’m not sure but I overreacted and blasted a blog post to end all blog posts.

I’m not going to delete the post because I meant every word, I just think I could have used a bit more tact to express my feelings. There are some things I want to say but can’t, for various reasons that would explain why this would have been perfect for us now.

I just hope we get it right the next four years and end up in a position to get a diesel pusher for our future plans. Thanks for reading and if possible understanding why I got so upset.

We are hoping to make it to the Union, IL KOA this weekend, it’s beautiful, expensive and we’ll take lots of pictures. By the way, we checked in on our rig that I laced with lots of mouse traps and there are no mice! Yay! Also, all the cleaning I did and it smells awesome, in the two years of ownership this is the first time I can say it smells great. Smile with tongue out

So, let me re-introduce the Endeavor, it’s going to be around for awhile.