Sunday, July 31, 2011

We’re Camping!! + Slide Topper & Cyclone Update

We decided to go camping and test the rig out just in case they had installed the Cyclone roof vents and to be close to the in-laws for a birthday party. We arrived at the body shop and I saw right away the slide topper was missing the cover. The dealer said they installed a Carefree KIII slide topper which included a wind/weather cover, the one on the rig as we drove up clearly lacked a cover. Honestly, not a big deal but they told me it would include the cover, since the KIII with a cover costs $677.00 at Camping World I need to find out how many hours they put into drilling 9 holes to mount this cover since they billed State Farm $2,800.00.

Simple math means they spent a good 19 + hours Disappointed smile installing the cover allowing for $300.00 or more in profit in the cover itself since they went with the cheaper version. Disappointed smile I spoke with Carefree, they claim this install is maybe a half day depending on how good the Tech is. Many people would say who cares? Insurance is paying for it! I happen to be somebody that believes how they bill the insurance is how they would bill me. I don’t like being taken advantage of and I am definitely contacting the dealer to take them to task for this on Monday.

PLUS, when I opened up the rig I found that all basement doors were unlocked (I have 2 sets of tools in one compartment, a grill and ladder in others) the basement main light switch was on which means that all but one compartment lights were on. The one that wasn’t is the sewer compartment, it has a momentary switch that automatically turns off the compartment light when the door is closed. So, our house batteries were dead, it was 115f inside the RV so I had to actually step outside to cool off, it was 92f outside, imagine that. So no generator AC for me right? I started the RV and found that using the aux start switch and then the generator start button worked, the genny started and I waited a few minutes and turned on the AC.

It’s not all bad news though, this new cover overhangs the slide by about 10 inches which means we no longer have to worry about AC run off or rain run off getting onto the top of the slide as we close it, which to me is fantastic! The install while dirty turned out good, I can clean off the black marks that are all over the topper caps (how hard is it to clean up after yourself?!?!?). EDIT: See below, the black marks didn't come off. The body shop did a great job repairing the holes left behind from the old slide topper. Keep reading for the remarkable Cyclone vent install. Smile with tongue out


I climbed the roof to check and see if the Cyclone vent caps were installed and to my delight, they were!! I walked over to the first one, the black tank vent and…. it doesn’t budge... Disappointed smile Ugh, so I walk over to the gray tank vent and it works fine. Let me ask you good folks, if you’re the tech doing the install I imagine you have enough gray matter to understand the concept of the device being installed so when you finish the install you’d realize it isn’t working the way it’s supposed to and clearly isn’t working the way the other one you just installed is working, but hey call it a day and say job well done right? Steaming mad 

How NOT to install a Cyclone vent cap.

I know there are places out there that are dependable and have good workers but I have to say, I give up, seriously, I give. From now on, unless something has blown up or caught fire I am not taking my rig to a dealer again.

I’m contacting the dealer tomorrow and very patiently telling them thank you for trying but clearly their techs take nearly 3 days to install a slide topper and the tech who installed the vents isn’t qualified to do the work. I’m going to ask for a break down of the slide topper install so I can call State Farm and issue a complaint if it does show 19 hours of install time. If it doesn’t but shows they sold the slide topper for much higher than Camping World does I’m still going to issue a complaint. Then I’m going to ask for a reduced bill on the Cyclone vents since I now have to remove one of them and do it over again.

I just climbed the ladder, this black mark doesn’t come off with typical cleaners, it looks like it was dragged on the ground prior to installing it, this scrap is on both sides. If I did my job like RV dealers do theirs, I’d be out of work. Steaming mad


Here is our site, OG21 in phase 2 at Sugar Shores, the slide topper looks great from here. Cell coverage was poor, typically I can get 3 bars on my MiFi but it was spotty all weekend, same with TV reception, normally at night signals improve, here we lost most channels after 10pm, very weird! Could be because of the power transformer and big power distribution wall behind the rig.



Power distribution and power transformer, walking about 50ft away and cell phone goes from 1 bar to full signal, so we’ll avoid this section from now on. The site was nice though and we had nice neighbors as well.


That’s all for now, I’m going to order a new Cyclone vent and some dicor so I can replace the botched up vent they installed. They got dicor in the rotating part of the vent so I don’t want to take a chance by re-using it. I’ll post again when I have some answers from the dealer, this should be interesting.

Friday, July 29, 2011

RV Is Ready To Pickup…

Just got the call, the RV is ready to be picked up, unfortunately nobody at the campground is answering their emails or phones. Disappointed smile  Do we just show up in the morning, is it worth it to just go overnight? I suppose probably not since in the morning we’d have to start breaking camp relatively early but this may just be the lazy side of me rearing it’s ugly head.

My lazy side has been winning quite a bit lately, I did get the garage cleaned out but there is more work to be done in it, the spare bathroom upstairs is begging me to complete the job, can’t you hear it?? Damn voice is so loud I can barely type this! I could spend this weekend working on the bathroom, and the basement and the yard and the insert name of my bucket house work list here ________, ugh.

I think I want to go camping, even if it’s just over night, need to call the wife and see what she thinks, nuts, that’s right she is at the doctors office… will try later, wait, she wants to go to the Drive-In… hmmmmm what to do?!?!? Thinking smile

No matter what we decide though the RV needs to be picked up in the morning so I’ll update then. Smile with tongue out

Thursday, July 28, 2011

RV Update…

The RV is still in the body shop, with RV’s once it goes into a shop it seems the shop will have it for at minimum 2 to 3 weeks, no matter how simple the job is, unless you’re living in it of course. The shop our rig is at is very busy right now, the good shops always are right? Last year our rig spent the better part of July through December getting various repairs taken care of multiple times until we decided to do the work ourselves or have somebody else do it, which turned out to be the right decision.

Anyway, March 30th this year the slide topper gets damaged beyond repair (that only took 2 full months to figure out) and so a new one got ordered and installed, total amount of time to repair, nearly 3 months. We were able to use the rig while waiting for parts though thankfully.

The RV dealer also installed Cyclone black and gray tank vent covers right? Who knows! When I called to pay for it no work order could be found and after numerous attempts to pay for this service I have given up for now. I’ll just have to wait until I pick it up to verify that work was performed, if so great, I’ll drive over and pay, if it wasn’t done then this will be a job I do on my own.

I haven’t seen the replaced slide topper yet so I have no idea if they installed the right color or what have you so we’re flying by the seat of our pants here. No matter what though, since we have to travel up that way Saturday anyway I’m going to stop by and check the rig out, we were supposed to go camping this weekend but July has been a wash since my Dad left on July 4th, we haven’t been able to use the rig at all this month.

I got a quote to have the top of the front cap painted and clear coated, $549.00, this will have to wait. I really want to have the front and rear caps painted and clear coated, this would make keeping the rig clean so much easier but for this year no way, it still needs 4 rear tires and shocks so we’ll wait until next year.

We are still hoping the rig might be ready tomorrow by some miracle so we can take the rig to Sugar Shores and visit with family. Cross your fingers!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

July 23rd Heat Lightning

The light show was incredible. You could see the flashes showing on top of multiple cloud layers unfortunately the digital camera wasn’t designed to take night time video let alone capture great detail but I hope this shows it well enough. You can raise the detail up to 720p and full screen to see more detail but it requires a faster internet connection.

Heat lightning video taken on digital camera so detail isn’t very good.

You Know It’s Hot When……

The Ice Cream truck melts!!!!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Satan Wants His Weather Back!!!!!

My walk to work has been HOT this week!SatanWeather

Monday, July 18, 2011

Chicago Yacht Club Mackinac Race

My boss is in this race every year for the past 16 years, his boat’s name is Momentus and we cheer him on every year and hope for a high placement and a safe race. This year a boat capsized and 2 people were lost and we found out that they died earlier today. The boats name is Wingnuts, all boats are prepared for the worst but this year a squall hit and capsized the boat and they were unable to hold on until the Coast Guard could rescue them.

The race started with people being worried that there wouldn’t be enough wind to be a fast race. Lake Michigan is more like an ocean than a lake, no matter how well prepared people are things happen VERY suddenly. Winds went up to 60mph, I have been on the lake when it serves up unbelievable wind velocities, we lost our windshield and electronics back in 1978 and thankfully the Coast Guard found us and was able to save our bacon and we are here today because of them, it could have gone very differently.

From the start of the race we had 7 people who would log on and track boat positions and when Wingnuts capsized we were that much more focused on making sure Momentus was ok. Momentus made 8th place in the J109 division but even if they made 1st it wouldn’t matter, we were all just happy that everybody made it safely to the finish and we all are saying prayers for the family of the people who died and for the crew members who survived.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and members of the crew, no words can convey our sorrow for their loss.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Arizona RV Supercenter Article On Gas Prices

(Re-printed with permission from their eBay page) - We have found that many first time RV buyers are hesitant to buy an RV because the price of gas is $4.00 a gallon.  There have been many studies done on this subject and the end result of these studies is that gas would have to reach $9.00 per gallon before the seasoned RV'er would give it up.  Here's why:  The average RV is driven 4000 miles per year according to national statistics.  At 8 miles per gallon you would use 500 gallons of fuel.  At $4.00 per gallon your annual fuel cost would be $2000. 

I have a family of 4.  This year we will take two, 1 week long trips to San Diego for a total of 1400 miles,  two weekend trips to Rocky Point Mexico for a total of 1000 miles,  two weekend trips to Flagstaff Arizona for a total of 500 miles, two weekend trips to the White Mountains for a total of 1000 miles, and several overnight and weekend trips within an hour of Phoenix for a total of 800 miles.  That's a total of 4700 miles with a total fuel cost of $2350. 

If we were to fly to San Diego it would cost $250 round trip per person, so our 2 trips would cost $2000 for airfare, $850 for a rental car, $1500-$2000 for a motel room, plus all of our meals would be out at restaurants.  So the two weeks in San Diego would cost about $5000.  The other trips that we take don't have the option of flying being that they are in the remote mountain areas or Mexico. 

So we would have to drive the SUV which gets about 18 mpg.  We would use 183 gallons of gas to drive the SUV to these places  versus 412 gallons in the motor home.  However there are no hotels in the remote areas and there are no restaurants.  I am sure you are starting to see my point.  If you like to have flexibility, and you enjoy being in the outdoors there is no better way to spend time with your family then doing it in an RV!

My input, I agree mostly however if gas reaches $9.00 per gallon the RV is going to do A LOT of sitting! We have found the same thing, our short trips would be much more expensive if we had hotel and restaurant expenses. What do you guys think?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Using Craigslist – Hasn’t Work For Me, Advice Please :)

I have now tried to sell a couple of antique 1930’s radio’s that I have in my collection. We would like to pay down or pay off some debts, plus the RV needs new rear tires, shocks and if possible the Firestone Air-Ride bags for the back axle.

None of this is cheap so I tried to sell a few things on eBay and then Craigslist. I used to always have luck with eBay but not this time and Craigslist just was full of people who wanted the radios for next to nothing.


The 1938 Zenith 12S267 radio console on the left is worth north of $3,500.00 in its current condition and I have seen them go for over $5,000 as well.  I tried to sell it for $2,200 or best offer, the insult emails were many, the realistic offers were nada. The 1938 Zenith 12S267 radio console on the right is worth over $2,500.00 and there were no responses to it either. These are VERY rare consoles and nobody on the planet has 2 of them.

5 years ago these would have sold for more than the prices given here easily, now with the economy the way it is, people want them, but they don’t want to pay for them. The highest offer I received for either was $250.00, honestly, the large tuning knob set in the middle of the radio is worth that price by themselves.

I realize in order to sell them I either need to wait for the market to come back or drastically reduce the price so maybe I’m answering my own question here. I have a lot of 1930’s radios to sell but it seems that not only are houses not selling for nearly what they’re worth, either are items like this.

Am I wrong, am I going about it the wrong way? Any advice would be appreciated.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

RV Update

The RV is being picked up by Marengo Auto Body tomorrow morning. The new slide topper was installed by Collier RV and from what I gather State Farm has already inspected the work. Marengo Auto Body is going to weld the holes from the previous slide topper closed and hopefully blend in the gel coat so we can’t tell that holes were there before.

I have also asked them to touch up the black paint around the door handle. I don’t have a picture of the chips but it seems each time we get the rig back after somebody else has touched the rig there are more chips around the bottom keyhole. I am going to call them tomorrow and ask how much it will be to clear coat this little area.

I am going to also ask them how much they’ll charge to clear coat the rest of the front cap while it’s there.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Blogger Continued….

As of the morning of 7/11/11 Opera doesn't show the Flickr stream or the Follower again, so I checked all of the other browsers I've mentioned and they don't show up on them either. I may just remove the Flickr stream and be done with it, I don't think anybody actually clicked on it anyway and it delays the blog from opening by a few seconds.

What do you guys think?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Blogger Issues

If you’re using Internet Explorer 8 or 9 you may not see the Flickr feed or the Followers listed. I use Opera mostly, those Norskies know how to make a very fast efficient browser and Blogger works perfectly with it so I see everything now, even though up until a few minutes ago it didn’t work in Opera either. Clearing the cache and cookies doesn’t help. Nerd smile They are having a few issues and hopefully they’re working on it.

Friday, July 8, 2011

RV Update… Again :)~

Received a call from Collier RV this morning, they have contacted State Farm and got the OK to repair the holes left behind after removing the original slide topper and it was given the A’OK to proceed. They also completed the install of the new Cyclone roof vents. Thumbs up

On Monday Marengo Auto Body will be picking it up to do the hole repairs so by the end of next week we should be all set! My only big project now is to get the side walls buffed out and waxed and to Red Max the rear cap and the top of the front cap, oh yeah and also clean the rubber roof.

Wait, hold the phone, still have the water pump to get replaced by the place that burnt it out last year. Ok, after THAT I can rest right.. well… I’ll try to anyway! Open-mouthed smile At some point I will revisit my project list but for now I’m pretending the above is it! Smile with tongue out

Thursday, July 7, 2011

RV Update

So after letting loose with a venting salvo yesterday today brings better news. The dealer received and installed the new slide topper. They had originally ordered a vinyl topper, I would have none of that, vinyl gets dried out and comes apart way to easily so I asked them if we could pick a color in the same kind of fabric that was currently on our topper and they said absolutely you decide on what gets installed.

Ahhh words I love to hear, the customer comes first, who would’a thunk it? The Cyclone vents should be installed tomorrow and the stinkies should be solved.

Next trip, I believe it will be a weekend trip local on the 15th to the 17th, nothing solid yet but we’ll see. I’ll take pictures and post ‘em as soon as I have ‘em!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The RV Gods Must Be Angry

This is going to be a long post and may go all over the place. We have owned our RV for 1 year now as of June 28th, I have a tally of all the repairs we have done and I had to sit down after adding it all up. What exactly did we do to deserve the constant drama that RV ownership has thrown at our feet? If this is a test I’m failing miserably, the dealer we bought from turned out to be horrible, repairs that should have been simple had to be done over and over and finally a few had to be done by me or a different dealer. Fast forward to last night when I got news that should have been considered good but wasn’t and I have to sit back and ask, did we piss off the RV God’s or something? I’ll get into that call shortly.

One thing I think a lot of RV’rs ask themselves when issues arise often is, “did we do the right thing?” “Were we nuts or something?” “Is this worth it?” I’ll answer this in the last part of this post.

We had my Father and step Mother in town this weekend and they decided to stay in the RV which is what we had hoped for so we could catch up since our time together was going to be short. It was 98f when we got to Geneseo, oh that’s right, we were supposed to go to Sugar Shores but they never responded to our reservation request and nobody seemed to be answering voicemails so we contacted Shari in Geneseo and headed up there. I finally received a response from Sugar Shores last night that they missed my email and that they have 3 accounts blah blah blah so my reservation was missed, ugh. Disappointed smile

This new person doesn’t seem to be as on top of things as the previous person was. Anyway, where was I, oh yeah, we get to Geneseo and the heat index was around 104 or so and the humidity was 87% so I did not have high hopes of camp fires and long talks by the fire. We love Geneseo though so for my wife and I we were happy to go up there, my father however was not stoked about another 2.5 hour drive after their trek from Arkansas (a whole other post for later).

I set everything up alone (I thought I did anyway, forgot to put away da wife's clothes Embarrassed smile) since my wife can’t be in camp until after work. So by the time I finished I was soaked to the bone in sweat and a little light headed from the heat but everything is set and my Dad and Step-Mom say how beautiful it looks and I tell them lets go inside so they can look around and so I can finish setting up the jacks and open the slide.

My Step-Mom sits down on the couch and I show off by saying don’t move I’ll open the slide, like Robin Williams did in the movie RV…. yeah who was I kidding? The slide moves about 3 inches and then BANG and it moves another inch or so and another BANG!! Sigh… I hit the “IN” switch and it goes back in nice and smooth. I ask her to stay put, I’ll figure out what’s going on and will be right back in to put out the slide. I head outside and check out the slide rails and motor and everything looks fine. I can’t find anything wrong so I head back in.

I push “OUT” and the same thing happens so now I’m stumped. What the heck is wrong now? I go back out into the heat which seems to have increased at this point and take a real close look at everything including the broken slide topper locks and what do I see? The rear slide topper lock has decided to WORK!! How is this possible? The pin that held it in the open position must have finally fallen off so the top claw rested on the gear and when I pressed “OUT” it bent downward and sheared off a gear tooth and then another. Disappointed smile Disappointed smile Disappointed smile Disappointed smile

I break out the ladder and head on up and bend the top claw up and out of the way and proceed back inside and give the slide another try and am rewarded by a smooth opening of the slide, whew. As regular readers know our slide topper became damaged in our first outing this year in March and we are STILL WAITING FOR PARTS!!! So I use clear tie straps to lock the slide topper in place when we drive the rig. A quick update on this, they have decided to order an entire new slide topper 2 weeks ago and they are waiting for a response from State Farm on how they want to handle the holes that will be left in the side of the coach.

My wife makes it to camp at about 7:00pm and we all sit around chatting and we notice an odor (the wife and I do). The facilities have been used a few times so when my Father comes out there is this pungent odor for a few minutes and we just figure it was the typical after affects of using the head… if you follow my drift, avoiding TMI ya know. 20 minutes later I still smell it so I walk into the toilet room and flush and bam, smacked upside the face with a foul odor that must have emanated from the bowels of hell itself. My wife in the front of the rig says what the heck are you doing in there?!?!? I explain I did nothing but flush so the foul odors we had last year are back with a vengeance.  Disappointed smile  < that emoticon really fits, ya know?

I fill the tank with about 10 gallons of fresh cold water and flush and it seems to be better. Unfortunately it still seems to put out a little bit of the foul odor as the day goes by and only my wife and I can smell it so now we wonder if it’s just us remembering the smell or something psychosomatic or something. My Dad has a sensitive nose as well (at least he used to!) so if he doesn’t smell it then maybe it’s not there? I go into the toilet room and flush again and sure enough, not imagining it. I ask my Dad to come in and he smells nothing, ok, so his nose is shot so can’t be trusted in these situations. Green with envy

We had a great time with them and they left Sunday to be back before the traffic. I forgot my camera and also forgot that my phone has a camera so there are no pictures from this outing.  Embarrassed smile The wife and I stayed until Monday so got to enjoy the odiferous emanations that came with each flush of the toilet. I spent nearly 2 hours flushing the black tank and pouring fresh water into the toilet opening to insure that passenger side of the tank was free of debris. I also filled the tank to almost completely full and drained it and then checked out the smell in the toilet room and it smelled like fresh water. We drove the RV back to Collier RV with instructions to test the vents and install new vent caps using either the “Lil’ Stanker” or the “Cyclone vent from Camco” this way there is something pulling the fumes out of the tank which should solve the problem.

This brings us up to the phone call received last night from Collier. “We tested all the vents and found that they work as they should”. Typically when a dealer calls and says that everything is working as it should would bring a smile to your face right? Well, not in this case since this means we’ll have those foul odors again. I have read that many rigs have issues with hot days and odors so maybe ours is one of them. If the above vent solutions work however maybe the odors will be gone for good, we can hope.

So I’m waiting for a call from Collier with recommendations for next steps and for an update about our slide topper. I mentioned earlier in this post about thoughts of “did we do the right thing?” “Were we nuts or something?” “Is this worth it?”.

The wife and I believe 100% the answer is YES. One thing we have found is the same thing many others have found. When you get to a place surrounded by trees or other great views and you smell the surroundings and hear nature and you sit by a campfire it’s all 1000% worth the effort. If we could afford to fulltime we would do it in a heart beat. The RV we bought had a few minor issues that we knew about and included on the PDI list that never got completed. We can’t hold this RV responsible for how the dealer performs their work or lack thereof. In the end we signed on the dotted line when we should have had them do the work first and earn the big check, lesson learned.

I LOVE to drive our Endeavor and as each item needs repair I’ll tackle it or find somebody else who can, hopefully a little quieter than I sometimes have but as these things come up I learn more about how to handle things on my own and feel better about how we can handle situations once we are on the road fulltime. I have a picture in my head of a 40ft diesel pusher and us on the road discovering new places someday and these tests of our ability to adapt to situations will pay dividends in the future.

I hope to have an update on the slide topper and the vents today or tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by and reading my rants. Nerd smile

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Saying Things To Make Loved Ones Feel Better

My Aunt has been diagnosed with Ovarian cancer and is going under the knife to remove said cancer. I didn’t know what to say to make her feel better so I told her daughter I would say a prayer for her and to tell her “I’ll do a rain dance on a road sign in spandex if it would help make her feel better!”

I can only imagine the laughter my Aunt will utter when she is told this, I just hope she doesn’t hold me up to it! The horror!  Sick smile  My Mother died of Pancreatic cancer but there is a good chance my Aunt will survive this. We’ll know more later this week.

We did go camping with my father and step-mother and I’ll post about it later this week.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy July 4th

We have had some family health issues on 3 sides the past week so I’m just going to say I hope everybody had a great 4th of July.  Thumbs up