Monday, September 13, 2010

Big Guy Gets a Checkup - July 9 to 15 2010

Big Guy is due for a checkup.  Having just bought our motorhome in March of 2010 we had not had a chance to go over the mechanical systems like we wanted to. We knew the second owner had been good about annual oil changes and filters but we had no knowledge of how Big Guy had been treated by the first owner as there were no records available.

Frank wanted to take him to Gaffney, South Carolina as that is the source for Frieghtliner motorhome chassis which Big Guy has.  Briefly motorhome chassis consist of everything that makes the motorhome go and stop.  So appointments were made, budgets were established (more on that later), and packing was accomplished.

We left Orange Park on July 9 headed towards Blue Ridge, Georgia to see friends Jim and Shelley Ward and their new mountain cabin.  The Putnam's and the Ward's had consulted their respective calendars and determined that this one weekend was probebly the only weekend we would be able to get together until November or December.

Naturally the night before we left, Big Guy developed a problem.  The hydraulic system for the slides and stabilizer jacks decided to go on strike.  Frank worked on the problem until the wee hours of the morning with limited success.

We arrived in Blue Ridge late in the day because several stops were made in an attempt to get several rv dealers to work on the hydraulics.  Every where we stopped the service departments were full and they
couldn't take time to look at our problem.  Oh well, when we bought Big Guy we knew there would be times when we would have to spend a night or two with the slides in so we'd just deal with it.

We stayed at the Mineral Springs RV Park in Blue Ridge.  It was kinda rustic but it had all the amenities.  As we were setting up, Frank decided to take a chance and put the slides out.  By golly, they worked.  We called Jim and Shelley and invited them over to take a look at the new (to us) motorhome.

The next morning we got to see their new cabin and were we surprised. The "cabin" was huge and beautiful.  The deck space at the cabin was bigger than our condo in Orange Park. 

We spent the day exploring and enjoying the house.  They also took us on a tour of the Blue Ridge area and we also looked at RV Parks for future visits.  That evening we cooked out and enjoyed catching up since we hadn't seen each other in a long time.

The next morning we returned to Jim and Shelley's and had a great breakfast to prep us for the trip to Gaffney.

After breakfast we returned to the RV to get ready to get underway for South Carolina.  One of the last items is to retract the slides and guess what?  They chose this particular moment to go on strike again.  Knowing that this situation might arise, Frank had studied the manual and determined it was possible for two people to manually retract the slides.  After much head scratching and grunting we managed to get them back in and off we went.

Our course to Gaffney took us over some pretty twisty roads and we noticed the bedroom slide was working it's way out.  That's not a good thing to have happened when you're cruising down the road.  So we found a place to pull over where there was a car already parked and managed to push the slide back again.  Frank tweaked the hydraulic solenoid valves one more time and we crossed our fingers.

Due to all the delays, we arrived in Gaffney late and then ended up going to the wrong place.  We went to the Frieghtliner factory instead of the Service Center.  However the guard at the factory gate was used to this happening and had directions printed up to hand out for lost souls like us.  We arrived at the Service Center at about 6pm and there was only one space left in their campground.  It was #13.  Frank had read some forums that said arrive early or you may not get a spot.  We were lucky.

We were prepared for Big Guy being in the shop for all of Monday and part of Tuesday as we had enrolled in Camp Frieghtliner.  This was a 2 day class that taught you about your motorhome chassis.  It was very informative and fun.  We learned about things we didn't even know we had.  The cool thing about having service done here is that they come get your motorhome ar 8am in the morning and bring it it back by 5pm.

Part way through the second day, the service people told us they were going to need to keep Big Guy for a third day.  Turns out, the maintenance that had been previously preformed on Big Guy had been superficial at best.  Just like the generator, the diesel engine cooling system was a mess.  And the radiator was a mess, and they found the right front wheel hub was leaking which explained some funny odors we had been smelling.  The list goes on.  Needless to say our carefull budget planning was out the window.

We spent the third day that Big Guy was in the shop touring the Frieghtliner factory.  We got to go out on the shop floor and watch them building several motorhome chassis.  At their peak several years ago, they were building 150 motorhome chassis a month.  Now they are building about 9 a week.

We spent Wednesday night at the Frieghtliner Service Center and headed home to Orange Park on Thursday.  And believe it or not, Big Guy performed like a new motorhome.  The service was expensive, but it was complete and it was necessary.  We now feel confident that we are ready for the big summer trip.